|06.21.11 at 6:30 pm ET|
Terry Francona has earned a reputation of mastering his roster over the course of a 162-game season to keep it fresh for a playoff push. Whether you’re David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett or Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox manager has kept lines of communication open so he knows when his stars need rest while keeping his bench players alert to when they’re needed.
Jon Lester was the latest to be called into Francona’s office Tuesday to have a “long-run” discussion and how best to use him throughout the season.
“We actually sat with Lester today just to kind of get his feelings on some things because to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to lean on some guys, there’s no getting around it. However you say it, the more gas they have left in the tank, the better.”
In other words, Francona wants Lester fresh in August and September, when the team is either making a push to win the division title or trying to hold its playoff position. And obviously, the hope is he is just as fresh in October, just like closers Keith Foulke and Jonathan Papelbon were in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
“You’ve seen it in the past with Pap or Foulke, they’ve had a lot left and we’ve gone to them extensively, and it’s helped us win,” Francona said.
Francona said it’s not just Lester but it’s every pitcher on the staff he’s monitoring because each pitcher is built differently and pitches differently.
“Each guy, but if you get to the end of the season, and they’re dragging, that’s no good,” Francona said, before referencing the Yankees of the mid-90s and early 2000s.
“It seemed like a long time ago, the Yankees always took their guy and gave them – not a forced rest – but a little two-week [break]. It’s great idea because at the end of the season, guys feels good about themselves, but you also have to be good enough to do it, you have to win enough games to be able to do it.”
Of course, to be able to implement his plan, he needs reliable role players at the back end of his staff to be able to step in and help the team not miss a beat. With the 2011 Sox, those players go by the names of Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves and now, Andrew Miller. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.21.11 at 5:10 pm ET|
After a bout with “intestinal turmoil,” Josh Beckett will tentatively make his next start Saturday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced before Tuesday’s game with the Padres at Fenway. Alfredo Aceves was assigned with taking Beckett’s place in the rotation Tuesday night against the Padres.
“He actually looks just OK,” Francona said Tuesday of Beckett. “l’m glad we [pushed him back]. I think it was neccessary what we did. He didn’t look that good. What we’re hoping for, tentatively, is he’ll pitch Saturday. Because of some of the versatility of guys like Aceves, adding Miller and Wake, we can get around it, especially with an off day.
“What we’ll do is probably pitch him Saturday. That will allow him to have a side day and have a relatively normal week as opposed to just the first day he feels good, get him out there and pitch. Let him get his legs back under him and stuff like that.”
The rotation now sets up to have John Lackey pitch Wednesday, Jon Lester Friday in Pittsburgh, Beckett on Saturday and Tim Wakefield on Sunday in the series finale. Andrew Miller will start the opener against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Tuesday, eight days after his start Monday night against the Padres.
|06.21.11 at 4:16 pm ET|
When the Red Sox finish up their three-game series with the Padres on Wednesday, they will head to Pittsburgh to begin nine straight games against National League opponents. That’s an obvious dilemma for manager Terry Francona, who has to figure out a way to get David Ortiz in the lineup.
One scenario involves moving first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to right field, but Francona said on his weekly interview with WEEI’s Big Show that there is still much to be considered. Click here to listen to the whole interview.
“David is certainly not going to play nine games,” Francona said. “Gonzie has talked to us and we’ve gone back and forth with him about possibly going to right field. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m a little bit confused. If we ever send him out there and something bad happens — and by that I don’t meaning a bad play. Do you move JD [Drew] to left field for a couple of days. He’s never done that. I don’t know. That’s the best answer I can give you. We have a day off before we go to Pittsburgh. There’s a lot of things we need to talk about and then we’ll figure it out. There’s some anxiety. Just being truthful.”
This is a different scenario for Francona than in past years when he could mix and match Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and Ortiz and third and first base. Also, the games in National League parks are consecutive.
“We have nine in a row in the National League. That hasn’t been the case since I’ve been here,” Francona said. “So again it’s going to be something we’ll have to deal with. I’m not excited about it. It puts at a real disadvantage, not just competitively but in keeping David sharp.”
Here’s the rest of the transcript from Francona’s appearance: Read the rest of this entry »
|06.21.11 at 12:56 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk joined the Mut & Merloni show for his regular Tuesday noontime interview, and the biggest discussion was about the interleague play that is once again underway in Major League Baseball. Although the Red Sox are in a three-game set with the Padres at DH-friendly Fenway Park, the guys still wanted to get Kruk’s thoughts on the designated hitter rule, and the man who played 10 seasons in the big leagues said he thought the rule should be expanded.
‘That’s the thing that has yet to be figured out about interleague is how do we go about fixing the rules,’ Kruk said. ‘I don’t know if National League managers would be opposed to it, but why not use the DH the whole time? So you have to use an extra player in the National League? You see how that plays out in the American League. It’s not like you’re double-switching and all that stuff, so what’s the difference? Why can’t the National League adopt it? Why can’t they do that in the World Series also? Why can’t they just adopt the DH for both leagues? It’s not like the National League doesn’t have anyone that can hit.’
In fact, the ESPN analyst gave his opinion that interleague play lasts too long ‘ each team plays 18 games against a foe from the opposite league ‘ and loses it luster a little bit. He even offered a solution to help keep the practice fresh in the eyes of the media and the fans.
‘I didn’t realize it was that many, to be honest with you, because they play some and then they go back to American League teams are playing American League teams. Then, two or three weeks later, you go back to interleague. So I didn’t realize it was 18 games,’ he said. ‘I don’t have an issue with if one team has a common foe. Washington, Baltimore, they should be a foe. Of course, the two New York teams. I guess they determined Philly and Boston should be a sibling rivalry. Oakland, San Francisco. If they play three and three, I think that’s plenty. I think 18 games, it’s like watching Yankees-Red Sox 18 times every year. After awhile, it’s just another game.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|06.21.11 at 11:42 am ET|
Some news and nuggets from last night’s romp at Fenway:
* – The Padres threw 68 pitches in the 7th inning last night, tied for the third most pitches thrown in an inning since the start of the 2008 season. The only ones with more:
69 – Cardinals – vs. Phillies (6/13/08)
69 – Yankees – vs. Indians (4/18/09)
* – For the game, the Padres staff wound up throwing 217 pitches despite not pitching the 9th inning. It was the most pitches thrown in an “eight inning” game since the Yankees needed 232 in a 15-5 loss in Tampa in 2009.
The most pitches in an eight inning game since 1995 is 252, by the Marlins in that famous 25-8 thrashing at the hands of the Red Sox in 2003.
* – Boston batted around in the 7th inning, the league leading 15th time this year that they’ve done so:
15 – Red Sox
14 – Indians
12 – Cardinals
The Angels and Brewers have batted around only three times each this season. The Mariners have not batted around 15 times in either of the last two full seasons.
* – Reliever Ernesto Frieri last night became the first Padres pitcher ever to allow four earned runs or more) without allowing a hit (he walked two and hit two).
* – The Red Sox’ 14 runs were the fourth most ever scored in an interleague game by a team that did not hit a home run. It was just the fourth time in the last 50 years that the Red Sox scored 14 or more runs without benefit of a home run in any game.
* – Adrian Gonzalez is hitting .545 (18-for-33) in interleague games so far this season. If he can keep it up, he’s on pace to set the single season interleague record:
.545 – Adrian Gonzalez, BOS, 2011
.508 – Joe Randa, KC, 1999
.493 – Hideki Matsui, NYY, 2003
Boston currently has three players in the interleague top ten for this season: Gonzalez (1st, .545), Kevin Youkilis (3rd, .480), and David Ortiz (9th, .414). Dustin Pedroia, at .345 this interleague season, still sports a .362 lifetime interleague average, the highest in history, 14 points ahead of the now-injured Albert Pujols.
As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .360 in interleague play. The record is .330, by the 2007 Angels. They are also averaging 8.7 runs per interleague game, currently ahead of the single season record, held by the 2003 Red Sox (8.4).
* – In their last 24 games at Fenway Park, the Red Sox have gone 16-8 while hitting .309 and averaging 6.1 runs per game. They’ve collected 11 or more hits in 15 of those 24 contests.
Of course, they’ve been outstanding on the road as well, winning 16-of-19 while averaging 6.8 runs per game in that span with a whopping 31 home runs.
* – Kevin Youkilis has reached base 11 times in his last 16 plate appearances with runners in scoring position. Not bad for a guy who is hobbled. That includes eight RBI in his last six plate appearances with RISP and two outs. For the 2011 season as a whole, here are the AL leaders in batting average with RISP and two outs (min. 35 AB):
.415 – Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
.389 – Kevin Youkilis, BOS
.342 – Josh Willingham, OAK
|06.21.11 at 7:59 am ET|
The Red Sox will host the Padres for the second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. Taking to the mound for the Sox will be right-hander Alfredo Aceves (3-1, 3.30). He will be opposed by Padres right-hander Mat Latos (4-8, 4.06), who will try to keep Sox hitters in check after they put up 14 runs in Monday night’s rout.
Aceves will be making his fourth start of the season. He has also appeared in 15 games out of the bullpen. His last four appearances have come out of the bullpen. His last start was on May 31 in the Red Sox’ 10-7 loss to the White Sox. Aceves struggled, allowing six runs in five innings, and took the loss. His last appearance came on June 16 in the Sox’ 4-2 win over the Rays. He pitched 1 2/3 innings and allowed one run.
Latos has struggled of late as he has taken the loss in his previous two starts. He was the tough-luck loser on June 10 when the Padres dropped a 2-1 decision to the Nationals. Latos gave up two runs in six innings. In his last start Latos gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings during the Padres’ 6-3 loss to the Rockies on June 15.
Once again the Red Sox will have to learn on the fly against Padres pitchers. Just like Monday night, no Red Sox player has faced the Padres starter.
Padres hitters have not had much experience against Aceves as well. Only Jason Bartlett has ever faced Aceves. In four plate appearances, Bartlett has not recorded a hit.
PADRES VS. ACEVES
Jason Bartlett (4 plate appearances): .000 BA/.250 OBP/.000 SLG
No other Padres player has faced the Sox starter.
RED SOX VS. LATOS
No Red Sox player has any major league experience against Latos.
|06.21.11 at 12:52 am ET|
Facing his former team for the first time, Adrian Gonzalez got the fireworks underway in the decisive seventh with a wall-ball double that scored Dustin Pedroia from first base and put the Red Sox ahead to stay, 4-3, as Boston rolled to a 14-5 win over the Padres. Gonzalez finished 3-for-5 with three more RBIs. He’s now batting .353 with 67 RBIs, both totals lead the majors.
“It was just like another game,” Gonzalez said afterward. “I had fun with it. I have fun out there every day. It was good to see them before the game and catch up with them but once the game started, it was all about playing the game.”
Monday was also a chance for Gonzalez to catch up with former teammates Chase Headley and Orlando “O-Dog” Hudson.
“Seeing Dog was great,” Gonzalez added. “He’s a really good friend. We hang out a lot in the off-season so it was good to see and see he was doing good. He pretty much got me up to date on most of the things that are going on over there during the game so it was good. I touched Chase’s ear, which is important. He doesn’t like his ear being touched. I told him if he gets on base, I’m definitely touching his ear every time.”
The hottest offense in baseball continued on its tremendous roll Monday night as the Red Sox sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 times to snap a 3-3 tie and coast to a 14-5 rout of the Padres at Fenway Park. The Red Sox, in winning for the 13th time in 15 games, reached double figures in runs for the sixth time in their last 12.
|06.21.11 at 12:29 am ET|
In a tie game, little things mean everything.
Before scoring 10 times – nine with two outs – the Red Sox found themselves in a 3-3 scrap with the Padres in the bottom of the seventh. Jacoby Ellsbury walked to open the inning. Then Pedroia hit a grounder to second baseman Orlando Hudson, who fired onto second to easy force Ellsbury.
It appeared Pedroia would be the second out but the Red Sox second baseman busted it out of the box and – in the opinion of first base umpire Chris Conroy – beat the throw from Bartlett to put one runner at first with one out.
“At a time of the game where just his pure hustle gives our hitters a chance to keep hitting and extend an inning,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We took advantage of it. That’s the kind of player he is. Always gives you everything he has.”
The next batter up happened to be the hottest in all of baseball. Adrian Gonzalez lofted a ball to left that careened off the Monster. Pedroia read it perfectly and scored on the wall-ball double and the Red Sox had the lead for good, 4-3. And all because he didn’t assume anything running down the line.
“Actually, that seventh inning was all created by Pedey getting to first base on that ground ball,” Gonzalez said. “If he was not able to leg out and stay away from the double play and get down the line, my double doesn’t score a run. It’s just a runner on second with two outs. It just put pressure on them and created the inning and after that, the guys continued to have quality at-bat after quality at-bat and just kept the line moving. We were able to get those runs in and it was great.”
“I don’t watch the ball,” Pedroia said. “I felt like I beat the play. I don’t know what the replay was but I thought I was safe.”
The Red Sox would send 11 more batters to the plate and score 10 times in the seventh, the sixth time in 12 games the Red Sox have scored in double figures.
“We kept having good at-bats,” Pedroia said. “It seemed like everybody had quality at-bats. We’re grinding out at-bats. We’ve been doing that the last few weeks. It’s a good sign, one through nine, we’re swinging the bats well, guys are walking, guys are finding ways of getting on. We’re getting big hits. It’s a good feeling.”
|06.21.11 at 12:12 am ET|
It would, of course, be silly to jump to conclusions based on a pitcher’s first major league outing of the season. As if to emphasize that point, Andrew Miller received a no-decision in the Sox’ 13-4 victory over the Padres that prevented any runaway proclamations about his night or his future.
Even so, his performance was not short on intrigue. The left-hander is one of the more fascinating Red Sox experiments in some time — a pitcher with incredible natural gifts, a poor track record, a history of mechanical inconsistency and a run of recent dominance in the minor leagues.
The Red Sox have had plenty of buy-low candidates making appearances on their roster in recent years ‘ players like John Smoltz, Rocco Baldelli, Brad Penny and Jeremy Hermida come to mind ‘ but none with quite the combination of stuff and singularly disappointing track record of Miller.
And so, even as the Sox continued their offensive rampage of the past month ‘ scoring 10 or more runs for the ninth time in 29 games ‘ it was Miller whose no-decision was in many ways provided the night’s most intriguing storyline. That was true not just of Sox officials and spectators, but also of the pitcher himself, who conceded that he felt ‘probably quite a bit’ of pressure in the build-up to the outing. Read the rest of this entry »
|06.20.11 at 10:52 pm ET|
Apparently, there is nothing that can faze Adrian Gonzalez, a first baseman whose kryptonite has yet to be discovered since he came to Boston. Many newcomers to the Sox require an adjustment period during which they get used to the intensity of their new home environment.
“[Expletive] no,” manager Terry Francona before Monday’s game. “He’s hitting .350 with RBIs all over the place. No. He’s a pretty confident guy. He should be. If I could hit like that, I’d be confident too. No, he’s been really good. He’s enjoyed the intensity of playing here. I think that’s what we certainly hope when we get players. Honestly, that’s not always the case. This is a little bit different place to play.’
“[But] I think everybody thought [Gonzalez] was really going to enjoy it here. And again, with the lineup around him, I think everybody thought he would really flourish, which you’re seeing.”
That continued on Monday, in a contest when it would have been understandable if it was challenging for Gonzalez to play with his emotions under control. he was, after all, facing the Padres for the first time since they traded him to the Red Sox this winter.
The result? Gonzalez went 3-for-5 and drove in three runs, including the go-ahead tally in the bottom of the seventh, in the Red Sox’ 14-5 victory over San Diego. He is now hitting .353 for the season with 67 RBI, a pace that would yield 151 for the season, as well as 43 extra-base hits — a pace that would result in 96 multi-base knocks on the year, which would surpass the Red Sox record of 92 set by Jimmie Foxx in 1938.
On a night when he was reunited with many former teammates, Gonzalez was everything that the Padres expected him to be and that the Red Sox hoped he would be when they enacted their winter blockbuster.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
—Andrew Miller received a no-decision, but offered more than a few glimpses of promise. He carried a shutout through five innings before faltering in the sixth, when he gave up a three-run homer to Orlando Hudson, and finished his night having permitted three runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
His command — always the central area of conversation with Miller — left the Sox with little room for complaint. Though he walked three batters, he threw 58 of 89 pitches for strikes — a 65 percent rate that was slightly better than the major league average of 63 percent. He also showed swing-and-miss stuff, getting nine empty waves (five on sliders, two on fastballs, two on changeups) while getting seven groundball outs.
–The Red Sox continued to ransack opposing starters, knocking out Wade LeBlanc with the bases loaded and no outs in the fourth inning. The contest marked the 11th time in 2011 that a starter pitcher has pitched three or fewer innings against the Sox, far and away the most times any team in the majors has sent starters to the showers that early. Indeed, entering Monday, the Yankee and Phillies were tied for second in the category, having knocked out starters in three or fewer innings on six occasions.
—David Ortiz continued his tremendous campaign with a pair of run-scoring hits.
His first-inning, RBI single represented one of the more impressive plate appearances of the slugger’s career. After falling behind the left-handed LeBlanc, 0-2, Ortiz took a pair of pitches off the plate, fouled off two more pitches and then took a curveball that appeared to catch the edge of the strike zone but was ruled a ball. He then fouled off six straight full-count offerings before waiting back on a changeup and rifling it to left-center to plate the first Sox run of the night. The 14-pitch at-bat was the longest of Ortiz’ career; he’d had three 12-pitch plate appearances, most recently in 2009.
–The Red Sox manufactured a pair of runs with consecutive bases-loaded HBPs, one by Marco Scutaro, the next by Jason Varitek. It marked the first time that a team had back-to-back RBI plunkings since the 2008 Giants accomplished the feat.
—Josh Reddick drove in his first runs as a pinch-hitter, jumping on an 0-1 pitch for a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single. He had been 1-for-11 in the role.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–The outfield tandem of Darnell McDonald and Mike Cameron continue to offer the Sox little production. McDonald went hitless with two strikeouts in three plate appearances; he is 1-for-14 (.071) since coming off the DL, and is now hitting .114 with a .384 OPS for the season. Cameron was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout, and he’s now hitting .153 with a .503 OPS.
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