|04.23.10 at 11:24 am ET|
If Jon Lester struggles against the Orioles, then the April problems will no longer be speculation ‘ it will be the cold, hard truth. Lester is 10-0 with a miniscule 2.39 ERA in 12 career starts vs. the division rivals. This would be a great time for Lester to turn the season around, especially heading into the final week of his month of despair.
The Orioles have gotten off to an abysmal 2-14 start this season, and as a team they are only hitting .225, which is tied for third worst in the American League with Toronto. This is good news for Lester, because opposing hitters are batting .313 against the lefty – way above his career .259 mark.
There hasn’t been much good news to speak about in Baltimore, and this could be what Lester needs to bust out of the funk.
Another Red Sox player that could enjoy a little Orioles in his life: David Ortiz. Ortiz has had great success against Friday’s starter, Jeremy Guthrie. “Big Papi” is a career .304 hitter against Guthrie with two career home runs. Nothing will get Ortiz going like a couple of long balls in front of the home fans, before the Sox head out on the road.
Guthrie has a career 1-5 record vs. the Sox, and three of those losses came in 2009. In his four appearances last year against Boston, Guthrie sported a lofty 7.23 ERA.
ORIOLES VS. JON LESTER
Nick Markakis (36 plate appearances): .200 average/ .222 OBP/ .314 slugging percentage, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts
Brian Roberts (35): .281/ .343/ .565, 1 homer, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Adam Jones (22): .263/ .364/ .263, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts
Ty Wigginton (14): .462/ .500/ .769, 1 homer, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Miguel Tejada (12): .444/ .500/ .444, 2 walks
Matt Wieters (9): .556/ .556/ .556, 2 strikeouts
Luke Scott (8): .000/ .000/ .000, 3 strikeouts
Nolan Reimold (7): .500/ .571/ .667, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Cezar Izturis (6): .333/ .333/ .333, 1 strikeout
Felix Pie (5): .400/ .400/ .600, 1 strikeout
Robert Andino: 3-for-4
Never faced: Garret Atkins, Julio Lugo, Craig Tatum
RED SOX VS. GUTHRIE
Kevin Youkilis (33 plate appearances): .250 average/ .364 OBP/ .393 slugging percentage, 1 homer, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (32): .321/ .406/ .393, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
David Ortiz (28): .304/ .393/ .739, 2 homers, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (25): .174/ .240/ .304, 1 homer, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
J.D. Drew (24): .300/ .417/ .650, 1 homer, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (21): .263/ .333/ .474, 1 homer, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Adrian Beltre (20): .056/ .150/ .111, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Marco Scutaro (18): .235/ .278/ .294, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Victor Martinez: 1-for-4
Josh Reddick: 1-for-1
Never faced: Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald
|04.22.10 at 10:13 pm ET|
The two-game winning streak is history for the Red Sox, as they could only manage a mere six hits in a 3-0 loss to the Rangers. The Sox wasted perhaps their best performance by a starting pitcher to date in 2010, as Clay Buchholz overpowered the Rangers for six innings before losing steam in the seventh.
Key Play Of The Game
Old friend David Murphy doubled in Nelson Cruz (who reached second on a stolen base) in the top of the seventh inning to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead and a little breathing room. Murphy would later advance to third and score on a throwing error by Clay Buchholz. The Rangers added a third run in the frame for a lead that would turn out to be the final score.
What Went Right For The Red Sox
Clay Buchholz was Bob Gibson for six innings: The 25-year-old entered the game with a 1.80 ERA, but hadn’t pitched as well as that number would indicate. He had walked 10 batters in just 16 innings, and his 1.60 WHIP was nearly identical to Tim Wakefield’s (1.64), who has an ERA of 6.38. And his lack of control showed in his pitch count totals, as Buchholz had averaged 101 pitches per game despite only lasting five innings in both starts.
But for six innings on Thursday night Buchholz looked every bit the ace that many had hoped (and some still hope) he would turn out to be, striking out nine batters (he would finish with 10, a new career high.) But perhaps more importantly, he walked only a single batter which, despite the high K totals, allowed him to pitch into the seventh inning for the first time this season. For those six frames, an absolutely dominating performance (the Rangers had 22 swing-and-misses in total against Buchholz) on a night when the Red Sox decided to stick with Buchholz in the rotation and move Tim Wakefield to the bullpen.
The bullpen pitched out of trouble: Ramon Ramirez relieved Buchholz with two outs in the seventh and Andres Blanco on third. He was able to to induce a lineout to first from Julio Borbon to prevent more damage in an inning that would prove to be the difference in the game. After Ramirez allowed a leadoff double to Elvis Andrus in the eighth (Andrus would advance to third on a ground out), Scott Schoeneweis would come in and retire Josh Hamilton and Murphy without allowing a run. Schoeneweis would turn in a one-two-three inning in the ninth to complete a solid night of work from the ‘pen.
What went wrong for the Red Sox
Clay Buchholz was not Bob Gibson in the seventh inning: Perhaps the pitch count caught up to Buchholz in the seventh inning, as he allowed three runs on three hits. All in all, though, the Red Sox should be thrilled with the overall effort.
Victor Martinez is a GIDP machine: Another rough night for Martinez, who grounded into his league-leading seventh double play of the season following a leadoff single by Kevin Youkilis in the second inning. Right now he’s on pace to break Jim Rice’s single-season GIDP record of 36 before the end of the NBA playoffs.
C.J. Wilson: Wilson, who entered the game with just eight career starts out of his 260 appearances, pitched 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. It was a relatively stress-free night for Wilson, as the Red Sox could only get a single runner into scoring position against the left-hander.
|04.22.10 at 7:16 pm ET|
According to sources familiar with the situation, the Red Sox enter Thursday night’s game against planning to send Tim Wakefield to the bullpen when Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to the Red Sox’ starting rotation.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before his team’s series finale against the Rangers that Matsuzaka would be making his next start for the Red Sox after pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox in his last three appearances while on a rehab assignment. Francona, however, would not disclose when Matsuzaka would be making his first start this season with the Sox, saying the team still had to speak to all the parties involved.
Wakefield last pitched out of the bullpen in the 2004 American League Championship Series, earning the win in Game 5 against the Yankees after pitching three scoreless innings. For his career the 43-year-old has made 141 regular season appearances, going 10-13 with a 3.75 ERA and 22 saves. The knuckleballer served as the Red Sox’ closer 1999 season, saving 15 games.
Wakefield is currently 0-1 with a 6.38 ERA in three starts this season. Barring any unforseen circumstances Clay Buchholz, who got the start for the Red Sox Thursday night, will remain in the starting rotation. He enters the game against the Rangers with a 1-1 mark and a 1.80 ERA.
|04.22.10 at 5:48 pm ET|
Francona was asked on Thursday afternoon if the return of Matzuaka to the rotation will help the bullpen depth. The manager evaded the question, but it wouldn’t be hard to conclude that a power arm like Buchholz could be a nice option in the sixth and seventh innings for the Sox. With Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez struggling there is clearly a need for another quality pitcher in the bullpen.
But has Buchholz done anything to lose his spot on the staff? Through two starts he has battled control issues (six walks in 10 innings pitched,) but his ERA is just 1.80. Wakefield has an ERA of 6.38, and his knuckeball only makes things more difficult for Victor Martinez (witness the nine steals by the Rangers on Tuesday night.)
It’s hard to image Wakefield playing a key role in the bullpen, but perhaps Francona sees an advantage to keeping Buchholz in the rotation and moving the 18-year veteran to a long-relief spot.
One would assume that a good start from Buchholz tonight makes Francona’s decision an easy one, but a stinker from the 25-year-old could mean the odd man out is anyone’s guess.
|04.22.10 at 5:10 pm ET|
“Dice will pitch for us. We will insert him in the rotation,” Francona said. “Johnny [Farrell] and I have not got with him yet. When he pitches and how we get there, we’ll sit and talk to Dice. We’ll get to it. There’s a little bit of time before he pitches. So we want to just make our rotation work with the off day coming up. We want to make it work. I do want to talk to him first.”
Matsuzaka has made three rehab starts, inluding a start Wednesday for Triple-A Pawtucket. He allowed three earned runs in 5.2 innings on the mound against Leigh Valley.
Francona ruled out the possibility of a six-man rotation for the Red Sox.
“Doing too many starters an injustice,” Francona said. “In the summer months when you are running into a long stretch, you might be able to do something like that. But I don’t think that’s something that will work right now.”
|04.22.10 at 12:06 pm ET|
Clay Buchholz has two career starts vs. the Rangers in his career ‘ one good, one not so good. In 2008, Buchholz pitched six innings of five-hit shutout ball in a 8-3 win on Apr. 21. In 2009, he gave up three earned runs in four innings in a 3-1 loss on July 22.
Other than those two outings, Buchholz is a fresh new face to this Ranger lineup. Buchholz will need to make this third outing vs. Texas a good one, especially with a decision on Daisuke Matsuzaka’s future coming up fairly soon.
Ranger’s starter C.J. Wilson has made 12 appearances against Boston, but he has never made a start. That will change with tonight’s start. In his 10.2 innings of work against the Sox he has a 2.53 ERA, striking out 12 in the process.
Wilson is pitching well this year, despite being winless. The lefty sports a 2.08 ERA this season, but only has received two runs in two games from the offense.
The Red Sox have now won two games in a row, and sit at 6-9 on the season.
RANGERS VS. CLAY BUCHHOLZ
Vladimir Guerrero (9 plate appearances): .444 average/ .444 OBP/ .444 slugging percentage, 0 homers, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts
Josh Hamilton (6): .000/ .000/ .000, 2 strikeouts
Ian Kinsler (6): .200/ .333/ .800, 1 homer, 1 strikeout
Michael Young (6): .500/ .667/ .750, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
David Murphy: 3-for-4
Elvis Andrus: 1-for-2
Nelson Cruz: 1-for-1, 1 walk
Taylor Teagarden: 0-for-2, 1 strikeout
Never faced: Joaquin Arias, Andres Blanco, Julio Borbon, Chris Davis, Ryan Garko
RED SOX VS. C.J. WILSON
Victor Martinez (13 plate appearances): .182 average/ .231 OBP/ .273 slugging percentage, 0 homers, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Adrian Beltre (12): .400/ .500/ .800, 1 homer, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Marco Scutaro (8): .143/ .250/ .143, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
David Ortiz (7): .143/ .143/ .143, 2 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (6): .333/ .333/ .333, 2 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (5): .000/ .400/ .000, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Kevin Youkilis: 0-for-2, 1 walk
Dustin Pedroia: 2-for-2
Jason Varitek: 0-for-1
|04.22.10 at 11:59 am ET|
Through three starts for the Pawtucket Red Sox this is what Matsuzaka has accomplished: 16.2 innings, 11 hits, four runs (3 earned), 13 strikeouts an just one walk.
But for perhaps the most insightful analysis regarding Matsuzaka’s most recent start for the PawSox we turn to the excellent blog of Pawtucket Red Sox radio broadcaster Dan Hoard, ‘Heard It From Hoard.’ He writes:
Perhaps the most encouraging sign was his control. For the second straight start, Matsuzaka did not allow a walk and he’s gone 12.2 innings since issuing his only free pass of the season.
“I thought he threw the ball very well,” PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur told me after the game. “I saw decent command of the fastball for the third straight outing. He commanded the cutter very well and stayed down in the zone. The curveball was a very good pitch for him today. He could get ahead of hitters when it looked like they were looking for the fastball and he also used it to some of the lefties today – backdooring the curveball for strike three. I was just impressed with his ability to go out there and throw strikes. They’ve got good hitters on this team and that’s what they’re going to need up there in Boston. He’s got all the talent in the world and I think it’s coming back.”
In all, Daisuke threw 66 of his 99 pitches for strikes. Here’s a closer look at how well he commanded all four of his pitches:
70 fastballs/cutters (45 strikes)
13 curveballs (10 strikes)
11 changeups (8 strikes)
5 sliders (3 strikes)
His fastball velocity was typically in the 89 to 91 mph range.
“Velocity does not make a pitcher – it does help – but it does not make a pitcher,” Sauveur said. “What we saw was a guy out there pitching. I’m very, very happy with what we’re seeing right now. I don’t know if he’s going to get another start down here, but everything is going forward right now.”
In three Triple-A starts, Daisuke was utterly dominant as he posted a 1.62 ERA, an opponent batting average of .186, and a 0.72 WHIP.
So is he ready to win in the AL East?
“That’s a tough question,” Sauveur said. “I can give you my opinion. He’s got three games under his belt in Triple-A. Is that definitive enough to say, ‘Yes, he’s ready.’ I don’t know, but I can tell you he looks very good, and compared to what he showed me last year when he came down, a lot has improved.”
|04.22.10 at 12:16 am ET|
Maybe it’s the two-syllable name that makes certain players far more conducive to having a chant accompany their appearances, whether hometown heroes or rival villains. Roger. Darryl. Nomar. Manny. Papi.
Surprising as it is, that was the case in the at-bats following Darnell’s fourth-inning homer that both extended a Sox lead and made him the first player since Sam Horn in 1987 to homer in each of his first two games with the Red Sox.
“I definitely didn’t expect that,” Red Sox outfielder and former first-round pick Darnell McDonald said after the second day of his trip from career minor-leaguer to Fenway favorite. “It’s unbelievable. I’m honored and I definitely appreciate it. These are the best fans in the world.”
McDonald also had a crucial assist on a play that kept Julio Borbon from crossing the plate on a Michael Young sacrifice fly. All of this a night after homering and providing the walkoff double for Tuesday night’s 7-6 victory. The 1997 first-rounder that never stuck in the bigs is finally in the spotlight and he’s soaking up every second, as difficult as it may be in these conditions.
“I don’t think anything can prepare you [for Fenway Park],” McDonald said. “I’ve played Winter Ball in Venzuela. It’s similar, but these are the best fans in the world and I appreciate the applause and stuff. It definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.”
As for the personal accomplishments and etching his name in the record books with Horn, the enthusiastic McDonald is both flattered and humble, excited and focused.
“When you mention Sam Horn, man, to be honest with you I’m just going up there and trying to put a good swing on the ball,” McDonald said. “I’ve been fortunate to get some good pitches, like the ball today. I didn’t know if it was going to get out, but I knew I hit it good. My approach is just going up there and seeing how many times I can put a good swing on the ball.”
The 26th overall pick in ’97 by the Orioles, McDonald never quite panned out, as he didn’t reach the Majors until 2004, in which he played 17 games with Baltimore and hit just .156 with no homers. He finally hit two in Cincinnati last season, but what took him 47 games a year ago has taken him just two in Boston. Even so, the personal accomplishments aren’t a priority for McDonald. With the Red Sox struggling to keep up in the AL East early on, McDonald will continue to feed off the positive energy at Fenway, but more importantly the back-to-back walkoff wins.
“It sure beats losing,” McDonald said. “I’m happy that I’ve been here two days and we’ve won two games.”
|04.21.10 at 11:02 pm ET|
As easy as it is to say the walkoff double was the play of the game, it was Marco Scutaro’s single past shortstop with one down in the 12th that halted the Rangers’ bullpen’s batters retired streak at 18 and put the winning run on base.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
The other DH didn’t disappoint: Whatever is going on with David Ortiz can’t be counted on to go away any time soon. Francona said prior to the game that he isn’t sure whether Ortiz will be sat for multiple games at a time, but it was refereshing to see his replacement show some power in the form of Mike Lowell. In addition to Lowell’s screamer over everything, he scored Kevin Youkilis in the bottom of the fifth with a wall-ball single and walked in the bottom of the third.
Darnell remained the talk of the town: What if McDonald were to add another day’s worth of excitement to the script? A day after being the walkoff hero in the Sox’ 7-6 victory, McDonald became the first player since Sam Horn in 1987 to homer in each of his first two games with the Red Sox. He also had the assist in an exciting play at the the plate when Julio Borbon tried tagging and scoring from third in the top of the fourth. After McDonald caught Michael Young’s fly ball, he rifled it in to Jason Varitek, who struggled in coralling the ball but did a good enough job of blocking the plate with his left leg to get Borbon, who slid past the plate. Furthermore, chants of “Darnell! Darnell!” filled the park in the bottom of the eighth prior to McDonald flying out to center and the crowd was even louder in the 11th. Yes, he was retired in both opportunities he had to end it, but did anyone see this shot of life coming from McDonald?
Drew showed signs of life in a big way: If Hamilton hadn’t hit his seventh-inning homer to tie the game, J.D. Drew would be getting some attention in the “Key Play” area. Not only was his grand slam key for getting the Sox back in the game at the time, but it perhaps set one of the team’s more important bats back on track. Francona spoke before the game of how frustrated Drew was and that he, as usual, was simply expressing it differently. A grand slam that gives the home team a lead in a rough stretch is just one of many ways of indicating a turnaround from a guy who entered the night hitting .133 on the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
[New way to phrase that the Red Sox can’t stop bases from being stolen]: Add three more steals onto that league-worst total. Andrus’ steal in the second helped him later score on a Josh Hamilton single, though neither of Julio Borbon’s two steals proved costly to the Red Sox. All three attempts warranted a throw, though Varitek’s attempts proved to be futile. It may not have been nine again (thankfully), but a night after getting to play the Wakefield card, the excuses begin disapearring when the guy on the mound is hitting 94 miles an hour consistently.
Beckett had bookend struggles: The ace appeared to have just come from a lesson with John Burkett on how to get off to a rough start, but after allowing six baserunners and four runs through the first two innings, Beckett figured it out for the better part of his outing. After retiring eight in a row from the fourth inning to the sixth, the wheels came off once again for Beckett, who served up a game-tying three-run shot to Josh Hamilton with one down in the seventh. The innings are a plus, but six earned (a Youkilis error put Borbon in the seventh) and five walks aren’t pretty any way you slice it.
Uncharacteristic blunder proves characteristically costly: Time and time again late errors are a thorn in the side of the winning team. It was the case for Youkilis in the seventh when he picked up a Julio Borbon grounder down the first baseline in the seventh and threw it into right field. Holding the ball wouldn’t have done much better as he would have still crossed the plate on the Hamilton shot, but Youkilis’ throw was well-wide of the covering Dustin Pedroia’s outstretched glove.
|04.21.10 at 7:17 pm ET|
On having Varitek catch and Lowell DH:
‘We’ll see, I honestly don’t know. We’ll see. I don’t know if it makes a lot of sense to make the lineup out at 4 o’clock the day before, but we’ll see how it goes.
‘He didn’t fight me on it. I wouldn’t expect anybody, when we pinch-hit for them to come back and high-five us. He’s been an unbelievable player here. I just want him to know that we care about all of our players and we try to do what we think is right for our team, that’s basically what it is.’
On Manny Delcarmen:
‘From the very first pitch it was noticeable. His arm swing was a little longer, a little cleaner. The ball came out with a lot more crispness.
On J.D. Drew:
‘Kind of like David, he’s got his body out a little bit ahead of him. J.D.’s got some of the best hitter’s hands you’ll ever see, but when their hands come forward, there’s not a lot left to do anything with the ball.
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