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Gammons on The Big Show: ‘No way they’re moving Bard’ to closer

06.25.10 at 9:05 pm ET
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MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly visit to the The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss bullpen woes for the Red Sox and give a little praise for the likes of Adrian Beltre, Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald. Of Beltre, Gammons said: “He’€™s exceeded everything, on the field and off the field, and in terms of his part in the clubhouse. It’€™s been a great story.”

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

What’€™s your take on take on [Jonathan] Papelbon? What do you think is going on here?

Well, I realize all the numbers and I know his strikeout rate is down about 22 percent, his balk rate’€™s up, home runs are up. He’€™s gone through these periods of losing his delivery. I thought the last homestand was the best he’€™d been in two years. And the thing that Jason Varitek has pointed out several times is his attempts to re-adjust. He came up as a three-pitch starter, and by last year was a one-pitch reliever. And he’€™s been trying to get his split and his slider back. He keeps promising me he’€™s going to have something side-arm the second half of the season ‘€” I don’€™t know if I want to see that. I think at times it just slips away from him. And they’€™re very fortunate that Darnell McDonald made that catch last night or that the line drive went right at [Kevin] Youkilis.

There’€™s no way they’€™re moving [Daniel] Bard into the ninth inning. They want Bard to pitch a couple more years in the seventh. In a lot of way it’€™s a lot tougher to pitch seventh and eighth and then start out a clean ninth inning and not beat Mariano Riviera over John Wetteland again. But that’€™s usually the best way to do it.

I do think that last night he just seemed so mechanically screwed up. As if he was trying to overthrow everything. His split wouldn’€™t move. I don’€™t really buy the whole, “It was in Colorado, the ball doesn’€™t move.” I don’€™t buy that. I just think that he’€™s gotten himself into a rut and my guess is that he will come out of it. I remember we were doing one of those games about two weeks ago on a weekend, and Eck and I both sort of jumped up. He threw a couple splits that were just unbelievable. And last night every split was that good. Almost every hit has come on one of his two secondary pitches, which is scary, but at the same time I think [Jerry Remy’s] right. [Papelbon] kept saying it was a fastball that [Jason] Giambi hit out, and Remy was right ‘€” it was a split he hit out. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, peter gammons, Red Sox,

Red Sox recall Castro, Reddick optioned

06.25.10 at 3:35 pm ET
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The Red Sox, in need of depth in the pitching department following a bullpen-draining 13-11 win over the Rockies on Thursday, recalled left-hander Fabio Castro on Friday and optioned outfielder Josh Reddick to the minors.

Castro, who was with the Red Sox on April 28-29 but did not appear in a game, has an ERA of 6.65 in 43.1 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket this season. He has, however, pitched better of late, with an ERA of 3.46 in his last eight outings, all coming out of the bullpen. Castro signed as a free agent with Boston in December 2009. In 30 career Major League appearances over two seasons with Texas (2006) and Philadelphia (2006-07) he has a career record of 0-1 with a 3.30 ERA.

Reddick was recalled to Boston June 22, his third stint with the Red Sox. He started three games in right field, batting .125 (1-for-8) with a walk. For the season he is batting .160 for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox used seven pitchers in the 10-inning win at Coors Field on Thursday, including closer Jonathan Papelbon for two innings.

Red Sox vs. Giants matchups, 6/25

06.25.10 at 2:07 pm ET
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For the second time in as many nights, Jonathan Papelbon blew a Red Sox lead in the bottom of the ninth, but on Thursday night he didn’€™t receive the loss. In the rubber match of their three-game series against the Rockies, the Sox were able to overcome the issue and pull ahead thanks to a Dustin Pedroia two-run home run in the top of the 10th, his third homer of the night. With another shot to hold on to a two-run lead, Papelbon recovered, holding the Rockies scoreless in a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th. It is Pedroia’€™s flawless 5-for-5 night that the Sox will look to build upon in the opening game of their series against the Giants Friday night.

Tim Wakefield will take the mound for the Red Sox, trying to reverse a rough season against a team he’€™s had troubles with in the past. Against the Giants, Wakefield is 2-3 with a 6.03 ERA, one of his worst records against any team. If he has anything going for him, it’€™s that he hasn’€™t faced the Giants in three years, and the last time he did face them, he picked up a win ‘€” even though he allowed five runs on eight hits.

It’€™s been a difficult 18th season so far for Wakefield (2-5, 5.33 ERA), with his first interleague game of the season a rare bright spot ‘€” an 8-3 victory over the Phillies in which he pitched eight shutout innings. Since then, Wakefield has only won one of six starts and he’€™s slid to the back end of the rotation. His last start could be a sign of encouragement for Red Sox Nation, however; in a 5-4 win, Wakefield gave up three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings but got a no-decision.

For Jonathan Sanchez, what 2009 brought in fame and success with a no-hitter, 2010 has brought in mediocrity and problems with an inconsistent year. Despite giving up no more than four runs in any one game this season, Sanchez (5-5, 2.90 ERA) has fluctuated from start to start with hits allowed (as low as one in one game, but he’s given up seven in four starts) and walks (five as many times as walking none or one: four times).

Sanchez’€™ last two starts show his wide range of results: last Monday against the O’€™s he picked up the win by giving up two runs and walking only one even though he allowed a season-high eight hits. Last Sunday against Toronto, Sanchez’€™ wild side reemerged as he lasted only 2 2/3 innings because he already walked five, allowed three to score and had men on second and third. Sanchez also received a no-decision in that last game.

Half of the Red Sox lineup has never faced Sanchez, but the other half probably wishes it hadn’€™t faced him before either. Out of the seven men to have seen the 27-year-old lefty before, there are only three hits among them. Meanwhile, the Giants have had either feast or famine off Wakefield’€™s knuckleball. Aubrey Huff is the perfect example of this; he has a lowly .164 batting average against Wakefield with nine strikeouts, but he’€™s hit the career cycle off him, too, with three homers, two doubles, a triple and two singles. Keep an eye on the Wakefield-Aaron Rowand matchup, as Rowand has dominated Wake by going 11-for-17 with four home runs and eight RBI.

The series against the Giants will keep the Sox on the West Coast through the weekend before they return home to take on the Rays on Tuesday.

Red Sox vs. Jonathan Sanchez

Mike Cameron (9 plate appearances against Sanchez): .143 BA/.333 OBP/.286 SLG, 1 double, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Bill Hall (8): .286/.375/.286, 1 home run, 4 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

J.D. Drew is 0-for-2 while Adrian Beltré, Mike Lowell, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis are 0-for-1 against Sanchez. Víctor Martínez, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia, Josh Reddick, Marco Scutaro and Jason Varitek have never faced the San Francisco starter.

Giants vs. Tim Wakefield

Aubrey Huff (57 plate appearances against Wakefield): .164 BA/.193 OBP/.418 SLG, 3 home runs, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 5 RBI, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts

Bengie Molina (22): .350/.409/.650, 1 home run, 3 doubles, 8 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Aaron Rowand (19): .647/.684/1.412, 4 home runs, 1 double, 8 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Edgar Renteria (17): .176/.176/.235, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

Juan Uribe (12): .250/.240/.500, 1 home run, 3 RBI, 1 strikeout

Pat Burrell (9): .250/.333/.375, 1 double, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Nate Schierholtz (3): 1.000/1.000/1.667, 1 triple, 1 RBI

Freddy Sanchez is 2-for-4 against Wakefield. Travis Ishikawa, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Andres Torres and Eli Whiteside have yet to face the Boston starter.

Read More: Giants, Jonathan Sanchez, Red Sox, Tim Wakefield

Batting Stance Guy: All-Strikeout Team

06.25.10 at 10:42 am ET
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Another classic round of batting stances from who else … BSG. (It wouldn’t be the All-Strikeout Team without Dave Kingman):

Beau Mills, son of former Sox coach, arrested on assault charges

06.25.10 at 9:45 am ET
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Beau Mills, son of Astros manager and former Red Sox coach Brad Mills, was one of three Indians minor leaguers arrested this week and charged with felonious assault stemming from an incident at a bar in Akron, Ohio. Mills, a first baseman for the Double-A Akron Aeros, was arrested along with Aeros outfielder Jerad Head and Triple-A Columbus Clippers pitcher Josh Tomlin after an altercation that left an off-duty bouncer with a punctured lung and rib fractures.

The lawyer for Mills and Head said the players deny taking part in an assault, which allegedly followed taunting of the man by the players.

“We are aware of the incident,” Indians assistant general manager Chris Antonetti told the Akron Beacon Journal. “We will allow the legal process to take its course. We’ll have no comment until the legal process is complete.”

Mills, a left-handed hitting first baseman, was selected 13th overall in the 2007 draft out of Idaho’s Lewis-Clark State College, while his father was serving as bench coach to Red Sox manager Terry Francona. Mills, 23, is batting .205 in 54 games for the Aeros this season with three home runs and 32 RBI. He was placed on the disabled list June 10 with a strained rib cage.

To read more, click here.

Read More: Beau Mills, Brad Mills, Red Sox,

Boxscore Breakdown: Wild one a Mile High

06.25.10 at 9:01 am ET
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What a game!!:

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* – Pedroia’s 5 hit night was the 10th in MLB this season and the 2nd by a Red Sox player (Victor Martinez on June 1).  Red Sox players have gotten 5+ hits in an interleague game just 4 times:  Nomar Garciaparra and Johnny Damon within a week of each other in 2003 and Dustin Pedroia twice (June ’07 and last night).

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* – It was Pedroia’s 3rd career game with 5+ hits, tying him with Wade Boggs and Johnny Damon for the 2nd most in Red Sox history (since ’52), trailing only Carl Yastrzemski, who had 4.  The all-time major league leaders (again, since ’52) are Pete Rose (10) and Tony Gwynn (9).

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* – Going into last night’s game, Pedroia’s OPS for 2010 was .817 and ranked 72nd in the majors. This morning, his OPS is .872 and he passed half those guys, now sitting in 36th place.  Oh, and after June 9, his OPS was just .756 (ranked 112th).

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* – One other thing:  Congratulations to Pedroia on his first extra-inning RBI of his career. Before last night, Pedroia was one of only seven players who, since the start of the 2006 season, had come up at least 30 times in extra innings and never driven in a run.  Now there are only six and one of those was on the losing end last night:  Todd Helton, who now has no RBI in 53 extra inning plate appearances since 2006.  He didn’t get a 10th inning opportunity last night.

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* – The last time that a Red Sox reliever blew saves by allowing 2+ runs on consecutive days prior to Papelbon’s last two nights was, well, never. At least since 1952.  The closest were two days apart by Bill “Soup” Campbell (June 23 and 25, 1977) and Jeff Russell (July 5 and 7, 1993).  Technically, Bruce Hurst did it on June 16 and 18, 1995, but he wasn’t closing.

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* – After allowing 14 line drives on Wednesday night, which tied the most they’ve allowed in any game since the start of the 2008 season (the Rays also hit 14 line drives on April 30, 2009), the Sox upped the ante last night, allowing 18 line drives, the most allowed in any major league game since the start of the 2008 season (at least).  Three other teams have allowed 17 line drives in a game in the last two and a half years (Mets, Dodgers, and Tigers, all in 2008).  The Rockies went 14-18 last night on line drives and 11-14 the night before.

Closing Time: Red Sox 13, Rockies 11

06.25.10 at 1:40 am ET
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The Red Sox experienced the phenomenon of baseball at altitude in their contest against the Rockies on Thursday. The Sox wiped out a pair of two-run deficits and gave away four-run and three-run advantages in a pinball game that featured a combined 24 runs and 33 hits, and that included plenty of drama that lasted until the game’s end.

But just when it appeared that the Sox would be done in by the second disastrous appearance in as many nights by closer Jonathan Papelbon — who coughed up an 11-9 ninth-inning lead by allowing two runs — Dustin Pedroia punctuated a career night by launching his third homer of the game in the top of the 10th. The two-run homer proved decisive in allowing the Sox to escape the mountain air with a 13-11 victory.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Dustin Pedroia, batting in the third spot of the batting order on a night when Victor Martinez was sitting, once again allowed Red Sox broadcaster Don Orsillo to work on his home run call. Pedroia reveled in the thin mountain air, crushing three homers to left, none bigger than his 10th-inning, two-rn blast that offered the final margin of victory. He also added a double, single and walk, marking his third career five-hit game and matching a career-high by reaching base six times.

Pedroia’s tremendous night continued his overall dominance in interleague play. In his career, he now owns a .366 career average against the National League in regular season play. In his last 13 games, Pedroia is hitting .500/.550/.865/1.415. In just over two weeks, he has improved his average 45 points, from .248 to .293.

“I’€™ve never hit three home runs before. I’€™ve gotten five hits but never gone deep three times,” Pedroia told reporters. “I’€™ve been feeling good at the plate lately. Seeing the ball good, hitting the ball all over the place. I feel good. The only thing is you have to get a good pitch to hit and hit it. tonight I got good pitches to hit and I didn’€™t miss them.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka appeared to be on the verge of imploding in the first inning of his first start since landing on the 15-day disabled list. He allowed the first five batters he faced to reach on three walks and two singles, and with little command of any of his pitches, the Sox were left to prepare for disaster, with reliever Dustin Richardson started warming in the bullpen, with the starter’s pitch count already at 27 before he’d recorded a single out.

But Matsuzaka settled from that point, retiring the next three batters on a strikeout, a comebacker to the mound that resulted in a force at the plate and another strikeout. He retired those three batters on 10 pitches.

Those two runs were the only damage against Matsuzaka in his outing. He ended up going five innings and allowing just three more hits and one more walk for a final line of five innings, two runs, five hits, four walks and six punchouts. While he threw 105 pitches, he was relatively economical (in relative terms) after the first five batters. Moreover, following his stint on the D.L., his fastball velocity exhibited plenty of arm strength, as he was working at 92-94 mph for most of his outing.

Adrian Beltre continued to forge an All-Star-caliber resume, going 3-for-4 with a homer and double to improve his average to .342 with a .927 OPS. The only downside to his night was that his celebration of his 11th homer of the year was marred by a dugout dispute over the propriety of having one’s head touched by teammates.

Jason Varitek played a significant role in his club’s victory, both with a bat and behind the plate. With the Sox down, 8-7, in the top of the seventh, he delivered a two-run double to put his team ahead for good. His contributions to control the Rockies running game may have been just as significant, however, as the catcher gunned down Rockies leadoff man Jonathan Herrera on a pair of stolen base attempts, one in the second inning, and another in the seventh. He has now thrown out six of 26 attempted base stealers this year, a 23 percent clip that is his best mark since 2007.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Closer Jonathan Papelbon, one night after allowing three runs on a pair of homers to blow a save and suffer a loss, nearly suffered the same fate. He entered the game in the top of the ninth with an 11-9 lead, and gave up three straight hits with one out that plated a pair of runs and led to the game being tied. He also gave up a monumental out to straightaway center to Seth Smith, which was tracked down at the fence by Darnell McDonald.

Papelbon, who looked disconsolate as he left the field after the ninth, did manage to regroup, pitching a scoreless 10th and ending the game with a punchout. Still, his ERA now stands at 3.98, more than double the 1.84 ERA with which he entered the year. His struggle was part of a contest that saw Sox relievers yield nine runs.

–Relievers Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima conspired to produce singularly brutal results. Delcarmen, who entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, allowed all three batters he faced to reach, loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk. Okajima then allowed all three inherited runners to cross the plate plus three more of his own, permitting three runs on four hits while recording just two outs.

–While Daisuke Matsuzaka minimized the damage after permitting the first five Rockies hitters of the game to reach base — and throwing 27 pitches before recording his first out — his stumble out of the gate ensured that the game would be entrusted to the Boston bullpen.

–Outfielder Josh Reddick added injury to insult. At the plate, he continued to look lost, striking out in both of his plate appearances to drop his average to .160 with a .472 OPS.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, colorado rockies, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Dustin Pedroia

The sacred noggin of Adrian Beltre

06.24.10 at 11:11 pm ET
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Adrian Beltre belted a massive two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning of Thursday’s contest against the Colorado Rockies to put his team ahead, 6-2. But that was only the beginning of the drama.

When the third baseman returned to the dugout, the atmosphere became charged. Would teammate Victor Martinez dare once again to touch the head of his teammate?

The issue, of course, first reached a critical point at the beginning of the month in Baltimore, when Beltre appeared to take a swipe at Martinez in the dugout after a roundtripper. At the time, the third baseman suggested that he would be swift to seek revenge any time a teammate infringed upon the sanctity of his head.

On Thursday, Beltre was once again in a position to retaliate. When he returned to the dugout following his homer against Rockies reliever Franklin Morales, Martinez once again patted him on the head, and then, while Beltre nearly swung a batting helmet at Martinez, shortstop Marco Scutaro snuck in for a head pat of his own, with Beltre wheeling and nearly confronting him before breaking into laughter.

As reported by WEEI.com on June 5, Beltre was unfamiliar with but endorsed the Thai belief in the sacred nature of the head. But he might do well to post visual condemnations of pats on the head, such as that issued in a series of posters by the Tourist Authority of Thailand:

Read More: Adrian Beltre, head, marco scutaro, victor martinez

Red Sox vs. Rockies matchups, 6/24

06.24.10 at 3:19 pm ET
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Following a disappointing loss Wednesday night, the Red Sox will attempt to regroup and salvage one win from the three-game series vs. the Rockies.

Coming off the 15-day disabled list, Daisuke Matsuzaka (5-2, 4.59) will take the mound for the Sox after being out of the rotation due to a right forearm strain. In his last outing, June 7 vs. the Indians, Matsuzaka gave up four hits and no runs, with five strikeouts. His last appearance against the Rockies in Denver was a memorable one: Game 3 of the 2007 World Series, when he gave up two runs on three hits in 5 2/3 innings and shined with the bat, hitting a two-run single.

Opposing Matsuzaka is the red-hot Jason Hammel (5-3, 4.03). In Hammel’€™s last start against the Brewers on June 18, the right-hander gave up eight hits but no runs over 7 1/3 innings. Hammel is 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his last seven games, after opening the season 0-2 with a 9.16 ERA and then spending a stint on the DL with a strained right groin. This month, he is 3-0 with a 0.31 ERA and has yet to give up a run in the last 25 1/3 innings. Of the Red Sox, David Ortiz has performed the best in limited action against the former Rays pitcher, with five hits in eight at-bats. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Hammel, Red Sox,

Williams on D&C: Bard still has ‘things to learn’

06.24.10 at 2:07 pm ET
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MLB Network analyst Mitch ‘€œWild Thing’€ Williams joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and discussed how Jonathan Papelbon can bounce back after blowing the Red Sox‘ one-run lead Wednesday night in Colorado and whether Daniel Bard is ready to step up and fill Papelbon’€™s cleats.

‘€œObviously, whenever you blow a game it makes you just a little bit angry,’€ Williams said. ‘€œIf [Papelbon’€™s] anything like I was when I was playing, I wanted the next game to start immediately and he definitely wants to get back out there tonight and be put in the same situation. I still say the greatest attribute a closer can have is a short memory, because the night before means nothing. You have to go out and do it again tonight.’€

After Papelbon blew the save against the Rockies Wednesday night, giving up bombs to Ian Stewart and Jason Giambi in an 8-6 walk-off loss, Williams, the former Phillies pitcher most remembered for giving up a home run to Toronto’s Joe Carter that ended the 1993 World Series, sympathized with the way Papelbon simply ‘€œgot got’€ in the loss.

‘€œYou have to be able to turn the page and understand that sometimes you get, sometimes you get got,’€ Williams said. ‘€œLast night Jonathan got got. It doesn’€™t mean he’€™s not a good closer. It doesn’€™t mean that he’s on a downward spiral. Every closer is going to blow games. That’s all there is to it, and if you think you’re not, you’re living in a dream world.’€

Following are some highlights from Williams’ appearance. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On the difference between a set-up guy and a closer:

There’€™s a huge difference between the three outs in the eighth and the three outs in ninth. For me, I thought that ninth inning was easier. I always thought the seventh- and eighth-inning guys, they had to work harder because you have to throw strikes in those situations, you have to throw strikes that are pitcher strikes, not necessarily hitter strikes. And when you get to the ninth, I always found every hitter that walks up there, you’ve got a one-run game going, and every hitter wants to get up the next morning and read his name in the headline that he had a two-run homer to win that game. So your only objective as a closer is to get ahead. … You have to take advantage of the fact that that hitter wants to be the hero. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, Mitch Williams, Red Sox,
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