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Closing Time: Yankees 11, Red Sox 9

05.17.10 at 11:02 pm ET
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NEW YORK — When the clubhouse first opened prior to Monday’s game, the Red Sox started with a pretty good quote. (“I’ve got three-inch legs, so I’ll be alright,” said second baseman Dustin Pedroia when asked about his ailing knee. “I don’t move around that well anyway.”) More than seven hours later there wasn’t much good to be found in the Sox clubhouse.

Carrying a two-run lead into the ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon allowed four runs to the Yankees, two coming on a game-tying homer from Alex Rodriguez, and then the game-winner, a two-run, walk-off blast from Marcus Thames, giving the Yankees an 11-9 win.

Trailing 5-0 to the Yankees after the first inning thanks to another Daisuke Matsuzaka first-frame implosion, the Sox stormed back, thanks to home runs by David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Kevin Youkilis and Victor Martinez (who had two). It was Youkilis’ two-run blast off of reliever Chan Ho Park in the eighth that completed the comeback for the Sox, giving the visitors a one-run lead before Martinez made it two with the back-end of back-to-back homers.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough, and the Sox dropped back below .500 at 19-20. (For a recap click here.)


Papelbon’s outing. He first allowed a double to Brett Gardner, and then, after a deep flyball out by Mark Teixeira, came Rodriguez’ game-tying blast. After hitting Francisco Cervelli, Thames deposited the first pitch he saw from the closer over the center field fence for the game-winner. Papelbon could not effectively command his fastball, missing either over the plate (Rodriguez, Teixeira, Thames) or off of it (Cervelli’s plunking). It marked the first time in Papelbon’s relief career that he had allowed multiple homers in the same outing.

Entering the game, Papebon had converted a career-high 22 straight regular season save opportunities dating to July 30, 2009, going 1-2 with a 1.54 ERA in 38 contests during that span, including a 0.77 ERA in save situations.

– Matsuzaka did it again, succumbing to the big inning. This time it came in the form of a five-run first inning. The frame was first made notable when Alex Rodriguez — who came in hitting .063 against Daisuke — managed to become the first player since 2007 to garner a bases loaded hit off of the Red Sox starter. Matsuzaka did settle down somewhat after allowing one more run in the second inning, but was finally forced from the game in the fifth inning when Marcus Thames stretched the Yanks lead to two runs with an RBI double. The final line for Matsuzaka: 4 2/3 IP, 7 R, 9 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 105 pitches.

– As much as Matsuzaka struggled in the first two innings, he wasn’t helped by his defense. First, left fielder Jeremy Hermida leaped to grab a Robinson Cano warning track fly ball, only to have the ball slide by his glove. Then, in the second inning, center fielder Darnell McDonald raced back to get in position to haul in Mark Teixeira’s blast to right-center only to have the ball glance off his mitt down in front of the outfielder’s chest. Two balls that should have been caught were misjudged, costing the Red Sox runs. It is an outfield defense that may not be enhanced as soon as many might have thought, with news coming down that Mike Cameron is going to need at least one more rehab appearance on Wednesday in Portland.


– Ortiz hasn’t slowed down, hitting his seventh homer of the season. This one was launched well into the right field stands in the fourth inning. Ortiz now is tied with Baltimore’s Ty Wigginton and Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the most home runs in May (6).

– As hot as Ortiz has been, Drew continued to show he has been even hotter. Hitting in the No. 3 spot, the Sox outfielder blasted his sixth homer of the season in the fifth inning to bring the Red Sox within a run. Drew came into the game hitting .396 for the month. He also entered Monday night 6-for-14 in the batting order’s third spot. Both the homers by Ortiz and Drew came off of New York starter Phil Hughes, who allowed one fewer run (5) than his total for the entire season entering the game (6).

– The other middle-of-the-order bat to get the old switcheroo, Martinez, made the most of his opportunity in the No. 5 spot, snapping an 0-for-19 stretch with a solo homer in the sixth that drew the Red Sox back within a run. It was Martinez’ first homer on the road this season, having come into Monday night hitting .135 away from Fenway Park. In 12 plate appearances in the fifth spot entering the series opener, Martinez had notched five hits to go along with three walks.

Martinez kept things cooking with his second homer of the game, which came immediately after Youkilis gave the Red Sox the lead in the eighth inning. It was also a welcome sight due to the fact it came from the left side of the plate, the side in which he had been hitting .165 coming in. (The homers from both sides of the plate also marked the first time a Red Sox hitter accomplished the feat since Aug. 16, 2005, when Jason Varitek managed the trick.)

Tim Wakefield kept his team in the game after the Matsuzaka debacle, not allowing a run over 2 1/3 innings, giving up just a single hit and no walks. Daniel Bard, who came on for Wakefield in the eighth, also did a bang-up job, striking out Derek Jeter (the potential game-tying run at the time) on a 3-2 count with two outs and a runner on base with a 97 mph fastball just above the shortstop’s shoe-tops.

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, J.D Drew

How much is catching affecting Martinez’ hitting?

05.17.10 at 6:34 pm ET
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(Update: Victor Martinez hit two home runs — one from each side the plate — Monday night, snapping an 0-for-19 drought)

NEW YORK — Terry Francona sat before the media prior to the Red Sox‘ series-opening game with the Yankees and explained his impetus of moving Victor Martinez down to No. 5 in the batting order as a chance to “have some balance in our lineup.” But the catcher’s recent struggles, coupled with his new spot in the order (even if just for a day), has led some to wonder how much his focus on managing a pitching staff is affecting Martinez at the plate.

Francona, for one, doesn’t think catching is the chief problem when it comes to identifying how Martinez has found himself with a .226 batting average, which includes a .135 clip on the road (7-for-52).

“I agree that he’s spent a lot of time and hard work on it and done a terrific job. But I don’t think so,” said Francona when asked if Martinez’ attention to becoming a better catcher has translated into lower offensive numbers. “I think all catchers, if they catch the right way, are going to lose some at-bats. That’s the nature of the job. You can’t just sit in the dugout and think about your at-bats. You’ve got pitchers to kind of take care of.

“He’s a good hitter and he’s going to be a good hitter. You can see the normal trying to do a little too much. Get a pitch to hit and try and hit it a little too hard. That’s just kind of the way it goes. Then you finally do hit a ball hard and you hit it right at somebody.”

Martinez has 12 plate appearances in the No. 5 spot coming into Monday night’s showdown, going 5-for-9 with three walks. In the third hole he is hitting just .192, contributing to the Red Sox’ No. 3 spot carrying the second-worst batting average in the majors. (.210).

The only other position Martinez has been put in this season has been designated hitter, where he is 1-for-16. For his career, he is hitting .295 as a catcher, while totaling a .313 average at first and .235 as the DH.

Last season, however, prior to being traded to the Red Sox many in baseball believed that Martinez’ early-season struggles were due to spending too much time behind the plate (hitting .175 in July).

And while Francona’s analysis makes sense (MLB catchers have a combined .259 batting average), it’s hard to ignore the affect catching might have on what is one of the most important hitters in the Red Sox lineup, especially after listening to Martinez following the Red Sox’ May 8 loss to the Yankees.

“I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t care whatever I do at the plate. I’m taking charge of this pitching staff,” Martinez said. “It’s not fun (when they do bad) because I’m in charge of it. You’re the one squatting back there and taking charge. When they fall down, I fall down with them. I don’t really care (about hitting home runs). I take a lot of pride in my catching. Any time we get a win that means I did a nice job behind the plate directing the pitching staff.”

It’s hard to ignore the time and effort expended by Martinez when it comes to getting better at the craft of catching. The criticism he weathered early on when the Red Sox were being stolen on almost at will didn’t go unnoticed by the backstop, leading Martinez to prioritize managing the pitching staff and the opponents’ running game more than ever.

“Catching-wise he’s received the ball great this year,” Red Sox catching instructor Gary Tuck told WEEI.com during the team’s visit to Toronto. “He’s calling a better game than he did when he got here. He’s blocking the ball as well as you can block the ball. Throwing-wise, he made four great throws against the Yankees in one game, one guy was caught stealing. He’s trying to make up sometimes for jumps, trying to be too quick,” Tuck said. “He’s shortened his footwork up. He’s now shortened his throwing stroke up to try to get it more efficient and more accurate. He came here with a long stroke with a sidearm sling. He’s trying to get that to be more efficient to get the ball in the air quicker to get the ball down there and deal with the outs and safe.

“The concept of the stolen base is a team concept where there’s a lot of people involved, where sometimes it’s a choice of not to throw because there’s no play and you’re trying to get out the inning, with the pitcher trying to get out of the inning. You deal with breaking balls. You deal with balls in the dirt. You deal with all that stuff. Where Victor was at the start of the season and where he will be during the end of the season will be two different players because of his constant daily work.”

Martinez has improved his catching, there’s no doubt about it. Since April 26 the Red Sox have allowed just eight stolen bases, while gunning down eight. But with the need for a middle  of the order presence, it’s hard to ignore how many fires the catcher has had to put out while attempting to supply the kind of offensive punch the Sox sought when trading for him last season.

The Factors – Week 6

05.17.10 at 5:37 pm ET
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* – LEADING OFF INNINGS – The Red Sox continue to lead the major leagues at getting the inning’s first batter on base (.383 OBP) after a .382 mark in Week 6… Opponents hit .455 (20-44) leading off innings against the Phillies last week and hitting a cool .330 in those situations against them for the season (99-300).  If it holds up, that .330 average allowed would be the highest ever since they began tracking the stat in 1974:

.330 – Philadelphia Phillies, 2010
.319 – Colorado Rockies, 1999
.315 – Colorado Rockies, 2004

  * – AFTER 0-1 COUNTS – It’s tough to hit consistently when you get behind most of the time, but that’s what the Sox did this week as 51% of their plate appearances went through 0-1, while 41% went through 1-0 and 8% put the first pitch in play.  Their .581 OPS following 0-1 counts this week, a middle-of-the-pack result (compared to .880 after 1-0 counts, also ranked in the middle), should tell you just how difficult it is… Red Sox pitchers thrived after getting ahead, walking just 4% of batters after a first pitch strike.  Their season-long percentage is now 6.7%, the 3rd worst in the majors and threatens to be the worst since ’74 by a Red Sox staff in a non-strike year:

6.71% – 1996 Red Sox
6.67% – 2010 Red Sox
5.16% – 1992 Red Sox

* – AFTER 1-0 COUNTS – This is not directly 1-0 related, but it’s worth noting:  Opposing hitters went 10-40 (a very strong .250 average allowed) last week when putting the first pitch in play, easily the most such AB in the majors in that span.  For the season, opponents are 62-170 (.365) when they put the first pitch in play.  That’s easily the most such opponent AB in the majors (Washington and Arizona, 165 each) and only Baltimore opponents have more first pitch hits (63).  Baltimore has allowed the highest first pitch average in the majors so far (.460).  That .460 mark is well ahead of the pace for the all-time highest first pitch average allowed since 1974:

.460 – Baltimore Orioles, 2010
.401 – Tampa Bay Rays, 2007
.392 – Detroit Tigers, 1996

* – AFTER 3-0 COUNTS – Not sure that you can get much worse than the Sox pitchers were against five batters after falling behind 3-0: Four walks and a HR.  For the season, their 2.152 OPS allowed after 3-0 counts (.852 OBP and 3 HR allowed in 20 official AB) is not only the worst in the majors this season, but is WAY ahead of pace to be the worst since they tracked the stat (’74):

2.152 – Boston Red Sox, 2010
1.670 – Cincinnati Reds, 2004
1.660 – Kanas City Royals, 1997

All three HR have been allowed by Sox relievers (Okajima, Ramirez, Schoeneweis).

* – AFTER 0-2 COUNTS – Getting behind 0-2 pretty much meant death in Red Sox games last week as both teams combined to hit .107 (8-75).

* – FULL COUNTS – As has been the case pretty much all season, Red Sox pitchers were awful on 3-2 counts again in Week 6, allowing a .500+ OBP and 1.000+ OPS.  For the season, they have allowed an MLB-high 1.054 full count OPS that includes 8 HR (tied for the most in the bigs) and an AL-high 79 walks.  Especially ineffective once the count goes full have been Josh Beckett (allowed 20 of 30 to reach including 2 HR), Jon Lester (19 of 36 including 2 HR), and Hideki Okajima (7 of 10 reached base).  The worst full count OPS allowed by any other Red Sox staff (since ’74) is .912, by the 1998 squad.

* – GROUNDBALLS – The Red Sox remain 7th in the majors at avoiding hits on groundballs even after a lackluster (.227) week.  But at least they’re not the Mets (.315 last week and .271 for the season, both MLB worsts).

* – LINE DRIVES – Red Sox pitchers saw 13 of opponents’ 30 line drives turned into outs last week as their .567 average allowed on frozen ropes was the best (luckiest?) in the majors.  Here’s the rub:  So far this season, only Seattle, Detroit, and Baltimore in the AL have allowed more line drives than Boston’s 205.

* – RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION – The Sox averaged fewer than 2 hits per game with RISP last week, which is a concern.  Here’s a big part of the problem:  So far in 2010, Kevin Youkilis (2-12) and JD Drew (2-16) have combined to bat .143 with RISP and 2 outs.  Last year, their combined average in those situations was .336 (38-113).

Francona: Cameron not quite ready

05.17.10 at 4:58 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Speaking before his team’s game with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that outfielder Mike Cameron is still experiencing some “tenderness” in his abdominal region, although not in the same spot that forced the 37-year-old on to the disabled list. Because of Cameron’s condition he won’t be activated to the Sox’ 25-man roster and will most likely make another rehab appearance, at Double A Portland Wednesday.

“There was certainly some thought about bringing him here today, possibly even getting him on our roster,” Francona said. “I don’t think we think he’s quite ready, and I think he agrees with that. He’s tender a little bit in his abdominal region, not where he got hurt, just kind of tender. He’s done a lot of work and I think we just want to make sure when we bring him off he’s ready. We’re not quite there yet.”

As for the Red Sox other rehabbing outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, he went 1-for-3 for the Pawtucket Red Sox Monday afternoon in his first rehab appearance since going on the disabled list with cracked ribs, managing a single and a walk. Ellsbury will play for Portland Tuesday before re-joining the Red Sox at Fenway Park Wednesday.

“He said he was a little tentative his first two at-bats and then really felt good as he got into the game,” Francona said of Ellsbury, who also was able to experience sliding into home plate in the game with the PawSox.

Francona also touched on the construct of his lineup in the Red Sox’ series opener in the Bronx, saying that the move to hit Victor Martinez fifth in the order, with J.D. Drew sliding up to third, was to “have some balance in our lineup.” Martinez is hitting .226, including .135 (7-52) on the road. The catcher has 12 at-bats in the fifth-hole this season, going 5-for-9 with three walks.

Ellsbury singles, walks, scores a pair in PawSox rehab game

05.17.10 at 1:18 pm ET
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Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury started his minor-league rehab assignment by going 1-for-3 with a single, walk, RBI, and two runs while hitting leadoff and serving as the designated hitter for the Triple-A PawSox on Monday.

After a pair of three-pitch groundouts (one to second, one to short) in his first two plate appearances, Ellsbury delivered an RBI single on the first pitch of his third at-bat to drive in a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ellsbury advanced to third on an error by Syracuse left fielder Leonard Davis, then scored on a sac fly.

Each of Ellsbury’s first three at-bats came against right-handed Chiefs starter J.D. Martin. Syracuse summoned left-handed reliever Atahualpa Severino to face Ellsbury in the seventh inning. Ellsbury took all six pitches that Severino threw en route to a full-pitch walk, and then scored easily on Josh Reddick’s two-run triple.

Monday’s game marked Ellsbury’s first since April 11, when he collided with third baseman Adrian Beltre while chasing a foul ball. Beltre’s knee hit Ellsbury in the chest, resulting in a small fracture of the ribs. The Sox are 16-16 since then, and have averaged 5.0 runs per game (sixth in the majors). Through the first six games of the season, Ellsbury was hitting .333 with an .800 OPS and two steals.

Ellsbury is now scheduled to head to Portland on Tuesday to continue his rehab assignment.

Also of note in Monday’s PawSox contest, Boof Bonser made his third rehab appearance since returning to the PawSox after being sidelined by shoulder tightness. Bonser lasted 4.1 innings (his longest rehab outing to date), permitting two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three. In three starts for Pawtucket this month, Bonser now has a 3.18 ERA.

Read More: Boof Bonser, Jacoby Ellsbury,

An early look at the Elias Rankings

05.17.10 at 12:04 pm ET
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Our friends over at MLB Trade Rumors have the first round of projected Elias Rankings, which is the formula used by Major League Baseball to determine if a free agent is a Type A (worth two draft picks in compensation) or Type B (one pick). While the formula to determine the rankings is supposed to be top secret, Eddie Bajek is thought to have successfully reverse-engineered the system, allowing for the updated status of each player.

The rankings are compiled based off of the collection of stats from the last two years (or, in this case, one year and one month). Each player is put in a category according to their position, having to rate in the top 20 percentile statistically of their group to be classified as a Type A, or the top 21-40 percentile for Type B.

Of note for Red Sox followers:

‘€¢ Mike Lowell is projected as a Type B, although he is just two spots from reaching Type A status. Interesting enough, Lowell is significantly ahead of teammate Adrian Beltre, who is also a Type B. Unless Lowell’s playing time is upped significantly, Beltre does figure to leap-frog the Sox’ starter from a year ago, potentially getting into Type A classification.

‘€¢ Bill Hall is neither a Type A or B.

‘€¢ Victor Martinez is a Type A as a catcher, tied with Jorge Posada for the second-highest ranked American League backstop, behind Joe Mauer.

‘€¢ Jason Varitek is a Type B, but only two spots away from Type A.

‘€¢ David Ortiz is rated as a Type B free agent in the first base/outfield/DH group. In that same category, Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew are both in the Type A group, while Jacoby Ellsbury is just one spot out of moving up from Type B status. (Youkilis, Drew, and Ellsbury, of course, are not eligible for free agency following this season.)

Yankees dealing with good, bad and usual A-Rod distractions

05.17.10 at 12:02 pm ET
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When the Red Sox and rival Yankees take the field Monday night for the first of a two-game tilt, neither team will be atop the America League East standings. No, instead of the two franchises that have controlled the AL over the past decade, it will be Tampa Bay that sits in first place.

That means every time the Red Sox and Yankees play, the games will be that much more important. For the top three teams in the division, there are only two playoff spots, and no longer can the second-place finisher of the Red Sox-Yankees series be the prohibitive favorite for the wild card berth.

With the Rays (26-11) rolling like they are, the Red Sox and Yankees know that their head-to-head matchups are critical in making up ground in the standings. With the Yankees holding the edge, 4-2, in the series so far this season, the Bronx Bombers are looking to put distance between themselves and the Sox. Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes that there’€™s more at stake against the Red Sox with the Rays’€™ success.

The Yankees, despite taking two of three from Minnesota over the weekend, are coming off a perplexing loss to the Twins on Sunday. With New York leading 3-1 entering the eighth inning, setup man Joba Chamberlain came in to bridge the game to closer Mariano Rivera. After failing to get out of the inning, Rivera came in with the bases loaded for a four-out save.

Rather than shutting the door in typical Rivera-like fashion, the Yankees closer walked Jim Thome to force in a run to make it 3-2. It was the first time since May 6, 2005, that Rivera walked a batter with the bases loaded. The next hitter, Jason Kubel, proceeded to hit a grand slam to give Minnesota a 6-3 lead, making him only the fourth player to ever hit a grand slam off of Rivera.

The blown save snapped a streak of 51 straight home saves for the New York closer. Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York writes about how rare of a blown save it truly was for Rivera.

Marchand also writes about Yankees manager Joe Girardi moving starting pitcher Javier Vazquez to the bullpen for at least the Red Sox series. Vazquez was acquired in the offseason after having a career year with Atlanta with a 15-10 record, 2.87 ERA, and 238 strikeouts. Vazquez was expected to have a better go-round with the Yankees this season after struggling in his first stint in 2004, when he managed a 14-10 record despite having a 4.91 ERA. Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 5/17

05.17.10 at 11:40 am ET
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Sitting at .500 and fourth in the American League East, the Red Sox have an opportunity to make up ground against their rivals in New York with a two-game series beginning Monday night. Daisuke Matsuzaka will look to build off of his last start for Boston while the Yankees will counter with Phil Hughes, who has been dominant this season.

After struggling in his first two starts, Matsuzaka pitched seven strong innings against Toronto last Tuesday to pick up his second win, improving his record to 2-1. The right-hander allowed only one run on three hits, struck out nine batters, and pitched a rare walk-free game. Matsuzaka’€™s performance marked only the second time in his last 33 starts in which he didn’€™t allow a walk, with the last coming against Texas on June 7 of last season.

Despite having mixed results against the Yankees for his career, Matsuzaka had success in his only start in New York last year on Sept. 26. Matsuzaka gave up one run on six hits over seven innings but was outdueled by CC Sabathia, who allowed only one hit through seven innings to pick up his 19th win. For his career, Matsuzaka is 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA in seven career starts against the Yankees.

Hughes, meanwhile, has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. In six starts, Hughes has a 5-0 record, tying him in wins with four other starting pitchers, including fellow young hurlers David Price and Matt Garza (both of Tampa Bay). Hughes also leads the AL in ERA with a miniscule 1.38 among pitchers having a minimum of 1.0 innings pitched per team game.

In Detroit last Wednesday, Hughes earned his fifth win with seven scoreless innings. Hughes allowed five hits and one walk while striking out eight Tigers. The game marked the third consecutive start in which he finished with seven innings pitched. Boston has hit well against Hughes, who is 1-2 with a 5.85 ERA in his career against the Red Sox.

A share of those numbers for Hughes, however, has come in relief appearances. After being touted as one of the most prized Yankee prospects earlier in his career, Hughes had difficulties in his first two seasons as a starting pitcher. For the majority of last season, he was used out of the bullpen and was very effective in notching 18 holds to set up closer Mariano Rivera. Now, it finally seems as if Hughes is living up to the early praise he received, and his success out of the bullpen has carried over to this season.

Red Sox vs. Phil Hughes

Marco Scutaro (13 career plate appearances against Hughes): .250 average/.308 OBP/.250 slugging, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (12): .000/.083/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (11): .300/.273/.600, 1 home run, 2 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (10): .667/.800/1.167, 1 double, 1 triple, 4 walks

Adrian Beltre (7): .000/.000/.000, 4 strikeouts

David Ortiz (7): .750/.714/1.250, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell (5): .400/.400/1.000, 1 home run

Victor Martinez (5): .600/.600/.800, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

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

Darnell McDonald (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall struck out in his only at bat against Hughes. The New York starter has never faced Jonathan Van Every.

Yankees vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Alex Rodriguez (22 career plate appearances against Matsuzaka): .063 average/.318 OBP/.063 slugging, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (20): .211/.250/.421, 1 double, 1 home run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

Derek Jeter (18): .429/.556/.857, 2 home runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Jorge Posada (12): .500/.500/.750, 3 doubles, 1 strikeout

Nick Swisher (12): .300/.417/.400, 1 double, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (7): .400/.571/.800, 1 triple, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Marcus Thames (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1 home run

Randy Winn (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Brett Gardner is hitless in two at bats against Matsuzaka. The Boston starter has never faced Francisco Cervelli, Greg Golson, Juan Miranda or Ramiro Pena.

Closing Time: Tigers 5, Red Sox 1

05.16.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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A series that started with great promise for the Red Sox concluded with significant disappointment.

After taking the first game of a three-game set in Detroit, the Sox carried a 6-1 lead into the middle innings of their game against the Tigers on Saturday. From that point on, however, the Sox showed little pulse, getting outscored by the Tigers, 11-1, in dropping two straight games, the most recent a 5-1 loss in a Sunday matinee. With the defeat, the Sox’ record slipped once again to .500.

On a day when a listless Sox offense offered him no margin for error, Sox starter John Lackey was ineffective. He allowed five runs on nine hits in his seven innings of work, and though some of those were of the seeing-eye variety, the results were poor. The right-hander has been inconsistent thus far in 2010, as his 4.86 ERA, .284 opponents’ batting average, 3.8 walks per nine innings and 5.6 strikeouts per nine innings would all be career-worst marks for a season.


Darnell McDonald continued his excellent performance against left-handed pitching. He pinch-hit for starter Jonathan Van Every against Tigers left-handed reliever Fu-Te Ni and promptly lined a single to left on a fastball. McDonald is hitting .393 with three homers and a 1.219 OPS against southpaws, and it will be interesting to see whether another team might try to claim him on waivers in the likely scenario in which he is moved off the major league roster when Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury return, perhaps as soon as this week.

McDonald later added a bloop single to left.

Marco Scutaro made a pair of excellent defensive plays at shortstop. He dove to his right to backhand a ball for a fielder’s choice in the second, and later made another diving play to his right on a sharply hit grounder by Miguel Cabrera to produce another out.

Jeremy Hermida continued to make his hits count. Though he is hitting just .229 and has only 92 plate appearances, he is tied for third on the club with 20 RBI after lining a third-inning double that produced his club’s only run on Sunday.


John Lackey continued a series-long theme of Red Sox starters struggling with their command. He issued four walks, after Clay Buchholz (5) and Jon Lester (4) both had issued free passes liberally in the first two games in Detroit. This marked the first time since April 13-15, 2008, that Sox starters allowed three or more walks in three straight games.

The issue was pronounced early, as Lackey ended up exchanging words with home plate ump Lance Barksdale about the strike zone after walking four in the first two innings. That was part of a day in which Lackey appeared to lose his composure at times and made some mental lapses, most notably when he failed to find the first-base bag on an infield single in the second and when he was late covering first base on another infield single in the fifth.

Lackey lasted six innings, allowing a season-high 13 baserunners. He has now permitted 10 or more baserunners in five of his last six starts.

That said, because Lackey managed to last seven innings (while throwing a season-high 123 pitches), the Sox were able to rest their bullpen after their relief corps had been taxed in Saturday’s 12-inning contest.

J.D. Drew had a chance to tie the game when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning of a 5-1 game. But he punched out against left-hander Fu-Ne Ti.

Drew had been enjoying terrific success with the bases loaded this year, going 4-for-5 with a grand slam, double, sac fly and walk in those situations.

–Hermida was the only Red Sox to do anything with a runner in scoring position. The team went 1-for-10 in such situations.

Read More: darnell mcdonald, J.D Drew, Jeremy Hermida, john lackey

Red Sox vs. Tigers matchups, 5/16

05.16.10 at 10:29 am ET
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The Red Sox will have John Lackey on the hill Sunday afternoon as they close out their three-game series with the Tigers in Detroit.

Lackey’s 4-1 record is tops amongst Sox starters, but he had a little trouble maintaining that status in his last start on May 10. He got his fourth victory despite allowing six runs in his six innings of work, bringing his ERA up to 4.60. Prior to that performance, Lackey had lasted seven innings in each of his last three starts and given up no more than three runs, going 2-0 in that span.

Lackey has made nine starts against the Tigers in his career and has had his share of success. He sports a 6-1 record and a 3.73 ERA against Detroit, but in his one outing vs. the Tigers in 2009 he struggled. The right-hander was tagged for 11 hits and five earned runs in six innings in a 5-3 loss.

The Tigers will counter with Armando Galarraga, who thus far has spent all of the 2010 season with the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, after going 6-10 with a 5.64 ERA in 25 big league starts last year.

For his part, Galarraga has done well in Triple A, sporting a 4-2 record and 3.92 ERA in seven starts. But he has struggled in two career starts against the Sox, going 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA. In his one appearance against Boston last season, Galarraga took the loss in a 10-5 beatdown, although he did not pitch as poorly as the score indicated. He went seven innings and allowed four runs (three earned), but Detroit’s bullpen imploded and the game went from close to out of reach for the Tigers.

Red Sox vs. Armando Galarraga

Victor Martinez (13 career plate appearances against Galarraga): .111 average/.308 OBP/.111 slugging, 3 walks

Marco Scutaro (7): .200/.429/.200, 2 walks

Mike Lowell (6): .333/.333/.333

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

Kevin Youkilis (6): .600/.667/1.800, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

J.D. Drew (5): .200/.200/.800, 1 home run, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (3): .333/.333/.333

Adrian Beltre is hitless in three at bats against Galarraga with one strikeout. The Detroit starter has never faced Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald or Jonathan Van Every.

Tigers vs. John Lackey

Johnny Damon (51 career plate appearances against Lackey): .333 average/.373 OBP/.375 slugging, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Gerald Laird (32): .100/.156/.100, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts

Brandon Inge (26): .318/.400/.455, 3 doubles, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Magglio Ordonez (15): .357/.400/.857, 1 double, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Miguel Cabrera (6): .500/.500/1.000, 1 home run

Ramon Santiago (5): .200/.200/.200, 1 strikeout

Alex Avila (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk

Lackey has never faced Brennan Boesch, Adam Everett, Austin Jackson, Don Kelly and Scott Sizemore.

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