|Closing Time: Dempster, Red Sox continue home pitching woes in blowout loss to Indians||05.23.13 at 10:46 pm ET|
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona and his Indians team looked very much at home at Fenway Park while the current Red Sox squad looked completely out of sorts in a lopsided 12-3 contest.
Cleveland teed off against Sox starter Ryan Dempster and relievers Clayton Mortensen and Alex Wilson. With the 12 run (11 earned) yield, the Sox now have a 4.33 ERA at Fenway Park — a mark that ranks 10th among the 15 American League clubs, and that represents a stark departure from the team’s AL-best 3.45 road ERA. The result has been felt in wins and losses: The Sox are a somewhat modest 13-11 at home and 15-9 on the road. They’ve lost six of their last seven at Fenway, and for the first time since 2006, yielded 12 or more runs in consecutive home games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Starter Ryan Dempster turned in his third straight poor start and his second straight in which he a) struggled to find the strike zone and b) failed to go as many as five innings. Indeed, the 35-year-old logged a season-worst three innings while permitting four runs on five hits (one double, four singles) and four walks. He did strike out four.
In his last two starts, Dempster has now walked 10 batters in just 7 2/3 innings. This marks his first back-to-back outings of four-plus walks since 2011. Over his last three starts, he’s permitted 15 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings (10.66 ERA), with his ERA climbing from 2.93 to 4.69 in that time. Read the rest of this entry »
|Will Middlebrooks leaves game with lower back spasms||05.23.13 at 9:17 pm ET|
Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was replaced by Pedro Ciriaco prior to the top of the fifth inning with what the Red Sox described as lower back spasms. Middlebrooks had been 0-for-2 with a pair of strikeouts on Thursday.
The 24-year-old has been dealing with discomfort as a result of a separation of his ribs from the cartilage connecting them to the sternum earlier this month as a result of a collision with catcher David Ross, but the suggestion of back spasms represents a new malady. In his last three games (including Thursday), he’s 0-for-10 with one walk and five strikeouts, bringing his line for the season to a .201 average, .234 OBP and .408 slugging mark.
More on the situation as information becomes available.
|Terry Francona on return to Fenway Park: Closure not required in return to Fenway Park||05.23.13 at 7:56 pm ET|
The event did not represent closure. Terry Francona said that he achieved that some time ago.
Nor did his arrival in Fenway Park some sort of exercise in the distinctly German undertaking of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, a coming to terms with the past. After all, Francona returned to Fenway Park several times last year, whether to take part in various celebrations (the Fenway centennial, the 2004 World Series team’s eight-year reunion) or to broadcast games for ESPN.
The idea of heading to a different clubhouse and a different dugout at Fenway Park than the one he occupied for eight seasons did not jar Indians manager Terry Francona. Still, as he prepared to wear the uniform of a club other than the Red Sox at Fenway for the first time since 2003, he acknowledged — and welcomed — the fact that there would be an unfamiliar element injected into his experience at the oldest ballpark in baseball.
“Every game I’ve ever been here, I’ve never rooted against the Red Sox. Now I will be [doing so] like crazy,” Francona said from the visitors’ dugout on Thursday afternoon, prior to his team’s game against the Red Sox. “You know what, it’s kind of nice. I came in today early because I knew it would be a busy day, seeing a lot of people you know. Whether you come in the ballpark and make a right or a left, those people are still the same. I got a chance to visit with a lot of people, which was fun. And go to our clubhouse. That’s part of probably why it’s making this easier to come back because I’m so proud of who I’m with now and what we’re trying to do that it probably makes this trip a little easier for me.”
Francona suggested that, after arriving in his hotel at 5 a.m. and waking up three hours later, he hadn’t had the time or energy to experience a wave of emotions about his return to familiar territory. After all, he acknowledged that he had long ago achieved closure on his time with the Red Sox — thanks in no small part to the year he spent away from the dugout in 2012 as an analyst for ESPN — and he’s fully committed to his new undertaking as manager of a surprising Indians team that has zoomed out to a 26-19 start that has Cleveland atop the AL Central.
“I kept talking about getting perspective. I have no perspective. When we lose, it kills you. When we win, I’m happy. And I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” said Francona. “Every game means the same to me in Cleveland as it ever did here. The goals are exactly the same, it’s to win the game we’re playing. but I like where I’m at. Maybe for where I’m at in my life and baseball, this is a really good place for me. I’m really comfortable with where I’m working and who I’m working with. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have challenges because we are. But I am enjoying the idea of tackling them with the people I’m with. … Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox notes: David Ortiz’s durability ‘better than expected,’ David Ross nears return||05.23.13 at 6:28 pm ET|
It was an entertaining sight and accomplishment that hinted at a more significant truth.
On Wednesday night, David Ortiz stole a base. And, in fact, the recorded a career milestone, swiping third for the first time in his career, inspiring general delight in his team.
“It was a 3-2 count, put runners in motion, and with his speed, he outright stole it,” deadpanned Red Sox manager John Farrell.
But the fact that Farrell could implement a running play with his 37-year-old DH pointed to a more significant development than just a steal of third. As they planned for the 2013 season, the Red Sox remained generally optimistic about the prognosis for Ortiz as he returned from his Achilles injury. Even though they understood that he might not be ready on Opening Day, the team thought that he’d be ready to go fairly early in the season.
Yet even when on the active roster, the team expected that the type of injury from which he was returning would require some concessions. If he ended up, for instance, needing to sit a day a week, the team was prepared for such a turn of events.
Thus far, that hasn’t been necessary. When he returned from the DL in mid-April, Ortiz had a pair of scheduled days off in his first four games back. Since then, he’s played in 25 of the Sox’ last 27 contests, getting one day off to rest and another to permit soreness in his intercostal to calm down. He hasn’t needed to make any concessions to his Achilles. In the process, he’s exceeded the amount of time for which the team expected him to be on the field — not just in terms of the frequency of his availability, but also with the intensity of his play.
“Once we got past that first 10 days of activity when he returned to us, the consistency of daily activity has probably exceeded our initial thoughts. He’s responded physically in a good way coming out of every game,” said Farrell. “It’s not because he’s just jogging to first and coming back to the dugout. He’s been running the bases quite a bit and he’s in a good place physically. the overall durability has been a little bit better than expected this year.”
Of course, there is a potential danger in using a player aggressively in the early stages of his return from injury when he is feeling healthy. In 2009, for instance, the Sox used Mike Lowell heavily in the early stages of the season following offseason hip surgery. His production ultimately dropped off the table.
Given that, Farrell was asked, how do the Sox guard against overusing a player who is feeling good but may require some management of a condition that does have some physical aftermath? Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino remains out, Mike Carp in left field||05.23.13 at 3:16 pm ET|
Outfielder Shane Victorino remains out for a third straight game due to his strained hamstring. In his absence, the Red Sox will feature Daniel Nava batting second and playing right field, with Mike Carp getting his fifth start of the month and his first since May 17. He will play left field and bat ninth against Indians starter Zach McAllister. Carp is 1-for-4 with a homer and walk in five career plate appearances against McAllister.
RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Daniel Nava, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Stephen Drew, SS
Mike Carp, LF
Ryan Dempster, SP
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Zach McAllister||05.23.13 at 11:34 am ET|
The Red Sox will welcome Terry Francona and the Indians to Fenway Park on Thursday night, with Ryan Dempster taking the hill for Boston, facing off against right-hander Zach McAllister.
It was clear almost immediately that Dempster wasn’t on his game during his last start. The right-hander struggled through 4 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits while walking six Twins batters. He labored through the short outing, throwing 127 pitches, his most since 2011 and only three shy of his career high. Manager John Farrell came out to get Dempster after the fourth run scored, but the starter talked his way into facing another batter. The decision wasn’t a good one, as Dempster gave up a RBI single to Jamey Carroll before exiting. The Red Sox scored 12 runs and won the game, but Dempster was not eligible for a win.
“I just couldn’t throw it where I wanted to throw it,” Dempster said about his fastball after the start. “I kept missing away with it, missing up with it, missing off the plate with it. I didn’t really have any of my pitches tonight. That’s frustrating when you’re out there and can’t throw your fastball where you want, can’t throw your split where you want and can’t throw your slider where you want. Just have to work on it between starts and get them next time.”
Dempster has given up 15 runs (13 earned), 20 hits and four home runs over his past 16 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 4.27 on the season. His start on Saturday was his shortest of the season.
Dempster will be opposed by McAllister, who has been a consistently positive force in the Indians rotation, owning a 3-3 record and 2.65 ERA through eight starts. The 25-year-old hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his outings this year.
The righty was effective again in his last outing, throwing 7 1/3 scoreless innings before allowing a two-run home run to Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan. McAllister kept his pitch count down, throwing only 95 pitches, walking one and striking out one.
“He pitched to contact,” Francona said after the game. “He pitched very well, and he’s been that pitcher for us. For a young kid, he’s very reliable, and he’s getting better, and it’s exciting.” McAllister didn’t factor into the decision, but the Indians would go on to win the game in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off fielder’s choice, their second walk-off win in as many days.
McAllister’s last start against Boston was one of his least effective outings this season, as he went five innings, allowing three runs on six hits, including a home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. McAllister is 1-2 with a 4.05 ERA against the Red Sox in his career.
McAllister throws a four-seam fastball in the low-90s, a cutter in the mid-to-high 80s, a change-up and a curveball. McAllister also introduced a splitter to his repertoire this year but isn’t throwing it with much frequency yet.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Christian Vazquez puts on a show; Pat Light gets injured; Kolbrin Vitek gets versatile||05.23.13 at 11:13 am ET|
Hitting for the cycle is not a feat that is accomplished often, but it’s just as rare to find a player who just nearly misses the cycle by collecting four extra-base hits — including a double, triple and home run — but fails to hit a single. Christian Vazquez did just that on Wednesday night, though.
The Portland Sea Dogs catcher went 4-for-4 with a walk, two doubles, a triple (the fourth of his career, with the other three all coming in 2011) and his third home run of the season. Vazquez scored twice and drive in two. He even had a stolen base, swiping third for his fourth stolen bag of the season. His triple came in the 10th inning, and Derrik Gibson, who pinch-ran for Vazquez, scored the winning run for the Sea Dogs.
Vazquez is often lauded for his remarkable defensive ability. In spring training he had the single-fastest time on a throw from home to second (1.77 seconds) that numerous longtime evaluators had ever seen. One evaluator who was recently in Portland raved about his game management and work with a pitching staff that is featuring some spectacular performances, suggesting that Vazquez has an ability to instill complete confidence in his pitchers with whatever finger he puts down, while Peter Gammons recently tweeted that a major league scout called Vazquez “the best young catcher [he’s] ever seen” behind the plate.
But the 22-year-old is enjoying a fine season with the bat as well. He’s batting .298 on the year with an impressive .412 OBP, drawing 18 walks (compared to 14 strikeouts) in 29 games. There is no question that Vazquez’ defense will play in the big leagues. Offense likely will determine whether he emerges as a starter or backup at the game’s highest level. If he can continue to show the strike zone management and on-base skill that he’s demonstrated to date this year, then there remains a chance that he could emerge as a big league regular at some point.
After all, the average AL catcher this year is posting a line of .247/.317/.412 — so Vazquez shows the potential for well above-average on-base abilities at a position that typically produces outs in volume. His .412 OBP ranks 10th in the Eastern League. He’s younger than all nine of the players who are in front of him. In that respect, while Wednesday night offered a highlight reel, Vazquez is building a more considerable body of evidence to suggest his emerging prospect status.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: OFF DAY Read the rest of this entry »
- Red Sox ink veteran lefty Rafael Perez to minor league deal
- Cup of Coffee: Vazquez nearly hits for cycle in Portland’s walk-off win
- Players of the Week, May 13-19: Mookie Betts and Matt Price
- Cup of Coffee: Montas strikes out eight in Greenville loss
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #34
- ESPNBoston: De La Rosa finding his way in Pawtucket
- Cup of Coffee: Bradley, Holt shine in PawSox loss
- Xander Bogaerts, Portland to headline Futures at Fenway
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: Matt Barnes
- Cup of Coffee: Henry, Diaz propel Pawtucket to blowout victory