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Red Sox vs. A’s Match-Ups, 7/27

07.27.09 at 3:16 pm ET
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BECKETT VS. OAKLAND

Josh Beckett will look to stop the bleeding tonight against the Oakland A’s. While the Sox took two of three from Baltimore this past weekend, they have lost four of their last six games and fallen two-and-a-half games behind the surging Yankees in the AL East. Beckett lost his last outing against Texas after going eight innings and giving up four runs and striking out seven. Before that game Beckett had not lost since mid-June. The Sox face sub .500 teams (Oakland and Baltimore) for the next seven days while the Yankees face the Rays (54-45)  and the White Sox (51-48) during the same stretch.

Here is how the Oakland lineup has fared against Beckett:

Orlando Cabrera (42 plate appearances vs. Beckett): .231 average/.238 OBP/.359 slugging, 1 homer, 4 K

Mark Ellis (17): .267/..294/.467, 1 homer, 5 K

Bobby Crosby (11): 2-for-10, 1 BB, 2 K

Adam Kennedy (8): 1-for-8, 1 RBI, 1 K

Jack Cust (6): 1-for-6, 4 K

Scott Hairston (6): 1-for-6, 1 RBI, 1 K

Kurt Suzuki (6): 1-for-6, 1 K

Ryan Sweeney (6): 2-for-5, 1 homer, 1 K

Nomar Garciaparra (3): 1-for-3

Edgar Gonzalez (1): 0-for-1

CAHILL VS. RED SOX

Trevor Cahill lost his last start against the Sox two weeks ago in Boston. The 21-year-old rookie gave up four runs in 5.1 innings including two home runs to David Ortiz and JD Drew. Yet Cahill is coming off one of his strongest outings of his season, in which he pitched seven innings against Minnesota only giving up one run on a homer in the top of the first inning to Justin Morneau.

Here are the Red Sox’ totals against the young pitcher:

Dustin Pedroia (3 at bats against Cahill): 2-for3

JD Drew (3): 1-for3, 1 homer, 1 K

David Ortiz (3): 1-for-3, 1 homer, 3 RBI

Jason Bay (2): 0-for-2, 1 BB, 1 K

Nick Green (2): 0-for-2

George Kottaras (2): 0-for-2

Jacoby Ellsbury (1): 0-for-1

Kevin Youkilis (1): 0-for-1, 2 BB

Read More: Josh Beckett, trevor cahill,

Report: Both Sox and Rays Jockeying for Lee and Martinez

07.27.09 at 3:14 pm ET
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According to the NY Post’s Joel Sherman, both the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays have had heavy discussion with Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro about LHP Cliff Lee and C/1B Victor Martinez.

According to Sherman, the Rays are willing to part with top pitching prospect Wade Davis in an effort to swing an impact deal. Sherman also points outs that the Red Sox are still unwilling to part with their top young arm, Clay Buchholz.

After dropping six of their last eight, the Red Sox are looking to add a bat by Friday’s Trade Deadline. Martinez, a three-time AL All-Star, is currently hitting .287 clubbing 14 home runs and 64 RBI.

If traded, Lee  (7-9, 3.14 ERA)  would become the second consecutive defending Cy Young Award winner dealt away by the Tribe. Last season, the Indians traded now-Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia for a package that included minor league hitting wunderkind Matt LaPorta.

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Sun-Soaked Summer Memories From Cape League Alumni

07.27.09 at 2:19 pm ET
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On Thursday night, the Cape Cod Baseball League’s finest descended upon Fenway Park for All-Star festivities. The anticipation of taking to such a hallowed diamond and the pure joy was clearly written on the faces of the this year’s Cape League All-Stars.

Three men — Ron Darling, Lou Merloni and Brian Roberts — who were also on hand at Fenway on Thursday certainly know the feeling of excitement and anticipation that this year’s crop of Cape Leaguers was feeling. All three players graduated from the Cape to play in the Major Leagues.

Millbury, Mass., native and current television announcer Darling was the oldest of the Cape League alumni trio. He spoke quite fondly of his Cape League experience during the summer of 1980. That summer Darling made the full-time switch to pitcher, his position during a 12-year professional career.

“When I played for the [Cotuit] Kettleers in 1980 it was probably the last great summer of my life,” Darling said nostalgically. “It was Cape Cod League girls and baseball, you couldn’t beat it.”

That summer, Darling had the opportunity to play on a Cape League championship team, a feat he would duplicate on a Major League scale six years later as a member of the New York Mets. Darling was also named MVP and Best Pro Prospect after that summer on the Cape some 29 years ago.

Today, the Cape League is known for bringing the best collegiate baseball talent in the country together. Even in Darling’s time on Cape Cod, the league was the premier place for collegiate summer baseball.

“I think what’s great is that you have guys from all over,” Darling said of mix of players that play on the Cape each and every summer. “You have guys who could be major league prospects and they get a chance to measure against each other that summer.”

Fellow Massachusetts native and fellow Cape League All-Star Game alum (not to mention frequent WEEI contributor) Lou Merloni echoed Darling’s statements on the camaraderie and what it takes to be successful during those summers basking in the Cape Cod sunshine.

“You see it when you get to the big leagues that guys are proud to have played there,” Merloni said of looking back on those summers with fellow major leaguers. “We talk about Cape stories, talk about how we played there. Next thing you know the guy on the end of the bench says ‘Hey, I played on the Cape,” Merloni added.

Roberts, the only current big leaguer of the the trio visited Fenway last night not as a former All-Star, but as a son cheering on his father, Cotuit coach Mike Roberts. Roberts  played for the Chatham A’s in 1998.

“All of us who had been there remember it like it was yesterday,” Roberts said of his Cape League memories. “It’s such a step for you in your career that you can’t really replace.”

Roberts’ 1998 Cape League Champion Chatham squad included three other future major leaguers in Mike MacDougal, Kevin Mench and Kyle Snyder. MacDougal currently throws out of the bullpen for the Washington Nationals, Snyder pitches for the Mets’ Triple-A club in Buffalo, and Mench has since hung up the spikes.

That 1998 Chatham A’s squad took down a Wareham team loaded with pitching including future Big League stars Ben Sheets and Barry Zito. Roberts said winning the Cape League title was his favorite Cape League memory.

The Baltimore second baseman made friends during his summer on Cape Cod are ones he still keeps in touch with today. All three of the Cape League alumni attested to the bond that the game helps to foster.

“Baseball just seems to bring guys together,” Roberts said. “When you’re on the same team that bond seems to last for a long, long time.”

The memories forged on the sun-soaked shores of Cape Cod and remembered by all three men will last lifetimes. For Darling, Merloni, and Roberts the evenings spent playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League are some of the best days of their lives.

D.J. Bean and Jen McCaffrey also contributed to this report.

Manny Delcarmen on the Mut & Bradford Show

07.27.09 at 12:24 am ET
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Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen checked in with the Mut & Bradford Show on Sunday morning. He discussed what it’s like being the local guy in the middle of trade rumors, a bullpen that has yet to give up a run in the second half and what he thinks the Red Sox need to do prior to Friday’s trade deadline.

To listen to the interview, click here.

Here is a transcript of the interview:

Q: After a tough start to the second half, how good has it been for the team to get back to Fenway and see some offense again?

MD: Definitely feels good. We won the first game after the break, then got in a little funk where we lost five in a row. But with this team it always seems like everybody does something to get it going again and we’€™ve won two in a row and everybody’€™s doing well hitting the ball and hopefully it keeps going.

Q: The bullpen hasn’€™t given up a run yet in the second half’€¦

MD: Knock on wood, knock on wood.

Q: As a group, do you become more superstitious during a streak like this, or do you follow the same routine?

MD: I just think with our bullpen everybody goes in there from the fifth inning to the eighth inning to give the ball to Pap and I think they’€™re really happy with what we’€™ve done. I know right before the break I got into a funk and Masterson, but it seems like everybody is on full cylinders right now, ready to go, and whoever gets the ball gets the job done. I think they’€™re really happy about that.

Q: Since you pitch in multiple spots ‘€“ the inning, the situation ‘€“ how do you get yourself prepared getting to the ballpark everyday?

MD: This is the second half of the season so we’€™ve definitely got to prepare to be able to pitch everyday. In this tough division right now we’€™ve got a lot of teams playing well. I just try to keep the mindset to come in, do everything normal to get ready and (manager Terry Francona) or (pitching coach John Farrell) will come up to you and say are you ready to go today and like I said, it’€™s the second half so you’€™ve got to be ready to throw three days in a row.

Q: How does the trading deadline affect you guys in the clubhouse while all of the speculation takes place outside of it? How much do rumors creep into the clubhouse, and how much do you guys talk about it?

MD: For me, my name has been out there for the last four years. Especially around this time. I’€™ve been here pitching well. But it’€™s always good to hear that knowing other teams want you. When you’€™re part of the Boston Red Sox and are expected to win, they’€™re going to try to do that, whether it’€™s trying to get somebody or making things click, making things happen. I try not to think about it even though my name has been there a lot. My job is to go out there and get guys out and whatever happens, there is a lot of stuff in baseball that we can’€™t control. An example for me is Mark Kotsay: awesome teammate, awesome guy, and we just made an adjustment. It worked out. We’€™ve won two games. It looks great and hopefully it keeps going, but some stuff in baseball we can’€™t control, but we’€™re ready for it.

Q: As a local guy, what happens when your name is thrown into the rumor mill? How quickly does that information get back to you? What is it like to be a guy from Boston in trade rumors?

MD: For me, it’€™s kind of funny because three of my buddies are really big sports fans. For some reason they find out stuff even before my agent does. So my phone’€™s blowing up. The other day, with the whole Pittsburgh thing, three of my buddies call me and then my agent called me so I was like, ‘€˜Oh, something happened.’€™ (The agent) told me I wasn’€™t going to Pittsburgh and stuff, but (his friends) are pretty much on top of it and it’€™s exciting. I’€™ve been here my whole career and hopefully I can end here, but sometimes there’€™s things you can’€™t control but I’€™m definitely prepared for it.

Q: Adam LaRoche talked about how lucky all of the Red Sox are who have experienced playing in front of sold-out crowds all the time. What’€™s it like coming to the ballpark knowing you’€™re selling out everytime?

MD: I was born and raised here, big-time fan before I was actually a player. Still a fan. The way the fans are here in Boston, they just love the Red Sox. You see them on the road, half the stadium most of the time is Red Sox fans. They follow us everywhere, they definitely make it exciting for us and they make us try to get what we want to get which is in the postseason and hopefully another World Series. But they’€™re definitely the best fans in baseball.

Q: Is it more challenging coming in with guys on base?

MD: You definitely want to come in with a plan. Our staff, our bullpen coach, Gary Tuck, we have a lot of information that we know before we go into the game. Especially if Beckett is out there, or Lester, or Penny, and they’€™re out there battling, and we come into a game with runners on, we definitely want to try to get that out and get them out of the inning. Obviously it saves their runs and most of the times it’€™s in a crucial time in the game. We definitely keep want to keep the game there. But everybody in the bullpen’€™s been doing it and we have a special thing here. I know a lot of teams want what we have here in the bullpen. I just think you can’€™t break up a good thing and hopefully we just keep going.

Q: Are you surprised that a kid as young as Daniel Bard has stepped in with this effectiveness?

MD: To me, I’€™m a young guy, I’€™m only a couple years older than he is. I got to meet him, I heard about him all offseason, on TV or SportsCenter and I got to meet him in the spring. What he did in the spring just showed that he actually pitched like he’€™s been there before, like he can definitely get guys out. Just coming up here and Tito’€™s doing a great job of mixing everybody in, not overusing him in situations but he wants to put him in some tight spots to see how he reacts. He’€™s handled himself very well, he’€™s very composed and he’€™s getting guys out and that’€™s what we definitely need. The kid throws 100 and he’€™s 25 years old right now. He’€™s definitely going to do special things in Boston and he’€™s going to be exciting to see.

Q: Do the Sox need to make any moves to make themselves contenders?

MD: For myself, I think we’€™re always contenders and we always find a way and come September we’€™ll definitely be up there in the running. We start swinging the bats, we get the Jason Bay, the JD Drew, everybody on full cylinders with our pitching staff, I think this is going to be another special season for us. There’€™s a lot of baseball left and little by little eventually we’€™ll all click together and it’€™s going to be pretty exciting. So I don’€™t think we need any changes.

Read More: Daniel Bard, manny delcarmen, trade rumors,

He’s still John Smoltz

07.26.09 at 6:59 pm ET
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Say this for the young and talented, and recently scuffling, Baltimore Orioles. They respect the game.

And that lesson has been passed down from their manager Dave Trembley and their veteran players like Gregg Zaun.

That came in handy on Sunday when they showed respect, but not fear, when facing one of the best pitchers of the generation.

Red Sox righty John Smoltz came into the game with a 1-3 record and a 6.31 ERA in five starts.

Nick Markakis led the way with two hits, a sacrifice fly, three RBIs and a rope of a home run to right field as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 6-2, and beat up on Smoltz.

“Just making him get the ball over the plate,” Markakis said of the approach to the 42-year-old veteran. “He doesn’t leave much over the plate. He hits his spots well. He’s one of the better pitchers out there in the game of all time. To come out here and to get on him early and get his pitch count up, we got some big hits.

“We can feed off this and go home.” Read the rest of this entry »

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No plans to skip Smoltz in rotation

07.26.09 at 5:31 pm ET
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After John Smoltz allowed six runs in five innings in a 6-2 loss to the Orioles that saw the Red Sox starter’s record fall to 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA, the 42-year-old suggested that his stuff is good enough to allow him to perform to expectations. Pitching coach John Farrell said that Smoltz’ problem has just been mislocated pitches, primarily his fastball.

“(The issue is) consistency of location. Today, just evaluating the pure stuff, I thought it was more crisp than at any time he’€™s been here this season,” said Farrell. “Yet against a good fastball hitting team, he made some mistakes out over the plate, particularly away, that resulted in four extra-base hits. But the action to his slider, which was very much a swing-and-miss pitch for him, was later and sharper and more powerful than it has been. But yet the bottom line is what matters”

While much of the solution lies in simple execution, Farrell suggested that there are tweaks to the approach from which Smoltz might benefit. Foremost, Farrell suggested that he needs to employ his fastball more aggressively inside.

“What do we do from here?” Farrell wondered. “I think there’€™s the ability or the need to pitch in a little bit more. While his stuff is improved over the last outing, or the previous outings, hitters one time through the order can start to look in one area. I think that was what was a little bit the case today, and when he wasn’€™t very fine in his location or in very good quality locations, we saw the results.

“While his velocity is good enough to pitch at this level’€”clearly it’€™s good enough ‘€“ it’€™s not the mid-90s where you have that margin of error that he might be accustomed to,” Farrell continued. “To combat that, commanding the baseball on both sides of the plate and not allowing hitters to look in one area solely, is where the improvement or adjustment lies.”

Smoltz believes he has the stuff to compete effectively on a team with postseason aspirations. His manager and pitching coach echoed that assessment. As such, Farrell said that the team has no plans to skip Smoltz in the rotation to allow him to iron out his approach.

“At this point, that’€™s not even being considered,” said Farrell. “If there was a drop-off physically just through either naked eye or what velocities are telling us, that would be a different situation. But that’€™s not the case. You look at the amount of swing-and-miss he’€™s able to generate, yet because of the consistency of command, he’€™s frustrated.”

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Smoltz struggles through five innings

07.26.09 at 3:05 pm ET
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The Orioles pounded nine hits and crossed the plate six times over John Smoltz‘ five innings on Sunday. Smoltz, who did manage to strike out six in his time on the hill, now has a 7.04 ERA on the season. While his slider proved an effective swing-and-miss pitch, his fastball (which featured decent 92-93 mph velocity) was hit all around the park, most prominently by Nick Markakis, who hit a sac fly, double and homer against Smoltz heaters.

Smoltz has yet to deliver a quality start as a member of the Red Sox. Opponents are hitting .321 against him on the season.

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Red Sox vs. Orioles Match-Ups, 7/26

07.26.09 at 1:10 pm ET
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David Hernandez is facing the Red Sox for the first time in his career. So far this season, he is 2-2 with an ERA of 3.55 through six starts. A rookie, Hernandez was called up to pitch in his first major league game back on May 28th. He defeated the Tigers 5-1 and earned his first career win, tossing 5+ innings and only allowing a run on five hits.

Since then he has been inserted into the Baltimore rotation and has done quite nicely on a team that is 41-55. Born in Sacramento, Hernandez went to Cosumnes River College, which is located in his hometown. Other big leaguers who are alumni of Cosumnes include Jermaine Dye and Fernando Vina.

John Smoltz is on the bump today for the Sox. Here are his stats vs. the current Orioles, many of which are based on his ill-fated start that was interrupted by a rain delay after four innings, the result of which was Baltimore’€™s epic comeback against the Boston bullpen:

Robert Andino – .200/.200/.200 (0 HR, 0 RBI 6 SO)
Gregg Zaun (9) – .125/.222/.125 (0 HR, 1 RBI 5 SO)
Aubrey Huff (7) – .167/.286/.167 (0 HR, 1 RBI 1 SO)
Cesar Izturis (7) – .429/.429/.571 (0 HR, 0 RBI 1 SO)
Brian Roberts (7) – .286/.286/.286 (0 HR, 0 RBI 0 SO)
Ty Wigginton (7) – .429/.429/.429 (0 HR, 0 RBI 1 SO)
Luke Scott (5) – .000/.400/.000 (0 HR, 0 RBI 0 SO)
Nick Markakis (2) – .000/.000/.000
Melvin Mora (2) – .000/.000/.000 (1 SO)
Nolan Reimold (2) – .500/.500/.500
Rich Hill (1) 1.000/1.000/1.000
Adam Jones (1) .000/.000/.000 (1 SO)
Felix Pie (1) 1.000/1.000/3.000 (1 RBI)
Matt Wieters (1) – .000/.000/.000

Read More: david hernandez, john smoltz,

Bringing the heat

07.26.09 at 12:34 pm ET
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On the day Red Sox Nation takes pride in the ‘most feared hitter’ of his generation taking his place in Cooperstown, Red Sox skipper recalled the most feared pitcher he ever faced in the majors.

“Nolan. Hands down,” Francona said of Nolan Ryan. “Everybody thought it was Dwight Gooden. It wasn’t close. He threw the ball one time in Montreal, with all those shadows. He threw a ball that I thought was going to hit me in the ribs and it didn’t and I kind of whimpered.

“And then I got in the box and actually got back out of the box and remember thinking I’m not ready to do this and I never felt like that before. I thought if that ball had hit me, it would have killed me and I never remember feeling that about anybody else.”

Then there was the time in Cincinnati in 1987 when he met Ryan face-to-face.

“He was in the weight room once in Cincinnati and he didn’t talk a ton and I didn’t know him,” Francona recalled. “But he walked in and he said something to me, and I was even surprised he knew who I was, ‘Hey nice game last night.’ I said, ‘Thank you.’ He said, ‘It’s bowtie time.’ I thought, ‘Oh no.’ My (backside) just slammed shut.’ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Nolan Ryan, Red Sox, Terry Francona,

Youk in an uncomfortable spot

07.25.09 at 7:23 pm ET
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Kevin Youkilis was about as upfront as he could be with reporters when he was asked about how he felt about being given the night off – at least from the starting lineup on Saturday night.

“I just had an off day,” Youkilis said of his day off on Thursday, which he shared with the rest of the team. “I feel good right now. My body feels fine. I usually don’t need an off day.”I don’t get too many off days so I don’t know how to deal with them.

“I watch the game the same way,” he added. “If I’m not playing, I still watch the game. I understand what’s going on and watch what pitchers do and watch what hitters are doing and help out any way I can.”

Indeed, he spoke honestly about just how hard it is for him to watch from the dugout. Even more difficult is thinking about possibly pinch-hitting.

“The key to pinch-hitting is not thinking and just go up there,” Youkilis said. “There’s no key to pinch-hitting. You just go up there and try to have a good at-bat. It’s the worst thing to do in all of baseball – for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, Youk,
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