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Francona: Cameron not quite ready

05.17.10 at 4:58 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Speaking before his team’s game with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that outfielder Mike Cameron is still experiencing some “tenderness” in his abdominal region, although not in the same spot that forced the 37-year-old on to the disabled list. Because of Cameron’s condition he won’t be activated to the Sox’ 25-man roster and will most likely make another rehab appearance, at Double A Portland Wednesday.

“There was certainly some thought about bringing him here today, possibly even getting him on our roster,” Francona said. “I don’t think we think he’s quite ready, and I think he agrees with that. He’s tender a little bit in his abdominal region, not where he got hurt, just kind of tender. He’s done a lot of work and I think we just want to make sure when we bring him off he’s ready. We’re not quite there yet.”

As for the Red Sox other rehabbing outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, he went 1-for-3 for the Pawtucket Red Sox Monday afternoon in his first rehab appearance since going on the disabled list with cracked ribs, managing a single and a walk. Ellsbury will play for Portland Tuesday before re-joining the Red Sox at Fenway Park Wednesday.

“He said he was a little tentative his first two at-bats and then really felt good as he got into the game,” Francona said of Ellsbury, who also was able to experience sliding into home plate in the game with the PawSox.

Francona also touched on the construct of his lineup in the Red Sox’ series opener in the Bronx, saying that the move to hit Victor Martinez fifth in the order, with J.D. Drew sliding up to third, was to “have some balance in our lineup.” Martinez is hitting .226, including .135 (7-52) on the road. The catcher has 12 at-bats in the fifth-hole this season, going 5-for-9 with three walks.

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Ellsbury singles, walks, scores a pair in PawSox rehab game

05.17.10 at 1:18 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury

Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury started his minor-league rehab assignment by going 1-for-3 with a single, walk, RBI, and two runs while hitting leadoff and serving as the designated hitter for the Triple-A PawSox on Monday.

After a pair of three-pitch groundouts (one to second, one to short) in his first two plate appearances, Ellsbury delivered an RBI single on the first pitch of his third at-bat to drive in a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ellsbury advanced to third on an error by Syracuse left fielder Leonard Davis, then scored on a sac fly.

Each of Ellsbury’s first three at-bats came against right-handed Chiefs starter J.D. Martin. Syracuse summoned left-handed reliever Atahualpa Severino to face Ellsbury in the seventh inning. Ellsbury took all six pitches that Severino threw en route to a full-pitch walk, and then scored easily on Josh Reddick’s two-run triple.

Monday’s game marked Ellsbury’s first since April 11, when he collided with third baseman Adrian Beltre while chasing a foul ball. Beltre’s knee hit Ellsbury in the chest, resulting in a small fracture of the ribs. The Sox are 16-16 since then, and have averaged 5.0 runs per game (sixth in the majors). Through the first six games of the season, Ellsbury was hitting .333 with an .800 OPS and two steals.

Ellsbury is now scheduled to head to Portland on Tuesday to continue his rehab assignment.

Also of note in Monday’s PawSox contest, Boof Bonser made his third rehab appearance since returning to the PawSox after being sidelined by shoulder tightness. Bonser lasted 4.1 innings (his longest rehab outing to date), permitting two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three. In three starts for Pawtucket this month, Bonser now has a 3.18 ERA.

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An early look at the Elias Rankings

05.17.10 at 12:04 pm ET
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Victor Martinez

Our friends over at MLB Trade Rumors have the first round of projected Elias Rankings, which is the formula used by Major League Baseball to determine if a free agent is a Type A (worth two draft picks in compensation) or Type B (one pick). While the formula to determine the rankings is supposed to be top secret, Eddie Bajek is thought to have successfully reverse-engineered the system, allowing for the updated status of each player.

The rankings are compiled based off of the collection of stats from the last two years (or, in this case, one year and one month). Each player is put in a category according to their position, having to rate in the top 20 percentile statistically of their group to be classified as a Type A, or the top 21-40 percentile for Type B.

Of note for Red Sox followers:

Mike Lowell is projected as a Type B, although he is just two spots from reaching Type A status. Interesting enough, Lowell is significantly ahead of teammate Adrian Beltre, who is also a Type B. Unless Lowell’s playing time is upped significantly, Beltre does figure to leap-frog the Sox’ starter from a year ago, potentially getting into Type A classification.

Bill Hall is neither a Type A or B.

Victor Martinez is a Type A as a catcher, tied with Jorge Posada for the second-highest ranked American League backstop, behind Joe Mauer.

Jason Varitek is a Type B, but only two spots away from Type A.

David Ortiz is rated as a Type B free agent in the first base/outfield/DH group. In that same category, Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew are both in the Type A group, while Jacoby Ellsbury is just one spot out of moving up from Type B status. (Youkilis, Drew, and Ellsbury, of course, are not eligible for free agency following this season.)

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Yankees dealing with good, bad and usual A-Rod distractions

05.17.10 at 12:02 pm ET
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Mariano Rivera comes into the Red Sox series having suffered a major meltdown in his last outing. (AP)

Yankees closer Mariano Rivers comes into the Red Sox series having suffered a rare meltdown in his last outing. (AP)

When the Red Sox and rival Yankees take the field Monday night for the first of a two-game tilt, neither team will be atop the America League East standings. No, instead of the two franchises that have controlled the AL over the past decade, it will be Tampa Bay that sits in first place.

That means every time the Red Sox and Yankees play, the games will be that much more important. For the top three teams in the division, there are only two playoff spots, and no longer can the second-place finisher of the Red Sox-Yankees series be the prohibitive favorite for the wild card berth.

With the Rays (26-11) rolling like they are, the Red Sox and Yankees know that their head-to-head matchups are critical in making up ground in the standings. With the Yankees holding the edge, 4-2, in the series so far this season, the Bronx Bombers are looking to put distance between themselves and the Sox. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes that there’s more at stake against the Red Sox with the Rays’ success.

The Yankees, despite taking two of three from Minnesota over the weekend, are coming off a perplexing loss to the Twins on Sunday. With New York leading 3-1 entering the eighth inning, setup man Joba Chamberlain came in to bridge the game to closer Mariano Rivera. After failing to get out of the inning, Rivera came in with the bases loaded for a four-out save.

Rather than shutting the door in typical Rivera-like fashion, the Yankees closer walked Jim Thome to force in a run to make it 3-2. It was the first time since May 6, 2005, that Rivera walked a batter with the bases loaded. The next hitter, Jason Kubel, proceeded to hit a grand slam to give Minnesota a 6-3 lead, making him only the fourth player to ever hit a grand slam off of Rivera.

The blown save snapped a streak of 51 straight home saves for the New York closer. Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York writes about how rare of a blown save it truly was for Rivera.

Marchand also writes about Yankees manager Joe Girardi moving starting pitcher Javier Vazquez to the bullpen for at least the Red Sox series. Vazquez was acquired in the offseason after having a career year with Atlanta with a 15-10 record, 2.87 ERA, and 238 strikeouts. Vazquez was expected to have a better go-round with the Yankees this season after struggling in his first stint in 2004, when he managed a 14-10 record despite having a 4.91 ERA. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 5/17

05.17.10 at 11:40 am ET
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Sitting at .500 and fourth in the American League East, the Red Sox have an opportunity to make up ground against their rivals in New York with a two-game series beginning Monday night. Daisuke Matsuzaka will look to build off of his last start for Boston while the Yankees will counter with Phil Hughes, who has been dominant this season.

After struggling in his first two starts, Matsuzaka pitched seven strong innings against Toronto last Tuesday to pick up his second win, improving his record to 2-1. The right-hander allowed only one run on three hits, struck out nine batters, and pitched a rare walk-free game. Matsuzaka’s performance marked only the second time in his last 33 starts in which he didn’t allow a walk, with the last coming against Texas on June 7 of last season.

Despite having mixed results against the Yankees for his career, Matsuzaka had success in his only start in New York last year on Sept. 26. Matsuzaka gave up one run on six hits over seven innings but was outdueled by CC Sabathia, who allowed only one hit through seven innings to pick up his 19th win. For his career, Matsuzaka is 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA in seven career starts against the Yankees.

Hughes, meanwhile, has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. In six starts, Hughes has a 5-0 record, tying him in wins with four other starting pitchers, including fellow young hurlers David Price and Matt Garza (both of Tampa Bay). Hughes also leads the AL in ERA with a miniscule 1.38 among pitchers having a minimum of 1.0 innings pitched per team game.

In Detroit last Wednesday, Hughes earned his fifth win with seven scoreless innings. Hughes allowed five hits and one walk while striking out eight Tigers. The game marked the third consecutive start in which he finished with seven innings pitched. Boston has hit well against Hughes, who is 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA in his career against the Red Sox.

A share of those numbers for Hughes, however, has come in relief appearances. After being touted as one of the most prized Yankee prospects earlier in his career, Hughes had difficulties in his first two seasons as a starting pitcher. For the majority of last season, he was used out of the bullpen and was very effective in notching 18 holds to set up closer Mariano Rivera. Now, it finally seems as if Hughes is living up to the early praise he received, and his success out of the bullpen has carried over to this season.

Red Sox vs. Phil Hughes

Marco Scutaro (13 career plate appearances against Hughes): .250 average/.308 OBP/.250 slugging, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (12): .000/.083/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (11): .300/.273/.600, 1 home run, 2 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (10): .667/.800/1.167, 1 double, 1 triple, 4 walks

Adrian Beltre (7): .000/.000/.000, 4 strikeouts

David Ortiz (7): .750/.714/1.250, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell (5): .400/.400/1.000, 1 home run

Victor Martinez (5): .600/.600/.800, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Jeremy Hermida (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Darnell McDonald (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall struck out in his only at bat against Hughes. The New York starter has never faced Jonathan Van Every.

Yankees vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Alex Rodriguez (22 career plate appearances against Matsuzaka): .063 average/.318 OBP/.063 slugging, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (20): .211/.250/.421, 1 double, 1 home run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

Derek Jeter (18): .429/.556/.857, 2 home runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Jorge Posada (12): .500/.500/.750, 3 doubles, 1 strikeout

Nick Swisher (12): .300/.417/.400, 1 double, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (7): .400/.571/.800, 1 triple, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Marcus Thames (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1 home run

Randy Winn (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Brett Gardner is hitless in two at bats against Matsuzaka. The Boston starter has never faced Francisco Cervelli, Greg Golson, Juan Miranda or Ramiro Pena.

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Closing Time: Tigers 5, Red Sox 1

05.16.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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A series that started with great promise for the Red Sox concluded with significant disappointment.

After taking the first game of a three-game set in Detroit, the Sox carried a 6-1 lead into the middle innings of their game against the Tigers on Saturday. From that point on, however, the Sox showed little pulse, getting outscored by the Tigers, 11-1, in dropping two straight games, the most recent a 5-1 loss in a Sunday matinee. With the defeat, the Sox’ record slipped once again to .500.

On a day when a listless Sox offense offered him no margin for error, Sox starter John Lackey was ineffective. He allowed five runs on nine hits in his seven innings of work, and though some of those were of the seeing-eye variety, the results were poor. The right-hander has been inconsistent thus far in 2010, as his 4.86 ERA, .284 opponents’ batting average, 3.8 walks per nine innings and 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings would all be career-worst marks for a season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Darnell McDonald continued his excellent performance against left-handed pitching. He pinch-hit for starter Jonathan Van Every against Tigers left-handed reliever Fu-Te Ni and promptly lined a single to left on a fastball. McDonald is hitting .393 with three homers and a 1.219 OPS against southpaws, and it will be interesting to see whether another team might try to claim him on waivers in the likely scenario in which he is moved off the major league roster when Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury return, perhaps as soon as this week.

McDonald later added a bloop single to left.

Marco Scutaro made a pair of excellent defensive plays at shortstop. He dove to his right to backhand a ball for a fielder’s choice in the second, and later made another diving play to his right on a sharply hit grounder by Miguel Cabrera to produce another out.

Jeremy Hermida continued to make his hits count. Though he is hitting just .229 and has only 92 plate appearances, he is tied for third on the club with 20 RBI after lining a third-inning double that produced his club’s only run on Sunday.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

John Lackey continued a series-long theme of Red Sox starters struggling with their command. He issued four walks, after Clay Buchholz (5) and Jon Lester (4) both had issued free passes liberally in the first two games in Detroit. This marked the first time since April 13-15, 2008, that Sox starters allowed three or more walks in three straight games.

The issue was pronounced early, as Lackey ended up exchanging words with home plate ump Lance Barksdale about the strike zone after walking four in the first two innings. That was part of a day in which Lackey appeared to lose his composure at times and made some mental lapses, most notably when he failed to find the first-base bag on an infield single in the second and when he was late covering first base on another infield single in the fifth.

Lackey lasted six innings, allowing a season-high 13 baserunners. He has now permitted 10 or more baserunners in five of his last six starts.

That said, because Lackey managed to last seven innings (while throwing a season-high 123 pitches), the Sox were able to rest their bullpen after their relief corps had been taxed in Saturday’s 12-inning contest.

J.D. Drew had a chance to tie the game when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning of a 5-1 game. But he punched out against left-hander Fu-Ne Ti.

Drew had been enjoying terrific success with the bases loaded this year, going 4-for-5 with a grand slam, double, sac fly and walk in those situations.

–Hermida was the only Red Sox to do anything with a runner in scoring position. The team went 1-for-10 in such situations.

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Red Sox vs. Tigers matchups, 5/16

05.16.10 at 10:29 am ET
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The Red Sox will have John Lackey on the hill Sunday afternoon as they close out their three-game series with the Tigers in Detroit.

Lackey’s 4-1 record is tops amongst Sox starters, but he had a little trouble maintaining that status in his last start on May 10. He got his fourth victory despite allowing six runs in his six innings of work, bringing his ERA up to 4.60. Prior to that performance, Lackey had lasted seven innings in each of his last three starts and given up no more than three runs, going 2-0 in that span.

Lackey has made nine starts against the Tigers in his career and has had his share of success. He sports a 6-1 record and a 3.73 ERA against Detroit, but in his one outing vs. the Tigers in 2009 he struggled. The right-hander was tagged for 11 hits and five earned runs in six innings in a 5-3 loss.

The Tigers will counter with Armando Galarraga, who thus far has spent all of the 2010 season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, after going 6-10 with a 5.64 ERA in 25 big league starts last year.

For his part, Galarraga has done well in Triple A, sporting a 4-2 record and 3.92 ERA in seven starts. But he has struggled in two career starts against the Sox, going 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA. In his one appearance against Boston last season, Galarraga took the loss in a 10-5 beatdown, although he did not pitch as poorly as the score indicated. He went seven innings and allowed four runs (three earned), but Detroit’s bullpen imploded and the game went from close to out of reach for the Tigers.

Red Sox vs. Armando Galarraga

Victor Martinez (13 career plate appearances against Galarraga): .111 average/.308 OBP/.111 slugging, 3 walks

Marco Scutaro (7): .200/.429/.200, 2 walks

Mike Lowell (6): .333/.333/.333

David Ortiz (6): .333/.333/.500, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Kevin Youkilis (6): .600/.667/1.800, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

J.D. Drew (5): .200/.200/.800, 1 home run, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (3): .333/.333/.333

Adrian Beltre is hitless in three at bats against Galarraga with one strikeout. The Detroit starter has never faced Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald or Jonathan Van Every.

Tigers vs. John Lackey

Johnny Damon (51 career plate appearances against Lackey): .333 average/.373 OBP/.375 slugging, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Gerald Laird (32): .100/.156/.100, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts

Brandon Inge (26): .318/.400/.455, 3 doubles, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Magglio Ordonez (15): .357/.400/.857, 1 double, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Miguel Cabrera (6): .500/.500/1.000, 1 home run

Ramon Santiago (5): .200/.200/.200, 1 strikeout

Alex Avila (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk

Lackey has never faced Brennan Boesch, Adam Everett, Austin Jackson, Don Kelly and Scott Sizemore.

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