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What impact has a new team (and park) had on Adrian Gonzalez?

06.20.11 at 12:18 pm ET
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In some respects, the numbers are staggering.

Adrian Gonzalez leads the majors with a .348 batting average. He has 15 homers, and is on pace for 34. He leads the majors with 64 RBI, and is on pace for 146. He leads the majors with 24 doubles, and is on pace for 55 two-baggers. He has 42 extra-base hits, a pace that would yield 96 for the year — a mark that would rank among the top 35 of all-time, and that would surpass the Red Sox franchise record of 92 set by Jimmie Foxx in 1938. Gonzalez leads the AL with 101 hits, has a .403 OBP (tied for third in the AL and seventh in the majors) and a .607 slugging mark (second in the AL, fourth in the majors).

The performance has been extraordinary to date. And so, it is worth asking: Is Gonzalez a better hitter than he was as a member of the Padres.

The statistics certainly suggest as much. The first baseman entered the year as a career .284 hitter with a .368 OBP, .507 slugging mark and .875 OPS; since becoming a big league regular in 2006, he’s averaged 32 homers and 100 RBI.

But Gonzalez suggests that his performance this year is not a radical departure from what he’s accomplished in the past. It merely reflects an environmental change. For starters, there is the park. Gonzalez no longer has to play half his games in Petco Park, San Diego’s beautiful home ballpark that happens to be as hostile to hitting as Pluto is to beach vacations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox to Brewers manager Ron Roenicke: ‘Hold’ this

06.20.11 at 11:18 am ET
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Even after watching two of his best pitchers get rocked this weekend at Fenway, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke still thought his staff had the right stuff to shut down the hottest offense in baseball.

He was dead wrong.

The Red Sox outscored the Brewers 22-7 in winning Friday and Sunday and taking two-of-three from the leaders of the NL Central.

On paper, there was some rational thought to thinking that Milwaukee – with the trio of Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf and Yovani Gallardo – could come in and make it a very competitive series. Marcum was 7-2, with a 2.68 ERA. Wolf was 4-4, with a 3.20 ERA and Gallardo was 8-3 and 3.76. All very good pitchers with very good numbers. And that doesn’t even include Zack Greinke.

Wolf held up his end of the bargain with seven stellar innings, allowing the Red Sox just two runs, lowering his ERA to 2.73 in four career starts at Fenway in Milwaukee’s 4-2 win Saturday night.

But Marcum – thanks to a balky hip flexor – lasted just one inning, throwing a stunning 46 pitches in the process. He allowed two runs before departing. And on Sunday, the first inning was even worse for Yovani Gallardo. He was shelled for six runs, throwing 48 pitches as the Red Sox sent 11 men to the plate to put the game away early. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Randy Wolf

Monday’s Red Sox-Padres matchups: Andrew Miller vs. Wade LeBlanc

06.20.11 at 9:54 am ET
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Interleague play for the Red Sox continues Monday night when the Padres come to Fenway for a three-game series. The Padres last visited in 2004, when the Red Sox took two out of three. The Red Sox also took two out of three at San Diego in 2007. The Red Sox won the World Series both those years, so perhaps the Padres’€™ arrival bodes well for Boston’€™s postseason chances.

With Clay Buchholz on the DL, the Red Sox are turning to Pawtucket call-up Andrew Miller. In 12 minor league starts this season, Miller was 3-3 with a 2.41 ERA. Although he has just a 1.74 BB/K ratio in 65 2/3 innings, he has only given up two home runs. Miller’€™s last major league start was a Sept. 29 loss to the Braves while with the Marlins, giving up four runs in just three innings.

Miller will face another pitcher that has bounced between the majors and the minors throughout his career in Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc was called up from Triple-A Tuscon on June 14 and will make his third start of the season when he faces the Red Sox. In 11 minor league starts this season, LeBlanc is 5-1 with 5.24 ERA. The Red Sox may have some luck with the long ball against him, as he has given up eight home runs in 68 2/3 minor league innings. Miller lost both of his previous major league starts this season, walking more batters than he struck out while allowing six earned runs in 12 2/3 combined innings.

Miller has made two major league starts against the Padres, going 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA and a .250 batting average against. Shortstop Jason Bartlett has had the most success against Miller, batting 4-for-9 with two doubles. Third baseman Chase Headley has two hits and three RBIs in three plate appearances.

The Red Sox will have to learn LeBlanc on the fly Monday, because no player has faced him before.

Padres vs. Miller

Jason Bartlett (9 plate appearances): .444 BA/.444 OBP/.667 SLG, two doubles, two RBIs

Ryan Ludwick (7): .286/.286/.429

In three plate appearances, Brad Hawpe is 0-for-1 with two walks

In three plate appearances, Chase Headley has two hits, including a double, and has driven in three.

Nick Hundley is 0-for-1 with a walk in two appearances.

Chris Denorfia, Alberto Gonzalez, Jesus Guzman, Rob Johnson, Cameron Maybin and Will Venable have never faced Miller.

Red Sox vs. LeBlanc

No Red Sox player has a major league plate appearance against LeBlanc.

Read More: andrew miller, Boston Red Sox, san diego padres, Wade LeBlanc

Adrian Gonzalez proves a point to Terry Francona and Jacoby Ellsbury

06.19.11 at 8:52 pm ET
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Just in case Terry Francona is tempted to pinch-run for Adrian Gonzalez like he did on June 4 against Oakland ‘€” in the that wild and woolly 9-8 Sox win in 14 innings ‘€” A-Gon wants the Red Sox manager to remember Sunday, and specifically the fourth inning.

That’s when Gonzalez tripled to the center field triangle in the fourth inning of Sunday’s 12-3 laugher over the Brewers, collected career hit No. 1,000 in the process. He also earned his third three-base hit of the season, two more than the speedburner Jacoby Ellsbury, something he let Ellsbury know shortly thereafter.

“I was telling Jacoby, ‘I have more triples than you do. What’s going on?’ ” Gonzalez told reporters afterward. “He just said, ‘Hey, you’re faster than me.’ ”

Gonalez said he never thought about what type hit it would take to reach the 1,000 plateau.

“I’ve never drawn it up,” Gonzalez said. “It’s something you never think you’re even going to get close to. It’s nice to get, nice to put it behind and focus on getting some more.”

Gonalez added hit No. 1,001 when he ripped a more routine RBI single to right in the seventh that scored Drew Sutton. The American League All-Star leading vote-getter at first base went 2-for-5 to raise his average to .348 on the season.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, Milwaukee Brewers

Closing Time: Red Sox 12, Brewers 3

06.19.11 at 4:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox on Sunday returned to their high-scoring and winning ways after a brief detour on Saturday, plating six runs in the first inning against Yovani Gallardo in a 12-3 victory over the Brewers to take two of three in the interleague matchup. The Sox (43-28) have reached double digits in runs for the fifth time in the last 11 games.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Kevin Youkilis — who had left Friday’s game early with a stomach bug — followed up Saturday’s multi-hit game with a three-run HR in the first inning on Sunday. Youkilis now has 50 RBI on the season, good for fifth in the American League.

Adrian Gonzalez became the first AL player to reach the 100-hit mark for the 2011 season with his fourth-inning triple (Jose Reyes is the only NL player to do so). The three-bagger was also the 1,000th hit of his major-league career. Gonzalez also knocked in a pair of runs in the game and now has 64 on the season — tops among all players in the majors.

Tim Wakefield allowed a two-run HR to Nyjer Moragn in the second inning and a solo shot to Prince Fielder in the seventh inning but was virtually flawless otherwise, finishing with the three earned runs on just three hits with six strikeouts against a single walk in 8.0 IP to pick up his fourth win of the season and 183rd in a Red Sox uniform. Wakefield had an ERA of 5.73 for the season after giving up six runs in 4.1 IP vs. the Twins on May 6. His ERA now stands at 4.33, the lowest since April 9.

Dustin Pedroia homered off Gallardo in the fourth inning (his sixth of the season) and is now batting .266 for the season, his highest average since April 29. Pedroia has enjoyed a superb June, with a batting average of .359 and 14 RBI in 15 games (he had 18 RBI in the previous 53 games).

Marco Scutaro also homered and is 14-for-40 since returning from the disabled list on June 7.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Clay Buchholz became the third Sox player in as many days to land on the disabled list, joining Carl Crawford and Jed Lowrie. Buchholz was placed on the DL with a lower back strain. Andrew Miller — who will start for the Sox in the series opener vs. the Padres on Monday — took the place of Buchholz on the roster.

Stanley Cup toes the rubber at Fenway Park

06.19.11 at 4:01 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and the rest of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins were paraded around the warning track for 10 minutes prior to Sunday’s Red Sox game against the Brewers.

Chara and Thomas were on the lead duck boat of four that were in the processional that began by entering through the center field wall about 15 minutes before first pitch.

Chara was holding up the Stanley Cup for nearly the entire time during the procession around Fenway.

After making one round around Fenway, the players departed in the center field triangle and made their way to the infield with the Stanley Cup, in addition to the Eastern Conference trophy and the Conn Smythe trophy, earned by Thomas as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoff run.

The pre-game ceremony was capped off by all members of the Bruins throwing simultaneous first pitches to the Red Sox players, who stood in a line from dugout to dugout behind home plate.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, MLB

Clay Buchholz makes it a Red Sox weekend trifecta on the DL

06.19.11 at 2:30 pm ET
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Andrew Miller is about to get his big shot with the Red Sox. And the Red Sox might just find out how smart they were to take a chance on him in the winter.

Clay Buchholz joined Jed Lowrie and Carl Crawford on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday as the Red Sox placed the right-handed starter on shelf with lower back strain. He is the third Red Sox player to land on the DL in as many days.

Taking his spot on the staff is lefty Miller, who will take Buchholz’s place in the rotation and will start Monday in series-opener against the Padres. Miller was selected from Triple-A Pawtucket and added to the 40-man roster while the move with Buchholz is retroactive to June 17.

The 26-year-old Buchholz is 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA, allowing 76 hits with 60 strikeouts and 31 walks in 14 starts. He is undefeated in nine straight starts since the beginning of May, compiling a 5-0 record with a 2.59 ERA in that span. Since the start of the 2010 season, Buchholz ranks third among qualifying American League pitchers in both ERA (2.70) and winning percentage (.697).

For Miller, this is his first career stint with the Red Sox after signing with the club as a minor league free agent last December. The 26-year-old left-hander is 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA, 61 strikeouts and 35 walks over 13 appearances (12 starts) with Pawtucket this season, including a 2-1 mark with a 1.78 ERA in his last four outings (three starts) since May 29.

Few pitchers in baseball had higher expectations in the 2006 MLB draft.

Originally signed by the Tigers with the sixth overall selection in the first round of the 2006 draft, Miller struggled out of the gate with the Tigers, going just 15-26 with a 5.84 ERA.

In 294 1/3 innings, he allowed 191 earned runs, while striking out 238 and issuing 174 walks over 79 career Major League games. After struggling with the Tigers, he moved onto the Marlins before 2008 and signing his minor league deal with the Red Sox last December.

Miller has sparkled in Triple-A, leading all qualifying pitchers with a .181 opponent average this season and ranks fourth among that group in ERA.

Read More: andrew miller, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Detroit Tigers

Josh Reddick gets the call in left

06.19.11 at 11:37 am ET
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With the Stanley Cup champion Bruins in the house ‘€” being honored before the game ‘€” the Red Sox will start their standard lineup with one exception as Josh Reddick gets the nod in left field for the disabled Carl Crawford.

This is Reddick’s fourth start of the season but first in left field. His previous three came in right field. He is also batting ninth for the first time after batting eighth his previous three starts. Reddick is batting .385 with no homers and four RBIs.

Darnell McDonald started Saturday night against lefty Randy Wolf while Reddick, a lefty batter, will get the call against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo.

The lineup vs. Gallardo is: Jacoby Ellsbury CF, Dustin Pedroia 2B, Adrian Gonzalez 1B, Kevin Youkilis 3B, David Ortiz DH, J.D. Drew RF, Marco Scutaro SS, Jarrod Saltalamacchia C and Josh Reddick LF, with Tim Wakefield taking his 3-2, 4.39 ERA to the mound as the starting pitcher.

Rickie Weeks, after hitting a leadoff homer and doubling in Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Sox as the DH, returns to his more familiar spot of second base. The Brewers go with: Weeks 2B, Corey Hart RF, Ryan Braun DH, Prince Fielder 1B, Casey McGehee 3B, Yuniesky Betancourt SS, Nyjer Morgan LF, Carlos Gomez CF, Jonathan Lucroy C and Gallardo P.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup, Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox, josh reddick

Sunday’s Red Sox-Brewers matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Yovani Gallardo

06.19.11 at 6:00 am ET
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Two starters with completely different pitching styles will be toeing the rubber in the final game of the weekend series between the Red Sox and Brewers on Sunday at Fenway Park. Boston will send soft-tossing veteran Tim Wakefield to the mound, while Milwaukee will counter with 25-year-old fireballer Yovani Gallardo.

Wakefield (3-2, 4.39 ERA) has continued to contribute as a starter, especially with his last outing against the Rays. The knuckleballer gave up just one earned run on four hits through seven innings, although he took the loss as Boston was shut out by James Shields. Wakefield did walk five hitters in that game and has given up a home run in each of his last four starts, but those seven strong innings snapped a string of subpar outings; he gave up five runs against the Yankees on June 8, and four runs against the White Sox on June 1.

One would assume Wakefield has an advantage against a seldom-faced opponent in interleague play, but in 76 combined plate appearances, the Brewers have hit the Boston starter quite well. As a team, Milwaukee is hitting .315 with five home runs and 10 RBI.

Yuniesky Betancourt faced Wakefield 19 times during his days in Seattle, and hit .316 with a team-high two home runs and five RBI. In 21 plate appearances, Mark Kotsay has a double, a triple, two home runs and three RBI to go along with a .250 batting average. Corey Hart played just one game against Wakefield back in 2008, but went 2-2 with a walk and a solo home run.

Gallardo (8-3, 3.76 ERA) has been pitching in the big leagues since 2007, but Sunday will mark his first career start against the Red Sox. Only Adrian Gonzalez and relief pitcher Matt Albers have faced the right-hander. Gonzalez is 3-for-8 with a home run, three RBI, and four strikeouts, while Albers is hitless in two plate appearances.

Gallardo finished last season with a record of 14-7 and a 3.84 ERA, and he’s on pace for an even better performance this year. He got off to a rocky start, carrying an ERA above 6.00 into May. Since then, he’s won six out of his last seven decisions, surrendering just eight runs combined in those six victories.

Most recently, Gallardo struck out a season-high 10 batters over seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball, but he took a no-decision as the bullpen gave up four runs to the Cubs. Even though Boston doesn’t have much experience against Gallardo, he’ll have his hands full against a Red Sox lineup that led the league in runs, batting average and on-base percentage entering Saturday.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brewers, Red Sox, Tim Wakefield, Yovani Gallardo

Lester, the longball and the arbitrary nature of wins

06.19.11 at 12:59 am ET
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Jon Lester pitched his way through the proverbial tale of two games on Saturday.

Early, the Brewers proved aggressive in punishing his mistakes, clubbing three homers (matching a career high for most permitted in a game by the left-hander) in the first three innings, including back-to-back homers by Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart to open the game. However, after allowing two more runs (including a solo shot by ex-teammate George Kottaras) in the third, Lester then had his way with Milwaukee’s lineup from the fourth through eighth innings, retiring 14 of 17 batters to finish the game and showing terrific stuff.

The final line fell in between anything that lent itself to definitive judgment. Lester pitched eight innings (good) while allowing four runs (not so hot), three of which were earned (not so bad). He gave up three longballs (career-high), walked three (somewhere in between) and struck out eight (impressive). The final verdict on the performance in the Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Brewers on Saturday was … mixed.

“We lost. Yeah, you can sit back and say there were some positives. With the way it started, it could have been a lot worse,” said Lester. “I just tried to minimize the damage and keep the guys in the game.”

It was an odd game for Lester that encapsulates what has been a somewhat odd season for the lefty. In contrast to past years, in which he got off to a slow start in April but then went on a sustained run of dominance from May through the end of the year, Lester burst out of the blocks this year, going 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA in his first seven starts, but has since drifted into an inconsistent stretch.

Over his last eight starts, the left-hander has a 5-2 record but with a 4.94 ERA. He’s permitted nine homers, but he’s also punched out 49 batters in 51 innings.

The strikeouts suggest his pitching arsenal remains very, very good, as does the fact that he got eight strikeouts and 12 swings and misses (nine on cutters) from the Brewers on Saturday. The homers — with 14 now this season, Lester has already matched (in 96 1/3 innings) the total longballs he yielded in 208 innings last year — suggest that his command has been inconsistent. Read the rest of this entry »

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