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Closing Time: It’s a big 10-4 for Red Sox in win over Brewers

06.17.11 at 10:19 pm ET
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After five innings of Friday’s series opener between the Red Sox and Brewers, it looked like it would once again be The Adrian Gonzalez Show at Fenway Park. The Red Sox first baseman had just driven a ball into the first row of Monster seats to give the home team a 5-4 lead. The home run was Gonzalez’s third hit in three at-bats and had placed the powerful lefty just a single shy of the cycle with four innings still left to be played.

Then, the rest of the Red Sox offense decided to jump in on the fun.

The Sox offense added five more runs in the remaining innings and rode a strong finish by starter John Lackey to a 10-4 victory, the team’s 12th in its last 13 games. Every Boston batter who stepped into the box, including two substitutes, either reached base or drove in a run. (Both occurred in the cases of eight of the 10 players to see action.)

Here’s what else went right and one measly thing that went wrong in the Red Sox win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

–The biggest reason behind the Red Sox late surge in runs came not in the late innings but actually in the first. Although he allowed only two runs in the frame, Milwaukee starter Shawn Marcum, who had held this current set of Sox hitters to just a .194 career average before Friday, was taken out with a left hip flexor strain after throwing an astounding 44 pitches just to get three outs. As unfortunate as the injury was for Marcum and the Brewers, it allowed the Red Sox to get to relievers Marco Estrada and Daniel Herrera earlier than they would have and stretch the two relievers out enough to the point where they could score three and four runs on them respectively.

David Ortiz didn’t care much for Tropicana Field as he went a combined 0-for-8 down over the Sox three-game series in Tampa Bay. But he sure looked a lot more comfortable on his return home to Fenway, going 3-for-5 in Friday’s winning effort. That ties the DH’s season-high for hits and improves his home batting average to .353 on the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek,

Rich Hill: No plans to change arm slot post Tommy John

06.17.11 at 9:03 pm ET
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There was, of course, curiosity about the timing. In his first year as a full-time sidearmer, Rich Hill suffered a nearly complete tear of his ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery by Dr. James Andrews last week in Pensacola, Fla. And so, Hill wondered whether the two developments were related — if the very throwing motion that had helped him to a tremendous start (9 scoreless appearances this year for the Sox) was responsible for the injury that will keep the left-hander out until at least sometime in the 2012 season.

“I actually asked that question to Dr. Andrews. He said, ‘€˜No, it had nothing to do with your arm slot. You stress your elbow ‘€“ everybody stresses their elbow the same way,'” recounted Hill, who is commuting from his home in South Boston to Fenway Park to conduct his rehab under the watch of Sox trainer Mike Reinold and rehab coordinator Scott Waugh.

A review of pictures of Hill throwing both in his prior over-the-top arm slot and in his newly discovered sidearm delivery showed that the arm stress was the same from both deliveries.

“[Andrews] said [the tear] had nothing to do with that,” said Hill. “It was basically a wear and tear thing over time.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: rich hill, tommy john,

Papelbon in suspended animation for two games

06.17.11 at 7:48 pm ET
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Jonathan Papelbon knew that he would be punished after bumping home plate ump Tony Randazzo at Fenway Park two weekends ago. His best hope, once informed that Major League Baseball had levied a three-game suspension against him, was that the sentence could be lessened.

And so, the Sox closer did not shoot for the outlandish in his appeal. Instead, he asked that his sentence be commuted to two games. On Friday, he learned that his appeal had been successful, and so he will miss the first two games of a three-game set against the Brewers.

“I think the process was done very well and very fair for both sides,” said Papelbon. “It’€™s like a kid. If the stove is hot, don’€™t touch it. … I’€™ve got to own up to it. I did. Now the consequences are set.”

And so, Papelbon will have some time on his hands over the next couple of days. He can remain with the club until game time, but once the contest begins, he is allowed in neither the Sox dugout or in the clubhouse. He is technically permitted inside the ballpark, but Papelbon does not have designs on using the moment to experience life among the spectators.

“Do you think I would go sit in the stands?” Papelbon mused. “No chance.”

With Papelbon out, however, the Sox bullpen will be thin. Interestingly, manager Terry Francona declined to commit to having Daniel Bard close, noting that Bard remains the reliever whom he would want to bring into a pivotal situation with runners on base. If that were to render Bard unavailable for the ninth, Francona would rather scramble to cover the ninth inning than a potentially game-turning situation prior to that stage.

Read More: Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon, suspension,

Red Sox vs. Brewers Live Blog

06.17.11 at 7:22 pm ET
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All the latest from Friday night as the Red Sox return home for interleague play following an 8-1 road rampage against the AL East:

Red Sox vs. Brewers, June 17

Carl Crawford will be reevaluated Saturday following hamstring strain

06.17.11 at 6:28 pm ET
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Injury woes continue to cause a concern for the Red Sox. On the same day the team sent shortstop Jed Lowrie to the disabled list, leftfielder Carl Crawford left Friday’s game against the Brewers early with a left hamstring injury after he pulled up lame beating out an infield single in the first inning. Both Crawford and Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after the 10-4 Boston win that a preliminary MRI had revealed a Grade 1 hamstring strain, the least severe grading for such an injury.

The team won’t be able to know just how much time, if any, Crawford will miss until he can undergo a reevaluation prior to Saturday’s game. Crawford said after the game the only thing he can do in the meantime is ice the hamstring in question and put a brace on it.

Francona said after the game that the team won’t rush Crawford back from the hamstring problem given that the muscle plays a big role in the speed that has made him such a dynamic player in the majors. Fellow speedster Jacoby Ellsbury agreed with his manager.

“It’s such a big part of his game, not only from the defensive side but from offensive side,” he said. “It’s something I’m sure the team will be cautious with.”

Read More: carl crawford,

Daisuke Matsuzaka headed down to Fort Myers for rehab

06.17.11 at 6:09 pm ET
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As much as Terry Francona wanted to talk about the Bruins rather than his own team’s maladies, he did provide some Red Sox injury news prior to Friday night’s game between the Sox and Brewers. Jed Lowrie is headed to the disabled list with an injury to his left shoulder. Clay Buchholz could be pushed back a few days due to an ailing back.

Alth0ugh those last two pieces were rather new, Francona also gave an update on what is now considered an old injury. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who underwent Tommy John surgery last Friday, will meet with Dr. Lewis Yocum on Monday for a regular post-surgery checkup and then will head down to Fort Myers, Fla., to begin his rehabilitation. The Sox skipper said that he talked to the Japanese righty and that, “He’s excited to get that under the way.”

Matsuzaka could have stayed for rehab up in Boston but chose to go down to the team’s spring training home for a number of reasons, according to Francona.

“The reason for that is he can get consistent one-on-one work with a Red Sox therapist and as much as he wants,” the Sox manager said. “He’s not going to a clinic. He’s not seeing somebody here when we’re home and somebody when we’re on the road. So it’ll all be consistent.”

Reliever Rich Hill, a Milton native who also underwent Tommy John surgery, chose to stay closer to his home and will see two different trainers, depending on whether the Sox are in town or not.

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, rich hill,

Red Sox announce signing of 12 draft picks

06.17.11 at 6:06 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced the signing of 12 draft picks on Friday. Among the group of draftees who have commenced their careers are sixth-rounder Miguel Pena, a left-handed pitcher who signed for an $85,000 bonus, and ninth-rounder Travis Shaw, a power-hitting third baseman out of Kent State (and the son of former closer Jeff Shaw) who signed for $110,000.

Matt Gedman, the son of Lowell Spinners hitting coach (and former Sox catcher) Rich Gedman was also among the group of signees, as were New Englanders Branden Shepherd, a reliever from Stonehill, and Keene State’s Corey Vogt, a Yankees fan who told GM Theo Epstein that the Sox had better take him given the sacrifice he was making by working out at Fenway.

The full list of signees, with more detail: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, andrew jones, brenden shepherd, carlos coste

Red Sox catch Bruins fever

06.17.11 at 5:39 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona walked through the door connecting the press room and the clubhouse  like he does every two to three hours before every home game. But there was something different about this particular entrance. The Boston skipper wasn’t donning the red, white or blue colors customary to the Sox color scheme but rather a big – perhaps a bit too big in fact – black and gold Bruins home jersey to celebrate the team’s first Stanley Cup victory since 1972. Reporters joked as Francona walked in that the “91” emblazoned on the side of the sweater was that of Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves but Francona quieted those chuckles when he said the number instead belong to B’s injured center Marc Savard.

“This is what you would call genuine front-running,” Francona joked.

A box of black-and-gold sweaters was open in the middle of the Sox clubhouse before Friday’s game, and Francona told the media that Josh Beckett had purchased the jerseys for everyone on the team. Kevin Youkilis had two spoked-B shirts for himself in his locker.

The Red Sox manager, who said he left Bruins coach Claude Julien a message after the big win, has never claimed to like the sport of hockey in particular, going as far as to tell reporters he can’t follow the moving puck. But given the enormity of having all four major sports teams in Boston now having won a championship over the last seven years, Francona couldn’t help but be impressed by the Bruins accomplishment.

“I do think it’s pretty incredible,” he said. “I’ve been here, what, eight years now, and we have great fans. I hope that the fans though realize that this doesn’t happen all the time everywhere. It’s pretty incredible, all four sports. But it’s a good match because I think we also have great fans.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, Jonathan Papelbon, Terry Francona,

Peter Gammons on M&M: Andrew Miller ‘either going to be a really good reliever or a fascinating starter’

06.17.11 at 2:26 pm ET
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MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

With Clay Buchholz pulling up lame in Tampa, Gammons said he expects the team will play it safe and put the youngster on the shelf.

“I think they’ll disable him,” Gammons said. “I just think it’s cautionary. They’ve got some time here. They’ve got an off day next Thursday. They’re probably going to pitch Andrew Miller on Monday. If Clay sits for a couple of weeks, it probably isn’t a bad thing. The important thing is how good is Clay Buchholz going to be in August and September.”

Miller’s likely insertion into the starting rotation comes at the right time, and it allows the Sox to keep Miller from going elsewhere. Gammons noted that other teams aggressively pursued Miller, perhaps crossing the line in the process.

“They want to see exactly what they have in Miller,” Gammons said. “The other night [in Pawtucket] he was 93-98, he had seven swings and misses on fastballs. He’s had three walks in his last 26 2/3 innings. If this guy is back to where he was five years ago ‘€” by far the best college pitcher in the sport ‘€” then they really have something. He’s either going to be a really good reliever or a fascinating starter. You might as well start finding out now.

“I know this: There were a lot of teams that tampered and tried to get him to do the opt-out, including the New York Yankees. A lot of teams wanted him to opt out on Wednesday. Because of his trust for the Red Sox and how much they’ve invested in him ‘€” not in terms of money but in terms of effort to just get his delivery back and be patient with him, he stayed. In some ways, their fortunate. Because I think he could have gotten twice as much money if he had left.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling, David Ortiz

Friday Red Sox Nuggetpalooza!

06.17.11 at 11:12 am ET
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It’s finally Friday and you know what that means: Nuggets!

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* – The ninth spot in the Red Sox order (Varitek, Saltalamacchia, Scutaro, et. al.) have really put it together recently, batting .333 (17-for-51) with three home runs and an OPS of 1.032 since May 31. They’ve also drawn walks in five straight games, their longest such streak since at least the start of last season. For the 2011 season, the last spot in the Red Sox order has put up an MLB-high .766 OPS:

.766 – Red Sox
.739 – Orioles
.729 – Mariners

The Red Sox’ ninth place hitters also lead the majors with nine home runs, 34 RBI, and 35 runs scored. They are tied for the lead with 14 doubles (with Twins) and 28 walks (with Orioles). The Red Sox ninth spot hasn’t led the league in OPS since they put up an .810 in 2003.

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* – A key play in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Tampa Bay was Jeremy Hellickson’s intentional walk to David Ortiz, bringing up Kevin Youkilis, who would blast a three-run homer. It was the fifth straight time that the Red Sox have scored (i.e. collected at least one RBI) in the same inning as they received an intentional walk. In those five innings (dating back to June 7 at New York), the Red Sox have totaled 12 RBI.

Note this: Tampa Bay batters have taken intentional passes in 10 different innings this season and have only one RBI total in those innings.

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* – The Red Sox threw a one-hit shutout at the Rays on Wednesday, marking the third time in a little over a year that they’ve done that in a road game (last May 25 at Tampa and last May 22 at Philly). So which teams have gone the longest without tossing a one-hit (or no-hit) shutout in a road game?

6,158 days – Orioles (8/5/94)
4,792 days – Blue Jays (5/2/98)
4,369 days – Rangers (6/29/99)
3,922 days – Indians (9/18/00)

So a child that was born on the day that Baltimore’s Ben McDonald was one-hitting the Brewers is a senior in high school now.

Only one other AL team since 1960 has had three one-hit road shutouts over a two season span: The 1994-95 Kansas City Royals. Their three gems came over a 389 day span… EXACTLY the same number of days that the Red Sox had between their first last year and third last night.

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* –  While we’re on the subject (and since I need more content), the Rays have now been shut out on one or fewer hits at home three times in the last 386 days. Four teams (Rays, Cardinals, Cubs, White Sox) have suffered such low-hit shutout losses at home this season. Look at which teams have gone the longest without such a home loss:

11,375 – Twins (4/23/80)
 4,292 – Dodgers (9/14/99)
 4,019 – Royals (6/13/00)
 3,724 – Orioles (4/4/01)

During that 31 year streak, the Twins were one-hit at home twice (1980 and 2005) but they managed to score a run in each of those games, extending the streak. Who was the pitcher that shut them down back in 1980? Bruce Kison of the Angels, when the Twins lineup featured such household names as Hosken Powell, Rob Wilfong, Roy Smalley, and Butch Wynegar.

Note this: The last time Boston got shut out on one hit or fewer at Fenway was April 11, 2007, when Seattle’s “King” Felix Hernandez stymied the Sox.

—————————————————————————————————————————– Read the rest of this entry »

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