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Friday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Scott Baker

05.06.11 at 12:13 pm ET
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Tim Wakefield will look to get the Red Sox back on track Friday night when he takes the mound for his second start of the season. In his first start on Sunday, Wakefield held the Mariners to one run on three hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings, but he ended up with a no-decision as the Sox needed a Carl Crawford walk-off single to get the win.

Wakefield has plenty of experience against the Twins as a franchise — he’€™s 14-6 with a 4.31 ERA in 27 career outings against them — but only six current Twins have faced him (excluding Joe Mauer, who is currently on the disabled list). Jason Kubel, who’€™s hitting .273 in 11 at-bats, is the only Twin with a home run off Wakefield. Denard Span has the highest average, as he’€™s hitting .429 in seven ABs.

For Minnesota, it will be Scott Baker on the hill. Baker struggled out of the gate this season and lost his first two starts, but he’€™s been much better of late, posting three straight quality starts. Although he has just one win during that span, he has lowered his ERA from 6.55 to 3.16 by allowing just three runs in 20 1/3 innings.

Baker has faced the Sox once in each of the last four seasons and is 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA against them, having lost his last two starts. Current Sox are hitting .286 against Baker. Mike Cameron has two homers and three RBIs in just seven ABs against him, while Crawford and J.D. Drew are both batting over .400. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Red Sox, Scott Baker, Tim Wakefield, Twins

Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘You look around, who’s leading that club?’

05.06.11 at 11:56 am ET
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MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning to talk about the Red Sox and news from around baseball. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

John Lackey had another rough outing Thursday, getting shelled in the Red Sox’ 11-0 loss to the Angels. “Obviously, his velocity’s down,” Millar said. “He’s not pitching at the 93, the 94 probably that we’ve been accustomed to seeing. ‘€¦ He’s definitely down 3-4 miles an hour than probably what he’s accustomed to pitching at. I think that’s what makes his breaking stuff average.”

Millar said it’s clear that there’s a health issue with the big right-hander. “Lackey dominated anybody when he’s right. That’s pure on the truth,” he said. “I think right now he’s not able to finish guys. It’s almost like he’s not able to ‘€” you get 0-2, 1-2 and pound that 94 mile an hour heater in that I used to see from him.”

Added Millar: “The fact of the matter is they have to figure this out, period. It’s not like you’re going to pitch with a 7 1/2 ERA for the season. You just hope these are just small hiccups early in the season, and the next thing you know he’s dominating when he gets his arm strength and gets healthy. It’s the same thing with [Josh] Beckett. ‘€¦ When Beckett’s healthy, you see what he’s capable of doing.”

There’s been a discussion that perhaps the Sox don’t have enough hungry, scrappy players. That usually brings to mind J.D. Drew. Said Millar: “You can’t change a guy’s makeup. ‘€¦ That’s his makeup. That’s his personality. It’s like, you can’t make this guy be a leader and a vocal guy if that’s not who he is. You knew that when you signed J.D. Drew. So, does he frustrate? Yeah. I mean, he scores 75 runs a year. He’s going to drive in 78 runs a year. He’s going to take 2-0. His on-base percentage is going to be close to .400. But he’s going to definitely take a day off here and there. And that’s who J.D. is. It doesn’t make him a bad person. But they knew that.”

Millar said the Sox need someone to step up in the clubhouse and be a leader. “They have a bunch of great guys,” he said. “You look at [Dustin] Pedroia. He demands that leadership quality. He’s got that in him. He’s 4-foot-4 1/2 ‘€” I think at the height of his career he might be 4-5 ‘€” but he has that quality, that leadership quality. When he speaks, people listen.

“You go down the locker room: [Tim Wakefield] is Wake. He’s been there 37 years. [Jason] Varitek‘s been there a long time. You look around, who’s leading that club?”

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Read More: Dustin Pedroia, J.D Drew, john lackey, Josh Beckett

PawSox outfield injuries mounting: Linares to undergo surgery while Kalish improving

05.05.11 at 6:40 pm ET
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It has been a rough stretch for the Red Sox‘ minor league outfield depth. Ryan Kalish has been out for the last two weeks while trying to rehab from a partial tear of the labrum in his left shoulder. Meanwhile, an MRI revealed that fellow PawSox outfielder Juan Carlos Linares tore ligaments in his ankle when he slid hard into second base earlier this week; the 26-year-old will require surgery, and his return date is unknown at this time. And a third Pawtucket outfielder, Josh Reddick, had to leave Tuesday’s game after being hit by a pitch on the finger during a bunt attempt. However, it appears that he avoided serious harm, as Reddick is back in the PawSox lineup on Thursday.

For Kalish, who is rehabbing from a partial tear of the labrum in his left shoulder, the progress is measured in increments. After all, after he suffered the injury (or rather aggravated a pre-existing injury that is believed to date to his high school career) while diving for a ball in the outfield while playing for Triple-A Pawtucket, Kalish was restricted from virtually all activities, including running, since the Sox did not want him to pump his arm while allowing the injury to heal.

That being the case, he remains at a fairly early stage of the rehab process. But, at this point, the Red Sox are more than happy to note that incremental progress is progress nonetheless.

The 23-year-old has been re-examined in recent days and has been cleared to resume some physical activities. Most notably, just under two weeks after he suffered the injury, he is working out again. The more significant tests of his shoulder — and ultimately, the determination about whether he can rehab or will require surgery — have yet to come. But Kalish has responded well to the initial elements of a conservative rehab route.

“He’€™s been re-examined in the last few days and everything is moving in a very positive direction. He’€™s making steady improvement everyday, so we’€™re feeling pretty good about the rehab process right now. But he hasn’€™t done anything too crazy at this point,” said Sox farm director Mike Hazen. “He’€™s progressing well. We’€™ll see what happens once he starts doing activities.”

It was the sort of progress that Hazen described as “very small steps.” Ultimately, much more will be required of the outfielder if he is to resume his season.

“We’€™re talking about getting this guy back to throw and hit, which is a lot more violent than just moving around athletically, but we’€™re getting there,” said Hazen. “We’€™ll see. There’€™s still a lot of tests to go, but the fact that the tests are moving in this direction is positive.”

At the time of the injury, the Sox said that they would shut Kalish down for two to three weeks before re-evaluating him to determine whether he might resume baseball activities. That remains the plan.

In essence, the team and player are trying to gauge how serious his tear is, with three possible outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: josh reddick, juan carlos linares, ryan kalish, yamaico navarro

Josh Beckett explains caution centered around illness, not injury

05.05.11 at 6:11 pm ET
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Josh Beckett said Thursday morning, after giving up just one hit and no runs over 4 1/3 innings in his 68-pitch outing the night before, that the reason the Red Sox were watching him so closely was because of a stomach flu that had him dehydrated for much of the last week.

Beckett said he had joined almost half of the Red Sox’ 25-man roster in contracting the sickness, that, coupled with the 125-pitch outing two starts before, had the Sox taking a cautious approach when it came to the righty. He had been pushed back one day, going into his latest start on six days rest.

“I’ve been fatigued,” he explained. “I had that stomach flue stuff that was going on. (Being watched closely during the bullpen session) was a convincing deal where after extending me and being dehydrated, it was just precautionary. They were definitely going to give me extra rest, they just wanted to know how much more extra rest I needed.

“It’s not necessarily just the actual stuff it does to you at the time, but I was literally really dehydrated bad.”

Beckett downplayed any affect the eight-inning outing on April 21 in Anaheim had on how he felt going forward.

“I would have been fine if I didn’t come down with what I came down with,” said Beckett, whose ERA stands at 2.35. “I think they were really trying to make sure something bad didn’t happen because the dehydration is a bad thing.

“I don’t feel normal (because of the sickness). I had to kind of save up my energy for my start last time. This stuff rapidly went through our team. It’s bad.”

For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Closing Time: Sleepy Sox stumble in Thursday matinee

05.05.11 at 5:13 pm ET
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With a quick turnaround after Wednesday night’€™s five hour marathon game, the Red Sox were hammered by the Angels Thursday afternoon, 11-0, at Fenway Park.

With the Red Sox suffering their worst loss of the season, John Lackey looked as bad as he has all year as he was tagged for eight runs in four plus innings of work. The Angels feasted on Red Sox pitching as every starter recorded a hit, leaving Boston on the wrong end of an 11-run blowout.

Former Red Sox pitcher Joel Pineiro looked good as he allowed only three hits over 5 2/3 innings. Boston was held scoreless for the sixth time this year.

What went wrong for the Red Sox

-Lackey had his worst outing since his first game of the season in which he allowed nine runs in just three and two thirds innings in a loss to the Texas ranger. Fans booed him Thursday afternoon as he lasted just over four innings and allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits. His ERA now sits at an unimpressive 7.16 as he falls to 2-4 on the year.

-Boston’s pitching staff ended their streak of quality starts on Thursday. Red Sox pitchers had not allowed opponents to score more than five runs in their last 18 games dating back to April 16th. The Angels were able to capitalize with runners in scoring position going 7-18 and lighting up Boston’s pitching staff for 17 hits.

-The Angels stole four bases in five attempts against Boston against catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Opponents are 60-for-80 in stolen base attempts against the Red Sox in 2011.

What went right for the Red Sox:

Jacoby Ellsbury‘s hit streak was extended to 14-games after he recorded a single in the 8th inning.The streak is the second longest of his career—22 games  in 2009—and is the longest active streak by any player in the American League.

– The newest Red Sox gave the Boston bullpen some much needed relief after Wednesday night’s 13 inning game where they were forced to use eight different pitchers. Scott Atchison lasted three and two thirds innings while allowing three runs.While Rich Hill looked impressive in his first major league appearance of the season. Finishing out the game, Hill allowed only one hit in 1.1 innings of work while striking out two.

David Ortiz recorded three of the Red Sox  seven hits as he went 3-for-3 with a walk, in a game that saw limited offensive production from the Red Sox.

Red Sox live blog: John Lackey, Red Sox take on Angels in series finale

05.05.11 at 1:39 pm ET
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Join Rob Bradford and a cast of thousands as they help you follow all the action from Fenway Park with the Red Sox taking on the Angels in the teams’ series finale …

Red Sox/Angels Live Blog

Francona on roster moves: ‘We need to have enough guys in the bullpen to finish the game’

05.05.11 at 1:03 pm ET
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After a late Wednesday night  game that spanned over eight hours, 13 innings and ended in a disappointing 5-3 loss to the Angels, the Red Sox are back at it again for a Thursday day game.

Manager Terry Francona admitted in his pregame press conference that he didn’t get much sleep after an unplanned sleepover at Fenway Park Wednesday night. Wednesday’s game officially ended at 2:45 AM on Thursday morning and included a two-hour and 35-minute rain delay.

“It changes so much.” said Francona about the weather forecast. “Early on I thought there was a chance we’€™d start the game maybe a half hour late, but they thought once we got past that we’€™d be okay. Then as we got into the game it kept changing.”

“What’€™re you going to do? When it rains it rains.”

On an evening that featured eight different Red Sox pitchers, the Red Sox chose to make two roster moves Thursday morning to refresh their bullpen. He called up pitchers Scott Atchison and Rich Hill and placed Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler on the disabled list.

“After the game we talked to Bobby Jenks,” said Francona. “We’€™re going to get him looked at today and get him checked out. I don’€™t think anybody thinks it’€™s anything serious.”

Jenks was unavailable to pitch in Wednesday’s marathon game as he was dealing with cramping in his right bicep.

Wheeler will also be evaluated after last only a third of an inning Wednesday night as his sturggles continued when he allowed two runs and saw his ERA soar to 11.32.

“[Wheeler]’s left calf has been bugging him for a couple days,” said Francona.  “I don’€™t think its something that’€™s going to linger but we also need to have enough guys in the bullpen to finish the game. We talked to him also and put him on the disabled list.”

Other Notes:

Dustin Pedroia earns his first off day of the season Thursday after a dismal 0-6 showing Wednesday night including four strikeouts.

“We only want to give Pedey days off when he needs it, because he’€™s such a good player even when he’€™s not swinging the bat like he can” said Francona. “But he needs it and it’€™ll be good for him.

Marco Scutaro will start in Pedroia’s place at second base.

-With Pedroia out of the lineup Carl Crawford has returned to the No. 2  spot in the lineup. J.D. Drew is also back in the lineup after getting a day off Wednesday in an attempt to break him out of his 4-28 slump over the last nine games.

-After Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first career relief appearance in Wednesday’s game, it leaves some question as to whether he can also make his next scheduled start on Friday night.

“Going forward, we obviously need to figure out what we’€™re going to do,” said Francona. “That may be determined by what happens today. I’€™m sure Theo[Epstein] and I and the other guys will meet down here before the game. We have several game plans, so we’€™ll figure out what we want to do.”

Read More: bobby jenks, bullpen, dan wheeler, Disable List

Closing Time: Red Sox fight off weather but not Angels

05.05.11 at 2:47 am ET
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Bobby Abreu‘s bases-loaded, 13th-inning single ‘€” rifled just past second baseman Dustin Pedroia at 2:38 a.m. Thursday ‘€” gave the Angels a 5-3 win over the Red Sox in game that included a two-hour, 35-minute rain delay. Abreu’s two-out, two-run hit came against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was making his first-ever major league relief appearance. The actual game time was five hours.

The Red Sox mounted a comeback after 1 a.m., capped by Jacoby Ellsbury singling in Carl Crawford with two outs in the ninth inning with the count full against reliever Jordan Walden.

The ninth, which began with the Sox trailing by two, started with a leadoff single from Jed Lowrie, followed by Mike Cameron‘s single. Then, with nobody out, Walden’s wild pitch allowed Lowrie to score when catcher Hank Conger‘s throw went awry.

Cameron’s attempt at reaching third base on the play was snuffed out when shortstop Erick Aybar recovered the loose ball in time to flip to third baseman Alberto Callaspo for the inning’s first out. Crawford, who was at bat during the wild pitch, immediately followed with a double.

The Sox missed a chance to win the game with one out in the 12th inning when Kevin Youkilis‘ double ‘€” which just missed going over the left field wall ‘€” was relayed in from left fielder Vernon Wells to Aybar to Conger in time to get Marco Scutaro at the plate.

Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox ‘€¦

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

‘€” The offense went dormant for much the game. The Angels carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning thanks to the work of Ervin Santana, Rich Thompson and Scott Downs. The Sox finally managed their first hit when Lowrie rifled a single to right with one out in the ninth inning.

‘€” Dan Wheeler‘€™s struggles continued. The reliever entered a scoreless game in the seventh and proceeded to allow a leadoff double to Howie Kendrick before letting Wells hit his third homer of the season off a light tower in left field. The righty, who entered the game with a 9.90 ERA over 10 appearances, has now allowed at least one run in five outings.

‘€” Pedroia saw his batting average dip to its lowest level of the season, falling to .241 after going 0-for-6 with four  strikeouts. It marked the first time in Pedroia’s career that he struck out as many as three times in one game. David Ortiz also experienced a tough night, striking out three times.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

‘€” Josh Beckett managed to escape a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, going on to turn in 4 1/3 solid innings. The starter lowered his ERA to 2.35 by allowing just one hit, striking out three and walking three.

‘€” Matt Albers followed Beckett with 1 2/3 innings of solid relief work following the rain delay. Albers, who struck out two, walked one and gave up two hits, now has an ERA of 0.93

‘€” Youkilis tied Mo Vaughn for the Red Sox record for most times hit by a pitch (71), getting plunked by Santana in the left hand in the fourth inning. Here is colleague Alex Speier’s column on the record.

‘€” Jason Varitek managed his second extra-base hit of the season, and third hit from the right side, leading off the eighth inning with a double down the right field line. Varitek proceeded to score the Red Sox’ first run on Adrian Gonzalez‘ infield single. The play also extended Gonzalez’ hit streak to 11 games.

Francona: Drew ‘battling the strike zone’

05.04.11 at 6:09 pm ET
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It represented a low-point in the recent struggles of J.D. Drew. On Tuesday, the outfielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, two of them looking. After one of those, he had a brief conversation with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck to express displeasure with the call.

The moment was revealing on multiple levels. First, it showed a hitter who has simply struggling at the plate. In his last nine games, Drew is 4-for-28 (.143) with a .429 OPS and seven strikeouts. On the year, he has struck out 22 times in 91 plate appearances, or roughly once every four plate appearances. That, in turn, suggests a persistence of some of the issues that left him so frustrated in 2010, chiefly with the way balls and strikes are being called.

‘€œA lot of offspeed he’€™s been out in front of. I think he’€™s still battling the strike zone a little bit,” said Sox manager Terry Francona, who has Mike Cameron in the lineup in place of Drew in deference to those struggles. “He’€™s pretty stubborn. He’€™s got a pretty good eye. If he doesn’€™t think he can hit it, he’€™s not going to swing. There’€™s been a lot of offspeed that he’€™s been out in front of that, when he’€™s good, he bangs the ball off the left-center field wall. That’€™s when he’€™s really locked in. Hopefully, that’€™ll come soon.’€

Plate discipline and strike zone recognition, of course, is part of Drew’s life blood. It is an essential component of why he was such a desirable player for the Sox — he knows the pitches he can drive, and he lays off pitches that cannot, particularly if they’re not in the strike zone.

That trait can be a mixed bag.

‘€œWhen he’€™s hitting, it’€™s good. When he’€™s not, not,” said Francona. “He has a great eye, and I don’€™t think he feels like he can handle things that aren’€™t strikes. Saying that, sometimes, knowing you’€™re right but making outs’€¦ Some of it is knowing umpires and things like that. There’€™s a lot that goes into it.’€

Drew will be back in the lineup on Thursday against Joel Pineiro, against whom he is 2-for-11 in his career. Against Wednesday’s Angels starter, Ervin Santana, Drew is 4-for-23 (.174) in his career, while Cameron is 2-for-2.

Read More: J.D Drew, mike cameron,

Terry Francona on The Big Show: Carl Crawford will ‘be up at the top somewhere’ if he keeps hitting

05.04.11 at 3:31 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona made his weekly appearance on The Big Show Wednesday afternoon. The Red Sox have closed to within one game of .500 as they send Josh Beckett to the mound Wednesday night vs. the Angels, but Francona said he’s trying to avoid putting pressure on the players to overcome their disastrous start as quickly as possible.

“I try not to look at, ‘OK what are you doing in April? What are you doing in May?’ Those are artificial deadlines,” he said. “What our record is is what our record is. But it does feel better to be playing better baseball.”

Third baseman Kevin Youkilis is slated to return to action after missing Tuesday night’s game due to sickness. “Youk said he feels OK,” Francona announced. “He was scuffling last night, though.”

Beckett has not pitched since last Wednesday in Baltimore. Francona said the extra rest stems from a long and tiring outing in Anaheim two weeks ago. Said Francona: “With no days off coming up, and we had to juggle our rotation anyway, we decided to give him an extra day. ‘€¦ We’ve got a lot more games. He’s going to make probably 33 more starts. We don’t want him missing starts. So we bought him an extra day.”

Reliever Bobby Jenks has had some struggles in his first month with the Red Sox. Said Francona: “He’s had a couple of really rocky outings. I thought the other day, he started letting it fly. He was throwing about 98 [mph], but he didn’t know where it was going. And he understood that. He got a little out of his game, probably heard some of the fans and was trying hard. I think some of the human factors probably got involved. He’s trying so hard to do the right thing ‘€” things you appreciate, but things we’ve got to fix.

“And I think he went back with [pitching coach] Curt [Young], looked at some of the things out of his delivery. I wouldn’t be surprised if he stays out of the stretch a little bit for a while just to kind of shorten up everything and keep it a little bit more compact.”

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Read More: bobby jenks, carl crawford, curt young, Dustin Pedroia
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