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Francona, Lester after Sox win

05.10.10 at 7:18 am ET
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Here is some post-game comments from Red Sox manager Terry Francona and starting pitcher Jon Lester following their team’s 9-3 win over the Yankees Sunday night at Fenway Park:

Francona on Lester

“Two walks. When we got the lead he threw strikes, used his cutter. The two solo homers were the only damage. When you don’t walk people, against that lineup, even when they hit balls out of the ballpark, solo homers didn’t do us in. I thought the other night we leaned on him pretty hard so we didn’t want to, and it worked out pretty good. We scored some runs so we could get him out of there without extending him to the eighth. So that worked out good too, it’s a long year and we need a lot out of him. I thought his cutter was very good tonight.”

“He’s always been able to build once he feels good and fortunately he’s maintained that. He’s a big, strong kid and he’s got a good delivery and he’s durable. There’s that hump he seems to have to get over every year but once he gets over it he’s OK.”

Francona on David Ortiz (who ripped a second-inning, ground-rule double that scored a pair)

“I thought it was a great swing. He worked the count deep and swung at strikes and put a good swing on it. I hope I don’t have to every night go back 10 days and remember what he did, there’s a lot of good things that happened tonight all the way around that we don’t have to break down every swing that David took.”

Lester on his outing

“Felt all right. Early on, I felt like I struggled a little bit with just the feel of the ball. Tough night to pitch, just a tough night to play baseball.  But got in a little bit of a rhythm early on.”

“We want to go out there and play well, but regardless of what the team did the day before or week before I’m determined to go out there and pitch well. We only get to work every five days so it’s important to go out there and do our job. The past two days haven’t been much fun but it was nice to go out there and get once from those guys.”

“It wasn’t any adjustments, 3-2 to Swisher I’m not going to walk him with a six-run lead at the time. It’d be stupid to put baserunners on at the time with the heart of their order coming up I went after him. He put a good swing on it and hit it out. Same thing with Alex. I’m 2-0, I’m not going to just start throwing stuff up there just to pitch around him. He put a good swing on it.”

“I feel good. I feel good mentally and physically going into each start. That’s half the battle and I just have to go out there and keep executing, keep the ball down. And for the most part I was able to do that tonight. Guys did a great job, it helps when guys go out there and score a lot of runs, takes a lot of pressure off.”

“Just a matter of time for guys to settle in. Buc has done a good job, kind of hitting his stride early, throwing the ball well. He had a rough one the other day but he’ll bounce back and be fine. Lack’s done a pretty good job, I think we’ve all, at times, done a pretty good job and once guys get one or two outing under the belt it’s kind of snowball effect and hopefully we can feed off of each other and get on a bit of a roll and kind of put this stuff behind us.”

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Why Beltre wore the glasses

05.10.10 at 12:22 am ET
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Adrian Beltre had a pretty good night, only after making a leap of faith not seen in any of his 13 seasons in the big leagues.

After striking out swinging in the second inning, Beltre determined that the wind was not helping matters. He remembered a pair of clear Oakley glasses he had stored away for such occasions, starting four years earlier while in Seattle. The problem was that the third baseman had never actually used the protective glasses in a real game … until Sunday night.

“That first at-bat I struck out and didn’t see the ball good. So I said, ‘I’ve got to try them,’” Beltre explained after the Red Sox’ 9-3 win over the Yankees.

“My eyes are really sensitive and every time it’s windy I can’t see. Today the wind was really bad. It was the first time I’ve ever worn them. Ever. I’ve had them for many years but I’ve never used them.”

He might want to put the glasses in hibernation too long.

On the third pitch of his second at-bat Beltre launched a two-out, two-run double to center field. His next at-bat resulted in another double, this time to left field. By the end of the game he had raised his batting average to .333 with two RBI and two runs, all while wearing the yellow-lensed accessory.

Oh, and by the way, the glasses are not prescription.

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Closing Time: Red Sox 9, Yankees 3

05.09.10 at 11:15 pm ET
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The Red Sox responded from two straight nights of Yankee blowouts with a decisive 9-3 win over New York, Sunday night at Fenway Park. The Sox pounded out nine runs on 10 hits, with all of the runs getting charged to Yanks starter A.J. Burnett. J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida, and Adrian Beltre each had two hits for the Sox. Jon Lester got the win, his third. (Click here for a recap.)

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- David Ortiz can still hit the fastball: One of Ortiz’ most encouraging swings of the season came with the count full and two runners on in the fifth inning. Burnett came in with his third straight fastball of the at-bat, a 95 mph heater which the Red Sox’ designated hitter turned on, hitting a blast to deep right field where it bounced into the stands for an RBI double.

- Jon Lester had his ‘A’ game: Lester turned in his fourth straight solid start, only allowing solo homers to Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez in his seven-inning outing. When it was all said and done the lefty struck out seven, walked two, gave up just four hits and the two runs in lowering his ERA to 3.71.

- Marco Scutaro got things off on the right foot: The first three balls in play by the Yankees were all grounders to short, which Scutaro fielded flawlessly. He also kicked things off in the first with a leadoff single, which would accompany two walks on the night. Scutaro came into the game hitting .333 when leading off the inning (13-for-39) with five walks. He also was hitting .287 with a .353 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot.

- A.J. Burnett started: While Burnett has started this season in style (coming in with a 4-0, 1.99 ERA), he continued his trend of failing at Fenway. The Yankees starter succumbed to nine runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. The outing pushed his ERA at the home of the Red Sox to 12.68 in five starts over the last two years.

- The offense was opportunistic: Five of the Red Sox’ nine runs came with two outs, with Adrian Beltre (2), Ortiz, Jeremy Hermida, and Kevin Youkilis. Hermida’s RBI was one of three on the night for the outfielder, who launched his fourth of the season in the fifth inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG ABOUT THE RED SOX

–Catcher Victor Martinez went 0-for-5 and stranded four runners, ending his modest six-game winning streak in which he hit .375.

–Outfielder Darnell McDonald went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, all against right-handed pitchers. While he is hitting .368 with a 1.323 OPS against left-handed pitching, he is hitting just .184 with a .516 OPS against righties.

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Pregame notes: Cameron headed to Pawtucket

05.09.10 at 6:20 pm ET
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Terry Francona met the media before Sunday night’s series finale with the Yankees and discussed a number of topics, including the status of Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury.

“Cam and Ellsbury are going to go out and do their stuff and then we’ll sit down with both of them — after BP– with the medical staff and try to get a little better handle on where we’re at.”

After meeting with Cameron the center fielder told the media that he will begin his rehab assignment with the Pawtucket Red Sox Monday night, serving as the team’s designated hitter. If all goes as planned he will play in the field Tuesday.

“I need to go see where I’m at, run around, dive, everything else. Kind of see what it feels like and see where I’m at and I have to be brutally honest with myself and be brutally honest with the staff,” he said.

“In my mind for a while, I guess the last week or so, something snapped in my mind as far as what day I was going to play. Basically the last few days generally let me know I can add a little bit more. Running-wise it’s pretty good. My steps are better. My steps are much better. Tomorrow will be a true test for me. I’ll go and really play the game, try and get some hits, dive head-first, but still be cautious to know I’m rehabbing, rehabbing trying to get back to the big leagues … I need to see where I’m at more than anything else, so I’ll try and go do it.”

Cameron has not played since April 18 with an abdominal strain and said the length of his rehab assignment will be based on his progress the next few days.

Francona was quick to note that Ellsbury is still behind Cameron in the rehab process.

Francona was asked how the diminished on-field role of veterans Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz has impacted their leadership in the clubhouse.

“Anytime there’s a change, sometimes it can be a little unsettling. Saying that, it’s our responsibility to get it settled and play good baseball. I don’t know that you can go 20 years and not have change. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable personally, but again our job, all the things we talk about, you gotta live it out.”

- Boof Bonser pitched three innings for Pawtucket on Friday night, allowing just one run on three hits. He threw 44 pitches, and Francona said Sunday that he thought Bonser would throw somewhere in the 60-65 pitch range for the Triple-A club in his next start.

- Ramon Ramirez said his right triceps felt much better Sunday after leaving the game with tightness Saturday. The reliever, who played catch prior to Sunday night’s game, noted that the problem with his arm didn’t crop until he entered the game.

- Marco Scutaro, who played with Dallas Braden with the A’s, had this to say about the Oakland pitcher who threw a perfect game Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays: “You just don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s the beauty of this game. He knows how to pitch. I think any major league pitcher can do it if you throw the ball where the catcher asks for it.”

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Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 5/9

05.09.10 at 4:35 pm ET
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After being battered by the Yankees in the last two games, the Red Sox will have Jon Lester on the mound as they try to avoid the sweep Sunday night.

Lester has turned things around as of late after his early struggles, winning his last two starts to bring his season record to 2-2 with a 3.93 ERA. He followed up an outstanding one hit, 11 strikeouts, no run outing in seven innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 28 by holding the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to just 1 run over eight innings in his last start.

Lester’s first start of the season came against New York, and he had his issues. Three walks hurt the left-hander’s cause as he allowed four earned runs in just five innings of work, squandering a 3-1 lead. That was a rare tough start against the Yankees for the Sox’ starter, however, as over the past three seasons he is 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA in seven starts vs. New York.

He will be opposed by A.J. Burnett, who is off to a great start in his second year in a Yankees’ uniform. The hard-throwing right-hander is currently 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA, good enough for sixth in the American League.

Arguably his worst start of the season, however, did come in the first series against Boston. Burnett lasted a season-low five innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits. But he has been dominant in his last two starts — much like Lester — allowing just one earned run and striking out a total of 12 batters in 15—1/3 innings in two victories over the Baltimore Orioles.

After some high scoring affairs the last two days (even if they were one-sided), this one could be a pitcher’s duel if these two starters continue their recent trends.

Red Sox vs. A.J. Burnett

David Ortiz (37 career plate appearances against Burnett): .250 average/.270 OBP/.611 slugging, 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (37): .286/.459/.500, 2 home runs, 9 walks, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (35): .241/.343/.345, 1 home run, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (33): .250/.364/.357, 3 doubles, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts

Adrian Beltre (30): .286/.333/.536, 4 doubles, 1 home run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (27): .208/.296/.417, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (26): .316/.500/.579, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 6 walks, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell (23): .200/.304/.250, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (23): .286/.348/.333, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall (13): .182/.308/.364, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Jeremy Hermida (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Burnett has not faced Darnell McDonald or Jonathan Van Every.

Yankees vs. Jon Lester

Derek Jeter (29 career plate appearances against Lester): .370 average/.414 OBP/.370 slugging, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (25): .261/.280/.348, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Nick Swisher (22): .188/.364/.500, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts

Alex Rodriguez (20): .263/.300/.684, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Jorge Posada (17): .200/.294/.200, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (17): .235/.235/.412, 1 hme run, 5 strikeouts

Nick Johnson (6): .000/.167/.000

Curtis Granderson (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Lester has never faced Francisco Cervelli, Brett Gardner, Ramiro Pena or Randy Winn.

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Gammons on The Big Show: Leave Buchholz in rotation

05.09.10 at 9:49 am ET
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Peter Gammons (AP)

Peter Gammons joined The Big Show on Friday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. He said that all three contending teams in the AL East — the Sox, Yankees and Rays — have issues they have to deal with, and the answers will be coming soon.

“All three teams have a lot of questions to be answered, between now and the July 1,” he said.  ”I’m sure the Yankees will be saying, ‘Should we get Roy Oswalt?’ The Red Sox are going to be saying, ‘Should we take a chance on Lance Berkman?’ There’s a lot that may be decided in the next eight weeks.”

A transcript follows. To listen, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

What do you do with Daisuke Matsuzaka, especially now that Tim Wakefield is just sitting in the bullpen?

They’ll probably give Daisuke four or five starts. Victor Martinez was saying to me that he couldn’t believe the difference in his fastball between the first and second inning. He said it picked up like four or five miles in velocity. Then he’s having a little more confidence throwing a few sliders, where in the first inning he had no confidence in his fastball that he was overthrowing every slider. How long do you go? I appreciate that he had a lot of time off, that he was hurt and didn’t pitch that much to get here. But there isn’t a lot of time in a division with Tampa and the Yankees to sit around and say, “OK. We are going to give him 10 starts.” But if he doesn’t start, what are you going to do with him? I think it’s one of the many questions that will be answered in the next month.

Wouldn’t it make sense to put Clay Buchholz in the bullpen?

I don’t think you take a 200-inning, second-year starter and put him in the bullpen. I don’t see that as a viable alternative. I think you have to go find a veteran reliever somewhere. They’re not going to challenge Tampa and New York if Buchholz isn’t good enough to make 30 starts on the season. He’s got the second best stuff on the staff. He’s got to be one of your top starters. To me, you just can’t take a guy out because the other guys can’t do the role. You can’t take him out. To me, you weaken yourself immeasurably if you take Buchholz out of the rotation.

If you go out and find somebody, what do you do with Wakefield and Matsuzaka?

That’s the problem. Wakefield has pitched out of the bullpen. Now the question is, at his age is it too late to ask him to go back? Just as it may be too late to ask him to go back and make 20 starts if his back is going to go. I think they have more of a chance of figuring out the bullpen thing. Either Wake or Daisuke is going to end up being the fifth starter, and then you move on from there. It is good that [Manny] Delcarmen is starting to throw a lot better, that home run last night was a joke. They are going to have to go get one more veteran reliever, because they don’t have minor leaguers that are going to come in and step up the way [Daniel] Bard did. Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Yankees 14, Red Sox 3

05.08.10 at 7:12 pm ET
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Mike Lowell and the Red Sox have been outscored 22-6 by the Yankees in the first two games of the teams' series. (AP)

The Yankees won their 13th game against the Red Sox in the teams’ last 15 meetings, this time beating the Sox 14-3, Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. The game was delayed 1 hour, 14 minutes due to rain in the fifth inning. The delay, which came with two outs, the visitors leading 6-3, and a 2-2 count to Victor Martinez, cost New York starter CC Sabathia the victory. Highlighting the NY attack was Mark Teixeira, who belted three home runs (the last one off of outfielder Jonathan Van Every). It was the sixth straight win for the Yankees, who have out-scored their opponents 51-16 during the stretch. It marked the first time since 1997 that the Red Sox have started 15-16. (For a recap click here.)

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Beltre’s defense: Adrian Beltre was victimized by his seventh error of the season, throwing the ball wide of second on Randy Winn’s grounder in the third inning. Beltre has made 14 errors in his last two seasons, and last year actually suffered his seventh one day after this season (May 9). His seventh in ’08 came on May 13.

- Buchholz’ day didn’t go as planned: Clay Buchholz suffered through his worst outing of the season, allowing six runs on nine hits over five innings. After getting through the first two innings without allowing a run, the Sox’ starter surrendere two in the third, one in the fourth, and three in the fifth. He threw 93 pitches and watched his ERA jump from 2.97 to 3.82.

- Substitution patterns: The Red Sox were still in the hunt — down by three — with two runners on and two outs in the sixth inning. With right-handed reliever Alfredo Aceves on the mound (having replaced Sabathia following the rain delay), Terry Francona chose to pinch-hit for Bill Hall with Jeremy Hermida, who was 2-for-5 in such situations this season. But before Aceves could throw a pitch he exited with an apparent back injury, giving way to lefty Boone Logan. Three pitches later, Hermida had struck out and the Sox’ threat was over.

- Ramon Ramirez’ game/season: The Red Sox reliever started the seventh, facing Teixeira with the Yanks leading by three. After an initial 93 mph fastball, Ramirez served up an 85 mph changeup which Teixeira deposited in the right field stands for his second homer of the game. It was the ninth run allowed by the righty in 13 2/3 innings this season, a run total he didn’t reach until July 3 last season. Ramirez immediately left the game after the pitch to Teixeira with triceps tenderness in his pitching arm.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- The Darnell McDonald Experience: McDonald continued to be a killer against left-handers. First he hit .429 in 14 at-bats while with the PawSox against lefties, and then, coming into Saturday, the right-handed hitter notched six hits in 16 at-bats (.375) while with the Red Sox. Then, vs. Sabathia, McDonald deposited a 95 mph fastball over the left field wall for his third homer of the season (all against southpaws). McDonald also made a nice diving catch off a Teixeira sinking liner int he eighth inning.

- Van Every got his work in: Van Every, who pitched last 2/3 innings for the Sox against the Rays last April 30 (giving up a run and a walk), got his chance to return to the mound with the Red Sox trailing by nine in the ninth inning. Van Every’s appearance went as follows: Derek Jeter doubled off the center field wall; Brett Gardner struck out looking; Teixeira hit a monstrous blast over the left field wall; Kevin Russo flew out to right field; Robinson Cano grounded out to first base (with Van Every covering the bag).

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