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Gammons on the Big Show: Sox ‘need Drew badly’

07.02.10 at 9:54 am ET
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MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons joined the The Big Show Thursday afternoon to talk about the media frenzy surrounding LeBron James‘€™ free agency, the future of Victor Martinez behind the plate and J.D. Drew‘€™s neck injury ‘€” along with the rest of the wounded soldiers in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Following is a transcript. To listen to the entire interview, please visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

Let me ask you, as a media observer, and you’€™ve been part of different electronic and print media, are you amazed at what you see right now with this whole LeBron [James] fiasco? I don’€™t think I’€™ve ever seen anything like it before in my life.

No, it’€™s remarkable. I mean we were talking about, for one thing, there’€™s just so much media now. And it’€™s so wild, I mean people are tweeting every 30 seconds. And it’€™s all out there. You have the two phenomenons coming — two trains running here on separate tracks. I’€™ve never seen anything in baseball like a Stephen Strasburg right now. He can draw almost three times as many fans in Atlanta. He pitches they draw forty-something thousand. He doesn’€™t pitch, they draw 14 to 18,000. I mean, it’€™s incredible. And the LeBron thing is, you’€™re right, it’€™s beyond ‘€“ I’€™m trying to think of other great players when they went out in the market and I mean, it’€™s not even close.

There’€™s so many of us and there’€™s so much out there. In baseball we have some really good sites. MLBTradeRumors.com and the tweets come through on my phone like every 30 seconds. I mean it’€™s just incredible and the LeBron thing’€¦it’€™s great for somebody. And you know, he’€™s a great player and he’€™s a great personality.

I do think there may be some backlash in the end, that if especially if he doesn’€™t go to Cleveland, and he ends up picking the place he wants and taking people with him. I think that there could be, from the NBA crowd across the country, there could be some backlash here. ‘€¦Peter go back to 2000 and the Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez off-season, and imagine if we had Twitter back then and the way things are now. I think that would be comparable to what’€™s going on right now.

Manny would be checking out his Twitter.

Can you imagine what it would’€™ve been in like in that off-season? Remember those winter meetings?

I remember them well. I got stuck in Dallas because of ice storms. So I was like the last guy, the last reporter to get to ESPN. They had a group of seniors and there was a caroling concert. And there were all these seniors and carols and here I am talking about Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez and they’€™re singing ‘€œHark the Herald Angels Sing’€ [laughter].

Alright, let’€™s get to this Red sox situation. It’€™s remarkable what they’€™ve been able to pull together and Terry Francona and the crew over there deserve an awful lot of credit with all the injuries. We had Dustin Pedroia on yesterday, the latest of the injury bunch. But looking at where they are right now, and how they’€™ve been able to piece this and put this thing all together, are you not concerned about this bullpen right now, Peter?

No question. Just as I’€™m very concerned about the Yankees bullpen. You start thinking about who’€™s available and I don’€™t think Toronto’€™s going to trade [Scott] Downs or Jason Frasor within the Eastern Division. There’€™s so little out there, and both teams are going, ‘€œUh oh, you know, we better get our starting pitchers pitching.’€ The Yankees have to get A.J. Burnett beating somebody, and the Red Sox need Beckett back and to get some more innings and length out of the starters because I’€™m not sure where the solutions come from at this point. I don’€™t see teams with decent relievers making it available right now.

Does it concern you not even more, and that you look at how many innings Daniel Bard has pitched, now he’€™s been amazing and a lot of it’€™s been because I don’€™t know maybe there’€™s not as much as trust here in [Hideki] Okajima but does that not concern you in the second half of the season, that if he tires out a little bit, where will that bullpen be?

No question. I mean that’€™s something that’€™s bothered me. As a matter of fact he appeared in five of the first six games back in April. I sent him a text asking if he had an incentive bonus for appearances. I mean, a power guy like that doing this for the first time, you worry about that.

July and August are the months when people really wear out relievers. But I know they’€™re very aware of it. John Farrell‘€™s talked to me about it. They’€™re trying to monitor it and they’€™re still hoping that they can get Okajima back. I know Jason Varitek felt that there was a stretch, by necessity, where he got up where he got up six times in seven days and didn’€™t get into the games. And it impacted him. And I didn’€™t get a negative response from the manager or pitching coach on that either. They were sympathetic to that. But the problem is, [Scott] Atchinson’€™s been OK, he’€™s actually done a pretty good job. But the other guys, you look back and say OK what is there possibly in the minor leagues?

Michael Bowden‘€™s starting to pitch really well and it’€™s come to the belief that he’€™s going to be a situational right-hander and coming out of the bullpen. I don’€™t know whether that kid out of the Independent League, [Robert] Coello, if he’€™s going to be ready to help. But they have to struggle around for them. It’€™s amazing we won that Saturday afternoon game when [Atchison] ended up having to start because [Daisuke] Matsuzaka couldn’€™t pitch. That was amazing. They’€™ve had some great things happen and [Felix] Doubront may end up coming up for [Clay] Buchholz next week. Ironically, their game days are exactly the same so he could step in and pitch in Tampa.

Two nights ago you have an 8-1 lead, you’€™re late in the ball game and you figured here’€™s a night we can get away without using much of that bullpen and you end up with Bard, you end up with Papelbon’€”those nights kill you. And now, if Manny Delcarmen has a physical issue here, then you’€™re going to have to find somebody, Peter, how do you do that? Where do you find them right now?

My guess is their first choice is Bowden. And then they scour waiver wires, you know, do you take [Chad] Qualls from Arizona? He’€™s still got good stuff. He can’€™t close, but he’€™s got good stuff.  But if you take him on he’€™s got a pretty big contract. And I don’€™t know if you want to waste that money before the trading deadline. So I think you’€™ll see a scramble of about 10 underachieving middle-relievers get traded out after the All-Star break. But that’€™s one of those things.

I used to create these trades where you get some guy like Qualls or some guy who’€™s an underachieving middle reliever, and you just keep trading, so they trade him around to 10 different teams for another middle reliever and then he ends up on the same team he started for. But it’€™s a serious issue for them. And it’€™s hard enough playing.

One of the things assumed about this team is that it’€™s going to be an interesting offensive team because you’€™re going to have [Marco] Scutaro batting ninth, [Jacoby] Ellsbury hitting first, Pedroia second, Victor Martinez third.  And it looks, ‘€œOh, that’€™s going to be a really good team.’€ When Ellsbury’€™s on base, Pedroia hits fastballs all the time’€”he’€™s a great fastball hitter. And they’€™ve had those four guys in place for four games this season. And the whole Ellsbury thing, there doesn’€™t seem to be any answer. And clearly there’€™s a divide, there’€™s a divide between Jacoby and his people and the trust of the Red Sox medical staff. There’€™s no doubt about that.

So do you think this thing continues on a lot longer than this?

I don’€™t think so. I keep hearing that OK, sometime in three weeks or so. But we don’€™t know. I think there’€™s a concern that Pedroia will come back too fast, and his foot won’€™t be right. So you’€™re just trying to get through to the first of August and stay within two or three games–is really, I think, the goal. Then you hope that you have Beckett, [Jon] Lester, Buchholz, Matsuzaka and [John] Lackey‘€”you have that rotation in place to save the bullpen. It’€™s getting there.

It’€™s been incredible what they’€™ve done without these people. A lot of times, it kind of reminds me of a basketball game when you’€™re down 30 points, and you make the run, and you get within four, and you get really excited, people just get worn out trying to get there. And as I think we are seeing with the Phillies, as the Red Sox completely revolve around Pedroia, the Phillies completely revolve around Chase Utley. Their personalities are summed up in those players. Sometimes you just burn out playing without those guys.

Peter I’€™m curious about Victor Martinez’€™s future. We all know it’€™s the last year of the contract, we all know he didn’€™t sign. But now he got hurt. We’€™re in July now, the trading deadline’€™s here. Is there any chance he does get traded if he gets healthy quick enough, and what is his future?

No, he’€™s not going get traded. He’€™s too important to this team. He’€™s actually, with the work he’€™s done, his throwing is back down to a little under two seconds to second base which isn’€™t bad. It’€™s average. He’€™s a good receiver–very good receiver, great hands. That’€™s not the problem because he can catch another year here. The question is how do they work out the deal after this year. Because if he’€™s a DH-first baseman, he’€™s not worth anywhere near as much as catching. But you can’€™t give him a Joe Mauer contract because he’€™s not going to be just a catcher for the next eight years or whatever Mauer signed for. So that’€™s a very tricky contract.

Right, because their side is going to be looking at it a little different’€”that he’€™s going to be ‘€œthe best available catcher out there.’€

Yes. But I have a feeling that he’€™ll end up staying because he likes it here so much. But it is a tricky situation. And the fact that’€”and of course, it’€™s complicated the current situation’€”the fact that they have both their catchers in Triple-A on the disabled list. That’€™s kind of slowing this thing even further. I do give him a lot of credit though. I don’€™t think he’€™s 29. His toes were essentially broken, and he never stopped playing. But then you can’€™t play with injuries in two different places in your body so they sit him down for a couple weeks.

Let me ask you the J.D. Drew question. We’€™re over at Fenway yesterday. Tito gives out his lineup around 3:00. J.D. Drew’€™s in the lineup. About an hour-and-a-half later, we find out that J.D. Drew can’€™t go, obviously coming in and telling the skipper he can’€™t do it because of the stiff neck. Pedroia’€™s doing our show, an interview shortly, I think, around 3:00, he’€™s out there on the field taking grounders on his knee.

Now I know so much of what we do is what we do is based on comparisons. And it’€™s not fair to compare anybody to Dustin Pedroia because he’€™s such a unique individual. How frustrating is it, though? How difficult is it for a manager when he’€™s already trying to band-aid lineups together from day to day to find out that the guy can’€™t go an hour-and-a-half before the first pitch?

I think it’€™s very frustrating. And actually there has been situations this year when Tito was going to give Drew time off because he had been banged up and Drew said, ‘€œNo, I’€™m playing. You need me.’€ So, I believe the neck was really bothering him. But the thing that’€™s frustrating is that we have seen a couple months’€”September and October, two years ago when they won it in 2007, two years ago June and about the middle of July’€”J.D. carried the team. He’€™s a great player. And that’€™s the frustrating part. You’€™ve got so many guys hurt right now. When you’€™ve got the top third of your order out of the lineup you need J.D. He’€™s a high on-base guy. ‘€¦ he’€™s probably the best baserunner on the team. And for him not to be in it, it is frustrating. I mean there come’€™s a point when you want everyone to pull together. Victor was playing with that bad toe. Scutaro was playing hurt for a month. I’€™m not questioning J.D., except that you do say, ‘€˜Oh,’€™ you wish that he’€™d like hurry up once in a while.

Listen, there’€™s no denying that certain guys over the year, Max and I talk about Scott Wedman all the time in basketball because he was one of those guys’€”you know he was one of those guys that an hour before the game would sit there and say, ‘€œSorry I can’€™t go tonight.’€ There are some of those guys that just need to be close to 100 percent or close to 100 percent. They don’€™t believe that they can play. I don’€™t if its low tolerance for pain, its part of their make up or whatever.

But what you said is exactly right, Peter. What they need right now, because Pedroia and Victor Martinez have carried them here and obviously [Adrian] Beltre, have carried them in the last month. They need him to get hot right now. They can’€™t afford to have him not even in the lineup.

No, that’€™s why’€”and it’€™s been remarkable what people like Darnell McDonald have done.

Absolutely but can they continue doing that, Peter?

No, and that’€™s why Darnell is in his 14th year and is finally playing. And he’€™s done a terrific job for them. But no, they need Drew very badly. That was ‘€“ one June, I think two years ago when he was the best hitter in the American League for a month and carried them through a very difficult period. But they need him back very badly.

The one thing about this stretch without Pedroia is that at least they’€™re not playing a couple of back-to-back series against the Yankees. But they still have a two and  three-game series with Tampa. They could use J.D. to go down to Tampa next week and have huge games against [Matt] Garza or [James] Shields or whoever they’€™re facing. They need that. And also, they need his defense in right field because Mike Cameron is not catching the same this series. He plays, I don’€™t know how in the world he does it, he goes out there and plays with that abdominal tear. But he does it. He tries. He misses balls we know he can catch. But I give him credit for trying.

Peter I’€™ll gladly eat some crow on Adrian Beltre’€”I don’€™t think I’€™ll be the only one. But it’€™s been a remarkable half-a-season so far for him, he should probably be an All-Star. How does this play on the rest of the  year and beyond with Beltre now?

Well, this is exactly what Scott Boras and Theo Epstein knew. This is why he came here cheap for one year, turning down three years with two other teams. Because he wanted to restore his career, so they got him on a one-year deal. And Adrian’€™s not taking that $5 million player option.

He’€™s not taking the $10 million with 640 plate appearances either, is he [laughter]?

No. I like him because he is the player I thought he was. ‘€¦ The Seattle situation was really bad for him, and I spent a lot of time with the Dodgers when he was there. They botched up an appendectomy in the Dominican Republic and I remember Gary Sheffield pointed it out with his shirt off. There was stuff oozing out of his side. He was still out there working out in 90 degree heat in a blue uniform for three hours, playing his heart out. This is a really tough guy. But he’€™s going to make himself a lot of money.

Has he always done this where with that swing, with the power swing, he drops to the knee and then the bat seems to drift? And how do you get power? He’€™s literally hitting the ball on the follow through. His knee is coming down.

I think it was Don Orsillo called it a wedding proposal [laughter].

It’€™s kind of like a wedding proposal. Have you ever seen that? Has he done this for a while?

Well he says he has. We just never saw it in Seattle. First of all, he is so big and so strong. I mean, I’€™m sure Belichick would love to give him a shot. He’€™s got that great body and that great quickness. But he said what he does is that the way he gets these looking fast balls, and he gets curve balls, or breaking balls down in the zone. He tries to follow the ball down and then come up on it. I’€™ve never seen anybody else do that. It’€™s fascinating, except for he always says to me, ‘€œJust, please tell people’€”kids’€”don’€™t try to do this. It’€™s the wrong thing to do but I don’€™t care.’€

Did you see Varitek dive out of the way of him on that ‘€˜tweener between home and third the other day?

That was hysterical. I mean, nobody wants to go near him at all [laughter].

Oh my goodness, he was taking two guys out already, so why would you go near him? But what do you think now about the whole situation with Tampa Bay? B.J. Upton who just two years ago, I thought, when we saw him in October I said, ‘€œHe’€™s ready to go to the next level,’€ you know, an eight-tool player, nine-tool player, whatever. And yet, now he seems, in Joe Maddon‘€™s doghouse to [Evan] Longoria, argument with him the other day, –and I don’€™t blame Longoria because he was certainly dogging it out there in centerfield’€”is that messing that team up right now, Peter?

Yeah, for a couple of reasons. One, they really needed him to have a big year. In spring training, one of the things that he’€™s lost in a lot of periods, is he’€™s lost his original swing. We were actually looking at some video of him two days ago and where his swing was three years ago, and where it was in the playoffs in 2008, and where it has been, where he just drifts. ‘€¦ he doesn’€™t get started, he’€™s late. They just throw fastballs by him. And, that’€™s all in that set-up. And spring training, he seemed to have restored his set-up. He worked with his hitting coach all winter in Tampa. I’€™m the genius who picked him to be the MVP so I raise my hand and say you can post me anywhere you want.

Well there’€™s not a more talented guy in Major League Baseball today that can virtually do everything, but you can’€™t see between the guy’€™s chest, but apparently there isn’€™t enough there. Something’€™s missing here.

There is. And Joe’€™s hoping that that whole thing will kind of wake him up, that he’€™ll reapply to the work that he did in the winter. And also realize that the question was raised that, do you know what it looks like when people are showing that replay over and over of you going half-speed after a ball in reality? I mean, that’€™s going to get shown. It’€™s a part of the nature of what we do today.

And fans are rightfully, totally in power of players who don’€™t play hard. I don’€™t think B.J.’€™s a dog, I just don’€™t think he really understands. His brother, who is actually more talented, would never have that happen. But they’€™re two distinctly different personalities and I think B.J. just gets discouraged, gets down and doesn’€™t do it. I hope that this whole thing will cause him to break out of it and become a really good player. But at this point, we were talking about his trade value. I think a lot of teams will be afraid of him at this point because you’€™d have to give up a lot to Tampa Bay to get him.

We look now at a three-team race, here in the East, and a threat to the Red Sox of making the postseason. Are the Rays, right now, facing that, in the off-season, that turning point, that breaking point. They’€™re not getting their stadium right, they’€™re not getting their ball park, they’€™ve got two key players, free agents, Upton right now has been a disappointment. They can’€™t really go and spend the money now. Peter, are they at the breaking point here of maybe they’€™re going to drift down to that next level?

It’€™s a distinct possibility. They do have very good young pitching. I mean, I told Garza last night, Garza and Shields, they can take Shields out and put Jeremy Hellickson in there. He’€™ll be fine. ‘€¦So they know their windows of players. I mean they can say, all they want, ‘€œBoy, oh, we’€™ve got Desmond Jennings coming next year.’€ But Desmond Jennings hasn’€™t yet proven that he’€™s Carl Crawford at a Major League Level.  He’€™s hit .270 in Triple-A, which is fine, but that’€™s not Carl Crawford.

I can remember talking to their owners and saying, ‘€œYou’€™ve got to do things in about four-year windows and then you have to go back, and build back up.” Now Minnesota got lucky because Minnesota got the new stadium and all of a sudden all these Fortune 500 companies come in. They’€™re now a top eight, top 10 revenue team. So they went from being a small market team that was being contracted, to being almost a large market team.

But that’€™s not going to happen in Tampa. They’€™re not going to get ten Fortune 500 companies moving in there in the next three years.

Hey, Peter, I’€™ve got one last thing. A month from today, the Red Sox are coming back from a West Coast trip. It’€™s a Thursday. They’€™re off. And the trading deadline is Saturday. They’€™ve got a lot of moving parts heading into this off-season. Could we see something crazy from Theo Epstein a month from today?

I think it’€™s always a possibility because I think Theo is never afraid to do something really creative. I look at it and I say they’€™ll figure it out at the end of the season what they’€™re going to do with certain things. The other three infield positions are going to be set because they have [Portland Sea Dogs prospect Jose] Iglesias coming in two years to play shortstop. I can see them doing something creative with a catcher. I can see them doing something pretty creative with an outfielder, but I don’€™t think you’€™ll see anything too wild.

One thing I keep thinking about, and you know Cleveland will have to pay at least half the money–and you’€™re probably going to say, ‘€œPeter’€™s screaming about Eric Gagne again’€’€”but the one guy that kind of intrigues me is Kerry Wood. And he has had three saves in a row. He’€™s throwing 98 miles an hour, but he’€™s throwing 98 and hasn’€™t done’€”but at the same time he’€™s intriguing to get as a guy to pitch in the seventh inning. And I just wonder if he might not be a guy that he would go after, after the All-Star break. Because you know if we only have two months to his contact then he’€™s done, then maybe we can do that.

Read More: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, J.D Drew, peter gammons

What? The Orioles? Again?

07.02.10 at 9:11 am ET
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Boy, it seems like the Red Sox are playing the Orioles every time I turn around. Well, here are some pre-holiday weekend Sox nuggets to get you ready! I’ve got a couple of things about tonight’s game against Baltimore and then I threw in some bullpen/Delcarmen info and a blurb about John Lackey’s season so far at home.

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* – Last season, the Red Sox pounded Orioles’ pitching for 10+ hits in 15 of the 18 games played between the two teams (83%). Baltimore’s other opponents last season got 10 or more hits 48% of the time. It’s different this season, as the Sox have reached double figures in hits just 3 times in 9 tries (33%). All other O’s opponents this season have collected 10+ hits 38 times in 69 games (55%).

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* – Tonight’s starter for the Orioles is righthander Brad Bergesen, who is currently sporting a 6.83 ERA. So far in 2010, Sox opponents have trotted out a right-handed starter with an ERA north of 5.00 (as of now, not necessarily at the time of his start) in 14 different games, but Boston is a pedestrian 7-7 in those games (4-3 at Fenway). Compare that to last year, when they went 25-13 in those games (where the opposing starter ended his season with a 5+ ERA) and 2008 when the Sox were a ridiculous 29-7 (19-2 at Fenway Park).

In the 48 games against these struggling righties at Fenway since the start of the ’08 season, the Red Sox have averaged 7.4 runs per game.

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* – Sox starter Tim Wakefield not only has a 5.21 ERA, his strikeout rate per nine innings (4.9) is the lowest of his career. On the plus side, his walks per nine is also the lowest of his career (2.0). He’s allowed at least one HR in his last six starts dating back to May 28. The last time he allowed a HR in seven consecutive starts was back in 2000 and his longest such streak ever is 8.

One Other Thing: Since 1952, four Red Sox starters have allowed HR in 10+ consecutive starts: Earl Wilson (12; in 1964-65), Roger Moret (11; in 1973-74), Roger Clemens (10; in 1986), and Mel Parnell (10; in 1955-56). The longest such streak in the majors is 20, by Bert Blyleven (1986-87).

One More Other Thing: Baltimore’s starter on Sunday, Jeremy Guthrie, has allowed at least one HR in 9 straight starts against Boston. The all-time record streak (since ’52) is 11, by Mudcat Grant, from 1960-64.

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* – The Red Sox bullpen has allowed 35 home runs this season, the most in the majors. It comes out to 1 HR every 27.66 batters faced, which would be the 4th worst mark by any bullpen since 2000:

25.23 – Colorado Rockies, 2001
26.60 – Baltimore Orioles, 2006
26.93 – Kansas City Royals, 2000
27.66 – Boston Red Sox, 2010

If it holds, it would be the 2nd worst by a Red Sox bullpen since 1952:

26.63 – 1987 Red Sox
27.66 – 2010 Red Sox
31.71 – 1994 Red Sox
34.23 – 1962 Red Sox

This bullpen won’t threaten any since-1952 league records for HR allowed:

92 – Kansas City Athletics, 1964
88 – Detroit Tigers, 1996
86 – Baltimore Orioles, 2006

But they might have the club records in sight:

63 – 1987 Red Sox
60 – 2000 Red Sox
59 – 1999 Red Sox

Note that the ’99 and ’00 Sox bullpens don’t show up on the HR rate leaderboard because of the sheer number of batters that they faced those two seasons (2,300+ each year). The 2000 Sox used relief pitchers to face an average of 15.0 batters per game. Whew. This year’s average is 12.2 per game.

One More Thing: From April 24 through July 29, 2007, Red Sox relievers appeared in 78 games and allowed 11 home runs. This year, Red Sox relievers have appeared in 76 games and have allowed 35 HR.

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* – John Lackey is 7-1 at Fenway Park this season and sports a 4.55 ERA there. He is one of only five pitchers since 1970 to win 7+ games at home by June 30 despite an ERA over 4.00 and Lackey’s 4.55 is the highest:

John Lackey, BOS, 2010 – 7-1, 4.55
Shawn Chacon, COL, 2003 – 7-1, 4.21
David Cone, NYY, 1998 – 7-0, 4.06
Bruce Hurst, BOS, 1987 – 7-1, 4.10
Rick Rhoden, LAD, 1977 – 7-1, 4.12

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* – Here are the Red Sox pitchers since 1970 who have allowed 5+ ER in an appearance without recording an out:

Manny Delcarmen, Wednesday vs TB
Rich Garces, 9/19/01 vs TB
Dario Veras, 7/5/98 vs CHW
Dennis Lamp, 7/28/90 vs DET
Bob Stanley, 8/2/86 vs KC
Allen Ripley, 4/22/78 vs CLE

All except Lamp’s entry came at Fenway. Veras remains one of only three pitchers to allow 5+ ER without getting an out in a game in which his team won. Veras started the 6th that day with an 11-3 lead and allowed walk, single, walk, single, double, all of whom eventually scored. Chicago ended up scoring 8 in the inning, tying the game at 11-11, but Boston would go on to win a wild one, 15-14.

One Other Thing: My nomination for the “Worst Outing Ever”: Cincinnati’s Paul Wilson started against the Dodgers at home on May 6, 2005 and allowed the following before getting the hook with still no outs in the first inning:

Hit By Pitch
Home Run
Single
Home Run
Walk
Hit By Pitch
Double
Double

I recall Manager Lou Brown in the movie “Major League”: “I think you can go get him now.”

Have a safe Fourth!

Source: Varitek out 4-6 weeks with broken foot

07.01.10 at 11:40 pm ET
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According to a major league source, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek has suffered a broken foot and will be out 4-6 weeks. WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche was first to report the injury. The news comes shortly after it was learned the Red Sox had re-acquired catcher Kevin Cash in a trade with Houston in exchange for infielder Angel Sanchez. Starting catcher Victor Martinez is already on the 15-day disabled list after suffering a fractured thumb on his left hand. For more see the Red Sox team page by going to weei.com/redsox.

It’s official: Sox get Cash back from Astros

07.01.10 at 9:27 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced that they have re-acquired catcher Kevin Cash from the Astros in exchange for infielder Angel Sanchez.

Cash was knuckleballer Tim Wakefield‘€™s catcher for all of the 2008 season, and he also has experience catching Red Sox pitchers Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Josh Beckett (as well as relievers such as Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima). With Wakefield slated to start on Friday, the Sox have dealt for a catcher with a proven comfort with their knuckleballer. The team had been planning to use Gustavo Molina (called up on Tuesday) for the start.

Cash was designated for assignment last week by the Astros, who wanted to clear a roster spot for top prospect Jason Castro. He was hitting .204 with a .271 OBP, .333 slugging mark and .605 OPS in 20 games for Houston this year.

Sanchez was called up by the Sox on Saturday, after Dustin Pedroia landed on the disabled list. He did not appear in a game during this call-up, but had appeared in one contest (going 0-for-3) in place of Marco Scutaro earlier in the year.

Here is the official announcement:

The Boston Red Sox today acquired catcher Kevin Cash from the Houston Astros in exchange for infielder Angel Sanchez.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Cash, 32, appeared in 19 games behind the plate (18 starts) and also pitched one inning for Houston this season.  He hit .204 (11-for-54) with two home runs and four RBI before being designated for assignment on June 22 and outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock on June 23.  The right-handed hitter returns for his second stint with Boston after going 35-for-169 (.207) over 73 games with the club in 2007-08.  Cash owns a career .993 fielding percentage (9 errors/1226 total chances) and has thrown out 44 of 154 attempted base stealers (28.6%) over parts of eight Major League seasons with the Blue Jays (2002-04), Rays (2005), Red Sox (2007-08), Yankees (2009) and Astros (2010).

Sanchez, 26, was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on June 26 but has not appeared in a game since his return.  He was selected to Boston’€™s active Major League roster on May 20 and played one game for the club, going 0-for-3 in a start at shortstop that night against Minnesota before he was optioned back to Pawtucket on May 24.  Sanchez hit .274 (61-for-223) with 17 RBI and 26 runs scored in 62 games for the PawSox this season, appearing in 47 games at shortstop, five at second base and one at third base.

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Delcarmen headed to DL with forearm strain

07.01.10 at 4:22 pm ET
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According to source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox will place relief pitcher Manny Delcarmen on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. Delcarmen has allowed nine runs over his last three appearances — which have totaled just one inning — giving up nine hits and two walks. Two of the right-hander’s last three outings has seen him not retire a batter. Delcarmen is coming off an outing against Tampa Wednesday in which he allowed five runs on four hits and a walk while not getting an out. He has a 2-2 mark with a 4.59 ERA in 33 appearances.

Video: The Laser Show – The Big Show edition

07.01.10 at 11:40 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia speaks to The Big Show about his team’s recent hot-streak, his broken foot and some other things going on with the ball club.

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How Buchholz nearly became a Cardinal

07.01.10 at 8:39 am ET
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A couple weeks ago, Clay Buchholz reflected back on the summer of 2005, when he was getting ready for the major league draft. He knew that the Red Sox were interested in him, but was unaware that the Dodgers had also been considering him for the No. 40 overall pick before instead tabbing pitcher Luke Hochevar.

The only other club that Buchholz knew to be interested in drafting him early was the Cardinals.

‘€œI hit with St. Louis,’€ recalled Buchholz, who was a shortstop and pitcher for Angelina Junior College in 2005. ‘€œI think they were looking to draft me in the third round as an outfielder.’€

Not quite.

Cardinals Vice President of Player Procurement Jeff Luhnow, who is in charge of St. Louis’ draft, recalls that Buchholz did work out for the Cardinals. That workout, however, came immediately on the heels of a workout for the Florida Marlins, who share a complex with the Cards in Jupiter, Fla.

“Unfortunately, he had thrown for the Marlins right before he came to us,” Luhnow recalled in an email, “and his stuff was nowhere near as good as it had been when we saw him in Texas.”

Even so, the workout did not dissuade the Cardinals from the idea of selecting Buchholz. They viewed him as a high-ceiling pitcher (and not a position player). Like the Sox, the Cardinals had stockpiled first-round draft picks that year thanks to departed free agents. After selecting outfielder Colby Rasmus with their first pick (No. 28 overall) and Tyler Greene with their second selection (No. 30), the Cardinals were ready to move on the right-hander.

“His curveball was the best in the draft that year,” wrote Luhnow. “We had him high on our board and were prepared to take him with our next pick.”

That pick was the No. 43 overall choice in the draft. But the Sox swooped in at No. 42 and grabbed the right-hander, who is now flourishing in Boston, positioning himself for an All-Star berth on the strength of a 10-4 record and 2.45 ERA.

And so, with Buchholz off the board, the Cardinals selected another high-ceiling right-hander with their pick, Mark McCormick. McCormick featured tremendous raw stuff — a mid- to high-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss curveball. But injuries and command struggles plagued him over four minor league seasons, and after he missed the entire 2009 season due to injury, the Cardinals released him.

Still, though that pick may not have worked out, the Cardinals did pluck another potential All-Star pitcher in that draft after Buchholz was off the board. In the 22nd round, St. Louis took left-hander Jaime Garcia, who is 7-4 with a 2.27 ERA as a rookie for the Cardinals this year.

Read More: Cardinals, Clay Buchholz, jeff luhnow, mark mccormick

Pedroia on The Big Show: ‘I feel like we can beat anybody’

07.01.10 at 2:25 am ET
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A week after injuring his foot on a foul ball, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia sat down with the guys on The Big Show to discuss his injury, the team’s strong play despite the lineup changes, his career day in Colorado, trash talking and laser shows.

“I’€™ve been saying ‘laser show’ since, well, it’€™s been a long time,” said Pedroia. “I remember hitting a bomb when I was 11 years old and someone came up to me and said, ‘Hey, what happened? I was in the bathroom.’ ‘You just missed the laser show, buddy. Might want to hold onto that bathroom a little longer. Take a bathroom break after the game.'”

A transcript of the interview is below. To listen to the full interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.

Sorry to hear about your injury.

Yeah, well, when you hit the ball that hard and you hit that part of your foot, something’€™s going to give. And you should check the ball, the ball’€™s a little messed up too.

Can you try to explain how Adrian Beltré can hit balls out of the park on one knee?

He’€™s putting everything he has into that ball. Last night he hit that ball for a double, the ball hit the Monster and he hadn’€™t even moved yet.

I think he’€™s hit about five or six of those this year from his knee.

Oh yeah.

Rumor on the street is that you’€™re out six weeks.

You know what’€™s funny about that, I went to the doctor the other day and I’€™m waiting to hear everything. Me and Mikey Reinold are just getting out of the car, he’€™s just dropping me off at my place, and I get up and sit down on my couch and there it is [on ESPN] that I’€™m out six weeks. I was like, ‘Man, I wish they told me that at the doctor’€™s office.’

Did you know right away when you fouled it off, that you were in trouble?

It hurt and usually when you do that ‘€“ I’€™ve done that a thousand times in my life, everyone has’€¦ I missed [the pad on my shoe]. I went to get up ‘€“ and it was cold that night ‘€“ and I was just thinking, ‘€œOh man, it just got me good, it’€™s cold, maybe that’€™s it.’€ And then I tried to get up and I couldn’€™t walk. [Terry Francona] and Mike Reinold came out and said, ‘€œWhat do you got?’€ I said, ‘€œLet me just finish the at-bat and we’€™ll see.’€ Thank God he threw me a ball because that would have been a circus, me trying to run to first base.

Knowing your short tolerance for things that get in your way, this injury must have really gotten to you.

Yeah, the thing in Pawtucket ‘€“ and that was my first year ‘€“ I got hit in the hand. These are freak things and I never thought I’€™d foul a ball off my foot and break my foot, but those things happen. We play so many games, something, sooner or later, is going to happen. I’€™ve never missed a significant amount of time before, so it’€™s kind of tough, but I’€™m going to get in there as soon as possible.

How long before you can come off the crutches? At the All-Star break?

They said two weeks on crutches and then in another three weeks, they’€™re going to take one of those CT scans and see how my bone is healing, then we’€™ll go from there.

One game rehab, back in?

Yeah, we’€™ll see where we are. I mean, I’€™m anxious to get back, but the guys that are filling in are doing a great job for us. As long as we keep winning ball games, it makes me take in a deep breath and heal a little bit better.

How hard was it to return back to Fenway and watch your team play while you’€™re stuck in the dugout?

It wasn’€™t that bad. I thought I would be miserable, but we’€™re 3-0 since I got hurt, so as long as we’€™re winning ball games, I’€™m going to have a smile on my face. I’€™m trying to do all I can during the game [to watch] and help guys out. I’€™m always around, but we got to just find ways to win games and we’€™re doing that, which is exciting.

What is the camaraderie like in the clubhouse with all those new faces and personalities?

We’€™re just trying to find ways to win, I mean it doesn’€™t matter. Guys have stepped up throughout the whole year. We’€™ve had a lot of guys get hurt all year, so each guy that steps up feels like they can play [well] and just fill out the new role. Every guy that has stepped up for a guy that has been injured has performed well and if they keep that going, when everyone gets healthy, we’€™re going to be one of the best teams in the big leagues. I mean, we already are with guys hurt so it’€™s pretty exciting.

When was it that the offense just clicked for you this season?

I tweaked my knee earlier in the season so that was affecting me a little bit. That last game in Cleveland, however, I got a few hits and I think we had an off-day, so I started to feel better physically, and the game started slowing down for me. I wasn’€™t trying to go out and hit everything instead of letting the ball come to me, which I normally do, and it all just took off. That’€™s what I’€™ve done and I’€™m a consistent hitter, but I have my hot streaks and my cold streaks, so once I got going, I felt like I couldn’€™t get out. It’€™s just tough timing, breaking my foot.

We know Jason Varitek is the captain and leader of this team, but it just seemed like this season, you’€™ve been the one to speak out and say the right things to the media.

I think we needed it. Everyone was struggling, we weren’€™t playing [well]. We got swept by [the Orioles] up in Baltimore. We weren’€™t playing [well] and I thought somebody had to say something. I don’€™t think me saying that made us start winning, we just started playing better. We started pitching better, we started hitting better, we did everything better.

When you pitch [better] ‘€“ and our pitching has been great ‘€“ that’€™s why we’€™ve been on a run for a while, because of our pitching. But obviously, we’€™ve been swinging the bats well, too, so if we put them together, we’€™re going to be real tough.

What fans were the most scared of at the beginning of the season wasn’€™t the offense, it was the run prevention.

You know, it’€™s funny about that because we all sit and talk. I’€™m in the batting cage ‘€“ I’€™m going to get asbestos poisoning from being in that cage all the time. We’€™re leading the league in runs scored, I mean we’€™re leading baseball, so obviously the guys we have are good offensive players. Our approach is great, we find ways to beat good pitchers. Ubaldo Jimenez, that guy was throwing 100 miles per hour and we scored six runs off him, so we have a great team and I feel like we can beat anybody.

The Sox have done a much better job of beating great pitching this year.

Our at-bats have been great, one through nine [in the lineup]. Marco [Scutaro] has been huge for us. He gets us great [at-bats] every night; a long at-bat with six, seven, eight pitches and then he either gets a hit or a walk. We have guys who do that, one through nine, and when you do that, you’€™re a tough team to beat.

How has this team with so many different dynamics worked so well, playing in different roles than they’€™re used to?

Well, their personality. All those guys that you said are first class people. You put them in any situation, they’€™re going to do the best they can to succeed. That’€™s the main thing; I think our organization has done a great job of finding guys who want to win and put winning first, [putting] themselves aside. When you got 25 guys doing that, it doesn’€™t matter who’€™s in there, they’€™re going to do the job and help to win the game.

How well have you adjusted to your double play partner, Marco Scutaro?

He’€™s a great guy [who] wants to win. He’€™s one of those guys who if he see something that you’€™re doing [wrong]’€¦ all the players police each other so much. We see how each other swings, how we’€™re doing everything and we tell each other, ‘€œHey man, you’€™re letting that ball get too deep’€ or ‘€œYou’€™re doing something at the plate.’€ He’€™s great at that. We’€™re always out there talking on the field and what a player. I’€™m pretty excited for him to be here and get noticed because he’€™s a great all-around player and he’€™s going to help us win.

So with all these players policing one another, does that explain why rookies have come to this team and produced great performances?

No, not really. You got to understand, the young guys we’€™ve brought up are really good; Jacoby [Ellsbury], all the pitchers we brought up, [Jon] Lester, all those guys have got great stuff. They’€™re going to succeed sooner or later, you just got to let them be. I think the biggest thing for a young guy is when they get brought up, you just got to let them be themselves. Don’€™t try to take them out of their game or do anything to make them think to themselves, ‘€œHey, this is what I’€™ve got to do to be a successful big leaguer, I got to do it.’€ I think we do a great job of that.

With the new guys, like Scutaro and Beltré, do they need a little bit of time at the beginning of the year to get relaxed with Fenway and the large expectations of the fans?

Not really, the only thing that [I could agree with] is they had to get used to the field. Playing at Fenway, it’€™s a little different because the ball snakes to you and can take some bad hops. Other than that, they both swung the bats [well] and they’€™re running the bases fine. [Playing] more [home] games, being around the guys, the new atmosphere, the new everything, it just takes a few games. Once they got used to it, you see what type of players they are. Beltré, he might just win the MVP, he’€™s having an unbelievable season. Marco, the things that he brings to our team are pretty special.

How fun is it to stand behind guys like Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and just see them work?

Oh yeah, they’€™re aces in the big leagues. Jon, after what he’€™s been through ‘€“ I didn’€™t play with Buck in the minor leagues ‘€“ but Jon Lester, in AA, this is what he was like in AA, if you can imagine that, he was mowing people down. He’€™s a pretty special talent and his makeup and everything that goes along with him is pretty special. Buck struggled in ‘€™08 and had a tough time, then last year he started down and then he started to work hard. Now you’€™re seeing him maturing. In my opinion, he’€™s an All-Star and there’€™s not a handful of guys that are better than those two.

What was your perception of Tito when times were tough for the Red Sox and he had to juggle the lineup regularly?

I think he did a great job. It takes time for everybody. We had some new pieces that had just [come] in and I think we all didn’€™t know what to expect. Once everyone settled down and once the lineup settled down, we started playing better, we had been pitching great. Sometimes you just [have] to weather the storm and every team is going to have bumps in the road, but we just had ours in the first 20 games, or whatever it was. Now, I know we’€™ve had injuries, but we’€™re one game out of first place in the toughest division in baseball, so we just got to keep it going.

How crazy are you going to be during this idle time before beginning your rehab assignment?

I actually do more stuff now than when I was playing. I got here at the same time and did all my rehab, then lifted weights for about 45 minutes, then took some ground balls on my knees and then threw a little bit. I want to make sure that my arm [doesn’€™t get] out of shape; my hand-eye, I want to make sure that’€™s fine so when I’€™m all healed up, I’€™ll play a couple of games, and then, let’€™s rock.

Can you explain the phenomenon that is ‘€œLaser Show’€?

I’€™ve been saying ‘€œlaser show’€ since, well, it’€™s been a long time. I remember hitting a bomb when I was 11 years old and someone came up to me and said, ‘€œHey, what happened? I was in the bathroom.’€ ‘€œYou just missed the laser show, buddy. Might want to hold onto that bathroom a little longer. Take a bathroom break after the game.’€ ‘€¦I think it’€™s ‘€™89 when it started.

So are you going to continue speaking trash while you’€™re on the DL?

Oh yeah, that part never leaves you.

Talking to the other pitcher, screaming at him?

No, no. I don’€™t actually scream at the other pitcher. I like all the guys, it’€™s good competition, but it’€™s good to have fun too.

Are there guys who do talk trash to other pitchers from the dugout?

No, no. Nobody’€™s doing that’€¦ except for Orlando Hudson, he gets all over them all the time.

Have any of the new guys that have come here this year been surprised with how much trash you talk?

Oh, [Mike] Cameron said that in spring training.

Yeah, he said that Bret Boone was pretty bad, but you were worse. How much of that is your personal makeup, or just your personality?

I don’€™t know, I just like to have fun. If you aren’€™t having fun, then pick another profession. You got to do something else. It should be fun, coming to the yard and hanging out with your teammates and playing against the best players in the world; this is a blast.

How well does security know you now in Colorado?

They know me after that last game. That wasn’€™t even a laser show’€¦ that was a rocket fest.

The story is during the 2007 World Series, when you hit the home run at Coors Field, security wouldn’€™t let you into the clubhouse.

Yeah, they asked me for my ID and they wouldn’€™t let me in. It turned into a fiasco. I just told them, very politely, I just said, ‘€œYou know what? You should just start watching the games, man. I’€™m the one leading off World Series’€™ with bombs. Go ask Jeff Francis who I am.’€

I had another great line when I left Colorado, and I haven’€™t told anybody this yet. I was walking out to the same guy and I said, ‘€œHey, you might want to get some chest protectors for the fans for the next home stand’€¦ Go get some catcher’€™s equipment for the guy in the 50th row. Air’€™s a little thin here.’€

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Laser Show, Red Sox,

Delcarmen to be examined for forearm soreness

07.01.10 at 1:48 am ET
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Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen, after failing to retire any of the five batters he faced in his team’s 9-4 loss to the Rays, said that he has been experiencing forearm discomfort for roughly the last week that will be examined by a doctor on Friday, following his team’s off-day on Thursday. The period of discomfort that the right-hander identified coincides with a three-outing stretch in which he has retired just three of the 14 batters he’s faced, allowing nine runs on nine hits and two walks while being credited with just one inning pitched.

“I think it’€™s my pronator or flexor mass or something in my forearm. It’€™s been for like a week,” said Delcarmen. “It’€™s been getting better every day, just having a little trouble getting extension on the ball. I’€™m going to see how the day off goes and then see how I feel on Friday.”

Delcarmen said that he was hoping to avoid a trip to the disabled list. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2003, and said that this injury felt “nowhere near” the early warning signs of the ulnar collateral ligament that he suffered then. He also said that his back — which had been bothering him in early June — now feels normal, but that his forearm soreness has been preventing him from pitching effectively.

“It’€™s been sore for a week. Some day sare better than others. I felt like I could throw today, but I couldn’€™t get the ball in front. We’€™ll see what happens,” said Delcarmen. “I probably shouldn’€™t take [the ball] at times, but I still feel like I go out there and compete. I was just leaving the ball right there on the plate and I couldn’€™t throw my offspeed for strikes.

“Everyone in this bullpen will take the ball whenever, he added. “So it kind of sucks that my elbow’€™s sore, but we’€™re just going to do some treatment and hopefully I’€™ll be good by Friday.”

Delcarmen became the first Red Sox pitcher to face at least five batters without recording an out since Hideki Okajima allowed all five Yankees hitters he faced to reach base last Sept. 1. Delcarmen’s ERA has more than doubled from 2.23 to 4.59 over his last three appearances.

Read More: elbow, forearm, manny delcarmen,

Closing Time: Rays 9, Red Sox 4

06.30.10 at 10:48 pm ET
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It would not be much of a stretch to suggest that Matt Garza is the pitcher with whom the Red Sox have the most dificulty right now. The Rays right-hander entered his start in Boston with a 6-3 record and 3.36 ERA against Boston, and since the start of the 2009 season, he owned a 3-2 record and 3.07 record against his AL East foe, the latter mark being the best by any pitcher in the majors with at least 30 innings against Boston.

“We’ve seen him at the top of his game,” Sox manager Terry Francona said before Wednesday’s game.

The Sox caught another glimpse of Garza’s best stuff on Wednesday, as Boston lost to Tampa Bay by a 9-4 count. Garza overpowered the Sox through seven innings, allowing just one run before he tired in the eighth (following a lengthy half-inning by his teammates at the expense of Sox relievers). Garza finished the night having allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings, striking out five in the process.

That performance proved more than enough, in no small part due to another night on which the Sox bullpen looked like a major vulnerability.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The Red Sox remained in the game into the eighth inning, trailing just 3-1 despite Garza’s excellence. But any hopes of a comeback quickly vanished on the watch of a bullpen that allowed six runs on Wednesday after permitting four scores the night before.

Manny Delcarmen continued a stretch in which he has been brutally ineffective. All five Rays who faced him reached base: three on singles, one on a walk, one on a double. All five crossed the plate. Over his last three outings, 11 of the 14 batters he’s faced have reached base, with nine crossing the plate. Over those three appearances (in one week), he has seen his ERA soar from 2.23 to 4.59. Ramon Ramirez allowed the runners he inherited from Delcarmen to score when he gave up a homer to Jason Bartlett, leading to a night in which the Boston bullpen permitted six runs.

The Boston bullpen now has one of the worst ERAs in the game (4.80), and has permitted 35 homers (most in the AL). While GM Theo Epstein said on Tuesday that the Sox would prefer to achieve a bullpen improvement through better performances by their current group of relievers, that possibility seems increasingly unlikely.

Kevin Youkilis has been so good for the last three years that he is, at times, subject to unfair standards. That is certainly the case in suggesting that the Sox first baseman is currently ensnared in a slump that spans all of seven games. That said, he had his worst night of a recent tough spell on Wednesday, going 0-for-4 and punching out twice against Garza. He has now gone down on strikes in 10 of his 26 at-bats during his last seven games, a span in which he is hitting .154/.231/.346/.577. He has struck out multiple times in six of his last 10 games.

Youkilis also committed one play that was charged as an error, throwing a ball away on a relay to the plate (a throw he should not have even attempted), and later kicked a hard-hit ball to his right that was scored a single — a difficult play, but one that he often makes.

Mike Cameron failed to make a difficult play that could have changed the complexion of the game. With runners on the corners and one out in the top of the fourth inning of a scoreless game, he mistimed his leap on a drive to deep center field by Rays catcher Kelly Shoppach. And so, instead of hauling in the ball at the wall in center field, it sailed just over Cameron’s glove for a two-run double. The play had a high degree of difficulty, but it could have been made. While one of the runs would have scored (as a sac fly), the other might not have crossed the plate in the inning. Indeed, the play became of even greater consequence when the Rays added on another run with a two-out single by Ben Zobrist that scored Shoppach.

J.D. Drew was a late scratch from the lineup with a stiff neck.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

David Ortiz served as the Red Sox offense, clubbing a pair of doubles and driving in three runs. Though it was not on a level with his exceptional performance in May, the Sox DH finished June with a .238 average, .928 OPS, six homers and 22 RBI. It was particularly noteworthy that opposing teams are once again pitching around Ortiz, who led the majors with 21 walks in the month of June.

–It wasn’t pretty, but Daisuke Matsuzaka gave the Red Sox a quality start. He allowed three runs in six innings — all in the fourth inning — while allowing just four hits and four walks. He punched out seven.

Matsuzaka managed to avoid harm despite loading the bases on three walks in the first inning. But he could not elude harm after starting the fourth with a walk and a single that put runners on the corners in front of Kelly Shoppach‘s two-run double and a two-out run-scoring single by Ben Zobrist. Even so, had a defensive play been made on Shoppach’s double, Matsuzaka might have finished the night having allowed just one run.

Eric Patterson made some positive contributions in his first game with the Red Sox, collecting a single, getting hit by a pitch, scoring a run and working a 10-pitch flyout against Rays starter Garza. However, he also became the first Red Sox since Sean Casey (March 26, 2008) to ground into a double play in his first plate appearance with the Sox. (It is worth noting, however, that Patterson was likely safe at first base.) For the day, he was 1-for-3.

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