|04.09.11 at 6:41 pm ET|
But you certainly couldn’t prove it by the show he put on Saturday at Fenway Park, belting two homers to the Monster seats in left as part of a four-homer barrage that led the Yankees over the Red Sox, 9-4.
Martin afterward acknowledged the Red Sox tested the waters on the veteran catcher as a back-up but were scared off by the torn labrum in his right hip from last August – the same injury that slowed Mike Lowell over his last two seasons in Boston.
“The Red Sox, I think they were a little iffy with the injuries that I had and they weren’t too sure,” Martin said. “It was one of those injuries that hadn’t happened in baseball. The Yankees took the chance and hopefully, I’ll make it a good one for them.”
The Red Sox decided on keeping Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who has mirrored many in the Boston lineup with a slow start. Salty went 1-for-4 Saturday which actually raised his average to .182 in eight games as the first-string catcher.
The Yankees, on the other hand, were not as picky as the Red Sox and felt they needed a veteran presence behind the plate to finally take some of the load off Jorge Posada until prospect Jesus Montero is ready. Call Martin a “bridge” catcher.
“I hadn’t played since August,” Martin said. “I was injured but I did the right things to get back healthy and I feel fresh.
“My focus is just going out there and giving my best effort every day. With this lineup, you feel like you’re protected anywhere you hit, and that’s a little bit different than the last couple of years. I feel comfortable wherever I hit in the lineup and I’m just trying to put good swings on the ball.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.09.11 at 4:41 pm ET|
So much for the winning streak.
A day after the Red Sox finally claimed their first victory of the 2011 season, they quickly drifted back into the “L” column, enduring a 9-4 loss at the hands of the Yankees. Clay Buchholz got shelled early and often by New York’s imposing lineup, which chased the young right-hander after just 3 2/3 innings in which Buchholz permitted five runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks, striking out two.
After he gave up four solo homers to the Rangers in his 2011 debut, Buchholz allowed another longball (a three-run shot by Russell Martin) in his second outing. In just two starts spanning a combined 10 innings, Buchholz (who has a 7.20 ERA and 0-2 record) has given up five homers, nearly half as many as the nine he permitted in 173 2/3 innings in 2010.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–For starters, Buchholz. In 2010, Buchholz did not allow as many as four extra-base hits in any of his 28 starts. This year, he’s done it in both of his outings, having permitted four solo homers to the Rangers in his debut last Sunday, and allowing three doubles and a homer to the Yankees on Saturday.
It would be bad enough for the Sox if Buchholz was amidst a couple of poor outings, but the team is enduring an epidemic of dreadful starts. The team has just one quality start on the year (tied with the Twins for the fewest in the majors entering Saturday). The team’s starters have a 7.46 ERA (worst in the majors), 12 homers allowed (most in the majors — and as many as the other four AL East teams combined) while permitting a .631 slugging percentage (easily the highest in the majors).
–Failure to capitalize on opportunities. The Sox were hitless in their first nine at-bats with runners in scoring position against Yankees starter Ivan Nova. For the day, they were 1-for-16. That continued a theme that has haunted the club in the early going. Entering Saturday, the Sox had a .241 average and .571 OPS (11th among the 14 AL teams) with runners in scoring position.
—Jarrod Saltalamacchia remained mired in a terrible rut to start the year. Though he singled in his fourth at-bat (when the Sox were trailing by five), he had two strikeouts, a groundout and stranded six baserunners in his first three plate appearances. Saltalamacchia is now hitting .182 for the season.
–While there were moments when Felix Doubront looked sharp — most notably while striking out Robinson Cano on a curveball to end the fourth inning — the Yankees cuffed the left-hander in the fifth inning. Most notably, Curtis Granderson jumped on a 91 mph fastball and lined it inside the Pesky Pole for a two-run homer. The blast, which came immediately after the Sox had rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth to bring them back within a run, gave New York a 7-4 lead and ultimately wiped out any momentum that the Sox had.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
—Dustin Pedroia once again did everything in his power to ignite the Sox. He went 3-for-4 with three doubles, one of those a two-out, two-run two-bagger for the only Sox hit with runners in scoring position all day.
–It wasn’t exactly a banner day for Jed Lowrie, who committed an error at shortstop (where he was playing in place of Marco Scutaro) and struck out looking at a full-count fastball down the middle with one out and two on in the bottom of the fifth. All the same, Lowrie collected a pair of hits against Yankees starter Ivan Nova and another against reliever Luis Ayala. On the young season, he is now 4-for-6 with a walk in seven plate appearances against right-handed pitchers.
|04.09.11 at 3:58 pm ET|
The complaints about the Fenway Park infield have been legendary.
From Eric Chavez calling it the “worst he ever played on” years ago when he played with Oakland to Dustin Pedroia ripping it last year for its inconsistencies, the infield on Yawkey Way has been notorious among major league infielders for decades.
But all of that has hopefully changed this year as the infield is brand new.
‘It looks beautiful,” Terry Francona raved before Saturday’s game. “A couple of things that excite us are, the texture of the dirt is really good, and I think it’ll get better as we get into a couple of homestands and it’s get played on, it’ll even get better. But everybody was really excited.
‘The hardest thing for players is inconsistency. But, again, when I walked it [Friday], it had a real nice texture to it. How’s that going to hold up? We’re one game in, and [head groundskeeper] Dave Mellor needs some days, too. He’s got to check with everybody and see how it plays and see how it digs up, if it clumps. But the initial reviews were really good.’
Pedroia was all aglow after Friday’s game, raving about how the ball bounces much truer and stays down lower to ground without coming up unexpectedly.
‘It was new,” Francona added. “There’s five infields that have this same surface. You’d have to ask Dave. But I believe it’s five. I’m sure those guys talk. Cleveland has the same one.”
Someone may have forgotten to tell Jed Lowrie. Making his first start on the new infield Saturday, he put his glove down on a grounder by Alex Rodriguez. He expected to come up like the old infield. It stayed down on the new one. Result: E-6. It was an error that opened the door for a two-run Yankees second, one of which was unearned.
|04.09.11 at 2:29 pm ET|
Terry Francona heard the news of Manny Ramirez‘s sudden retirement after Friday’s game but declined detailed comment or reaction to the slugger’s exit from the Tampa Bay Rays and Major League Baseball.
“I thought about it [Friday] night a little bit and I really don’t have a comment,” the Red Sox manager said before Saturday’s game with the Yankees. “He’s not our player. I don’t know anything about it. I saw a blurb and I guess I really don’t have a comment.
“It’s probably something that’s a little larger than baseball,” Francona said, adding that he believes today’s MLB PED testing is much improved. “Way better. Again, when things sort of looked like they getting out of hand in the mid-90s, I thinked the general public would be shocked in a good way how hard these guys work. I do get to see that. The younger players coming up, the testing is pretty stringent, and I think that’s good.”
Before Friday’s home-opening win, before the Red Sox had yet to win a game in 2011, manager Francona confirmed Saturday morning that he called the meeting to reassure his players that management still believed in them. Francona also acknowledged that GM Theo Epstein wanted a few moments with the players, an address that reliever Daniel Bard called “awesome.”
“It just seemed like it made common sense,” Francona said before the second game with the Yankees. “I don’t think you ever have a meeting for that day. It can’t be like football, every Sunday, we play too many games. From my point, I just wanted to reassure guys it’s ‘we’ and Theo spoke and I thought he spoke was more eloquently than I ever could, and I thought he spoke from the heart, which is probably more important.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.09.11 at 1:36 pm ET|
On Saturday night in Greenville, heralded prospect Anthony Ranaudo will make his first professional start in a game that counts.
Ranaudo, who was taken in the sandwich round (No. 39 overall) in the 2010 draft, and 6-foot-5 right-hander Brandon Workman (a second rounder last year) represent a pair of pitchers who rank among the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system.
To date, however, neither has thrown a single meaningful pitch since signing with the Sox last Aug. 16. Given their workloads in 2010 (Workman for the University of Texas, Ranaudo with LSU and then in the Cape League), the Sox elected not to have them pitch either for short-season Lowell or in fall instructional league.
Nonetheless, both have advanced pitch mixes that allow them to stand out from most players who are making their professional debuts. Ranaudo features a mid-90s fastball and a hard-breaking curveball along with a usable changeup. Workman has a low- to mid-90s fastball, a devastating cutter (for video of him annihilating a bat, click here), a changeup and a breaking pitch.
Given their college performances (both had pitched at prominent programs against top competition) and pitch repertoires, the two pitchers were widely expected to open the year at Hi-A Salem. After all, the Sox have followed such a course with other less-heralded college arms in their first pro seasons, including the likes of Justin Masterson, Kyle Weiland and others.
But the Sox instead opted to send both Workman and Ranaudo to Single-A Greenville of the South Atlantic League, the lowest level in the system for a full-season affiliate. So, it seems fair to wonder: Why Greenville over Salem?
Red Sox farm director Mike Hazen explains:
“The biggest thing was that they didn’t pitch at all last year. They’ve never pitched on a five-day routine. When they were in college, they pitched on a seven-day routine. They’ve never pitched on a five-day routine,” said Hazen. “The only time they’ve pitched on a five-day routine was in spring training, which was three to four times through. We’re asking them to make all these adjustments. To now have them go out and pitch at an advanced level, the guys who we’ve done that with in the past like [Kyle] Weiland, [Alex] Wilson, Justin [Masterson], those guys had a full season at Lowell. They didn’t pitch all that much, but they were on the five-day cycle for the entire season.
“We felt like we wanted to get [Ranaudo’s and Workman’s] feet wet doing those types of things where maybe there would be a little more comfort as far as the level of competition. Once they prove that they don’t belong there ‘ we certainly don’t necessarily think that in terms of raw stuff they belong there, considering the way they competed in the past ‘ but developmentally, we feel like they needed to take that step.”
Ranaudo will get the start for the Drive on Saturday, with Workman scheduled to take the hill on Sunday. While they will open the year in Greenville, the Sox certainly appear hopeful that they will pitch their way past that level in the not-too-distant future.
|04.09.11 at 1:08 pm ET|
|04.08.11 at 10:44 pm ET|
The idea was to have Bobby Jenks pitch the seventh, Daniel Bard the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon closing out games just like he has since 2007. And on Friday, that’s exactly what happened in a 9-6 win over the Yankees in the 2011 home opener at Fenway. Three of the hardest-throwing relievers in baseball. And all of them delivered.
Consider it a whole new take on “closer by committee.”
“I think that’s what they planned to do,” said Papelbon, who was perfect in recording his first save of the season and closing out Boston’s first win. “That’s the reason they brought Jenks here. I think as a bullpen unit down there, we feel like if you can get the ball to us in the late innings of a game with the lead, we should be able to hold it.”
The key to getting there was Alfredo Aceves, recalled earlier in the day before the home opener to take the place of the disabled Matt Albers. Aceves came in and did what starter John Lackey could not, put up a zero on the board against the Yankees.
“We put up four zeroes,” Francona said. “Aceves has been through this before. Bobby has pitched a closer with the White Sox. Regardless of who we’re [pitching], it doesn’t matter, we have to find ways to win.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.08.11 at 7:44 pm ET|
He knew all eyes would be on him for the Red Sox 2011 home opener and that the Fenway crowd would be pumped and jacked. He didn’t know the team behind him would be 0-6. And when he walked Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez in the first before allowing a two-run double to Robinson Cano, the collective groans began at Fenway.
And it really didn’t improve that much. He would yield single runs the next four innings before leaving after allowing six runs – all earned – on seven hits. His line also included two walks, two strikeouts, one hit batter, one wild pitch and one very long home run to A-Rod.
And one win.
That’s right. Since the Red Sox scored on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia double in the bottom of the fifth for a 7-6 lead, a lead they didn’t surrender, Lackey picked up his first and, more importantly, the team’s first win of 2011 in a 9-6 victory over the Bombers. He became the first Red Sox pitch since Matt Clement on Aug. 4, 2005 to pitch five or fewer innings, allow at least six runs and earn a win.
“Today, obviously, I didn’t pitch very well,” Lackey admitted. “My command was fine. Every ball they hit was down the line for extra-base hits. If I can keep them in the middle, they turn into singles and no runs.”
Was he thinking just settle down enough to get through the fifth?
“I don’t set my goals that low,” Lackey said. “I definitely want to do better than that but the guys swung the bats great and the bullpen was tremendous today. We won the game so it worked out but definitely have to keep working. It wasn’t pretty but it was closer than it looked.”
He may not have been just thinking get through five but his manager sure was.
“If he comes out in the third or fourth, it’s a whole different story,” Terry Francona said. “He was able to slug through it, and he always does that. I’ll say that. Then our bullpen came in and did a terrific job.” Read the rest of this entry »
|04.08.11 at 6:30 pm ET|
Bobby Jenks was teammates with Manny Ramirez in Chicago last year. On Friday — a day Ramirez retired after being told of an issue that arose under MLB’s drug-testing policy — Jenks recalled Ramirez as “a great teammate” and “a really good guy”.
But when asked for his thoughts on Ramirez potentially failing a drug test for the second time, Jenks chose words that weren’t as complimentary.
“I look at it as this. You do it, you get caught, you’re an idiot. If you do it again you’re a dumbass,” said Jenks. “I mean, it’s sad to see. One of the greatest hitters, or one of them, to make the same mistake twice, same bad choice. And within a year and a half of each other? I don’t know, you know?”
|04.08.11 at 5:12 pm ET|
It is over.
“It” being the career of Manny Ramirez, of course. Why, what did you think we were talking about?
The Red Sox finally picked up win No. 1 of the 2011 season on Friday, scoring more runs in a 9-6 win over the Yankees than they had managed to score in the previous 41 innings. The Sox survived another troubling outing from John Lackey, but an outstanding effort from the bullpen (four scoreless innings) and the breakout game from the lineup equaled a much-needed victory.
Here’s what went right (and wrong) in the win …
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— The Sox entered Friday having scored just 16 runs in their first six games, with a team batting average of .181 and an on-base percentage of .269. It seemed to reason that this lineup had to get going at some point, and it happened on Friday. Dustin Pedroia homered in the first to put the Sox on the board, but it was a five-run second inning that was the most productive stretch of the young season for a group that many pegged to be a 1,000-run threat. Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz all had RBI singles in the frame off of a struggling Phil Hughes (the worst starting pitcher on the mound Friday at Fenway — no small feat).
— Jarrod Saltalamacchia had two hits on Friday, or one more than his previous 2011 total. Saltalamacchia had an RBI double off of Bartolo Colon in the fifth, scoring Kevin Youkilis (who walked three times on Friday).
— Alfredo Aceves was recalled to Boston (along with Felix Doubront) Friday, as Matt Albers was placed on the DL (lat strain) and the Dennys Reyes Era came to an end. Aceves replaced John Lackey and pitched a scoreless sixth inning, which allowed the Sox to go with Bobby Jenks/Daniel Bard/Jonathan Papelbon in the final three innings (combined line of 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 K).
WHAT WENT WRONG
— The good news? John Lackey lowered his 2011 ERA. The bad news? He lowered it from 22.09 to 15.58. Another terrible outing from Lackey, who was given six runs to work with and couldn’t hold the lead. Lackey threw 92 pitches in five innings, allowing six runs on seven hits, walking two and hitting Alex Rodriguez. Lackey apologists can’t spin the idea that he looked good at times on Friday — as some tried to do after his disaster in Texas — as he gave up at least one run in each of his five innings.
— For all the success against Hughes — seven hits and six runs in two innings — the Sox only managed a single run and two hits (the Saltalamacchia double and a bunt single by Gonzalez) in 4.1 innings against Colon.
— Terry Francona told the media before the game that he moved Jacoby Ellsbury out of the leadoff spot and down to the eighth in the lineup for several reasons, but said he would not have made the move if he had been happy with how the center fielder was swinging at the plate. Ellsbury had a single and run in the eight-hole, but the man who took over the top spot in the order — Carl Crawford — was hitless in five at bats, dropping his average to .143.
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