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Red Sox vs. Mariners Match-Ups, 7/4

07.04.09 at 3:45 am ET
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Garrett Olson has never had much luck against Boston: in seven career starts against the Sox, the 25-year-old lefty is 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA. As a Baltimore Oriole between 2007 and 2008, Olson was frequently pitted against the boys from Beantown ‘€“ and he always came up short.

In 2009, however, Olson was traded to the Marines after spending 10 days as a Chicago Cub. One might think the change of scenery would have been helpful to the young pitcher. But in his first start against the Sox in a Seattle uniform, Olson once again took on the Boston Red Sox and, much to his chagrin, once again failed. Olson gave up five runs off of four hits in six innings.

The pitcher would do well to approach Jason Varitek with extreme caution. The Sox catcher has gone deep three times against Olson, more than any other hitter. Somewhat shockingly, Jeff Bailey is tied for second on the list of Olson’€™s nemeses, having taken the left-hander deep twice in his five career plate appearances against the Seattle starter.

Saturday he’€™ll look to reverse his misfortune as he squares off against Brad Penny in a Fourth of July holiday matchup. Penny’€™s coming off of a tough 2-1 loss to Atlanta in which he pitched six innings of solid baseball and gave up two runs.

RED SOX VS. GARRETT OLSON

Dustin Pedroia (21 career plate appearances against Olson): .167 average/ .286 OBP/ .333 slugging, homer, 3 walks
Kevin Youkilis (17): .200/ .529/ .300, 7 walks, 3 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (16): .357/ .438/ 1.071, 3 homers, 2 walks
Julio Lugo (15): .429/ .467/ .500, walk, strikeout
David Ortiz (15): .231/ .333/ .538, homer, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (13): .182/ .308/ .182, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (11): .333/ .455/ .556, 2 walks, strikeout
Rocco Baldelli (6): 0-for-5, walk, 2 strikeouts
Jason Bay (6): 2-for-5, homer, walk
Jeff Bailey (5): 2-for-4, 2 homers, walk

MARINERS VS. BRAD PENNY

Ken Griffey Jr. (36 career plate appearances against Penny): .394 average/ .444 OBP/ .788 slugging, 3 homers, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Ronny Cedeno (8): 2-for-6, walk, 3 strikeouts
Miguel Batista (7): 0-for-7, 6 strikeouts
Ryan Langerhans (4): 2-for-4, strikeout
Russell Branyan (3): 0-for-1, 2 walks
Kenji Johjima (3): 1-for-3
Ichiro Suzuki (3): 1-for-2
Mike Sweeney (2): 1-for-2, strikeout
Chris Woodward (2): 1-for-2

Read More: Brad Penny, garrett olson,

Red Sox run afoul with bad luck

07.04.09 at 12:20 am ET
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Tim Wakefield’s former manager Jimy Williams had an expression for what happened to Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox on Friday night in a 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners in 11 innings at Fenway Park.

In the fourth inning, a fan wearing a white hat held his ground for a souvenir instead of giving way to Youkilis on a foul ball near the Mariners dugout on the third base side. The ball was one row deep into the seats but Youkilis had a bead on it.

The batter, Ryan Langerhans, rips the next pitch to left-center for a double that started a three-run rally against Wakefield.

“It was a pretty big sigh of relief because when I first hit it, I thought it was easily into the stands and then I saw that Youkilis had a pretty good bead on it and thought, ‘Oh no!’ The guy getting in his way definitely gave me a big sigh of relief and then I was able to get on the next pitch,” Langerhans said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Buzzard's Luck, Jimy Williams, Red Sox, Tim Wakefield

Mariners Trip Red Sox in Extras, 7-6

07.03.09 at 10:20 pm ET
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Though the Red Sox rallied to erase a two-run deficit in the eighth inning and send the game into extra innings, the Mariners responded with a rally of their own in the 11th to claim a 7-6 win.

The rally came against reliever Ramon Ramirez, whose record dropped to 5-3 for the year. Ramirez jumped ahead, 1-2, against leadoff man Franklin Gutierrez, but the Seattle centerfielder knocked a fastball back up the middle for a single. Ramirez then walked Ryan Langerhans to put runners on first and second with no outs. Following a sac bunt by Chris Woodward to put runners on second and third, Rob Johnson softly poked on 0-2 pitch down the right field line.

The Sox responded with a rally of their own in the bottom of the 11th. Catcher George Kottaras jumped on a 98 mph fastball from Mariners reliever Mark Lowe, crushing it over the visiting bullpen in right for his first career homer. J.D. Drew then ripped a single to right (also on a 98 mph fastball) to put the tying run on first. But Dustin Pedroia grounded into a fielder’s choice to third, with Drew getting forced at second to end the game.

The Sox’ record fell to 4-3 in extra innings this year with the loss. Their lead over the Yankees in the division fell to 2.0 games.

Red Sox rally for tie against M’s bullpen

07.03.09 at 9:28 pm ET
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The Red Sox came about 10 feet from positioning Tim Wakefield for victory. Instead, the knuckleballer’s night will end with a no-decision after Boston rallied for a pair of runs to tie the game, 5-5, in the bottom of the eighth.

Nick Green, batting with two on and one out, lofted a high fly ball to left. The thing had a hang time of Sputnik. But when it finally crashed to earth, it scraped off the Wall, perhaps 8-10 feet short of a homer. And so, the Sox tied the game, 5-5, rather than assuming a one-run lead.

Wakefield is out after eight innings, having allowed 10 hits and five runs. He matched a season-high with 112 pitches, but his no-decision will not help his cause to make the All-Star game.

This first-pitch thing seems to be working for Drew

07.03.09 at 9:05 pm ET
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For the second time on Friday night, J.D. Drew swung at the first pitch he saw from Felix Hernandez. This time, batting with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, he crushed a 96 mph fastball to center for a homer. Drew is now hitting .308 with three homers in the 27 plate appearances in which he’s put the first pitch in play this year.

The homer brought the Sox to within 4-3. Tim Wakefield remained in the game for the top of the eighth, with the Sox seemingly hoping to leave their starter in position to claim one last victory before the All-Star rosters are announced. The move backfired, as Jose Lopez led off the eighth by launching a homer into the Monster Seats to put Seattle back ahead by two runs, 5-3. Wakefield worked around a double to get out of the inning, having thrown 112 pitches, tied for his most this year.

Wakefield is now almost surely done for the night. The Sox will have to rally for three runs against the Mariners bullpen in the bottom of the eighth to position the knuckleballer for a win. Sean White is on in place of Felix Hernandez, who threw seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks.

Read More: J.D Drew, Tim Wakefield,

Papelbon Vows to Keep Memento Away From Dog

07.03.09 at 8:49 pm ET
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As soon as he closed out the Sox’ 6-5 extra-inning victory on Wednesday, Jonathan Papelbon secured the ball that he used to set the new Red Sox franchise record for most career saves (133 and counting). He had it authenticated by Major League Baseball, and then, had one goal in mind for its preservation.

And what was that?

“Keep it away from my dog,” said Papelbon.

Papelbon, of course, has gone on record as saying that the ball used to close out Game 4 of the 2007 World Series against the Rockies was eaten by his dog. That keepsake, apparently, has been lost to history. The ball used for the Sox’ saves record, however, will be spared that inglorious fate. Even so, Papelbon seems less concerned with the ball itself than with the milestone that it represented. The build-up to the saves record had been on the closer’s mind, and so he is now looking forward to pitching without such anticipation to serve as mental clutter.

“Just the fact that it’€™s over with now, I can stop thinking about it, is real big for me,” said Papelbon. “I can move on. It’€™s just another step along the way.”

Read More: dog, Jonathan Papelbon, Saves,

St. Louis seems a bit farther away for Wakefield

07.03.09 at 8:26 pm ET
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The Mariners have jumped on Tim Wakefield for four runs on six hits in the third and fourth innings. The chief damage was done by an unlikely source in Ronny Cedeno, a good defensive player who is not highly regarded at the dish.

Cedeno’s .131 batting average entering tonight was the worst in baseball — by almost 50 points — of any player with at least 100 plate appearances in the majors this year. But the shortstop jumped on a 1-1 knuckleball with two outs in the fourth and hammered it off the angled section of the Green Monster just above the centerfield fence and between the yellow home run line and the camera well for a two-run homer. Wakefield had not allowed a homer in his previous three starts.

There was some unrest in the crowd, since the inning might have been over but for a very nice play made by a fan on a foul ball. Ryan Langerhans hit a pop-up by the Mariners dugout. Unimpeded, the ball would have landed between the first and second rows. But Kevin Youkilis and a fan in the first row both had an excellent read on the ball. It was the fan who caught a ball on which Youkilis might have been able to make a play. But with the at-bat still alive, Langerhans ripped a one-out double to center, and after a pop-out, catcher Rob Johnson hit a run-scoring double and then scored on Cedeno’s blast.

This was no Jeffrey Maier deal. The fan was perfectly within his rights to try to catch a ball that was in the stands. Nonetheless, an inning that Wakefield might (emphasis on might – assuming the outcome of a succession of events based on changing one of the prior events is a dangerous exercise in revisionism) have been able to escape without a run, and with a 2-1 lead intact, instead turned into a three-run rally and a 4-2 Mariners lead. And so a catch made by a fan might bear some responsibility for keeping Wakefield out of the All-Star game in St. Louis.

Read More: Tim Wakefield,

Wakefield’s Record, Drew’s Shocker, Bay’s Bash

07.03.09 at 7:35 pm ET
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A pretty fascinating first inning at Fenway Park. Some highlights:

1) Tim Wakefield sailed through a scoreless first, allowing only a lazy fly ball to Jose Lopez that scraped the Wall for a double. As long as rain doesn’t wipe tonight’s game from the record books (apparently a possibility, though it’s hard to tell on a beautiful night at Fenway), Wakefield now stands alone in Red Sox history, having made 383 starts with the club — one more than Roger Clemens.

2) The Red Sox appear to be taking an aggressive early-count approach against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. Five of the six Sox hitters in the bottom of the first swung at the first or second pitch. Most stunningly, leadoff man J.D. Drew flew out to center on the first pitch of the game, a 94 mph fastball. The last time that Drew put the first pitch of the game in play while hitting leadoff was June 26, 2000, when he singled on Denny Neagle’s first pitch of the game. Since then, Drew had batted leadoff in 38 games and had seen at least two pitches in each of his first at-bats of the game.

3) King Felix gave up a run — two, actually — in Fenway. Entering tonight, Hernandez had made two starts in Boston, logging a total of 15 shutout innings, most notably the dazzling one-hit complete-game he threw in 2007.

4) Jason Bay, who carried an 0-for-17 slump into tonight’s game, ripped a ground-rule double over the head of Ichiro Suzuki in deep right field to plate the first run. That probably tastes much better than the five strikeouts he endured on Wednesday. Apparently, American citizenship suits Bay. (Bay did take a moment before the game to note that a) he is honored by his American citizenship and b) he has NOT renounced his Canadian citizenship. He is a dual citizen, and remains proud of his Canadian heritage.)

5) One bonus fact from the second inning: shortstop Nick Green, like Bay, snapped an 0-for-17 streak by doubling against Hernandez.

Sox lead, 2-0.

Read More: felix hernandez, J.D Drew, jason bay, Tim Wakefield

Lowell Looks to Return Strong for Second Half

07.03.09 at 6:57 pm ET
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When Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell prepared for an injection meant to relieve the comfort in his right hip, he encountered an unexpected question.

“The doctor,” said Lowell, “asked me if I have a reaction to poultry.”

The inquiry was based upon the fact that Synvisc, the lubricating substance that was put into Lowell’s hip, is derived from the combs in the back of a chicken’s head. But while the source of the shot might have been slightly bemusing, Lowell pronounced that he feels “great…really good” following the draining of fluid and the injection of Synvisc in his right hip on Monday. Though the Sox opted to place him on the disabled list, Lowell said that the decision was one of precaution rather than necessity, a means of ensuring that he will be well rested for the second half.

“We took the junk out and put good stuff in. We had a good oil change,” said Lowell. “I’€™m really looking forward to a  good second half…I feel much better than I did in the last two months.”

While Lowell had felt growing discomfort in his hip while running, he said that in the days prior to his receiving the injection, he was starting to feel his hip affect him at the plate.

“When I felt it tight the last five days, I didn’€™t feel like I could put the weight on my back foot the same way when I was hitting,” said Lowell. “Anytime you start hitting that, you almost start changing things. In the long run, I want to get to the point where I’€™m playing the game and not thinking about anything.”

Lowell said that he, the team, and several doctors developed a game plan for his return. Lowell will focus on building the muscles around his hip, taking this weekend off from baseball activities before resuming them while continuing his rehab on Monday. He said that a rehab assignment may not be necessary, since he will be taking batting practice everyday starting Monday.

However, Lowell did acknowledge that he will likely have more days off in the second half than he did at the start of the season. Lowell played in 44 of the Sox’ first 45 games and 65 of the team’s first 67 contests.

“I’€™ve got to believe I’€™m not going to play 59 out of 60 after the second half. But that doesn’€™t mean I can’€™t still produce or play well,” said Lowell. “I don’€™t want to go through this year the way I did last year. I think I would be putting myself and the team in a position that would be not the best…

“I believe that’€™s going to be better for me long term,” Lowell added. “Dr. (Brian) Kelly (who performed the surgery on Lowell’s hip) was the one who told me sometimes the best off day is the one where you feel good, because you can really recharge. When you don’€™t feel good, you get a day off, it usually isn’€™t good enough.”

Read More: hip, mike lowell, synvisc,

Red Sox vs. Mariners Match-Ups, 7/3

07.03.09 at 3:07 pm ET
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MARINERS VS. TIM WAKEFIELD

The Sox and Mariners last met in a mid-May series in Seattle, when the M’€™s took two of three from Boston. The Mariners are only 3.5 games back of the Angels and in third place in the A.L. West.

The Sox will face the three teams below or just above .500 (the Mariners are 40-38, while Oakland (33-44) and Kansas City(33-45) are well under). The Sox can use this next week and a half at home before the All-Star break to gain ground on the Yankees, who will be facing Toronto then traveling to Minnesota and Los Angeles (Angels). All three teams have records over .500.

Wakefield heads to the mound Friday in his second to last start before the All-Star break, trying to add to his candidacy for a berth in the Mid-Summer Classic. In 15 career starts against Seattle, Wakefield has not fared well, with a 4-9 record. Yet seven of his 10 wins this year have come in front of the Fenway Faithful, and with the added incentive of an All-Star appearance on the line, Wakefield is certainly looking to produce a bang in one of his final first-half starts.

Mike Sweeney (35) career at-bats against Wakefield): .257 average, .366 OBP, .257 slugging, 5 walks, 4 strikeouts
Ken Griffey (27): .259/ .333/ .444, homer, 6 strikeouts
Ichiro Suzuki (25): .240/ .296/ .240, 2 walks, strikeout
Russell Branyan (11): 2-for-11, 3 strikeouts
Jose Lopez (12): .333/ .385/ .833, homer, walk
Chris Woodward (11): 2-for-11, walk, 3 strikeouts
Josh Wilson (9): 3-for-9, 3 strikeouts
Wladimir Balentien (6): 1-for-6
Franklin Gutierrez (6): 2-for-5, walk
Kenji Johjima (3): 1-for-3, strikeout

RED SOX VS. FELIX HERNANDEZ

Hernandez has not lost since May 19 and has not gone less than seven innings pitched since May 30. In three games last year against the Red Sox, Hernandez was 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA. Hernandez, too, will look to solidify his All-Star credentials, in a place where he delivered the most dominant outing of his career: a one-hit, complete-game shutout in 2007, in the first home start of Daisuke Matsuzaka‘€™s career.

Given how dominant Hernandez was in that game, it comes as something of a surprise to see that several Red Sox ‘€“ notably, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Mark Kotsay ‘€“ have done quite well against him.

J.D. Drew (16 career at-bats against Hernandez): .438 Average /.526 OBP/.438 slugging,    3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (15): .200/.294/.267, 2 walks, strikeout
Jason Varitek (15): .133/.188/.133, walk, 5 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (12): .333/.385/.333, 3 RBI, 3 strikeouts
Julio Lugo (11): 1-for-11, 2 walks
David Ortiz (11): .364/ .462/.636, homer, 2 walks
Mark Kotsay (11): .455/.500/.636, 1 walk, 1 RBI
Jacoby Ellsbury (7): 0-for-7, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Rocco Baldelli (3): 1-for-3, 1 strikeout
Jason Bay (3): 0-for-3, 1 strikeout
Nick Green (2): 2-for-2

Read More: felix hernandez, Tim Wakefield,
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