|07.09.11 at 3:42 pm ET|
John Lackey has been worse than imaginable in 2011. Coming off a down year in 2010, he was expected to be, at the very least, productive. Lackey (5-8, 7.47) has failed to pitch into the sixth inning in six of his 13 starts this season. Most recently, the 32-year-old managed just 2 1/3 frames against the Blue Jays on July 4, allowing seven runs (all earned) on nine hits. And what’s worse, the Red Sox are stuck with him. With Daisuke Matsuzaka out for the year and Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester on the shelf, manager Terry Francona has no choice, but to send the struggling veteran to the mound every fifth game.
And though it may seem like he was just out there to many of the Fenway Faithful, he will be starting Saturday’s game against the Orioles. Excluding Nick Markakis, Baltimore batters have not seen a lot of success against Lackey. In 80 plate appearances, those players are just 17-for-75 (.227) and have accounted for just two extra base hits (no home runs). Markakis on the other hand is .351 in 37 at-bats against Lackey, with three doubles and two RBIs.
Orioles vs. John Lackey
Nick Markakis (42 plate appearances): .351 BA/.429 OBP/.432 SLG, 3 doubles, 2 RBIs, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Adam Jones (28): .222/.214/.296, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 9 strikeouts
Matt Wieters (15): .267/.267/.267, 2 RBIs, 2 strikeouts
Felix Pie (6): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Nolan Reimold (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 strikeout
Mark Reynolds (6): .200/.333/.200, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Craig Tatum (6): .250/.500/.250, 2 walks
Robert Andino (4): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout
Valdimir Guerrero (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
J.J. Hardy (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Derrek Lee (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double, 1 strikeout
|07.09.11 at 7:01 am ET|
On the Red Sox bench, the tension built over the course of the at-bat between Sox DH David Ortiz and Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg. A game that the Sox led by a drama-free 10-3 score in the bottom of the eighth inning suddenly assumed a different complexion.
A fastball came inside. Then another, prompting Ortiz to glare at the mound. Then another, which came further inside and convinced Ortiz, bat in hand, to start walking towards the mound while yelling, and led both benches and bullpens to empty as players flooded the infield.
The Sox felt there was little doubt as to what was taking place, even as they wondered why it was happening.
“You go to the well three times, something’s looking pretty bad. I don’t know why they were trying to do that, but it was pretty obvious to me that they weren’t just trying to pitch him in,” said Sox starter Josh Beckett. “I hope [Gregg’s pitches weren’t a byproduct of the Sox having scored 10 runs]. We’re a good hitting team.
“You can’t just be hitting our [expletive] guys because we’re scoring a lot of runs. That’s how the game is played. Maybe they saw something different. Maybe they saw something they didn’t like or whatever. But if it’s just because we scored eight runs in the first inning and they start throwing at our [expletive] guys, it’s going to be a long year.” Read the rest of this entry »
|07.09.11 at 12:42 am ET|
There are loads and loads of unwritten rules in baseball, especially in blowouts.
Nick Markakis thinks David Ortiz broke one of those Friday night in the swing off a 3-0 pitch from Kevin Gregg that precipitated the bench-clearing brawl between the Red Sox and Orioles at Fenway Park.
“I like the guy, I like Ortiz,” Markakis began. “I respect the way he plays the game but I think it was a little bush league, bottom of the eighth, two outs, up by six, swinging 3-0. I don’t think we were hitting anybody intentionally there. But if it’s got to come down to that, it’s got to come down to it.
“We’re in it as a team. He knows how to play the game. I think he’s going to look back on it and realize that he screwed up there but what happened, happened and it’s over.”
Markakis said he didn’t understand Ortiz charging Gregg, even after Gregg had words for him.
“Yeah, I don’t understand why he went after him,” the Orioles right fielder said. “It’s 3-0 pitch, two outs and you have a guy tagging up and a guy swinging at a 3-0 pitch in a six-run game. It doesn’t make sense. He knows the game better than that. Put us on their side and them on our side, it’s a little bush league. Like I said, I’m sure he’s going to look back and realize he made a mistake, charging our pitcher, regardless of what was said.”
What was said was what started the brawl between Gregg and Ortiz.
After hitting a fly ball to center fielder Adam Jones on the fourth pitch, Ortiz, who did not speak to the media after the game, was verbally challenged by Gregg as he made his way up the first base line. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.09.11 at 12:41 am ET|
The moment was certainly enough to scare Josh Beckett as well as the rest of the Red Sox. In the top of the fifth inning, his left (landing) leg slipped slightly on a mound that had trapped moisture from the itinerant Friday night rains at Fenway Park.
The pitcher had suffered what the team called a mild hyperextension of his left knee. The resulting feeling was enough to signal alarm bells in the middle of his team’s 10-3 win.
“I’ve done this before playing basketball when I was younger. I’m what they call loose-jointed. When things go a little bit too far, it scared me more than anything,” said Beckett. “It literally feels like bone on bone. You go too far. I straightened it out, it’s kind of a little bit of an issue, but in a few days I’ll be fine, a couple days.”
Indeed, after Beckett stood on the mound for a few moments trying to straighten out his leg (under the supervision of a team trainer and manager Terry Francona), all parties were sufficiently satisfied with the right-hander’s condition that he was permitted to finish the inning. Beckett concluded a three-run fifth, but though he’d thrown just 68 pitches on the night, and the Sox led, 8-3, they were not in the mood to take chances with their All-Star.
“He slipped on the mound, and he hyperextended his knee a little bit. Mild. His [knee] stability is fine,” said Francona. “We hopefully dodged a little bit of a bullet there. We saw him do that in spring training a few years back, and he hurt his back. Again, we got him out strictly for precautionary reasons. He could have pitched. We didn’t think it was a good thing to do.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|07.08.11 at 10:25 pm ET|
The Red Sox won for the eighth time in nine games, capitalizing on a series of poor defensive plays by the Orioles to forge an eight-run first inning that the team rode to an easy 10-3 victory. Yet the bigger picture had little to do with the victory.
At a time when Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are on the disabled list, while Daisuke Matsuzaka is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and John Lackey (who was on the DL earlier this year for an elbow strain) is struggling, All-Star Josh Beckett joined the ranks of the wounded. The right-hander had cruised through four shutout innings against the O’s, but his left (plant) leg appeared to slip slightly on the slightly wet mound in the fifth. Though he made it through the inning — in which he allowed three runs — he was removed for what the team deemed precautionary reasons related to a “mildly hyperextended left knee” after the fifth.
The cautious approach seemed entirely understandable given that Beckett’s 2010 season was derailed after he slipped on a wet mound in Yankee Stadium. After spending more than a month on the DL, he struggled to pitch with health for the rest of the year en route to the worst campaign of his career.
This year, he’d rebounded in startling fashion. He improved to 8-3 with a 2.27 ERA on Friday, giving him the sixth-lowest first-half ERA by a Red Sox pitcher since 1946.
Obviously, given the injuries elsewhere, the Sox can ill-afford to lose Beckett. If the injury is indeed mild, and does not jeopardize his availability for the second half, then the incident will soon be forgotten. On the other hand, if Beckett is sidelined for any duration, then a Sox pitching staff that is quickly taking on water may struggle to stay afloat.
(UPDATE: Following the game, Beckett said he was told by team medical staff that the knee should be fine in the next couple of days. He anticipates throwing a normal side session on Sunday, and not only does he believe his availability for the second half won’t be impacted, but he also believes he will be fine for potential participation in the All-Star game.)
Meanwhile, David Ortiz will almost surely be suspended after charging the mound and throwing punches at O’s reliever Kevin Gregg in the eighth inning. Gregg threw three straight pitches inside to Ortiz, who took a few steps to the mound while pointing and yelling at the right-hander. Gregg shouted back, and benches cleared. When Ortiz flew out to center on the next pitch, Gregg shouted and gestured at him, resulting in an immediate ejection for the pitcher.
Ortiz was not appeased by the ejection. He charged the mound and threw multiple punches at Gregg (who also threw punches back at the slugger), resulting in Ortiz’ own ejection from the game. The slugger will almost surely face a suspension.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
—David Ortiz, who had just two homers against left-handers in 2010, crushed a three-run first-inning shot against Orioles starter Zach Britton for his fifth homer of the first half against southpaws. The blast marked Ortiz’ 19th of the year and his second in as many days. He finished the contest having gone 2-for-5 with a walk before his ejection.
—Dustin Pedroia crushed his second homer in as many days and his 10th of the year. He has reached base in 22 straight games, hitting .349 in that stretch. He has hit four homers during a current 10-game hitting streak.
—Adrian Gonzalez went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles and a pair of walks. He matched a season-high (achieved seven previous times) by reaching base four times.
—Matt Albers (2 scoreless innings, four strikeouts) and Dan Wheeler (1 inning, two strikeouts) both turned in outstanding performances in relief of Beckett. Albers’ ERA now stands at 2.55, while Wheeler has a 1.50 ERA in his last 18 innings.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–Beckett’s injury, as well as the ejections of Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, all come with potential ramifications for the Sox coming out of the All-Star break. More will be known once the health of Beckett is assessed and the suspensions (if any) are dropped on Ortiz and Saltalamacchia.
–Though he crushed the ball in four of his five at-bats, Jacoby Ellsbury had just one hit to show for his efforts thanks to three fine defensive plays, two on balls he hit to the warning track in center field. Still, despite his 1-for-5 night, his performance suggests that he remains locked in.
|07.08.11 at 9:28 pm ET|
Despite leading 8-3, and having thrown just 68 pitches, Josh Beckett left Friday’s game against the Orioles after five innings after slipping on a wet mound at Fenway and suffering a mildly hyperextended left knee. The Red Sox say he left for precautionary reasons.
Beckett’s plant foot slipped after throwing Ball 1 to Felix Pie. Red Sox manager Terry Francona and trainer Greg Barajas came racing out of the dugout to look at their star ace, who is leading the staff with a 7-3 mark and a 2.12 ERA. Beckett stayed in the game but was not as effective as he had been in throwing four shutout innings and leading, 8-0.
He eventually walked Pie and Robert Andino, both of whom came around to score as Beckett surrendered RBI singles to Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. Derrick Leeopened the fifth with a mammoth homer off the Volvo sign in left.
Beckett missed over a month last year with a sore back when he slipped on a wet Yankee Stadium mound. Matt Albers, who relieved the injured Jon Lester on Tuesday, came on to pitch the sixth for the Red Sox.
|07.08.11 at 9:23 pm ET|
The Red Sox have agreed to terms with a pair of 16-year-old Dominican prospects, according to team Senior Vice President of Player Personnel and International Scouting Craig Shipley. Shortstop Raymer Flores and right-hander Deoscar Romero both have agreed to terms with the Sox; the contracts will become official tomorrow, when the two players sign their contracts. Romero will receive a $600,000 bonus. ESPNDeportes.com reports that Flores will receive a $900,000 bonus.
The Sox view Flores, a switch-hitter, as a player whose advanced defensive skills will allow him to play shortstop. Shipley said that “for his age, he is a very, very good young hitter.”
Baseball America lists Flores, 16, as a 5-foot-9, 155-pound player who is expected to fill out as he matures physically. In Flores and Manuel Marcos, a center fielder who reached an agreement for an $800,000 bonus last week, the Sox have signed a pair of highly athletic players with middle-of-the-field defensive skills and advanced offensive approaches for their young ages.
Romero, meanwhile, is a 6-foot-3 right-handed pitcher who throws 89-91 mph who turned 16 in April. He also features a curveball and changeup, with the curve being considered the more advanced pitch. He has an advanced delivery for his age.
“He is very young and moldable,” said Shipley. “And he is very projectable.”
|07.08.11 at 8:43 pm ET|
It has been a couple of days since Triple-A right-hander Kyle Weiland received word that he would be making his major league debut on Sunday for the Red Sox against the Baltimore Orioles. The 24-year-old, a third-round pick of the Sox in 2008, has been sitting uncomfortably on the news for a couple of days, unable to share it with anyone — including his wife and family.
But the decision to have Weiland start on Sunday became public on Friday, and the right-hander — who is 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 93 innings for the PawSox — admitted to PawSox play-by-play man Dan Hoard that he is elated for the opportunity.
“It’s something that I’ve been working for for a long time. It’s everybody’s dream and goal since they were little kids,” said Weiland. “The fact that I’m getting the opportunity on Sunday is a tremendous honor, and I’m really excited about it. I can’t wait for it.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that the Red Sox are excited about the opportunity to call up a pitcher who has had as good a first three months of the season as anyone in the organization. Weiland has shown a four-pitch mix — a heavy, sinking two-seam fastball, a swing-and-miss curveball that he uses to both sides of the plate, a cutter that has become a difference-maker for him against left-handers and a changeup — to perform with tremendous consistency. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.08.11 at 7:05 pm ET|
Josh Beckett will look to close out his All-Star first half with a bang against the Orioles. He is 7-3 with a 2.12 ERA, in what has arguably been his best half-season ever. The Sox are 11-5 when he’s taken the mound. He’ll oppose left-hander Zach Britton.
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|07.08.11 at 6:22 pm ET|
“We saw him run balls down this spring in BP and he was doing it [well],’ Francona said. ‘A lot of guys do do it. But it seemed like – as an organization – maybe we ought to think about doing this. We wanted him to get his feet on the ground in Triple-A first. He started out hitting real well and then he got hurt. Then they moved him to both left and then right. They say he’s been really good.”
Indeed, Navarro handled 27 chances without an error in the outfield.
“He’s got a good clock, defensively, like when the ball’s hit to him at short or third, and it helps to have a arm like that,” Francona said. “You never see him rush, he’s got a real good idea, a real good awareness of where the runner is. And it seems like that’s translated to the outfield, also.’
Clocking is something the Red Sox have seen Navarro do with the bat, hitting .286 with one homer in two starts at short and one at third base.
He hit .283 last year with Pawtucket before being called up in August, collecting just six hits in 42 at-bats. He was off to a hot start this year with the PawSox before a strained oblique forced him to miss time. When he came back, the Red Sox wanted to see if what they saw in the spring would translate to games that counted. So, the PawSox played him in the outfield 11 times, including eight times in right, three in left and once in center.
Francona said he’s not worried about Navarro learning how to play the Green Monster behind him.
“It’s his first time but he’s a really good athlete so no more than anybody else,’ Francona said.
Navarro has been a work-in-progress for the Red Sox, a player with loads of raw talent, both at the plate and in the field but Francona said is being very careful not to overload the 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic about his aggressive hitting approach.
“He’s kind of a hard guy,’ Francona said. ‘He doesn’t speak a ton of English and I don’t know how comfortable he is in the early part of his career here opening up too much. Last year when he got cold and he swung at everything in sight and he was nervous and trying to be too aggressive. Just harness that a little bit because if he does he’s got great bat speed, a little bit like [Josh] Reddick. That ball comes off his bat like something special.”
Meanwhile, Francona confirmed that Clay Buchholz will throw on Sunday for the first time to test his strained lower back, which received a cortisone injection this week. Francona, however, said the team is still a ways from committing to a timetable for a post-All Star return.
‘We’ll send him home because we don’t want him throwing on his own too much without supervision,’ Francona said of the plan following Sunday’s flat-ground session. ‘When we get back, hopefully we can get him on that throwing program and ramp him up a little bit but again, it’s all going to be according to how he feels.”
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