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Live Blog: Red Sox, Lackey look for sweep against Athletics

06.05.11 at 1:37 pm ET
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Red Sox/A’s Live Blog

Clay Buchholz moved back, Tim Wakefield again steps into the fold

06.05.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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In a precautionary move to allow his back more time to let his back settle down, Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced Sunday morning that Clay Buchholz will be moved back two days and will next pitch on Friday against the Blue Jays. Tim Wakefield will take Buchholz’s spot in the rotation and will pitch Wednesday against the Yankees.

“Buch’s going to pitch Friday in Toronto,” Francona said. “Wake will pitch Wednesday. Just give Buch a chance to back up a couple of days, let him start his five-day cycle two days late. Think that will do him a little bit of good.”

Buchholz said following Friday’s start that he was concerned that his back was about to act up on him while he was pitching and didn’t want to injure himself. The righthander labored through 4 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, six runs – five earned – while walking two and striking out five. He never found his rhythm, throwing 99 pitches and not getting through the fifth, causing pitching coach Curt Young to visit him on the mound several times during the game.

“His back was sore, he had battled that for a little while,” Francona said. “His last outing, I don’t think it actually interfered with his pitching, besides the fact I think he was holding back at times. Even when he warmed up, Curt was like, ‘You know what, it looks likes he reaching.’ Buch owned up to that, saying, ‘You know, it didn’t hurt but I thought it was going to hurt.’ We’ve all been there. So, rather than keep going like that, because it’s hard to pitch successfully that way, give him a couple of extra days and I’ll betcha it’ll really help him.”

Buchholz said he was looking forward to making his next start on Wednesday in New York before Sunday’s announcement.

“I’m sure he did,” Francona said. “It’s fun to do that. It’s a great place to pitch, the atmosphere but I think he understands and he knows it’s in his best interest.”

Francona then sat down Saturday with with the Red Sox starter, pitching coach Curt Young and trainer Mike Reinold to determine the smartest course of action.

“Talked to him a bunch, tried to get a feel for where he was,” Francona added. “Then Curt and I talked to Mike Reinold a little bit and then went back and talked to Buch and I just think it makes sense.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, curt young, mike reinold

Jonathan Papelbon: ‘I wasn’t even talking to’ umpire Tony Randazzo

06.04.11 at 8:44 pm ET
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There are a lot of events that will get lost in the shuffle of a 14-inning game that features 16 different pitchers, 415 pitches and lasts five hours and 17 minutes. J.D. Drew‘€™s walk-off line drive in the final frame arguably should have been the one to remember. But the one inning that stood out both during the game and in the aftermath was the bottom of the ninth.

The Red Sox entered the top of the ninth up 7-3 with closer Jonathan Papelbon coming in for the non-save situation. What followed seemed like madness.

Papelbon allowed the first two runners to reach on a single and a walk, just his fourth free pass of the season, respectively before striking out Landon Powell for the first out. The eight-pitch base on balls given to Daric Barton had both Papelbon and catcher Jason Varitek shaking their heads as they tried to decipher umpire Tony Randazzo‘€™s strike zone. With one out and runners on first and second, Coco Crisp lined a God-given double play ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia. But instead of ending the game right there, the ball dribbled through the sure-handed infielder’€™s legs allowing Mark Ellis to score from second.

Five pitches later, the ninth hitter in the A’€™s lineup, Cliff Pennington, lined a double to left to minimize the Boston lead to 7-5. At that point, Varitek ‘€œlost his cool,’€ as he put it, because of a perceived lack of consistency on Randazzo’€™s part, and the Sox captain was soon given the heave ho. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jarrod saltalamacchia, Jonathan Papelbon, Terry Francona, Tony Randazzo

Closing Time: Drew drives in winner of 14-inning marathon

06.04.11 at 6:30 pm ET
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J.D. Drew has struggled mightily in the early going, but in a 14-inning marathon, none of that matters. Following a Carl Crawford double and an intentional walk to Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox rightfielder stroked a single to right-center to give the Red Sox a 9-8 win over the Athletics.

But before those heroics, the wheels had come flying off.

The Red Sox entered the ninth inning in possession of what appeared to be an airtight 7-3 lead. Closer Jonathan Papelbon was called upon to shut the door in a non-save situation that seemed to offer little drama.

Yet Papelbon proved flat, and an uncharacteristic error by Dustin Pedroia coupled with a hotly disputed strike zone led to a wild five-run rally.

Papelbon permitted a flared single and then issued a walk to Daric Barton (possessor of a .215 average and .602 OPS), with a couple of the pitches seemingly just missing the strike zone. But Papelbon bounced back, punching out Landon Powell for the first out and then getting what appeared to be a tailor-made double play against Coco Crisp.

But a bounder to the Sox’ most sure-handed defender, Pedroia, uncharacteristically went under the glove and through the legs of the second baseman. Instead of a game-ending twin-killing, the A’s had plated their first run with chaos soon to follow. Cliff Pennington followed with an RBI double to left on a 1-2 fastball; catcher Jason Varitek, distressed that an 0-2 splitter just off the plate had been called a ball, got ejected for arguing balls and strikes with home plate ump Tony Randazzo; Papelbon was ejected as well soon after when he muttered something to Randazzo’s disliking while marching back to the mound. At that point, the damage had already been done. The Sox closer had allowed a two-run, game-tying single to Conor Jackson to tie it at 7-7. The four-run blown lead was the largest by Boston this season.

In the 11th, Alfredo Aceves gave up a go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to leftfield by Ryan Sweeney. Jacoby Ellsbury retied the game with a ground-rule double to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the frame.

The blown lead meant that Josh Beckett had another solid start wasted. Beckett gave up three runs in six-plus innings against the Athletics, sending his ERA “soaring” to 2.01 (from 1.80). Even so, he turned in his ninth quality start (in 12 outings), and has now allowed more than three runs in just one start this year.

The right-hander allowed four hits in his six innings, walking three and striking out four. He mixed his pitches thoroughly, and showed terrific movement all over and around the strike zone.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Beckett now has nine quality starts in his 12 outings this year, nearly matching his 10 quality starts in 21 turns in the rotation in 2010.

Kevin Youkilis may be emerging from a brief skid. Prior to Friday, he was hitting .143 with a .361 OPS, just one extra-base hit (a double) and no walks over a nine-game stretch. But in Friday’s victory over the Athletics, he went 2-for-3 with a double and walk, and on Saturday he was 2-for-5 with a pair of both doubles and walks. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, J.D Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury

Sunday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: John Lackey vs. Brett Anderson

06.04.11 at 4:08 pm ET
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John Lackey plans to make his long-awaited return from the DL and his first appearance since May 11 against the A’s Sunday at 1:35 p.m. While the veteran had some obvious struggles to start the season, Oakland will counter with Brett Anderson, a young righty who has dominated the Red Sox to this point in his career.

Lackey (2-5, 8.01 ERA) said he felt good in Tuesday’s rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, where he threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball. Lackey struck out four and walked none but did surrender a home run. The 32-year-old was far from convincing in his last two starts before hitting the DL with an elbow injury, giving up nine runs to the Blue Jays and eight runs to the Angels. In his first seven starts, Lackey surrendered 35 runs and allowed opponents to hit a combined .393. In 15 innings at home, Lackey has allowed 16 runs on 24 hits, while striking out just six batters.

The right-hander will have a chance to get back on track against a familiar opponent, as the Athletics have a combined 287 plate appearances against Lackey, dating back to his AL West days as a member of the Angels. In his nine-year career, the A’s have hit a combined .244 off Lackey with five homers and 25 RBI. However, Oakland has struggled offensively this season, and has the second-lowest run total in the American League.

Mark Ellis has seen the Boston starter a team-high 71 times, hitting .267 with eight doubles, five RBI, and 10 strikeouts. Former Red Sox speedster Coco Crisp has just five hits in 32 plate appearances vs. Lackey, but two of those hits were home runs. Daric Barton has had the most success against the righty, posting a .308 average to go along with a homer, four doubles, and three RBI.

Anderson (3-5, 3.68 ERA) has pitched well for the most part, but a lack of run support has led to three losses in his last four decisions. The 23-year-old pitched brilliantly against the Angels on May 26, throwing a three-hit shutout through eight strong innings. However, he got shelled by the Yankees in his last start, giving up ten runs on eleven hits through 5 1/3 innings. It was by far his worst outing of the year, and ballooned his ERA up from 2.84.

Every Boston regular has seen Anderson at least once, but no one on the roster has faced him more than 15 times. In this limited experience, Anderson has dominated the Red Sox. The left-hander hasn’t allowed a single earned run against Boston, and has held the Sox to a combined .111 average in 94 plate appearances.

Jed Lowrie‘s .222 average against Anderson is a team high, while Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez are hitting a combined four-for-28 against the A’s starter. Anderson shut down the Red Sox back on April 19, holding them scoreless through eight innings while striking out eight in a 5-0 win.

ATHLETICS VS. LACKEY

Mark Ellis (71 plate appearances): .267 BA/.371 OBP/.400 SLG, eight doubles, five RBI, eight walks, 10 strikeouts

Hideki Matsui (55): .240/.291/.400, one home run, five doubles, nine RBI, four walks, six strikeouts

Coco Crisp (32): .167/.219/.367, tww home runs, two RBI, two walks, three strikeouts

Kurt Suzuki (32): .194/.188/.419, one home run, two doubles, one triple, three RBI, five strikeouts

Daric Barton (28): .308/.357/.557, one home run, four doubles, three RBI, two walks

David DeJesus (24): .273/.273/.273, two RBI, three walks

Ryan Sweeney (19): .333/.368/.389, one double, one RBI, one walk, three strikeouts

Cliff Pennington (15): .071/.133/.071, two strikeouts

Kevin Kouzmanoff (5): 3-for-5, one double, one strikeouts

Landon Powell (3): 1-for-3, one strikeout

Josh Willingham (3): 0-for-3, one strikeout

No other player on the A’s roster has faced Lackey.

RED SOX VS. ANDERSON

Kevin Youkilis (14 plate appearances): .154 BA/.214 OBP/.154 SLG, one walk, six strikeouts

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (13): .077/.077/.077, two strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (11): .100/.182/.100, one walk, one strikeouts

Carl Crawford (10): .200/.200/.200, two strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (10): .000/.100/.000, one walk, one strikeout

David Ortiz (10): .100/.100/.100, two strikeouts

Jed Lowrie (9): .222./.222/.333, one double, two strikeouts

Jason Varitek (6): 0-for-5, one walk, one strikeout

Adrian Gonzalez (5): 1-for-5, two strikeouts

Mike Cameron (3): 0-for-3, two strikeouts

J.D. Drew (3): 0-for-3, three strikeouts

No other player on the Red Sox roster has faced Anderson.

Read More: Athletics, brett anderson, john lackey, Red Sox

What history says about the Red Sox’ opportunity in this year’s draft

06.04.11 at 2:11 pm ET
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The Red Sox have four of the first 40 picks in next week’€™s Major League Baseball draft. It’s a rare situation for any team to be in, as only eight times since 2000 has a team had four of the first 40 picks. Those include the 2010 Angels, the Athletics in 2002 and 2004, the Braves in 2000, the Cubs in 2002, the Giants in 2007, the 2005 Marlins and 2004 Twins.

Having such a high number of top picks allows the organization to possibly take chances on guys whom they might otherwise shy away from if they did not have as many top picks. The Sox often refer to using top picks as a stock portfolio, using some to acquire high probability guys but for whom the payoff is capped, and others on higher risk players (whether due to makeup, signability, or tools that remain in the early stages of development) who can also offer huge returns if everything clicks.

‘€œYou want to get good players,’€ general manger Theo Epstein said. ‘€œYou want to combine upside and probability but when you don’€™t have extra picks, it’€™s sometimes hard to take that extra risk with the very high upside. You can diversify your portfolio a little more when you have more picks and take that chance.’€

Teams that have had such a large number of top picks haven’€™t fared as well as one might think: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, Theo Epstein,

Red Sox vs. Athletics Live Blog, June 4

06.04.11 at 1:06 pm ET
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The Red Sox will try to extend their incipient winning streak to two games behind Josh Beckett, the American League leader in ERA with a 1.80 mark. He’ll be opposed by A’s standout Trevor Cahill.

For all the latest news and analysis from Fenway Park, click below to join the live blog.

Red Sox vs. Athletics Live Blog

Pregame notes: Buchholz dealing with back, Lackey to throw ’90ish’ pitches Sunday

06.04.11 at 11:44 am ET
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Clay Buchholz stated after his start Friday night  that he was thinking about a potential abnormality in his back while on the mound, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Saturday’s contest that the the idea of there being any kind of malady had given him some cause for concern. Out of that, the skipper said Buchholz may get a few extra days off instead of pitching in his scheduled spot on Wednesday against the Yankees.

“I think we want to sit down with him and figure out the best way to go forward, whether it’s in five days or giving him a couple extra days,” said Francona. “We can do that with the day off on Monday.”

As a result, Tim Wakefield will do a regular bullpen session on Saturday in preparation to potentially take Buchholz’s start on Wednesday in New York. Spot starter Alfredo Aceves will also move to the bullpen full-time in preparation for John Lackey’s return to the rotation Sunday “so that we have everything covered,” according to Francona.

The manager cautioned though that all of these moves were precautionary and that everything could still go according to the original plan depending on how Buchholz’s back feels before the start of the upcoming road trip.

“Maybe we don’t know today,” he said. “Maybe we need a couple extra days to see.”

There’s more pregame injury notes on Lackey and Marco Scutaro after the jump as well as Francona’s thoughts on Jed Lowrie‘s issues when hitting as a lefty in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, john lackey

Saturday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Trevor Cahill

06.04.11 at 9:44 am ET
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The Red Sox continue their homestand with Saturday’€™s 1:05 game against the Athletics. Josh Beckett (4-2) takes the mound for the Red Sox.

Beckett is pitching as well as anyone in the American League. He leads AL starters in ERA (1.80) and opponents’ batting average (.189), and has allowed the fewest earned runs (14) among qualified AL starters as well. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is better than 2.5:1.

Beckett has been good but not fantastic against Oakland, going 5-3 in eight career starts with a 4.41 ERA and a .255 opponents’ batting average. His last start against the Athletics was on September 12 last season, where he pitched six innings, gave up three runs and won the game.

As well as Beckett has pitched, he has received inconsistent run support this seasn, resulting in five no-decisions despite a quality start in all but two games this season. He’€™ll be facing another ace Saturday in Trevor Cahill (6-3), who leads the Athletics rotation in wins and ERA (2.31). Cahill has struggled recently, however, having lost his last three decisions and taking a no-decision in a losing Athletics effort in a fourth game. His last win came on May 9 against Texas.

Cahill has struggled in three starts against Boston, going 1-2 with a 5.19 ERA and a .266 opponents’ batting average. He beat the Red Sox in his most recent start, pitching seven shutout innings on September 10 last season.

Beckett will have to be most careful with designated hitter Hideki Matsui. Because of Matsui’€™s years with the Yankees, he has already seen Beckett 41 times. Although he’€™s only batting .243 against Beckett, Matsui has hit three home runs and a triple. Second baseman Mark Ellis has also homered off Beckett and driven in five. Ellis is batting .333 against Beckett, but has struck out seven times. Left fielder Ryan Sweeney is 3-for-8 with a home run and two doubles.

No one on the Red Sox has the kind of experience with Cahill that the Athletics have with Beckett, who have combined for 132 plate appearances against the Sox right-hander. J.D. Drew and David Ortiz have each faced Cahill nine times, going 2-for-9 with a homer. Dustin Pedroia has doubled and homered off Cahill in six appearances, and Jacoby Ellsbury has tripled and driven in a run in five appearances.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Josh Beckett, Oakland Athletics, trevor cahill

Bobby Jenks isn’t worried about looking pretty right now

06.04.11 at 7:55 am ET
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At this point, Bobby Jenks isn’t worried about style points. He’s worried about getting outs. And for the first time since starting his season with four straight scoreless outings, the 30-year-old righthander recorded consecutive scoreless – if not clean – innings of work in back-to-back appearances.

On Tuesday, Jenks came into a 10-1 game against his former team – the White Sox – and allowed two hard-hit balls that fell for hits. But he escaped when Paul Konerko lined a ball right back into his glove. Jenks then underhanded a toss to Adrian Gonzalez at first to complete the inning-ending double play.

On Friday, Jenks entered a much more highly leveraged situation. The Red Sox were down just 6-5 as he came on for the seventh inning. Again he got into trouble with two runners on base. He allowed a leadoff double to Josh Willingham. He then balked Willingham over to third base and walked Kurt Suzuki.

But then Jenks showed exactly why the Red Sox still have faith in him.

Like Tuesday night, Jenks made the pitch he needed, a fastball to Barton, inducing a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. Fully recovered from the right biceps strain that forced him to miss almost four weeks, Jenks is back throwing 96 mph fastballs, sliders and offspeed pitches, and doing it with a smooth delivery.

“It’s huge,” Jenks’ catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “That’s what wins games, pitching and defense. He was able to get a ground ball and it was a double play. But no one is going to worry about Bobby. Bobby’s got great stuff. He’s going to go out there and he’s going to battle. He’s not going to give in. He’s been through a lot this year. For him to come back like that is huge for this team.”

Two outings, three hits, a walk, a balk and most importantly, no runs.

“Right now, it’s telling me that I have to stop getting into those situations,” Jenks said, only partly tongue-in-cheek. “I thought they were pretty quality pitches to Willingham but he took some really good sliders in the dirt. Sometimes, you have to tip your cap. He waited for a good pitch to hit.

“You just have to stay confident and know you’re just one pitch away, which was the case.”

And for a pitcher trying to regain the form that convinced the Red Sox in the winter that he could help them, focusing after the balk call by home plate ump Dan Bellino wasn’t a problem. Throwing the right pitch to Barton was the only thing on his mind.

“I knew who I had coming up,” Jenks said. “And I knew going in, the scouting pitching report, if you quick-pitch him, he’s a first-fastball hitter. So I tried to jump on him a little bit. You can induce ground balls that way.”

Most importantly to the Red Sox, a healthy and effective Bobby Jenks means restoring the bullpen order to Jenks in the seventh, Bard in the eighth and Papelbon in the ninth, exactly what happened Friday night in the 8-6 come-from-behind win.

“Obviously, it wasn’t a clean inning but I battled through it,” Jenks said. “The way I feel right now, it’s about making those quality pitches when you need them.”

Read More: bobby jenks, Boston Red Sox, Daric Barton, kurt suzuki
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