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Source: Blue Jays, Red Sox not matching up

07.27.10 at 12:01 am ET
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According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox and Blue Jays currently aren’t a match in terms of making a deal for reliever Scott Downs. While the source points out the dynamic could change before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, there is “nothing right now.” WEEI.com’s Alex Speier is reporting, however, that the Jays continue to aggressively scout Red Sox Single-A pitcher Roman Mendez.

Speier reported earlier Monday that the Blue Jays have been asking for organizations’ “elite prospects” in return for Downs. When appearing on The Big Show last Friday, Peter Gammons reported that the Jays asked for Sox shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias in exchange for Downs.

As for Mendez, a source has told Speier that the Jays have sent multiple scouts to see a number of the young right-hander’€™s starts. Mendez, who turned 20 on Sunday, was dominant in his U.S. debut in 2009, producing a 1.99 ERA and striking out 47 while walking eight in the Gulf Coast League.

This year, however, he has struggled. He started the year at Single-A Greenville, but that assignment was short-lived after he got off to an 0-2 start with an 11.40 ERA, striking out 18 and walking 10 in 15 innings. He was sent to extended spring training and then reassigned to the Lowell Spinners, for whom he is 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 17 walks in 28 innings.

Mendez, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, features a big arm, occasionally touching the mid-90s with his fastball while still working to develop a secondary arsenal.

Pregame Notes: Red Sox vs. Angels, July 26

07.26.10 at 11:09 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Here’s the latest on the injury front:

Victor Martinez came through all of his tests in Seattle without a setback, and so, he was activated for Monday’s game. He has been slotted initially in the sixth spot in the lineup, but that is a temporary measure until the Sox “get him some games under his belt and get him back somewhere in the middle [of the order],” said manager Terry Francona.

Martinez’ return is timely. He entered the night with a career .500 average (8-for-16) against Angels starter Dan Haren, and delivered an RBI single on the first pitch he saw in the top of the second inning. That surpassed the total number of RBIs by Dusty Brown, Gustavo Molina and Kevin Cash in the month of July.

Dustin Pedroia was scheduled to be seen by orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum prior to Monday’s game. For the first time since suffering the fracture of a bone in his left foot on June 25, he did some running prior to Monday’s game.

“I think Pedey was disappointed. I shouldn’€™t speak for him. But I think he thought he was going to be like game ready,” said Francona. “I don’€™t know how realistic that was. I think [trainer Mike Reinold] actually thought he did pretty good. Just not ready. That thing’€™s got to heal.’€

–The Sox are likely to have Kevin Cash catch on Wednesday as Martinez works to regain his baseball legs after sitting out for the past four weeks.

“It’€™s like going into spring training, I don’€™t know if we would catch somebody three days in a row for nine innings. I don’€™t know how well that’€™s going to work for his health,” said Francona.

–Brown was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to clear a roster spot for Martinez.

–The Sox featured a modified lineup on Monday. With J.D. Drew hitting in the second spot in the order for the second straight game, the Sox nudged David Ortiz down to the cleanup spot and had Kevin Youkilis batting third. In doing so, the Sox spread out their left-handed hitters so that the Angels would not be able to employ reliever Brian Fuentes against back-to-back lefties.

“There’€™s been some struggles against lefties. They’€™re better against righties,” said Francona. “Rather than make it easier on the other mananager, try to slide somebody in between.”

Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-for-3 in a rehab game in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League while serving as a designated hitter. The Sox plan to have him play in the outfield on Tuesday. After that, they’ll evaluate him to see whether a reassignment to a higher level (most likely Triple-A Pawtucket) would be appropriate.

‘€œIt depends how he does [Tuesday],” said Francona. We’€™ll see.’€

Mike Lowell took Monday off after playing in back-to-back games. He will play again with Pawtucket on Tuesday, and Francona acknowledged that there is a decent chance that he could be activated by Friday.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, mike lowell, victor martinez

Source: Ramirez to Mets ‘probably not going to happen’

07.26.10 at 10:03 pm ET
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A major league source confirmed a report by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com that the Red Sox and Mets discussed a potential deal that would have sent Sox reliever Ramon Ramirez to New York. One of several possibilities discussed, the source said, included sending catcher Rod Barajas (who landed on the disabled list on Monday with a mild left oblique strain) to Boston.

The source said that the two sides had discussed different scenarios (some including Barajas, some not) in a potential swap, but indicated that a deal sending Ramirez to the Mets was ‘€œprobably not going to happen at this point.’€

The talks, which fizzled late last week, were driven chiefly by the Mets’€™ interest in Ramirez, who is 0-3 with a 4.69 ERA in 42 appearances for the Sox this year, but whose stuff has some clubs believing that he could become more effective with a change of scenery.

Barajas is hitting .228 with a .266 OBP, .419 slugging mark, .685 OPS and 12 homers in 73 games this year.

Read More: Mets, ramon ramirez, rod barajas,

Source: Jays seek elite prospect for Downs

07.26.10 at 11:37 am ET
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According to a major league source, the Blue Jays have been aiming high in the sort of prospect return that they’ve sought in exchange for left-handed reliever Scott Downs, in whom a number of clubs are believed to be interested. The source said that Toronto has been asking for one of the top two or three prospects in the farm systems of interested clubs.

In the case of the Red Sox, that would be consistent with a suggestion by Peter Gammons on WEEI earlier this month that the Jays asked for shortstop Jose Iglesias in exchange for Downs.

With Hideki Okajima (3-3, 5.81) enmeshed in his worst year as a Red Sox, Boston’s need for a middle reliever (especially a left-handed one) is apparent. The 34-year-old Downs (4-5, 2.41) ‘€” whose 2.29 ERA since the start of the 2007 season is the third best among southpaws with at least 100 innings pitched over that span, trailing only Arthur Rhodes (2.10) and Billy Wagner (2.24) ‘€” represents an obvious solution to that need.

The Jays can aim high on Downs in part because he likely will be a Type A free agent following this season, meaning that he could net two draft picks should he reject an arbitration offer and sign elsewhere in free agency, just as was the case with the Sox and Wagner a year ago. Even so, to date, the Sox and other clubs have balked at parting with a top prospect for a middle reliever, leading the source to conclude that any deal involving Downs seems unlikely “until just before the deadline if at all.”

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said last month that the Sox would be cautious about using top prospects to deal for relief help, given the performance uncertainty surrounding such acquisitions in the middle of the pennant race.

“You add a really good reliever, it always makes our team better,’€ Epstein said. ‘€œThat said, you trade for two or three months of a reliever, doesn’€™t matter if it’€™s a good one or a great one, you still don’€™t know what you’€™re going to get. So you don’€™t necessarily always want to give up good prospects to get that type of guy, because you’€™re not sure what you’€™re going to get in a small sample size from a reliever.’€

For a complete look at midyear trades for relief help made by the Red Sox under Epstein, click here.

Read More: Hideki Okajima, jose iglesias, Scott Downs,

Sunday in Seattle gave us a ‘case of the Mondays’

07.26.10 at 11:01 am ET
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Three items from a disastrous Sunday in Seattle:

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* – The Red Sox have gone 18-125 (.144) against relief pitchers in 11 games since the end of the all-star break. That’s the lowest average in the majors in that span:

.144 – Boston Red Sox (18-125)
.176 – New York Mets (19-108)
.183 – Colorado Rockies (17-93)
.183 – Los Angeles Dodgers (11-120)

The lowest average against relievers in the AL (other than Boston) since the break has been Tampa Bay’s .205 mark.

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* – Evidence of Tito’s lack of confidence in the relief corps other than Bard and Papelbon:  Red Sox starters have thrown 110 or more pitches in 32 games this season. That’s the 2nd most in the AL this season and just one short of the number of times that they were pushed that far during all of 2009:

34 – Los Angeles Angels
32 – Boston Red Sox
28 – Texas Rangers
24 – New York Yankees

In 2008, Red Sox starters had only 21 such outings and in 2007 they had 35.

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* – Sunday’s meltdown by Okajima was the 11th time this season that a Red Sox reliever has pitched less than an inning and allowed 4 or more baserunners, the most in the AL:

11 – Boston Red Sox
10 – Texas Rangers
9 – Baltimore Orioles
8 – Toronto Blue Jays

The Yankees have the fewest such meltdowns this season, with 3.

UPDATED: Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 7/26

07.26.10 at 9:52 am ET
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After splitting a four-game series with the Mariners, the Red Sox will round out their West Coast road trip with a three-game set against the struggling Angels. A day after pulling off a major trade, Los Angeles will try to climb back up the AL West and wild card standings. On Monday night, Clay Buchholz makes his second start since returning from the disabled list new Angels righty Dan Haren.

Before being put on the shelf for nearly a month with a hamstring injury, Buchholz (10-5, 2.81 ERA) had one of the best first halves of any starting pitcher in the AL. At one point, he won nine of 11 decisions, including a streak of five straight victories. On July 21, Buchholz returned to make a start against the Athletics in Oakland, tossing four mediocre innings and allowing five runs. The rust was evident and he’€™ll hope to get back into a rhythm against a team that has hit him hard in the past.

Over his career, Buchholz is 2-2 against the Angels with a 6.35 ERA and a .326 batting average against. In his outing this season vs. Los Angeles in Boston, he had one of his worst performances of the year, allowing four runs over 5 2/3 innings. Buchholz and the Red Sox still earned the win, but he wasn’€™t particularly sharp, giving up eight hits and walking three batters. Hideki Matsui has the most experience against the Boston starter, mostly from his time with the Yankees, hitting .400 in 11 plate appearances.

The decision by the Angels to throw Haren against the Sox on Monday means the bumping of the night’s original starter in Joel Pineiro (10-7, 4.18 ERA). Haren was 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA for the Diamondbacks this season and struck out 141 hitters in 141 innings. The Angels gave up a package of Joe Saunders and three minor leaguers to land Haren and likely did so with the hopes that the ERA would revert back to the 3.07 mark he posted when he was last in the AL West. The centerpiece in the Mark Mulder deal in 2004, Haren spent three seasons in Oakland before being traded to the Diamondbacks in the offseason following the 2007 season.

In his career vs. Boston, Haren is 4-2 with a 3.30 ERA in seven regular season starts. He’s struck out 35 and walked 12 in 43 innings against the Sox. As a member of the Cardinals, Haren threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings combined in Games 1 and 4 of the 2004 World SeriesRead the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Dan Haren, Los Angeles Angels,

Closing Time: Mariners 4, Red Sox 2

07.25.10 at 7:14 pm ET
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Hideki Okjima absolutely imploded in the eighth inning, allowing five straight Seattle batters to reach before finally getting an out. The result was letting three runs score, leading to a disheartening, 4-2 loss for the Red Sox in their series finale against the Mariners.

After the Yankees and Rays both came away with victories Sunday, the Red Sox now find themselves eight games behind New York and five in back of Tampa Bay. (Click here for a recap.)

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Daniel Bard was charged with the game-tying run — snapping a streak of 15 consecutive appearances without giving up a run — but it was Okajima who did the brunt of the damage in the pivotal eighth. After Jose Lopez greeted Bard with a leadoff single, driving the reliever from the game, Justin Smoak broke an 0-for-23 stretch by rifling Okajima’s first pitch into left. The Sox lefty then waited too long to make a decision on Casey Kotchman’s bunt, loading the bases. The Mariners proceeded to take the lead when Michael Saunders singled in both Lopez and Smoak. Pinch-hitter Milton Bradley added an insurance run when he executed a safety squeeze bunt, which the Red Sox couldn’t make a play on.

– Matsuzaka’s pitch count didn’t allow for the optimum use of the Red Sox’ bullpen. The starter did rally to get through six innings, but he could have made a lot more easier for the Sox pen if there weren’t 86 pitches thrown in the first four innings.

– The Red Sox’ hitters continued to struggle, finishing the game with their last 13 batters failing to reach base.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– When the Red Sox needed it the most, Matsuzaka came through with a pair of pitch-efficient innings. Entering the sixth inning, Matsuzaka had already thrown 102 pitches and was threatening to stretch out a Sox bullpen further than Sox manager Terry Francona would have preferred. But Matsuzaka came through with an eight-pitch sixth inning, exiting with 110 pitches for his outing.

– Matsuzaka pitched an uneven, yet effective, game. For the 14th time in his Red Sox career the starter walked at least five batters (this time issuing exactly five free passes). It was the second time this season the righty managed the feat, having walked eight Kansas City batters on May 27. But while Matsuzaka’s control left something to be desired, he did allow the Mariners just four hits while striking out four, leading to the Seattle hitters managing just one hit in nine chances with runners in scoring position.

– The Red Sox seemingly did just enough offensively … until the eighth inning came around After Seattle jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a run in the third inning, the Sox responded with two of their own in the fourth against Seattle starter Doug Fister. J.D. Drew got things going with a single to right. After moving up on a David Ortiz walk, the outfielder knotted the game at 1-1 when Kevin Youkilis rifled a double into the left field corner, also moving Ortiz to third. The Sox’ DH proceeded to score on Adrian Beltre’s bloop into left.

Victor Martinez eyeing Monday return

07.25.10 at 5:47 pm ET
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Victor Martinez appears ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list for Monday’s Red Sox game against the Angels in Anaheim, Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters prior to his team’s game against the Mariners in Seattle Sunday afternoon.

“I actually think he’s probably going to be ready,” Francona said. “If he comes in and says, ‘I’m hurting,’ we’re not going to do it. All things point to him being ready to go.”

Martinez has been on the DL since June 29, having fractured his left thumb June 28. The Sox’ catcher caught has recently caught the side sessions of both Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz, and planned on spending Sunday’s game in the bullpen warming up Red Sox relievers. Before his injury, Martinez was hitting .289 with nine homers, managing a .431 average against left-handers. Sox catchers were hitting a combined .147 without an RBI or extra-base hit in July.

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

Red Sox vs. Mariners matchups, 7/24

07.25.10 at 10:20 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka (7-3, 4.29 ERA) goes to the mound for the Red Sox Sunday in their final matchup with the Mariners in their three-game series at Safeco Field.

Matsuzaka looks to continue his winning streak after leading the Red Sox to a victory against the A’s last week.  He threw 89 pitches in 6 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run and two hits, while walking two and striking out six.  Since returning from his strained right forearm injury, Matsuzaka has pitched with a 3.77 ERA in his last five starts. The victory against Oakland was his second straight win.

Matsuzaka was looking sharper with more command over his pitches in his last outing with Oakland.  He dished strikes on the first pitch to 19 of the 24 batters he faced to contribute to four 1-2-3 innings in the 2-1 victory.

Against the Mariners, Matsuaka has a 2-1 record with a 3.99 ERA, recording 31 strikeouts.

Doug Fister (3-6, 3.56 ERA), a rookie right hander, looks for his first win since May 14 against the Red Sox. He has only faced Eric Patterson on the Sox line up so far.  After Fister started the season with a 2.45 ERA in his first 10 starts, holding teams to three or four runs a game, a fatigued right shoulder in the beginning of June sent him to the DL for almost a month. He returned June 26, but has had a rougher time on the mound since his injury’€“ putting up a 6.14 ERA in three starts leading up to the All-Star break.

In Fister’€™s last start, he retired a season and career-high six batters, walking one, and earning three runs over six innings, but got no offensive help from Seattle in a 4-0 loss to the White Sox.

Mariners vs. Matsuzaka

Ichiro Suzuki (20 plate appearances): .250 average/.400 OBP/.375 slugging, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

Jose Lopez (18): .188/.235/.188, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

Josh Wilson (8): .375/.375/.500, 1 double

Milton Bradley (6): .400/.500/.600, 1 double, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Russell Branyan (6): .167/.167/.167, 3 strikeouts

Chone Figgins (6): .333/.667/.333, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Casey Kotchman (5): .200/.200/.800, 1 HR, 2 RBIs

Matsuzaka has not faced Josh Bard, Franklin Gutierrez, Rob Johnson, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak and Jack Wilson.

Red Sox vs. Fister

Eric Patterson (5 plate appearances): .200 average/.200 OBP/.200 slugging, 3 strikeouts

Fister has not faced Adrian Beltre, Dusty Brown, Mike Cameron, Kevin Cash, J.D. Drew, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, Jed Lowrie, Darnell McDonald, Gustavo Molina, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz, Marco Scutaro, Ryan Shealy and Kevin Youkilis.

Closing Time: Mariners 5, Red Sox 1

07.25.10 at 12:46 am ET
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Red Sox starter Jon Lester had the stuff to make history on Saturday, retiring the first 16 Mariners hitters he faced, 10 of them by way of the strikeout. But his bid for perfection was ended with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, when a line drive to left-center by Seattle shortstop Jack Wilson clanged off the glove of center fielder Eric Patterson for an error. Wilson reached second, and against the next batter, Lester — pitching out of the stretch for the first time of the game — hung a curveball to Michael Saunders, who crushed it into the right field stands for a two-run home run.

That was the only offense that the Mariners mustered against Lester on Saturday. But it proved enough against a Sox team that could produce no offense of its own en route to a startling 2-1 loss.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Eric Patterson was making his second start in center field for the Red Sox when the ball found him at a most inopportune time. Wilson’s liner to left-center proved to be the first error that Patterson has ever made in the big leagues as a center fielder. It is impossible to know whether Lester would have stumbled in his bid for perfection in the absence of Patterson’s misplay, but certainly, both Patterson and Lester wish they would have had the opportunity to find out.

–The Sox failed to take advantage of the few opportunities that they had. Most notably, Jeremy Hermida — in his first start since June 9 — struck out with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the second inning. Jed Lowrie twice flied out to right with two on and two out. The team was held hitless over the last 3 1/3 innings by the Mariners bullpen.

Jon Lester through the first 16 batters of the game: 5 1/3 innings, no baserunners, 10 strikeouts. Lester after Patterson’s error: 2 1/3 innings, four hits, walk, five runs.

Manny Delcarmen turned in his second straight poor relief outing. He entered the game with two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the eighth. He promptly forced in an inherited run without even making the Mariners put a ball in play, walking the first batter he faced and then hitting Jose Lopez to force in a run. He nearly gave up a grand slam to the next batter he faced, Justin Smoak, but the drive died on the warning track.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Lester set a career high with 13 strikeouts, the most by a Red Sox left-hander since Bruce Hurst punched out 14 on May 5, 1987. He showed one of his best changeups of the year, and had a full complement of swing-and-miss secondary offerings.

David Ortiz hit his first homer of the second half, smashing an 89 mph fastball from Pauley into the stands in right-center for his 19th roundtripper of the season.

Mike Lowell went 4-for-4 in his rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket. For details on that game, click here.

–A Red Sox team that is desperate for offense received positive news about two players. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez are nearing game-readiness, with Martinez likely to be activated (barring a setback) in Anaheim, and Ellsbury set to start a rehab stint with the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Red Sox on Monday.

Read More: eric patterson, Jed Lowrie, Jeremy Hermida, Jon Lester
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