Full Count
A Furiously Updated Red Sox Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

Lowell’s shrinking role and other pregame notes

06.05.10 at 8:16 pm ET
By   |   Comments

BALTIMORE — First Mike Lowell lost his full-time job at third base when the Red Sox signed Adrian Beltre to man the position everyday. With Beltre and Kevin Youkilis, both right-handed bats, entrenched at the corners, his role as a backup came with few matchup-based guarantees of playing time. Then, with David Ortiz re-emerging as one of the most ferocious power hitters in the game, Lowell’s regular days of serving as a DH against left-handed pitchers also started disappearing.

On Saturday, there was a new wrinkle to Lowell’s dwindling role. Though Beltre was out of the lineup to rest a sore knee, groin and ankle following his collision with outfielder Jeremy Hermida on Friday night, Lowell’s name remained absent from the lineup. Instead, manager Terry Francona elected to have Victor Martinez play first, with Youkilis moving across the diamond to third.

“[The lineup was written] to get some left-handed bats in the lineup,” explained Francona. “We’€™ve got a day game tomorrow. We get Victor in there, we’€™ll let [Jason Varitek] catch. Youk at some point will probably play third in interleague. I kind of mentioned to him last night that we might do this. I kind of knew ahead of time where we were going.”

Still, the move was somewhat surprising, given that just two weeks earlier, while the Sox were in Philadelphia, Francona had suggested that he didn’t want to shuffle Youkilis across the diamond anymore.

“I don’t want to move Youk over to third,” Francona said at the time. “I don’t think that’s in our best interest right now. He’s been playing first. I know he could do it. We’ve got enough third basemen.”

But, with the right-handed Jeremy Guthrie on the hill for the Orioles, Francona had an apparent change of heart. (Martinez, it is worth noting, entered the game with one hit in six career at-bats against Guthrie; Lowell was 4-for-23 (.174) with a homer.)

Obviously, an individual game need not serve as a binding precedent. Even so, on a night when it would have made sense to start Lowell, the 36-year-old once again sat, an indication that his role on the team is becoming ever more limited.

Some other pre-game notes:

–Red Sox outfielder Jeremy Hermida said that he found the results of a CT-scan on his chest on Saturday afternoon to be reassuring following his collision with Beltre on Friday night. Initially, Hermida felt more discomfort in his left forearm than his chest, but after leaving the park on Friday, the pain in the chest worsened while the forearm improved.

Given that Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a hairline fracture of four ribs in an April collision with Beltre, Hermida wanted to make sure that he was not dealing with anything beyond soreness. The results of the scan were negative, suggesting that Hermida is dealing simply with a deep bruise in his chest, rather than a more significant issue.

“Just knowing it was a similar situation [to Ellsbury], similar thing, similar spot, you just want to rule out anything like that, especially when it comes to bones and those kinds of things. We just wanted to rule it out and eliminate that thought and know in my mind that we can push it. As soon as I can go, I can go,” said Hermida.  “It’s just a deep bruise. The CT scan was fine. That’s the most important thing. We’ll just get the inflammation and the swelling out of there and go from there.”

Hermida suggested that he would seek treatment from the Sox’ medical staff, and that he hoped to be available to return to action as soon as Sunday.

–Right-hander Boof Bonser is scheduled to throw an inning of relief for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. The game marks the last appearance of his 30-day minor league rehab assignment.

–Francona suggested that the Sox did not give much thought to the possibility of promoting outfielder Ryan Kalish to the majors when a need was created by the injuries to Mike Cameron and Hermida.

“Do we think he’€™s a really good player? Yeah,” said Francona of a player who was promoted to Pawtucket on Monday. “He just went to Triple-A a few days ago. I don’€™t think it’€™s in his best interest.”

Mike Cameron is getting closer to a return. He took batting practice for the first time since going out with a strained abdomen. Still, Francona felt compelled to have a conversation with the 37-year-old when Hermida was injured on Friday.

“[Friday] night during the game, Cam was pacing the dugout. He was seeing guys getting banged up. I told him, ‘€˜Quit pacing ‘€“ you’€™re not going to play. We’€™re not going to do something that’€™s not in your best interest because we’€™re running short,’€™” said Francona. “He’€™s such a conscientious kid. He sees what’€™s going on. We’€™re not going to let that get in the way.”

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Jeremy Hermida, mike cameron, mike lowell

About that dugout spat between Beltre and Martinez…

06.05.10 at 7:34 pm ET
By   |   Comments

BALTIMORE — Those watching the Red Sox pound the Orioles on Friday night might have noticed a somewhat odd development in the Red Sox dugout in the top of the fifth inning. Adrian Beltre, after clobbering a homer, entered the dugout in jovial spirits but then suddenly appeared to take a swipe at teammate Victor Martinez. (For the video, click here.)

In fact, that is precisely what happened. And the Sox third baseman did not rule out the possibility that fisticuffs could again prevail between him and Martinez, even though the two get along famously.

So what spawned the incident, and why might there be a repeat of it?

“I don’€™t like anybody to touch my head, and he knows it. He does it on purpose,” said Beltre. “So I’€™m not responsible for everything that happens after that.”

Beltre sighed that his punch — which was followed by giggles from both players — likely would not prevent Martinez from repeating his act of insolence. And if that happens, Beltre said, the consequences will be severe. Even though Martinez has the benefit of wearing his catching gear, Beltre vowed that he would not fail to punish the catcher should there be another touch of the head.

“I know where to get him. He’€™s got a bad toe,” Beltre laughed. “[Revenge will happen] off the dugout, probably, where nobody can see.”

Beltre said that he was unfamiliar with the Thai belief that the head, as the highest part of the body, houses the soul and thus should not be touched. But he embraced the notion.

“Maybe I’m part-Thai,” he said.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, dugout fight, head, victor martinez

Red Sox-Orioles Matchups, 6/5

06.05.10 at 12:51 pm ET
By   |   Comments

When the Red Sox and Orioles take the field Saturday night with Jon Lester and Jeremy Guthrie starting on the mound for their respective clubs, the game will have a familiar look. This will be the second time these two same pitchers will face each other this season, albeit this time at Camden Yards instead of Fenway Park.

In the first matchup, on April 23, both starters pitched relatively well. Lester was the first to exit, leaving after 5 2/3 innings, but his was the better of the two pitching lines. He gave up no runs and struck out seven, offering the first glimpse of his dramatic about-face after struggling through three starts.

But the high strikeout count to go along with four walks led to a high pitch count’€”Lester threw 113 pitches to get his 17 outs ‘€” and the early exit. Guthrie lasted 1/3 of an inning longer than his lefty foe but gave up three more runs, leaving the O’€™s in a 3-0 hole heading into the seventh. However, a two-run blast by Adam Jones off Daniel Bard and a blown save in the eighth by Manny Delcarmen tied the game up at three. In the end, it was Boston that got the last laugh as Adrian Beltre forced a bases-loaded walk to give his team a 4-3 win.

Lester (6-2, 2.97 ERA) used that first outing against the O’€™s, his first start of the season where he had allowed less than four earned runs, as a springboard into one of the greatest months of his career. The 26-year-old was recently named the AL Pitcher of the Month for May after he won five of his six starts in the month and posted a 1.84 ERA and a miniscule .162 batting average against. In his last start, Lester, who did not have his best stuff, was able to hold the Royals to just one run for his sixth win of the season. He’€™s allowed just two runs over his last three starts.

His ability to handle Ty Wigginton could prove important. Wigginton has enjoyed tremendous success against Lester in 17 career plate appearances, going 7-for-14 with a homer, three walks and a 1.374 OPS.

Although he has not pitched as well as Lester, Guthrie (3-5, 3.84) has been holding his own since that first April 23 meeting. His numbers so far this season have been much more reminiscent of his 2008 campaign, when he was 10-12 with a 3.63 ERA, as opposed to last season’€™s totals of 10-17 and 5.04. He has pitched six or more innings in 10 of his 11 starts for Baltimore.

He will have to work carefully to Sox slugger David Ortiz. Ortiz has hit him at a .308 clip with a .387 OBP and .808 slugging percentage, the latter mark reflecting the Sox DH’s three homers against Guthrie in 31 career plate appearances.

Red Sox vs. Jeremy Guthrie

Kevin Youkilis (36 career plate appearances against Guthrie): .226/.333/.355, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 double, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (35): .290/.371/.355, 2 doubles, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

David Ortiz (31): .308/.387/.808, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 doubles, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (27): .273/.370/.591, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (25): .174/.240/.304, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Adrian Beltre (22): .100/.182/.150, 1 double, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (21): .300/.333/.350, 1 double, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (21): .263/.333/.474, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 double, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (7): .167/.286/.333, 1 double, 1 walk

Mike Cameron is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Guthrie while Jeremy Hermida is 1-for-1 with a walk. Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald have never faced the Baltimore starter.

Orioles vs. Jon Lester

Nick Markakis (39 career plate appearances vs. Lester): .211 average/.231 OBP/.342 slugging, 1 RBI, 5 doubles, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts

Adam Jones (25): .227/.320/.227, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts

Ty Wigginton (17): .500/.588/.786/1.374, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 double, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Miguel Tejada (15): .417/.467/.417, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Matt Wieters (12): .500/.500/.500, 2 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Cesar Izturis (8): .286/.375/.286, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Luke Scott (8): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts

Luis Montanez (5): .200/.200/.200, 3 strikeouts

Corey Patterson (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Garrett Atkins is 0-for-2 with a strikeout against Lester in his career. Julio Lugo, Scott Moore and Craig Tatum have not faced the Boston starter.

Read More: Jeremy Guthrie, Jon Lester,

Collision (The Sequel): Beltre claims another teammate

06.04.10 at 11:24 pm ET
By   |   Comments

BALTIMORE — It was, in the words of Red Sox manager Terry Francona, an ‘€œeerily similar’€ event to one that has reshaped the first half of the Red Sox’€™ season.

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning of the Sox’€™ eventual 11-0 wipeout of the Orioles, O’€™s slugger Nick Markakis lofted a pop-up down the left-field line. It drifted into foul territory, into a sort of no-man’€™s land between fielders.

Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre raced back after the ball from his position, and left fielder Jeremy Hermida came in. Ball and players arrived in roughly the same time and space and ‘€“ just as had happened on April 11, when Beltre’€™s knee plowed into the chest of left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury ‘€“ the two players collided.

‘€œI think we’€™re just going to let the ball fall next time,’€ Ellsbury joked, before turning more serious. ‘€œYou just hope he gets up from it. … You try to avoid something like that, but it’€™s just two guys going hard trying to make a play on the ball, giving it everything they have. Unfortunately, sometimes that happens. I looked at the replay once just real quick. I saw that it was pretty similar. I was watching Jeremy just to see if he was all right.’€

Amazingly, Beltre held onto the ball. Still, there were consequences to the play.

The shot was not nearly as flush as it was in the Ellsbury incident, but the force of Beltre’€™s left knee clipping Hermida’€™s left arm as well as a bit of his chest was not insignificant. The inning over, Beltre hopped and limped off the field, while Hermida required the attention of team trainers in the dugout.

Both initially stayed in the game. But Hermida, who struck out swinging in the top of the fifth, left the game prior to the bottom of the inning.

‘€œIf I had to pick somebody [on the team to collide with], it wouldn’€™t be [Beltre]. He’€™s a big boy. It’€™s just one of those freak things,’€ said Hermida. ‘€œGot a knee right to the meat of the forearm, and the chest up here, but that’€™s just bruised, that’€™s it. But it was tough to grip the bat, and swing it.

‘€œIt just feels like a bruise [on the chest]. But the forearm was the thing. Tried to grip a bat and swing, tried to give it a whirl up there, go into it and see what happens. But after swinging once I kind of realized it wasn’€™t going to happen.’€

After X-rays on the forearm were negative, he was diagnosed with a contusion of the left forearm, and is considered day to day. He said that he was hopeful that with ice and treatment he might be able to play on Saturday.

Beltre, meanwhile, said that his knee was fine. Indeed, he crushed a homer to left field (swinging so hard that his back knee ended up on the ground) and later hit a double.

He was chagrined that he had once again had such a ferocious encounter with a teammate, yet relieved that the prognosis for Hermida was better than that of Ellsbury, who has played just three games since the collision.

‘€œIn that situation I’€™m trying to get the ball until the outfielder calls me off. There have been some situations where they haven’€™t called me off because they’€™re not under the ball,’€ said Beltre. ‘€œUnfortunately we have [collided] a couple of times, but I think Hermida will be OK.’€

The incident was deemed a freak occurrence, all the more so given its precedent from earlier this season. Yet short of wrapping the players in foam suits, there is little that can be done to prevent such encounters.

‘€œThat’€™s the only way to play,’€ said Francona. ‘€œYou have to play the game like that. That’€™s a ball where nobody can call it. Nobody knows if they can catch it. You’€™ve got three guys going after it as hard as they can. I don’€™t know how Beltre caught that ball. I was actually watching to see where it went, because you see the bodies. You don’€™t see the ball. I don’€™t know how that ball stayed in the glove.’€

Read More: Adrian Beltre, collision, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeremy Hermida

Closing Time: Red Sox 11, Orioles 0

06.04.10 at 10:09 pm ET
By   |   Comments

BALTIMORE — On a day when the Orioles changed managers in hopes of generating (in the words of their GM, Andy MacPhail), “a spark,” the only heat that was generated occurred when the Red Sox scorched them. In a show of complete dominance, the Sox — behind emerging star Clay Buchholz — outhit the Orioles, 16-5, en route to a 11-0 victory at Camden Yards.

Buchholz went the distance, recording his first complete-game of the season and his second-career shutout. His only other shutout also came against the Orioles: a no-hitter on Sept. 1, 2007.


Clay Buchholz continued his emergence as one of the best pitchers in the American League. The right-hander was in complete control, allowing just five hits and one walk, en route to his ninth straight road start (dating to last Aug. 19), tied for the second longest streak in Red Sox history. Only Roger Clemens had a longer road winning streak, reeling off victories in 12 straight road starts.

Buchholz (8-3, 2.39) has also claimed victories in each of his last five starts. He has allowed no more than two runs while pitching at least six innings in each of those outings, and his ERA in that time is 0.99.

On Friday, he was extremely efficient, mixing his two- and four-seam fastballs with a cutter and changeup to get a lot of early-count outs from the Orioles.

Kevin Youkilis continued his two-out excellence, unloading on a Mark Hendrickson fastball with two out and two on for his 11th homer of the year. He later added a two-out single, going 2-for-4 on the night when the Sox were down to their final out of the frame. He is now hitting .308 with a .483 OBP, .662 slugging, 1.144 OPS and 16 RBI in such situations.

–Youkilis was not the only Red Sox player to deliver two-out production. J.D. Drew also delivered a two-out double in the bottom of the first inning. The Sox have now scored 131 runs with two outs this year, the most in the majors.

Marco Scutaro recorded his fourth three-hit game in his last seven contests, going 3-for-6 with a single, double and his second homer in as many games. In that span, he has raised his average 26 points (from .250 to .276) and his OPS by 76 points (from .660 to .736).


–The only concern for the Sox was the result of a bizarre and difficult-to-believe instance of deja vu.

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, Nick Markakis lifted a pop up down the left field line in foul territory. Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre and left fielder Jeremy Hermida both raced to the ball, converging upon it at nearly the same time. As Beltre made a stunning over-the-shoulder catch, his knee slammed into the sliding Hermida’s left arm and shoulder in a startling echo of Beltre’s collision with left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on April 11, when Beltre’s knee plowed into the chest of the left fielder.

Both Beltre and Hermida made it off the field under their own power, and both initially remained in the game. Beltre, in fact, homered in the fifth inning, unloading on a Matt Albers pitch with a corkscrew swing that ended with his knee on the dirt in the batter’s box. But Hermida ended up leaving the game prior to the bottom of the fifth inning.

Orioles GM MacPhail: ‘It’s a giant step back’

06.04.10 at 3:05 pm ET
By   |   Comments

BALTIMORE — Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail, in a press conference to explain his firing of manager Dave Trembley and the hiring as interim manager of Juan Samuel, said that he felt compelled to make the move based on his club’s regression this year. The Orioles had appeared to be on the cusp of a step forward with a talented young nucleus of players in 2010, solidifying gains made under Trembley in 2009, but instead, the team has the worst record in the majors (15-39).

“It’s a giant step back,” MacPhail said of the season. “We needed to move the needle forward in terms of where we were in the standings.”

MacPhail insisted that the team’s struggles were not solely the fault of Trembley, enumerating several reasons why the team has performed below expectations.

–Players brought in this offseason (including free-agent signee Mike Gonzalez and others) “to prevent this calamity” have been either injured or performed poorly

–The back end of the bullpen has been devastated by injuries

–The offense is last in the league in runs (3.3 per game), with MacPhail characterizing the team’s production with runners in scoring as “frankly abysmal.” The Orioles are last in the majors in average (.217), OBP (.300) and slugging (.305) with runners in scoring position.

–The Orioles play in the toughest division in baseball

–Perhaps most importantly for a team that must win or lose on the strength of young talent, MacPhail had seen the young core of players such as Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Adam Jones taking steps in the wrong direction.

“Maybe most disappointing of all to me and most distressing is we’ve had some of our young players go backwards,” said MacPhail. “You’re hoping to ignite a spark [with the managerial change]. … It’s a goofy business. We just felt we had to get an opportunity to get our team a fresh start.”

MacPhail suggested that Samuel would offer a measure of discipline to a club that has been making numerous lapses on the field and on the bases. The 49-year-old Samuel, who had been in his fourth year as the Orioles’ third base coach, said that he would re-emphasize fundamentals.

“For some reason,” he said, “guys don’t seem to be paying a lot of attention to the details that are supposed to go right.”

MacPhail insisted that the Orioles remain on the only possible path to establishing themselves as legitimate competitors in the relentless American League East, namely, a path of scouting and player development that requires a commitment to a young core that will be prone to growing pains.

“I wish it would come faster,” said MacPhail. “[But] there is not one scintilla of doubt that this is what we need to do.”

Read More: andy macphail, Dave Trembley, juan samuel, Orioles

Red Sox vs. Orioles matchups, 6/4

06.04.10 at 2:06 pm ET
By   |   Comments

When the Red Sox and Orioles open up their three-game series on Friday night, two young hurlers will be on the mound in Clay Buchholz and Chris Tillman. Buchholz will look to continue his recent success while Tillman will face Boston for the first time in his career.

In his third full season in the majors, Buchholz seems like he’€™s finally put it all together after having struggles early in his career. Following a loss to the Yankees on May 8 in which he was shelled for five earned runs in only five innings, Buchholz has put together a string of four stellar outings. In that span, he’€™s recorded a win in each start and has tossed at least six innings without allowing more than two runs. Buchholz’€™ best performance came in his last start against the Royals when he outdueled Zack Greinke to the tune of seven scoreless innings to improve his record to 7-3.

Facing Baltimore on Friday night, Buchholz will take on the same team against which he made history  in 2007 in only his second career start. He tossed a no-hitter in a 10-0 victory, making him only the 21st rookie to complete the feat since 1900. For his career, Buchholz is 4-2 with a 4.21 ERA and a .205 batting average against in six starts against the Orioles.

Opposing Buchholz on the mound in the series opener will be Tillman, a highly touted pitching prospect in his first full season in the majors. After he was called up last year at the end of June, Tillman was solid in his first seven outings before fading in the final month of the season. In five September starts, he went 1-3 and allowed four or more runs in four appearances.

Tillman began the 2010 season at Triple-A Norfolk before being promoted to replace David Hernandez in the fifth spot in the Baltimore rotation. In his first start on May 29 against the Blue Jays, he allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings and got a no-decision in a 5-2 loss. Tillman has never pitched against Boston in his career, and the only Red Sox hitter he’€™s ever faced is Marco Scutaro when he was on the Athletics.

Boston has been on the rise in its last 16 games, in which it’€™s gone 12-4 and climbed back within 5 1/2 games of the division-leading Rays. Facing Tillman on Friday night, the Red Sox will look to take advantage of a young pitcher while Buchholz attempts to keep up with David Price for the league lead in wins (8).

Red Sox vs. Tillman

Marco Scutaro (3 career plate appearances against Tillman): .500 average/.667 OBP/.500 slugging, 1 walk

The Baltimore starter has never faced Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Darnell McDonald, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek or Kevin Youkilis.

Orioles vs. Buchholz

Nick Markakis (18 career plate appearances against Buchholz): .154 average/.389 OBP/.154 slugging, 1 RBI, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

Luke Scott (12): .100/.250/.400, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Adam Jones (6): .500/.500/1.500, 1 double, 1 home run, 4 RBI, 1 walk

Matt Wieters (6): .600/.667/.800, 1 double, 1 walk

Ty Wigginton (6): .333/.333/.833, 1 home run, 2 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Cesar Izturis (5): .250/.400/.250, 1 walk

Corey Patterson (4): .000/.000/.000

Miguel Tejada (4): .000/.000/.000

Scott Moore (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Luis Montanez has a hit in his only at-bat against Buchholz with an RBI. The Boston starter has never faced Garrett Atkins, Julio Lugo or Craig Tatum.

Read More: Chris Tillman, Clay Buchholz, Orioles, Red Sox

So this is why they traded Engel Beltre

06.04.10 at 1:40 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Remember Engel Beltre? He was one of three players (David Murphy and Kason Gabbard being the others) that the Red Sox traded to Texas for Eric Gagne in 2007. Well, Beltre hit a walk-off home run, and then made some news …

Video: The Full Count Show 6/2/10

06.04.10 at 1:37 pm ET
By   |   Comments
Read More: Adrian Beltre, Clay Buchholz, Red Sox,

Number Crunch: RBI vs Opportunity

06.04.10 at 12:14 pm ET
By   |   Comments

You’ve heard it many times: RBI are, in large part, a result of opportunity. 

 Well, let’s take a look at who the American League RBI leaders were in May and who led the league in opportunities (number of runners in scoring position while batting):

* – AL RBI Leaders in May:

31 – Vladimir Guerrero, TEX
27 – David Ortiz, BOS
27 – Alex Rodriguez, NYY
26 – Jose Bautista, TOR

* – Most RISP When Batting in May (AL):

53 – Michael Cuddyer, MIN
51 – Robinson Cano, NYY
49 – Alex Rodriguez, NYY
49 – Mark Teixiera, NYY
49 – Evan Longoria, TBR

But who took advantage of their opportunities?  I’ve provided a table below which lists the AL leaders and trailers (and the individual Red Sox) in RBI per RISP during May.  Keep in mind that RBI includes more than simply driving in runners from scoring position as hitters could drive in runners from first base or drive themselves in on a home run.  Therefore, a batter can (and did, in May) have more RBI than RISP opportunities.

For reference, here are a few results from April:

Pedroia – .947
Martinez – .227
Ortiz – .133 (4-30; Lowest rate in AL in April)

Red Sox Box Score
Red Sox Schedule
Mercedes Benz
Red Sox Headlines
Red Sox Minor League News
Red Sox Team Leaders
MLB Headlines
Tips & Feedback