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Red Sox notes: ‘Getting to bottom’ of Ellsbury injury

05.27.10 at 5:56 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona updated the Jacoby Ellsbury situation prior to Thursday’s series opener with the Kansas City Royals.

Francona acknowledged that Ellsbury is still have soreness issues with his side.

“He’s been examined,” Francona said. “We’ve looked at the pictures. All the medical people have looked at everything. He’s really tender. We’ve got to get to the bottom of this.”

The team is trying to get to the bottom of an issue that is becoming more complicated every day after Ellsbury told ESPN.com on Wednesday that he was activated after his ribs weren’t completely stable.

“[The pain] is along the same ribs that cracked,” Ellsbury told ESPN.com after Wednesday’s game. “All the ribs are moving, so it can affect the back ribs as well, where it hits the front of the spine. So you not only feel the impact at the direct place where you were hit, but the back side, too, along the band. I felt that originally, but I hadn’t felt it again until now.

“I think they downplay it because they misdiagnosed it,” Ellsbury continued. “They said you treat it all the same way. Remember that comment? How do you treat a bruise the same as a break?”

Francona said Thursday that the team is looking at all possibilities concerning the outfielder, who played just three games before sitting out Tuesday’s game at Tampa Bay. He hasn’t played since.

“We don’t want to rush into putting him on the DL,” Francona said. “At the same time, he’s not ready to play because of the way he feels so we’re just trying to get to the bottom of it. We’ll get to the bottom of it. We’re just not there yet. Whether we have to get more opinions, we’ll do whatever we feel is necessary.”

Elsewhere, Francona said the team believes they’ll have Victor Martinez behind the plate to catch Tim Wakefield on Friday.

“I think the hope is he’ll run around in the outfield a little bit. We’d like to catch him [Friday]. We’d really like to catch him [Friday] because of Wake. If he’s not ready, we won’t do it. I think he’ll be ready to catch.”

As for Thursday’s scheduled home plate umpire and the report that Joe West is facing sanctions from MLB after his quick hook of Mark Buerhle on Wednesday in Cleveland, Francona did a nice side-step, deferring to the White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who didn’t hold back in his criticism of the controversial umpire.

“Our goal is to win today and make it through nine innings,” Francona said. “I’d rather not get suspended so check with Ozzie.”

West was the same umpire who publicly criticized the Red Sox and Yankees for their lengthy games following their opening series of the season in April.

Josh Beckett, on the disabled list with a strained lower back, hopes to take another step in his return to the rotation with a scheduled side session on Friday at Fenway.

“I hope so,” Francona said. “If he throws his side [Friday] everything is going very well. If we need to back it up another day, we will.”

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, Joe West, Red Sox, royals

Red Sox vs. Royals matchups, 5/27

05.27.10 at 2:25 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

After winning five straight games, including eight of their last nine, the Red Sox return home after sweeping the Rays to begin a four-game series to close out the month of May. Doing damage in the American League East over the past week has vaulted Boston into third place, two games behind New York and six games behind Tampa Bay in the loss column. Daisuke Matsuzaka will be on the mound on Thursday night as he comes off one of the best starts of his career, while Kansas City will counter with Brian Bannister, who will look to continue to keep the ball on the ground.

Matsuzaka shined in his last start and delivered a dominant performance against the Phillies. He allowed just one hit over eight shutout innings while walking four and punching out five hitters. Matsuzaka carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning where he managed to attain the first two outs, only to lose it on a bloop single by Juan Castro.

The only other quality start Matsuzaka has had this season was against the Blue Jays on May 11. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out nine. The performance marked Matsuzaka’s only start this year in which he didn’t allow a walk. In his three other starts, he’s failed to complete six innings or allow fewer than five runs.

Matsuzaka faced the Royals in his major league debut in 2007 and struck out a career-high 10 hitters. For his career, he’s posted a 2.84 ERA and has won both of his starts against Kansas City.

The Royals enter the series with an improved offense, as they lead the majors with a .280 batting average. Leading Kansas City at the plate this year has been Billy Butler, who’s hitting .348 with five home runs and 28 RBI. Butler, however, along with seven other Royals hitters, has never faced Matsuzaka.

Bannister, meanwhile, has been solid this season with a 3-3 record and 4.72 ERA. In his last start against the Rockies, he allowed two runs over 7 1/3 innings to help the Royals earn a 9-2 win. Bannister was able to keep the ball on the ground as he picked up 11 ground-ball outs, something he’ll look to repeat at Fenway Park on Thursday night. In four career starts against the Red Sox, Bannister is 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA, with three of his losses coming in Boston. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brian bannister, Daisuke Matsuzaka, kansas city royals,

Boxscore Breakdown – St. Pete Sweet Sweep

05.27.10 at 9:18 am ET
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Hopefully, you haven’t seen THESE notes elsewhere from last night’s Sox romp:

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* – Since the start of the 2007 season, the Red Sox are now 38-15 in games decided by 8+ runs (2-2 this year). That .712 winning percentage is tops in the majors in that span:

.717 – Boston Red Sox (38-15)
.706 – Toronto Blue Jays (24-10)
.676 – Philadelphia Phillies (25-12)

The Rays are 29-29 in such games in that span (5-2 this season).

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* – Adrian Beltre became the 12th Red Sox player to drive in at least 6 runs and score at least 3 runs in a road game since 1952 and the first since Bill Mueller in 2003. It was the first time that it’s been done by any team against the Rays at their place.

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* – Last night was just the 5th time in Matt Garza’s career that he has allowed 3+ HR in a start (his team is 1-4 in those) and the 5th time that he has thrown fewer than 56% strikes (his team is 0-5 in those). The Red Sox are now 7-2 this season when the opposing starter fails to throw at least 56% strikes and are 26-5 in those games since the start of last season, the 3rd highest winning percentage in the majors:

.933 – Texas Rangers (14-1)
.909 – Philadelphia Phillies (20-2)
.839 – Boston Red Sox (26-5)

Only the Yankees (32) have seen more opposing starters fail to throw 56% or more strikes since the start of last season than the Red Sox (31).

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* – Carlos Pena went 1-4 last night, picking up just his 2nd hit of the season in a game that Tampa lost. He is now 2-45 (.044) in losses. BJ Upton sat out Wednesday’s game, but his 0-4 on Tuesday dropped his average in losses this season to .071 (3-42). The pair is hitting a combined .252 in Rays’ victories.

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* – The Sox forced Garza into three full counts in the first inning last night. It’s the 8th time that the Sox have forced an opposing starter into 3+ full counts in the opening inning since the start of last season. They are 7-1 in those games and have averaged 7.9 runs in those games.

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* – Boston pitchers allowed 15 baserunners last night, snapping a season-long streak of 7 consecutive games without allowing 15 or more. During each of the last two seasons, they had 3 such streaks of 7+ games, including an 11-gamer each year. But here’s how you win a championship: In 2007, they had 6 separate streaks of 7+ games, including one of 18 games, a 12 game streak, and an 11-gamer.

Ellsbury questions Sox’ treatment of injury

05.27.10 at 8:44 am ET
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Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury said the pain he has been experiencing the past couple of days is in the same area of his ribs and similar to the discomfort he had after colliding with Adrian Beltre on April 11. Ellsbury talked to reporters about the issue before and after Wednesday’s game, clarifying comments the Red Sox made that the pain was coming from a different area and questioning the Sox medical team’s handing of the issue.

“[The pain] is along the same ribs that cracked,” Ellsbury told ESPN.com after the game. “All the ribs are moving, so it can affect the back ribs as well, where it hits the front of the spine. So you not only feel the impact at the direct place where you were hit, but the back side, too, along the band. I felt that originally, but I hadn’t felt it again until now.”

Added Ellsbury about the Sox’ treatment: “I think they downplay it because they misdiagnosed it. They said you treat it all the same way. Remember that comment? How do you treat a bruise the same as a break?”

The Red Sox found more ‘make’ than ‘break’

05.27.10 at 8:18 am ET
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So, you were holding your breath to see how the Red Sox were going to come out of this stretch — at Detroit, at New York, home against Minnesota, at Philadelphia, at Tampa Bay. You can exhale. Here are the particulars of the 13 games — in which they went 9-4  – following the punctuation that was a series sweep of the Rays:

PITCHING

- Most wins in the majors (9).

- Lowest opponents batting average against in the majors (.214).

- Lowest ERA in the American League (3.22).

- Fewest hits allowed per nine innings (7.06).

- Clay Buchholz had three wins, Jon Lester had two.

- Daniel Bard didn’t give up an earned run in seven games.

- The starters totaled an ERA of 3.06, with Tim Wakefield ( no runs in 10 1/3 innings), Buchholz (1.77 ERA), and Lester (2.05) leading the way.

HITTING

- Had the second-most home runs (21) in the majors.

- Scored the third-most runs (72).

- Fourth-most hits (119) and extra-base hits (46).

- Saw the most pitches per plate appearance (4.13), easily out-distancing second place Colorado (3.97).

- Amazingly had just one stolen base.

- David Ortiz had the second-best OPS in the majors (1.400), while Kevin Youkilis (1.348) was fifth-best, and Adrian Beltre came in at No. 9 (1.192).

- Ortiz had six homers, Youkilis five, and Beltre three.

- Youkilis was second in the majors with a .527 on-base percentage. He drew a big league-best 16 walks.

- Beltre led the Sox with a .417 batting average, with Ortiz coming in at .410, Youkilis at .333, and Victor Martinez at .314. The top of the order, Marco Scutaro (.191) and Dustin Pedroia (.188), struggled. Pedroia did, however, see more pitches than any player in the majors, followed by Youkilis.

FIELDING

- Second-best fielding percentage in the American League (.990), making just five errors.

- Eight stolen bases against (one caught stealing), with Tampa Bay managing just a pair.

Remy on D&C: Ortiz unlikely to be back next year

05.26.10 at 11:12 pm ET
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Jerry Remy

NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning and talked about the resurgence of the Red Sox and David Ortiz. Remy said he isn’t convinced the team will keep Ortiz around next season despite his huge production this month.

“Probably not,” Remy said. “I think they’re hoping to get the best they can out of him this year and let next year play itself out. The nice thing about this is now that he comes to the plate, you have confidence in him again and more importantly, he has confidence in himself.”

A transcript follows. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to hear the interview.

If those critics who called the Red Sox a flawed team that neither pitches nor plays defense could be considered premature in their judgments, wouldn’t those critics who are now jumping on the bandwagon and calling them the team to beat also be considered premature?

Well, they’re certainly playing a lot better. They’re playing more to their capability right now, there’s no question about that. Finally the pitching is starting to show up. The biggest surprise at the beginning of the year was that these pitchers, who were supposed to be one of the best in the American League, weren’t doing it and now they’re doing it. [Clay] Buchholz has been unbelievable. [Jon] Lester, as you can see, over the last four or five starts has been incredible. We’ve got to get Lackey straightened out tonight, but now they’re pitching the way they’re capable of pitching. It makes everybody else look a lot better. It makes the bullpen look better, the offense doesn’t have to score 10 runs a night, so it’s been good baseball over the past couple of weeks.

Was there a launching point for this team for when they started to turn things around? There wasn’t a benches-clearing brawl in any games and Terry Francona hasn’t been thrown out in any huge tirades, so would you chalk this up to the starting pitchers getting their acts together?

I think it was strictly the starting pitching because when the season started, these guys were not pitching the way they were capable of pitching and it was the biggest surprise to everybody. I think that’s what turned things around. When you get into games like last night and you get it lined up where you hope to get one more out of Lester, but he had a high pitch count, and you can go to guys like [Manny] Delcarmen, [Daniel] Bard and [Jonathan] Papelbon, it makes the game easy. The game wasn’t easy the first month of the season. They were getting four innings, five innings, you get into middle relief — which is always a problem for any team — but I think they [the way they have] turned the whole thing around is the way they’ve been pitching. No meetings, nothing like that, it was strictly the fact that they were pitching better. Read the rest of this entry »

Closing time: Red Sox 11, Rays 3

05.26.10 at 10:34 pm ET
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Adrian Beltre had one of his best games as a Red Sox Wednesday night. (AP)

If there was one concern for Red Sox fans heading into the season, it was that the Red Sox and their perceived three-headed monster of a rotation couldn’t depend on just pitching and plan on winning 3-2 games time and time again against the big guns of the AL East. The Red Sox continued to throw monkey wrenches at that logic on Wednesday night by beating the Rays, 11-3, and sweeping the series. (For a complete recap click here.)

While a five-run ninth for the Red Sox may have led to the score indicating a blowout, what the bats did against the starter might tells the better story of why the this is a Boston team that can compete with the Rays. With the night not looking promising early on for John Lackey (6 H, 3 BB, 2 ER through his first four innings), the Red Sox made Matt Garza, who entered the contest second in the American League in ERA, look sub-par by pounding the 26-year-old for six runs in five innings. The offense, led by six RBI from Adrian Beltre (2 HR) and a dinger from David Ortiz, did what few expected it to do this season: bail out the pitching when it seemed to be faltering.

Only Lackey straightened it out, allowing no runs after that fourth inning and walking just one more before departing with one down in the seventh. The numbers weren’t amazing for Lackey (6 1/3 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 115 PC), but the longevity of the start proved extremely valuable given that the Sox’ offensive outburst chased Garza after just five innings.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Garza, who entered the night 6-2 lifetime vs. the Red Sox in the regular season with a 2.92 ERA, was uncharacteristically off, falling behind hitters regularly. This led to Red Sox hitters working the count to run up the Rays’ ace’s pitch count so much that in addition to walking five batters in his five innings, Garza threw very hittable fastballs deep in counts.

An example of this came in Garza’s final inning. After jumping out ahead of Ortiz, 0-2, with nobody out and Dustin Pedroia on first, the designated hitter worked the count to 2-2 before blasting an inside fastball to right field for a no-brainer that give the Sox a 6-2 lead.

- A night after using three relievers, the Red Sox were able to be rather economical on a night that Lackey allowed 12 runners to reach base. He appeared to plead with manager Terry Francona between the sixth and seventh innings, and with 107 pitches under his belt, he returned for the seventh before being chased following a one-out single by Evan Longoria.

- Beltre hit a three-run bomb off a breaking ball from Garza with two down in the third inning. The shot was particularly noteworthy since the pitch dropped so much that Beltre literally was on one knee when hitting his second homer of the game.

- The Red Sox got solid relief pitching from Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez. After Okajima replaced Lackey and allowed a harmless while recording the final two outs of the seventh, Ramirez had a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Marco Scutaro, batting leadoff, went 0-for-4 and saw his average drop to .251, the lowest it has been since the sixth game of the season when he was hitting .250 (4-for-16).

- Lackey and Jason Varitek were out of sync early on so much to the point that the two appeared to be reviewing signs in the dugout between the first and second innings. The two had a mound visit in the second inning in which they appeared to be discussing the same issue.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, john lackey, marco scutaro
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