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Penny’s worth

06.17.09 at 8:56 pm ET
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Brad Penny, who has been pitch-inefficient for much of the night, just breezed through the fifth inning in 12 pitches. As was the case in his last outing against the Yankees, he is showing more power (fastball regularly at 96 and 97 mph) and better breaking stuff, with a curve and change that have both effectively unbalanced the He’ll likely be out of the game after reaching 100 pitches through five innings (Justin Masterson is warming in the bottom of the fifth), but he has once again turned in an excellent line: 5 innings, three hits, one run, four walks (perfect, he’s not) and three strikeouts. That’s one earned run in his last 11 innings.

Update: Penny is out, Masterson on for the sixth — and by on, we mean “on like Donkey Kong.” Masterson retired the side in order in the sixth on 13 pitches, striking out Dan Uggla and John Baker in the process.

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Buchholz booed in Pawtucket

06.17.09 at 8:56 pm ET
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After giving up a two-run homer to Knights catcher Cole Armstrong, Clay Buchholz was booed in the sixth inning of Pawtucket’s bout with Charlotte. The PawSox still lead the Knights, 5-3, in a game started by John Smoltz.

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Pedroia bounces back

06.17.09 at 8:50 pm ET
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The move to the leadoff role has coincided with Dustin Pedroia’s worst stretch of baseball in more than a year. Since moving into the top spot of the lineup, the 2008 A.L. MVP was hitting .190 with a .277 OBP, .276 slugging mark and .553 OPS in his previous 13 games entering Wednesday’s tilt against the Marlins.

But in the past couple of games, the scrappy second baseman has shown signs of emerging from his funk. On Tuesday, he went 2-for-5, lining pitches away to right field. On Wednesday, he continued to succeed with an opposite-field approach. Batting with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, he zipped a 96 mph Andrew Miller fastball to right for a two-run single. That hit came one inning after he had lined another single to right against Miller.

In his career with the bases loaded, Pedroia is now 15-for-36 (.417) with a .476 OBP and .611 slugging mark.

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Why the Sox acquired Rocco

06.17.09 at 8:12 pm ET
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Rocco Baldelli is not an everyday player. When he has been in a few straight games this year, he has become worn down by the end. He’s well aware of his limitations, and so he takes pride in those contributions he can make while playing sporadically.

At this point, with roughly 40 percent of the season concluded, we know this much: the man can hit left-handed pitchers.

Baldelli stepped to the plate with runners on second (David Ortiz, following a double – more on that in a moment) and third (Mike Lowell, after a single) in the bottom of the second. He lined a first-pitch, 93 mph fastball from left-hander Andrew Miller into left-field for a run-scoring single that tied the game, 1-1. The Sox later tacked on another run against the Marlins starter to take a 2-1 lead after two.

On the year, Baldelli is now hitting .311 with a .900 OPS against lefties. In that sense, he is doing precisely what the Sox hoped he would when they signed him this winter.

As for Ortiz, somewhat surprisingly, he is doing more damage against left-handers than right-handers this year. He now has 11 extra-base hits and a .440 slugging percentage in 75 at-bats against lefties, compared to 10 extra-base hits and a .321 slugging mark in 140 at-bats against righties.

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The Nostalgia! Smoltz done in Pawtucket

06.17.09 at 8:05 pm ET
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John Smoltz‘ Triple-A time is over after four innings on Wednesday.

After Michael Restovich grounded out to third, Smoltz walked Daryle Ward on four pitches. Betimit then flew out, nearly taking Paul McAnulty to the warning track. Cole Armstrong ended the fourth by grounding out to first, which sparked a standing ovation for Smoltz.

In four innings of work, Smoltz threw 61 pitches, 36 strikes of which went for strikes. He allowed a run on three hits while walking one and striking out two. He placed a high priority on throwing his changeup, which led to several missed bats.

Smoltz is slated to face the Nationals in D.C. next Thursday in his Red Sox debut. Check back here for his post-start comments.

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Smoltz allows leadoff homer in third

06.17.09 at 7:49 pm ET
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John Smoltz ran into a bit of trouble in his third inning of work on Wednesday, allowing a leadoff homer to Keith Ginter on a 2-0 count.

After back to back flyouts by Miguel Negron and Eider Torres, center fielder Brent Lillibridge singled to center and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Josh Kroeger ended the inning by grounding out to second on a 3-2 pitch in a seven-pitch at-bat.

Smoltz threw 24 pitches in the inning and mixed in a higher percentage of fastballs than he did in the second inning, in which he was a bit more resourceful. In total, the right-hander has thrown 49 pitches, 31 strikes, and has given up a run on three hits while striking out two. His fastball has been at 91 mph regularly according the gun at McCoy Stadium. He will return for the start of the fourth.

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“Different pitcher” arrives in Pawtucket

06.17.09 at 7:27 pm ET
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John Smoltz said that he was going to be a different pitcher. If Wednesday’€™s second inning is any indication, he’€™s going to be a damn good one.

After getting Michael Restovich to fly out and striking out Daryle Ward, Smoltz gave up the Knights’€™ first hit to former Yankee Wilson Betemit. He eventually got Cole Armstrong to stiek ouyt swinging on a changeup after the Charlotte catcher worked the count full, but what was so impressive was his habit of going back to his changeup and curveball time and time again.

Even though both Betemit and Armstrong made him throw more pitches than he would have liked, he still relied on the change, a pitch that he feels will be a big part of the new pitcher he has become.

Through two innings Smoltz has thrown 25 pitches, 15 strikes, allowed one hit, and struck out two.

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Ellsbury’s error

06.17.09 at 7:24 pm ET
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For the first time in his major-league career, Jacoby Ellsbury committed an error.

In the top of the first inning, with Hanley Ramirez on first and two outs, Jorge Cantu lined a Brad Penny pitch towards the gap in left-center. Ellsbury got a great read on the ball and was positioned to track it down, but it skidded off the edge of his glove for a two-base error that scored Ramirez from first. Prior to that, Ellsbury had played 232 games and had 554 chances without an error, the longest gaffe-free streak by an outfielder in Red Sox history, and the longest errorless stretch in the majors since Endy Chavez went 253 games without an error from 2005-2008.

As a result of Ellsbury’s error, the Sox trail the Marlins, 1-0, after the first inning.

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Smoltz has 1-2-3 First

06.17.09 at 7:11 pm ET
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That was quick.

John Smoltz needed only six pitches to retire the side in order in his first inning of work against Charlotte. Leadoff hitter Eider Torres flew out to left on Smoltz’€™ second pitch before Bubba Bell made a great diving catch to rob Brent Lillibridge of a base hit. Knights first baseman Josh Kroeger then ended the inning by lining out to his counterpart in Aaron Bates on the first pitch of his at-bat, Smoltz’€™ first changeup of the night. One of the main purposes of this start is for Smoltz to make sure his changeup is ready for his Red Sox debut next Thursday against the Nationals.

In total Smoltz threw six pitches, four of which went for strikes.

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Red Sox vs. Marlins Match-Ups, 6/17

06.17.09 at 2:42 pm ET
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MARLINS VS. BRAD PENNY

Though Brad Penny emerged as one of the top pitchers in the National League as a 16-game winner for the Dodgers in both 2006 and 2007, it was with the Marlins that he first truly made his mark on baseball. In the 2003 World Series, he was

Penny is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in three career starts against the Marlins, though he’€™s faced few of the current Fish. Here is how he’€™s fared against the current representatives of Florida. The quirkiest element of the history: in 22 combined plate appearances against Penny, the current Marlins have not drawn a single walk:

Ronny Paulino (7 career plate appearances vs. Penny): 1-for-7
Wes Helms (5): 1-for-5
Emilio Bonifacio (3): 2-for-3
Hanley Ramirez (3): 1-for-3
Dan Uggla (3): 0-for-3
Ricky Nolasco (1): 0-for-1

TIGERS VS. ANDREW MILLER

The Red Sox have faced Andrew Miller just once, but the outing likely left an impression. In 2007, when he was still with the Tigers, he pitched seven innings and allowed just one run on three hits.

The 6-foot-6 left-hander, the sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft, was in the same college rotation as current Sox reliever Daniel Bard at UNC. But whereas Bard has been cementing his prospect status in the majors this year, Miller ‘€“ occasional outings such as the one in 2007 against the Sox notwithstanding ‘€“ has yet to achieve consistency in the majors.

He is 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA for the Marlins this year, but just 13-18 with a 5.49 ERA in parts of four big-league seasons. It would not be a stretch to suggest that he was rushed to the majors (in part because he signed a major-league contract out of college), and his development may have paid a price.

Still, he will face a Sox lineup that is a combined 1-for-15 against him:

J.D. Drew (3 career plate appearances): 0-for-2, walk
Mark Kotsay (3): 1-for-3
Mike Lowell (3): 0-for-2, walk
Julio Lugo (3): 0-for-2, walk
Dustin Pedroia (3): 0-for-3
Jason Varitek (3): 0-for-3

Read More: andrew miller, Brad Penny,
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