|Top 4: Penny done||04.17.09 at 8:42 pm ET|
For Brad Penny, 85 pitches was plenty. A five-pitch walk to Adam Jones leading off the fourth was all the Red Sox needed to see.
Manny Delcarmen is now in the game for Penny. The Red Sox, who had used the off-day to get their bullpen back at full strength following the one-inning outing by Daisuke Matsuzaka on Tuesday, will now be left to scramble for the next few days. More immediately, Delcarmen gave up a double to Nick Markakis that scored Jones from first. Markakis now has five runs batted in.
Penny’s final line: 3+ innings, six hits, eight runs (all earned), five walks, one strikeout. Today marked the 16th time in Penny’s career (and first since August 2007) that he has walked five or more in a game. Probably not the Fenway Park debut he imagined when he signed with the Red Sox.
Penny gave up eight or more earned runs for the eighth time in his career. Remarkably, though he’s made just two of his 247 career starts at Fenway, two of those 8+ run yields have come in Boston. In his career at Fenway, he’s now allowed 17 earned runs in two starts spanning eight innings.
|3rd inning: Red Sox whittlin’||04.17.09 at 8:36 pm ET|
Brad Penny left a fastball middle-middle to leadoff man Luke Scott, a pitch that the Orioles D.H. whacked for a single to right. Velocity hasn’t been a problem for Penny. Location has. The Sox once again asked Hunter Jones to begin warming in the bullpen. Jones’ mother is at the game, having made the trip from Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. Looks like she might see her son make his big-league debut within the next inning or so.
After Gregg Zaun flied to right, Ryan Freel – he of Ruthian stature against Penny – walked to put runners on first and second. The O’s couldn’t capitalize, however, as Cesar Izturis popped to third (infield fly) and Brian Roberts grounded to first (unassisted) as Baltimore went scoreless.
The Sox, no doubt, had an interesting dugout dilemma about whether to leave Penny in the game while he was getting hammered in the second, or even after he put two on with one out in the third. A couple things to keep in mind:
1) With Justin Masterson scheduled to start on Monday, the Sox lack a long man in the bullpen.
2) If the Sox turn too early to their bullpen, they could well torch their relievers for the next two nights as well.
3) Aside from the team’s interest in seeing Penny regain his rhythm, the Sox would almost certainly like to see him build his pitch count. He threw 86 pitches in his first start. Now, after three innings, he is up to 80 pitches in this game.
The Red Sox continue to whittle. Does anyone whittle anymore? If there was a whittle on the Red Sox, it would likely be J.D. Drew, and so it seemed appropriate that he smoked a homer off the back wall of the visitor’s bullpen to right to lead off the inning. Drew has now homered three times this year, all of his shots coming in the last five games.
In case you were wondering, Drew’s April numbers don’t vary signficantly in either direction from his career line. He is a .279 hitter with a .383 OBP, .492 slugging mark and .875 OPS in the month, compared to career marks of .283 / .391 / .502 / .893.
The Sox did no further damage, as Guthrie went all Medea on a pair of Jasons, sandwiching strikeouts of Jason Bay (changeup) and Jason Varitek (fastball) around a pop out by Mike Lowell.
Still, Drew’s whittlin’ now has the Red Sox within a safety.
Orioles 7, Red Sox 5
|UPDATE: 2nd inning – Orioles 7, Red Sox 4||04.17.09 at 7:51 pm ET|
The Orioles lineup features a couple of hitters who have done quite a number on Brad Penny throughout his career, and they were part of an Orioles effort to plate the game’s first run. Ty Wigginton (a career .389 hitter against Penny) bounced a single to center, and fellow Astros refugee Luke Scott (2-for-3 vs. Penny) then slapped a single down the left-field line to put runners on the corners.
Like most pitchers, Penny is not as effective while pitching out of the stretch as he is out of the wind. Opponents hit .255 with a .312 OBP and .393 slugging mark against him with the bases empty, and .281 / .345 / .435 with men on base.
Gregg Zaun worked a seven-pitch walk to load the bases, still with no outs, and bringing Ryan Freel to the plate. Against Penny, Freel becomes Babe Ruth, having worked a .421 average, .522 OBP and .632 slugging mark against the Sox starter in his career. Nonetheless, Penny and pitching coach John Farrell both seemed troubled when Penny gave up a four-pitch walk to force in the first run of the game. (Orioles 1, Red Sox 0.)
Farrell came out to the mound for a visit, and Hunter Jones began warming in the bullpen for what seems almost certain to be his major-league debut. Jones, for those who were wondering, did not eat his steak on the flight back across the country after his wild – and ultimately unsuccessful – effort to arrive for Wednesday’s Sox-A’s game. After being awakened at 3 a.m. and scrambling to make his connecting flights, he was exhausted, and slept soundly on the flight back East.
Anyhoo, O’s shortstop Cesar Izturis was retired on a soft liner to third on which Mike Lowell nearly doubled off Scott. But with the first out finally achieved, Penny endured a brutal sequence. Brian Roberts lined a run-scoring single to left to put the Orioles ahead 2-0. Adam Jones walked to force in another run.
And then, after jumping ahead of Nick Markakis with a first-pitch for a strike, Penny hung a curve that the Orioles right-fielder whacked into the first row of the bleachers in straightaway center. Markakis’ second homer of the year and second career grand slam put the O’s up 7-0 (extra-point…. good!). Aubrey Huff and Wiggninton both flied out, but by that point, the damage had been plentiful.
Penny needed 40 pitches to survive the inning. He enjoyed none of them.
The Red Sox responded quickly to suggest that the game – even against Orioles ace Jeremy Guthrie, who entered tonight 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA – may not be a foregone conclusion. J.D. Drew worked a walk to lead off the second, and then Jason Bay deposited a homer into the visitor’s bullpen in right to narrow the gap to 7-2.
Bay has plenty of power, but seeing him hit an opposite-field homer — especially over the unforgiving right-field fence of Fenway — was little short of shocking. Bay has 22 opposite-field homers in his career, and went deep to right just three times a year ago. He had nine RBIs on balls hit to the opposite field last year; in 2009, he now has three.
After Bay went deep, Mike Lowell walked and Jason Varitek had the good fortune of bouncing a ball up the middle that kicked off the second base bag. The chopper allowed Lowell (no burner, he) to scoot around to third.
Nick Green then hit a fly to medium depth in right. In deference to the strong arm of Markakis (major-league leading 17 outfield assists last year) and the limited running abilities of Lowell, the Sox third baseman held at third. That decision proved to be wise when Jacoby Ellsbury followed by blooping a ball into the Bermuda Triangle between the Baltimore second baseman, shortstop and centerfielder. Lowell was able to scoot hom on the 150 foot hit, and the Red Sox’ field goal cut the gap to 7-3.
Dustin Pedroia followed with a chopper to first. The reigning MVP beat the flip to Guthrie covering, loading the bases with one out for David Ortiz.
Ortiz continued to look flustered against Guthrie, but after falling behind 0-2, he stayed alive by fouling off a 1-2 curve and then lifted a fastball to left-center for a run-scoring sac fly that made the score 7-4. Ortiz now has four runs batted in this year.
Though Kevin Youkilis grounded out to third to end the inning (do two hitless at-bats qualify as a slump for him?), the Sox – who had seemed on the brink of being blown out – are back in the game. Guthrie labored through a 36-pitch inning, and, like Penny, may not be long for this game.
Orioles 7, Red Sox 4
|First Inning: Quick Start for Penny||04.17.09 at 7:32 pm ET|
As promised, Brad Penny spent the first inning firing fastballs at and past the Orioles. The right-hander started the game with 11 straight fastballs before breaking off a pair of curves. Unlike his start against the Angels, where it took Penny a couple innings to work into the velocity of his fastball, he has come out firing tonight. His fastballs all registered 93-95 mph, including a pair that resulted in swings and misses by Orioles right-fielder Nick Markakis. With two swing-and-miss fastballs, Penny has matched his total from his first start with the Red Sox.
Penny got leadoff man Brian Roberts looking at a 95 mph fastball on the outside corner, gave up a single to Adam Jones, then got both Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff to ground out. Interestingly, Penny used his curve to retire the left-handed Markakis and Huff. In the inning, he used 17 pitches, pouring in 14 strikes.
In the bottom of the inning, Jacoby Ellsbury rolled over to second on Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie‘s first pitch. Dustin Pedroia then hit a soft liner to left center, with Jones coming up empty on a diving attempt. Or rather, his glove came up empty, but his face did not, as the ball bounced on first the ground and then the centerfielder’s visage allowing Pedroia to ramble into second.
With a runner in scoring position, however, Ortiz – armed with a .176 batting average that he was amused to learn before the game was slightly greater than Pedroia’s weight – fell behind Guthrie, 0-2, and was quickly retired on a 94 mph fastball up and in.
With a runner on second and two outs, Guthrie worked carefully to the scorching hot Kevin Youkilis. But after the count went to 3-1, Guthrie pumped in a 95 mph fastball for a called strike and then got Youkilis to fan on a check-swing with a changeup to get out of the inning. For whatever it’s worth, the Sox have just 20 runs batted in with runners in scoring position this year, second fewest in the majors and ahead of only the Astros.
Orioles 0, Red Sox 0
|For David Ortiz, slow start IS a laughing matter||04.17.09 at 7:11 pm ET|
Cooperstown-electee Jim Rice was flipping through the pages of the Red Sox pre-game media notes when he stopped at the notes on the hitters. He pointed to the name at the bottom of the page and wheeled towards David Ortiz.
“You’ve got to start hitting your weight,” Rice bellowed.
Ortiz, featuring a meager .176 average, .293 OBP and .206 slugging mark, seemed amused by the challenge.
“It’s coming up,” he grinned. “First I’ve got to get to (Dustin) Pedroia.”
Informed that Pedroia probably weighs about a buck-seventy, Rice offered a measure of reassurance. Read the rest of this entry »
|UPDATED: Red Sox vs. Orioles, 4/17||04.17.09 at 3:29 pm ET|
Here are the lineups for Friday night’s game between the Red Sox and Orioles:
Ellsbury – CF
Pedroia – 2B
Ortiz – DH
Youkilis – 1B
Drew – RF
Bay – LF
Lowell – 3B
Varitek – C Green – SS
Roberts – 2B
Jones – CF
Markakis – RF
Huff – 1B
Wigginton – 3B
Scott – DH
Zaun – C
Freel – LF
Izturis – SS
Other pregame notes: Daisuke Matsuzaka will see doctors today and Justin Masterson will start on Monday in his place. Tim Wakefield will start on Tuesday. Julio Lugo (5 at-bats) and Mark Kotsay (2 at-bats) both played in extended spring training in Fort Myers, FL . John Smoltz is expected to face batters tomorrow in Fort Myers, FL. Finally, there is “nothing official” on the Josh Beckett suspension. He is still scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Orioles. Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie says that surgery remains a possibility on his injured wrist. He will see a specialist in Arizona for another consultation. Lowrie hopes cortisone shots will be enough, but is concerned because the problem is recurring.
It would be easy to dismiss the Orioles as the same hapless doormats that they’ve been over the years. The order of the American League East seemingly has been inverted in one of those fluke occurrences of the first couple weeks of the season, the standings entering today reading:
Many expect that order more or less to flip by the end of the season. Nonetheless, the Orioles are making life interesting in the A.L. East.
The roster may not be filled by the type of household names that are associated with the more glamorous teams in the division, but a lineup anchored in the top spots by the likes of Brian Roberts, potential star Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff is proving capable of generating runs. Indeed, Jones informed the Baltimore Sun that he feels the lineup is as better than any in the division.
Whether that remains the case at season’s end is another matter. Nonetheless, the O’s are 6-3, having won series against the Yankees, Rays and Rangers to start the season. Nonetheless, for now, the O’s have 56 runs in nine games, or 19 more than the Red Sox in the same number of games.
Few Orioles have any history against Boston starter Brad Penny, who is in his first season as an American Leaguer. Here is how members of the O’s have fared against Boston’s right-hander:
Ryan Freel (24 plate appearances): .412 average /.522 OBP /.632 slugging
Aubrey Huff (8): .000 / .125 / .000
Cesar Izturis (9): .125 / .222 / .125
Luke Scott (3): .667 / .667 / 1.000
Ty Wigginton (20): .329 / .450 / .611
Gregg Zaun (3): .000 / .000 / .000
Jeremy Guthrie, of course, was unforgettably the pitcher for the Orioles in the so-called Mother’s Day Miracle game against the Sox in 2007. He carried a 5-0 shutout into the ninth, but was lifted after 8.1 innings when catcher Ramon Hernandez committed an error on a pop-up in front of the plate. The Sox improbably rallied for six runs.
Here is how the Red Sox have fared against him:
Rocco Baldelli (4): .000 / .000 / .000
Jason Bay (3): .667 / .667 / 1.667
J.D. Drew (14): .250 / .357 / .417
Jacoby Ellsbury (14): .231 / .286 /. 231
Mike Lowell (16): .188 / .188 / .375
David Ortiz (16): .333 / .375 / .600
Dustin Pedroia (18): .333 / .444 / .400
Jason Varitek (12): .273 / .333 / .545
Kevin Youkilis (23 plate appearances): .211 / .348 / .263
|Fifty years later, Red Sox to honor Pumpsie Green||04.17.09 at 1:24 pm ET|
Fifty years after he became the first African-American to play for the Red Sox, Pumpsie Green will be honored by the club tonight as part of the team’s annual Jackie Robinson Day ceremonies. Green will throw the first pitch prior to tonight’s game between the Red Sox and Orioles. (Major League Baseball honored the Dodgers great by having every player wear uniform No. 42 on April 15 this year.)
“On behalf of John Henry, Tom Werner and the entire Red Sox organization, I want to express our sincere pleasure in welcoming Pumpsie Green back to Fenway park where he made history 50 years ago,” Sox CEO and President Larry Lucchino said in a statement. “The legacy of players like Pumpsie Green and Jackie Robinson is evidenced by the presence of the diversity of players like Jim Rice, Mo Vaughn, Dave Roberts and David Ortiz as part of the Red Sox’ more recent history. As fans and as an organization we owe both Pumpsie Green and Jackie Robinson a debt of gratitude for their courageous contributions to the game and to society.”
Green made his Red Sox debut on July 21, 1959, as the Red Sox became the final major-league team to integrate. Prior to that, Red Sox decision makers exhibited a shameful pattern of signing practices that many — including Howard Bryant in Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston — have concluded represented prevailing racism among the team’s hierarchy.
In response to political pressures from Boston politicians, the Sox worked out Jackie Robinson in 1945 but declined to sign the future Hall of Famer. The team also passed on the opportunity to sign Willie Mays as an amateur.
The current ownership group has made a concerted effort to acknowledge and separate itself from that part of the legacy of the Yawkey family’s ownership. Bringing Green to Fenway Park represents a part of that effort.
Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that at a time when the former infielder — who from 1959-1962 played in 327 games for the Sox, hitting .244 with a .353 OBP and .713 OPS — will be honored, the Sox do not feature a single African-American player on their roster. Of course, African-American representation in Major League Baseball as a whole, despite a small uptick to just over 10 percent of players in the majors last year, has been in a state of decline in recent decades. The MLB Commissioner’s Office in recent years has described declining participation in the majors among African-Americans as a cause for concern.
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