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Sunday’s Red Sox-Brewers matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Yovani Gallardo

06.19.11 at 6:00 am ET
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Two starters with completely different pitching styles will be toeing the rubber in the final game of the weekend series between the Red Sox and Brewers on Sunday at Fenway Park. Boston will send soft-tossing veteran Tim Wakefield to the mound, while Milwaukee will counter with 25-year-old fireballer Yovani Gallardo.

Wakefield (3-2, 4.39 ERA) has continued to contribute as a starter, especially with his last outing against the Rays. The knuckleballer gave up just one earned run on four hits through seven innings, although he took the loss as Boston was shut out by James Shields. Wakefield did walk five hitters in that game and has given up a home run in each of his last four starts, but those seven strong innings snapped a string of subpar outings; he gave up five runs against the Yankees on June 8, and four runs against the White Sox on June 1.

One would assume Wakefield has an advantage against a seldom-faced opponent in interleague play, but in 76 combined plate appearances, the Brewers have hit the Boston starter quite well. As a team, Milwaukee is hitting .315 with five home runs and 10 RBI.

Yuniesky Betancourt faced Wakefield 19 times during his days in Seattle, and hit .316 with a team-high two home runs and five RBI. In 21 plate appearances, Mark Kotsay has a double, a triple, two home runs and three RBI to go along with a .250 batting average. Corey Hart played just one game against Wakefield back in 2008, but went 2-2 with a walk and a solo home run.

Gallardo (8-3, 3.76 ERA) has been pitching in the big leagues since 2007, but Sunday will mark his first career start against the Red Sox. Only Adrian Gonzalez and relief pitcher Matt Albers have faced the right-hander. Gonzalez is 3-for-8 with a home run, three RBI, and four strikeouts, while Albers is hitless in two plate appearances.

Gallardo finished last season with a record of 14-7 and a 3.84 ERA, and he’s on pace for an even better performance this year. He got off to a rocky start, carrying an ERA above 6.00 into May. Since then, he’s won six out of his last seven decisions, surrendering just eight runs combined in those six victories.

Most recently, Gallardo struck out a season-high 10 batters over seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball, but he took a no-decision as the bullpen gave up four runs to the Cubs. Even though Boston doesn’t have much experience against Gallardo, he’ll have his hands full against a Red Sox lineup that led the league in runs, batting average and on-base percentage entering Saturday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brewers, Red Sox, Tim Wakefield, Yovani Gallardo

Lester, the longball and the arbitrary nature of wins

06.19.11 at 12:59 am ET
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Jon Lester pitched his way through the proverbial tale of two games on Saturday.

Early, the Brewers proved aggressive in punishing his mistakes, clubbing three homers (matching a career high for most permitted in a game by the left-hander) in the first three innings, including back-to-back homers by Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart to open the game. However, after allowing two more runs (including a solo shot by ex-teammate George Kottaras) in the third, Lester then had his way with Milwaukee’s lineup from the fourth through eighth innings, retiring 14 of 17 batters to finish the game and showing terrific stuff.

The final line fell in between anything that lent itself to definitive judgment. Lester pitched eight innings (good) while allowing four runs (not so hot), three of which were earned (not so bad). He gave up three longballs (career-high), walked three (somewhere in between) and struck out eight (impressive). The final verdict on the performance in the Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Brewers on Saturday was … mixed.

“We lost. Yeah, you can sit back and say there were some positives. With the way it started, it could have been a lot worse,” said Lester. “I just tried to minimize the damage and keep the guys in the game.”

It was an odd game for Lester that encapsulates what has been a somewhat odd season for the lefty. In contrast to past years, in which he got off to a slow start in April but then went on a sustained run of dominance from May through the end of the year, Lester burst out of the blocks this year, going 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA in his first seven starts, but has since drifted into an inconsistent stretch.

Over his last eight starts, the left-hander has a 5-2 record but with a 4.94 ERA. He’s permitted nine homers, but he’s also punched out 49 batters in 51 innings.

The strikeouts suggest his pitching arsenal remains very, very good, as does the fact that he got eight strikeouts and 12 swings and misses (nine on cutters) from the Brewers on Saturday. The homers — with 14 now this season, Lester has already matched (in 96 1/3 innings) the total longballs he yielded in 208 innings last year — suggest that his command has been inconsistent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Brewers play powerball to beat Lester, Sox

06.18.11 at 10:00 pm ET
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All good things must come to an end, even for a Red Sox team that had been red hot entering its contest on Saturday against the Brewers. The Sox had won 12 of 13, and they had won 11 straight contests when an opposing team featured a left-handed starter.

That run came to an end on Saturday, when Milwaukee southpaw Randy Wolf spread out nine hits over seven innings to limit the Sox to just two runs, as the Sox suffered a 4-2 loss.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Jon Lester matched a career high by allowing three homers (all of the solo variety), giving him a total of 14 allowed this year. That is, in fact, tied for the second-most the southpaw has ever permitted in a single season, a fact that verges on startling given that he has thrown just 97 1/3 innings this year. He has already matched the number of homers he permitted in 208 innings in 2010.

That said, Lester (9-3) did settle in after the third inning, retiring 15 of the final 18 batters he faced en route to an outing in which he lasted eight innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks. He finished the night with eight punchouts, mostly on the strength of a nasty cutter that resulted in nine of the 12 swings and misses the Brewers had against the left-hander.

Adrian Gonzalez committed his first error as a member of the Red Sox, and it proved costly. He dropped a foul pop-up in the top of the first against leadoff man Rickie Weeks. Lester’s next three pitches resulted in a Weeks solo homer, a Corey Hart solo homer and a Ryan Braun double. Gonzalez also had a rare rough night at the plate, going 0-for-4 with a double play groundout.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Marco Scutaro continues to produce. He went 2-for-4 and is now hitting .371 with a .907 OPS in the month of June, going 13-for-35 since coming off the disabled list on June 7.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia delivered a run-scoring and also gunned down a would-be base stealer. After starting the year mired in a dreadful slump that saw him toting a .138 average and .391 OPS through the Sox’ first 13 games, Saltalamacchia is hitting .278 with a .336 OBP, .496 slugging mark and .832 OPS in 35 games.

Kevin Youkilis, one day after leaving a game early due to a stomach bug, seemed no worse for wear. He collected a pair of hits, one clanking about a foot from the top of the Green Monster for a double, and made an excellent defensive play at third, a diving stop to his left for an inning-ending force out in the sixth.

Red Sox vs. Brewers Live Blog, June 18

06.18.11 at 6:45 pm ET
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The Red Sox will look to extend their winning ways on Saturday night against the Brewers. Winners of 12 of their last 13 as well as their last 11 games in which an opponent features a left-handed pitcher on the hill, the Sox will have at Milwaukee southpaw Randy Wolf. Jon Lester will look to become the American League’s first 10-game winner.

For all the latest news, analysis and updates from the game, enter the Live Blog below.

Red Sox vs. Brewers Live Blog, June 18

Francona: Putting Crawford on the disabled list ‘a no-brainer’

06.18.11 at 5:27 pm ET
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As soon as the injury occurred, the likely outcome seemed quickly apparent. As soon as Carl Crawford hobbled past the first base bag after beating an infield hit and then almost immediately was escorted to the Red Sox clubhouse in the first inning of Friday’s game, a trip to the disabled list for his Grade 1 left hamstring strain seemed a likely outcome.

On Saturday, that is precisely what happened. The Sox placed Crawford on the disabled list; prior to the start of the game, Josh Reddick will be added to the big league roster.

“I think the medical people thought at best it was going to be 10, 14 days. That’€™s kind of a no-brainer,” Francona said of the decision to put Crawford on the 15-day disabled list. “He gets it.”

Crawford, despite his struggles, has been a near-constant in the Red Sox lineup, having played in 67 of the team’s 69 games. Though he leads the majors in four-hit games, he is hitting .243 with a .275 OBP, .384 slugging mark and .659 OPS. Still, his range in left field has certainly had an impact on the Sox’ run prevention. Opponents currently have a .278 batting average on balls in play against the Sox, the second lowest mark in the AL (behind the Rays) and a reflection of the team’s excellent outfield defense.

— In Crawford’s absence, Francona said the Sox will “kind of piece it together a little bit.” The team has four options, with Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald, Reddick and Drew Sutton all capable of filling in for Crawford in left field.

Reddick hit. 385 with a .400 OBP, .462 lugging mark and .862 OPS in five games in the majors, but then struggled after being demoted to Pawtucket. He went 1-for-23 in his first seven games back before hitting a pair of homers on Friday for the PawSox.

“It sure seems like [struggling after a demotion] happens, doesn’€™t it? I think it’€™s for different reasons,” said Francona. “Sometimes guys go down, in some instances they’€™re upset. You see that in spring training. A guy battles, battles, battles, doesn’€™t make a team, goes down there, it’€™s a letdown, and then all of a sudden you’€™re fighting your way uphill. With Josh, that isn’€™t the case. He knew why he was [in the majors].

“He’€™s still a young hitter that’€™s understanding his swing, and when he’€™s in a mode of using the entire field, he stays on the ball better, doesn’€™t swing at bad pitches and then he ends up hitting the ball out of the ballpark. Then he gets in that pull mode sometimes, then he starts swinging at balls out of the zone and gets himself in trouble. He went back to Triple-A and kind of struggled for a while. Fortunately, yesterday, he hit a couple balls out of the ballpark, and more importantly were that they were nice, level swings. He wasn’€™t cheating or selling out to get to a ball and happened to get a fastball middle-in, hit it for a homer.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, carl crawford, darnell mcdonald, drew sutton

Saturday’s Red Sox-Brewers matchups: Jon Lester vs. Randy Wolf

06.18.11 at 3:20 pm ET
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A pair of left-handed hitters will take the hill on Saturday at Fenway Park, with Jon Lester facing off against Brewers veteran Randy Wolf. Only four Brewers batters have faced Lester. Yuniesky Betancourt has had the most success against the hard-throwing lefty. Betancourt is 4-for-10 with one home run, a double, three RBIs and three walks. Josh Wilson, on the other hand, is hitless against Lester in 11 at-bats and has struck out four times.

Brewers vs. Jon Lester

Yuniesky Betancourt (13 plate appearances): .400 BA/ .538 OBP/ .800 SLG, 1 HR, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Josh Wilson (12): .000/.083/.000, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Carlos Gomez (7): .143/.143/.143, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Mark Kotsay (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000

Ryan Braun, Craig Counsell, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, George Kottaras, Jonathan Lucroy, Casey McGehee, Nyjer Morgan, Rickie Weeks and pitcher Randy Wolf have never faced the Boston starter.

Several Sox hitters have a history of success against Wolf, though interestingly, the one who has enjoyed the best history against him — J.D. Drew, who is 4-for-11 with a pair of homers against the left-hander — is not in the Sox lineup on Saturday.

Red Sox vs. Randy Wolf

Adrian Gonzalez (18): .353/.389/.353, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

Mike Cameron (16): .231/.375/.231, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (12): .364/.417/1.182, 2 HRs, 1 double, 1 triple, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (8): .333/.500/.500: 1 double, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (7): .333/.286/.333, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Carl Crawford (4): .667/.500/.667, 1 RBI

David Ortiz (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk

Kevin Youkilis (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Marco Scutaro (1): .000/.000/.000

Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, Darnell McDonald, Dustin Pedroia and pitcher Jon Lester have never faced the Milwaukee starter.

Read More: Jon Lester, Milwaukee Brewers, Randy Wolf,

Red Sox prove Bruins don’t have monopoly on clutch offense and defense

06.18.11 at 12:30 am ET
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If the Bruins taught both New England and perhaps the rest of North America anything with their stellar playoff run that ended in winning the Stanley Cup, it’€™s that a single flick of a stick or a quick flash of a glove can change not only a singular moment but an entire game or even a seven-game series. Ask Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tim Thomas or even Roberto Luongo and they’€™ll tell you the same thing.

In the Red Sox 10-4 win over the Brewers Friday night, the Boston baseball team proved that they’€™ve learned the same lesson and are more than able to apply it in game situations.

Take the very start of the game, for example.

With his team down 2-0 (sound familiar?) before it had even stepped up to the plate, leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury knew that he would have to do something that would help his team dig into the deficit. So when Brewers starter Shawn Marcum offered up a low, 76-mph changeup over the plate, Ellsbury quickly turned over his wrists and golfed the pitch into the Red Sox bullpen.

Thanks to the early momentum provided by Ellsbury’€™s second leadoff homer of the season and fifth of his career, Boston was able to tie the game later in the inning on a double by David Ortiz and eventually turn a potentially long day into a 10-4 offensive onslaught. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury,

Crawford to be re-evaluted Saturday after suffering Grade 1 hamstring strain

06.17.11 at 11:45 pm ET
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Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford left Friday’s game in the bottom of the first inning due to a left hamstring strain following an infield single. He limped after crossing the first-base bag and almost immediately grabbed his hamstring as trainer Mike Reinold and manager Terry Francona came out of the dugout to check on him. After a very brief discussion, Crawford limped off the field towards the dugout.

“He needed to come out,” said Francona.

According to Francona, an MRI during the game revealed that Crawford has a Grade 1 hamstring strain, the mildest strain. The Sox will wait until Saturday to see how Crawford is responding to treatment and then proceed with a course of action.

“They’re just going to see how I feel tomorrow and then go from there,” Crawford said, noting that he had never before experienced a similar injury. “I iced it a few times and I’€™ve got to wear this thing around my thigh tonight, and hopefully that’€™ll make it feel better tomorrow.”

Particularly for a player like Crawford, whose game both in the outfield and on the bases depends significantly on his legs, any injury to the hamstring looms large.

“That’€™s a big portion of his game, using his legs,” said Jacoby Ellsbury, “not only from the defensive side but the offensive side as well.”

Crawford is hitting .243 with a .659 OPS in the first year of his seven-year, $142 million deal with the Sox. He has played in 67 of Boston’s 69 games this year.

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Closing Time: It’s a big 10-4 for Red Sox in win over Brewers

06.17.11 at 10:19 pm ET
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After five innings of Friday’s series opener between the Red Sox and Brewers, it looked like it would once again be The Adrian Gonzalez Show at Fenway Park. The Red Sox first baseman had just driven a ball into the first row of Monster seats to give the home team a 5-4 lead. The home run was Gonzalez’s third hit in three at-bats and had placed the powerful lefty just a single shy of the cycle with four innings still left to be played.

Then, the rest of the Red Sox offense decided to jump in on the fun.

The Sox offense added five more runs in the remaining innings and rode a strong finish by starter John Lackey to a 10-4 victory, the team’s 12th in its last 13 games. Every Boston batter who stepped into the box, including two substitutes, either reached base or drove in a run. (Both occurred in the cases of eight of the 10 players to see action.)

Here’s what else went right and one measly thing that went wrong in the Red Sox win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

–The biggest reason behind the Red Sox late surge in runs came not in the late innings but actually in the first. Although he allowed only two runs in the frame, Milwaukee starter Shawn Marcum, who had held this current set of Sox hitters to just a .194 career average before Friday, was taken out with a left hip flexor strain after throwing an astounding 44 pitches just to get three outs. As unfortunate as the injury was for Marcum and the Brewers, it allowed the Red Sox to get to relievers Marco Estrada and Daniel Herrera earlier than they would have and stretch the two relievers out enough to the point where they could score three and four runs on them respectively.

David Ortiz didn’t care much for Tropicana Field as he went a combined 0-for-8 down over the Sox three-game series in Tampa Bay. But he sure looked a lot more comfortable on his return home to Fenway, going 3-for-5 in Friday’s winning effort. That ties the DH’s season-high for hits and improves his home batting average to .353 on the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek,

Rich Hill: No plans to change arm slot post Tommy John

06.17.11 at 9:03 pm ET
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There was, of course, curiosity about the timing. In his first year as a full-time sidearmer, Rich Hill suffered a nearly complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery by Dr. James Andrews last week in Pensacola, Fla. And so, Hill wondered whether the two developments were related — if the very throwing motion that had helped him to a tremendous start (9 scoreless appearances this year for the Sox) was responsible for the injury that will keep the left-hander out until at least sometime in the 2012 season.

“I actually asked that question to Dr. Andrews. He said, ‘€˜No, it had nothing to do with your arm slot. You stress your elbow ‘€“ everybody stresses their elbow the same way,'” recounted Hill, who is commuting from his home in South Boston to Fenway Park to conduct his rehab under the watch of Sox trainer Mike Reinold and rehab coordinator Scott Waugh.

A review of pictures of Hill throwing both in his prior over-the-top arm slot and in his newly discovered sidearm delivery showed that the arm stress was the same from both deliveries.

“[Andrews] said [the tear] had nothing to do with that,” said Hill. “It was basically a wear and tear thing over time.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: rich hill, tommy john,
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