|10.10.09 at 5:23 pm ET|
October 10, 2009
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Workout Day
THE MODERATOR: First question for Dustin Pedroia.
Q. Dustin, you guys obviously were in this situation before in ’07, down 3-1. How does that experience help?
DUSTIN PEDROIA: I think it does to a certain extent. The first two games didn’t really go very well this series for us. But, you know, we’re still here. We’re at home. So we play a lot better at home. Read the rest of this entry »
|10.10.09 at 5:17 pm ET|
“We might adjust our batting order a little bit, but the same guys will play,” Francona said.
Kazmir is 8-7 in 23 lifetime games against the Red Sox, including 2-0 this season while he was with Tampa Bay. The Sox are batting just .131 (8-for-61) in the two games against Los Angeles, with just two extra-base hits.
|10.10.09 at 5:15 pm ET|
“We’ll show up [Sunday], do what we always do on early games, have 12 pieces of bacon, a Red Bull and go get ‘em.”
The Red Sox are down two games-to-none entering Sunday’s Game 3, needing to win Sunday and Monday at Fenway to force a Game 5 back in Anaheim on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Jon Lester threw on Saturday at Fenway and Francona pronounced him on track to make the Game 4 start on Monday if necessary. Mike Lowell, who was hit on the right thumb by a sharp one-hop grounder in Friday’s loss, did not come in for treatment, indicating to Francona that he’s okay.
|10.10.09 at 4:21 am ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — In some ways, it comes as little surprise that the Red Sox were steamrolled by the Angels in Anaheim. After all, the team had been out of sorts on the road for most of the season, particularly against the American League West.
While the Sox enjoyed their third straight 95-win season and their sixth in seven seasons, the team did so almost solely on the strength of its play at home. The Sox went 56-25 at Fenway, good for a .691 winning percentage that was good for the second-best home mark in the American League, behind only the Yankees. But on the road, the Sox were a sub-.500 team, with a 39-42 mark (.481).
Interestingly, that record was tied for the third-best in the A.L., but it was well behind the Angels (48-33) and Yankees (46-35) for the top road record.
The Sox’ regular season road performances were particularly pronounced against A.L. West clubs. When visiting the Angels (2-4), A’s (1-2), Mariners (1-2) and Rangers (1-5), the Sox had a 5-13 mark. Against the same clubs at Fenway, the Sox were 8-8.
“It’s never easy coming out here,” said corner infielder Kevin Youkilis. “It’s not easy playing on a different time schedule. I think that’s why, when we come to the West Coast, we’ve struggled a little bit here during the season. In the playoffs we’ve done pretty well, but it’s just one of those things. You get in a comfort zone when you’re in your own city.”
The Sox lineup, of course, is primed to take advantage of the dimensions at Fenway. By and large, the team makes an effort to construct a batting order with right-handed hitters who pull the ball (Youkilis, Jason Bay, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell all typically fit this bill) and left-handed hitters who use the whole field (Jacoby Ellsbury and, when they are at their best, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz). That would help to explain why nearly all of the Sox’ regulars (save for Victor Martinez) enjoy better numbers at home than on the road, a development that also plays into the team’s home-field advantage.
The Sox hit a remarkable .284 with an .862 OPS at Fenway in 2009, averaging 5.9 runs per game. On the road, they hit .257 with a .753 OPS, pushing just 4.8 runs a game across the plate.
“There’s always a different vibe when the crowd is screaming for you. Does that take away the fact that we still need to execute? No,” said Lowell. “Sometimes a crowd definitely plays a factor. You get those 3-1, 3-2 counts and it puts a little bit of different pressure on the opposing pitcher. We welcome that. Our fans have always supported us tremendously. It’s definitely a different vibe, a positive vibe for us.’
Now, after dropping a pair in Angel Stadium, the Sox are looking forward to their return to Fenway Park. All the same, there is one asterisk that looms over the team’s efforts to get back into the series on their home field: even if they win two straight in Boston, the Sox would still have to travel back to Southern California and win a game on the road. While the task is not impossible, the club’s overall performance away from Fenway Park suggests that the team has a challenge in front of it if it hopes to emerge from the Division Series.
|10.10.09 at 2:16 am ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Really, when an offense scores one run in 18 innings and manages just four hits each in consecutive games, there is only so much that a manager can say. And so, on Friday night, following his team’s 4-1 loss to the Angels in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered the most basic analysis when asked what his team must do differently to avoid elimination now that it is down 2-0 in the best-of-five ALDS.
“Our strategy is that we need to win,” Francona said. “We need to win a game.”
Here is the transcript of Francona’s postgame remarks.
Q. The lack of offense, is that more something with your team, or is it just their pitching is that good right now?
Francona: It’s probably a little bit of both. They certainly have executed very, very well. [Jered] Weaver tonight, he wasn’t pitching [out of] the stretch very much ‘ [Jacoby Ellsbury’s] triple. You know, he throws across his body with the deception we talked about before the game. He executed his pitches, and we looked like we started trying to pull a little bit too much.
We didn’t square up on the balls.
Q. Can you talk about [Josh Beckett’s] performance tonight?
Francona: Yeah, I thought he was good. Fourth inning he was up a little bit. Mike Lowell makes that diving catch. We limit it to one run that inning. Other than that, going into the seventh, I think he had one 19-pitch inning, an eight and an 11. Threw a lot of good changeups to kind of slow him down. And the triple really hurt.
The way they were limiting our offense, that was obviously a big hit.
Q. Going back to Fenway, will that be enough to get the offense clicking? And what else can you do?
Francona: Well, I certainly hope so. I don’t know if I can answer that. What we’ll be trying to do is win the next game we play, that’s what we always do. I certainly hope so. We’ve had a tough time these last two games swinging the bat. That’s an understatement.
Q. Does your strategy change now that you’re 0-2, and if so, how?
Francona: No, our strategy is that we need to win. No, we need to win a game.
Q. You’ve obviously liked this team and the situation is obvious. Are there some things about this team’s character that you feel they might rise to the occasion now?
Francona: Well, I think that’s how we always feel. I’d rather not be down 0-2, because the team we’re playing is really good. If you put yourself in a position where you make a mistake, it can really cost you. But until they tell us to go home, we’ll take our team and keep going. That’s how we always feel.
Q. You said you guys were trying to pull Weaver quite a bit. What was he doing that was getting you to do that?
Francona: No, he throws, you know, like we talked about before the game, he throws across his body, a lot of deception. If you do try to pull the ball, you get yourself in trouble. That’s a lot easier said than done.
You know, he was pretty effective. Located everything. He pitched. He executed his game plan very well.
Q. In Josh’s last inning he went 3-0 on the first three hitters. Were you thinking about taking him out then? What were you thinking then?
Francona: I would never take him out after a 3-0 count. He’s thrown a three- or four-hitter going into that inning. No, I didn’t think he was tired. I thought he was fine.
|10.10.09 at 2:01 am ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — After the Red Sox‘ 4-1 loss to the Angels, Josh Beckett was still confused as to the way home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor handled an incident in the seventh inning when the Sox’ starter hit Mike Napoli with a curveball the batter seemingly turned into.
After Bucknor awarded the base to Napoli, Beckett immediately yelled into the umpire saying, “He didn’t move out of the way!” Yet, it was how the ump handled the situation following the hit batsman that frustrated the Sox’ pitcher.
“I just wanted him to show me some respect,” Beckett said. “He just straight-faced me and walked away. He’d be pissed if I did that to him. Just listen to what I have to say. Don’t just take your mask off, and walk away. I know I can’t say anything. I guess they have more power than anybody. It’s a frustrating deal because … I’m not even a person that you’ll respect. I don’t know what I need to do.”
Beckett, who allowed four runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings — succumbing to a three-run seventh, did, however, want to make it clear that he didn’t have a problem with the calling of balls and strikes by Bucknor, just by the incident following the Napoli hit-by-pitch.
“I thought C.B. did a great job tonight,” Beckett said. “I just didn’t understand (the reaction to the hurler’s complaint).”
As for Beckett’s outing, it appeared to be going smoothly until that seventh. With two outs and pinch-runner Howie Kendrick at second base, Maicer Izturis rifled a single into right-center field to give the Angels the lead for good. After hitting Napoli, Erick Aybar launched a triple over the head of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to add two more runs.
“I just make a (expletive) horse-(expletive) pitch to him and I made a horse-(expletive)pitch to Aybar,” Beckett said. “Horrible locations, you get your (butt) kicked.
“If I make the pitch to Itzuris I don’t have to worry about facing Aybar. This one is mine. It sucks. You’ve got to make one of those two pitches.”
|10.10.09 at 1:51 am ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Left-handed pitcher Jon Lester said that he will be available and ready to make a start on three days of rest in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Angels should the series get to that point.
Prior to Game 2, a 4-1 Red Sox loss to the Angels, manager Terry Francona suggested that the team wanted to see how Lester felt one day after throwing 100 pitches in his Game 1 loss before committing to having him throw a side session on Saturday in anticipation of a possible start on Monday (should the Sox win on Sunday to extend the best-of-five series to a fourth game). He also made it clear that, all things being equal, the Sox would like to use Lester in a potential Game 4 and Josh Beckett so that it can have Josh Beckett on the mound in a potential Game 5.
Just before leaving the Sox clubhouse for the airport to fly back to Boston, Lester said that there was nothing coming off of the start that would prevent the Sox from bringing him back on short rest in Game 4.
“It’s up to [Francona]. I’ll be ready if he needs me to go,” said Lester. “Physically, everything is fine. No problems.”
|10.09.09 at 7:20 pm ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Here is the complete transcript of Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s pre-game press conference with the national media:
Q. Could you talk about the development of Buchholz in the second half and how he really took off for you?
The last I’d say probably 10 starts, which is roughly one-third of the season maybe, he was one of the better pitchers in the league. Which is, at a time we were getting a little bit banged up, it certainly made our glass look a lot more full.
They were talking about a younger pitcher that’s come through our organization, and now he’s going out there being somebody that we want to pitch in a playoff-type game. We went through the whole thing last year where it didn’t work, and he had to go back to Triple A. Now having him pitch for us in this type of atmosphere, and he’s earned it. It really, really helps, not just our team, but our organization.
After last night I wanted to ask how are you feeling today and how were you feeling after you left the stadium with the sickness?
I had a bad night. I just got flat out food poisoning. Everybody’s probably had it. Believe me when I tell you, I got rid of it (laughing).
I just have a headache. I’m fine. Thank you for asking. I was miserable yesterday.
The game probably didn’t help?
No. No, it really didn’t.
You’re obviously very confident about Josh. Can you describe a little bit about your time with him and what it is that’s made you feel so good about him in a situation like the one he’s in tonight?
Well, I wish we could take credit, but he was doing these types of things before we got him back when he was with the Marlins as a young kid. We all know about that.
He works so hard. And it’s not just for these type of games. He looks forward to tonight’s game.
That doesn’t guarantee anything, but we like when he has the responsibility of a game like this. He’s going to go out and going to give you everything he has. And everything he has is pretty good.
You can’t just have the will to do it. You’ve got to have the stuff. But when you combine that, it ends up being some type of pretty special. And that’s what he’s done.
I wanted to ask you a question about Scott Kazmir. When you saw the Angels obtain him late like they did, was it in your mind at all that they might have been thinking about a possible match up with you guys or the Yankees given that Scott’s pitched pretty well against those two teams?
You might be giving me too much credit. What I do remember is we were going to Tampa, and I was excited. Then I realized we were coming back and playing the Angels, so it tempered that a little bit. Again, they made their move. We have our hands full. I don’t sit back. As I said, you’re probably giving me a little too much credit.
He has pitched pretty well against you guys and the Yankees in his career?
Yes, he has.
And for a kid he did that when he was pretty young, too. Is that something that has impressed you that he’s been able to be that good?
His first couple of outings against us were borderline overwhelming us. I mean velocity, slider, he was real young and he was probably, I don’t want to say wild in the zone, [but] just enough where we had some horrible numbers against him. He’s evolved a little bit. He doesn’t throw quite as hard as he used to, hopefully. For a while he got away from the slider, but now I know that’s come back. So he’s good. He’s been good for a long time. He’s been pitching for a long time. I know he’s not that old.
Is there a common thread to guys who pitch well in this month on this stage? Is there something about the temperament that allows them to channel all of the pressures?
I would think so. I would think so. The guys that I’ve been around, Schilling or Beckett and Lester, this stage brings out the best. They don’t again, sometimes you just get beat because you’re playing good teams, but it doesn’t happen because of nerves or because you’re shying away from the competition.
Again, they’re going to get the best of Beckett, they might beat him. I hope not. But he’s obviously very excited about this challenge, and it usually shows in the way he pitches.
About Abreu, is he the same kind of headache in the Angels lineup as he was in the Yankees’ lineup? Or is there some different dynamic that he brings to their team?
Last night in a situation where we’re playing back, trying to get him to just maybe take a grounder and get out of the inning with a run, he doesn’t give in. He’s such a professional hitter. He’ll take his walk. He always has done that.
This is on a team that maybe didn’t used to do that as much, so he probably has brought a little bit of a different look. I think he still has some guys that are pretty aggressive, but maybe not quite as much as in the past.
|10.09.09 at 6:53 pm ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Red Sox manager Terry Francona made clear that — assuming that the Sox are not swept — his team’s preference is to use Jon Lester on three days of rest in Game 4, which would allow the team to use Josh Beckett for a potential Game 5 should the series be extended to that point. The team will fly back to Boston after Friday’s Game 2, and if Lester (who threw 100 pitches in the Sox’ 5-0 loss in Game 1) is feeling well enough, the team will have him throw a side session, which would leave him positioned to start on Monday in a Game 4.
“We’ve already talked to him. We’re going to see how we get through tonight,” Francona said. “He may throw a side tomorrow. There’s a decent chance, he threw 100 pitches, we’d like to bring him back. I’m getting ahead of myself, but that would allow Beckett to pitch Game 5. That’s what we’re hoping to do. But we’ve got to get through tonight and make sure Lester’s OK.”
Lester has made one previous start on three days of rest in his career, that coming on April 23, 2008, when Beckett was scratched from his start due to illness. After throwing 6-1/3 innings and allowing three runs while logging 106 pitches against the Rangers on April 19, Lester allowed four runs in five innings while throwing 80 pitches in a 6-4 loss to the Angels in which the left-hander received a no-decision.
The Sox are not going to tether themselves to a plan in which Lester would pitch with short rest, but they will evaluate to see if the pitcher feels up to it, and if so, they will proceed with a plan to have him come back. The only other time that the Sox used a starter on no more than three days of rest in the playoffs under Francona took place in 2004, when Derek Lowe won Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees on two days of rest.
‘ Francona said that he did not give much thought to starting Jason Varitek for Game 2, since doing so would require the team to sit Mike Lowell, who has a .313 career average against Angels Game 2 starter Jered Weaver. All the same, he noted his appreciation for what Varitek has done in not making an issue of playing time since Victor Martinez‘ arrival.
“He was kind of telling me not to tip-toe around him. Maybe I was … He told me, ‘I’m a big boy.’ That really helped me,” Francona said. “I know I’ve said it. He’s got a ‘C’ on his chest. He earned that. He hasn’t unearned it.”
“I think it’s incredible when we look at Varitek and you look at not only what he’s achieved during the season, but I mean big games he’s played in the postseason. He’s been there day in and day out for such a long time and had a major impact on what they’ve accomplished in Boston,” Scioscia said. “This guy is certainly a leader. I think he’s just a prototypical winning catcher. The guy that goes back there and understands the importance of calling 150 pitches. Having a pitcher execute the 150 pitches, and making anything you do offensively secondary to that.
“He’ll have an ugly at-bat and put that mask on and all of a sudden he’s an All-Star catcher back there again. I think there’s an important lesson for a lot of young catchers and something we certainly try to pound into our youngsters about the influence that you’re going to have on a game. Even when he’s not swinging the bat well, he’s had as much of an influence on Boston’s success in the last six, seven years as anybody over there.
I know that they’ve appreciated what he’s done. Certainly, he’s a catcher. Looking from afar, because until you’re in the dugout with a guy, until you’re in the meetings, maybe you don’t get a flavor for it. But I’d be very shocked if there is anything different than the perception I have for Jason, what he’s done. He’s a heck of a catcher.”
‘ Francona reported that he is feeling better after dealing with food poisoning on Thursday. The manager said that he was trying to get a few extra moments of rest up until game time on Thursday, which is why he was unable to make his way to the field during pregame introductions or the pregame meeting with umpires. But he has been able to start eating again, and feels fine to handle his responsibilities on Friday.
‘ Bobby Abreu said that, after his experience with the Angels (with whom he signed a one-year, $5 million deal) in 2009, he would like to return next year.
“Of course I want to be back. I have a good time over here. This organization, the team, the manager, the owner and the fans, too. They treat me very well over here. I think they really appreciate the job that I’ve been doing all year round,” Abreu said. “Of course I want to come back. I want to come back. I don’t want to go nowhere else. I want to stay with the Angels.”
That stance could bear some relevance for the Red Sox. Hypothetically, if the Sox did not re-sign Jason Bay, and found the Matt Holliday sweepstakes to be too expensive, a player like Abreu could represent a short-term fix who could offer production while occupying a lineup spot until a prospect such as Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish was ready to assume a regular role in Boston’s outfield.
Then again, based on his 2009 performance ‘ hitting .293 with a .390 OBP and, perhaps more importantly (at least in financial, if not actual, terms), receiving credit for changing the dynamic of the Angels lineup ‘ Abreu may look for something more than another one-year deal.
|10.09.09 at 6:07 pm ET|
ANAHEIM, Calif. — For the second straight day, the Red Sox will feature Victor Martinez behind the plate, this time paired with starter Josh Beckett. There had been a lot of debate, of course, about whether the Sox should feature the offensively superior lineup, or whether they should put Jason Varitek behind the plate to work with Josh Beckett, given that the pitcher is still clearly (and by his own admission) more comfortable working with Varitek — after four years — than he is with Martinez — with whom he has been paired for three games.
In theory, the argument is understandable, but from a practical standpoint, the difference for the Sox with Martinez behind the plate has been undeniable. In 32 regular-season games with Martinez starting behind the dish, the Sox averaged 6.3 runs per game and went 21-11. From the time of the trade deadline through the end of the season, when Varitek started, the club went 14-14 and averaged 5.1 runs per game.
Of course, if Beckett is dominant, then 5.1 runs per game would be plenty for the Sox to position themselves to win. All the same, at least down the stretch this year, it would be difficult to argue that the Sox are not a better team with Martinez catching than with Varitek.
The Sox lineup on Friday will be the same for Game 2 as it was for Game 1:
For more, read Rob Bradford’s “Beckett, Red Sox Need Wins, Not Sentimentality”.
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