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Closing Time: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

05.29.10 at 9:57 pm ET
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The Red Sox finally broke through against Kansas City at Fenway Park in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Clay Buchholz improved to 7-3 and allowed just four hits and struck out four while Mike Lowell drove in the game’s only run with a ground out to second in the second inning. The Sox improved their record to 28-23. (For a look at the box score, click here.)


–Clay Buchholz continues to show he can pitch, and that he is more than just a thrower. He showed the poise and guile of a veteran pitcher, using his full array of pitches, particularly his curve and change-up, to get a couple of key double plays in the first and fourth innings.

–The infield defense looks like it’s finding it’s rhythm – especially on the left side. Adrian Beltre handled a hot smash off the bat of Billy Butler with runners on first and second and none out in the fourth and turned a double play with the help of an outstanding turn at second by Dustin Pedroia. That was followed up by a nice job of fielding at first by Mike Lowell on a sharp grounder by Jose Guillen. Lowell was filling in at first for Kevin Youkilis, who was getting the night off since Lowell was 4-for-7 entering the game against Kansas City starter Zack Greinke.

–Maybe it’s simply out of necessity, but the Red Sox showed they can manufacture a run in the bottom of the second. Adrian Beltre opened the inning by continue to tear up right-handed pitching. He lined an outside fastball to right field for a clean single to raise his average to .370 against righties this season. Pretty remarkable considering he was brought to Boston for his glove. J.D. Drew followed with a double to left to put runners on second and third with none out. Lowell followed with a good job of driving a Greinke pitch up the middle, field by Aviles at second for the out, to score Beltre.


–The Red Sox continue to struggle to break games open. In the second inning, when they had runners at second and third and none out, they could manage only one run, and it came on a groundout.

Dustin Pedroia, despite a great game in the field and a game-saving play in the eighth inning, continues to struggle at the plate. He was 0-for-3 and is 0-for-Kansas City this weekend to fall to 5-for-40 (.125) in his last 10 games. Pedroia is now hitting .255 on the season.

–The Red Sox could only manage five hits and continue to be a team offensive funk against the Royals.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox, royals,

Prospect Iglesias hit on hand by pitch

05.29.10 at 7:16 pm ET
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Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias left in the second inning of Saturday’s game with Double-A Portland after getting hit in the right hand by a pitch. According to Sox farm director Mike Hazen, X-rays were negative, and the 20-year-old has been diagnosed instead with a bruise.

The injury occurred on a pitch at which Iglesias swung, and so he was replaced in the middle of his at-bat by Portland teammate Yamaico Navarro. Though Navarro went down on strikes, the strikeout was credited to Iglesias.

Iglesias, who signed with the Sox out of Cuba last summer, is hitting .306 with a .340 OBP, .408 slugging mark and .748 OPS in Double-A, excellent numbers for one of the youngest players in the Eastern League.

“He’€™s been really good ‘€“ really good,” Hazen said recently. “He’€™s going through a period of adjustment. As we said in spring training, I think that’€™s sort of expected. I think he’€™s outperformed what we’€™ve expected from a raw performance standpoint, which is a credit to him and his ability. … But we’€™re still talking about a kid who needs to just play and get more experience.”

Read More: jose iglesias, Portland Sea Dogs,

Red Sox vs. Royal Matchups, 5/29

05.29.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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All of New England’€™s focus may be on how the Celtics clinched a spot to their 21st NBA Finals on Friday night, but the Red Sox continue the grind as per usual as they take on the Royals for the third game of their four-game series. The series is not going as well as planned for the Sox, as they’€™ve lost the first two games; a tight 4-3 loss on Thursday before getting pounded, 12-5, on Friday. They look to turn things around Saturday night at Fenway, but first they must get through the Royals ace, Zack Greinke.

The defending Cy Young Award winner has had a rough go of it for the 2010 season. In his first nine starts, he lasted an average of 6 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.72, but he could not get adequate run support as he either lost or received a no-decision for his first seven starts. During that stretch, Greinke (1-5, 3.57 ERA) faced the Red Sox on April 10, a game in which he picked up his first loss of the season. He gave up four runs on eight hits and struck out five over 6 2/3 innings as the Royals lost, 8-3. In his last start, Greinke got shelled by the Rockies, only lasting 3 1/3 innings while allowing seven runs on nine hits.

Facing him in Saturday’€™s game is another young, powerful right-handed pitcher, Clay Buchholz. He’€™s been Boston’€™s best pitcher, statistically speaking. He leads the team in wins with his 6-3 record and his 3.07 ERA is the lowest on the team. His first game of the season was in Kansas City on April 11, a game that he won despite giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits over only five innings. In his last start, Buchholz was strong against the Rays as he only gave up one run over 6 innings on six hits, while striking out eight.

Despite being the reining Cy Young winner, Greinke isn’t frightening too many of the Red Sox hitters. Of the 12 current Red Sox players who have previously faced Greinke, five have a batting average of .300 or better: Víctor Martínez, Marco Scutaro, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Mike Cameron. Keep an eye out for Lowell’€™s at bats, as he’€™s 4-for-7 off Greinke. Lowell will be getting the nod ahead of Kevin Youkilis at first since Youkilis is 1-for-10 off the 26-year-old right-hander. Also, former Indians catcher Víctor Martínez is 14-for-44 against Greinke with eight RBI.

For the Royals, none of the batters have significant experience off Buchholz, but look for Scott Podsednik‘€™s at bats. The left fielder is 4-for-5 off Buchholz, all singles, with one walk. Read the rest of this entry »

Putting the brakes on Beckett

05.29.10 at 4:50 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona says the team is slowing Josh Beckett down in his rehab from lower back strain.

Francona said pitching coach John Farrell noticed inconsistencies in Beckett’s side session on Friday and the inability to repeat his delivery, which caused the team to be concerned about him injuring himself by over-compensating in an effort to rush back to the rotation.

“We’re going to slow him down a little bit,” Francona said before Saturday’s game. “He’s not able to repeat his delivery consistently enough, and that worries us.”

Beckett landed on the disabled list on May 19 with lower back strain after slipping on the Yankee Stadium mound while throwing a splitter to Alex Rodriguez in the rain on May 18. Before Saturday, Francona said the team was hopeful that Beckett would miss just one start and be able to return to the rotation. That possibility seemed to be ruled out by the Red Sox manager on Saturday.

[Click here to hear Francona explain the team’s decision to slow Beckett down.]

“[If] he starts changing arm angles, you could run into problems that we don’t need to run into so until we’re a little bit more comfortable and he’s more comfortable, we’re just going to slow it down a little bit. How much that is, I really don’t know. That’s kind of where we are right now. There’s just a little bit there that concerns us.”

Farrell was key to the team’s decision to back off after closely monitoring Beckett on Friday.

“Johnny saw some inconsistencies in his delivery and he talked to Beckett and he would say he same thing and when you talk it through it just seemed to make sense,” Francona said.

Also prominent in the decision is the fact the team just invested $68 million in the pitcher over a four-year extension in April.

“We have this guy for a long time and we know him so well, when he’s trying to compete and there’s a little bit of uncertainty, it’s just not going to work as well as it should,” Francona said. “We sat down and talked to him at length about it and we’re trying to use good judgement.

“We know him so well that when he tries to pitch and he doesn’t feel like he has his legs under him, that’s going to lead to other problems. We don’t need that. We don’t want this to turn into something it shouldn’t.”

Read More: back strain, Josh Beckett, Red Sox, Terry Francona

Gammons on The Big Show: Ellsbury ‘very hurt’

05.29.10 at 10:13 am ET
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MLB insider and NESN analyst Peter Gammons joined The Big Show on Friday afternoon to talk about Daisuke Matzusaka‘€™s inconsistency, Jason Varitek handling his role as a backup catcher, Joe West and the recent umpire controversies and Jacoby Ellsbury‘€™s return to the D.L.

‘€œIt’€™s easy to say, ‘€˜This guy should go out there,’€™ but it’€™s like a hand or a wrist injury in baseball; those things could take a year to come back from,’€ Gammons said of Ellsbury. ‘€œA friend of mine who’€™s a doctor suffered one of these injuries. [He] had predicted it would be eight weeks before he was [alright] and I think that’€™s where it’€™s going to end up at.’€

Below is a transcript of the interview. To listen to the interview, click here.

Was it fun last night with Daisuke Matzusaka?

I’€™m sorry, but Daisuke [didn’€™t] do well. It’€™s either Victor Martinez‘€™s fault or a lower body injury. He does well, everybody’€™s great, but I guess we all have to have a safety net.

It’€™s frustrating when Daisuke can be so great one start and miserable the next. What can the Red Sox do when something like this happens?

As a fifth starter, he’€™s still going to be pretty good. He’€™s going to win the majority of his games; I think you look at it that way. [Josh Beckett] threw today and he’€™s going to probably be another couple of weeks because they’€™re remaining very cautious with him. You [have] two virtual number ones in [Jon] Lester and [Clay] Buchholz, you got [John] Lackey and Beckett, and if Daisuke’€™s your fifth guy, that’€™s fine.

His stuff is so much better than it’€™s been since early 2007’€¦ he’€™ll probably end up a whole lot better than last year. I mean, there’€™s no comparison in his stuff; his fastball, his slider, his changeup. He’€™s completely healthy and he’€™s in great shape for the first time. I think that’€™s the way you look at it, try to channel that stuff, because early in 2007, he did look like he was going to be really, really good, and then he had a couple long games. I don’€™t know, he is a mystery. He’€™s like the human gyro-ball.

How hurt is Jacoby Ellsbury?

I think he’€™s very hurt. The thing that is so unfair here, this is his first big arbitration year. He’€™s got Scott Boras in his ear, telling him what he’€™s going to make. If he were jaking it, that makes no sense. It’€™s just the opposite, in fact. This is really important for him to play. I think what he did was that he altered his swing so much that he ended up doing other stuff. [The Red Sox] just have to ride it out because they are a much different team with him in the lineup.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury

Hall reacts to pitching a perfect ninth

05.28.10 at 11:43 pm ET
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When Bill Hall took the mound Friday night in what at the time was an all-but-assured Royals 12-5 win over the Red Sox, very few Fenway Park spectators expected much from the Sox utility man in his first-ever pitching appearance. Then, Hall threw his warmup pitches with some unexpectedly hitting as high as 88 mph on the stadium radar gun.

What came next was even more surprising.

Hall proceeded to force Jose Guillen, Alberto Callaspo and Mitch Maier each into ground outs for a perfect ninth inning with fastballs hitting as high as 89 on the gun. Ironically, that 1-2-3 ninth was the only perfect inning from any Sox pitcher on the night.

That perfect frame left those select few who hadn’€™t left the laugher at Fenway wondering where in the world that kind of pitching prowess came from. Apparently, Hall has a bit of a history with the position.

“I pitched in high school so it was always something that if I ever got the chance, I always wanted to do just to see if I still had it since high school,’€ Hall said.

In high school, he claims that he was able to hit 95 mph on the gun along with a curveball and changeup. Hall even stated that he was nearly drafted into the majors as a pitcher in his younger days. However, no one was able to see Hall’€™s full potential because Jason Varitek, who came on in the ninth to catch his new battery-mate, wanted a nice-and-easy approach.

‘€œBefore we left the bullpen, I said, ‘€˜I’€™ve got a curveball too and a good changeup.’€™ He said, ‘€œI’€™m sticking down one so just don’€™t shake.’€

The fastballs obviously worked in Hall’€™s favor though as he forced each batter into soft and safe groundouts. It begs the question, though: can we expect more of this type of appearance from him when the Sox are in a pinch and need an arm? Not as much as one might hope according to Hall.

‘€œI’€™m not that good,’€ he said. ‘€œI’€™ll keep leaving it up to those guys over there, the pitching staff, but when it comes to down to it, you’€™re going to have to help your team out and save the bullpen a little bit. Hopefully, we can come out with the same bullpen tomorrow.’€

Pitcher was the sixth defensive position for Hall this season in a Red Sox uniform. He very well could have made it seven down in Tampa Bay when he was called upon to be the emergency catcher after Victor Martinez went down with a toe injury. For now though, Hall, who was in danger of seeing his playing time cut before Jacoby Ellsbury went on the 15-day disabled list Friday, is just happy to be out on the field, no matter the position.

‘€œI’€™ve been blessed with enough athletic ability to be able to move around,’€ said Hall, who still hasn’t played either catcher or first base in the majors. ‘€œI just like being on the field. This is a game that I’€™ve loved since I was born so whenever I’€™m out there, it doesn’€™t matter where I’€™m at, I ‘€˜m having fun and I’€™m giving it my all. It doesn’€™t [matter] where I am. As long as I’€™m on the field, it’€™s where I want to be, and it makes me happy.’€

Pedroia fires back regarding questions about knee

05.28.10 at 11:32 pm ET
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Following the Red Sox‘ 12-5 loss to the Royals, Dustin Pedroia insisted that the knee he injured on a slide in Detroit on May 15 wasn’t the cause for his recent hitting slump.

“There’s nothing. There’s nothing wrong with my knee,” he said after going 0-for-5 Friday night. “I don’t make excuses for my play. I play hard every day. I don’t make excuses if I get injured or something. I go out there every day and try to hit a thousand. I’m tring to get a hit every time up. It’s really not working out right now. I can guarantee you that I won’t end the year hitting .260 or whatever the [expletive] I’m hitting now. I can guarantee you that. I don’t guarantee a lot, but that’s for damn sure.

“I’m just not getting any hits. That’s it. I hit a couple of balls hard.”

Pedroia is 0-for-9 since the Red Sox returned home, having gone 5-for-12 in the three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. In all, since the injury, the second baseman is hitting .163 (8-for-49). The second baseman is currently hitting .259.

Asked if he has been watching video to uncover any problems with his swing, Pedroia said, “Oh yeah, I work more than anybody in baseball, that’€™s a fact too. I’€™ll definitely put the time in and make sure I have a great year, so, ‘Laser Show.’ Relax again.’€

Closing Time: Royals 12, Red Sox 5

05.28.10 at 10:23 pm ET
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The Red Sox continued their struggles with the Royals in a 12-5 loss Friday night after starting pitcher Tim Wakefield failed to make it out of the fourth inning after surrendering seven earned runs in the frame. The Sox drop their second game in a row to the Royals and are now 27-23 on the season. (For a look at the box score, click here.)


–Wakefield’€™s night just came crashing down in the fourth inning. After bending but not breaking in the first three innings, he surrendered five straight singles, including Jason Kendall’€™s initial hit that just glanced off Wakefield’€™s glove. That string of hits brought the Royals to within one. Then, despite pulling to within just one out of getting out of a bases-loaded jam, Wakefield served up a juicy knuckleball that Yuniesky Betancourt sent over the Monster to make it 9-4 in favor of Kansas City. Sox manager Terry Francona pulled the veteran righty after just 3 2/3 innings, leaving the bullpen, and even outfielder Bill Hall, to take it the rest of the way on the mound.

–After that disastrous fourth inning, the Boston offense was never able to mount any kind of an answer. The Red Sox managed just four total baserunners from the fourth inning on after scoring five runs in the first three frames. No one would have counted out the Red Sox despite being down four runs after three-and-a-half innings, but the bats certainly did little to close that gap.

–Wild pitches can sometimes be the name of the game for the Sox when Wakefield takes the mound, but two errant tosses came at the worst possible time for Boston Friday night. Wakefield and Ramon Ramirez each had wild pitches with runners on third that allowed both runners to score. Wakefield’€™s came at a particularly bad time’€”it allowed Mike Aviles to cross the plate and tie the game at five apiece in the fourth inning.


Victor Martinez reentered the starting lineup in a big way, going 2-for-5 in his first start since injuring a toe Monday in Tampa. He seemed to struggle a bit running to second after a blast into the triangle in rightcenter in the first inning. So to make it easier on himself, he simply deposited a Kyle Davies offering into the Red Sox offering in right and jogged around the bases instead.

Scott Atchison was certainly solid in his relief of Wakefield. The reliever who was called up from Pawtucket before the game to replace Jacoby Ellsbury on the 25-man roster scattered four hits over 2 1/3 innings and didn’€™t allow a Kansas City runner to pass third base. He was the innings-eater the Sox needed after the bullpen was forced to go 5 1/3 innings after a short outing from Daisuke Matsuzaka Thursday night.

–On a night when the Red Sox announced they would be without their regular leadoff hitter Ellsbury for a little while longer, Marco Scutaro went 3-for-5 out of the top spot with a double and a run scored. That was his first multi-hit game since May 17 and just his third of the month.

Matsuzaka explains ‘lower body soreness’

05.28.10 at 7:27 pm ET
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Prior to the Red Sox game with the Royals Friday night at Fenway Park Daisuke Matsuzaka clarified what he meant when he referenced having “lower body soreness” throughout his Thursday night outing.

“It doesn’t happen that often. I just think it’s one of those days where your body feels a little heavier than normal. You feel a little bit lethargic,” Matsuzaka said through translator Masa Hoshino. “I think that’s what it was. But today I think because I relied a lot more on my upper body pitching in the game last night, I think my upper body is a little more tired than usual.

“It’s certainly not an injury. I wouldn’t even go so far as calling it fatigue. I think that can happen to any player, where you get out of bed in the morning and feel a little bit off. It just so happens yesterday was one of those days … my body just wouldn’t cooperate.”

Matsuzaka finished his latest start having walked eight batters over 4 2/3 innings, including five in what turned out to be a three-run fifth inning. Regarding the hurler’s final frame, Matsuzaka suggested that he didn’t feel any worse in the fifth than in his previous innings.

“I guess there’s nothing I can really point to in the fifth inning because the way I was feeling yesterday that could happen at any given time,” he said. “No matter what I tried things just weren’t’ falling into place for me and things weren’t going right. That just happened to be the time all it happened for me.”

When asked about the “lower body soreness” prior to Friday night’s game, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, “‘€œI have lower body problems. I don’€™t know. That was the first I had heard of that. He had a good bullpen [session today]. He didn’€™t express that to us.’€

For more Red Sox coverage see WEEI.com’s Red Sox team page.

Farrell on D&H: No knowledge of Daisuke injury

05.28.10 at 5:33 pm ET
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Friday afternoon, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell called into Dale & Holley to talk about the pitching staff’€™s recent surge, Josh Beckett‘€™s rehab schedule, and Daisuke Matsuzaka‘€™s struggles against the Royals Thursday night.

“To go into the eighth inning with the game in hand that he had [against Philadelphia],” Farrell said, “we were anticipating something similar ‘€” certainly not a no-hitter ‘€” but to be a little more controlling the count than last night unfolded.”

A partial transcript of the interview follows. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Lately the pitching staff hasn’€™t been giving you a lot of problems, but after last night you must not have slept so well.

Yeah, seemingly right from the first inning, Daisuke was having a difficult time commanding within the zone. He worked himself into a couple of jams. He did a great job to get out of the fourth [inning], with the no out, bases loaded jam and no runs on the board. And really when you think about the total number of base runners he allowed, to keep the damage to three runs even though it was into the fifth inning, which is far short of what he’€™s been doing as of late, we were still in line late in the ballgame to win the game.

What do you think about Daisuke’€™s control issues over the course of the game?

Yeah, he battled himself, there’€™s no doubt about it. The stuff was equal to what he’€™s been pitching with. You look back five days ago in Philadelphia, against a very good fastball hitting team, and he threw the ball over the plate and he had some balls hit right at some people. To go into the eighth inning with the game in hand that he had, we were anticipating something similar ‘€” certainly not a no-hitter ‘€” but to be a little more controlling the count than last night unfolded.

Is Daisuke’€™s physical status better known, or is it something he’€™ll have to wait on until he gets to the park?

Probably going to have to wait until he gets to the park. You might be referring to something in his lower half. That’€™s probably the first we heard about it, so I don’€™t have any news in any way to give you on that. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Farrell, Red Sox, victor martinez
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