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A minor(s) check-up

05.29.09 at 6:40 pm ET
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By D.J. BEAN

It’€™s time to catch up with the Red Sox‘€™ minor leaguers, many of which are drawing interest and attention. Here’€™s an update:

TRIPLE A PAWTUCKET

The PawSox are enjoying great success from their starting pitchers, three of whom could make an impact in the majors soon. Two of them, Clay Buchholz (who last year graduated from prospect status) and Michael Bowden, have already showed flashes of brilliance at the major league level. The other, Kris Johnson, will benefit from the Sox’€™ abundance of pitching, as it gives the former first-round pick time to rediscover the promise he once showed with little pressure.

Buchholz, as has been well-documented, has been absolutely lights-out at Triple A after a spring training in which he went 2-0 with 2.52 ERA over 25 innings. The two-time Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year currently leads the International League in ERA (1.30), WHIP (0.74) and has an impressive 49:12 K/BB ratio.

After struggling last season to a 2-9 record and 6.75 ERA at the big league level, Buchholz has made a strong case this season for a spot in the Red Sox’€™ already-crowded rotation.  His best start of the season came Monday when he took a perfect game into the ninth in what resulted in a complete game, one-hit shutout.

Bowden, meanwhile, may be in Buchholz’€™ shadow, but not for lack of production. The right-hander, who has played two games in Boston (the former of which he started in 2008 and picked up his first major league win) currently sits behind only Buchholz and Gwinnett Braves starter Tommy Hanson with an ERA of 1.68.

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Red Sox/Blue Jays match-ups

05.29.09 at 10:15 am ET
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Thanks to intern Samuel Chamberlain, here is what the Red Sox and Blue Jays are looking at when going up against Jays’ starter Casey Janssen and Sox hurler Tim Wakefield, respectively, tonight at the Rogers Centre:

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Have the Red Sox jumped the shark?

05.29.09 at 10:02 am ET
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Before I board a plane for Toronto, while watching a smattering of Red Sox gear-clad folks start their weekend early and dust off their passports, let me throw this out to you…

So I’m taking a nap the other day with the television on and I wake up to find the movie “Fever Pitch” on… I immediately vomited. (You can decide if it was because I was under the weather, or for other reasons.)

That movie made me realize just how over the top all things Red Sox were at that time. Sure, it was the premise of the movie, but watching it and remembering that 2003-07 time span made me really think that the lunacy that came with all things fan-related when it came to the Red Sox isn’t near the level it was back then. Just a hypothesis.

So tell me, was it because of my NyQuil haze that I started thinking this way, or am I on to something. Have the Red Sox jumped the shark (which, by the way, is a term evidently based off of ‘Fonzie’ from ‘Happy Days’. How awesome is that?)…

Do You think the Red Sox have jumped the shark?

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Papelbon Gets Out of Funk, Finishes Win For Sox

05.28.09 at 4:12 pm ET
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Although Jonathan Papelbon surrendered runs in each of his last two appearences coming into today, it did not slow him down as he finished the ballgame and got his 13th save of the season.

Giving up just one hit, he struck out Brian Buscher to end the game and earn a split of the 4-game series between the Sox and Twins.

The Sox stay in first place for the time being and continue their road trip tomorrow when they head north of the boarder to face the Toronto Blue Jays.

7th Inning Ejections

05.28.09 at 3:38 pm ET
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After Twins manager and catcher Ron Gardenhire and Mike Redmond were ejected for arguing a bang-bang play at home plate where Jeff Bailey scored to put the Sox on top 3-1, Terry Francona and Jason Varitek were ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

Bailey came home on a sacrifice fly and after a close play, was called safe by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor.

Beckett was unhappy after a pitch was called outside by Tichenor and when Varitek turned around to argue, he was almost immediately tossed. Francona came out to defend his player but he couldn’t get in that much before being tossed. This was the second ejection this season for Francona and it was Varitek’s  fourth career ejection.

Beckett’s day finished as he got out of the seventh. He threw 111 pitches, 69 of which went for stikes.

In an impressive, classic Beckett performance, he only allowed three hits, four walks, and one run which came on the homer by Crede.

More On Varitek

05.28.09 at 3:20 pm ET
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Gary from Chapel Hill points out that Jason Varitek’s HR was the Sox first go-ahead HR in the 7th inning or later during the month of May.  They had five such HR in April.  Of course, they had 5 such HR during April of 2008 as well and then had only 6 more over the rest of the season.

Swarzack Done In By Second Varitek Homer

05.28.09 at 3:16 pm ET
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With his tenth homer of the season, Jason Varitek has put the Sox on top 2-1.

Varitek only had 13 homers last season and hasn’t hit more than 20 homers in a season since he hit 22 in 2005, but he is definitely on pace to do even more if he stays healthy this year.

His ten long balls this year have been evenly split between both sides of the plate. Today, both came from the left side.

In his 13 seasons (all with the Sox) Varitek has been a leader and those contract negotiation issues this past offseason seem light years away right now.

Breaking Bad

05.28.09 at 2:51 pm ET
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David Ortiz’s bat breaking incident in the clubhouse after striking out yet again really sums up everything that has gone on for him this season.

With the Sox on this road trip for the next couple days, Fenway Park will play host to a couple concerts from the Dave Matthews Band and Phish.

The DMB fansite antsmarching.org previewed the show by describing Fenway as: “The home of “Big Papi” David Ortiz, who has exactly 1 more home run than everyone reading this.”

Covering Tons of Ground In a Short Span

05.28.09 at 2:46 pm ET
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As Denard Span took away an extra base hit from J.D. Drew in the top of the sixth with the game still tied at 1-1, he showed how tough it is to be a center fielder. In center, you need to control the entire outfield, in addition to running those kinds of balls down. There are not too many guys in the league that have that kind of speed and finesse out there. The Sox are lucky to have a guy out there in Ellsbury that they can trust but it is definitely one of the most important positions out there.

Guys like Juan Pierre, Carlos Beltran, and Andrew Jones in his prime come to mind as guys who can both help you at the plate and in the field, and both the Twins and Sox have had blessings with Span and Ellsbury respectively.

This game is quickly turning into a great pitching duel between Beckett and Swarzack. This kid could have a bright future for the Twins who always seem to be in the thick of things in the AL Central. Currently, they are .500 and just ahead of KC for second place in the division.

Tek Ties It Up In the Fifth

05.28.09 at 2:25 pm ET
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Jason Varitek has tied the game, crushing a home run to straight away center field. He found the pitch that he could wait on and then exploded on the ball. The homer is his 9th on the season.

For a guy who is only batting .242 on the season, at least the Sox can be happy with the way he has been carrying the ball lately.

As Lugo walks with one out here in the fifth inning, let’s see if Jacoby can keep it going.

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