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May 27, 2008
Early Notes from Seattle
* Kevin Youkilis is out of the lineup for a second straight night, battling some soreness in his right hand. Sean Casey is again his replacement at first.
The hope is that Youkilis got be back in the lineup tomorrow night when the Sox face Seattle lefty Erik Bedard. Then again, as Terry Francona noted today, Bedard's numbers are ``backward'' -- i.e., lefties are htting him better than righties -- so it wouldn't be the worst thing to have Casey play another day.
Francona was waiting until just before gametime tonight to see if Youkilis might be available for pinch-hitting duty.
* Francona spoke at length about his upcoming role as the manager of the American League All-Star team. The occasion was the the release of the first batch of voting results by fans, which puts a number of Red Sox regulars -- Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis -- leading at their respective positions.
* Now that Manny Ramirez has played his 2,000th game -- he jokingly invited everyone in the clubhouse to a party in celebration Monday night, giving out his room number -- he be placed in some sort of historical perspective.
Among the players who've reached the 2,000 game milestone, Ramirez is 10th in homers (498) and sixth in RBI (1,635).
* Finally, not surprisingly, Jon Lester was named A.L. Player of the Week for last week, sharing the honors with Detroit's Magglio Ordonez.
Lester, of course, no-hit the Kansas City Royals on May 19.
He's the third Red Sox player to be so honored this season. Ramirez won for a game in April, while Youkilis was honored for the week of May 5-11.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 8:43 PM | Permalink
Lineups from Seattle
Posted by Sean McAdam at 8:38 PM | Permalink
Five Red Sox lead All-Star balloting
There could be a lot of red in the Yankee Stadium infield for the All-Star Game.
In early fan voting for the July 15 midsummer classic, Red Sox players lead the way at first base (first-time-on-the-ballot Kevin Youkilis), second base (Dustin Pedroia), designated hitter (David Ortiz), catcher (Jason Varitek) and one outfield spot (Manny Ramirez). Ortiz is the overall leader among American League vote recipients, with 556,567 votes.
The other four leaders: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.
Click here to see the top five vote recipients at each position.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 7:08 PM | Permalink
Brewers sign Julian Tavarez
The Milwaukee Brewers finalized a deal with Julian Tavarez, and he will be in uniform for Tuesday night's game against the Atlanta Braves.
The 35-year-old right-hander, cut loose by Boston earlier this month after going 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA in nine relief appearances, worked out for the Brewers' staff in Washington on Sunday. He traveled back to Milwaukee with the team to take a physical.
The Brewers are looking to bolster a pitching staff that has been struggling with injuries and inconsistency all season.
To make room for Tavarez on the 25-man roster, Milwaukee optioned left-hander Zach Jackson to Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers will be Tavarez's ninth team. He has pitched for Cleveland, San Francisco, Colorado, the Chicago Cubs, Florida, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Boston in his 16-year career.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 5:28 PM | Permalink
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Lester named A.L. Co-Player of the Week
Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester and Detroit Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordoñez have been named the Bank of America Presents the American League Co-Players of the Week for the period ending Sunday, May 25, it was announced today.
On May 19, Lester became the 18th pitcher in Red Sox history to throw a no-hitter, accomplishing the feat against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed two walks and fanned nine batters, throwing 130 pitches on the night en route to both his first complete game and shutout. Overall last week, he went 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 14.0 IP. In 12 starts in 2008, Lester is 3-3 with a 3.55 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 71.0 innings. This marks his first career weekly award.
Lester is the third Red Sox player honored with the A.L.’s weekly award this season, joining Manny Ramirez (April 14-20; shared with Miguel Cabrera) and Kevin Youkilis (May 5-11).
Last week, Ordoñez hit .478 (11-23) with four doubles, three home runs and nine RBI. The 34-year-old outfielder posted a 1.043 slugging percentage along with a .500 on-base percentage. On the season, he is batting .323 with nine home runs and 35 RBI. This marks his eighth career weekly award.
Posted by Corey Bourassa at 4:50 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Ortiz raises the Yankees' ire again
Click here to listen to Sean's daily audio report, which is audio only today. The topics include the weekend debacle in Oakland, last night's win over the free-falling Mariners, Kevin Youkilis' mysterious hand injury, and the controversy over David Ortiz's "called shot" promotion, set to take place at Yankee Stadium to the dismay of the regular tenants.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 1:43 PM to Projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam
Baseball Today: Tuesday, May 27
TIMING IS EVERYTHING IN LIFE . . . and there's probably no better time to come to Safeco Field than right now, considering the Mariners had lost 19 of their last 24 prior to last night. (And looked pretty pathetic in the process, especially lately: They were outscored 31-13 in losing three straight at Yankee Stadium, directly on the heels of getting outscored 30-14 in losing three straight at Comerica Park.) But you'll forgive the Red Sox -- losers of seven straight road games before they arrived in Seattle -- if the needle on their sympathy meter didn't jump a whole lot, since they had their own ship to steady. And steady it they did, as Bartolo Colon (above) pitched seven strong innings and the Sox bats finally came alive against Felix Hernandez in the eighth in a 5-3 win that, as Sean McAdam reports, gave them their first victory away from home since May 10. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo talked to some of the players about their away-from-Fenway struggles and lays out some pretty startling home-and-road statistics that perfectly explain how the Sox are 21-5 in Boston and 11-17 outside of it. David Pinto of Baseball Musings goes even deeper into the numbers -- comparing them to Tampa Bay's home-and-road stats -- and warns that a "falloff from [the Sox'] current .808 home winning percentage may mean trouble, as Tampa's home/road record looks sustainable." But these days Seattle is a pretty safe port in a storm (Seattle Times), and the Sox are resting comfortably there this morning after some rough seas prior to their arrival.
TROUBLE BY THE BAY: The waves were particularly harsh in Oakland, where the Red Sox lost 8-3 on Friday night, were almost no-hit in losing 3-0 on Saturday night and concluded their weekend of distress with a 6-3 loss on Sunday afternoon. Masochists are invited to click the links to any of McAdam's game accounts.
CHANGING TIMES: Used to be that managers under fire claimed they didn't read the newspapers. Now, if you're the Mariners' John McLaren, you claim you don't read the blogs. (USA Today)
PERSPECTIVE: The difference between real-life problems and what pass for problems in baseball was never demonstrated more starkly than on Sunday, when cancer survivor Jon Lester told the world that his father is also suffering from a form of lymphoma. (projo.com) He spoke optimistically about John Lester's chances of beating the disease, saying his father "will die with [cancer], not from it." Here's hoping that's true, Jon.
'MY FRIEND': Driving that point home further was the shocking death of former Red Sox and PawSox pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, who was struck by lightning in his native Venezuela on Saturday. McAdam has reaction from the Red Sox and Joe McDonald relates the comments of PawSox manager Ron Johnson, who was "absolutely crushed" by the news. Curt Schilling adds some thoughts on 38pitches.com.
THE COMEBACK TRAIL: Lester's no-hit twin, Clay Buchholz, had an impressive first outing with the PawSox on Sunday as he rehabs from his torn fingernail. Paul Kenyon has the details.
WHAT A SHORT, STRANGE JOURNEY IT'S BEEN: Bill Reynolds first met Buchholz in the McCoy Stadium clubhouse last August. He caught up with him again on Sunday and they talked about how different life has become since the no-hitter.
TALKING BASEBALL: Joe Haggerty provides the transcript of his Sunday interview with Buchholz on his Hacks With Haggs blog.
'RATHER WORK WITH HIM THAN POINT A FINGER AT HIM': That's the Red Sox' philosophy regarding the defensively challenged Julio Lugo, whom they're hoping will regain his glove skills by extra work with infield coach Luis Alicea. (Boston Globe)
SPEED KILLS: I admit, I'm puzzled about baseball's new speed-up rules. On Friday night we saw Dave Magadan kicked out of the game when umpire Tim Tschida wouldn't allow J.D. Drew to put pine tar on his replacement bat (projo.com), but I saw at least three -- and maybe more -- instances in other games over the weekend where a batter broke his bat, went and got a new one, and then retired to the on-deck circle to apply pine tar with no ejection, no warning, no nothing. But regardless of how the rule is enforced (or not), David Ortiz thinks it's stupid. (Boston Globe) So does Kevin Youkilis (Boston Herald) The Joy Of Sox' Allan Wood finds clips that point out baseball has been talking about speeding up games for at least 80 years, and then makes some tangible suggestion -- like cutting down commercial time between innings, or calling the strike zone as the rule book lays it out -- that would actually make things go quicker.
AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: As those of us hereabouts fret about the Sox -- and let's face it, the fretting came pretty easy this weekend -- baseball writers around the country continue to marvel about the 'Ol Towne Team. Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus, writing on his blog Rany On The Royals, says "I'm not sure there has ever been an organization that so towered above every other baseball team in every way -- financial, player development, statistical analysis, creative thinking, what have you -- as the Red Sox do right now." And on the heels of the Sox' arrival at Safeco, the Seattle Times' Larry Stone said they "might be the model franchise in baseball." He adds: "You don't hear much about the Curse of the Bambino these days."
See? There is a God!
THERE SURE IS: Back in November and December when the Johan Santana rumors were flying, Chad Finn pretty well articulated the reservations some had about emptying the minor-league shelves for him. The Sox resisted the temptation and now, Chad gleefully reports, it looks like they made the right decision. (Touching All The Bases)
ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Think you've heard of every obscure record in baseball? Bet this is a new one for ya: The Rays are the first team since 1900 to have the best record in baseball through Memorial Day after having the worst record in baseball the previous year. (Tampa Tribune) They got there with a 7-3 win over the Rangers, coupled with a Diamondbacks' loss to the Braves.
CLOSET STATHEAD: Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon wants to see if there's a way to determine how many runs a player costs his team defensively, which can then be added to the runs he produces as a hitter to create a baseball plus/minus rating. (St. Petersburg Times)
WHERE ARE YOU, MARINERS? The Yankees were hoping they were back on track after their weekend sweep of Seattle, but the Orioles brought them back to Earth with a 6-1 victory that featured five runs off Yankee relievers in the seventh inning. ShysterBall, noting the worrying that Joba Chamberlain's move to the rotation has sparked about who'll pitch the eighth inning for the Yanks, says forget that; what about the seventh?
THE DEBATE CONTINUES: Put down Phil Pepe as a 'no' in the Should Joba Be A Starter? poll. (yesnetwork.com)
HE'S NOT ALONE: Remember the complaints about Chamberlain's on-the-mound histrionics after recording key outs? The White Sox are now grousing about Frankie Rodriguez doing the same thing. (Chicago Tribune)
DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES: Joe Posnanski wants to like Derek Jeter. He really does. But he's so fed up with the empty veneration of Jeter -- for instance, as a great defensive shortstop when in fact he may be the worst in baseball -- that he's come up with a new verb: "Jeterate -- to praise someone for something of which he or she is entirely unworthy of praise." And what set this off wasn't even his defense. It was his getting caught in a rundown and staying in it long enough for the other runners to advance to the next base a few nights ago, which apparently set off a five-minute Sterling/Waldman lovefest on the Yankee radio broadcast. ("He waved them to the next base! What a leader! What a man! Who else in the world could have gotten caught in a rundown long enough to get runners to move up?") And then, writes Joe, "when Hideki Matsui singled to score both runners, they took it up another step and canonized Jeter."
And so did he, with a new word. Jeterate. Write it down.
RETHINK YOUR DECISION: A few hours after Mets management stated emphatically that Willie Randolph wouldn't be fired, fans at Shea started a "Fi-re Wil-lie!" chant in the waning moments of a 7-3 loss to Florida. (New York Post) But the Post's Joel Sherman thinks the fans should focus their anger elsewhere, saying, "Maybe this is not about the leader as much as it is about the led."
KID STUFF: Gary Carter is blaming the media for misinterpreting comments he made about the Mets' managing job that sounded as if he was campaigning to replace Randolph. Former teammate Keith Hernandez is a member of the media now -- color analyst on the Mets' TV broadcast -- and he called Carter "indelicate [and] graceless." (Both stories Newsday)
THINK THE BAR IS HIGH ENOUGH? The blog Driveline Mechanics breaks down Dodger phenom Clayton Kershaw and concludes he "exhibits all the performance of a Sandy Koufax without the mechanical flaws." O-kay.
START SHREDDING THE CONFETTI: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mark Bradley likes what he sees regarding the Braves.
HERE AND THERE: Brewers third baseman Bill Hall is losing playing time and he's not happy about it (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) . . . It looks like top prospect Jay Bruce is about to be recalled by the Reds (mlb.com) . . . John Smoltz may need another rehab appearance (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . Alfonso Soriano has been catching some heat in Chicago, but yesterday he was defending by the Cubs (Chicago Tribune) . . . Chone Figgins may be headed to the disabled list. (Los Angeles Times)
OLD FRIENDS: There's been a Pokey Reese sighting! Even though he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2004 and hasn't been with a big-league team since spring training 2006, the Nationals signed him to a minor-league contract. (Washington Post)
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:44 AM | Permalink
Late Red Sox notes
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE -- Late postgame notes . . .
* * *
Manny Ramirez collected an RBI last night and now has 110 in his career against the Mariners, moving him into a tie for 10th place with Hall of Famer Robin Yount in that category.
* * *
J.D. Drew, who was 2-for-3, has hit in 9 of his last 10 games against the Mariners, hitting .344 (11-for-32) in that span with six RBI. Drew has hit safely in all but 7 of his 42 games this season.
* * *
David Ortiz move into a tie with Josh Hamilton for second-most homers in the American League. Only rookie Carlos Quentin has more in the A.L. The homer was the second in as many games for Ortiz and was the third time this year he's homered in consecutive games.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 1:51 AM | Permalink
Red Sox 5, Mariners 3: Road to ruin comes to an end
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
SEATTLE – Desperate for a road win, the Red Sox seemingly had come to the wrong place.
Safeco Field, after all, had been an unfriendly way station for them in recent years. Before last night, the Sox had lost 9 of their last 11 here, making this an unlikely spot for the team to snap its seven-game road losing streak.
But in Bartolo Colon, making just his second start as a member of the Red Sox, Boston had the right man on the mound. Colon, who was 8-1 at Safeco during his career, limited the slumping Seattle Mariners to a single run on five hits over seven innings, directing the Sox to a 5-3 victory, their first away from Fenway since May 10.
Tied 1-1 in the eighth, six straight Red Sox hitters reached base after two were out, leading to four runs.
The loss sent the beleaguered Mariners to their 20th loss in the last 25 games.
"It was satisfying to shake hands (after a game)," said Terry Francona. "We’ve had our share of frustrating (road) losses lately."
Through seven innings, Colon and Felix Hernandez hooked up in a terrific pitcher’s duel. Hernandez, who one-hit the Sox at home in April of 2007, retired the first 10 hitters he faced before David Ortiz hammered a pitch out to straightaway center.
The lone run off Colon sixth came on a single by Ichiro Suzuki, a hit batsman, a sacrifice and a groundout.
In the eighth, the Sox had Julio Lugo on second with two out when Dustin Pedroia lined a 96-mph hour fastball over the lead of left fielder Raul Ibanez, scoring Lugo with the go-ahead run.
"I was just trying to get a fastball," Pedroia said. "I got one out over the plate and put a pretty good swing on it."
Following an intentional walk to Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, playing in his 2,000th career game, lashed a run-scoring single to right. Two more runs then crossed the plate on an infield hit by Mike Lowell and a bases-loaded walk to Jason Varitek.
"We put some good at-bats together," said Pedroia, "and we were fortunate to get some runs."
Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless eighth and Jonathan Papelbon yielded two unearned runs in the ninth.
Still, Colon was the difference-maker. Over 84 pitches, he threw about 80 percent fastballs, mixing in his two-seam sinker for variety.
"He was much sharper (this time than last)," said Varitek of Colon. "His fastball was truer. He threw it through the zone. It’s his fastball that sets everything else up for him, especially when he has that kind of command."
Of Colon’s 84 pitches, 59 were strikes. He walked just one hitter in his seven innings while improving to 2-0.
"I felt good," said Colon. "I threw more strikes tonight and stayed ahead of the hitters. And it feels even better because we won."
Acknowledging that he threw few breaking or off-speed pitches, Colon said: "I’m going to continue to work on that."
Though he allowed just five hits, Colon was called upon several times to work out of jams.
In the third, a one-out double into the left-field corner by Kenji Johjima and a single to right from Yuniesky Betancourt gave the Mariners runners at the corners. But Colon got Ichiro to hit a shallow fly to center, then retired Jose Lopez on a groundout to second.
After Ichiro had scored the first Seattle run in the sixth, he had to contend with Lopez at third and two out. But Colon stranded him there by retiring Adrian Beltre on an inning-ending groundout.
Finally, Ichiro came to the plate with runners at the corners and two down in the seventh, but flied to center, marooning two baserunners.
The Sox, too, were frustrated in the early going, though they did succeed in making some loud outs against Hernandez.
J.D. Drew was on first with a one-out single in the fifth when Varitek drove a pitch to the deepest reaches of right-center. Ichiro turned and sprinted for the wall and made the catch over his shoulder on the warning track, a split-second before running face-first into the center-field padding.
Ichiro tumbled back to the ground, momentarily stunned by the collision, but had the presence of mind to flip the ball back into the infield to hold Drew at first.
Posted by Sean McAdam at 1:49 AM | Permalink