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Closing Time: Rangers 5, Red Sox 1

04.03.11 at 4:51 pm ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — It was an inauspicious start to the season of great expectations.

The Red Sox endured an exercise in humility over the course of a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers, which culminated in a 5-1 defeat on Sunday. It marked the first time since 1996 (coincidentally, also a season that the team opened in Texas) that the Sox opened the year by dropping all three contests.

This was not merely a sweep — it was a thrashing of memorable proportions, as the Rangers outscored the Sox by a 26-11 count over the three contests.

The 0-3 Sox now have an off-day to regroup before they commence a three-game series against the Indians.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The Rangers continued to flex their muscles. Ex-Sox prospect David Murphy, leadoff man Ian Kinsler, catcher Mike Napoli and right fielder Nelson Cruz all went deep. Both Kinsler and Cruz homered for the third time in as many days, while Napoli delivered his second longball. The three-game series was little short of a Rangers barrage, as Texas launched 11 homers during the weekend set, the most allowed by the Sox in a three-game season-opening series since at least 1919.

Though Clay Buchholz pitched well for most of the game, allowing just five hits in 6 1/3 innings, four of the knocks were solo homers — a marked aberration from last year, when Buchholz proved one of the most successful pitchers in the game at keeping the ball in the park.

His four homers were the second most he’d ever given up in a start in his career (topped only by the five he permitted against the Blue Jays on Sept. 29, 2009), and were twice as many as he permitted in any of his starts in 2010. Indeed, Buchholz permitted nine homers in 173 2/3 innings in all of 2010, a number he will now be hard-pressed to match.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia endured a woeful opening series against his former club, going 0-for-9 with five strikeouts and stranding four base runners. It would appear likely that Jason Varitek will get the start at catcher on Tuesday (weather permitting), when Josh Beckett is on the mound.

–One day after they went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, the Sox again came up empty in run-producing opportunities, going 1-for-5 in such situations. The most significant failure came in the top of the seventh, when the Sox amassed their only sustained threat against Rangers starter Matt Harrison.

After the Sox had plated one run in the inning, they loaded the bases with two outs for Jacoby Ellsbury. But Harrison got the Sox’ leadoff hitter to chase an elevated fastball for his eighth punchout of the day (a number that matched the left-hander’s career high), thus stifling the Sox’ final uprising.

Harrison did feature spectacular stuff at times in his seven innings, allowing just one run on five hits (all singles) while striking out eight and walking two.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Carl Crawford ended his oh-fer. The left fielder, who was dropped from the No. 3 to No. 7 spot in the batting order, flicked a Matt Harrison fastball just inside the third base bag for a single in the top of the second inning, thus ending the 0-for-7 struggle to start his Red Sox career. Crawford would later drop an RBI single in the seventh inning for another first with his new club.

He also made his presence with the glove felt for the first time, making a fine running catch in foul territory down the left field line.

David Ortiz continued to enjoy success in the opening days of the season, collecting two of the Sox’ five hits against starter Harrison. He later nearly homered to straightaway center field, but his bid for a third homer in as many days (this one against Rangers closer Neftali Feliz) was denied when the wind knocked it down on the warning track.

–Though Buchholz never pitched into the sixth inning in spring training, he delivered the Sox’ best outing of the weekend, allowing just five hits in 6 1/3 innings. Unfortunately for both him and the Sox, four of those hits were solo homers from a Rangers team that enjoyed an outrageous first weekend at the plate.

Even so, Buchholz — who threw 86 pitches, 56 for strikes while striking out two and walking one — was able to limit the damage, especially with runners on base, eliciting a pair of double play grounders.

Buchholz gave up as many as four earned runs in just four of his 28 starts in 2010, but that he did so against the Rangers may have been as much a commentary on the Texas lineup as it was on his pitching.

Read More: carl crawford, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, jarrod saltalamacchia

Francona on dropping Crawford: ‘Obvious he’s trying too hard’

04.03.11 at 12:41 pm ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — The Red Sox preach that it’s important not to overreact to a poor first two games of the season. All the same, after seeing the Sox get outscored by the Rangers, 21-10, manager Terry Francona did see fit to make some tweaks to the lineup against Texas and left-hander Matt Harrison.

Most notably, after Carl Crawford spent the spring batting either second or third, and hit third in each of the first two games, Francona opted to lower the left fielder to the No. 7 spot in the batting order on Sunday. Crawford is 0-for-7 with a walk and four strikeouts in his first two games with the Sox. He has yet to hit a single ball out of the infield. Francona suggested that the outfielder, who must deal with the scrutiny that comes with a seven-year, $142 million deal that he signed in the offseason, is clearly pressing. By moving him down in the batting order, Francona is hopeful that it will permit the three-time All-Star to breathe.

“Looking at him, it’€™s kind of obvious he’€™s trying too hard. Especially with a lefty today, just let him sit down there As soon as he gets on base, starts causing some havoc, he’€™ll loosen up and the real Carl will come out. In the meantime, just take a little off of him,” said Francona. “He’€™s a great kid. I think he’€™s trying too hard. I always watch him. I think it’€™s an admirable quality. I actually love it. But we’€™re two games in, he’€™s not had real good at-bats. I just wanted him to be able to relax a little so he can play.”

Francona also made a couple of additional lineup alterations. For the second time in three games, J.D. Drew will sit in favor of a right-handed hitter. Whereas Mike Cameron got the start on Opening Day, it will be Darnell McDonald who starts on Sunday. McDonald got his first start as a Red Sox against Rangers lefty Harrison last year, hitting a homer and taking a walk in his two plate appearances against him. Though Drew also has enjoyed success in his limited plate appearances against Harrison — going 1-for-3 with a walk and sac fly in five plate appearances — Francona opted for the right-handed McDonald.

“I think Mac matches up good against this guy and then J.D. will be sitting over there if we get into the bullpen,” said Francona.

The Sox have one additional alteration to their lineup, with Marco Scutaro (1-for-4 with two walks and a sac fly against Harrison) sitting in favor of Jed Lowrie (1-for-3 against Harrison) at short. Scutaro is 0-for-8 thus far this year, but Francona said his move was motivated more by a desire to get Lowrie into the lineup, particularly against a left-handed pitcher. Lowrie hit .338 with a 1.025 OPS against lefties last year.

‘€œI wanted to get Jed, especially righthanded, wanted to get him into the game,” said Francona.

That said, Francona said that the determination of when to have Lowrie play cannot be driven solely by matchups.

“I just think this is the best place to play him,” said Francona. “A lot of times, if we want to get his right-handed bat in there, the other guys are pretty good, too, so there’s not really an obvious guy to sit if he’s going to play.”

Scutaro had a grounder tear off a fingernail in Friday’s opener, but the issue is not considered significant — especially in light of the pain that the shortstop faced last year, and that severely impaired his ability to throw the ball.

‘€œI think it’€™s sore, but I don’€™t think it’€™s getting in the way. Compared to what he had before, I don’€™t think he’€™s going to complain much about this one,” said Francona.

Read More: carl crawford, darnell mcdonald, J.D Drew, Jed Lowrie

Hamilton on Beltre: ‘They shouldn’t have let him go!’

04.03.11 at 9:37 am ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Reigning American League MVP Josh Hamilton had just seen new teammate Adrian Beltre enjoy his first true impact performance as a member of the Rangers. In Beltre’s second game with his new team, he hit a grand slam off of John Lackey in the fourth inning that sucked any drama out of the game.

And so, Hamilton was amused to deliver a playful message to the Sox after the Rangers beat Boston, 12-5.

“Shouldn’€™t have let him go!” Hamilton joked with reporters in the Rangers clubhouse.

It’s a bit early for such a pronouncement, particularly given why the Sox let Beltre leave as a free agent. Once the Sox made the trade for Adrian Gonzalez, they were going to shift Kevin Youkilis back to third. That, in turn, gave Boston a ferocious tandem of corner infielders and took the team out of the market for Beltre.

Beltre’s departure as a free agent also meant that the Sox would receive a pair of compensatory draft picks in what is viewed by evaluators as an exceptional class of amateur talents.

So, the Sox had few regrets when Beltre left for Texas on a five-year, $80 million deal. To the contrary, almost everyone in the organization was happy for a player who was considered an exceptional teammate, a tremendous worker and an outstanding performer in 2010, when he recovered from an injury-riddled 2009 season with the Mariners to hit .321 with 28 homers, 102 RBI and a .919 OPS while playing excellent defense at third base.

“I just sent him a note like, way to go,” Sox manager Terry Francona said of his contact with Beltre after he signed his deal with the Rangers. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, adrian gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, texas rangers

The one that missed: Sox release former first-round pick

04.03.11 at 9:08 am ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — By and large, the Red Sox have done extremely well with their top draft picks under the current front office. Virtually every top pick has yielded meaningful value for the club, whether by reaching the major leagues or through a trade. The 2002 draft yielded Jon Lester with the Sox’ first pick; 2003 yielded a pair of eventual trade chips in David Murphy and Matt Murton; 2004 gave Boston Dustin Pedroia; one year later, the team grabbed Jacoby Ellsbury. The top picks in the 2007-09 drafts (2007 top pick Nick Hagadone was a key to the Victor Martinez deal with the Indians; 2008 and 2009 first rounders Casey Kelly and Reymond Fuentes were both in the Adrian Gonzalez deal) all helped deliver impact talent to the Sox.

But there’s one outlier. On Saturday, the Red Sox released 2006 first round pick Jason Place. The outfielder — a two-sport star in high school — was drafted out of South Carolina by the Sox with the No. 27 overall pick that year. His across-the-board skill set earned comparisons to Trot Nixon. The Sox were at a point in their farm system where they wanted to aim high and go for impact players; Place’s tools made him a player about whom the Sox could dream big.

And even now, in hindsight, it’s not that difficult to understand what the Sox saw in him.

Daniel Bard — whom the Sox drafted one pick after Place, with the No. 28 overall pick in 2006 — played with the outfielder in Greenville in 2007. Place was playing essentially in his home town following a very solid debut in pro ball in 2006, hitting .292 with a .386 OBP, .442 slugging mark and four homers in the Gulf Coast League. There were aspects of Place’s game as a 19-year-old that were simply different from his peers of the same age.

“There’€™s a big building in left field in Greenville ‘€“ an apartment or warehouse building. It’€™s huge, four stories or five stories high,” recalled Bard. “It covered all the way from the left field line almost all the way to center field. If you really got a hold of one, you could put it on top of the building. He used to hit them up there pretty consistently in batting practice.

“In practice, he’€™s a five-tool guy, if that makes any sense,” Bard continued. “He can run; big, strong kid; took the most impressive round of batting practice you’€™ll ever see ‘€“ an impressive big league batting practice as far as he could hit the ball and stuff; always played really good defense ‘€“ that translated to the game ‘€“ always played hard out there with a plus arm, would run into a wall for you.”

The natural gifts were obvious. But…

“The old breaking ball got him, I guess,” said Bard. “He couldn’€™t hit it consistently enough.”

Place’s swing had a hitch that the Sox thought could be ironed out with instruction when they drafted him. They were willing to take a chance on a player with a flaw because, without it, a player with his potential upside wouldn’t have been available at that position in the draft.

The Sox anticipated that Place would struggle early in his pro career, but thought that over time, he would be able to put his talents together to become a potential impact big leaguer. But despite Place’s best, tireless efforts to iron out his swing, it never happened. Place struck out so much that his prodigious power didn’t have a chance to play. That led to immense frustration and a constant search in his approach. He hit .214 with a .657 OPS in Greenville in ’07, .246 with a .752 OPS in Lancaster in ’08; and .253 with a .719 OPS while splitting time between Hi-A Salem and Double-A Portland in ’09.

The situation began to grind on Place. In 2010, after a dismal start in Portland (.127 with a .491 OPS), the outfielder and the Sox decided that he should spend some time away from the game to clear his head and sort out his future. He decided to return a couple months later, but in 13 games, he struck out 19 times in 40 at-bats against Rookie Level and Hi-A competition.

With the Sox farm system increasingly crowded with athletic outfielders, the window for Place had closed. And so, he was released coming out of spring training, offering something of a cautionary tale about the challenges of the draft.

“There’€™s only so much research you can do to see how a guy’€™s going to fare with everything in pro ball,” noted Bard.

Read More: Daniel Bard, jason place,

Red Sox vs. Rangers matchups, 4/3

04.02.11 at 11:44 pm ET
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For the second time in three games, the Red Sox will be facing a Rangers lefty when they line up against Matt Harrison on Sunday. Harrison will be looking to follow Friday starter C.J. Wilson‘s footsteps in two ways — by helping his team to a win and by making a successful transition from reliever to starter. Wilson moved from the bullpen to the rotation last season and is now the ace of the Texas staff. Now it’s Harrison who makes the shift to full-time starter after coming out of the ‘pen for 31 of his 37 appearances last year. He went 3-2 with a 4.71 ERA in 78 1/3 innings overall.

Starting isn’t an entirely new experience for Harrison. The 25-year-old came up as a starter and started 26 games for the Rangers in 2008 and 2009, going 13-8 with a 5.76 ERA. Harrison, who went 2-0 with a 3.91 ERA in six starts this spring, has made four appearances and two starts against Boston in his career, pitching a total of 12 innings. Although he has a 1-0 record, his ERA stands at an abysmal 8.25.

J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis have done the most damage against Harrison, as both are hitting .333 against him. Drew has a home run and five RBIs in five plate appearances, while Youkilis has a homer and three RBIs in six appearances. Darnell McDonald has a solo homer and a walk in his two plate appearances against Harrison. No one on the Red Sox has more than seven plate appearances against the Rangers starter.

Opposing Harrison will be Clay Buchholz, who is coming off a breakout season. The highly touted right-hander posted a pedestrian 12-14 record to go along with a 4.91 ERA in 34 starts from 2007 to 2009. But he turned into the top-of-the-line starter Sox fans were expecting last season, going 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts. Buchholz went 0-2 with a 3.43 ERA in six games this spring.

Buchholz is 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in three career starts against Texas, but a couple current Rangers really have his number. David Murphy is 5-for-7 in his career against Buchholz and Nelson Cruz is 3-for-4. Ian Kinsler is the only Ranger with a home run off Buchholz, but that’s his only hit in five at-bats.

Red Sox vs. Harrison

Marco Scutaro (7 career plate appearances): .250/.429/.250, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Kevin Youkilis (6): .333/.333/1.000, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (5): .333/.400/1.333, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 walk

David Ortiz (5): .250/.400/.250, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk

Carl Crawford (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts

Jed Lowrie (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Darnell McDonald (2): 1.000/1.000/4.000, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk

Jason Varitek (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have never faced Harrison.

Rangers vs. Buchholz

Mike Napoli (11): .333/.455/.444, 3 strikeouts

Josh Hamilton (9): .111/.111/.222, 3 strikeouts

Michael Young (9): .286/.444/.429, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

David Murphy (7): .714/.714/.857, 1 RBI

Ian Kinsler (6): .200/.333/.800, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Elvis Andrus (5): .200/.200/.200, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Nelson Cruz (5): .750/.800/.750, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Adrian Beltre (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Andres Blanco (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI

Julio Borbon (2): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout

Mitch Moreland and Yorvit Torrealba have never faced Buchholz.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Matt Harrison, Rangers, Red Sox

Closing Time: Rangers 12, Red Sox 5

04.02.11 at 11:26 pm ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Ummmm…

A Red Sox team that faces enormous expectations has started the year in decidedly disappointing fashion. The team has endured a pair of poundings in the first two games of the season, permitting nine runs in Friday’s opener and then getting walloped again in a 12-5 defeat on Saturday.

This is the first time since 1980 that the Sox have allowed at least nine runs in consecutive games to start the season. It also was the first time since 2005 that the team has dropped its first two contests of the season.

On Sunday, it will be up to Clay Buchholz to help the Sox avoid their first season-opening three-game sweep since they started the 1996 season in such a fashion against the Rangers en route to a five-game losing streak.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

John Lackey was hammered in his worst start with the Red Sox. The Rangers collected nine runs on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 against him, mostly of the extra-base variety, as Lackey permitted three singles, three doubles, two triples and two homers, including a fourth-inning grand slam by former teammate Adrian Beltre.

The start set a new personal mark for the most runs he’s ever allowed as a member of the Red Sox, and was tied for the second most he’s given up in his career. As a member of the Angels, Lackey once allowed 10 in 2 2/3 innings against the Rangers in 2008, and he gave up nine in four innings to the Sox in 2003.

Lackey also became the first Sox pitcher since Luis Tiant in 1974 to give up a double cycle (at least two singles, doubles, triples and homers) in the same game. The seven extra-base hits he permitted represented a career high, eclipsing the standard of six that he had achieved on five separate occasions.

To complete the carnage, Lackey also had the second shortest outing of his Sox career, notching just one more out than he did in an eight-run, 3 1/3 inning debacle against the Rays last April.

Carl Crawford continued his rough start with the Sox, grounding out to second, popping out to short and striking out against Rangers starter Colby Lewis. In two games, Crawford has yet to get a ball out of the infield, going 0-for-7 with four strikeouts, though he did walk in his fourth plate appearance on Saturday.

–The Sox missed on their early chances against Lewis and the Rangers, while the game was still competitive. The Sox were 0-for-6 against Lewis with runners in scoring position and 0-for-9 overall.

Tim Wakefield cannot retire Nelson Cruz. The right fielder hit a homer against Wakefield on a hanging knuckler, and is now 6-for-6 with two homers and two doubles against him.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–With a two-run homer in the second inning and an RBI groundout in the fourth, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz made history. The three RBI gave him 1,004 as a DH in his career, one more than former record holder Edgar Martinez.

But of perhaps greater significance was simply the fact that he is off to a strong start through two games after enduring dismal Aprils in each of the last two seasons. He now has two homers through the first two Red Sox games of the season — something he didn’t do until the Sox’ 24th game of 2010, and until their 56th game in 2009.

Adrian Gonzalez continued his strong start with the Sox. He went 3-for-5 with his first double as a member of the Sox, and he is now 5-for-9 in his first two contests. However, with a pair of runners on base in the top of the seventh and the Sox amidst an incipient rally, Gonzalez hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Jacoby Ellsbury likewise continued to impress. He went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer on a 92 mph fastball from right-hander Mason Tobin in the top of the seventh, and he also added a walk.

Read More: carl crawford, David Ortiz, john lackey,

Red Sox Saturday Notes: Reyes needs to throw strikes

04.02.11 at 9:16 pm ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — It was just one batter, but that was kind of the point.

On Friday, left-hander Dennys Reyes came into the game in the bottom of the seventh inning to face left-handed slugger Josh Hamilton. The result was not what the Red Sox were looking for, as Reyes walked Hamilton on four pitches.

While the ability to throw strikes is always a crucial trait for a reliever, that is especially true of a left-on-left specialist such as Reyes who is typically in the game for exactly one batter. Thus, Sox manager Terry Francona exhibited some dismay that Reyes did not attack the strike zone.

“If you’€™re a left-on-left guy, if that’€™s the only hitter you’€™re facing, yeah, the ability to throw where you want to right now is huge,” said Francona. “If he’€™s a situational guy and you’€™re bringing him into those situations where the game is on the line, you have to really trust him because the game can be won or lost right there.’€

Though Reyes has now walked the first batter he faced in each of his last three outings (Friday’s opener and his final two exhibition appearances), Francona suggested that he anticipates the lefty settling into an ability to command the ball. Francona noted that sometimes it can be important to find opportunities for left-handed specialists to work full innings in order to get their mechanics and command in order.

That said, the Sox are in a position where, if Reyes struggles, they don’t need to be particularly patient with him. They have left-handers Hideki Okajima and Rich Hill stashed in the minors.

OTHER NOTES

Daniel Bard will not be available on Saturday after throwing 32 pitches on Friday.

–The Sox called for Adrian Gonzalez to steal second on Friday (the lumber-limbed Gonzalez’ second career steal) in part to take advantage of the Rangers’ shift against David Ortiz. With the third baseman shifted, Kevin Youkilis had a lead that would have allowed him to steal home easily had catcher Yorvit Torrealba thrown to second.

‘€œThat’€™s why we ran,” said Francona.” They can’€™t defense that, the way they’€™re situated.’€

Francona was asked if there was anything else the Sox could do to deter teams from shifting.

‘€œWell, besides asking them…,” he joked. “We stole second. I don’€™t know what else to do. They can play wherever they want. But if they want to swing that far over, they can’€™t defense the runner at third.”

–Francona said that he is undecided on his lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Rangers. With a day game following a night game, it would be natural to give a day off to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but the Sox also have an off day on Monday, and the possibility of more off days in Cleveland depending on how a fairly miserable weather forecast plays out.

–On Sunday, Francona will be mindful that Clay Buchholz topped out at four innings in spring training, leaving him one inning behind his fellow rotation members in ups and downs. That said, Francona suggested that he would remain open-minded about how far into the game Buchholz will be allowed to pitch, basing his assessment on the pitcher’s effort level.

“If he pitches good, that won’€™t enter into it. I thought he was one inning less than everyone else,” said Francona. “Shoot, he might end up throwing a complete game but he was that one less than everybody else.’€

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, David Ortiz, dennys reyes

Opening Day leftovers: Sox who made history

04.02.11 at 4:26 pm ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Thanks to the dazzling talents in the Red Sox Media Relations Department, a few leftover notes from Opening Day:

Tim Wakefield recorded the final out of the eighth inning for the Red Sox. It was just Wakefield’s second career Opening Day appearance, and his first since he took starting honors for the Pirates on April 6, 1983. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 18-year layoff between Opening Day appearances is the longest by a big leaguer since 1900. The previous record was held by fellow knuckleballer Joe Niekro, who went 13 years (1968, 1981) between Opening Day games.

Coincidentally, Charlie Hough was on hand (and had far-reaching praise for Wakefield), and it was Phil Niekro‘s birthday.

Jon Lester‘s three homers allowed on Opening Day represented a career high. It also was the most homers allowed by a Sox pitcher on Opening Day since Dennis Eckersley was taken deep three times in 1980, and the most homers allowed on Opening Day by a Sox lefty since at least 1919. Lester also became the first Sox Opening Day starter not to punch out a batter since Bob Stanley (yup, that Bob Stanley) in 1987.

–After his solo homer on Friday, David Ortiz now has 1,001 career RBIs as a DH. He is second all-time among DH’s in RBIs, just two behind Mariners standout Edgar Martinez.

–In his 10th major league seasons, John Lackey will be making his first outing of the year against the Rangers for the seventh time. In his previous six season openers against them, he is 1-3 with a 7.11 ERA. He has made more starts (33) against the Rangers than any other active pitcher, forging an 11-12 record and 5.74 ERA against them. Lackey was 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts against the AL West in 2010, with many of his starts coming in the second half. The big right-hander tends to be a slow starter, going 13-10 with a 4.79 ERA in his career in March/April, and a 3.78 ERA over the rest of the year.

Read More: bob stanley, David Ortiz, john lackey, Jon Lester

Red Sox vs. Rangers matchups, 4/2

04.02.11 at 2:33 pm ET
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The Red Sox take on the Rangers Saturday night in Game 2 of a three-game set. Opposing them on the mound will be Colby Lewis, who has finally settled into a major league rotation after years of bouncing around. He spent three years with the Rangers from 2002-04, but he managed to go just 12-13 with a dismal 6.83 ERA in 44 games, including 33 starts. After undergoing rotator cuff surgery, Lewis spent most of the next three seasons in the minors jumping from the Tigers to the Nationals to the Athletics and finally to the Royals.

He got his career back on track in Japan of all places, as he led the Japan Central League in strikeouts in both 2008 and 2009 while pitching for the Hiroshima Carp. Lewis returned to the Rangers last spring and earned a spot in the starting rotation. He went just 12-13, but he posted a solid 3.72 ERA and broke the 200-inning mark. Three of his starts came against the Red Sox, and he went 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in those outings. Lewis was great in the postseason, as he went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts. He registered a 4.50 ERA without earning a decision in four starts this spring.

Current Red Sox are hitting a meager .194 against Lewis. No player has a better average than Carl Crawford‘s .286 against him. David Ortiz owns a .273 average with two home runs in 12 career plate appearances against the right-hander. Mike Cameron has a home run and five RBIs in 17 plate appearances against Lewis, but has managed just a .200 average.

Starting for the Red Sox will be John Lackey, who is something of a surprise No. 2 starter after a disappointing season last year. Although his 14 wins were tied for the second-most of his career, his 4.40 ERA was his highest since 2004. Lackey did finish the season with his best month of the year, though. He recorded a season-low 3.46 ERA in September, although he went just 2-3 in six starts. He had a pretty good spring training, going 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA in five starts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: colby lewis, john lackey, Rangers, Red Sox

Rangers GM discusses ‘error’ that led to dealing Adrian Gonzalez

04.02.11 at 8:47 am ET
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jon Daniels had an eventful first winter as GM of the Rangers when he took over control of the club’s baseball operations following the 2005 season. He unloaded Alfonso Soriano, acquired Vicente Padilla and made a couple of additional minor moves.

But there is unquestionably one trade that, more than five years later, he regrets. In December of 2005, he agreed to a trade (which was officially announced on Jan. 6, 2006) that sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Terrmel Sledge and pitcher Chris Young to the Padres in exchange for pitcher Adam Eaton and reliever Akinori Otsuka.

It was a move meant to bolster the short-term playoff hopes of the club. The Rangers had emerged as surprise contenders in 2004, when they went 89-73. They followed that by going 79-83 in the 2005 campaign.

Still, the team thought that if it could acquire some quality pitching, it had a shot of competing in an AL West division that did not feature any juggernauts. The Rangers had what most viewed as one of the best young position playing cores in the game, led by an infield that featured first baseman Mark Teixeira, shortstop Michael Young and third baseman Hank Blalock.

Gonzalez (whom the Rangers had acquired in a deal with the Marlins in 2003) was seemingly blocked at first by Teixeira. Though the young prospect — who served primarily as a DH while with the Rangers in 2005, in deference to Teixeira’s entrenched position at first — was open to playing the outfield, most in the industry expected that Texas would be forced to trade him.

And to a degree, they were right. The Rangers concluded that his greatest value to them was likely as a trade chip.

“I know that at the time, when Mark Teixeira was here, it led to a lot of clubs making an assumption that we would trade him, that we wouldn’€™t be able to keep both of them. We did get some inquiries on him [prior to the San Diego trade,” said Daniels. “We didn’€™t obviously project him to be the superstar that he’€™s become. Clearly, had we known that, we would have found a way to make it work. But we thought he was going to be a good player. At a young age, he was always a guy we thought would hit. The question was how much power. He’€™s matured into one of the better power hitters in the game, clearly.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adam eaton, adrian gonzalez, akinori otsuka, jon daniels
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