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Friendly wager leads to ejection for Adrian Beltre

08.26.10 at 1:51 am ET
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Both Adrian Beltre and Terry Francona were ejected just prior to the third inning Wednesday night. (AP)

[Click here to listen to Adrian Beltre explain his side of the story after being ejected by home plate umpire Dan Bellino before the third inning began Wednesday.]

Adrian Beltre explained that when he was ejected by home plate umpire Dan Bellino just prior to starting the third inning of the Red Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Mariners he was talking some friendly “smack” to Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez and didn’t say a word to the ump. Bellino tossed Beltre while the third baseman was getting ready to warm up at his position, presumably believing he was still talking about a called third strike the half-inning prior.

“I was talking to Felix, we had a little bet where he told me he was going to strike me out three times and I told him I was going to take him deep. He struck me out in the first at-bat and I went back to my position and he was talking smack,” Beltre explained. “I was facing him, talking in spanish. I told him the next at-bat I was going to take him deep over the Monster. That’s all I said to him. I heard the umpire talking to me. I told him I was talking to [Hernandez], and he threw me out. I had no idea why he threw me out. I wasn’t even talking to him.”

Beltre immediately ran in from third when he figured out Bellino — a 31-year-old umpire who had been called up from the International League (AAA) — had ejected him. Second base umpire Angel Hernandez, who had sprinted in from his position, got between the player and the ump.

“It’s frustrating for a rookie umpire to do something like that, especially with how important the game is to us,” said Beltre, who had only been ejected fro one other game in his career, coming on Aug. 24, 2002. “Knowing I’m not even facing him. I’m not even talking to him. I’m talking in Spanish and he’s behind me. So how does he take the initiative to take me out of the game in a game like in the second inning?

“I never got close to him. They wouldn’t let me. I was trying to find out why, why he would throw me out. He has no reason to throw me out in that situation. I don’t know why a rookie is behind home plate today. I’m guessing he’s a rookie because I’ve never seen him before. So why would he take the initiative to throw me out in a game like that, in the second inning when we’re trying to win a pennant race.”

Also ejected was Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who had come out to calm down his player before attempting to get an explanation from Bellino. Hernandez also stepped in between Francona and the rookie umpire during the ensuing argument.

“He’s protecting the young umpire. They have their code or whatever, like we do. I guess I figure, if a guy’s old enough to throw you out, he’s old enough to get yelled at,” Francona said of Hernandez’ involvement. “I just wanted an explanation. Like I  said, if a guy’s going to throw you out, he out to be able to tell you what happened. So I couldn’t get an explanation. So I started cursing. That was real helpful.”

“I think Tito was trying to get an explanation as to what was going on,” Beltre said. “We were all confused.”

“I don’t have any history with the guy. He struck me out a pitch me seeing on the video was low. I said it was low, he said it was a good pitch and I walked away. That was it.”

For more on the Red Sox see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Closing Time: Mariners 4, Red Sox 2

08.25.10 at 9:49 pm ET
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It was a game that left a bitter-sweet taste in the mouths of Red Sox’ fans everywhere.

Also the Sox were able to gain 1/2 game on both the Yankees and Rays in the standings — putting them 5 1/2 back of both teams — it could have been a whole lot better for the home team if it could have managed a sweep against the hapless Mariners. Instead the Sox had to settle for a single victory Wednesday, dropping the night-cap of the teams’ doubleheader, 4-2, at Fenway Park.

The results set the stage for the Red Sox’ three-game series in St. Petersburg, with all three contending American League East teams getting Thursday off. Besides the inability to pick up an extra game heading into the showdown with the Rays, another monkey wrench that was thrown the Sox’ way was a back injury suffered before the game by Thursday night’s scheduled starter Daisuke Matsuzaka. The ailment forced Tim Wakefield into the emergency start, while pushing Jon Lester to Friday’s start at Tropicana Field.

Here is what went wrong for the Red Sox, and what went right:

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Felix Hernandez pitched. With his 7 1/3-inning outing, in which he surrendered two runs (one earned) on four hits, the righty has now allowed just six runs in 30 1/3 innings over four career outings at Fenway Park. The performance lowers his ERA to 2.47 (second only to the Red Sox’ Clay Buchholz’ 2.26), while pushing Hernandez over 200 innings for a third straight season. This time out the starter struck out nine with a walk. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they weren’t able to work the count enough to drive the Mariners’ ace from the game prior to the eighth inning, with his final pitch count totaling 122.

- The Red Sox lost some valuable ammunition against Hernandez early on, as Adrian Beltre was thrown out of the game (along with manager Terry Francona) in the third inning. Beltre ran in from his position prior to starting the third, continuing an argument with home plate umpire Dan Bellino that had begun after the third baseman was rung up on strikes the previous half inning. Upon arriving at the umpire, Beltre was almost immediately greeted by second base ump Angel Hernandez, who had sprinted in from his position to intercept the player. It was just Beltre’s second ejection of his career, with the other one coming almost eight years to the day (Aug. 24, 2002). For Francona, who was tossed out after coming on the field to pick up the argument for Beltre, it was the 29th ejection of his career and third of the season.

- Wakefield got off on the wrong foot, and it cost him. The starter successfully fielded a comebacker off the bat of Seattle leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki in the game’s first at-bat. But the subsequent throw to first baseman Victor Martinez appeared to slip out of his hand, going well wide of his target. The error put Suzuki at second, eventually leading the Mariners first run when the outfielder scored on Russell Branyan’s groundout.

- Another decisive defensive play — although not an error — came in the sixth inning. With two outs and Casey Kotchman at second, Wakefield allowed a sinker liner to left off the bat of Matt Tuiasosopo that Daniel Nava dove head-first for but couldn’t come up with. The result was the ball getting behind outfielder, leading to the Mariners’ fourth run and the end of Wakefield’s night.

- The Red Sox narrowly missed two chances to equalize Hernandez’ performance in the eighth inning. First, with runners on first and second, the Sox down two, and one out, Victor Martinez greeted reliever Brandon League by hitting his first pitch down the left field line. The ball landed a foot foul, spoiling the opportunity to score at least one run. Then, with runners on second and third and two outs, David Ortiz hit a liner that left fielder Matt Tuiasosopo managed to barely reach up and grab after being turned around at the last-second. The move to let Ortiz hit was a curious one by Seattle interim manager Daren Brown considering the DH was 3-for-9 against League and there was a base open.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- J.D. Drew showed that Hernandez isn’t totally unhittable, launching a one-out solo homer to center field to cut the Mariners’ lead to 4-2 i the sixth inning. It was the second homer of Drew’s career against the pitcher, moving his career numbers vs. Hernandez to 9-for-23. Drew also was the only player to hit a home run against Hernandez at Fenway Park, having gone deep July 3, 2009. Victor Martinez even followed with a single. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the momentum didn’t last long with Hernandez striking out David Ortiz for the 24-year-old becoming the third-youngest pitcher since 1952 to strike out 1,000 batters (only behind Bert Blyleven and Dwight Gooden).

- Despite taking the loss, Wakefield’s outing might have been good enough on most nights. Making his first start since July 20, at Oakland, the 44-year-old allowed four runs (3 earned) on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out two and not walking a batter while throwing 91 pitches.

- The normally sure-handed Josh Wilson helped keep the Red Sox in the game with a pair of misplayed balls in the third inning. First the Seattle shortstop booted a grounder off the bat of Kevin Cash, putting runners on first and third and leading to the Sox’ first run when Hernandez tossed a wild pitch. Then, just for good measure, Wilson booted another ball, this time off the bat of Marco Scutaro immediately after Cash’s grounder.

The Cowboy tries to police Papelbon

08.25.10 at 6:20 pm ET
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[Click here to listen to Jonathan Papelbon's take on being told to hurry up by umpire Joe West.]

The game had proceeded at a surprisingly clipped pace given the conditions. The Red Sox and Mariners were navigating through the final inning of Boson’s 5-3 victory in the first contest of a day-night double-header, but Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon was not in a rush.

The mound, damp with the steady drizzle of the day, had sent the pitchers scurrying to clean their spikes all day. Papelbon was no different. But umpiring crew chief “Cowboy” Joe West, who was assigned to adjudicate at second base for the contest, took umbrage when the Sox closer — a frequent target of pace-of-game infractions — took what he viewed as the necessary time between pitches.

West walked towards the mound and shouted at Papelbon while pointing to a watch on his left wrist. The message was obvious enough.

“He just reminded me I’m on the clock,” said Papelbon. “I understand all that.”

Even so, Papelbon went from the conversation with West to the back of the mound to keep cleaning the mud from his shoes. He ended up pitching a perfect ninth inning, requiring 18 pitches (12 against Casey Kotchman) to record his 32nd save of the year.

For the Sox closer, the advice from West seemed a bit puzzling.

“For me and my safety, staying healthy is priority over anything,” Papelbon said. “The mound got beat up for nine innings with rain, so I’m not going to go out there and put myself in a situation where I’m going to slip and get hurt.

“I understand it takes a little more time, and there are rules in Major League Baseball that say we have to do this in a certain amount of time, but I also think there are certain situations where you have to give and take a little bit, and understand players need to make sure that they’re out there playing in safe conditions and not going to get hurt.”

West, of course, became an object of national attention earlier in the season when he told the Bergen (N.J.) Record that the Red Sox and Yankees had played their games at a pace that was “pathetic and embarrassing,” a remark that was received with some concern by members of the two clubs. On Wednesday, in a game that lasted 2 hours 44 minutes, he apparently was once again trying to address the issue.

Read More: Joe West, Jonathan Papelbon,

Closing Time: Red Sox 5, Mariners 3

08.25.10 at 4:21 pm ET
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It’s necessary to get the qualification out of the way first. A solid outing against the Mariners does not exactly come with the same degree of difficulty as one against the 1927 Yankees. Seattle entered Wednesday averaging 3.29 runs per game, the lowest mark by an American League team since the Toronto Blue Jays averaged 3.10 runs per contest in 1981.

That said, the Red Sox have been eager for any signs of optimism about Josh Beckett that they can get, and in the first game of the day-night double header, they received some. After allowing a leadoff single (on a comebacker) to Ichiro Suzuki to lead off the game, Beckett did not allow another hit through six innings.

Beckett faltered in the seventh, allowing three runs on a pair of homers. Even so, his first victory since Aug. 3 (after allowing 19 runs in his previous 16 innings) gave the Sox not only a 5-3 win but also some cause for hope with the pitcher going forward.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Beckett effectively mixed his changeup and curve with a fastball that he located to both sides of the plate to keep the Mariners off balance for much of the day. He took advantage of a strike zone that was interpreted liberally by home plate ump Rob Drake. He allowed just four hits and one walk in 6 1/3 innings while striking out seven.

With his seventh-inning falter, however, Beckett did extend his streak of games in which he’s allowed a homer to five, matching the longest such run of his career. His fastball velocity appeared to dip in the seventh.

It was also somewhat noteworthy that Beckett did not have any physical issues on the mound, given that the rainy conditions were somewhat reminiscent of the May 18 game in Yankee Stadium in which he tweaked his back.

Marco Scutaro continued his recent offensive surge. He collected a pair of hits, and now has multi-hit games in five of his last six games, during which he is hitting .478 (11-for-23). He is hitting .395 during a nine-game hitting streak.

Daniel Nava had his first run-scoring hit since July 10, delivering a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth that proved pivotal.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The Red Sox employed both Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, meaning that the availability of the team’s two key relievers will be in question for the nightcap.

Bard needed 20 pitches to record five outs. His stuff seemed somewhat less explosive than usual, as his velocity was in the mid- (rather than high-) 90s, and he did not record a strikeout. He also issued a walk, the ninth time in his last 16 plate appearances that he has given up a free pass.

Papelbon, meanwhile, was aggressive in the strike zone, but lacked the ability to close out Mariners hitters with two strikes. Most notably, with one out, Casey Kotchman, after falling behind 0-2, fouled off six Papelbon pitches en route to a 12-pitch at-bat. That resulted in an 18-pitch ninth inning for the Sox closer.

Ryan Kalish went 0-for-3, and is now 2-for-24 (.083) during the homestand.

–Though he had a fine day at the plate, drawing a pair of walks and delivering a sacrifice fly, Mike Lowell‘s base running limitations became evident when he was gunned out trying to advance from first to third on a single that bounced down the left-field line and into the corner.

Red Sox notes: Pedroia, team waiting on 2nd opinion

08.25.10 at 12:20 pm ET
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Red Sox skipper Terry Francona said Wednesday the team is waiting for the latest results on the scan of Dustin Pedroia‘s left foot.

“The disks have been sent to [Jonathan] Deland and [Robert] Anderson. I’m sure at some point we’re going to talk to Anderson,”Francona said. “Deland is in Austria. I can’t guarantee when he’s going to see that disk. I would shoot more for Anderson [seeing disk Wednesday].”

After playing two games, collecting one hit and one run and a steal, Pedroia complained of soreness in the left foot that kept him from sleeping last Thursday. His foot was scanned on Friday and it showed his foot was only half-healed. He was placed back on the disabled list last Friday.

Pedroia, Francona and the team were hoping to avoid a significant ‘surgery’ on Pedroia’s left foot to aid with the healing.

No decision has been made and the team is waiting on the second opinions to come in from the two foot specialists to decide if surgery is necessary.

Pedroia fouled a ball off his left [front] foot on June 25 in San Francisco and went on the disabled list for seven weeks before coming back for the Angels series last week at Fenway for three games before being forced back onto the DL. He had a scan of his foot last week after complaining of soreness and saying it was “feeling terrible.” Pedroia and the team sought out a second opinion from orthopedic specialists Deland and Anderson to determine if surgery were needed.

Meanwhile, after experiencing the first official washout of their 2010 season Tuesday night, Francona said he expects both games of the day-night doubleheader to be played on Wednesday at soggy Fenway Park. Francona said he was making his observation based on the radar team officials have seen.

“Everything says it’s supposed to clear out… and I don’t think they anticipate any problems,” Francona said. “Hope they’re right.”

The Red Sox will start Josh Beckett in Game 1 against Seattle David Pauley, scheduled for a 1:35 p.m. start. Jon Lester opposes Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in the nightcap, set for a 7:10 p.m. first pitch.

Hideki Okajima pitches tonight in Buffalo for Triple-A Pawtucket. The team hopes to talk to him back in Boston before the team leaves on its charter Thursday for the weekend series at Tampa Bay.

“Oki [pitches] tonight. He’ll come back from Buffalo tomorrow. Plan is to sit down with him before we go to Tampa.”

– The Red Sox may be facing the lowly Mariners but they will have their hands full in the nightcap as they face one of the very best pitchers in the game enjoying of the best seasons in the game. Felix Hernandez is just 9-10 this season but he has a 2.51 ERA, trailing only Clay Buchholz‘s 2.26 mark in the American League. He leads the league in innings pitched with 197 and is second in strikeouts with 183.

“He’s one of the best, one of the very best, stuff-wise, ERA-wise,” Francona said Wednesday morning. “He burst onto the scene. He hasn’t gone under the radar with us. His stuff is as nasty as you can find.”

– Victor Martinez could very well wind up catching both Beckett and Lester in the day-night doubleheader as Francona tries to field the best offensive lineup, especially facing F-Her in the 7:10 p.m. game.

“We’ll see,” Francona said when asked if Kevin Cash – with a .148 average – would help split catching duties. “This is not an ordinary beginning-of-the-year, early-year doubleheader [where] we’re looking for ways to find guys at-bats and keep guys sharp. We didn’t play [Tuesday] night and we don’t play [Thursday]. So, you’ll see some changes but you’ll also see some guys play both games.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, felix hernandez, Hideki Okajima, Jon Lester

Francona on D&H: I think Pedroia will be back

08.25.10 at 11:52 am ET
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Terry Francona

Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley show on Wednesday morning for his weekly discussion on the Red Sox. This week, the Boston skipper talked about Dustin Pedroia’s injury situation and Michael Jordan’s baseball playing days as portrayed in ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Jordan Rides the Bus.”

“The best way I can put it is that he passed all the tests and I think everybody felt he was safe to come back and try to play,” Francona said of Pedroia. “Now in saying that, they also warned him, and very aggressively, that if he felt pain, he’d have to let us know because that’s when he could do damage. So, when he felt some pain, we immediately went and got a scan and the scan showed there was no further damage, which we were very relieved. Since he was sore, we put him on the DL.”

Francona also touched on the difference of receiving criticism as a player and as a manager of a team.

Below is the transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Last night it was pretty obvious that the field was going to be tough to play on. It doesn’t look much better today, does it?

No, but we’re getting a better forecast. I know it’s ugly out there right now but it sounds like in the next couple hours, most of this is going to be out of here and we’re going to play. It might not be the best day we’ve ever seen and as the day progresses, I think we’re going to be okay. That’s alright because you know what, sometimes in the day games when it’s not sunny, it’s a heck of a lot easier to see and the field is a little mushy. That was kind of the problem last night, the forecast wasn’t getting better. I kind of said that we were chasing our tails, by the time we got on the field it would be too sloppy to play. Finally, probably cooler heads prevailed and we figured out this wasn’t going to work.

How does last night’s postponement affect the pitching matchups and lineups today?

Well, so far, we have the same exact lineup as we did last night, so does Seattle for the first game. Now in Game 2, we’ll probably have some changes, I don’t think they’ll be wholesale changes. When we play doubleheaders early in the year, you pretty much don’t see everybody play. This isn’t really that time of the year and we basically didn’t play last night and we don’t play tomorrow, so you’re going to see a lot of guys probably play both games. That’s the time of the year it is. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Michael Jordan, Terry Francona,

Chat live with Lou Merloni at noon

08.25.10 at 11:01 am ET
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Join WEEI’s Lou Merloni in a live chat leading into a day of doubleheader baseball. Bring all your Red Sox-related questions, comments, and opinions:

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