|08.11.10 at 10:08 pm ET|
TORONTO — Things are looking up for the Red Sox.
With their 10-1 win over the Blue Jays Wednesday night at Rogers Centre, the Sox are now suddenly 3 1/2 games in back of Tampa Bay in the race for the American League Wild Card. But not only are the Sox gaining ground, they appear to be putting their pieces together, having now won three straight. (Click here for a recap.)
This win was a collective effort between starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and pretty much the entire Sox offense, although it should be noted that Bill Hall supplied much of the momentum for the attack, coming away with his first two-homer game in more than two years. It gave Hall 15 home runs for the season, which, in case you were counting and comparing, is as many as Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria.
Here is a lot that went right for the Red Sox, and the little that went wrong:
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– It has to begin with Hall, who first gave the Sox the lead for good with a solo homer in the second inning, and then went deep again with a two-run blast in his next at-bat in the fourth inning. Adding to Hall’s memorable night was an RBI single in the fifth. The second baseman now has seven homers in his last 14 games with an at-bat. Hall also did his part in the field, turning a nice 4-3 double play in the fourth inning, tagging Yunel Escobar and then proceeding to throw out Vernon Wells at first.
– Lost somewhat in the offensive barrage by the Sox was the performance of Buchholz. After allowing a sacrifice fly to Jose Bautista in the first inning, the Red Sox starter settled down, facing just 17 batters over the next five innings. Buchholz has now allowed three runs or fewer while going at least seven innings in each of his last four starts. He finished the night having allowed just one unearned run in eight innings, in the process taking over the league lead for ERA with a 2.49 mark.
– Virtually the entire lineup got in the act, totaling their most runs since scoring 14 on July 9 at Rogers Centre. Besides Hall, J.D. Drew and Adrian Beltre also chipped in with homers, while Mike Lowell equaled Hall’s three-hit night. Most of the damage was done in the fifth inning, when the Red Sox scored five — four before an out was recorded — while driving Toronto starter Shaun Marcum from the game (4 IP, 8 R).
– A definitive plan for the return of Dustin Pedroia was presented by Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who said that Pedroia would be playing second base for Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday and then serve as the PawSox’ DH Sunday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Marco Scutaro continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 to make him 3-for-38 in his last nine games. The only other Red Sox starter not to contribute to the team’s 14-hit attack was Jacoby Ellsbury (0-for-4). Scutaro did make a stellar play, diving and robbing Bautista of a hit to end the eighth inning.
|08.11.10 at 6:07 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about his team as it enters the final stretch, and he confirmed Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s immediate move from Pawtucket to the big club as well as Kevin Cash‘s trip to the disabled list due to hamstring issues.
“I don’t think we’re real comfortable with the position we’re in, having just one catcher,” Francona said. “So we talked to Cash this morning, and Saltalamacchia’s on his way [to Toronto]. He’ll probably get in here pretty soon.”
Francona also talked about Felix Doubront, who entered Tuesday’s game in a pickle but was able to perform admirably given the circumstances, and his quick transition from a starter to a reliever. Francona noted that he wanted to ease the young pitcher into his new role rather than throw him to the wolves so early.
“That’s kind of what we’re trying to not to do,” Francona said. “I’ll tell you what though, it ended up working really well, and it’ll end up helping in the long run. But you always run the risk of something unravels. I’d certainly have to take responsibility for that. But he also showed what he’s made of. … That was really gratifying. All of a sudden, you’ve got a young kid that we look like we can go to, and we’re going to go to him. That’s exciting.”
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
What did you think about Jacoby Ellsbury’s performance the last couple of days, since being moved down the lineup?
I thought to myself when we first brought him back to not hit him [leadoff]. But we had a lot of things going on. I thought if he can get on and run a little bit, we can hit [Marco Scutaro] second and use his bat control. Obviously, that didn’t pan out the way we wanted to ‘ “J” didn’t even get on base. We knocked him down a little bit just to kind off take a little bit of the heat off, let him see some pitches, not have that first at-bat be “right now.” I hope it helps. He got on in New York and stole a bunch of bases. He did swing the bat a lot better last night. In New York he had a base hit and he fought it off. Last night off a left-hander he lined a ball up the middle. He had much better at-bats last night.
|08.11.10 at 12:55 pm ET|
When the Red Sox go for their third straight win Wednesday night during their pursuit of both the wild card and division titles, there will something very similar about their matchup with the Blue Jays. It will appear that way because Wednesday’s starting pitchers (Clay Buchholz for the Red Sox, Shaun Marcum for the Blue Jays) has already happened this season on April 27, and Boston’s 2-1 win on that day should provide hope to Sox fans everywhere. Both starters allowed just one run with Buchholz going eight innings while his Toronto counterpart went seven. Unfortunately for Marcum and the Jays, reliever Scott Downs walked in the game-winning run in the eighth to give the Sox the one-run victory on the road.
There’s a very solid chance that Buchholz (12-5, 2.66 ERA) could repeat his stellar performance from that game as he’s continued to be his team’s most consistent starter this season. His ERA is best among Boston starters and is third-best in the American League behind Cliff Lee (2.44) and Trevor Cahill (2.56). In case anyone needed any more convincing, Buchholz is 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA and .193 batting average-against in his last three starts. Some of that success has stemmed from his ability to keep the baseball in the ballpark. Buchholz is fourth in the AL with 0.5 home runs allowed per nine innings. He’s allowed four bombs in four games since returning from the disabled list, but before that, he went through a stretch of six games where he hadn’t allowed a home run. He’ll have to do his best to keep to return to that form as he takes on the Blue Jays who lead the majors in home runs with 178 (Boston is second with 149).
The Blue Jays may need just one or two home runs to get the job done Wednesday as they send their best starting pitcher to the mound in Marcum (10-5, 3.44 ERA). He’s also been one of their most consistent and reliable hurlers for some time now as his stats this season are very similar to last season, when he went 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA. Lately, he’s sandwiched two five-run performances with a three-game set where he went 3-0 with a 2.04 ERA. The Jays will need him to return to that form if they have a chance against Buchholz and the Boston offense that is second in the majors with 580 runs. He would also be well-served to the strikeout machine that he’s been in spurts this season. Marcum has struck out more than seven batters on five different occasions this season, including a 10-K performance against the Indians on July 30. Against the Red Sox this season, Marcum has had additional success other than the game in April. He also threw a seven-inning performance shutout against the Sox while striking out six and walking just one in a 3-2 Jays win on May 12. Read the rest of this entry »
|08.11.10 at 11:06 am ET|
TORONTO — According to a source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox have promoted catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for Wednesday night’s game at Rogers Centre. To make room for the 25-year-old the Red Sox will place Kevin Cash on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury. Since being acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline, Saltalamacchia was hitting .238 in five games with the Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox. He hasn’t played in the major leagues since April 7, after which the Texas Rangers sent him to Triple A to work on his throwing problems. The Boston Globe was first to report the promotion. For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|08.11.10 at 10:43 am ET|
NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy talked to the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning and talked first about Tuesday night’s hero Mike Lowell, who recently told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he would be able to play every day for the rest of the season. Remy said that playing the aging corner infielder on such a consistent basis may not be the Red Sox’ best course of action going forward.
“I don’t see him playing every day,” Remy said. “I think that if he gives you three days in a row, I think he’s probably going to get a day off after that. I think if you run with him every day you run the risk of losing him, and now that you have [Kevin] Youkilis gone, you can’t afford to do that.”
Later, he talked about how players deal with looking at other teams during the run to the pennant and said that he believes Red Sox manager Terry Francona is doing a great job at keeping his players’ minds on the matter at hand.
“Francona’s been very good with keeping the focus on the day’s game, regardless of what’s happened to the team. In my opinion, I think he’s done the best job he’s ever done with the Red Sox. I really do because going through what they’ve gone through all season long, to have them in a position where there’s still a possibility … is an amazing accomplishment.”
What follows are some highlights of that interview. To hear the entire interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
How do you feel about the Red Sox positioning to grab at least a Wild Card spot going into the playoffs?
Well, I don’t feel any different than I did going into Yankee Stadium. They still got a chance at it. It’s been incredible that they’ve been able to hang in there the way they have in my opinion. I was a little disappointed in that Yankees series. Once they got that first game, I was hoping for three out of four there, but the fact is you knew it was going to be tough with [CC] Sabathia but I didn’t expect [Dustin] Moseley to pitch the way he would. Then, they come up here and win a tough game last night. So they’re hanging in there.
They’re getting guys back. [Dustin] Pedroia might be back next week. We’re going to see. There’s still quite a few games left so they have a chance. You’ve got Tampa Bay there, and also Minnesota and Chicago are in the mix because they’re both playing pretty good baseball. It’s going to be a pretty interesting last month and a half of the season. Read the rest of this entry »
|08.11.10 at 9:56 am ET|
* – Red Sox pitchers combined to strike out 10+ batters for the 4th straight game. It’s the longest such streak by a Red Sox team ever where none of the games went extra innings and the longest by an AL club since the Royals did it in 5 straight games in 2007. It’s tied for the longest such streak ON THE ROAD ever by an AL club (Yankees, 2009). So perhaps history tonight?
* – The Red Sox allowed 3+ HR and won for the first time in 2010 (they are now 1-5). Last season, they went 7-10 in those games. Their .318 winning percentage in those games since the start of last season leads the AL:
* – After allowing 13 of the first 39 inherited runners to score following the all-star break (33%), Red Sox relievers have now stranded 12 straight over the last 7 games.
* – After striking out the side in the 9th inning on Monday, Jonathan Papelbon recorded no strikeouts on Tuesday while pitching on zero days rest. It marked the 3rd straight “zero days” appearance in which he has failed to record a strikeout, spanning 11 batters faced. Here are his K% based on days rest:
0 Days Rest: 24.5% in career; 20.4% in 2010
1 Days Rest: 27.4% in career; 25.0% in 2010
2+ Days: 30.7% in career; 21.9% in 2010
* – Papelbon has now allowed one earned run since June 26, spanning 17 appearances. He’s allowed 6 hits (.102 batting average allowed) and 6 walks while striking out 17 in those 17.2 innings (0.51 ERA).
* – Lefty Felix Doubront, trying relief pitching for the first time this week, is looking like a real stopper against left-handed batters. So far in his career, lefties are just 3-24 (.125) against Doubront (all singles) with 7 strikeouts against 2 walks. In his two relief appearances (both on the road, in New York and Toronto), he’s retired all 5 LHB that he’s faced and none have hit the ball out of the infield (3 strikeouts/ 2 groundouts).
Also, in an early testament to Doubront’s poise, opponents are 0-7 with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts on full counts so far in his career. Lefties are 0-4 with no walks and a strikeout on 3-2 counts.
|08.11.10 at 12:20 am ET|
TORONTO — Felix Doubront gave up a home run Tuesday night. It didn’t matter. An impression was already made.
The inning before Doubront allowed the American League leader in homers, Jose Bautista, to help draw the Blue Jays even with the Red Sox with a solo shot to lead off the seventh inning, the Sox’ lefty showed why he just might be a major factor out of the bullpen for the final two months. It was then the rookie came on in what was the game’s biggest spot, and walked away with a suddenly robust admiration society.
With runners on first and second, two outs, and the Red Sox leading by a run, Doubront was called on to face Fred Lewis. The result was a seemingly harmless grounder to shortstop, which Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie couldn’t connect on in time to get the force, resulting in a bases-loaded conundrum.
‘You know what I think happened, about three things,” explained Red Sox manager Terry Francona of the play. ” One, give (baserunner John) McDonald some credit. He got a very good secondary. Jed was playing over to pull. I think Marco …I’d like to look at it again. But once he looked to second and Jed wasn’t quite there, it was too late to go to first because Lewis is running. I think where Jed was, he’s not the fleet of foot, but once he looked at second, that’s where we had to go. I’ll go back and look again. I saw the little double clutch but I have a feeling because of where Jed was ‘¦ we’ll see. There were some things that happened. When Doubront gets that grounder, we’re like, ‘Yeah.’ Then, again, not only his stuff, but his poise.’
From there, Doubront only got more impressive.
With Travis Snider up, and the Red Sox on the verge of letting the Blue Jays grab their first lead, Doubront fanned the lefty-hitting outfielder (who had hit a three-run homer earlier in the game) to end the threat.
“You saw we’re not afraid to use him,” Francona said of the starter-turned-reliever. “That’s what we’ve been [doing]. He’s had his starter’s innings, we moved him to the bullpen. I think we were hoping to have him get a couple of more under his belt, but he’ll gain his experience here, hopefully while he’s winning.”
When asked about his comment in Tampa Bay earlier in the season regarding his desire to remain a starter, Doubront said after his second big league relief appearance, “At that moment I was focused on being a starter. But now that I’m back here, I’m here.”
|08.11.10 at 12:01 am ET|
TORONTO — After hitting an eighth-inning home run which gave the Red Sox the lead for good in what turned out to be their 7-5 win over the Blue Jays Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, Mike Lowell said that he doesn’t feel like his surgically-repaired right hip should be the impetus for extra time out of the lineup.
“I don’t think like I need any,” Lowell said. “I’m willing to accept the fact that Victor Martinez can’t catch every day and he’s a middle of the lineup guy. So I have no problem the days he doesn’t catch and he plays first. That’s logical and totally reasonable. But from a standpoint where I can only play three in a row and need a day, I mean this turf is as tough as anywhere. If you feel 100 percent you’re going to feel a little stiff playing on this turf. There’s not much time left. For eight weeks I can do anything.”
Lowell, who also had a sacrifice fly, noted that he isn’t going to try and duplicate the numbers of the injured Kevin Youkilis at first base (“If I try to do it, I’ll fail,” he said), and that he doesn’t feel the need to prove anything to the group he considers “the team.” In his opinion, that designation, he explained, are those who are in the clubhouse on a regular basis.
“Have I played at times to prove people wrong? Yeah, when people think you’re done. But no one on my team. I consider the team the people in this clubhouse. I don’t consider any outsiders part of this team because if you don’t grind it out everyday here with everyone in the clubhouse you’re not really part of the team,” he explained. “I don’t feel like I need to prove anything to what I consider the team. But I do want to contribute and I do want to produce.”
For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|08.10.10 at 10:26 pm ET|
For much of the year, Mike Lowell and Jed Lowrie were rendered afterthoughts on the Red Sox roster. Lowrie missed the first half of the season while recovering from mono, while Lowell languished on the bench and then was shuttled to the disabled list, in part because he did not have a useful role on the team.
But both have become prominent regulars on the Sox due to injuries, and both played huge roles in leading the Sox to a 7-5 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday. With the game tied, 5-5, Lowell ripped a homer to left against reliever Shawn Camp. After pinch-hitter Ryan Kalish singled, Lowrie blasted a double (his second of the game) high off the wall in straightaway center for an insurance run.
In the process, two players who had been marginalized for much of the year emerged as central as the Sox claimed their second straight win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
—Jed Lowrie had his second two-double game of the year, as the switch-hitter collected one two-bagger from each side of the plate. Lowrie has been a critical contributor for the Sox with Dustin Pedroia down, hitting .311 with an .870 OPS.
–Lowell hit his second homer since returning from the D.L. earlier this month, and had his second multi-RBI game of August.
—J.D. Drew gave the Sox a brief 5-4 lead when he crushed a homer to right field against Jays starter Ricky Romero in the fifth inning. It was Drew’s first homer since July 22.
–Though David Ortiz has struggled significantly against left-handers this year, he has had no problems against Romero, either this year or in his career. He collected a pair of doubles against Romero, and now has five doubles and a homer in 16 career at-bats against the Toronto southpaw.
–With Daniel Bard unavailable, Manny Delcarmen delivered a dominating performance in the eighth inning, striking out a batter in a perfect inning that he required just 11 pitches to navigate. Opponents are 0-for-11 against Delcarmen in August.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–The middle infield defense was mistake-prone, as Lowrie and Marco Scutaro struggled to work together on a pair of plays that resulted in one error (charged to Lowrie) and another play that created a bases-loaded jam.
—Bill Hall struck out twice in his three at-bats, going 0-for-3. Despite being a part-timer for most of the year, Hall has 24 multi-strikeout games this year, a mark that ranks second on the Red Sox to David Ortiz (33).
—Marco Scutaro went 0-for-5, and is now hitting just .159 with a .400 OPS in August.
WHAT WENT BOTH RIGHT AND WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–The process of trying to acclimate Felix Doubront to life in the bullpen at the major league level is admittedly a challenging one for the Red Sox, as the Sox will hope that he proves capable in the face of challenges even though most of his outings in the coming weeks will represent some kind of “first.” Tuesday was just such a day.
For the first time in his professional career, he entered in the middle of an inning with runners on base. Doubront was summoned with two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth inning, asked to preserve a 5-4 lead. He immediately got what should have been in inning-ending grounder that was botched by the middle infield tandem of Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie. No matter. With the bases loaded, Doubront got a huge three-pitch strikeout against Travis Snider, the last pitch being a nasty swing-and-miss curveball.
But when he was asked to follow up that effort by pitching the seventh inning, he stumbled, leaving a fastball up and over the middle of the plate to Jose Bautista. The American League leader in homers crushed the pitch out to left field, tying the game. He recovered quickly to retire the next three hitters, but what could have been the defining performance of the game instead turned into a footnote. Still, the new experiences should only help Doubront going forward.
—Daisuke Matsuzaka was alternately spectacular and vulnerable for the Sox. He struck out the side on just 14 pitches in the first inning, marking the second time this year that he had struck out three batters in an inning. (The first also came against the Blue Jays.) In stretches, he was simply overpowering. And yet there were other stretches in which he completely lost his command, with damaging results. Most notably, he walked the first two batters of the third inning (No. 9 hitter John McDonald and leadoff man Fred Lewis), and followed that by allowing a three-run homer to Travis Snider on a fastball down the middle.
As a result, an outing where Matsuzaka appeared capable of cruising to victory ended with him recording a no-decision and failing to last six innings. For the night, he allowed four runs on six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings while striking out seven. He allowed two homers in a game for just the second time this year, and gave up a homer with at least two runners on base for just the second time this year. Still, when he threw strikes, he was dominant.
His up-and-down outing did have the benefit of inspiring a grassroots poetry movement.
|08.10.10 at 4:43 pm ET|
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is on pace to return to the Red Sox when they return to Fenway Park on Aug. 17, both Pedroia and Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters. Pedroia had an aggressive day of running in spikes prior to his team’s series opener against the Blue Jays on Tuesday. He will run the bases on both Wednesday and Thursday and then visit with Dr. George Theodore in Boston on Friday.
Barring a setback either before or during the exam, Pedroia could be cleared for a weekend rehab assignment on Saturday and Sunday in Pawtucket. That would be a prelude to his return to the Sox on Tuesday.
Pedroia has been out since suffering a fractured navicular bone in his left foot on June 25, when he was hitting .292/.370/.502/.871. The Sox are 20-18 in his absence.
The 2008 American League MVP expressed frustration on Friday that he was unable to meet his initial goal of returning in fewer than six weeks. Even so, during a conversation on Friday, he remained convinced that he will have a chance to impact his club’s playoff fortunes.
‘I’m going to come back and make an impact. That’s a fact,’ said Pedroia. ‘I just don’t know when that’s going to be.’
Now, it appears that a date is becoming more clear.
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