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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.

Read More: adalberto ibarra, Adrian Beltre, chris iannetta, David Ortiz

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

Red Sox vs. Orioles matchups, 2/2

05.02.10 at 6:53 am ET
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Anything would be an improvement over Josh Beckett’s last start. Luckily for the struggling ace, he gets to rebound against the Orioles, a team he has a lot of success against.

Beckett sports a 6-2 record with a 3.70 ERA in 12 starts against the Orioles. Even better for Beckett, he has a 5-1 record with a 3.04 ERA in eight starts at Camden Yards. Beckett and the Red Sox need him to get back on track, especially against an AL East foe.

The Sox right-hander has given up four homer runs this season, which happens to be the same amount he has given up to Orioles’ slugger Ty Wigginton.

Beckett has surrendered 15 earned runs in his last two starts, and he will need to keep Wigginton and the rest of the lineup  in the yard to be successful.

Unlike Beckett, Orioles’ starter Kevin Millwood has been very consistent this year.

He hasn’t given up more than four earned runs in a start this year, but unfortunately for him, he plays for the Orioles. Millwood is 0-3 in five starts this season with a 3.38 ERA, while only getting 2.66 runs a game from his teammates.

The Red Sox need Josh Beckett to get back on track. (AP)

ORIOLES VS. JOSH BECKETT

Brian Roberts (39 plate appearances): .278 average/ .333 OBP/ .500 slugging percentage, 1 homer, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts

Nick Markakis (37): .313/ .405/ .467, 1 homer, 5 walks, 10 strikeouts

Ty Wigginton (29): .321/ .345/ .857, 4 homers, 6 strikeouts

Miguel Tejada (23): .130/ .130/ .261, 1 homer, 5 strikeouts

Luke Scott (19): .533/ .632/ .933, 2 homers, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts

Adam Jones (18): .235/ .278/ .294, 1 walks, 6 strikeouts

Cezar Izturis (16): .214/ .313/ .357, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Julio Lugo (13): .083/ .154/ .167, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Garrett Atkins (12): .600/ .667/ 1.000, 1 homer, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Felix Pie: 1-for-6, 3 strikeouts

Nolan Reimond: 0-for-6, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Millwood: 0-for-3, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Robert Andino: 1-for-3, 1 strikeout

Matt Wieters: 1-for-3, 1 strikeout

Never faced: Craig Tatum

Kevin Millwood needs some help from his teammates. (AP)

RED SOX VS. ORIOLES

Adrian Beltre (71 plate appearances): .275/ .296/ .449, 3 homers, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (71): .344/ .437/ .541, 2 homers, 9 walks, 8 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (37): .323/ .432/ .452, 1 homer, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (33): .387/ .424/ .548, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

David Ortiz (31): .360/ .452/ .760, 3 homers, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (29): .154/ .172/ .154, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (18): .375/ .444/ .438, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (18): .467/ .556/ .533, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (17): .133/ .235/ .200, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall: 1-for-5, 1 strikeout

Josh Beckett: 1-for-1, Sacrifice bunt

Never faced: Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald

Closing Time: Orioles 12, Red Sox 9

05.01.10 at 9:58 pm ET
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Red Sox pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield combined to allow five Baltimore home runs, paving the way for a 12-9 win over the Orioles, Saturday night at Camden Yards. The Sox had carried a 4-1 lead into the fifth, but the O’s responded with 10 unanswered runs off of the first two Red Sox’ hurlers. David Ortiz highlighted the Red Sox’ night by hitting two home runs. (Click here for a complete recap.)

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Daisuke, Inning 5: Matsuzaka succumbed to a horrific frame in the fifth inning. The Sox’ starter seemed to be relying on his fastball more than in the previous four innings, and it cost him with most of the biggest Orioles’ hits in the six-run inning coming off of Daisuke’s heater. Matsuzaka had actually retired the first batter he faced (Luke Scott) in the fifth, but after that it went all downhill. First, Ty Wigginton notched only Baltimore’s second hit of the game when he homered to center. After that came a single, a walk, a force out, another single, yet another single, and finally a three-run homer from Matt Wieters. One more Miguel Tejada double and Matsuzaka’s night was done.

- Wakefield reunion with the ‘pen didn’t go well: The last time we saw Wakefield pitch out of the bullpen it was in the 2004 American League Championship Series, marking his fourth straight scoreless relief outing. That went a whole lot better than this did. First, it appeared that the routine of getting ready in the middle of an inning — as was the case in the fifth — left Wakefield a bit out of sorts (while seemingly forcing Matsuzaka to stay in for one more batter than Terry Francona most likely would have preferred). The end result was three homers allowed by Wakefield, which was the first time a Red Sox reliever had allowed three homers since Keith Foulke in 2006. Watching the outing it was hard not to think that Wakefield has potentially a great deal of value in the rotation, but very little in the bullpen.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Daisuke, Innings 1-4: Matsuzaka couldn’t have been much better prior to the clock striking 8:30 p.m. He allowed one earned run on just one hit, getting over first-pitch strikes to 11 of the first 13 hitters he faced. While his fastball wasn’t dominant (ranging between 89-91 mph with one reaching 94 mph), his slider was. The pitch was the punctuation on all four of the Red Sox’ starters strikeouts.

- Ortiz’ power stroke: After taking extensive early batting practice, Ortiz saw the extra work pay off. Getting the start at designated hitter for the second straight game, Ortiz got his hands in on an 90 mph, inside fastball from O’s starter Brad Bergesen and deposited it just over the left field wall for his second homer of the season. And even though his next at-bat resulted in an fly-out to left field, the swing offered a reminder of when Ortiz is going good, driving an outside-edge fastball the other way. Then, in the eighth, Ortiz made Francona’s move not to pinch-hit for him against left-hander Alberto Castillo by launching his second homer of the game on to Eutaw Street. It was Ortiz’ 35th career multi-homer game, and his first since last Aug. 26.

- Not your Van Every-day substitute: With Jeremy Hermida sitting the game out with a sore quadriceps, Jonathan Van Every stepped up and did his part while starting in center field. First the 30-year-old took the first pitch of the third inning and sent it over the center field fence, giving the Red Sox’ a 2-1 lead. Then, later in the third, Van Every got a solid jump on a sinker liner off the bat of Adam Jones, allowing the outfielder to eventually make a diving, inning-ending stab. It supported Terry Francona’s theory that Van Every was better suited to center than Darnell McDonald, who got the start in left field.

- Martinez is figuring things out: Earlier in the week, Sox’ catching instructor Gary Tuck suggested Victor Martinez was on his way to getting his throwing straightened out. That’s certainly looking to be the case, as Martinez threw out his second baserunner attempting to steal in as many nights. The approach is noticeable, with the catcher displaying a much shorter arm stroke compared the side-arm method he had previously fallen into.

Red Sox vs. Orioles matchups, 5/1

05.01.10 at 10:13 am ET
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Saturday marks the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Red Sox rotation, and he will be faced with the task of trying to help the Sox rebound from Friday night’s 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Baltimore Orioles. The right-hander will make his 2010 debut at Camden Yards against Baltimore, an opponent which he has had some success against throughout his career.

Matsuzaka was 3-1 with a 4.78 ERA in his six starts against Baltimore through his first three seasons. He only saw the Orioles once last year, when he worked 5-1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and striking out five, in a 9-3 Red Sox victory. He made three rehab starts in Triple-A Pawtucket as he recovered from a DL stint with a neck strain. He held the opposition scoreless in 11 innings on work over his first two games before some struggles in the third, as he allowed four runs in 5-2/3 innings to the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.

He will be opposed by another pitcher who just had a stint in Triple A — the Orioles’ Brad Bergesen.

The right-hander put up solid numbers in 19 starts in his rookie season last year, going 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA. But the start of his 2010 season was the total opposite, as he was pummeled in his thirst three games. Bergesen went 0-2 with an ugly 12.19 ERA, lasting no longer than 4-2/3 in any of his three starts and letting up at least four earned runs in every game. The final straw came when he was blitzed by the Seattle Mariners on April 19, as he lasted just 2-2/3 innings and walked three and gave up seven runs, though only four were earned.

Still, the Orioles brought the youngster back up from Norfolk to face Boston, a team he has pitched well against in two starts. In his first game against Boston Bergesen was excellent, allowing just one run on four hits in eight innings. He didn’t get the win, however, since the Orioles’ bullpen coughed up a four run lead.  In his other start against the Sox it was the Baltimore offense that let Bergesen down, as it could only muster one run and squandered a decent line from its starter: three earned runs in six innings.

Red Sox vs.  Brad Bergesen

Adrian Beltre (7): .286/.286/.857, 1 home run, 1 strikeout

J.D. Drew (7): .286/.286./.286

Dustin Pedroia (7): .667/.714/.833, 1 double, 1 walk

Marco Scutaro (7): .500/.429/.667, 1 double

David Ortiz (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (6): .167/.167/.167, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (6): .000/.167/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (3): .500/.667/1.000, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Bergesen has never faced Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Victor Martinez, Darnell McDonald or Jonathan Van Every.

Orioles vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka

Nick Markakis (17 career plate appearances against Matsuzaka): .000 average/.294 OBP/.000 slugging, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts

Luke Scott (12): .375/.583/.875, 1 home run, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts

Miguel Tejada (7): .429/.429/.429, 1 strikeout

Ty Wigginton (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 strikeout

Adam Jones (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 strikeout

Matt Wieters (3): 1.000/1.000/1.000

Cesar Izturis is 1-2 in his career against Matsuzaka. The Sox starter has never faced Robert Andino, Garrett Atkins, Julio Lugo, Nolan Reimold or Craig Tatum.

Closing Time: Orioles 5, Red Sox 4

04.30.10 at 10:46 pm ET
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The Red Sox appeared headed to an impressive 4-3 come-from-behind victory when J.D. Drew delivered a go-ahead homer for Boston in the top of the eighth. But the bullpen betrayed that advantage in Baltimore, as Orioles third baseman Miguel Tejada smashed a game-tying homer off of Daniel Bard in the eighth inning, then delivered a game-winning single back up the middle in the bottom of the 10th against Manny Delcarmen, as Baltimore claimed a 5-4, walkoff victory. (Recap.)

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

John Lackey was spectacular at times for the Sox. He featured a terrific curveball and slider that helped him to a season-high six strikeouts. He allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings, allowing just five hits (four singles and a double), while throwing a whopping 120 pitches.

Lackey became the first Sox pitcher to throw 120 pitches this year. Entering Friday, all major league hurlers had combined to throw just nine games of 120 or more pitches.

J.D. Drew entered Friday with just one multi-hit game in 2010, two homers and a .181/.282/.306/.588 line. But the right-fielder smashed a pair of solo homers — one to left-center on a fastball from David Hernandez in the second inning, and another to dead center on a Jim Johnson fastball in the eighth inning — for his fifth multi-homer game as a Red Sox, and his first of the 2010 season.

Dustin Pedroia continued his current hot streak, going 2-for-4 with a homer to right-center and 2 RBI. He is now 10-for-26 (.385) in his last six games. His homer was his first since April 17, and just the third opposite field homer of his career. His six homers in April matched his career-high for any month (previously achieved in August 2008).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The Red Sox defense, anticipated to be a strong suit this year, continued its disappointing path. A pair of errors led to a key unearned run in the fourth, as center fielder Darnell McDonald kicked a leadoff single to center by Miguel Tejada, then, after a walk put runners on first and second, third baseman Adrian Beltre booted a double-play grounder to allow a run.

Beltre was also caught out of the position in the first inning, when he was heading towards the bag on a planned pickoff throw to third. Matt Wieters shot a run-scoring single to left through the vacated hole.

Beltre in particular has made several sloppy plays this season (five errors), but the Sox defense as a whole has also been well short of advertised. Entering Friday, the Sox had a .691 defensive efficiency, ranked 19th among the 30 major league teams.

Daniel Bard grooved a 96 mph fastball to Miguel Tejada in the bottom of the eighth that the third baseman slammed deep into the left-field stands for a game-tying solo homer. It was the third homer that Bard has allowed in 14.2 innings this year. He gave up five longballs in 49.1 innings in the 2009 season.

–Beltre’s challenging evening did not stop there. He was also thrown out at third on a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play, and was called for baserunner interference in the top of the seventh, thus turning what would have been a force out at second into a double play. The interference call (which was debatable) may have cost the Sox a run, since with two outs, McDonald walked and both Marco Scutaro and Pedroia singled, a rally that yielded one run but could have resulted in more.

Beltre did, however, go 3-for-5 to improve his average to .338.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Daniel Bard, Dustin Pedroia, J.D. Drew

Red Sox vs. Orioles matchups, 4/30

04.30.10 at 3:04 pm ET
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It was a nice trip to Toronto for the Red Sox, as they swept the Blue Jays to get back to .500 on the season, at 11-11. Now they will face a familiar opponent — the Baltimore Orioles, who the Sox took two of three from last week.

John Lackey will be on the hill in Friday night’s game, getting his second crack at the Orioles this season. Baltimore got its licks in against the Sox starter on April 24, as Lackey let up 10 hits on the day and walked a pair. But he was able to keep the Orioles from putting up big numbers on the scoreboard, as he let up just three runs in seven innings of work.

On the year, Lackey is 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA, mostly thanks to a rough outing against Tampa Bay on April 19, when he let up eight earned runs in just 3-1/3 innings. The right-hander has done well against Baltimore in the past, posting a 9-3 career record with a 3.21 ERA.

The Orioles will have 24-year old right-hander David Hernandez on the mound. Hernandez emerged as Baltimore’s fifth starter this spring, winning the job over the highly touted Chris Tillman, but has failed to find early success thus far, at least in terms of his record. He is 0-3 with a 4.84 ERA in his first four starts in his second big league season, but he pitched fairly well against the Sox last week at Fenway Park, when he allowed three earned runs over five innings of work.

Control issues have plagued Hernandez early this year, as he has 10 walks over 22-1/3 innings of work. But when you take a closer look at his numbers, he has actually performed relatively well. What has hurt his is a lack of run support, as the Orioles tallied just three runs total in his first three starts before breaking through against the Sox on April 25 to score seven times.

Despite it being just his second year, he has faced the Sox more than any other team. Last year he had mixed results vs. Boston, going 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA. His had his best performance of the 2009 season against the Red Sox, allowing one run over seven strong innings in his first start against the Sox on July 26. In his other three appearances, however, he lasted past the fifth inning just once and lost two of the three games.

Here are the matchups.

Red Sox vs. David Hernandez

Dustin Pedroia (14 career plate appearances against Hernandez): .231 average/.286 OBP/.923 slugging, 3 home runs, 1 walk

Kevin Youkilis (14): .385/.429/.846, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

David Ortiz (13): .167/.231/.333, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Victor Martinez (11): .182/.182/.182, 1 strikeout

J.D. Drew (9): .333/.333/.444, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Adrian Beltre (5): .500/.600/.500, 1 walk

Mike Lowell is 2 for 3 vs Hernandez, while Jeremy Hermida has one walk in his two appearances against the Orioles’ starter. Jason Varitek and Jonathan van Every are both 0-2 against Hernandez. Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald have never faced the right-hander.

Orioles vs. John Lackey

Miguel Tejada (37 career plate appearances against Lackey): .297 average/.297 OBP/.432 slugging, 2 d0ubles, 1 home run, 9 strikeouts

Nick Markakis (28): .320/.393/.360, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts

Cesar Izturis (21): .190/.190/.190, 4 strikeouts

Julio Lugo (20): .222/.300/.278, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Ty Wigginton (16): .286/.375/.500, 1 home run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Adam Jones (14): .143/.143/.286, 1 triple, 5 strikeouts

Luke Scott (9): .375/.444/1.250, 2 home runs, 2 strikeouts

Matt Wieters (9): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Nolan Reimold (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 strikeout

Garrett Atkins is hitless in three at bats against Lackey. The sox starter has never faced Craig Tatum, the Orioles’ backup catcher.

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