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Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 5/4

05.04.10 at 1:45 pm ET
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It was a long, strange month for Jon Lester. The beginning of April was a nightmare, just like it had been in the previous year. The talk and questions were mounting for the young Red Sox ace, but perhaps now he is pulling himself out of his early-season doldrums.

In his last two starts, his ERA has lowered from 8.44 to 4.71. He hasn’t given up an earned run since he gave up seven against the Rays on Apr. 18. Those starts were still in April.

The May numbers still aren’t what we have come to expect from Lester over his career in a Red Sox uniform. He is 5-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 12 starts in May, but things seem to be turning around.

His strikeouts have increased in every game, topping out at 11 against Toronto last time out, and his swings and misses have increased in every start this season.

For two teams that seem to be all too familiar with each other, Lester has only faced the Angels four times in his career in the regular season, sporting a 1-1 record with a 7.78 ERA. 

Ervin Santana should be the ace of this Angels staff, but with his numbers and up and down performances, it’s hard to label him the clear cut No. 1. Santana clearly has the stuff to be an ace, especially after 2008, when he won 16 games and struck out 217 batters.

But minor ailments have held him back, and this year he isn’t off to an ace-like start. In five starts this season, he is 1-2 with a 4.59 ERA, and his only true ace-like performance came in a complete-game effort against Toronto on Apr. 18.

The Angels hurler has struggled against the Red Sox. He is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in six starts vs. Boston, with two losses coming at Fenway Park, where he sports a lofty 6.33 ERA.

Jon Lester hasn't surrendered an earned run in his last two starts. (AP)

ANGELS VS. JON LESTER

Bobby Abreu (14 plate appearances): .308 average/ .351 OBP/ .462 slugging percentage, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Maicer Izturis (9): .375/ .444/ .625, 1 walk

Juan Rivera: 2-for5, 1 walk

Howie Kendrick: 1-for-4, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Erick Aybar: 2-for-3, 1 walk

Jeff Mathis: 1-for-4, 1 strikeout

Torii Hunter: 2-for-3

Mike Napoli: 0-for-3, 1 strikeout

Reggie Willits: 2-for-2, 1 walk

Never faced: Kendry Morales, Brandon Wood

The Angels probably want Ervin Santana to harness his potential and be their No. 1. (AP)

RED SOX VS. ERVIN SANTANA

Adrian Beltre (41 plate appearances): .200 average/ .220 OBP/ .400 slugging percentage, 2 homers, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (21): .167/ .250/ .333, 2 walks, 1 strkeout

David Ortiz (17): .333/ .412/ .667, 1 homer, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (15): .000/ .067/ .000, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (13): .182, .308/ .273, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (12): .273/ .333/ .545, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Victor Martinez (12): .500/ .583/ .800, 1 homer, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (9): .250/ .333/ .375, 1 walk

Kevin Youkilis: 1-for-2, 1 walk, 1 stikeout

Never faced: Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida

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Lowell: ‘I understand the situation’

05.04.10 at 1:08 am ET
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Mike Lowell knows 4-for-4 with three doubles will put a smile on his face — as was the case following the Red Sox’ 17-8 rout of the Angels Monday night at Fenway Park — but it doesn’t guarantee another shot at repeating the performance when the next day rolls around. (Click here to listen to Lowell’s postgame interview.)

“I understand the situation,” Lowell said after upping his batting average to .300. “It does seem at times where you think you’re on a tryout basis, just because I think we’re feeling things out as a team. If I can make that decision as hard as possible, it means I’m doing something good.”

With right-hander Ervin Santana on the mound for the Angels in the second game of the four-game set, the likelihood is that Lowell won’t be getting another crack at repeating the performance come Tuesday. Designated hitter David Ortiz has hit a respectable .333 against Santana, while also coming off a two-home run game two games ago, and even though Adrian Beltre is just a .200 hitter off the Angels starter, he did hit his first homer of the season in the series opener.

When asked whether he believed performances like the one he put on Monday should earn him more playing time, Lowell was up front with his answer.

“I feel like I’ve earned more playing time with the last 11 years of my career,” said Lowell, who is a career .273 hitter against Santana. “If you take away 2005, if you tell me my numbers were terrible last year, then I deserve not to play. That’s my stance. We’ll go to the next question. I can open up a big bag of worms.”

Lowell also addressed the comments made by Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein to The Boston Herald after Sunday’s loss that changes might be on the way. (“It either changes itself or we have to do something to change it,” Epstein told the Herald.)

“If it’s not true, yeah, I would take offense to it. But I think everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and say does this apply to me. If it does, you have to correct it. I don’t have a problem with him saying it,” Lowell said. “I don’t think anyone in here thinks we were playing good baseball. Hopefully, that will start.”

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Pedroia addresses the fans of New England … sort of

05.04.10 at 12:26 am ET
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The questions had been asked following the Red Sox’ latest round of healing — a 17-8 win over the Angels Monday night at Fenway Park — when Dustin Pedroia asked for tape recorder to be turned back on.

“To the fans of New England,” the second baseman began.

“Everybody can be [expletive] happy when you’re [expletive] 30-1, but what is everybody going to do when we’re 12-14? Are you going to show up to work the next day and write an [expletive] story? Hell no. You’re going to write the best story of your life. We’re going to try and play the best [expletive] game of our life tomorrow. That’s what you’ve got to do when you’re 12-14. Don’t put your head down and mope. Grind it out. You believe. That’s what we’re built on.”

So, there you have it.

Just prior to Pedroia’s message to “the fans of New England,” he also touched on some perception that the chemistry of the team hasn’t jelled with the combination of new players and losing not allowing for the kind of cohesion previously seen in the Sox clubhouse.

“When you win, it’s not magnified. When your 12-14 everybody jumps on the new guys like it’s their fault,” Pedroia said. “It’s not their fault. Nobody has played unbelievable. There’s a few guys who have played good but the new guys have been fine. Boston is different, man. They demand you go out there every day and play your butt and try to win. It takes some time to get used to, but once you get used to it, man, there’s nothing like playing here. It’s the best place in the world. Everybody needs to take a deep breath and do what we did tonight.”

In case you missed it, what the Red Sox did Monday night was notch seven players with multi-hit games on the way to a 20-hit attack.

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Closing Time: Red Sox 17, Angels 8

05.03.10 at 10:50 pm ET
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The Red Sox offense has had more than its fair share of shortcomings this year, but power has not been among them.

The Sox entered Monday with 33 homers — fourth most in the majors — and left it with four more in a 17-8 assault on the Angels. The Sox have now hit 13 homers in their last four games, offering a suggestion that concerns about their power deficiencies (even with a struggling David Ortiz) may be misguided.

Buoyed by the warm Fenway night, the Sox offense unloaded on Halos hurlers. Kevin Youkilis (5), Bill Hall (1), Adrian Beltre (1) and Dustin Pedroia (7) all went deep in a game in which the Sox amassed 11 extra-base hits, tied for the most by the club since the vaunted lineup of 2003 bashed 12 extra-base hits in a 25-8 win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Kevin Youkilis is quietly moving back towards the numbers that have earned him top 10 status in AL MVP voting in each of the last two years. He crushed a homer and double and walked three times in six plate appearances. In his last eight games, he is now hitting .394 (13-for-33) with a .487 OBP, .758 slugging mark, 1.245 OPS and three homers. For the year, he is now hitting .289 with five homers and a .927 OPS.

J.D. Drew went 4-for-5 with a double, two runs and three runs driven in. His four hits matched a career high. On April 20, he was hitting .133 with a .472 OPS. In 11 games since then, he is hitting .364 with a .412 OBP and .727 slugging mark to lift his season-long numbers to respectability (.247 average, .802 OPS).

–Every Sox starter had at least a hit and a run, but a couple bore particular attention. Mike Lowell, who entered the game in a 2-for-20 funk, went 4-for-4 with three doubles (matching a career high) and 4 RBI. Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall hit their first homers as members of the Sox. And Victor Martinez, who was 1-for-13 entering the game, went 2-for-5 with an opposite-field double that he crushed to deep right field.

–Martinez also gunned down his third straight would-be base stealer dating to Friday in Baltimore. He delivered a strong, accurate, one-hop throw to second to clip Maicer Izturis in the top of the sixth inning. He has now nabbed 4-of-31 would-be base thieves.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

On a night of a double-digit blowout, the Red Sox shortcomings were few. That said…

Clay Buchholz earned the win, but labored in what seemed like excessive fashion on a night when he was staked to huge advantages. He threw 109 pitches in yielding four runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings, striking out just two and walking three. It is, however, worth noting that he had a 10:1 groundball:flyball out ratio. Moreover, of the eight hits he allowed, just one (an Izturis double) was for extra bases. Even so, his mound pace was at times painfully deliberate.

Scott Schoeneweis, making his first appearance in a week, was dreadful in the ninth inning. He allowed four runs on four hits and two walks, making it fair to wonder whether, had he turned in such a performance before April 30, Alan Embree might still be on the club.

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Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 5/3

05.03.10 at 8:21 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz has been the most consistent starter this year for the Red Sox. This statement probably wasn’t what people were expecting on a staff that runs out Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey.

The young right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.19 ERA over his first four starts, and is coming off his best start of the year last week in Toronto.

The Red Sox would love to see another eight-inning performance and another win out of Buchholz, especially after the disappointing weekend in Baltimore. Buchholz is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in three starts vs. the Angels, but did pitch particularly well in Game 3 of the ALDS last season.

Angels’ starter Joe Saunders has compiled 33 wins over the last two seasons – 17 and 16, respectively – but has been tagged with a loss in four out of his five outings this season.

Saunders is 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA in eight career starts vs. the Red Sox, with three of those wins coming at Fenway Park.

Clay Buchholz takes the ball for the Red Sox on Monday. (AP)

ANGELS VS. CLAY BUCHHOLZ

Jeff Mathis (8 plate appearances): .200 average/ .375 OBP/ .200 slugging, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Hideki Matsui (8): .429/ .500/ .571, 1 walk

Torii Hunter: 1-for-5, 1 walk

Maizer Izturis: 1-for-4, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Bobby Abreu: 1-for-5, 1 homer

Howie Kendrick: 1-for-5

Juan Rivera: 0-for-5, 2 strikeouts

Erick Aybar: 0-for-3

Reggie Willits: 0-for-3

Never faced: Ryan Budde, Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli, Brandon Wood

Joe Saunders has had success against the Red Sox in his career. (AP)

RED SOX VS. JOE SAUNDERS

Dustin Pedroia (24 plate appearances): .333 average/ .333 OBP/ .417 slugging, 1 strikeout

Adrian Beltre (22): .318/ .318/ .455, 3 strikeouts

David Ortiz (22): .150/ .227/ .150, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (22): .222/ .364/ .500, 1 homer, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (21): .250/ .286/ .400, 1 homer, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (15): .231/ .323/ .308, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (12): .222/ .417/ .333, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (9): .333/ .333/ .333, 2 strikeouts

J.D. Drew: 1-for-5, 1 walk

Bill Hall: 0-for-2, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Never faced: Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald

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Gammons on The Big Show: No easy answers for the Sox

05.02.10 at 11:10 pm ET
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Hall of Fame journalist and NESN Red Sox analyst Peter Gammons checked in with the Big Show on Friday afternoon. Gammons described the uncomfortable state of the Sox, and particularly the reality that confronts Sox manager Terry Francona.

With David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Tim Wakefield all unhappy with the nature of their roles and playing time, Francona faces a situation that is becoming challenging on a near-daily basis.

“I think this is by far the most difficult year he’s had managing,” said Gammons. “Everyday he’s treading such a thin line, trying not to offend players but realizing that people are angry at him.”

Gammons suggested that the Sox’ catching situation has few easy solutions, with no apparent answer available in a trade. He hypothesized that if the Sox released Ortiz, then they would implement a timeshare at DH with Victor Martinez and Mike Lowell, with Jason Varitek getting more regular playing time behind the plate.

A transcript is below. To listen to the interview, click here:

On the state of the Red Sox:

In time I think the Wakefield situation will abate. I think in time if he gets more at-bats the Lowell situation will calm down. I do think that treading the line on how far they go with Ortiz and whether or not he gets so frustrated and embarrassed he just blows up, I think that’s the line that’s going to be very difficult here. … I don’t know how it’s going to end up. I don’t have a solution to it. I do think it will be determined fairly quickly. There’s just too much hanging over them.

On the awkwardness of pinch-hitting for Ortiz:

I guess by now David should have been prepared for it. I’m not sure it ever happens. It’s different than Marty Barrett being sent up for Jim Rice. Jim had no idea that was going to happen. But I’ve said this many times: I don’t know what it’s like to be David Ortiz or Jim Rice. I don’t have that experience in my life. Therefore, it’s very hard for me to say that they should just accept it. Now, should he accept that he’s just not catching up to fastballs? Yeah. But that’s part of the whole pride thing. When you’re a star, there’s a lot of denial that goes into the later years of your career. We’ve seen it in a lot of sports with a lot of people. And I think we’re seeing it with David right now. Whether or not he can make that adjustment is something that I guess they have to determine very fast, because I just don’t think they can go on having two or three DH’s all of the time.

I think it’s partly denial. It’s not over for me, I’m not in my later years. We’ve seen extreme versions. … It got that way last year with Jim Thome in Chicago.

How challenging a situation is this for Sox manager Terry Francona?

I think this is by far the most difficult year he’s had managing. Everyday he’s treading such a thin line, trying not to offend players but realizing that people are angry at him. This is something that I think you might start to see two or three years from now with the Yankees, when Jeter and A-Rod are approaching 40. I’m presuming Jeter is going to get about a five-year deal. So they’re both going to have two or three years left on their contracts. If they start to decline, what do the Yankees do on the left side of their infield? And I think you might start to see them have some of the same difficulties that the Red Sox are having right now.

What is the impact on the clubhouse of an unhappy Ortiz?

I think that if it goes another entire month it could have a negative effect. I think that for now, people are sort of walking the line. Players have, over the years, liked David so much, and with very good reason, knowing how much he’s carried other people and that he’s made a lot of money for other people, and sort of go, ‘He’s struggling. He’s not entirely honest with himself. At the same time, if I were in that position, I’d probably be the same way.’ but I think if it drags on for another month and continues to be a major issue, it’s hard.

How are Victor Martinez’ defensive struggles messing up the roster dynamics?

I don’t think there’s any question. One of the reasons that you didn’t see the Red Sox jump when Joe Mauer signed was that they weren’t planning on signing Victor Martinez long-term as a catcher. That was never in their plans. I know they thought they could get by for a year the way they did the last two months of last year. … Victor’s a very good catcher. Varitek went on and on the other day about how you watch his hands, and his footwork is so good. The problem is simply the throwing. He’s not Joe Mauer with his hands, but he’s in the top echelon of catchers being able to catch the ball and present himself. But that throwing is an issue. … That’s a problem. How you end up, if they decide they’re going to move Ortiz, release him because they’re not going to trade him, let’s say they decide to release him, you’ll probably see Varitek play two or three days a week, and you’ll see Victor DH two or three days a week, and Lowell at DH. I’ll say this: the way Varitek has handled this is one of the most admirable scenes I’ve ever witnessed.

The other night, the night that there were all the stolen bases on Wakefield, there were a couple fans by the dugout who were screaming at Victor. And Varitek went back to the end of the dugout and was screaming back at them, telling them to shut up, it’s not his fault, all that. … Varitek has been the best friend and the greatest supporter that Victor Martinez has. I’ll probably remember that more about Jason Varitek than anything else. …

Throwing is a problem for both catchers. I don’t see, unless Colorado decides to bail on the remaining $8 million in Chris Ianetta’s contract, there’s nobody out there to go get right now. You’re going to have to live with it, and hope that pitchers hold the ball or that the four starting pitchers are simply dominant all the time, which is possible. You’ve got Lester and Buchholz both throwing well. I think most guys around the game would say that they’re the guys with the best stuff on the staff.

It was surprising to see Ramon Ramirez close a game in Toronto.

That was unbelievable. Yet he threw the ball like he did in April of last year. There’s something funny in the dynamics with Ramirez. I guess he feels a lot that he is disrespected. Part of the reason he’s been disrespected is he hasn’t been very good. He scares the manager to death, but they had no choice. They had to use him in the ninth inning and he threw like he did last year. He was throwing 94, he had that great changeup, that dipping changeup. It may be that the next time he’s brought in for the sixth inning that he doesn’t perform. But it was interesting to see. They went into that Buchholz start with the fewest wins, the fewest quality starts and the second worst earned run average of any starting staff in the American League. This team was obviously built to have four really good starting pitchers and either Daisuke or Wakefield. They really didn’t have anyone pitching well. Now, the two young guys with great stuff pitched well. My guess is that a lot will follow from there.

If Ortiz is released, would it involve ownership? Have talks along those lines already occurred?

Well, I think it would have to come from way above, especially because you’re talking about a guy making $13 million. But I think the practicality is, you say, OK, can we afford, if David’s not going to play, a) Is it fair to him – maybe he can go off and find another home somewhere the way Thome’s found one in Minnesota and re-prove himself, and secondly, can you afford to have someone who you’re not going to play in the field sitting on the bench? I think the lack of flexibility for a manager is really tough. I think we all wish that they had a young Chone Figgins or some guy who could move all around the field and play seven positions. That’s so invaluable. If you have someone who can’t play a position sitting on the bench and you’re not going to use him, it just makes no sense. You might as well swallow the money and move on.

How do you deal with Ortiz in a fashion that is respectful for everything he’s meant to the franchise? It seems like this thing can only end in ugly fashion.

I think that may be true. Every time he goes up there, I make no bones about it. I am hoping that it comes back, that he takes the ball about thigh-high and drives it in the air to left-center field and all of a sudden that swing to left-center and center comes back. I root for him. It pains me to watch this. I agree with you: it could get ugly. If people didn’t really like the guy so much, if he hadn’t been so great for this city, all those commercials he did, he’s really genuinely been very good to people around the city, he’s a tremendous guy, that makes it much tougher. Talking to some of the Dodgers people, Manny’s decided to take a vacation and go home to L.A. The trainer said half a day, but he took 15. But there are no tears when he leaves anywhere. But David Ortiz always really cares: he cared whether they won, he cares about teammates. That’s what makes it really complicated. It’s not as if some jerk is struggling in the twilight of his career. That’s the ugliest part of it.

Is the concern about him magnified by the Sox’ slow start and Tampa’s great start?

I think it goes two ways. You look at Tampa Bay, and I really believe that Tampa Bay, in terms of talent, has the best team in baseball. Now, how Wade Davis and Price and Hellickson hold up in the American League East in June, July and August, we’ll see. I have a lot of questions about their bullpen. At the same time, physically, the players they have on the field are on another planet. If the Rays and the Yankees, say they get seven, eight, nine games up, I think the Red Sox may do what the Yankees did two years ago, which was take a deep breath, say, ‘OK, we’re going to find out everything we can about this team the rest of the year, we’re going to have money – we’ll have Lowell’s contract gone, we’ll have Ortiz’ contract gone. We’re going to have some money. Maybe we go out and get Jayson Werth or whatever they’re going to go out and get.’ And they move on and find out what they can find out the rest of the season. It might be more relaxed that way. I do think it hurt to have Mark Wagner get hurt (Thursday) and be out six to eight weeks, because I think they probably would have given him a shot to play at least a couple days a week in the fairly near future.

What do you know about Adalberto Ibarra, the Cuban catcher whom the Sox signed?

I know he can really hit. I’ve had people in the organization tell me that they think he may be a platoon catcher next year. They think he’ll be a left-center field power hitter, and that he wants to catch, that they think he can catch. Now, can he learn the game? Can he learn calling the game? Cubans normally have tremendous instincts because they play so much. As you know, what’s happened in the Dominican is kids don’t play anymore. All they do is they’re prepared by agents to go to tryout camps. Cuban kids play all the time. What a joy to watch [Jose] Iglesias play all spring. They tell me this guy has great baseball instincts.

I was talking to some of the Reds people about Chapman. There are a lot of things he doesn’t understand. For instance, he had never hit. I remember Dusty Baker telling me in spring training, the first two times he got on base, one he hit the ball back to the pitcher for a forceout, the other time somebody walked him, and he immediately just ran and got thrown out. He had no idea how to run the bases. He had no idea how to pitch out of the stretch. We don’t know.

This guy has played internationally, and he has played well, but it’s going to be a fascinating experience. I was told that he’s going to go down to extended spring, then he’ll go down to either Greenville or somewhere in A-ball, and then as the season goes along, they take all these catcher – whether it’s Wagner or Exposito or Federowicz or Lavarnway, the kid from Yale, or Ibarra – and they find out what they have exactly, and where they’re going to be in the future.

Adrian Beltre’s defense was heralded before he arrived. One month in, he’s not convincing people of his greatness. Too small a sample, or is something wrong?

The other day, he booted the first two balls hit to him then made two of the best plays I’ve ever seen, the inconsistency is the thing that’s bothered me thus far, is that both at the plate and in the field, he’s lost some concentration. He’s had great at-bats. When he stays in the middle of the field, he is not only a very good hitter, but I think when the warm weather comes, he’s capable of hitting 35 home runs. But there are too many at-bats when he takes a wild cut at a hanging breaking ball trying to pull it, then ends up chasing a breaking ball down and out of the strike zone. And there have been some plays at third where you say, ‘Where is his head?’ Now, as the season goes along and he gets comfortable here, it will get better. But I agree, he hasn’t been as good as I thought he would be. Everyone has told me, and I believe that he is justifiably regarded as the best third baseman in the game. But he hasn’t been here. That will be something to watch as the season goes along. You hope that if he makes a couple more errors, and a couple things happen, and he starts getting booed, that this doesn’t turn into an Edgar Renteria situation. You know it’s not going to happen with Mike Cameron. We know he was playing hurt anyway, but it’s not going to impact Mike Cameron when he gets back. But it could impact Adrian Beltre. You never know until they get to Boston, Philadelphia or New York.

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Closing Time: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2

05.02.10 at 5:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox suffered their first three-game sweep in Baltimore since 1974, dropping the finale of their set by a 3-2 count in 10 innings. The Orioles enjoyed their second walkoff win in three days when Ty Wigginton drove the game-winning double to deep left-center against Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon with Nick Markakis on second.

The Orioles are now 4-2 against the Sox, and 3-16 against the rest of baseball.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Josh Beckett delivered his second-best outing of the season, allowing just two runs on six hits over seven innings. He walked none, hit two batters (clipping Ty Wigginton, who was having a great series against the Sox, twice) and struck out six. He relied chiefly on four-seam and two-seam fastballs, and the Orioles could must just five singles and a double against his lively pitches.

Beckett was touched in just one inning, when he nearly escaped harm. After loading the bases on a pair of singles sandwiched around an HBP to start the fourth, he punched out Luke Scott, then got a weak grounder to third from Nolan Reimold. But Reimold’s grounder was too soft for a double play, resulting in a run-scoring forceout, and Rhyne Hughes followed by bouncing a run-scoring double just out of the reach of Adrian Beltre at third.

Jason Varitek continued his monster start to the 2010 season. After driving a ball to the wall in left-center in his first at-bat, he crushed a homer to deep right field in his second trip to the plate. Varitek now has five homers in just 33 at-bats this year, and he’s sporting a 1.237 OPS.

J.D. Drew‘s day got off to a tough start, as he struck out (once looking, once swinging) in his first two plate appearances, giving him 29 punchouts on the year. But he changed the complexion of his day with one swing in the seventh, driving a ball just over the low fence in left-center for a solo homer, his third of the three-game series against the Orioles and his second to the opposite field. Despite his early struggles, Drew is tied for second on the Sox with both five homers and 14 RBI.

Daniel Bard, after blowing an eighth-inning lead in the first game of the series, rebounded to escape a huge jam with the game on the line. After loading the bases with one out in a 2-2 game, he blew a 99-mph fastball past Luke Scott, then punched out Nolan Reimold on a nasty slider to escape the threat and leave the tie intact.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE SOX

–The offense as a whole endured another dismal day. The Sox managed just five hits and two runs against O’s starter Kevin Millwood, who made it through eight innings.

–The Sox made a couple attempts to jumpstart their offense through the running game, and both backfired. In the first, with runners on first and second and one out, the Sox attempted a double steal. That backfired when catcher Craig Tatum gunned down Marco Scutaro at third. Then, with Jonathan Van Every on first and one out in the third inning, the Sox tried a hit-and-run with Scutaro at the plate. Scutaro hit the ball hard but to an unfortunate bit of real estate, lining a ball directly to shortstop Julio Lugo for an unassisted double play.

–Manager Terry Francona made a questionable decision in the eighth. Varitek was on second after a walk and sac bunt. Rather than pinch-running with Bill Hall, who entered the game as a defensive replacement after Victor Martinez pinch-hit for center fielder Jonathan Van Every in the bottom of the inning, Varitek was left to run for himself. On a two-out single to left, Varitek was thrown out by perhaps 20 feet.

Mike Lowell, after a fine start to the season (6-for-16), is now 2-for-20 since April 22 after going 0-for-4 with a pair of punchouts on Sunday, dropping his average to .222 with a .633 OPS. That said, Lowell did enjoy a flawless day at first base, a position in which he was appearing for the first time as a major leaguer.

Read More: Daniel Bard, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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