|06.05.11 at 4:27 pm ET|
The return of John Lackey proved promising, with the starter helping the Red Sox claim a 6-3 win over the A’s Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. The victory sealed a sweep for the Sox over Oakland, improving Terry Francona’s team to 33-26.
Lackey, who was making his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list, allowed three runs on three hits, striking out two and walking two. He was followed by relievers Matt Albers, Tommy Hottovy, Dan Wheeler, and Daniel Bard.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Sox’ win …
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Lackey looked solid in his return, hitting 93 mph with his fastball while needing 93 pitches to get through his 5 2/3 innings.
– Carl Crawford continued to show signs of life against left-handed pitching, hitting his second homer of the season vs. a lefty, this one coming in the second inning against A’s starter Brett Anderson. The three-run shot reached the Red Sox’ bullpen. Crawford, who came into the game .127 against lefties, has now hit safely in his last three appearances against southpaws. It was just the left fielder’s second extra-base hit against a left-hander since May 1. Crawford’s next at-bat against Anderson wasn’t so pleasant for the outfielder, with the Oakland starter hitting Crawford in the right shoulder. The hit-by-pitch led to a few words, and glares, from the Sox’ hitter on his way to first.
– Another left-handed Red Sox hitter who made his mark against Anderson was Adrian Gonzalez, who came into the game hitting .286 with one homer vs. southpaws, launched his 12th homer of the season over the left field wall to give the Sox a 5-2 lead.
– Speaking of hitting against lefties, David Ortiz continued to master the art of succeeding against southpaws. In his first three trips to the plate against Anderson, the DH ripped a single, double and single, building on the .322 batting average he carried against lefties coming into the game. The one time Ortiz did get out came against righty Fautino De Los Santos when he launched a deep fly ball into the center field triangle, which Coco Crisp tracked down.
– After seeing his batting average drop to .239, Dustin Pedroia responded with a two-hit game to raise his average to .244. Also coming away with a multi-hit game was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, whose three hits pushed his batting average up to .240. Saltalamacchia finished his day with his third career triple.
WHAT WENT WRONG
– What could be construed as retaliation for Crawford being hit the inning before, Lackey plunked Oakland’s Kurt Suzuki with two outs in the fourth inning. The A’s catcher proceeded to steal second on Lackey’s next pitch, and then come home with his team’s second run via a Daric Barton single.
– Jacoby Ellsbury came up just short on two bunt attempts, narrowly being beat to the bag with the throw each time. According to STATS Inc., the Red Sox only have one bunt hit this season, that coming from Gonzalez.
|06.05.11 at 1:54 pm ET|
Daisuke Matsuzaka spoke Sunday morning for the first time since deciding to have “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow. The Red Sox pitcher ‘ in the fifth year of a six-year contract ‘ said he was stunned when Dr. Lewis Yocum told him that surgery was the most realistic way to fully heal his injury.
‘The ligament is torn and I was told to fix it perfectly, I need to have the surgery,” Matsuzaka said. “That’s why I’m getting the surgery.”
Matsuzaka was 3-3 this season with a 5.30 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance. He signed a six-year, $52 million contract before the 2007 season and has a 49-30 mark with a 4.25 ERA in four-plus seasons in Boston.
‘It’s actually my first time to get an operation and all I can say is I’m very shocked when it comes to these results,” Matsuzaka said through an interpreter. ‘I decided to have the surgery the same day the team officially announced [Friday].’
Matsuzaka said the decision on when to have the surgery will be finalized Monday.
With full recovery expected to take between 12 and 14 months, Matsuzaka was asked if he felt his Red Sox career was over.
‘It’s difficult to say at this point,” added Matsuzaka. “But, you know, what I can do is do my best and come back to the game as soon as I can. It’s difficult, but what I can do is do my best and come back to the game as soon as I can. All I have right now is anxiety, so all I can do is do what I have to do my best, and come back to the game.’
Matsuzaka – who won Game 7 of the 2007 ALCS against the Indians and Game 3 of the ’07 World Series – believes he is not done with the Red Sox.
‘I don’t think of it that way,” Matsuzaka said. “For sure, I hope I come back to the game again with the Red Sox uniform. If I wouldn’t come back to the game, I will have to talk about that next time.’
|06.05.11 at 1:37 pm ET|
|06.05.11 at 12:11 pm ET|
In a precautionary move to allow his back more time to let his back settle down, Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced Sunday morning that Clay Buchholz will be moved back two days and will next pitch on Friday against the Blue Jays. Tim Wakefield will take Buchholz’s spot in the rotation and will pitch Wednesday against the Yankees.
“Buch’s going to pitch Friday in Toronto,” Francona said. “Wake will pitch Wednesday. Just give Buch a chance to back up a couple of days, let him start his five-day cycle two days late. Think that will do him a little bit of good.”
Buchholz said following Friday’s start that he was concerned that his back was about to act up on him while he was pitching and didn’t want to injure himself. The righthander labored through 4 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, six runs – five earned – while walking two and striking out five. He never found his rhythm, throwing 99 pitches and not getting through the fifth, causing pitching coach Curt Young to visit him on the mound several times during the game.
“His back was sore, he had battled that for a little while,” Francona said. “His last outing, I don’t think it actually interfered with his pitching, besides the fact I think he was holding back at times. Even when he warmed up, Curt was like, ‘You know what, it looks likes he reaching.’ Buch owned up to that, saying, ‘You know, it didn’t hurt but I thought it was going to hurt.’ We’ve all been there. So, rather than keep going like that, because it’s hard to pitch successfully that way, give him a couple of extra days and I’ll betcha it’ll really help him.”
Buchholz said he was looking forward to making his next start on Wednesday in New York before Sunday’s announcement.
“I’m sure he did,” Francona said. “It’s fun to do that. It’s a great place to pitch, the atmosphere but I think he understands and he knows it’s in his best interest.”
Francona then sat down Saturday with with the Red Sox starter, pitching coach Curt Young and trainer Mike Reinold to determine the smartest course of action.
“Talked to him a bunch, tried to get a feel for where he was,” Francona added. “Then Curt and I talked to Mike Reinold a little bit and then went back and talked to Buch and I just think it makes sense.”
|06.04.11 at 8:44 pm ET|
There are a lot of events that will get lost in the shuffle of a 14-inning game that features 16 different pitchers, 415 pitches and lasts five hours and 17 minutes. J.D. Drew‘s walk-off line drive in the final frame arguably should have been the one to remember. But the one inning that stood out both during the game and in the aftermath was the bottom of the ninth.
Papelbon allowed the first two runners to reach on a single and a walk, just his fourth free pass of the season, respectively before striking out Landon Powell for the first out. The eight-pitch base on balls given to Daric Barton had both Papelbon and catcher Jason Varitek shaking their heads as they tried to decipher umpire Tony Randazzo‘s strike zone. With one out and runners on first and second, Coco Crisp lined a God-given double play ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. But instead of ending the game right there, the ball dribbled through the sure-handed infielder’s legs allowing Mark Ellis to score from second.
Five pitches later, the ninth hitter in the A’s lineup, Cliff Pennington, lined a double to left to minimize the Boston lead to 7-5. At that point, Varitek ‘lost his cool,’ as he put it, because of a perceived lack of consistency on Randazzo’s part, and the Sox captain was soon given the heave ho. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.04.11 at 6:30 pm ET|
J.D. Drew has struggled mightily in the early going, but in a 14-inning marathon, none of that matters. Following a Carl Crawford double and an intentional walk to Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox rightfielder stroked a single to right-center to give the Red Sox a 9-8 win over the Athletics.
But before those heroics, the wheels had come flying off.
The Red Sox entered the ninth inning in possession of what appeared to be an airtight 7-3 lead. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was called upon to shut the door in a non-save situation that seemed to offer little drama.
Yet Papelbon proved flat, and an uncharacteristic error by Dustin Pedroia coupled with a hotly disputed strike zone led to a wild five-run rally.
Papelbon permitted a flared single and then issued a walk to Daric Barton (possessor of a .215 average and .602 OPS), with a couple of the pitches seemingly just missing the strike zone. But Papelbon bounced back, punching out Landon Powell for the first out and then getting what appeared to be a tailor-made double play against Coco Crisp.
But a bounder to the Sox’ most sure-handed defender, Pedroia, uncharacteristically went under the glove and through the legs of the second baseman. Instead of a game-ending twin-killing, the A’s had plated their first run with chaos soon to follow. Cliff Pennington followed with an RBI double to left on a 1-2 fastball; catcher Jason Varitek, distressed that an 0-2 splitter just off the plate had been called a ball, got ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home plate ump Tony Randazzo; Papelbon was ejected as well soon after when he muttered something to Randazzo’s disliking while marching back to the mound. At that point, the damage had already been done. The Sox closer had allowed a two-run, game-tying single to Conor Jackson to tie it at 7-7. The four-run blown lead was the largest by Boston this season.
In the 11th, Alfredo Aceves gave up a go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to leftfield by Ryan Sweeney. Jacoby Ellsbury retied the game with a ground-rule double to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the frame.
The blown lead meant that Josh Beckett had another solid start wasted. Beckett gave up three runs in six-plus innings against the Athletics, sending his ERA “soaring” to 2.01 (from 1.80). Even so, he turned in his ninth quality start (in 12 outings), and has now allowed more than three runs in just one start this year.
The right-hander allowed four hits in his six innings, walking three and striking out four. He mixed his pitches thoroughly, and showed terrific movement all over and around the strike zone.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
–Beckett now has nine quality starts in his 12 outings this year, nearly matching his 10 quality starts in 21 turns in the rotation in 2010.
—Kevin Youkilis may be emerging from a brief skid. Prior to Friday, he was hitting .143 with a .361 OPS, just one extra-base hit (a double) and no walks over a nine-game stretch. But in Friday’s victory over the Athletics, he went 2-for-3 with a double and walk, and on Saturday he was 2-for-5 with a pair of both doubles and walks. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.04.11 at 4:08 pm ET|
John Lackey plans to make his long-awaited return from the DL and his first appearance since May 11 against the A’s Sunday at 1:35 p.m. While the veteran had some obvious struggles to start the season, Oakland will counter with Brett Anderson, a young righty who has dominated the Red Sox to this point in his career.
Lackey (2-5, 8.01 ERA) said he felt good in Tuesday’s rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, where he threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball. Lackey struck out four and walked none but did surrender a home run. The 32-year-old was far from convincing in his last two starts before hitting the DL with an elbow injury, giving up nine runs to the Blue Jays and eight runs to the Angels. In his first seven starts, Lackey surrendered 35 runs and allowed opponents to hit a combined .393. In 15 innings at home, Lackey has allowed 16 runs on 24 hits, while striking out just six batters.
The right-hander will have a chance to get back on track against a familiar opponent, as the Athletics have a combined 287 plate appearances against Lackey, dating back to his AL West days as a member of the Angels. In his nine-year career, the A’s have hit a combined .244 off Lackey with five homers and 25 RBI. However, Oakland has struggled offensively this season, and has the second-lowest run total in the American League.
Mark Ellis has seen the Boston starter a team-high 71 times, hitting .267 with eight doubles, five RBI, and 10 strikeouts. Former Red Sox speedster Coco Crisp has just five hits in 32 plate appearances vs. Lackey, but two of those hits were home runs. Daric Barton has had the most success against the righty, posting a .308 average to go along with a homer, four doubles, and three RBI.
Anderson (3-5, 3.68 ERA) has pitched well for the most part, but a lack of run support has led to three losses in his last four decisions. The 23-year-old pitched brilliantly against the Angels on May 26, throwing a three-hit shutout through eight strong innings. However, he got shelled by the Yankees in his last start, giving up ten runs on eleven hits through 5 1/3 innings. It was by far his worst outing of the year, and ballooned his ERA up from 2.84.
Every Boston regular has seen Anderson at least once, but no one on the roster has faced him more than 15 times. In this limited experience, Anderson has dominated the Red Sox. The left-hander hasn’t allowed a single earned run against Boston, and has held the Sox to a combined .111 average in 94 plate appearances.
Jed Lowrie‘s .222 average against Anderson is a team high, while Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez are hitting a combined four-for-28 against the A’s starter. Anderson shut down the Red Sox back on April 19, holding them scoreless through eight innings while striking out eight in a 5-0 win.
ATHLETICS VS. LACKEY
Mark Ellis (71 plate appearances): .267 BA/.371 OBP/.400 SLG, eight doubles, five RBI, eight walks, 10 strikeouts
Hideki Matsui (55): .240/.291/.400, one home run, five doubles, nine RBI, four walks, six strikeouts
Coco Crisp (32): .167/.219/.367, tww home runs, two RBI, two walks, three strikeouts
Kurt Suzuki (32): .194/.188/.419, one home run, two doubles, one triple, three RBI, five strikeouts
Daric Barton (28): .308/.357/.557, one home run, four doubles, three RBI, two walks
David DeJesus (24): .273/.273/.273, two RBI, three walks
Ryan Sweeney (19): .333/.368/.389, one double, one RBI, one walk, three strikeouts
Cliff Pennington (15): .071/.133/.071, two strikeouts
Kevin Kouzmanoff (5): 3-for-5, one double, one strikeouts
Landon Powell (3): 1-for-3, one strikeout
Josh Willingham (3): 0-for-3, one strikeout
No other player on the A’s roster has faced Lackey.
RED SOX VS. ANDERSON
Kevin Youkilis (14 plate appearances): .154 BA/.214 OBP/.154 SLG, one walk, six strikeouts
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13): .077/.077/.077, two strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (11): .100/.182/.100, one walk, one strikeouts
Carl Crawford (10): .200/.200/.200, two strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (10): .000/.100/.000, one walk, one strikeout
David Ortiz (10): .100/.100/.100, two strikeouts
Jed Lowrie (9): .222./.222/.333, one double, two strikeouts
Jason Varitek (6): 0-for-5, one walk, one strikeout
Adrian Gonzalez (5): 1-for-5, two strikeouts
Mike Cameron (3): 0-for-3, two strikeouts
J.D. Drew (3): 0-for-3, three strikeouts
No other player on the Red Sox roster has faced Anderson.
|06.04.11 at 2:11 pm ET|
The Red Sox have four of the first 40 picks in next week’s Major League Baseball draft. It’s a rare situation for any team to be in, as only eight times since 2000 has a team had four of the first 40 picks. Those include the 2010 Angels, the Athletics in 2002 and 2004, the Braves in 2000, the Cubs in 2002, the Giants in 2007, the 2005 Marlins and 2004 Twins.
Having such a high number of top picks allows the organization to possibly take chances on guys whom they might otherwise shy away from if they did not have as many top picks. The Sox often refer to using top picks as a stock portfolio, using some to acquire high probability guys but for whom the payoff is capped, and others on higher risk players (whether due to makeup, signability, or tools that remain in the early stages of development) who can also offer huge returns if everything clicks.
‘You want to get good players,’ general manger Theo Epstein said. ‘You want to combine upside and probability but when you don’t have extra picks, it’s sometimes hard to take that extra risk with the very high upside. You can diversify your portfolio a little more when you have more picks and take that chance.’
Teams that have had such a large number of top picks haven’t fared as well as one might think: Read the rest of this entry »
|06.04.11 at 1:06 pm ET|
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|06.04.11 at 11:44 am ET|
Clay Buchholz stated after his start Friday night that he was thinking about a potential abnormality in his back while on the mound, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Saturday’s contest that the the idea of there being any kind of malady had given him some cause for concern. Out of that, the skipper said Buchholz may get a few extra days off instead of pitching in his scheduled spot on Wednesday against the Yankees.
“I think we want to sit down with him and figure out the best way to go forward, whether it’s in five days or giving him a couple extra days,” said Francona. “We can do that with the day off on Monday.”
As a result, Tim Wakefield will do a regular bullpen session on Saturday in preparation to potentially take Buchholz’s start on Wednesday in New York. Spot starter Alfredo Aceves will also move to the bullpen full-time in preparation for John Lackey’s return to the rotation Sunday “so that we have everything covered,” according to Francona.
The manager cautioned though that all of these moves were precautionary and that everything could still go according to the original plan depending on how Buchholz’s back feels before the start of the upcoming road trip.
“Maybe we don’t know today,” he said. “Maybe we need a couple extra days to see.”
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