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Ellsbury goes 0-for-3 with a run in Portland

05.18.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury

Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, after going 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs as the designated hitter for Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, went 0-for-3 with a walk and run while leading off and playing center field for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Tuesday in the second game of his rehab assignment.

Ellsbury led off the game for Portland by walking, advancing to second on a single and scoring on a throwing error. In his next three plate appearances, he grounded out to third base in the third inning, flied to right in the fifth and fouled out to the catcher in the eighth. He was replaced in center for the ninth.

Defensively, Ellsbury saw little action except in the eighth inning, when he recorded his only putout on a fly ball and fielded three straight singles.

Ellsbury is scheduled to rejoin the Sox in Boston on Wednesday for a medical evaluation that will determine the next step of his rehab from a hairline fracture of four ribs, incurred in a collision with Adrian Beltre on April 11.

The Sox outfielder was somewhat upstaged in the contest between Portland and New Britain (the Twins’ Double-A affiliate). Pitcher Felix Doubront matched a Double-A best by tossing seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits, walking one and striking out six in Portland’s 2-1 win. Doubront now has a 1.48 ERA and 22 strikeouts in his last four starts, spanning 24-1/3 innings.

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Lowell: Maybe better if not on the team

05.18.10 at 4:53 pm ET
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Mike Lowell

NEW YORK — Speaking to reporters prior to Tuesday night’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees, Mike Lowell reiterated his displeasure regarding his current role on the Sox. For the second straight time, Lowell isn’t getting the start at designated hitter against a left-handed starter, with David Ortiz filling the role against New York’s CC Sabathia.

“I don’t know. I think it’s one of those unfortunate things where it’s painfully evident I don’t have a role on the team,” said Lowell, who has played in 20 of his team’s first 39 games, starting 13 of them. “I think I have a temporary role but that’s more to the fact we had young outfielders because of the injuries to Jacoby [Ellsbury] and [Mike Cameron] and David got off to a slow start. David’s swinging the bat a lot better, which I’m actually happy for. I actually think he’s still a big presence in our lineup. I don’t care what the numbers say. He’s that guy you still fear that he doesn’t have to make really good contact and he will still hit the ball out of the park. As a friend and as a teammate, you don’t like to see those guys struggle. You just don’t. Obviously there’s a catch how it affects me.

“When Jacoby and Cam come back I just don’t really know what my role is. With those two in the lineup I don’t know who I would hit for. When I hit I get pinch-run for. I don’t play defense. I think sometimes you feel like the team would be better off if you’re not on it. I just eat up a roster spot, I really do. If anything it’s a good feeling that I have so many teammates come up to me and say they sympathize over my situation. I think I’ve truly agonized over it. It’s not good or bad, it’s just reality. I don’t know what else to do.”

When asked it the scenario is even tougher to digest because he was filling a role as the DH against lefties, Lowell said, “I think it makes it a little bit harder because I think you feel if you had played extremely well something might have changed, but I’m not really sure.”

Lowell, who is hitting .263/.354/.404/.757 with a homer and 9 RBI, said he hasn’t formally asked to be released, but it has crossed his mind.

“Have I given it thought? Sure. I think that’s a normal train of thought to go through,” he said. “Is that something that would happen? I don’t know. I haven’t looked that deep into it. I think that’s more upper management’s decision. They’ve been willing to eat a lot of my contract so maybe that’s not holding them back. Sometimes you think if that happens it would be better. But I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t think the flip side is always better or always worse. I know the situation here is … I just don’t see it being very good.”

Part of the reason for Lowell’s diminished role of late has been the emergence of Ortiz, who now has six home runs in the month of May.

“I actually think it’s right to keep him in the lineup. That’s what you have to do. That’s how you get guys hot,” Lowell explained. “David’s the type of guy when he gets hot he can carry a team for two or three weeks. On the flip side, I went 4-for-4 the other day and I didn’t play so there’s no opportunity to get that string going and that’s definitely something new for me. I don’t think I’ve played three consecutive games all year and it’s hard to get that rhythm. I don’t think I’m a guy who is going to wow you. I’m not going to hit the ball 40 rows deep. My strength is my consistency.

“I don’t know what to do. I know I want to play baseball. I love playing baseball. I think the element is a little bit out my control. I just don’t see a role here. David and myself are basically two roster spots that don’t play on the field. There’s a lot of things we need to fix here. It’s reality.”

For more regarding’s Lowell’s frustrations, click here.

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Familiar issues for Hanley Ramirez

05.18.10 at 2:27 pm ET
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Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez boots a ball during Monday's game against the Diamondbacks. His apparent lack of hustle in chasing down the ball led to a benching and a war of words between Ramirez and Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez. (AP)

On Monday, Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled shortstop Hanley Ramirez from the game after he kicked a ball off of his shin into left field and then, according to Gonzalez, jogged listlessly to chase it down. That has set off a bit of a firestorm in South Florida, with Gonzalez and Ramirez’ teammate Wes Helms stating that the superstar should apologize to his teammates. For his part, Ramirez has shown no remorse, stating that he believes that he does not owe his teammates an apology, and instead criticizing Gonzalez. (For more on the controversy, click here.)

Ramirez, of course, came up in the Sox’ farm system. While in the organization, both his superstar potential and his penchant for alienating his teammates with his lackadaisical play were common topics. If anything was going to prevent the dynamic talent from reaching his potential, those who played with him figured it would be his attitude, something that became clear in this story about the ridiculously loaded 2005 Portland Sea Dogs Double-A team that featured Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon (as well as many other future big leaguers).

“I could see that he had potential but he was such a baby and I was threatening to beat him up every other day,” said Jeff Bailey, who was a catcher on the 2005 Sea Dogs. “He would do stupid things on and off the field, every time I saw him doing something stupid I would tell him he was a piece of [expletive].”

Obviously, the Sox would have preferred that Ramirez avoid the character questions that seemed to dog him. Even so, the organization also tried to maintain perspective: Ramirez had been ordained the next huge thing, earning the title of the organization’s top prospect in three straight years by the time he was 21.

It is fair to suggest that he was immature, but it might be unfair to have expected him not to be.

“There’s no doubt that Hanley wasn’t a guy you could just leave alone and say, ‘Hanley’s going to show up on time and get his work done and play hard tonight.’ You had to stay on him,” said Todd Claus, Ramirez’ manager in Sarasota in 2004 and Portland in 2005. “You never really had to do that with Pedroia, but Pedroia went to college for three years in a totally different atmosphere. He learned how to play the game in college. The Red Sox to some degree were Hanley’s college and so you’re sort of comparing apples to oranges there.

“Hanley having the label of the Red Sox’ top prospect for three years in a row, most kids should have been in high school. Hanley dealt with a lot of publicity and ink and a lot of media, and I think anyone in his situation probably would have dealt with the same problems.”

Certainly, the current incident with the Marlins (and the past with the Sox) does little to diminish Ramirez’ status as one of the best players in the game. And, it is worth noting that the Sox have not been deterred by makeup questions about Ramirez when they have made overtures to the Marlins in the past about trying to reacquire him.

That said, it is a reminder that, as much as Ramirez has matured and blossomed since going to the Marlins in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston following the 2005 season, the process of his development may not be complete.

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Picking through the wreckage

05.18.10 at 10:54 am ET
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Here are a few nuggets from Monday night’s crash and burn:

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* – Monday night was the Red Sox’ third loss since 1954 when they hit 5+ HR in a game. Their last such loss was a 9-8 loss at NY on July 21, 2002, and the other was a 19-8 drubbing by Milwaukee on May 31, 1980. They are now 63-3 in those games. That 2002 game was also the only time (prior to last night) in which the Yankees have won a game despite allowing 5+ HR since 1970.

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* – Red Sox relievers have allowed 22 HR this season, tops in the AL:

22 – Boston Red Sox
21 – Texas Rangers
17 – Kansas City Royals

That’s 1.65 HR per nine innings, which is on pace to be the worst mark an American League bullpen since at least 1954:

1.65 – Boston Red Sox, 2010
1.54 – Boston Red Sox, 1987
1.51 – Baltimore Orioles, 2006

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* – Alex Rodriguez hit the 36th ninth-inning HR of his career last night, moving him into a 10th-place tie with Eddie Murray (since ’74), and the two RBI gave him 99 in the ninth (ranked 25th since ’74). For Marcus Thames, it was his 10th career HR in the ninth inning, raising his career average in that frame to .194.

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* – The Red Sox have now allowed 25 runs in the first inning this season. Only Detroit (35) has allowed more in the AL. However, the Red Sox are the only team in the majors that has yet to allow a first-inning homer this season.

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* – The Yankees now have hit four HR in the ninth inning this season and all four have come against the Red Sox (April 6, May 8 and two last night).

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* – The last time the Yankees hit two HR in the ninth inning against Boston was May 22, 2006, when Rodriguez and Posada each homered off Keith Foulke.

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* – Last night was the third time this season already that the Yankees have hit multiple homers in an inning vs. Boston. The others were April 4 (Posada/Granderson off Beckett in the second) and May 9 (Swisher/Rodriguez off Lester in the fourth). They did it to the Sox on four different occasions last season.

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Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 5/18

05.18.10 at 10:52 am ET
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Josh Beckett

The Red Sox will have Josh Beckett on the mound Tuesday night against the Yankees as they close out the finale of a quick two-game series in New York. After their crushing defeat Monday night in the ninth inning, the Sox will look to get back to .500 and attempt to build some sort of momentum.

Beckett, who is 1-1 with a 7.46 ERA, looks to right his own leaking and banged-up ship after giving up a career-high nine earned runs over a mere 5-1/3 innings last outing against the Yanks on May 7. Having missed his last start with a sore back, Beckett looks ready go after throwing a promising 55-pitch bullpen session Sunday in Detroit. Sox fans hope he can begin to channel at least a portion of the dominance that made him one of the best pitchers in baseball, but this year has been quite a roller-coaster ride for the flame-throwing righty.

After agreeing to a four-year, $68 million contract extension at the beginning of April, Beckett has been both shaky and successful. With the Sox struggling to find balanced pitching from either their starting rotation or bullpen, tonight would be a good time for Beckett to reaffirm general manager Theo Epstein’s much-maligned run-prevention philosophy.

As for the pinstripes, CC Sabathia will take the mound following his worst outing of the season against Detroit, having given up six runs in six innings of work. The big lefty is 4-2 on the season with a 3.71 ERA. Traditionally a slow starter, Sabathia has yet to have a without-a-doubt, dominating performance.

The Sox hit five home runs in Monday’s tough loss, so Sabathia will have his hands full with the likes of J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Victor Martinez, all of whom had big offensive nights on Monday.

Looking to split the series, the Sox hope Beckett can limit the best offensive team in baseball, and prevent the Sox from free-falling to the bottom of the American League East standings.

Red Sox vs. CC Sabathia

David Ortiz (31 career plate appearances against Sabathia): .241 batting average/.290 OBP/.483 slugging/ 2 home runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts)

Marco Scutaro (26): .333/.462/.333, 5 walks, 1 strikeout

Kevin Youkilis (24): .381/.458/.571, 2 doubles, triple, 4 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (22): .053/.182/.053, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (21): .286/.286/.333, 6 hits, 8 strikeouts

Adrian Beltre (18): .063/.111/.125, 1 double, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (18): .250/.333/.500, 1 HR, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (18): .125/.222/.375, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (14): .214/.214/.286, 1 double, 7 strikeouts

Bill Hall (8): .125/.125/.250, 1 double, 4 strikeouts

Darnell McDonald (4): .250/.250/.1.000, 1 HR

The Yankees starter has not faced Jeremy Hermida and Jonathan Van Every.

Yankees vs. Josh Beckett

Derek Jeter (61 career plate appearances against Beckett): .298 batting average/.333 OBP/.421 slugging/ 2 home runs, 6 RBI, 5 strikeouts)

Robinson Cano (54): .347/.407/.653, 3 HR, 6 strikeouts

Alex Rodriguez (54): .286/.352/.490, 2 HR, 10 strikeouts

Jorge Posada (36): .333/.389/.455, 1 HR, 10 strikeouts

Mark Teixeria (32): .154/.313/.154,  six walks, 9 strikeouts

Nick Swisher (30): .280/.400/.520, 2 homers, 5 walks, 8 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (15): .214/.267/.214, 4 strikeouts

Randy Winn (11): ..273/.273/.545, 1 HR, 2 strikeouts

Marcus Thames (8): .375/.375/.750, 1 HR, 2 strikeouts

Francisco Cervelli (3): .1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk

Ramiro Pena (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Sergio Mitre has one hit in two at-bats against Beckett. The Boston starter has not faced Greg Golson and Juan Miranda.

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Matsuzaka: ‘I can’t even find the words’

05.18.10 at 12:39 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

NEW YORK — Daisuke Matsuzaka, who allowed seven runs on nine hits over 4-2/3 innings in his start Monday night against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, held a somewhat bizarre meeting with the media following the Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to New York.

Sometimes taking an exorbitant amount of time to answer questions, Matsuzaka said that he was having a hard time identifying exactly what went wrong, although he did say that he didn’t throw as many fastballs as in the past few starts. Speaking through translator Masa Hoshino, this is what the Sox starter had to say regarding his appearance:

(On his outing) “I can’t even find the words. I tried to pitch carefully, but it was just too much of a drastic difference from my last outing.”

(Whether command or velocity was the problem) “I think my feel wasn’t that bad. But like I’ve said before, I have a lot of different pitches. But if I don’t use those properly, that can work against me at times. But my stuff itself wasn’t that bad.”

(Why five-run first inning occurred) “There’s one thing that I know for sure, but I’m not quite ready to share that.”

(On what was wrong) “I think I just threw fewer fastballs.”

(More on what the problem was) “I knew I didn’t have to replicate my last outing exactly, but like I said before, it was just way too drastically different out there tonight. But to answer your question, it wasn’t part of any premeditated game plan.”

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Pedroia: ‘It’s a pretty big hole’

05.18.10 at 12:27 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia

NEW YORK — Dustin Pedroia noted the uphill battle the Red Sox now face after losing an 11-9 decision to the Yankees on Marcus Thames walk-off two-run homer Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s a pretty big hole,” said Pedroia, whose team is now 8½ games in back of first-place Tampa Bay, and 6½ games behind New York in the American League East. “I don’t know how many games out, but we’re 19-20 or whatever the heck we are. We have to start winning games, for sure.”

Here is the rest of what Pedroia had to say after the Sox’ loss:

(On how difficult a defeat it was) “It’s tough. We played our butt off. We got down early. A guy like Phil Hughes has got some of the best stuff in baseball. We battled, it just happened really fast there at the end. It’s definitely tough. We’ll come out tomorrow and play hard. There’s a lot of season left.”

(On the faith the team has in closer Jonathan Papelbon, who allowed four runs in the ninth) “We have the most confidence in the world in Pap. It happens to everybody. One of the greatest of all-time a couple of days ago, the greatest. It happens to everybody. Everybody has a tough day. We’ve got his back for sure.”

(On approach after falling behind 5-0 after the first inning) “We were trying to find a way to get to his starter. He’s been untouchable all year. He’s throwing the ball great. He’s had so far the best season of anybody. We’re just trying to put good at-bats together and get ourselves back in the ball game.”

(On Victor Martinez hitting two home runs) “He’s swinging the bat great. His home runs were impression. Hopefully if he continues to do that we’ll be fine. We’ll switch from run prevention to slow-pitch softball swinging.”

(On attitude of the team) “We’ll figure it out. Everybody is a professional here. We’ve played 40 games and we’ve got a lot of games to go. We’ll prove to everybody that we’re not going to quit, that’s for sure.”

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