|07.17.10 at 2:20 am ET|
Bengie Molina has heard all the jokes over his 11-plus seasons in the majors.
Those jokes, of course, begin and end with the ability of the portly catcher – listed at 5-feet-11 and 225 pounds – to run the bases.
Well, on Friday night, Molina got the best kind of revenge. The catcher completed arguably the most improbable cycle in major league history when his triple off the glove of Eric Patterson leading off the eighth inning.
Molina, one of the nicest and most endearing figures in the game, admitted as much afterward but he did say the huge odds stacked against him made it that much sweeter.
“The cycle is something personal and some [type] of individual goal,” Molina said. “For being the guy that’s been criticized for his speed for 11 1/2 years in the big leagues and being the slowest guy in the world for many people so to something like is unbelievable.”
So with a smile, Molina was saying ‘take that!’ to all those who doubted him. But really what made it sweet was the winning, something he was all about when the Rangers acquired him before the All-Star break from San Francisco.
“Obviously, the winning makes it easier,” Molina said of starting for a team that leads the A.L. West. “I’m sure that’s a big part. Just winning makes you feel better. I came here to win. I didn’t come here to do anything else. It obviously makes you feel good.”
Still, everyone still in attendance was amazed that Molina had just done the improbable with the first cycle by an opponent at Fenway since Cleveland’s Andre Thornton on April 22, 1978.
“I would have put my head in a tree trimmer betting that he wouldn’t hit a triple,” said an astonished David Ortiz of the Red Sox. “That’s crazy, man. Seems to me he stopped at second to think about it. Now, I’m going to have to break that down to my son when I get home because he’s going to ask me a million questions about it.”
Unfortunately for Molina, he wound up paying the price one batter later when his right quad tightened up, forcing him from the game.
It was his manager Ron Washington who had to come out and get the big guy and pinch run for him after Molina waved to the dugout that something was up.
Washington knew going into the at-bat leading off the eighth that Molina had the hardest part left to complete the first cycle by a catcher since Milwaukee’s Chad Moeller on April 27, 2004 against Cincinnati. He had – just moments earlier – asked his third baseman Michael Young what or more to the point – WHERE he thought Molina had to put the ball for the triple.
“I had just mentioned to Michael, ‘Where do you think he has to hit this ball to get a triple?’ He said, ‘No where in this ball park.'”
Molina nearly blew a tire rounding second as Patterson raced to haul in the ball and get it back to the infield.
“I didn’t see any gears shift and he made it standing up,” Washington added.
|07.17.10 at 12:55 am ET|
So close, yet so far away.
The final score might have ended up with the Rangers running away with an 8-4 win over the Red Sox Friday night, but the teams’ fortunes might have changed dramatically if not for one errant throw.
By the time Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate with one out in the fifth inning Friday night, Felix Doubront was on his way. He had allowed just two first-inning runs while allowing the Red Sox to jump out to a 3-2 lead over the Rangers.
Then things appeared to get even better when Doubront adeptly snagged a line-drive up the middle off the bat of Hamilton. But that’s where it went all horribly wrong for the rookie and the Red Sox.
Instead of firing a strike to shortstop Marco Scutaro at second base, to double-up Texas baserunner Michael Young, Doubront hesitated and then tossed the ball into center field, allowing Young to go to third and Vladimir Guerrero to head to second. It was Doubront’s second throwing error of the game.
Doubront doubled over, leading Red Sox manager Terry Francona and head trainer Mike Reinold to immediately head to the mound.
‘I was frustrated,’ the pitcher said. ‘I’m alright.’
Even without an injury, Doubront had already come back out to pitch after waiting out an hour rain delay after the completion of the third inning. With the right-handed hitting Nelson Cruz up next, Francona determined it was enough for the lefty.
‘I lost energy in the rain delay,’ noted Doubront, who said he had never come back to pitch after waiting out a rain delay throughout his career.
Fernando Cabrera ‘ who had just been promoted from Triple A Pawtucket earlier in the day — came on and proceeded to walk Cruz and David Murphy even the score at 3-3. The 6-foot-4 reliever came back and elevated a slider to Bengie Molina just enough to allow the Texas catcher to launch a grand slam into the center field seats for the game-changer.
If I had the situation again I would have thrown the same pitch. It wasn’t like it was a pitch I didn’t want to throw, but I know for sure I needed to throw a better pitch. Things happen in the game. But, like I said, if I had the same situation I would throw the same pitch to the same guy.’
After the game Cabrera said he was told he was to be designated for assignment.
|07.17.10 at 12:31 am ET|
For the second straight season reliever Fernando Cabrera will be designated for assignment by the Red Sox, this time the move comes after the right-handed pitcher allowed three runs on two hits in 1 1/3 innings. Cabrera, who was promoted from Triple A Pawtucket, allowed a fifth-inning grand slam to Texas’ Bengie Molina, breaking open a 3-3 tie and leading the Rangers to an 8-4 win over the Red Sox.
The 28-year-old Cabrera, who had pitched in six games with the Sox in 2009, cleared waivers after being designated last year, ultimately choosing to rejoin the Red Sox. Cabrera was 0-3 with 13 saves and a 3.50 ERA in 30 appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox before being promoted.
The move will likely pave the way for the activation of reliever Manny Delcarmen, who was deemed ready to come off the 15-day disabled list earlier Friday by Red Sox manager Terry Francona. Francona said after the loss that could be multiple moves announced Saturday.
For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|07.16.10 at 11:33 pm ET|
Friday night’s game started much the same way Thursday’s did – in ugly fashion. And it ended the same way – with a Red Sox loss.
In between, there was a one-hour rain delay, a fairly encouraging outing by 22-year-old lefty Felix Doubront and a powerful return by Adrian Beltre to the starting lineup.
But there was also the Red Sox bullpen allowing a major league-leading 41st home run, a Bengie Molina game-turning grand slam that kept the Red Sox in the post-All Star break doldrums and Molina adding insult to injury by tripling in the eighth to complete the cycle, only to leave moments later with tightness in his right quad.
It’s been that type of week for the Red Sox. And they’ve only played two games.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Felix Doubront couldn’t get the final out of the fifth inning. With the Red Sox leading, 3-2, the Rangers had runners on first and second when he caught Josh Hamilton’s liner but threw wildly back to second to try and double off Ian Kinsler. Both Kinsler and Vladimir Guerrero advanced. Doubront appeared to throw awkwardly off the top of the mound on his throw to second and manager Terry Francona came out with a trainer to take a look at Doubront. The pitcher was lifted – but not for injury – as Fernando Cabrera entered the game.
Cabrera earned goat of the game honors when he walked Nelson Cruz to load the bases and then walked in the tying run when he issued a free pass to David Murphy. The worst was yet to come. Cabrera got ahead of Molina when he grooved a 1-2 pitch that Molina belted to the first row of bleacher seats in center for his fifth career grand slam.
Doubront left one out shy of a win, leading 3-2, but suffered his second major league loss, allowing four runs – just two earned –
– When Bengie Molina hits for the cycle, you’re probably going to lose. He became the fifth Ranger ever to turn the trick when he tripled off Eric Patterson‘s glove in the triangle in center to open the eighth. Molina had to come out for a pinch-runner. Last opponent to do it against the Red Sox was Oakland’s Mark Ellis on June 4, 2007 at Oakland and the last opponent to pull it off at Fenway was Cleveland’s Andre Thornton on April 22, 1978. The last MLB catcher to turn the trick was Milwaukee’s Chad Moeller on April 27, 2004.
– Doubront had to field his position. In addition to his fielding miscue in the fifth, the Sox starter threw wildly to first on the first batter of the game, Elvis Andrus, allowing Andrus to reach second and eventually score the first run on Ian Kinsler’s base hit.
– The bottom third is bottoming out. The trio of Daniel Nava, Bill Hall and Kevin Cash went 0-for-10 with a Nava walk in the second inning accounting for the only base runner. Nava flew out to left to end the scoreless eighth after the Red Sox had David Ortiz at second and Kevin Youkilis at first with none out.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Adrian Beltre looked very good in his return. Terry Francona said before the game that he would keep a close eye on his regular third baseman, who was making his return to the starting lineup after sitting out Thursday as a precaution while the team took a close look at his left hamstring. Beltre was re-inserted Friday for his offense and in the fourth inning, just after the game resumed following a one-hour rain delay in the top of the inning, Beltre smashed his 14th homer of the season to the second row of Monster seats in left to put the Red Sox up, 3-2.
Beltre also looked sharp in the field, going to his backhand and holding Vladimir Guerrero to a single and saving a run in the fifth inning before Molina’s heroics. Beltre got up awkwardly and limped but remained in the game.
– The middle of the Red Sox order looked good at the plate. After going 0-for-4 on Thursday, Kevin Youkilis bounced back with three hits – including two doubles on Friday – raising his average back to .295. The foursome of David Ortiz, Youkilis, J.D. Drew and Beltre went 7-for-14 and drove in three runs.
– Hideki Okajima made just his second appearance since June 29, allowing one hit and striking out one in a scoreless seventh inning.
|07.16.10 at 5:37 pm ET|
NESN Red Sox analyst Peter Gammons joined The Big Show on Friday afternoon to talk about the current state of the Red Sox, possible acquisitions they could make nearing the trade deadline, and George Steinbrenner.
‘Well, I think in the end, he’s done a great deal for the game,’ Gammons said on Steinbrenner. ‘He was the only owner who really understood that baseball is entertaining. He did buy a team and within four years he had a world champion with Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage and all those guys he brought in.’
Gammons also touched on the recent comments made by Dan Duquette on more evidence surfacing that could link Roger Clemens to performance-enhancing drugs.
Below is the transcript of the conversation. Visit The Big Show audio on demand page to hear the interview.
What are your feelings on the Red Sox right now?
I didn’t like the series matchups with Texas coming in here and then going on a 10-game road trip. I guess what they’re hoping is they get [Clay] Buchholz pitching tonight, [Josh] Beckett tomorrow, then after this week they get their rotation. They have to hope they carry them until they get all their players back.
What do you think their mindset is going into the last couple weeks? Is it just a wait and see attitude with them?
I mean, if there was something really good available they would probably go through with it. You’re not going to trade two players for a 10-home run hitting backup outfielder like David DeJesus. He’s a nice guy but once [Jacoby] Ellsbury comes back, he’s your fourth or fifth outfielder and that’s Kansas City’s primary chip, so that doesn’t work. Right now, they’ve looked around at pitchers. The Pirates won’t trade Joel Hanrahan who’s kind of like the best middle man in the league and Toronto wants Jose Iglesias for Scott Downs and that’s not happening, especially with Downs now hurt. They have to hope they get more innings out of their starters and around the 31st teams try to dump a couple salaries.
I maintain this season comes down to his next four weeks. Do you think they have enough muscle to stay in it?
I think they do if once they get Beckett and Buchholz back, they have [Jon] Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, [John] Lackey, and [Daisuke] Matsuzaka for their five-man rotation. They have to carry, which is entirely possible. Any sabermetric rating, they have Lester and Buchholz who are two of the three best pitchers in the league. Joe Girardi said he would have probably started Buchholz is he had been available for the All-Star game. That’s what has to happen, this is the time when the pitching has to carry them. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.16.10 at 5:04 pm ET|
“The scan showed on Pedey a lot of healing, which is really good news,” Francona said. “He’s allowed to begin weight-bearing [activity]. He has to keep the boot on for approximately a week-to-two weeks, probably two weeks.”
Pedroia broke a bone in his left foot with a foul ball on June 25 in San Francisco and has been out since. The news is not as good for Jason Varitek. He was catching in a game at Fenway against Tampa Bay on June 30 when he took a foul ball from Carl Crawford off his right foot. It broke a similar bone and sent him to the DL.
“Tek is a little bit behind,” Francona added. “There’s not as much healing with Tek, which I think they expected. He’s probably a couple of weeks behind Pedey.”
[Click here to listen to Francona give an update on Pedroia and Varitek.]
Meanwhile, Francona said that while Adrian Beltre will start tonight, they will play it safe and pinch-run for him late if needed. Bill Hall started Thursday’s series opener in place of Beltre at third and had a home run while making two outstanding defensive plays at third and getting charged with a tough error on a sharp grounder by Josh Hamilton.
“He’s certainly not 100 percent, Francona said. ‘We’re hoping we get production out of his bat. He hasn’t felt perfect for a while.”
Francona said if he doesn’t like what he sees from Beltre in batting practice, he’ll take him out of tonight’s lineup.
Switch-hitting catcher Victor Martinez has begun to swing a bat lightly from the left side but it’s the right side and catching with his injured left thumb that remains the problems after a scan on Thursday.
‘The left side, that’s the one thing he can kind of handle,” Francona said. “He’s swinging the bat pretty good, actually. Right-handed, still can’t do it and he can’t catch yet. Once he can get that glove on and he can catch, they can rig up a lot of contraptions to take away some of the pressure but he’s just not there yet.’
Jed Lowrie appears to be gaining strength after missing the first half of the season with mono. He played six games for Single-A Lowell, collecting six hits in 14 ABs for manager Bruce Crabbe before playing Thursday for Pawtucket and going 1-for-4 with an RBI double.
‘He’s doing really well,” Francona said. “We got a report from Bruce Crabbe that was about as upbeat as we’ve seen in a long time. It said the last four or five days, the light has kind of come on with Jed. He feels like he’s turned that corner. We’re starting to see that player that we’ve all talked about. He’s not dragging, he doesn’t feel fatigued. He feels pretty good about himself.’
As for Jacoby Ellsbury, he continues to work out in Fort Myers, trying to increase baseball activity while rehabbing his injured side.
‘He was actually working out with Tom Goodwin and he actually requested if he could do a little bit more,” Francona said. “There are some parameters set up for him for his day schedule and he wanted to do a little bit more, which we were completely okay with. It’s ‘as tolerated’, that’s his program. If he can tolerate more, ‘Go.’’
Francona said the Red Sox will activate reliever Manny Delcarmen on Saturday. Jeremy Hermida will play outfield tonight and DH Saturday for Double-A Portland.
The Red Sox made a roster move to protect their bullpen after getting only two-plus innings from Tim Wakefield on Thursday night. They selected Fernando Cabrera from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned Robert Manuel back to the PawSox.
|07.16.10 at 1:29 pm ET|
After a much-needed three-day respite that came in the form of the All-Star break this week, the Red Sox were hoping to forget about the injury-plagued first half and start things off by beating a division-leading team. Instead, they were rocked from the outset and lost 7-2 on Thursday night at Fenway.
In hopes of turning things around, the Sox look to young lefty Felix Doubront. Doubront (1-1, 4.22 ERA) has made two starts in his major league career, but has shown that he can handle pressure situations. In his last outing against the Rays he went five innings, giving up only two runs while striking out three. The Sox will hope that he can work deeper into the game on Friday, relieving a Sox bullpen that has struggled this season.
The Rangers counter with right-hander Colby Lewis, who pitched the last two seasons in the Japan Central League. Lewis (8-5, 3.33 ERA) went six innings his last outing against Cleveland, allowing two earned runs while striking out two. Against the Red Sox back on April 20, Lewis pitched decently, going five innings while surrendering three runs in an eventual 7-6 Red Sox win.
A matchup to look out for is Lewis vs. David Ortiz. Ortiz has two home runs in only seven plate appearances against the 30-year-old righty. Doubront, in only his third major league start, will look to stymie a Rangers lineup that has never seen the young lefty pitch.
Red Sox vs. Colby Lewis
Mike Cameron (17 career plate appearances against Lewis): .200 average/.294OBP/.400 slugging, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
David Ortiz (7): .333/.429/1.333, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Eric Patterson (6): .600/.667/1.600, 1 triple, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk
Marco Scutaro (5): .000/.200/.000
J.D. Drew (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Adrian Beltre (3): .667/.667/.667, 1 strikeout
Kevin Cash (3): .000/.000/.000
Kevin Youkilis (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
The Texas starter has never faced Bill Hall, Darnell McDonald, Gustavo Molina, Daniel Nava, and Ryan Shealy.
Rangers vs. Felix Doubront
The Boston starter has never faced Elvis Andrus, Joaquin Arias, Andres Blanco, Julio Borbon, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis, Vladimir Guerrero, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Bengie Molina, David Murphy, Matt Treanor, and Mike Young.
|07.16.10 at 10:20 am ET|
* – The Rangers put the first pitch in play against Wakefield 8 times last night, the most in any Wakefield appearance since July 17, 2007. Coming into last night, here are the yearly slash lines (AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS) allowed by Wakefield on “1-pitch” at bats versus “>1 pitch” at bats:
ONE PITCH AT BATS:
2008 – 272/302/457/ 759
2009 – 313/329/507/ 836
2010 – 481/481/852/1333
ALL OTHER AT BATS:
2008 – 222/303/377/680
2009 – 264/349/393/742
2010 – 230/287/382/669
Over 650 points of OPS higher when putting the first pitch in play in 2010 than when they don’t. I wonder what’s changed because 2010 seems to be an outlier as teams have now scorched Wakefield for a .492 average (30-61) with 5 HR on the first pitch this season.
* – Wakefield has now had 13 starts since 2004 in which opposing batters have put 7 or more first pitches in play. In those starts he’s gone 4-6 with a 4.23 ERA and .256 batting average allowed (including last night).
* – Thursday was Wakefield’s 403rd start as a member of the Red Sox and just the 4th in which he has allowed opponents to hit over .500 (but the 2nd one this season):
.550 – June 7, 1996 vs Milwaukee
.533 – July 15, 2010 vs Texas
.526 – September 11, 2007 vs Tampa Bay
.522 – May 28, 2010 vs Kansas City
* – Four members of the Sox bullpen: Robert Manuel, Dustin Richardson, Scott Atchison, and Ramon Ramirez, combined to toss 7 innings without allowing a run last night. It’s just the 2nd time since at least 2005 that the Sox pen has thrown 7+ scoreless innings in a game. The other was May 30, 2008, when six different relievers combined for seven scoreless in an extra innings win over Baltimore.
* – The Red Sox went 0-5 with runners in scoring position last night. It was just the 5th time since April 20 that they’ve failed to get at least one hit with RISP. Of course from April 15 through April 19 the Sox went without such a hit for 5 consecutive games!
* – The top four spots in the Red Sox lineup failed to reach base last night. It was the first time that has happened to Boston since July 6, 2009 in a 6-0 loss to Oakland at Fenway. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since 2006 (at Toronto) and once in 2004 (at San Francisco). The Red Sox had been shut out in all three of those games prior to last night.
* – Prior to last night’s loss, the Red Sox had won 12 of their last 13 when they hit 2 or more home runs.
|07.16.10 at 7:56 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee did not soften his stance on George Steinbrenner following the Yankees owner’s death Tuesday. “As far as Steinbrenner’s passing? Good,” Lee said in an interview with New Hampshire TV station WMUR. Added Lee: “Trust me, if hell freezes over, he’ll be skating.”
Lee, who spent 10 of his 14 major league seasons with the Red Sox and took part in a number of heated battles vs. Steinbrenner’s Yankees in the mid-1970s, claimed that Steinbrenner tried to have him banned from baseball. “He said I was an incompetent and I was bad for the game of baseball,” Lee recalled. “Well, I’m not a convicted felon like George Steinbrenner, and he’ll take that to his grave.”
Lee continued his rant during an appearance on WEEI’s Planet Mikey show Thursday night. “He tried to run me out of the game a long time ago, after the [1976 Red Sox-Yankees] brawl,” Lee said. “He said I was a pariah, I wasn’t good for baseball. … I told him basically to shut up.”
Added Lee: “He may have been good for the Yankees organization, but he was definitely a thorn in my side.”
During the WMUR interview at a golf tournament in Concord, N.H., Lee said of Steinbrenner, “I used to have nightmares of him. I was hallucinating one time and I thought he came into my hotel room window, and I realized I didn’t have any windows. And I was on like the 38th floor. [Play-by-play broadcaster] Dick Stockton was with me. He’ll vouch for it.”
Asked if he had any sadness about Steinbrenner’s death, Lee said: “I have no sadness. I’m Irish, I’m Catholic, and when you’re gone, you’re gone.”
On Planet Mikey, Lee joked his golf game improved dramatically when he learned of Steinbrenner’s death. “When I heard he was dead, I went out and sank seven 30-footers,” Lee said. “I was like on Tequila. I was floating. I took the team ‘ we were 1-under and we went to 10-under, and the best golfer was me, and I’m a 15-handicap.”
|07.15.10 at 11:50 pm ET|
According to major league source familiar with the situation, the Texas Rangers continue to monitor the status of Mike Lowell, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his surgically repaired right hip. The source suggests the Rangers may have increased interest in making a deal for Lowell depending on how the market unfolds as the trade deadline draws closer.
The Red Sox and Rangers had agreed to a trade for Lowell — along with $9 million of the $12 million owned the infielder this season — in December before Texas backed out of the deal because of concerns regarding the infielder’s hip.
The Rangers have continued to talk with the Red Sox about Lowell throughout the season. With rookie first baseman Chris Davis hitting just .203 (after going 0-for-3 with a walk Thursday night), and Texas having to include first base prospect Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee trade, there remains a potential need at first for Texas. The source reports the Rangers will continue to explore other trade options before accelerating negotiations for Lowell.
Lowell was out on the Fenway Park field and, according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona, “took some ground balls, [hit] some balls off the tee and in the cage. He actually felt pretty good. We’re going to start ramping him back up, too.”
For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.
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