|UPDATE: Jacoby Ellsbury on pace for a record||05.20.09 at 8:12 pm ET|
Jacoby Ellsbury recorded a pair of put-outs in each of the first four innings, then called off Dustin Pedroia on another pop up just behind the infield in the fifth. He has a total of nine put-outs as the game enters the bottom of the fourth. In case you were wondering, the record for most put-outs by an outfielder in a nine-inning game is 12, done twice:
–Lyman Bostock, Twins, 5/25/77
–Earl Clark, Boston Braves, 5/10/29
Interestingly, no one has ever exceeded 12 put-outs, even in an extra-inning game. Eight centerfielders have recorded 12 put-outs in extra-inning games, most recently Oddibe McDowell of the Rangers in 1985.
|Sox Rally Behind…Varitek and Lugo?||05.20.09 at 8:09 pm ET|
Jason Varitek can still hit left-handed pitching. That was the case even during his abysmal 2008 campaign, when he still hammered southpaws for a .284 average and .863 OPS, and it remained the case this year, when he carried a .238 average but with a .918 OPS thanks to two homers in 21 at-bats against southpaws.
Varitek improved on those totals against Jays starter Brett Cecil, jumping on a cookie of a 2-2 slider and lining it off the shelf just above the Wall in left-center for his sixth homer of the year. The launch gave the Sox and 1-0 lead, and improved Varitek to a .273 average and 1.098 OPS against lefties this year.
Julio Lugo then followed by jumping on a full-count fastball, which he lined off the left-field wall for a double. Lugo reached third on Jacoby Ellsbury’s bunt single (which extended the centerfielder’s power-deficient hitting streak to 15 games), then scored on Dustin Pedroia’s double-play groundout.
After Pedroia’s twin-killing, David Ortiz had another sad at-bat, fouling off a fastball in the heart of the strike zone, taking a slider for a strike and swinging feebly through another fastball over the middle for a strikeout. Ortiz has not gotten the ball out of the infield while striking out three times in six plate appearances since returning to the lineup on Tuesday.
Red Sox are ahead after three, 2-0.
|Kevin Youkilis resumes the chase for .400||05.20.09 at 7:42 pm ET|
His 15-game exile on the disabled list concluded — a stretch that included an inglorious 0-for-6 on a reha assignment in Triple-A Pawtucket — Kevin Youkilis stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the second, armed with a .393 average, .505 OBP and .719 slugging mark. He promptly set about the process of improving on those numbers. Facing Jays rookie Brett Cecil for the first time in his life, Youkilis went to a 2-2 count. Cecil went back to a changeup — a pitch on which Youkilis had swung and missed earlier — and the Sox cleanup hitter hooked it towards the hole between third and short. The ball bounced off the glove of the diving Scott Rolen and into shallow left for a leadoff single.
Though Jason Bay followed with a single to right to put runners on first and second with no outs, the Sox wasted the opportunity. Mike Lowell grounded to short for his major-league leading 12th double play ball, and with Youkilis on third, Rocco Baldelli grounded to deep third.
It’s scoreless after two.
|The Saga Continues for Ortiz||05.20.09 at 7:32 pm ET|
David Ortiz has never faced Brett Cecil before in his career. Often, hitters will take a pitch or two against a thrower whom they have not encountered in order to familiarize themselves with his release point and movement. But Ortiz, seemingly eager to take a cut at a fastball, hacked at a sinking 93 mph offering, the ball grounding feebly to first for the final out of the first inning. He’s now hitting .201, and is fighting to stay above the Mendoza line today.
Brad Penny has kept the Jays off the board through the first two innings, keeping Jacoby Ellsbury busy in the process. Ellsbury has four put-outs through the first two innings, including a brilliant over the shoulder catch on an Aaron Hill liner to the warning track. Penny’s given up a pair of hits and a pair of loud outs, but has not been harmed.
Entering the bottom of the second, it’s still scoreless.
|Wakefield and the Pop-Up As Weapon||05.20.09 at 6:42 pm ET|
After Tim Wakefield elicited an astonishing 16 flyball outs on Tuesday, positioning himself with the second highest number of air outs (80) in the majors this year, Gary From Chapel Hill mined his usual statistical gold to come up with this gem about the rarity of the outing:
Most Air Outs (Flyouts/Popouts/Foulouts) In One Appearance Since 2004 (includes sacrifice flies):
19 – Greg Smith, OAK – 6/30/08
17 – Brad Radke, MIN – 7/15/05
17 – Javier Vazquez, NYY – 4/30/04
16 – 15 times including Wakefield twice (8/26/05 and last night), Lester (7/28/07), Schilling (7/28/04)
15 – 18 times
|Youk: Get off Papi’s back||05.20.09 at 5:22 pm ET|
Kevin Youkilis came off the disabled list on Wednesday and immediately showed why the Red Sox think he could be a leader.
Asked to comment on the struggles of David Ortiz and whether his return could help, Youkilis took a mighty swing.
“Well, I think if everyone stopped asking questions about David Ortiz and left him alone and maybe he’ll start hitting again if everyone just leaves him alone. Maybe talk about the weather outside or something. Maybe get off the baseball convo (conversation) and maybe talk about something else. Maybe that’ll help him out.
“As baseball players and as athletes, there’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re going through a slump,” Youkilis continued. “You have to deal with it yourself. Then when you have added pressures on you, with people writing stuff, people talking around town. David Ortiz wants to get out of a slump as much as you guys want to get him out of the slump and the fans do. I think there’s a lot of added pressures all around that you don’t want.”
As of Wednesday, Ortiz was batting .203 with just 15 RBIs and no home runs. Youkilis returns, trying to pick up where he left off, batting .393 with six homers and 20 RBIs.
|Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Match-Ups, 5/20||05.20.09 at 3:25 pm ET|
There’s just not a lot of history between tonight’s starting pitchers and the teams they will face. Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil is, well, a rookie, and has never before faced any current members of the Sox at the major-league level. Brad Penny has four career starts against the Blue Jays in interleague play, and has gone 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA, but aside from former National Leaguers Scott Rolen, Rod Barajas and Jose Bautista, no members of Toronto’s club have faced the right-hander more than six times.
There is one wild card in play: Penny’s former Florida Marlins pitching coach, Brad Arnsberg, now holds the same position with the Blue Jays. It’s tough to say whether that matters, but it is at least intriguing that Josh Beckett, who also pitched under Arnsberg in Florida, has his a worse ERA (5.95) against Toronto than any other club that he’s faced more than five times.
Here’s how the Jays have done against Penny:
Scott Rolen (34 career plate appearances): .281 average, .324 OBP, .406 slugging, 4 doubles
Rod Barajas (12): 3-for-12, double
Jose Bautista (9): 1-for-8, walk, double
Adam Lind (6): 0-for-6
Alex Rios (6): 3-for-5, double, walk
Vernon Wells (6): 0-for-6
Aaron Hill (5): 0-for-5
Kevin Millar (3): 0-for-2, walk
Lyle Overbay (3): 0-for-2, walk
- Red Sox reportedly sign 12th-rounder Jake Drehoff
- Wendelken added to South Atlantic League All-Stars
- Red Sox reportedly sign Bryan Hudson, Jantzen Witte
- Cup of Coffee: Spinners open season with 15-strikeout gem
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: A-Ball hitters
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #39.1: Mellen's Excellent Adventure
- 2013 Annual Drive - Help Keep SoxProspects Free!
- Cup of Coffee: Wright's bounce-back start lifts Pawtucket
- Cup of Coffee: Swihart, Cecchini once again lead Salem
- Jalen Williams, Danny Bethea reportedly agree to terms