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Embree expected to remain with Sox

04.15.10 at 10:34 pm ET
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Though reliever Alan Embree had an April 15 opt-out date in the minor league contract he signed with the Red Sox last month, a source familiar with discussions between the sides expects the pitcher to stay with the Sox for “a few more weeks.” Embree made his third appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, tossing a scoreless inning of relief while getting a pair of flyouts and a groundout.

Embree has tossed shutout innings in three of his four appearances, though he got touched for three runs in one-third of an inning in his other outing. In his four appearances, Embree has allowed three runs on two hits and five walks in 3.1 innings while striking out three.

Read More: Alan Embree, opt-out,

Matsuzaka ‘ready to pitch in the big leagues’

04.15.10 at 10:05 pm ET
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Pitching in his second game with the Pawtucket Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out a pair over six scoreless innings against the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. The 86-pitch outing comes five days after he had thrown five shutout innings vs. Rochester at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

The right-hander, who is rehabbing from neck and back ailments, faced 21 batters, throwing 57 strikes. He allowed 12 fly-ball outs compared to the four outs coming on grounders. Former Red Sox first baseman Chris Carter managed one of the three hits (a double) against Matsuzaka.

Matsuzaka has now thrown 11 shutout innings in his two outings with Triple-A Pawtucket. While Red Sox manager Terry Francona suggested at the start of the season that the right-hander would likely need at least three rehab outings, the 29-year-old felt otherwise.

“I think I’ve thrown enough pitches at this point to be ready to pitch in the big leagues,” Matsuzaka told reporters in Buffalo. “When compared to the second time I went on the DL last year, it took me a really long time to have that feeling. You can’t even compare them right now. I’m confident I can pitch in the big leagues.”

For more on the outing, click here.

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka,

Health concerns for Ellsbury, Cameron

04.15.10 at 5:57 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron will be checked in a Minneapolis hospital for an examination of the lower abdominal pain that kept him out of the lineup on Thursday. The team wants to rule out appendicitis (a condition that would require surgery and prevent Cameron from flying) before allowing him on a plane.

Meanwhile, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury told reporters after the Sox’ 8-0 loss to the Twins that he continues to experience “sharp pain” when trying to take a deep breath. He will be further examined in Boston on Friday.

Until either Ellsbury or Cameron can return, the Sox have only three outfielders on their roster: J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida and Bill Hall. That being the case, if both remain unavailable for the team’s return to Boston, a minor league addition would be expected.

Josh Reddick is the only Red Sox minor league outfielder on the 40-man roster. He was not in the starting lineup for Triple-A Pawtucket’s game in Buffalo on Thursday, but PawSox skipper Torey Lovullo told reporters that Reddick was out for a “mental break” following a 4-for-29 start to the season.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, josh reddick, mike cameron,

Closing Time: Twins 8, Red Sox 0

04.15.10 at 3:52 pm ET
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The Red Sox had their chances early against Twins starter Francisco Liriano, but after the team stranded four runners (including three in scoring position) in the first two innings, they were overmatched by the Minnesota left-hander from that point on. Liriano tossed seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out eight, and the Twins lineup exerted steady pressure on the Sox pitching staff, collecting 15 hits in an 8-0 win. (Recap.)

Key Play

The Red Sox mounted a scoring threat right out of the gate. With one out in the top of the first inning, Dustin Pedroia singled and Victor Martinez doubled to put runners on second and third with one outs. That brought cleanup man Kevin Youkilis to the plate.

Youkilis typically excels in such situations. In his career, he entered Thursday with a line of .453/.468/.726/1.194 and 117 RBI in 171 plate appearances. But on Thursday, Youkilis struck out on three pitches, the last a nasty slider that he swung and missed. Liriano got Adrian Beltre to ground out to escape the threat unharmed.

Had Youkilis and the Sox jumped on the Twins left-hander early, the game might have assumed another complexion. But with those early missed opportunities, Liriano had the opportunity to settle in and dominate.

What Went Right For the Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia laced three singles, and now has four multi-hit games this year, tied with Jacoby Ellsbury for most on the Red Sox. While April has typically been the worst month of the season for Pedroia (entering Thursday, his career average, OBP, slugging and OPS were all lower in April than in any other month of the year), he’s been great thus far this year, hitting .405 with a 1.253 OPS.

Scott Schoeneweis continued to show promise as a left-handed specialist. Most notably, he punched out Joe Mauer with two outs and a runner on second to end a threat in the sixth. Though Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel later lined singles off of him, he has struck out six of the 10 left-handers he’s faced (while allowing three singles). Schoeneweis did, however, give up a two-run homer to right-hander Michael Cuddyer on a towering flyball just over the left-field fence, a couple feet to the right of the foul pole.

–Bill Hall took a pair of walks from Liriano. Not only was he the only Sox hitter to take a walk, but the game marked the first time since last April 27 that Hall had as many as two free passes in a game. For a hitter who finished 2009 with a .258 OBP, that is somewhat encouraging.

Ramon Ramirez got his first swing and miss of the season, getting a fastball past Nick Punto. The promise, however, was short lived, as Punto doubled on the next pitch. Ramirez did get a couple more swings and misses in the eighth inning, and was credited with 1.2 shutout innings.

What Went Wrong For the Red Sox

–The Twins jumped all over Tim Wakefield, collecting 10 hits and six runs (five earned) against him in 5.1 innings. Wakefield kept the Sox in the game through four innings, in which he limited Minnesota to a single run, but a mix of some bad luck (notably including a Denard Span bloop double down the left field line) and some knuckleballs over the middle of the plate did in the knuckleballer’s day.

–The defense was sloppy. The Sox committed three errors: one by Hall (making his first start in center since 2007) who overran a single, one by Victor Martinez (on a rushed throw to second, which he once again fired high and right) and one by Adrian Beltre.

The team was also hurt by a mental error from Martinez. With runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth, Denard Span hit a run-scoring double. But Kubel stumbled while rounding third, leaving Span far off of second. Martinez hesitated, then threw behind Span at second. His throw there was late, and it allowed Kubel to race home with a run.

While Martinez has just one error thus far this year, he has performed poorly behind the plate.

–Adrian Beltre got into his second three-ball count of the season when he took a 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning. However, in a situation where a walk would have meant a run, he chased a fastball that might have been ball four, pulling an up-and-away fastball to shortstop for a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Beltre has now batted 34 times this year without a walk.

–J.D. Drew went 0-for-4 and struck out three times. While all of his at-bats came against left-handed pitchers, Drew has struggled throughout the early days of the season, hitting .143 with a .476 OPS and 13 strikeouts in 28 at-bats.

–With Jacoby Ellsbury already out, Mike Cameron also proved unable to play due to a lower abdominal strain. If those two are unavailable, the Sox bench becomes extremely thin, without a desirable outfield backup behind the outfield combination of Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall and J.D. Drew.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bill Hall, Francisco Liriano, J.D Drew

Video: The State of the Sox

04.15.10 at 10:50 am ET
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This week’s Full Count video takes a look at players who are trending up and down for the Red Sox, takes stock of Adrian Beltre’s unusual start for the Sox, and examines one prospect from the Dominican who has a chance at rebounding in a big way this year.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, michael almanzar, ramon ramirez

Closing time: Red Sox 6, Twins 3

04.14.10 at 4:42 pm ET
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The Red Sox got back on the right side of the scoreboard with a 6-3 win over Minnesota on a rare Wednesday afternoon game. John Lackey earned his first win in a Red Sox uniform and Jeremy Hermida provided a clutch bases loaded double that plated three crucial runs. With the win, the Red Sox will forever go down as the first team to beat the Twins at Target Field.

The Sox have now evened up their record at 4-4, and are 3-2 on the road this season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

-John Lackey strong in victory

Lackey officially entered the Red Sox victory books with another solid outing on Wednesday. The new acquisition went 6.2 innings, only giving up two runs on seven hits. It wasn’t as pretty as his shutout against the Yankees, but he battled and made good pitches in tough spots.

Dustin Pedroia shows off some muscle

Pedroia kept his hot streak alive, as he swatted his fourth home run of the season against Kevin Slowey in the fifth inning. This is quite the contrast from last year when the former MVP didn’€™t hit his fourth long ball until July 9. Pedroia is hitting .364 with 10 RBI this season.

–Jeremy Hermida proving his worth

It’€™s been a small sample size for Hermida in a Red Sox uniform, but so far it’€™s been very productive. With the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, Hermida hit a bases clearing double to give the Red Sox a commanding 6-2 lead. The reserve outfielder has hit .357, with a homer and six RBI in five games this season. With Jacoby Ellsbury nursing an injury, Hermida has given the outfield a much needed lift offensively.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Marco Scutaro struggles with the glove

Offensively Scutaro has been fine, hitting .320 with a .414 OBP, but his field work has been up and down. Two times a ball was hit up the middle and two times the shortstop could not come up with a play. He was unable to coral the ball on a diving play in the bottom of the third off the bat of Joe Mauer, which plated Denard Span. His second mixup came in the bottom of the sixth and may have resulted in Lackey getting pulled in the inning. However, neither plays were ruled errors.

Mike Cameron struggling

Not a lot has been made out of it because other guys are struggling, but Cameron has gone 0-for-10 with four strikeouts in his last four games. Cameron was hitting .385 after the first game against the Royals, but his average has dipped to .217 on the season.

David Ortiz K’€™s again

Another day and more talk about Oritz’€™ struggles at the plate. With two more strikeouts on the day, Ortiz has now struck out 13 times in 26 at-bats. Ortiz is hitting .154, and it can’t be ignored when he is striking out half of the time.

He did manage to hit a double to the opposite field in his final at-bat in the ninth inning.

Red Sox vs. Twins matchups, 4/15

04.14.10 at 3:35 pm ET
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The Red Sox will close out their trip in Minnesota on Thursday, and Tim Wakefield will be on the mound trying to send the team back to Boston on the heels of a two-game winning streak after Wednesday’s 6-3 victory.

The Sox bullpen squandered a solid outing from the 43-year-old starter on April 9 against Kansas City. Wakefield stymied the Royals, with the notable exception of back-to-back home runs from Billy Butler and Rick Ankiel in the sixth. Still, Wakefield left the game in line for a win, only to see Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard falter in the eighth and let Kansas City score twice to steal the victory.

Wakefield had success last year in his only start against the Twins in the first game of a doubleheader on April 22, going seven innings and allowing just one earned run in what counted as a complete game victory thanks to the game being shortened by rain. He had four strikeouts and one walk in the Sox’ 10-1 win, with about the only negative being that he also hit two batters. But the year before he was shelled in his one start at Minnesota, going just 2-2/3 innings and allowing seven runs (six earned) on seven hits.

Despite that outing, Wakefield has been closer to his 2009 numbers against Minnesota in his career, at least record-wise. He is 14-5 in 23 career starts vs. the Twins and will be looking for his first win of 2010 after going 11-5 last season.

The Twins will counter with their fifth starter, lefty Francisco Liriano. Despite being demoted to Triple A at the end of last season, Liriano earned the last spot in the rotation after he followed a fantastic campaign in winter ball in the Dominican Republic with a 2-0  record and 2.70 ERA in five starts during spring training. He was not as impressive in his first regular season start against the Chicago White Sox last week, particularly having issues with his control. The left-hander let up five walks, but managed to hold the White Sox to just three runs over six innings despite those struggles.

The Sox saw Liriano twice last year  ‘€”the only two times he has faced Boston ‘€” and lit him up each time. In the second game of that April 22 doubleheader, he Sox took advantage of more control problems for the lefty, who allowed four walks on the night, and chased him after allowing seven runs in four innings of work. He fared no better vs. Boston on May 25, when he scattered 11 hits and allowed five earned runs over four innings. Liriano had six and seven strikeouts, respectively, in each game, but that was about all the went right for him in those two outings.

Red Sox vs. Francisco Liriano

Adrian Beltre (20 career plate appearances vs. Liriano): .278 average/.350 OBP/.389 slugging, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (13): .417/.462/.583, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Bill Hall (8): .125/.125/.125, 6 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (6): .400/.500/.400, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (6): .800/.667/1.000, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Marco Scutaro (6): .167/.167/.333, 1 double, 3 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (5): .250/.400/.250, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (5): .400/.400/.800, 2 doubles, 2 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 strikeout

Mike Cameron (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk

David Ortiz (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell is 2-2 in his career against the Twins starter. Jeremy Hermida has never faced Liriano.

Twins vs. Tim Wakefield

Jim Thome (61 career plate appearances vs. Wakefield): .164 average/.230 OBP/.382 slugging, 3 home runs, 5 walks, 12 strikeouts

Orlando Hudson (23): .217/.217/.435, 1 home run, 3 strikeouts

Michael Cuddyer (22): .227/.227.409, 1 triple, 10 strikeouts

Delmon Young (19): .167/.211/.389, 1 home run, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Justin Morneau (17): .375/.412/.438, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Nick Punto (16): .143/.188/.214, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Brendan Harris (14): .143/.143/.429, 1 home run, 3 strikeouts

Joe Mauer (13): .417/.462/.667, 1 home run

Jason Kubel (9): .250/.333/.625, 1 home run, 1 walk

Alexi Casilla (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 strikeout

Denard Span (4): .333/.500/.667, 1 double

Wakefield has never faced backup catcher Drew Butera or J.J. Hardy.

Red Sox vs. Twins matchups, 4/14

04.14.10 at 9:25 am ET
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The Red Sox did not enjoy their introduction to Target Field on Monday, as Minnesota opened up its new digs with a 5-2 victory. It will be up to John Lackey to try to get the Sox back to their winning ways Wednesday afternoon as he takes the mound for his second start of the season.

Lackey can’t pitch much better than he did in his first start against the Yankees, when he went six scoreless innings and struck out three in a no-decision. Lackey permitted just three hits on the night, and walked two batters.

The Sox starter faced the Twins once last season as a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and was impressive in a 6-3 win. The right hander went 7.2 innings and gave up two earned on four hits, striking out three while walking two. About the only trouble he had was against Twins’ catcher Joe Mauer, who slugged a pair of home runs in that one.

In his career, Lackey has faced Minnesota 14 times and has a 6-5 record and 3.75 earned run average against the Twins. Along with his struggles against Mauer, the right-hander has also had a tough go of it against Michael Cuddyer, who has hit three homers in just 16 career plate appearances against Lackey. Cuddyer is one of seven players to go deep three or more times against Lackey, joining a list that also includes Manny Ramirez (5), Alex Rodriguez (4), Jack Cust (3), Jason Giambi (3), Josh Hamilton (3) and Carlos Quentin (3).

The Twins will have Kevin Slowey on the hill opposing Lackey. Slowey was almost as strong in his first start of the 2010 season against the Angels, allowing one earned on seven hits in 5.1 innings, striking out three and walking two. Slowey got the run support that Lackey did not, however, as the Twins won, 10-1. Slowey, who was 10-3 with a 4.86 ERA last season,  gave the Sox some trouble in his one start against them in 2009, holding Boston to just two runs on six hits in six innings and striking out five in a 4-2 Twins victory on May 27.

The only other time that Slowey has faced Boston came in his first season in 2007, when he allowed four earned in 5.2 innings in a 5-2 Twins loss.

Here are the matchups.

Red Sox vs. Kevin Slowey

Bill Hall (11 career plate appearances vs. Slowey): .200 average/.273 OBP/.300 slugging, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (10): .222/.222/.222, 1 strkeout

Mike Cameron (9): .375/.333/.500, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Victor Martinez (9): .556/.556/.667, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Adrian Beltre (6): .600/.667/.800, 1 double

J.D. Drew (6): .200/.333/.400, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell (6): .667/.667/.833, 1 double

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

Dustin Pedroia (6): .333/.333/.333

Kevin Youkilis (6): .200/.167/.200, 2 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (5): .400/.400/.400, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek is 0-2 against Slowey. The Twins starter has never faced Jeremy Hermida.

Twins vs. John Lackey

Justin Morneau (32 plate appearances against Lackey): .233 average/.281 OBP/.367 slugging, 1 home run, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts

Jim Thome (22): .000/.182/.000, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts

Joe Mauer (21): .450/.476/.750, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Nick Punto (21): .143/.143/.333, 1 home run, 3 strikeouts

Orlando Hudson (19): .263/.263/.368, 1 triple, 2 strikeouts

Michael Cuddyer (18): .313/.389/.875, 3 home runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Jason Kubel (17): .200/.235/.333, 1 triple, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Delmon Young (12): .250/.250/.250, 5 strikeouts

Alexi Casilla (11): .091/.091/.091, 2 strikeouts

Denard Span (8): .167/.286/.167

Brendan Harris (6): .167/.167/.167, 3 strikeouts

Lackey has never faced backup catcher Drew Butera or shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Read More: john lackey, kevin slowey,

Bad day for Bonser

04.13.10 at 9:52 pm ET
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Red Sox pitcher Boof Bonser got shelled in his second rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing nine runs in two innings. He allowed five hits (including a homer), three walks and hit a batter, throwing just 22 of his 47 pitches for strikes.

After the performance, Bonser told reporters that he experienced shoulder stiffness that worsened both by virtue of cool weather and a long top of bottom of the first inning by his team.

“The thing seized up on me and all heck broke loose,” Bonser told reporters. “When you only go two innings and your shoulder feels like crap, especially coming off surgery, it’€™s not a great day. Put it that way.”

Bonser missed all of 2009 after undergoing surgery on his rotator cuff and labrum. The Sox acquired him from the Twins in a trade for minor league pitcher Chris Province in December.

Read More: Boof Bonser,

Vote: Where does Ortiz rank in Red Sox history?

04.13.10 at 3:09 pm ET
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In Tuesday’s column, Kirk Minihane offers his view of where David Ortiz ranks among the best Red Sox hitters of all time. To see his Top 10 list of Red Sox hitters, click here.

Where do you think Ortiz stands in franchise history?

Where does David Ortiz rank among the Top 10 Red Sox hitters of all time?

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Who would you rank ahead of Ortiz in franchise history? (select all that apply)

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Read More: David Ortiz,
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