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Closing Time: Rays 3, Red Sox 2

08.28.10 at 10:34 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dan Johnson hit a 2-2 pitch from Scott Atchison over the right field wall with nobody out in the 10th inning to give the Rays a 3-2 win over the Red Sox, Saturday night at Tropicana Field. The loss moves the Sox to 5 1/2 games in back of Tampa Bay in the wild card chase.

Here is what went right and wrong for the Red Sox (besides the game-winner by Johnson):


– While J.D. Drew’s one-out catch of Joyce’s fly ball was well-excuted — with the outfielder having to dodge the Tampa Bay bullpen mounds — it allowed the Rays to knot the game up at 1-1 while snapping Buchholz’ scoreless innings streak at 26. Drew’s subsequent throw home was nowhere close to getting Carlos Pena, who tagged up from third.

– Pena was able to reach third only because Buchholz threw wildly on a pickoff attempt, with the ball going past first baseman Mike Lowell and down the right field line.

– Clay Buchholz gave up leads on two occasions, first thanks to the Joyce sacrifice fly and then in the eighth when B.J. Upton hit the starter’s second pitch of the inning over the left field fence. It was only the second home run allowed by Buchholz this month, and the first to come off the righty since Aug.6.


– Buchholz turned in another solid outing, lowering his American League-leading ERA to 2.21 after allowing just two runs over seven innings. The Sox’ starter struck out five, walked two and gave up four hits. His scoreless innings streak was snapped at 26 thanks to a Matt Joyce sacrifice fly in the seventh.

– Something had to give for Victor Martinez Saturday night. He did come into the game with the highest batting average of any opposing player vs. the Rays, along with the best clip at Tropicana Field by a visitor. But he also had been having trouble hitting from the left side, compiling a .227 mark against right-handed pitchers this month. But Martinez excellence vs. Tampa Bay, especially at its home park, won out, with the catcher claiming his third multiple-hit game against righty pitching in Aug. The biggest blow of the catcher’s three-hit night came in the eighth, when he gave the Sox a 2-1 lead with his third home run of the series.

– David Ortiz continued to be the presence the Sox desperately need in them middle of their lineup, coming away with two singles and a double. Since Kevin Youkilis went out with an injured thumb, Ortiz has (coming into Saturday night) hit .267 with five homers and an .877 OPS.

– Adrian Beltre got the Red Sox on the board first with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, scoring Martinez. It was his 88th RBI, the eighth-most in the American League.

Anderson hopes to ‘earn’ spot on Red Sox

08.28.10 at 4:08 am ET
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While the Red Sox are jockeying for a playoff position in the ultra-competitive AL East, Pawtucket Red Sox first baseman Lars Anderson is working hard to someday make an impact on the parent club.

The 22-year-old first baseman has been a popular name in prospect circles during his tenure with the team, making him an interesting player to monitor. The possibility of a September callup looms for the 2006 18th-round pick, in part because the Sox are all but certain to add him to the 40-man roster by this winter in order to avoid exposing him to the Rule 5 draft.

The ceiling is extremely high for the 22-year-old California native, who is considered one of the best hitting prospects in the Sox organization. He has risen rather quickly and could become an important piece for the team in the coming seasons.

Right now, however, he sounds as if he still has a lot to prove to himself and the team that drafted him just four years ago. Despite being at a relatively advanced level for his age (22), he is still struggling to live up to his own standards.

“I don’t feel that young. I feel older than [22 years old], I think I kind of lose perspective of that,” Anderson explained prior to a PawSox game earlier this month. “I don’t feel overmatched or anything. I feel like I should be excelling [in Pawtucket], and when you don’t do that you feel a tinge of disappointment. It would be nice to keep that perspective and say, ‘I’m happy with my progressions so far.'”

Anderson dominated the Double-A Eastern League to start the year, hitting .355 with five home runs in just 17 games. That successful stretch warranted a promotion, and his time with Pawtucket has been a good learning experience.

Since his promotion, however, Anderson’s numbers thus far with the PawSox have been solid but unspectacular. He is hitting .257 with a .340 OBP, .757 OPS and eight homers in 105 games.

“Like any baseball season there are ups and downs,” he explained. “I feel pretty comfortable around the guys, working on the baseball field. It’s like any year, there’s always room for improvement. Sometimes you feel like you’re excelling, and sometimes you feel like you’re struggling.”

Playing with guys like Daniel Nava, Josh Reddick, and Ryan Kalish — all three of whom have made their mark on the Red Sox this season — has enabled him to see first hand the transition required to play the game at both his current level and in the majors.

Having been drafted in the same year as Kalish, Anderson can also get a sense of what it must feel like to make an immediate impact with the Sox. He has spoken with the young outfielder, and is glad to see him succeeding.

“He’s one of my best friends,” said Anderson. “I talk to him all the time. It’s pretty phenomenal, he deserves it.”

With that said, he is not focusing all his attention on any presumed chance he will ultimately have with the Red Sox. Right now, it’s all about growing as a player and earning the reputation that has been bestowed upon him. Even though the possibility of a September call-up looms as a way for him to gain his first exposure to the big league environment, Anderson is taking nothing for granted, instead focusing on doing the work necessary to continue his development.

“Sometimes when a spot is open [on the Red Sox roster], it doesn’t happen. Sometimes when you’re not expecting it, guys go,” he said. “So, I think to try and think along with the [Red Sox] front office is futile. I just try and concentrate on what I can do.

“It would be great [to be called up], I just want to earn it,” he added. “I would love to help out, I just want to make sure I earned it.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox 3, Rays 1

08.27.10 at 10:07 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In what was deemed their biggest series of the season, the Red Sox turned in one of their most impressive performances.

Going up against Cy Young candidate David Price, the Sox managed to take the first of the three-game series at Tropicana Field, Friday night, claiming a 3-1 win over the Rays. (Click here for a recap.) Now, heading into the second game of the series, Saturday night, the Red Sox find themselves 4 1/2 in back of Tampa Bay, which the Sox now have five games left with the rest of the season.

Here is what went right, and what went wrong:


Victor Martinez rediscovered his power stroke, first getting the Sox on the board with a first-inning solo shot, and then adding an insurance run for the Red Sox in the seventh. Both homers came off of Price, who had allowed just one home run to the Red Sox in his previous three outings against them. It was the fifth time in Martinez’ career that he had notched a multiple-home run game.

Jon Lester got the job done when it counted the most. The lefty didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, and got out of some jams with big pitches. The lefty struck out 10, got a pair of double plays while limiting Tampa Bay to one hit in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. He would finish giving up just two hits over seven innings, throwing 106 pitches.

Darnell McDonald stepped up, both offensively and defensively. The center fielder first made his presence felt by showing why he has the best batting average against lefties this month among Red Sox hitters, ripping a third-inning triple over center fielder B.J. Upton’s head. But, more importantly McDonald managed to show his skills in the field at a most opportune time. In the sixth inning, with the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, the outfielder scooped up a single from Jason Bartlett and gunned down Upton trying to score.

J.D. Drew, facing David Price for the first time since striking out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of the 2008 American League Championship Series‘ Game 7, rifled a single up the middle in the second inning for some redemption.


– It looks more and more like Dustin Pedroia will be having surgery on his injured left foot. The second baseman said before the game that the ailment isn’t healing like he had hoped, and the week in a boot might not be enough to prevent a procedure which would put him on the shelf for three months. For more on Pedroia click here.

Bill Hall is having problems making contact. The left fielder struck out three times, giving him 23 for the month, the most on the Red Sox. He also hasn’t walked once in August, helping put his on-base percentage at .270.

Source: Red Sox showed interest in Hawpe

08.27.10 at 7:09 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — According  a major league source, the Red Sox showed interest in outfielder Brad Hawpe, but the former member of the Colorado Rockies chose to sign with Tampa Bay because there was a perceived better fit in terms of guaranteed playing time. Prior to the series opener between the Rays and Red Sox, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said that he sees Hawpe fitting in as the team’s primary left-handed-hitting designated hitter.

The 31-year-old Hawpe, who signed a minor league deal with the Rays (a contract that would have been in line with what he might have received from the Sox and other suitors), was hitting .255 with seven homers and a .776 OPS with Colorado before being released by the Rockies Thursday.

Hawpe had hit at least 22 homers in each of his previous four seasons prior to 2010, never finishing with a batting average lower than .283 during that stretch.

Pedroia: Healing has been a problem throughout

08.27.10 at 4:36 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Speaking prior to the Red Sox‘ series-opening game with the Rays, Dustin Pedroia talked about the plan he will take in regard to rehabbing the broken navicular bone in his left foot. The second baseman said that he will be getting another CT scan when the team returns to Boston Friday, at which time a decision will be made regarding surgery.

The problem, Pedroia explained, is that there hasn’t been significant healing throughout the eight weeks since he originally broke the bone on a foul ball in San Francisco because it is difficult for blood to get to the area of the injury.

“If it shows like it’s healing then I won’t have the surgery,” he said, “but it hasn’t shown like it’s healing the whole time.” The former American League MVP said that recovery from surgery typically takes 2-3 months. Michael Jordan, who had a similar injury, didn’t have surgery and it took him four months to return.

Pedroia reiterated he has no regrets in regards to attempting a return to the lineup despite the fact his injury came just after a pair of rehab games with Triple A Pawtucket and two games with the Red Sox.

“I didn’t re-injure myself. I was cleared to play because I wasn’t hurting,” Pedroia said. “Then being out there for nine innings the next time my foot hurt ‘€¦ I broke a bone so any time you go out there and torque on it and do all kinds of things there’s a chance it’s not ready. And it wasn’t. It’s not healed. That’s when I shut it down … It was realistic to come back when I played. Just a bad bone. That was it. I gave it a shot. They told me there were chances that could happen and I could have the pin put in. That’s just the way it is.

Later Pedroia added, “I don’t think that would have mattered. You can sit back and second-guess everything. Everybody has their own opinion. I was taking ground balls the day after I got hurt and all this [stuff]. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. I played two rehab games, they told me, ‘Hey, you need to go see how this feels and go play and if you can’t play then you need to have the pin put in.’ That was the whole thing all along. So it doesn’t matter if I played at seven weeks, or eight weeks, or nine weeks it would have felt the same. I might have to have the pin put in.”

Asked if he perceived any problems with getting clearance to return to action, Pedroia said, “I hope not. I hope they cleared me and I should have been cleared. If they didn’t we’re going to have problems.”

Pedroia said he is taking the next week “day to day” and that he will be wearing a boot until getting re-examined. As for how the foot felt compared to when he was forced to shut it down last week, the second baseman was mildly optimistic.

“It feels better than that. It’s been a week since that. It’s feeling better,” Pedroia noted. “The problem is with this bone it doesn’t get a lot of blood supply and a lot of oxygen in that area. That’s just the bone. The good part is it’s not in the middle of my foot with that bone. That would be really bad. There are some good things but I try and take the positive out of everything.”

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

Red Sox vs. Rays matchups, 8/27

08.27.10 at 1:17 pm ET
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Fittingly, a crucial three-game series between the Red Sox and Rays will begin on Friday night with a matchup of two of the best left-handed starters in baseball. Boston will send Jon Lester to the mound with an extended six days of rest after scratching him from his last start in order to shuffle the rotation. Opposing Lester will be David Price, who is a frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award in only his second full year in the majors.

Lester (13-8, 3.26 ERA) uncharacteristically had a brief and ineffective start against the Blue Jays in his last time on the mound. The lefty allowed eight hits, three walks and two homers for a total of nine runs in only two innings of work. He received his eighth loss of the season as the Red Sox were blown out, 16-2. Prior to that abysmal performance, Lester pitched 14 1/3 straight scoreless innings against the Yankees and Rangers on the road to pick up a pair of wins. His ERA is now at its highest point since the middle of May.

In his career vs. the Rays, the lefty is 7-3 with a 4.18 ERA in 14 starts. In his two outings against Tampa Bay this season, Lester has had mixed results. In mid-April, he suffered his second loss of the year after allowing seven runs in six innings. In his start in late-May, however, Lester was phenomenal in Tampa over six innings, allowing five walks but only one hit while striking out nine batters.

Price (15-5, 2.97), on the other hand, has been consistently good this season. One thing he’€™s done well is pitch deep into games as seen by the amount of decisions he’€™s received. In fact, he’€™s received a decision in all but four starts this year, with two of those coming in his last two outings against the Rangers and Athletics. At the Coliseum, Price tossed six innings and allowed four runs, a number which he’€™s reached or exceeded on just two other occasions this season.

Against the Red Sox, Price is 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in three starts. In the only meeting between the two sides this year, Price earned the win with a dominant performance, giving up two runs over 7 2/3 innings while fanning 10. Marco Scutaro has seen the Rays’€™ ace the most of anyone on the Boston roster, but has had little to no success. The Red Sox shortstop is hitting .111 and has struck out three times in nine plate appearances against Price. Read the rest of this entry »

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A primer for the biggest series of the Red Sox’ season

08.27.10 at 12:55 pm ET
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Here are the facts heading into the perceived be-all, end-all series of the season:

  • The Red Sox are 5 1/2 games in back of both Tampa Bay and the Yankees. After this excursion to Tropicana Field the Sox have three more games (at Fenway Park) against the Rays, and six more meetings with the Yanks (three in the Bronx, three in Boston).
  • Go back to Aug. 27, 2006 and you will have found the Sox in a similar spot, residing 6 1/2 games in back of the first-place Yankees, and 5 1/2 out of the wild card lead, which was then owned by Minnesota. In that case the Red Sox had four games left with the Yankees and three remaining with the Twins. But as the days dwindled down in August that season, things only got worse, with David Ortiz succumbing to an irregular heart beat and the Sox going on to lose three of the month’s final four games to head into Sept. eight in back of New York and still 5 1/2 out of the wild card (this time chasing the White Sox). By the time the season’s final month hit, the Sox had traded one of their rotation’s anchors, David Wells.
  • The Rays’ pitchers have been really good at home this month, carrying Tampa Bay to an 8-3 record in August at The Trop, while carrying a 3.06 ERA. Hitting at home during this time? It would appear to be just so-so, with the team sporting a .264 batting average. But on closer inspection the Rays have the best home on-base percentage among American League teams (.361) in August.
  • Only two Tampa Bay hitters are claiming a batting average of more than .300 for the month, with John Jaso coming in at .314 and Evan Longoria standing at .302. The Red Sox aren’t any better, however, having just one semi-regular hitting over .300 for August (Darnell McDonald, .367)
  • The vaunted Rays starting rotation is staying steady, compiling a 3.84 ERA for August despite Jeff Niemann’s 3 1/3-inning, 10-run outing Wednesday. Take away that outing and they are at 3.30. It should also be noted that the Rays starters’ ERA at home for the month is 2.90, having allowed more than three runs just twice in 11 appearances.

So how can the Red Sox turn back memories of ’06  and find their way back into contention through a successful series? Here are some suggestions:

Work the count: The one time the Red Sox beat David Price in his three meetings against the Sox came on Sept. 3, 2009. In that game the lefty went 5 1/3 innings, throwing 104 pitches. Compare that to his last outing against the Sox when he tossed 111 pitches over 7 2/3, giving up just two runs in getting the win. The Sox’ ability to work the count against the Rays has paid off this season, seeing more pitches per plate appearance (4.12) than any of Tampa Bay’s opponents.

Don’t let them work the count: The Rays have taken more pitches per plate appearance than any of the Red Sox’ opponents this year, coming in at 4.05. The Red Sox starters have only managed to pitch into the eighth in one of the 12 meetings with the Rays.

Don’t let the Rays put all the pressure on: It has been well documented how much Tampa Bay has run on the Sox in the past, having stolen 22 bags while only getting caught once this season. While the Sox certainly don’t have the horses to work the basepaths the Rays do, just one stolen base in two attempts against a club that is just a middle-of-the-road stolen-base-prevention entity might be a bit low. The problem, of course, is that you have a lefty (Price) and one of the quickest pitchers to home plate (Matt Garza) pitching two of the games.

The Red Sox need somebody to step up: The Sox have hitters who have produced against Tampa Bay this season, most notably Adrian Beltre (.395) and Ortiz (.351). But there is a big drop-off, with some key elements of the lineup having their difficulties against the Rays. Marco Scutaro (.212), Bill Hall (.174), J.D. Drew (.161), and Victor Martinez (.143) have had difficulties with the Rays’ approach, which will be a problem considering the thinned out Sox’ order. (Interestingly, Kevin Youkilis was just 3-for-42 against Tampa Bay before getting hurt.)

Reports: Rays to sign Hawpe

08.27.10 at 12:28 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Rays are set to sign a minor league deal with former Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe. The Rockies released the seven-year veteran this week after he passed through waivers unclaimed. Hawpe, 31, was hitting .255 with seven home runs in 88 games. The Red Sox, Rangers and Padres also reportedly had interest in Hawpe.

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Pedroia: ‘I will be as good as new’

08.27.10 at 7:27 am ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will be put in a boot for his left foot over the next seven days, upon which the two sides will deem whether or not surgery will be the next step.

Pedroia broke a bone in his left foot in San Francisco on June 25, after which he was placed on the DL before returning for two games last week. Pedroia experienced continued discomfort in the foot, prompting him to go on the DL again after last Wednesday’s 7-5 victory over the Angels. Should Pedroia get the surgery, which would not include a bone graft (the process by which part of the bone is replaced), the second baseman hopes to be healed within three months.

“I will be good as new,” Pedroia said in a text message to WEEI.com.

Pedroia is hitting .288/.367/.493 with 12 homers and 41 runs batted in over 75 games this season. He has stolen nine bases.

Images from Oldtime Baseball Game

08.27.10 at 7:15 am ET
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Here are some photos from the 17th annual Oldtime Baseball Game, held Thursday night at St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge. The game raised money this year for the Marley Jay Cherella Memorial Fund, which helps support research for sudden infant death syndrome. The game also honored the memory of former Northeastern University standout and Red Sox minor leaguer Greg Montalbano, with former Huskies outfielder Todd Korchin receiving the inaugural Greg Montalbano Alumni Award. Montalbano died of cancer last year. Also taking part in the event were former major leaguers Johnny Pesky, Lou Merloni, Len MerulloBill Monbouquette and Mike Pagliarulo.

Click here to see the slideshow.

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