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Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 0, Yankees, 0

05.07.10 at 7:40 pm ET
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Still another 1-2-3 inning as Hughes is matching Beckett. Kevin Youkilis lined out to left, David Ortiz struck out swinging on a 95 MPH fastball and Adrian Beltre grounded out on close play at first.

Just 25 pitches for Hughes through two innings. His WHIP for the season is at 0.81.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox, 0 Yankees, 0

05.07.10 at 7:32 pm ET
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Josh Beckett continues to look strong in this series opener, again setting the Yankees down in order. Alex Rodriguez grounded out to Pedroia on a ball that was deflected off Beckett, red-hot Robinson Cano (only Yankee in history to hit .400 with at least eight homers in April) struck out swinging and Nick Swisher also was punched out swinging.

Five Ks for Beckett in two innings. He’s thrown 27 pitches, 20 for strikes.

Top 2nd: Red Sox, 0 Yankees, 0

05.07.10 at 7:26 pm ET
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Easy first for Phil Hughes, as he retired the Sox in order. Hughes as been tremendous this season, and his ERA now stands at 1.38. Terry Francona said before the game that Hughes is “doing a lot of things pretty good.”

Just 14 pitches for Hughes in the innings, nine for strikes.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0

05.07.10 at 7:19 pm ET
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Great first inning for Josh Beckett, striking out the side. He got Derek Jeter, Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira all swinging. Beckett threw 13 pitches in the frame, 10 for strikes. First time this season Beckett has struck out the side.

Francona Notes: Red Sox vs. Yankees, 5/7

05.07.10 at 5:55 pm ET
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Some highlights of Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s pregame meeting with the media. Running time? 6:21. Questions about David Ortiz? Zero.

Francona addressed the status of both Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury on Friday. On Cameron, out since April 18 with an abdominal strain, Francona said, ‘€œCam is doing well. He’€™ll go out there today and go through his progressions again, the hitting and the group and everything. He will sit tonight with the medical people ‘€“ Tom Gill will be here ‘€“ probably getting to the point where we are talking about going to play some games on rehab, possibly at the beginning of the week.’€

On Ellsbury, out since April 11: “Although he’s doing well, he’s not as far advanced as Mike Cameron is, as far as the time table goes.”

On sitting Victor Martinez Friday despite his recent stretch of good hitting: “I certainly thought about it [playing Martinez.] He’s been swinging the bat much better, especially right-handed. And he’s been catching a lot of game, I bet if you looked up as far as catchers go he’s pretty high. And we have a day game tomorrow that I want him to catch. So when a guy is catching that much sometimes there needs to be a day in there.”

Francona is impressed with the start to the season of Philip Hughes, noting that the Friday night starter is “doing a lot of things pretty good. Locating the fastball not just to two quadrants but probably four. He’s up both sides, down both sides, he’s locating with some velocity and some cut. He’s doing a lot of things well, especially against right handers.”

Jeremy Hermida has 14 of his 16 RBI this season with two outs (10 of 22, two home runs.) Francona was asked if there was anything different about Hermida that has allowed him to have success in two-out spots.

“He’s gotten a lot of big hits,” Francona said. “I hope he continues to. I do think that I need to a little bit careful about what I say because, if somebody wasn’t [hitting with two outs] right now I’d say ‘well, they’ll even out.’ I guess in his case I hope they don’t. He’s prepared, that’s for sure. He’s not giving at-bats away and he’s swinging at strikes. He’s given us some big lifts and some big at-bats.”

Lackey on The Big Show: Criticism of Ortiz ‘eye-opening’

05.07.10 at 3:14 pm ET
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Red Sox pitcher John Lackey called in to The Big Show Friday afternoon (Listen at The Big Show audio on demand page) and talked about beating his former team in his last outing. “You want to beat your boys about as much as anything,” he said of Wednesday’s win over the Angels.

Asked why the Angels did not meet the Red Sox’ offer when Lackey was a free agent, he said Los Angeles did make “a run” at retaining him. “The money was around the same, honestly,” he said. “It was more so I might have gotten an extra year over here. I was in a situation where I had two great options. And I chose to come out here. My wife — it was kind of a family decision. We wanted a new challenge, to move on and check something new out.”

Lackey said Boston fans have lived up to their reputation since he’s been here. “We were talking about it in the clubhouse the other night,” he said. “It’s a different vibe every night. Over there, people are a little more laid-back, eating sushi and crap in the stands. These people are having dogs and beers and ready to get after it. It’s fun.”

As for the recent firestorm of criticism of David Ortiz, Lackey was disappointed with the reaction to the slugger’s struggles. Said Lackey: “As much stuff as that guy’s done for that organization, that was kind of eye-opening to see as many people turn on him as did so quickly. That was kind of crazy. But it is what it is. You kind of knew what you’re signing up for when you come over here.”

Lackey said he isn’t too concerned with how far the Red Sox have fallen behind the Yankees and Rays in the early going. “It’s a game of runs,” he said. “We’re playing 162 games. They’ll get cold, eventually. And hopefully we’re hot at the same time. You’ve just to keep grinding it out, keep working. … We just need to concern ourselves with playing better baseball. We’ve got too many good players not to be in this thing in the end.”

Read More: Angels, john lackey, Red Sox, The Big Show

Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 5/7

05.07.10 at 10:56 am ET
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Usually you don’t see a “must win” series in early May, but the Red Sox can’t lose any more ground to the Yankees. The Sox sit five games back of the Yankees ‘€” 6½ back of the first-place Rays ‘€” and will look to keep the recent good vibes going in Fenway Park vs. their longtime rivals.

The teams have gone in different directions since meeting in the infant stages of the 2010 season. The Yankees have been consistent and the Red Sox have not. Part of that inconsistency on the Red Sox starts with the rotations, namely Josh Beckett. At times, Beckett has looked like the ace of the staff, while other times it’s looked like his name and “ace” don’t belong in the same sentence.

Beckett will look to improve on his first outing against the Yankees, when he gave up five earned runs in 4-2/3 innings on Opening Night. After two mediocre starts against Texas and Tampa, Beckett bounced back with a quality start vs. Baltimore ‘€” two runs over seven innings in a no-decision.

The right-hander will need to keep Robinson Cano in check, which this season has been easier said than done.

Cano is in this top-three in average (.362), slugging percentage (.695) and home runs (9) in the American League. He has been the spark plug behind the Yankees offense, and his numbers against Beckett are in line with his production this year.

The main reason why the Yankees are so steady this year is starting pitching. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett are a combined 12-1, and Friday’s starter, Phil Hughes, is a perfect 3-0. Hughes solidified the back end of the bullpen last year for the Yankees in their title run, and he seems to be doing the same to the end of the rotation.

He has only allowed four earned runs in his four starts this season, and the 23-year-old is coming off probably his best outing of the season ‘€” zero runs in seven innings ‘€” against the White Sox.

Both teams come in to the contest with four-game winning streaks in their back pockets, and Beckett will need to set the tone tonight to help the Red Sox climb their way back into the division race. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Josh Beckett, Phil Hughes, Red Sox, Yankees

Closing Time: Red Sox 11, Angels 6

05.06.10 at 10:55 pm ET
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The Red Sox completed a four-game series sweep of the Angels by running away with an 11-6 win over LA, Thursday night at Fenway Park. Daisuke Matsuzaka got his first win of the season despite giving up four runs in the first inning. The Sox starter finished his second outing by giving up five runs over 5 1/3 innings. The Red Sox were able to negate Matsuzaka’s shaky start by scoring five runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth. (Click here for a recap.)


– They played the Angels: LA left town having surrendered 28 runs and 31 hits. After issuing eight walks to the Sox Thursday night, the Angels finished the four-game set having allowed 23 free passes. The Red Sox also made just one error in the series, compared to the visitors’ four (2 Thursday night).

– They re-discovered their No. 3 hitter: Victor Martinez finished the series going 6-for-17, having knocked in four runs Thursday night via two hits. The first knock was a two-run, third-inning homer that got the Sox on the board, giving Martinez two for the season. The second hit would be a key two-run double in what turned out to be a five-run fifth for the Sox. It was a welcome sight for the Red Sox, who were third-to-last in the majors with just eight RBI out of their No. 3 spot.

– Martinez wasn’t alone in his offensive resurgence: Another middle of the order presence continued to emerge for the Sox, with No. 5 hitter J.D. Drew garnering another hit (to go with 2 runs and an RBI), allowing him to finish 7-for-15 for the series. Drew came into the homestand with a .214 batting average and finished the four-game set hitting .253. Adrian Beltre also upped his average to .353, notching two more hits to finish the series having gone 7-for-17.


– Daisuke’s first inning: Matsuzaka suffered through a horrific initial frame, throwing 39 pitches on the way to giving up four runs. It started with walks to three of the game’s first batters, with a single mixed in, and was defined by Howie Kendrick’s two-run double off the center field wall. Matsuzaka, who only had one free pass in his three rehab outings in Pawtucket, has six in 10 big league innings.

– Delcarmen hits a bump in the road: Manny Delcarmen hadn’t given up a home run since April 16 — his third relief appearance of the season — until Thursday night. After coming in for Matsuzaka in sixth inning, the second batter Delcarmen faced, Mike Napoli, took the righty into the Red Sox bullpen. That resulted in the first runs surrendered by the relief pitcher since that April 16 game against Tampa Bay. (It also tied the Sox with Arizona for the most homers given up by a bullpen this season — 17.)

Theo: ‘I didn’t call anyone out’

05.06.10 at 7:06 pm ET
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Talking to the media prior to the Red Sox‘ Thursday night game with the Angels, Sox general manager Theo Epstein talked about a variety of topics, including his assertion in the Boston Herald after Sunday’s loss that change might be on the way if the team didn’t start playing better.

“One reporter came up and asked me a question: ‘What kind of baseball are you guys playing?’ And I don’€™t think there’€™s a single player in that clubhouse that would disagree with me. I didn’€™t call anyone out,” Epstein said. “I didn’€™t call our players out. We’€™re all in this together. But the fact of the matter is we were not playing good baseball. We all know that. We weren’€™t playing the kind of baseball we were capable of. Tito had a meeting, a couple of other things ‘€” there’€™s a reason you do those things, not that they ultimately matter. Ultimately it’€™s how our players play, and they’€™ve done a great job this week. It’€™s nice to see guys take a deep breath, relax, be themselves and go out and play good baseball.

“I was asked, ‘€˜Will this change by itself?’€™ And I said, ‘€˜Yeah, it’€™ll change by itself or we’€™ll have to find a way to change it.’€™ I actually didn’€™t even mean personnel changes. Obviously, that’€™s the natural connection when a GM says that, but I actually meant, have a meeting, find ways to put guys in a better position to succeed. There was no followup, which I understand, because that’€™s naturally what you would expect when a GM says that. But I was actually alluding to the meeting we were going to have the next day. And Tito had a meeting.

“You can’€™t make personnel changes this time of year that are anything more than symbolic. Maybe once a decade you’€™ll find a trade you can make this time of year. But they’€™re really symbolic. And we don’€™t really believe in change for change’€™s sake.”

Epstein also pointed out that since he took over prior to the 2003 season, every year except 2005 there has been at least one month as bad as the stretch the Sox just went through.

“One-sixth of the season is 27 games, and we ended up going 13-14 our first sixth. Every year I’€™ve been here, since ’03, except one, we’€™ve had a sixth of the season when we went 13-14 or worse,” he said. “You just don’€™t realize it at the time because you’€™re in the middle of a pennant race. It’€™s deeper in the year ‘€” when we’€™ve never done it in that first sixth. Getting out of the gate slow means that there’€™s no context for your slump, makes things look a lot worse than they are sometimes. and it amplifies it. ‘€¦ I think it’€™s important to keep it in context. Now that we’€™ve taken a deep breath, put your head down, play good ball for a month or so, and see where we are.’€

Here is a transcript of the rest of the conversation with Epstein:

Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 5/6

05.06.10 at 1:36 pm ET
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The Red Sox haven’t had a poor outing from a starter since, well, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s last start. Matsuzaka will make his second appearance this year against the Angels, and his results will have to be much, much better to keep the streak of solid starting pitching flowing.

Matsuzaka threw 95 pitches and gave up seven runs, as he labored through a tough 4.2 innings against the Orioles. In his defense, it wasn’t a pretty weekend for any of the Red Sox in Baltimore.

We’ve seen good Daisuke and bad Daisuke against the Angels in his career. In 2008, Matsuzaka gave up six earned runs in five innings, but he bounced back in 2009 with six shutout innings, while only surrendering three hits.

It will be interesting to see who catches Matsuzaka in this start. Matsuzaka has a 4.04 ERA when he is paired up with Jason Varitek, compare that with a 5.40 ERA when he throws to Victor Martinez.

Martinez clearly holds the offense advantage against Angels starter Scott Kazmir ‘€”.455 average for Marinez to .188 average for Varitek ‘€” but getting Matsuzaka comfortable and back into a flow might come into play.

Even though David Ortiz went deep last night and has showed some power over the last week, expect to see Mike Lowell in this game. Lowell is a career .250 hitter vs. Kazmir, but he has four homers against the lefty. Ortiz has only mustered a .205 average against Kazmir, so expect to see Lowell in this matchup.

Kazmir is an all too familiar face to the Red Sox. In his 23 career starts, Kazmir has an 8-7 record with a 3.59 ERA, which was compiled mostly in a Tampa uniform. The 26-year-old was on the mound in Game 3 of the ALDS last year, which happened to be the last game of the Red Sox’ season.

The Red Sox go for the sweep and a little payback for last year’s ending.


Bobby Abreu (21 plate appearances): .125 average/ .333 OBP/ .250 slugging percentage, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts

Hideki Matsui (16): .250/ .438/ .500, 4 walks, 1 strikeout

Torii Hunter (10): .200/ .200/ .500, 1 homer, 2 strikeouts

Maicer Izturis: 1-for-6

Jeff Mathis: 0-for-4, 3 strikeouts

Juan Rivera: 0-for-3, 1 strikeout, 1 SAC fly

Kendry Morales: 1-for-2, 1 walk

Erick Aybar: 1-for-2

Howie Kendrick: 0-for-1, 1 walk

Never faced: Mike Napoli, Reggie Willits, Brandon Wood


David Ortiz (50 plate appearances): .205 average/ .300 OBP/ .364 slugging percentage, 2 homers, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (45): .250/ .333/ .600, 4 homers, 4 walks, 10 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (45): .237, .333/ .316, 6 walks, 14 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (44): .188/ .386/ .313, 1 homer, 9 walks, 11 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (36): .517/ .600/ .793, 1 homer, 6 walks, 1 strikeout

Adrian Beltre (21): .111/ .238/ .111, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (20): .278/ .350/ .333, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (11): .455/ .455/ .455, 1 strikeout

J.D. Drew (8): .143/ .250/ .429, 1 walk, 3 strikeout

Bill Hall: 2-for-6, 1 strikeout

Jeremy Hermida: 1-for-3, 2 strikeouts

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