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John Lackey feels the same, but looks better

07.09.11 at 11:25 pm ET
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One and a half seasons into the righty’s Red Sox career, Bostonians generally aren’t thrilled with the John Lackey that they’re used to. The tag has been applied, and Sox fans figure to follow each one of the 32-year-old’s starts with complaints about his lack of accountability or his actions on the field.

‘€œOverall, my arm felt pretty good. Probably one of the better ones it’€™s felt as far as velocity, stuff like that,” Lackey said after being chased in the third inning of Monday’s loss to the Blue Jays, an outing in which he surrendered seven runs.

So while it may come as puzzling, Lackey made sure after perhaps his best start of the season to at least provide consistency when it came to analyzing himself.

Rather than saying that he was back on the track that he had been on in three of the four starts leading into Monday’s disaster, Lackey went back to shrugging. Yet rather than shrugging off getting too down on himself, he was downplaying how encouraging his outing was.

“I guess I was locating a little bit better, but honestly, not a whole lot [was different],” Lackey insisted after Saturday’s 4-0 win over the Orioles. “The velocity was pretty much the same. I told you my arm felt pretty good the other day, so moving forward, I’ll keep going.”

Lackey pitched into the seventh inning, getting pulled after 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball and receiving a rare standing ovation from those on hand at Fenway.

Though he struck out seven in the victory and allowed only three hits, the 32-year-old was adamant that the difference between the performance that had 38,205 on their feet and the performance that had fans calling for him to lose his spot in the rotation wasn’t anything big.

“There’s a fine line between good and bad,” Lackey said. “My arm felt about the same as it did the last start, honestly.”

Though Lackey clearly had no interest in patting himself on the back, his teammates and his manager were glad to do it for him. The right-hander said the ovation was “nice,” but his catcher put things in better terms.

“I think that he has had it rough,” Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who called Lackey’s performance “great,” said. “To his credit, he keeps coming out there and pounding. He never complains, never says anything and just lets the chips fall. I am glad he went out there and pitched the way we know he can.’€

Now, Lackey heads into the All-Star break coming off what was clearly his best start at home, a performance that rivals only his April 24 outing in Anaheim (8 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, BB, 6 K) as his best of the season. Historically, Lackey has been a better second-half pitcher, but neither he nor Terry Francona figured momentum will play a major role in how he fares going forward.

“Lack’s been doing this a long time,” Francona said. “I think he actually — I know he gets up here some nights and maybe he’s a little gruff, or however — but he always is the same when he’s pitching, and during the week. I hope he feels good about himself. He should.”

Lackey’s performance Saturday night lowered his ERA to 6.84. Though the mark is still the worst in the majors among pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched, it’s as big a step forward as Lackey, who entered the night with a 7.47 ERA, could have taken. He may not have wanted to admit whether he felt any better, but with his ability to get Orioles hitters with his fastball, cutter, slider and curveball, he certainly looked better.

‘€œHe threw the ball great,” Kevin Youkilis said. “That is the John Lackey we’€™re used to.”

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Closing time: John Lackey silences his critics in 4-0 win

07.09.11 at 9:58 pm ET
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Veteran right-hander John Lackey (6-8) silenced his critics and delivered one of his best performances of the season in the Red Sox 4-0 win over the Orioles Saturday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have taken the first three games of the four game series by a combined score of 24-7.

Lackey threw 6 2/3 shut out innings, allowing just three hits. He struck out seven, walked one and hit two batters. Coming into the game Lackey had a 9.17 ERA at Fenway Park, and a 7.47 ERA overall. His ERA dropped to 6.84 overall after Saturday’€™s outing.

There was no scoring for either side until the bottom of the fifth when the Red Sox made the Orioles pay for two intentional walks of Red Sox hitters to take a 3-0 lead.

Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked with Dustin Pedroia on second base and the next batter Kevin Youkilis made the Orioles pay as he doubled to left scoring Pedroia for the first run of the game. The next hitter David Ortiz was also intentionally walked, and then it was Josh Reddick‘€™s turn as he doubled to right, scoring Youkilis and Gonzalez to give the Red Sox a 3-0 advantage. All of the scoring occurred with two outs.

Orioles starter Alfredo Simon (1-2) was pulled following Reddick’€™s double and finished the night going 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.

The Sox added a run in the seventh on Youkilis’€™ second double of the game, which scored Pedroia.

There was no retaliation from either side following the bench clearing brawl that occurred Friday night. Warnings were delivered to both dugouts following Lackey hitting his second batter of the game in the seventh, but nothing further developed.

Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon combined to pitch 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to preserve the Red Sox victory.

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Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish still day-to-day

07.09.11 at 7:59 pm ET
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Pawtucket Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias suffered a concussion in the eighth inning of a July 3 win over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 21-year-old took an Andrew Brackman fastball off the helmet and fell to the dirt immediately. Now, six days removed from his first-ever concussion, Iglesias is still feeling the effects.

“I feel better,” the 21-year-old prospect said before Saturday night’s game against the Buffalo Bisons. “The swelling is going down. I’€™m still a little dizzy, but I’€™m feeling better.”

Added Iglesias: “I’€™m taking it day-by-day. Whenever I feel better, [when] the headaches and dizziness disappear, I hope after the All-Star break I’€™ll be ready to get back and start practicing. We’€™ll see.”

Another player the Red Sox have in their plans, outfielder Ryan Kalish, is also day-to-day, according to manager Arnie Beyeler. Kalish suffered a partial tear in the labrum of his left shoulder in April, and although his recovery from that injury went as planned, he developed stiffness in his neck during rehab.

“He has the good days where he’€™ll do more the next day, do stuff again the next day,” Beyeler said. “Then he has the bad days. We just kind of wait until he has the good day. So we’€™re still just kind of kicking around day-to-day.”

In 14 games before being put on the shelf, Kalish was hitting .236 with no home runs and seven RBIs. He hopes to return to the major-league level. Last season, he appeared in 53 games for the Red Sox batting .252 with four home runs and 24 RBIs.

Barring another setback Kalish should return to action fairly soon. Iglesias, on the other hand, can’t even pick up a bat until he’s back to 100 percent.

“He’€™s getting better every day,” Beyeler said. “With these new rules and things that we have with the concussions, you can’€™t trust guys until they’€™re asymptomatic and his head still hurts a little bit and he’€™s got a little dizziness so we’€™ve just got to wait for that to go away before we can really progress.”

Added Beyeler: “We can’€™t even test him until he feels OK. We’€™re just waiting for him to come in one of these days where he doesn’€™t have any symptoms. Then we can do some things with him and then if he’€™s OK the next day, then we can test it and then go from there.”

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Trade Deadline: Giants interested in Carlos Beltran

07.09.11 at 7:57 pm ET
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Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran has already said he’d welcome a trade to a contending team, and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports the Giants could be a suitor. San Francisco leads the NL West by one game entering Saturday, but is in desperate need of run production, ranking 27th in scoring and 25th in batting average this season.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy made his respect for Beltran known when he named him to the National League All-Star team earlier this month. Beltran and teammate Jose Reyes will be flying with the Giants to Sunday’s All-Star Game in Phoenix.

Still, the Mets could turn themselves into contenders with a second half run. As of Saturday they sit 10 games out of first-place in the NL East.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, carlos beltran, Giants,

Red Sox/Orioles Live Blog

07.09.11 at 7:13 pm ET
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Follow along the action from Fenway Park as the Sox take on the Orioles Saturday night

Red Sox/Orioles Live Blog

Trade Deadline: Cubs not likely to deal top starting pitchers

07.09.11 at 5:30 pm ET
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With the Cubs reeling and looking to rebuild, starting pitchers Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and Matt Garza have been targeted as Chicago’s most valuable trade pieces. However, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Cubs will more than likely hang on to those arms, since the rotation is their most glaring weakness.

While those pitchers may be off limits, general manager Jim Hendry promised to be aggressive as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.

“Everything we try to do will be designed to try to get better moving forward,” he said. “And there won’t be pieces moved that are going to be integral parts of the club a year from now.”

The Cubs are 36-54 entering Saturday.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Carlos Zambrano, cubs, matt garza

Red Sox happy to see Derek Jeter reach 3,000 hit milestone

07.09.11 at 5:24 pm ET
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Derek Jeter reached the 3,000-hit milestone in impressive fashion Saturday, collecting five hits in a 5-4 victory over the Rays. The Yankees shortstop blasted a solo homer in the third inning off David Price for his 3,000th hit.

Jeter joins Wade Boggs as the only players to record their 3,000th hit on a home run.

Though he is the enemy on the field, the Red Sox were very happy for Jeter in discussing his milestone prior to Saturday’s game against the Orioles.

‘€œThat’€™s an unbelievable accomplishment. The numbers speak for themselves,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I think the other side of it is either as impressive or even more, the way he conducts himself and the way he respects the game.’€

Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis expressed amazement at the fact that Jeter was the first to do it as a member of the Yankees.

“It’s awesome. I’m very happy for him,” Youkilis said. “He’s a great guy, a great player. It’s unbelievable to think that with 3,000 hits, he’s the first Yankee ever to do that [while playing for New York]. If you think of the history of the Yankees, you would think there would be somebody. Guys have had 3,000 hits, but not all with the same team on the Yankees. It’s remarkable.

“It couldn’t happen to a better guy for the game of baseball. He definitely represents baseball well and does a lot of good things. He’s well-deserving of it. To have a home run on it is even cooler.”

Francona has known Jeter for quite some time, and said he was glad to see him become the 28th member of the 3,000-hit club.

“If you like baseball, he’s a lot of what’s good in baseball,” Francona said. “He respects the game, he plays the game right. He makes me proud for the way he goes about his business. I’ve seen him since the fall league and he was 19 years old, he’€™s still the same kid. He always plays the game right, treats people right and tries to beat your brains out.’€

Ryan Hannable contributed to this report.

Read More: David Price, Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, Terry Francona

Side session for Josh Beckett on Sunday

07.09.11 at 5:09 pm ET
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After Red Sox starter Josh Beckett left Friday night’s game with a hyperextended left knee after the fifth inning, manager Terry Francona said Beckett will throw a side session Sunday morning. The team will then reevaluate him and decide how they want to proceed with the right-hander.

Francona said Beckett is scheduled to appear in Tuesday’s All-Star game, but that Sunday could play a role in whether he can or cannot go.

“Obviously, not just for his start going forward with us, but with All-Star ramifications, you don’€™t want to hold up the league. They’ve got their hands full as it is,” Francona said before Saturday night’s game. “If he’€™s OK, he’€™s OK. If he needs to hold off then we will do that also. We respect the All-Star stuff, but we also have an obligation to our team.’€

On the season, Beckett has an 8-3 record and a 2.27 ERA. He has a WHIP of 0.95 and 94 strikeouts.

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David Ortiz thinks Kevin Gregg is the one who should play the game right

07.09.11 at 5:05 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said Saturday that he does not “feel proud” of the eighth-inning altercation between the Sox and Orioles in Friday’s 10-3 Boston win. After hitting a fly ball, Ortiz went after and took a swing at Baltimore pitcher Kevin Gregg for yelling at the DH to run the bases. While Ortiz figures he will be suspended for the incident, he said he doesn’t feel it was his fault.

“I know MLB is going to take some action about it,” Ortiz said. “It’s something that everybody’s aware of. It all depends on what they’re feeling like doing, but I wasn’t the one that started this. I don’t think I was.”

Ortiz said that Gregg, whose throwing inside on him throughout the at-bat led to a previous argument, provoked him with his actions.

“This is a guy that I always face. He never pitches in, so he threw a whole bunch of pitches inside, and I’m pretty sure he was trying to hit me, no question about that,” Ortiz said of Gregg. “After that, I hit the fly ball and he started screaming at me. I ain’t going to take that like a little [kid]. Everybody’s a grown-[up] man here, and you’ve got to be aware of the situation.”

Following the game, Gregg said he yelled at Ortiz because he wanted him to “play the game right.” In looking back at the situation, Ortiz used Gregg’s own logic against him.

“I respect everybody the same,” Ortiz said. “If you’re getting your [butt] kicked, there’s nothing you can do but play better. You can’t be acting stupid out there just because you’re getting beat up. There’s a reason you’re getting beat up. You’re not playing the game the way it’s supposed to be. Play the game the way it’s supposed to be, and you’re not going to get beat up.

“Don’t be blaming it on , ‘Oh, you guys think you’re better than us,’ and this and that,” Ortiz continued. “I have a lot of friends on that ball club. I don’t like to be going through situations like that. It’s just horrible. It’s not like we’re trying to show up nobody. You play the game. We got our [butts] kicked at the beginning of the season. We don’t blame nobody but us. Then we started figuring things out and played better. Nobody is looking over their shoulders at no one. Play the game right, and you will earn respect.”

Ortiz also didn’t see where Gregg had any grounds to tell him what to do in the batters box.

“When has he been a hitter? When was the last time he swung a bat?” Ortiz asked. “He doesn’t know anything about that. When you start situations, you’ve got to be aware of what is coming up next.”

While the DH said he called O’s reliever Brad Bergesen after hitting him with a line drive, he has no plans of talking to Gregg.

“Why should I? It’s over,” Ortiz said. “I put that behind me.”

As for when suspensions get handed out, manager Terry Francona said the league could notify them following the All-Star break.

“It’s a nice thing for the league, I don’t think they want to be talking about what happened last night,” Francona said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t hear anything until [after the break].”

Read More: Brad Bergesen, David Ortiz, kevin gregg,

Curt Schilling on Mustard & Johnson: Talking David Ortiz fight, Derek Jeter

07.09.11 at 4:53 pm ET
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ESPN analyst Curt Schilling called in to Mustard & Johnson Saturday afternoon to add his two cents on Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, and last night’s Red Sox-Orioles brawl. You can listen to the full conversation on the Mustard & Johnson audio on demand page.

Schilling’s first order of business was setting the record straight on one of baseball’s unwritten rules. According to the former Red Sox ace, David Ortiz should not have swung on a 3-0 pitch in the ninth inning of Friday’s game, echoing the opinion of Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis.

“The 3-0 swing, that is one of those [unwritten rules] that absolutely exists and the problem is that you don’t know what the rules are from a score perspective,” Schilling said. “When you’re beating somebody 6-0 in the ninth inning with one out, you don’t swing 3-0. I never knew where the line was drawn there. I don’t remember ever having anybody do it to me but it is an unwritten rule. It’s almost like kneeling on the [football] late in the game. There are certain situations where you take your foot off the gas, you’ve got a team beat. You don’t want to embarrass them.

“It’s tough because you don’t want to stop playing the game because that’s when somebody gets a catastrophic injury,” he continued. “But at the same time — I’ll use an example in playing and coaching Summer ball and little league — you’re beating somebody 15-0 and there’s a runner on third, you tell the runner on third, ‘Just stay here unless there’s a hit.’ You don’t run on passed balls. I don’t know where that starts and stops from a maturation standpoint but I know in the big leagues it’s hard to take your foot off the gas and you don’t want people to get hurt when they do it. It’s a challenge.”

Ortiz flied the 3-0 pitch out to center field, and after hearing a few choice words from Orioles pitcher Kevin Gregg, he decided to charge the mound, narrowly missing with a couple of heavy haymakers. Schilling said he wasn’t surprised at Big Papi’s reaction, although he didn’t necessarily support it.

“I knew [Ortiz] wasn’t going to continue running [to first],” said Schilling. “That happened exactly the way you would expect it to happen at that point. He’s [upset] because [Gregg] threw some balls uncomfortably in. The challenge is you’re going to lose him for a period of games … Do you expect guys in the heat of the moment to sit back and go, ‘Well, I might cost my team.’ I would tell you yes. There are points in time when you do bite your tongue and you do turn right instead of turn left. I don’t know if last night was one of them, but the fact of the matter is when that stuff happens you have to trust that you have a pitching staff of guys that can take care of a situation down the road. Especially in the [American League] East. You play each other 19 times. If there’s a problem, I’m going to see enough guys enough times to make sure we’re even. The score’s even at the end of the year.” Read the rest of this entry »

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