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Reaction to Daisuke’s almost no-no

05.23.10 at 1:33 am ET
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Thanks to MLB.com’s Ian Browne, here is some reaction from the Red Sox and Phillies clubhouses to Daisuke Matsuzaka’s near no-hitter in the Sox’ 5-0 win over Philadelphia, Saturday night. (For more on the performance click here):

Terry Francona

“From the very beginning, you could see, he got in a rhythm. He got it, he threw it, that’s the best fastball we’ve seen. He established that. then his slider, he threw some of the better changesups we’ve seen. We made some defensive plays behind him. That was fun to watch.”

“That ball, we made some plays, Herm [Jeremy Hermida] caught a ball fairly deep. The ball [Adrian] Beltre caught, I don’t know how he did. The ball to Daisuke, maybre that ragball drill is worth it afterall. I know they hate it, but I don’t know if it’s self defense or he’s that good. But it seemed like the stars were aligned. And on the base hit,  I actually, my view, I thought he caught it, because his body kind of shielded it. I’m kind of yelling and everyone was yelling what are you yelling about.”

Marco Scutaro

“They call me Hanley Scutaro now.”

“What do you want me to say? If I was six feet, I’d probably get it. I’m [Dustin] Pedroia’s size, so …

(Did you think you had a shot on reaching the only hit against Matsuzaka) “Yeah, I did. What can I say? I know all the country of Japan is hating me right now. Sorry, sorry. My bad, my bad.”

“I didn’t notice this one until I was running on third. And I looked at the scoreboard and I see no hits. And Polanco told me too. He’s like, hey, tell Daisuke he’s throwing a no-hitter.”

(How close were to catching the base hit?) “I think I was very close. I don’t know, I haven’t checked the replay. I was kind of close.”

Adrian Beltre

“I thought in the seventh inning when he caught that line drive by Werth, I thought he definitely was going to get it. Normally when you get a play like that, it’s a sure base hit up the middle. He hit the ball really hard and I don’t know how he got it. After that I thought, ‘Man, this guy is going to get a no-hitter today.'”

(On his diving play in the eighth inning) “You get a little more aggressive because you’d rather have an E-5 than a hit in that situation. You don’t get many chances to play behind a no-hitter and you want to do whatever you can to prevent any little single.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox 5, Phillies 0

05.22.10 at 10:15 pm ET
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There was truly just one thing that dwarfed everything else when looking at the Red Sox‘ 5-0 win over the Phillies Saturday night in Philadelphia — Daisuke Matsuzka’s performance.

The Sox’ starter went 7 2/3 innings without giving up a single hit before Juan Castro blooped a single over the out-stretched glove of Marco Scutaro, into left field, to break up what would have been the first no-hitter by an American League pitcher in a National League park since the advent of interleague play.

Matsuzaka managed to finished off his outing by inducing a fly out from Ross Gload, closing out his line having allowed just the one hit while walking four and striking out five. He threw 112 pitches, 73 strikes.

“Dice did a good job,” said Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who has already caught four n0-hitters. “He stayed powerful through the zone. He stayed aggressive, continued to stay aggressive, and had a good mix of his pitches.”

We were kind of fastball cutter early and then mixed in some sliders

The no-hitter was almost ended earlier in the eighth when, after walking Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz lined a shot between third and shortstop. But Adrian Beltre not only managed to dive and stab Ruiz’ smash, but also threw over to first baseman Kevin Youkilis for the double play.

Matsuzaka also got a scare against the National League’s top hitting club when Jayson Werth rocked a line-drive back up the middle. But the Red Sox pitcher stuck up his glove and grabbed the shot to end the seventh.

The Red Sox’ offense was mostly supplied in the fifth inning, when they put up four runs against Phillies’ starter Kyle Kendrick. The runs came on RBI doubles from David Ortiz and Beltre, to go along with J.D. Drew’s run-scoring single. The Sox also managed a run in the fourth thanks to a sacrifice fly from Jeremy Hermida.

Matsuzaka also contributed with a single of his own in the third inning, along with a sacrifice bunt, while Jacoby Ellsbury, playing for the first time since the sixth game of the season, went 0-for-4 with a walk and run.

For a complete recap click here.

Red Sox vs. Phillies matchups, 5/22

05.22.10 at 4:24 pm ET
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After being dumbfounded by the pitching of Phillies starter Cole Hamels Friday night to the tune of just one run on three hits over seven innings, the Red Sox offense was finally able to make things exciting against the Philadeplhia bullpen in the ninth before pinch-hitter David Ortiz flew out to the deepest part of Citizens Bank Park with the bases loaded to seal the 5-1 Phillies victory and end the Sox rally.

If the Sox are to be at all successful Saturday night, they’€™ll need the offense carry the momentum from their near-success in the ninth into the following day when they’€™ll face Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick.

On the mound for the Sox will be Daisuke Matsuzaka. One of the main reasons the Phillies got the win Friday was due to Hamels’€™ ability to eat innings, which in turn allowed a bullpen devoid of mainstays Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson to get some rest. If Kendrick’€™s performances in May are any indication, the bullpen could be in for another rest Saturday. Kendrick (2-1, 5.24 ERA) has pitched at least six innings in each of his three May starts, earning wins in two of those starts. However, Kendrick hasn’€™t always been the best at eating innings for the Phillies this season. In April, he only pitched more than five innings once in five starts, including a 1-2/3 inning performance in his second appearance of the season at home against Washington.

The Sox will look to challenge Kendrick early in the hopes of giving him a stat line more like the ones he saw in the first month of the season than the ones he’€™s seeing now. That would also give them the opportunity to break into the Phillies bullpen that they experienced some late-inning success against on Friday.

Sox fans hoping to see their own bullpen get a little bit of rest after John Lackey lasted just five innings after a performance in which he walked five batters and surrendered four earned runs may be a little disappointed to see Matsuzaka (2-1, 7.89) take the mound. He had his best start of the season two starts back with a line of three hits, one earned run and nine strikeouts over seven innings in a 6-1 win over the Blue Jays. However, in his three other performances, he has given up 18 earned runs in just 14-2/3 innings, bad enough for a 11.05 ERA. He struggled mightily against the good Yankee bats in his last star (seven runs over 4-2/3) and could very well do the same against the Phillies offense that currently sits atop the National League rankings for batting average and runs scored.

Red Sox vs. Kyle Kendrick

Jeremy Hermida (14 plate appearances against Kendrick): .308 average/.357 OBP/.538 slugging, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Mike Lowell (4): .667/.750/1.667, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Dustin Pedroia (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 hit

J.D. Drew (3): .667/.667/2.000, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 double

Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .667/.667/.667, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall and Victor Martinez are both 0-for-3 against Kendrick. Jason Varitek is 0-for-1 with two walks while Kevin Youkilis is simply 0-for-1 in his only at-bat. Adrian Beltre, Darnell McDonald, David Ortiz, Angel Sanchez, Marco Scutaro and starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka have never faced the Philadelphia starter.

Phillies vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Raul Ibanez (16 career plate appearances against Matsuzaka): .231 average/.375 OBP/.538 slugging, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 double, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Placido Polanco (9): .250/.333/.250, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Ross Gload (6): .000/.000/.000, 3 strikeouts

Ben Francisco (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Shane Victorino (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 double

Jimmy Rollins is 0-for-3 against with Matsuzaka. Juan Castro, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jayson Werth are all 1-for-2 with Utley’€™s RBI double being the only extra-base hit. Carlos Ruiz is 0-for-1 with a walk. Greg Dobbs, Paul Hoover and starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick have never faced the Boston starter.

For Ortiz, a symbolic moment of his turnaround

05.22.10 at 11:27 am ET
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For David Ortiz, the signature moment of his miserable first month of the season came on April 27. On that night, the slugger made it almost to home plate only to be asked to make a U-turn. With Toronto lefty Scott Downs on the hill, Mike Lowell would pinch-hit for Ortiz.

Ortiz’€™ funereal march back to the dugout was humiliating. It rankled the slugger.

‘€œI was mad. I was totally, absolutely mad,’€ Ortiz said on The Big Show on Thursday. ‘€œYou know that if you ride with me, you’€™re going to get two things. Either you’€™re going to win or you’€™re going to die with me.”

The moment offered an indication of the depths to which the Sox would go to avoid having Ortiz face lefties, even one like Downs, against whom the Sox D.H. had a .313 average and .500 OBP in 22 career plate appearances.

On that date, it was nearly impossible to imagine a turn of events such as the one that had Ortiz strolling to the plate against Phillies left-hander J.C. Romero in the ninth inning on Friday.

Ortiz was 1-for-5 with a walk in his career against his former Twins teammate. Yet with a chance to tie the game ‘€“ in which the Sox trailed, 5-1, with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth ‘€“ the Sox viewed Ortiz as the better option than right-handed teammate Bill Hall (0-for-2 in his career against Romero), and sent him to the plate against the left-handed reliever.

And Ortiz very nearly delivered. He drove a 1-2 fastball to straightaway center. The ball carried almost as far as the fence before dying on the edge of the warning track for the final out of the game.

Still, the fact that Ortiz was sent to pinch-hit in that situation represented his complete about-face in May. After hitting .143/.238/.286 in April, and .167/.286/.167 in his 14 plate appearances against southpaws, Ortiz entered Friday with a line of .358/.397/.774 in May, which included marks of .267/.312/.467 against lefties.

That production, in turn, led to the first time that Ortiz had been brought into a game with a left-hander on the mound for anyone but a pitcher since June 12, 2003, when Ortiz pinch-hit for Damian Jackson against Jeff Fassaro.

(Ortiz had, however, been brought into games to pinch-hit against right-handers, only to have the opposing team make a move to bring in a southpaw.)

One footnote to that April 27 game: in an extensive feature on the slugger’s early-season struggles, ESPN.com had reported that, after Lowell pinch-hit for him, Ortiz left the park after he “temporarily ignored [Sox manager Terry Francona‘s] order and kept walking to the plate.”

While Francona did not comment on the incident for the ESPN.com story, he told reporters on Friday that the portrayal was inaccurate.

“Somebody’s reporting something that’s not true,” Francona told reporters. “I shouldn’t have to deal with that. … Whether it was lie or somebody made a mistake, that doesn’t help me.”

Read More: David Ortiz, mike lowell, pinch hit,

Iannetta remains one who got away from Sox

05.22.10 at 11:10 am ET
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The Red Sox have always been bullish on catcher Chris Iannetta.

In 2004, Jason McLeod (then the team’€™s director of scouting administration) saw the catcher excel in the ACC Tournament. Iannetta impressed with his work behind the plate, and further research offered further cause for interest. He had thrown out 24-of-48 attempted base stealers that year and picked off nine runners. He had a great catcher’€™s build. In interviews, his makeup and leadership became apparent. Moreover, the Providence, R.I., native was a huge Sox fan.

The Sox liked him, but the team hadn’€™t scouted him as thoroughly as it would have wanted over the course of his junior season. Though he had hit .336/.438/.598/1.036 with 15 homers that year, when draft day came, there were questions about how he would hit at the professional level.

‘€œWe just undervalued him that year,’€ recalled one team source.

The Sox thought that Iannetta might be available when they drafted in the fourth round, and the team had made it a priority to pump college pitching into the system. And so, when they drafted in the third round, the Sox drafted Andrew Dobies out of the University of Virginia. The Rockies jumped on Iannetta with the ninth pick of the fourth round, 16 picks before the Sox might have selected him.

Dobies never pitched above Double-A for the Sox before being shipped off to the White Sox for cash or a player to be named earlier this year. Iannetta, meanwhile, reached the majors two years after being drafted, and in 2008, emerged as one of the more promising catchers in the game, hitting .264/.390/.505/.895 with 18 homers in 407 plate appearances while contributing solid defense in Colorado. At times, particularly during that outstanding run, members of the Sox front office would kick themselves for not having taken Iannetta, viewing him as one who got away.

Last year, his offensive numbers took a hit. Though he still had a well-above average OBP (.344) and OPS (.804) for a catcher, his average fell to .228. Still, the Rockies signed him during the offseason to a three-year, $8.25 million deal that included a team option for the 2013 season.

That made it rather surprising to see Colorado demote the catcher to Triple-A after Iannetta got off to a slow start in 2010. In just eight games, he hit .133/.235/.333/.569, resulting in a demotion. The 27-year-old has been raking in Colorado Springs, hitting .350/.452/.717/1.169.

The Denver Post reported on Friday that the Sox had been monitoring Iannetta in Colorado Springs to see if the Rockies might be available. That said, the team’€™s need for (or ability to use) a catcher acquired in a trade is currently limited.

The Sox have seen an improvement in recent weeks in the ability of their catchers (and pitchers) to control the running game. Moreover, the resurgence of David Ortiz as the designated hitter means that the option of making Victor Martinez the regular DH would not make sense at this juncture, as noted by NESN analyst Peter Gammons during his interview on The Big Show on Friday.

‘€œThey tried to get him two years ago. They have been looking at him, but I think now that Ortiz is hitting, I think it lessens their need for him. I wouldn’€™t be surprised at all if they went out and got him at the end of the year,’€ said Gammons. ‘€œBut I just don’€™t know right now if they could expend what Colorado would want to get him.

‘€œColorado really needs pitching depth because they have four guys on the disabled list. But Chris is a much better player than what he has done this year. It’€™s really a shame. The Red Sox do really love him. If they can get him cheap, maybe they find a way, they bring him here and have Victor be catcher, DH, first base, everything, and you just find a way to gerrymander the whole roster.”

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Closing Time: Phillies 5, Red Sox 1

05.21.10 at 10:01 pm ET
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The Red Sox had enjoyed tremendous success against left-handed starters for much of this season. In 15 combined starts entering Friday, southpaws had a 2-5 record and 6.63 ERA while averaging barely five innings per outing. The Sox had won 10 of those 15 games.

But the Sox could not sustain that effectiveness against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. The 2008 World Series MVP was touched for a solo homer by Victor Martinez in the first inning, but otherwise the Sox could do nothing with him in Philadelphia’s 5-1 victory.

Hamels lasted seven innings, allowing just the one run on three hits while striking out nine and throwing 116 pitches. The Phillies lineup gave him all the offensive support he would need when they plated a pair of runs in a grinding, 32-pitch fourth inning.

The Sox rallied against the Phillies bullpen in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs. But pinch-hitter David Ortiz, who represented the tying run, saw his long fly ball to center field die on the warning track to end the game.

With the loss, the Sox saw their three-game winning streak snapped. The team is now 22-21.


John Lackey could not sustain the momentum of the excellent starts by teammates Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. Lackey went just five innings, allowing four runs on six hits. He allowed season highs in homers (2) and, perhaps even more disconcertingly, walks (5). Lackey’s walks totals, in fact, have gone up in every start this month. In his last three starts, Lackey has allowed 15 runs in 18 innings (7.50 ERA) while walking 12. After nine starts, the Red Sox have a 4-5 record in games started by the prized offseason acquisition.

Dustin Pedroia continued his recent rough spell. He struck out swinging in each of his first two at-bats, marking the third game this year in which he’s had multiple strikeouts and the second in which he’s gone down swinging twice. He is now 4-for-30 (.133) with seven strikeouts in his last eight games.

–Though Kevin Youkilis drew a ninth-inning walk, he was hitless in his other three plate appearances. Thus ended his streak of 14 straight games having reached base at least twice. It was tied for the fifth longest streak by a Sox hitter since 1954 (complete list).


Victor Martinez added to his recent power surge. The switch-hitter fought off a couple of 2-2 pitches and then jumped on a 91 mph fastball, pounding it into the left-field seats. Martinez now has six extra-base hits (three homers, three doubles) in his last five games. While his overall offensive numbers this year have been somewhat disappointing, Martinez has been outstanding against left-handed pitchers, hitting .391 with a .429 OBP, .783 slugging mark and 1.212 OPS.

Martinez went 2-for-4 overall, his fourth multi-hit game in his last five contests. His OPS is now .736, his highest mark since April 11.

–Reliever Joe Nelson logged a pair of innings in his Red Sox debut. While command is typically his biggest concern, he proved relatively efficient while allowing three hits and a run, throwing 27 pitches (18 strikes) and walking none. In so doing, he ensured that the Sox bullpen would remain well rested heading into Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s start on Saturday.

–Outfielder Mike Cameron hit a homer in his rehab game for Double-A Portland.

Gammons on The Big Show: ‘I can’t figure out Daisuke’

05.21.10 at 7:20 pm ET
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National Baseball Hall of Fame writer and current NESN analyst Peter Gammons appeared on The Big Show Friday afternoon to discuss the future of the Red Sox, David Ortiz, and the mini-drama that is Daisuke Matsuzaka. “I can’t figure out Daisuke,” Gammons said. “His stuff is so much better than it was, he gets swings and misses, but it really bothered me when all of a sudden it started up about, “Oh, it’s the catcher.” When the previous two years it was, “I had trouble with [Jason] Varitek.” A couple of players said to me, “It’s always going to be somebody else’s fault.”

Gammons went on to praise Varitek and the selfless work he has done this year as a part-time player.

Below is a transcript. To listen to the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

Things have looked good for the Red Sox recently, especially the pitching staff.

It is. I mean the statistic that defines the American League East race is that, beyond the quality starts, and the starters’ ERA, and the number of times your starters have got to the eighth inning, is the fact that the Yankees and Red Sox starters each have allowed five earned runs or more 16 times. Tampa Bay has allowed five earned runs or more for their starters once. That’s the race in a nutshell.

I thought there were two things that were encouraging this week, and believe me I don’t have a good feeling about going into Philadelphia and Tampa Bay and having Matsuzaka and Wakefield pitch on the weekend against the best team in the National League, but, with that said, I thought that the way they came back two nights in a row against the Yankees says something. Yes, I mean, they blew the game on Monday night, but as I have been saying all week, never again in my life will I see three consecutive games in which Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon and Mariano Rivera blew games and lost.

I mean, those things happen. But they did battle back, and then, Rob [Bradford] didn’t you say it during the winter, I have long believed in the end their two best pitchers will be [Jon] Lester and [Clay] Buchholz. And for them to just dominate the Twins, and keep the bullpen, except for one inning of Daniel Bard, keep the bullpen seated going into Philadelphia and Tampa was really important. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ortiz told Hanley ‘do the right thing’

05.21.10 at 12:21 pm ET
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Speaking prior to the Red Sox‘ 6-2 win over Minnesota Thursday, David Ortiz confirmed that he had texted Hanley Ramirez, encouraging the Marlins’ shortstop to apologize to his manager and teammates.

“I told him to talk to his manager and do the right thing. I don’t know if what he did was because of what I said, but I always try and tell him the right thing to do,” Ortiz said. “I think he did what he was supposed to, go down to apologize to his teammates and his managers. Move on. It’s not a big deal. Things happen.”

Ortiz referenced his own mentors when he was a young player with the Twins, and the guidance they delivered which was similar to the kind he offered Ramirez.

“Eddie Guardardo used to tell me how to do things when I was with Minnesota,” Ortiz said. “But on the other hand, I was well educated for me to snap or doing something crazy that is when you push me all the way to the end where I can’t do anything else. I’m not saying what my boy did was that crazy or stupid.”

Earlier in the week Ortiz did tell WEEI.com that the whole situation — with Ramirez loafing after a ball Monday and subsequently getting benched by Marlins’ manager Fredi Gonzalez — could have been handled differently.

‘€œThis is not about embarrassing the player that he is,’€ said Ortiz, who befriended Ramirez ‘€” a fellow native of the Dominican Republic ‘€” prior to the Red Sox trading the shortstop following the 2005 season. ‘€œSometimes we might need to be reminded about things we do that we think is the right thing but it’€™s not. There are more eyes watching. But embarrassing you, or your embarrassing your manager or your teammates is not the right way to go.

‘€œYou say, ‘€˜Son, let’€™s talk. What happened?’€™ That’€™s all it is. You’€™ve got people watching you. It’€™s not the right thing to do. Don’€™t do it. Slap on the hand.’€

Lucchino on D&C: Ortiz has right to question media

05.21.10 at 11:24 am ET
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Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, and much of the interview was spent discussing David Ortiz.

Asked if the media has been unfair to Ortiz this season, Lucchino said: “He may feel that way, but I think that’s human nature. He recognizes that he got off to a bad start. But I do think he feels — he said so, he said as much — that there was greater emphasis on his lack of productivity and not sufficient emphasis on other players perhaps, or the team’s success. … I think that there is a question of balance, a question of emphasis, that David had a right to raise being human like the rest of us. I’m so glad that’s in our rear-view mirror now.”

Lucchino also defended ownership’s support of the slugger during last year’s steroid controversy.

Following is a transcript. To listen to the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Are you worried about the sellout streak? Is it in jeopardy?

I don’t think so. There certainly are some times — we’re working harder than ever to sell the tickets. …

One of the biggest misconceptions is that the tickets are sold out before the the season. That’s just not so. We have a couple of hundred thousand tickets we still want to sell. So, we could have a bad streak or some bad weather, and that could jeopardize the sellout streak, sure. But we don’t really sell out games until the day of the game. There are a lot of tickets that get turned back in a few days before the game from Major League Baseball or the umpires or players or the house seats or whatever. You can get some very good seats on the day of game, at Gate E. There’s this misconception that there are no tickets to be purchased. That is wrong. There are plenty of tickets to be purchased. If you’re particularly flexible about the date and the game, our folks can help you. So, call 877-REDSOX-9.

If Larry Lucchino were commissioner for a day, what would be the one or two things you’d like to fix?

One of them would certainly be an easy one for me and that’s realignment and the schedule. The structure of the league — 16 [National League teams] and 14 [American League teams], some divisions with four, some divisions with five, some divisions with six. The length of the season, the grind of the season is enhanced because of the structural irregularities. The travel schedule is awful. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox vs. Phillies matchups, 5/21

05.21.10 at 11:08 am ET
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The Red Sox begin interleague play Friday on a strong note, riding a three-game winning streak that includes a sweep of the two-game series against the AL Central’€™s top team, the Twins. On Thursday, Jon Lester spun a masterful performance, striking out nine, walking none and allowing six hits in his first complete game of the year. Meanwhile, Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre led the offense by going a combined 7-for-11.

Boston is going to need this kind of production over the next six weeks as it plays four of the six division leaders: two series vs. the defending NL champion Phillies, road and home series against the AL’€™s best team, the Rays, a home series against the Dodgers, and, wrapping up interleague play, a western swing that will take them to Colorado and San Francisco.

On Friday, the Red Sox will face Philadelphia’€™s young star, Cole Hamels. The San Diego native has had a very consistent 2010 season. He won his first two decisions, lost the next two, posted two no-decisions, and now is on a two-game winning streak to put him at 4-2. His ERA had inflated to 5.28 on April 28 but has since sunk back down to a more manageable 4.29. That would have been the best average in the Phillies rotation, but it isn’€™t because of the presence of Roy Halladay. The former Blue Jay has been Philadelphia’s gem, going 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA. Because of Halladay, the 47-year-old Jamie Moyer, and the ever reliable Joe Blanton, Hamels has fallen from second to the No. 4 spot in the rotation.

Boston will throw its own new pitching addition, John Lackey, in Game 1. Meant as an acquisition to bolster an already strong rotation, Lackey has stayed in Boston’€™s 3 spot all season while getting a 4-2 record of his own. Lackey started off the season with a very impressive 1.42 ERA through his first two games, then got shellacked by Toronto in his third start, only lasting 3-1/3 innings while giving up eight runs. In his last game, the Texan gave up five runs over seven innings as the Sox lost in Detroit, 5-1, snapping his four-game unbeaten streak. Read the rest of this entry »

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