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Video: The Full Count Show

09.01.10 at 5:08 pm ET
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This week, Alex Speier gives you a crazy stat about Josh Beckett, recaps the Rays series and gives you five reasons why the Sox playoff hopes are fading.

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Beckett: ‘All that time I missed, that hurt us’

09.01.10 at 4:19 pm ET
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Josh Beckett

BALTIMORE — Speaking prior to the Red Sox’ game with the Orioles at Camden Yards Wednesday night, Josh Beckett said that his season contributed to where the Sox find themselves in the standings.

“Absolutely,” the pitcher said of whether he felt his season had played a role in the team’s place in the standings. “All that time I missed, that hurt us. Like I said, if you went up to everybody, they’d all say the same thing.

“If you went up to all, well, 75 guys that played on our team this year, I think everyone would do that. It’s a shame, because there’s some guys that have come in and really done an unbelievable job to put us in the situation that we were in and are still in this late in the season.”

Beckett also explained why he didn’t speak to the media following the Red Sox’ 5-2 loss to Baltimore Tuesday night, marking the first time in his Sox’ career that he hasn’t answered questions following a start.

“I just had stuff to do, stuff to take care of. I couldn’t put into words how I felt,” Beckett said, admitting that both individually and from a team standpoint it has been a “pretty frustrating” year. “I just had some things I needed to do.”

Beckett said he felt like he made “progress” with his seven-inning outing Tuesday night, in which he allowed three runs (2 earned), and seven hits while striking out five and walking one. He did, however, say the situation with the team’s playoff hopes and his up and down performances are “pretty frustrating.” Beckett did note that he felt like he had good stuff in his previous start against Seattle. “Results are still a process,” he said. “The process better get right.”

Asked about the Red Sox’ current position in the American League playoff race — which has the Sox eight games in back of the Yankees and seven behind Tampa Bay — Beckett said, “It’s definitely different right now … I don’t think we’ve completely folded up the tent.”

OTHER PREGAME NOTES

Felix Doubront underwent an MRI and CT scan that revealed what manager Terry Francona called a “mild strain in his upper pectoral muscle,” near the clavicle on the right side of his upper chest. Doubront will stay in Boston during the final two games of the Orioles series, since he was not going to pitch in them. The Sox believe that he will be available in the coming days.

–The Sox have been in regular dialogue with Marco Scutaro about the condition of his shoulder in making determinations about whether he is available to play. The shortstop has, according to the manager, backed off a lot of his pregame routine in order to conserve his shoulder.

While his injured rotator cuff primarily affects his throwing, Francona acknowledged that it could be affecting him at the plate as well. That said, Scutaro is more comfortable at the plate now than he was in the first half, when he required cortisone injections.

Even so, the manager could not say whether the condition was one that will have to be addressed through surgery in the offseason.

“Anything that aggravates you, I’m sure doesn’t help. But he’s been playing every day,” said Francona. “I don’t know [if he will require surgery]. I don’t know that anybody knows yet. When you get into that area — and I went through it myself — you just fully plan on having a nice surgery and feeling good. Then, you see the doctor and you realize that, when you get in that area, sometimes you can do more harm. It’s not just cut and dried. I’m sure we’re going to look into whatever’s in his best interest.”

Dustin Richardson was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to serve as the second left-handed pitcher in the bullpen while Doubront is on the shelf. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and outfielder Eric Patterson were also activated for Wednesday’s game after concluding their rehab assignments in Pawtucket.

–The Sox are looking forward to seeing Saltalamacchia work behind the plate, but he has also been taking grounders at first base.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was scratched from his scheduled start last Friday, has followed his normal between-starts routine in recent days, and he appears on track for his start on Thursday against the Orioles.

Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia were scheduled to be examined by Dr. George Theodore, a Red Sox orthopedist, close to game time on Wednesday.

–Francona had little to report on Carlos Delgado, who has been sidelined since Aug. 15.

For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: dustin richardson, felix doubront, jarrod saltalamacchia, Josh Beckett

Looking at the precedents for a Red Sox comeback

09.01.10 at 3:04 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Has it been done? Yes. Often? No.

It is now Sept. 1, and the Red Sox are eight games back in the division and seven games back in the wild card race. It is difficult to understate the magnitude of that deficit.

No team has ever erased an eight-game September deficit to advance to the postseason. But there is at least some precedent for Sox fans looking for the possibility of overcoming a seven-game hole, as that trick has been accomplished four times in major league history.

In the most dramatic instance, the 2007 Phillies surged to a 13-4 mark over the final 17 games of their season, wiping out a seven-game deficit against the collapsing Mets to win the NL East on the final day of the season, sneaking into the postseason with an 89-73 record.

More recently, the 2009 Twins hit the gas pedal after finding themselves with a 68-68 record and seven games behind the Tigers on Sept. 6. They went 18-8 from that point forward, forcing a one-game playoff with Detroit that they won to reach the American League Division Series.

In 1938, the Cubs escaped a seven-game hole in which they resided on Sept. 1. Chicago went 21-7 down the stretch, beating the tumbling Pirates (12-16 down the stretch) by two games.

And, in 1934, the Gashouse Gang Cardinals went 22-5 down the stretch, zooming from seven games behind the Giants on Sept. 6 to a pennant that they won by two games.

So, there is some measure of precedent for the Sox to come back. That said, it is also a startling reminder of just how daunting a task the team faces.

After all, even what GM Theo Epstein described as a “super hot” stretch might not be enough to overcome the gap that now exists. The 2007 Rockies, for instance, won 14 of their final 15 regular season games. Yet in doing so, they only came back from a 4 1/2 game deficit in the standings to tie the Padres on the last day of the regular season and force a one-game playoff.

That said, the Sox have little choice but to assume that they have the ability to buck the odds of history, and join the small group of teams capable of making one of the greatest comebacks ever.

“Still playing. When that day comes, when we’re done, we’re done. But it’s not over yet,” said Victor Martinez after his team’s loss on Tuesday. “Like I say, I mean, we come tomorrow, play hard and see what happens. It’s not over yet.”

Francona on D&H: Doubront dealing with neck problem

09.01.10 at 1:55 pm ET
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Terry Francona

Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley show on Wednesday for his weekly conversation and revealed that Felix Doubront was sent back to Boston due to suffering neck pain on his non-throwing side.

“On his non-pitching side of his neck in the front there he was having some pain,” Francona said of Doubront. “So we actually decided because of last night to send him back to Boston today to get him looked at and figure out what’s going on there to rule out some things. The good news is that it’s not his pitching arm, in fact it’s not his arm, it’s his neck but it’s on the other side and he was starting to grab at it a little bit so we kind of wanted him to get it looked at and we’ll see what the word on it is.”

Francona was also asked about various controversial decisions in the Tampa Bay series, including J.D. Drew’s catch on a sacrifice fly and not inserting Jonathan Papelbon in the extra-inning loss.

Below is the transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

It was kind of a frustrating night last night all the way around?

Yeah, we needed a bounce-back night and didn’t get it. Yeah, it was.

Are you worried about your team getting down on itself?

No, not really. I mean, we obviously care and the players care a lot. I think sometimes a missed play can be misconstrued or something. I think we’ll handle that. Again, we rather be eight games in first place than where we are and I think there’s a lot of caring about some of the games we’ve played but no, we’ll keep playing.

You know the standings. How do you look at this thing?

Well, I think obviously we have to get hot, but I think the way to get hot is not by talking about, and I’ll probably get asked 30 times a day, but I think the best way to do that is to take care of the business at hand. I’ve always said that, I’ll always feel that, it will never change. We know there is a lot of work ahead of us but the best way to get that done is to stay in the present. That’s that way in everything and I’ll never be convinced differently. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, felix doubront, Terry Francona,

Red Sox vs. Orioles matchups, 9/1

09.01.10 at 11:24 am ET
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Jon Lester

With the Red Sox sinking deeper and deeper into a hole for both the AL East and wild card race, Jon Lester will look to provide something positive on Wednesday night when he takes the mound at Camden Yards. The Orioles will counter with rookie Jake Arrieta, who will make his first career start against Boston.

Lester (14-8, 3.12 ERA) bounced back from one of the worst outings of his career against Toronto and was dominant to earn a win vs. the Rays. He allowed one unearned run and walked five batters but struck out 10 over seven innings. The performance marked the third start over Lester’s last four appearances in which he didn’t allow an earned run.

The Orioles are all too familiar with Lester’s dominance as he holds a 12-0 record with a 2.00 ERA in 15 starts against them. That’s the best record of any active starter against an opponent. In his three outings this season, the left-hander is 2-0 and has allowed only one run over 19 innings of work. The last meeting between the two sides came in early July at Fenway Park when Lester allowed one run through seven innings in a 9-3 Red Sox win. Ty Wigginton has had the most success against the Boston starter, hitting .389 with a home run in 23 career plate appearances.

Arrieta (4-6, 5.10 ERA), meanwhile, will look to break a three-start losing streak. After being called up in early June, the right-hander has made 14 appearances this season and has been a serviceable starter for Baltimore. He’s lacked run support in his last three outings, receiving just two runs despite pitching well against tough opponents in the Rays, Rangers and White Sox. He had the most difficulty in his last start at Chicago, allowing four runs over four innings in an 8-0 loss. Wednesday will mark the first time Arrieta has faced Boston.

The Orioles will try to win their fifth consecutive game for the first time this season. After defeating the Red Sox on Tuesday, Baltimore improved to 17-10 under manager Buck Showalter. Even if they sit in the cellar of the AL East at an American League-worst 49-83, the O’s will try to play spoiler down the stretch. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Buck Showalter, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester,

Remy on D&C: Players have something to play for

09.01.10 at 10:59 am ET
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Jerry Remy

NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning and said he doesn’t believe the Sox have given up on the season yet.

“Have they turned the page yet toward next year? No, they haven’t done that yet,” Remy said. “And the reason I say that is because there’s too many guys on this team that have a lot to play for. They’ve got young guys that are trying to prove they’re going to belong here at the beginning of next year, guys like [Ryan] Kalish. And they’ve got veteran guys who are playing for contracts. [Adrian] Beltre, [Victor] Martinez, [David] Ortiz — all these guys are playing for contracts.”

Remy was also asked his opinion of Theo Epstein and the job he’s done this season.

Below are the highlights of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Do you think after last night’s loss, we’re looking at this team turning the page to next year?

Well, it’s pretty obvious after the weekend that when you could have been possibly 2½ games out, you end up seven games back. It’s going to be an incredible battle from here on out and I don’t know whether they have the weapons to be able to do that. It was frustrating because you had chances to win every one of those games down in Tampa and you’re looking at a 2½-game spread, which makes things exciting. All of a sudden you come to Baltimore, you get a day off, you go back and you’re seven games out and you’re looking up at two very, very good teams.

Have they turned the page yet toward next year? No, they haven’t done that yet. And the reason I say that is because there’s too many guys on this team that have a lot to play for. They’ve got young guys that are trying to prove they’re going to belong here at the beginning of next year, guys like [Ryan] Kalish. And they’ve got veteran guys who are playing for contracts. [Adrian] Beltre, [Victor] Martinez, [David] Ortiz — all these guys are playing for contracts. So, they’re going to continue to play and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Jerry Remy, manny delcarmen,

Closing Time: Orioles 5, Red Sox 2

08.31.10 at 10:05 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — An Orioles team that has been an easy mark for numerous teams for much of the 2010 season continued to give the Red Sox fits on Tuesday night. Just hours after Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that his team needed to get “really hot” in order to stoke the embers of its flickering playoff hopes, Boston fell flat in Baltimore against an increasingly familiar nemesis.

Young left-hander Brian Matusz owns a 7-12 record and 4.72 ERA on the year, but he has overmatched the Sox in his brief career. Matusz stifled the Sox lineup in the Orioles’ 5-2 victory. In four starts against the Sox this year, he is now 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA after allowing two runs in six innings. He struck out six and walked just one.

The Sox’ third straight loss left them eight games behind the Yankees in the division and seven behind the Rays in the wild card.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The effect of Marco Scutaro‘s physical issues on his ability to throw a baseball were apparent, and costly. In the bottom of the first inning, he fielded a grounder in the hole by Ty Wigginton, but did not bother to throw to first to try to catch the lumbering runner.

More costly, with runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the third, Scutaro fielded a soft grounder, double pumped and then fired towards second with an awkward submarine motion. The throw sailed wide of the bag, heading down the right-field line and allowing both baserunners to score. Scutaro pulled his glove off his left hand and feigned throwing it to the turf.

–The Sox offense has disappeared. For the fifth straight game, the Sox scored three or fewer runs, the team’s longest such streak of futility since a six-gamer in July 2009.

David Ortiz and J.D. Drew saw their hellacious struggles against Matusz deepen. The two went a combined 0-for-5 with five strikeouts against the Orioles southpaw. Ortiz is now 0-for-9 with eight punchouts against Matusz, while Drew is 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. When Drew walked against Matusz to lead off the seventh, it represented a minor triumph for the duo.

Felix Doubront, against whom left-handed hitters were 5-for-35 without a single homer this year, got touched for longballs by left-handers Luke Scott and Felix Pie in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving Baltimore insurance runs that all but snuffed out any hope of a comeback.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Josh Beckett turned in his strongest outing in four weeks. The right-hander allowed three runs, just two earned, in his seven innings of work, and of the seven hits he allowed, two were infield singles and two were broken-bat flairs. But for Scutaro’s gaffe, he easily could have finished the night with just one run allowed.

Beckett was more aggressive using his secondary pitches early in counts, throwing his curveball at the start of at-bats to keep the Orioles honest. The approach had an unsettling effect on the O’s, allowing Beckett to snap a streak of five straight starts in which he’d allowed a homer, and resulting in his lowest earned-runs yield since Aug. 3.

Jed Lowrie gave the Sox an offensive spark at a time when the lineup appeared moribund. With the Sox down, 3-0, in the top of the fifth, he smoked a 388-foot homer to left field off of Matusz for a two-run homer that put the Sox back in the game. Lowrie, who also singled, is now hitting .287 with a .912 OPS and a career-high four homers.

–For the first time since undergoing surgery to remove the cavernous malformation of his brain stem, prospect Ryan Westmoreland was in uniform for a game, joining the Lowell Spinners to continue his rehab. For more on the progress of a player who was rated the top prospect in the Sox system entering 2010, click here.

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