|04.18.10 at 12:36 pm ET|
A few notes leading into Sunday’s game between the Red Sox and Rays:
–With Saturday night’s game having finished after midnight, the Red Sox felt that Victor Martinez should not catch on Sunday. Instead, because the team wanted to keep the switch-hitter (a career .300/.348/.400/.748 hitter against Rays starter Matt Garza) in the lineup, David Ortiz (.136/.296/.455/.751, 2 HR) was left out of the starting lineup so that Martinez can serve as designated hitter and Jason Varitek (.133/.235/.200/.435) can catch.
“I didn’t feel comfortable running Victor back out there to catch, and I wanted his bat in the lineup against Garza,” said Sox skipper Terry Francona. “Until they give us two DH’s, something’s got to give on some days. And I actually thought that David swung the bat a little bit better last night, especially in the second game. He’ll probably not be too happy with me today. Sometimes, we’re trying to win the game today and make it work. I think ‘Tek needed to catch just because of the length of that second game.”
After featuring the same lineup in each of the first four games of the season, the Sox have now changed their lineup in each of the last eight games.
–It’s unclear whether Jonathan Papelbon will be available for the Sox today after his wife delivered the couple’s second child (a son) on Saturday.
“I hope so,” Francona said of Papelbon’s availability. “He’s still at the hospital. He really wants to be here, but obviously there’s a priority with [his wife].”
–There is a chance that the Sox bullpen could be rather thin, especially if Papelbon is unavailable. On Saturday, Daniel Bard threw two innings (though just 17 pitches), Manny Delcarmen tossed a frame and both Ramon Ramirez and Scott Atchison had two-inning stints.
Francona said that the team is hopeful that Bard, based on his pitch efficiency, would be able to pitch.
“We’ll see,” said Francona. “Obviously, we’d like him to be.”
Bard has appeared in seven of the Sox’ 11 games thus far, though the frequent off days to start the year have been a large factor in that workload volume.
“The workload can be a little bit skewed, if somebody says that somebody has been in a certain amount of games. If you have days off in between, you might as well take advantage of it,” said Francona. “But we always keep an eye on their workload. That’s for sure.”
—Jacoby Ellsbury was slated to hit in a cage prior to Sunday’s game, one week after his collision with Adrian Beltre. While the Sox cannot say with absolute certainty that he will avoid the disabled list, the team remains optimistic that such an option will be unnecessary.
“I guess it could be a possibility. We don’t want it to be,” said Francona. “We sat with Jake twice the other day because we were short. We kind of mapped out the days that, if we do retroactive you, this is when you’ll comeback. He looked a little bit surprised, like, ‘I’ll never be that long,’ which was encouraging for us.”
The team likely would have had to put Ellsbury on the disabled list had Mike Cameron not come back so quickly from his kidney stone.
—Ramon Ramirez was with the Rockies in 2006 and 2007, when he encountered a young Ubaldo Jimenez. Suffice it to say that, based on what he saw of the young pitcher, he was unsurprised by the no-hitter that Jimenez hurled against the Braves on Saturday.
“He’s good — so good,” said Ramirez. “Unbelievable. He’s got everything. He’s young, he throws hard, he’s got a good pitcher. If he can control the zone, he can be great. … He can keep getting better and better and better.”
|04.18.10 at 8:41 am ET|
With a career 2-5 record and 5.08 ERA, the numbers don’t lie ‘ Jon Lester struggles in April. But if there is silver lining in this dark cloud (a fitting thought given the recent weather), it is that the Tampa Bay Rays might be just what the doctor ordered for the Sox’ lone left-handed starter.
Lester was tagged for 13 earned runs in his first two starts against the division rivals last season, but in his final three appearances he only gave up three total runs, highlighted by an eight-inning, two-hit gem on Sep. 13.
In his career vs. the Rays, Lester is 6-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 12 starts.
To be successful in this game, Lester will have to stifle Carlos Pena’s bat. Pena has slugged .778 vs. Lester and his four home runs are the most by an opponent against the big lefty.
Matt Garza comes into Sunday’s game red-hot, and may be establishing himself as “the guy” in the rotation for the Rays. Garza has gone eight innings in each of first two outings, while only giving up a total of three runs (two earned.) Both of the starts came against the 1-11 Baltimore Orioles, but Garza has thrived pitching against Boston.
RAYS VS. JON LESTER
Carlos Pena (31 plate appearances): .296 average/ .323 OBP/ .778 slugging percentage, 4 homers, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
B.J. Upton (31): .172/ .226/ .276, 1 homer, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Carl Crawford (30): .286/ .333/ .321, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Jason Bartlett (24): .391/ .417/ .391, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Dioner Navarro (22): .294/ .429/ .294, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Evan Longoria (21): .300/ .333/ .550, 1 homer, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Pat Burrell (13): .167/ .231/ .167, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Ben Zobrist (13): .222/ .462/ .222, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts
Willy Aybar (12): .167/ .167/ .333, 6 strikeouts
Kelly Shoppach (11): .333/ .455/ .778, 1 homer, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Gabe Kapler (9): .286/ .444/ .286, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Never faced: Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez
RED SOX VS. MATT GARZA
Jacoby Ellsbury (36 plate appearances): .313 average/ .371 OBP/ .344 slugging percentage, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Marco Scutaro (36): .219/ .306/ .219, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (35): .206/ .229/ .441, 2 homers, 2 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (28): .261/ .393/ .522, 1 homer, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
David Ortiz (27): .136/ .296/ .455, 2 homers, 5 walks, 9 strikeouts
Victor Martinez (23): .300/ .348/ .400, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
J.D. Drew (22): .158/ .227/ .368, 1 homer, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (20): .150/ .150/ .300, 1 homer, 3 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (17): .133/ .235/ .200, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Adrian Beltre (10): .300/ .300/ .300, 2 strikeouts
Jeremy Hermida (6): .200/ .333/ .400, 1 walk, 2 strikeout
Never faced: Mike Cameron, Bill Hall
|04.18.10 at 12:21 am ET|
The Red Sox saw momentum come at funny times against James Shields and the Rays in a 6-5 loss on Saturday night. A sloppy first-inning followed by lights-out stuff from Clay Buchholz had Rays hitters just as confused as the fans who stayed for the late game. Additionally, poor defensive play from Marco Scutaro was atoned for when he crushed his first home run in a Red Sox uniform, though it was another Sox infielder that slugged his way into the record books. Though all of the Sox’ runs came from homers, exposed was the fact that they went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
All four of the of the first-inning runs scored by the Rays unearned thanks to a two-out miscue by Mike Cameron in center. After Jason Bartlett gounded to short and Carl Crawford singled to right on a 94-mph fastball, Zobrist grounded to first on a play that advanced the already off Crawford. Crawford’s steal of third didn’t even get a throw from Victor Martinez given that there were two out. Following a walk issued to Evan Longoria, the slowly charging Cameron dropped a fly from Carlos Pena, allowing the inning to continue and the flood gates to open.
What Went Right for the Red Sox
– Pedroia’s two-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh inning made him the first second baseman in Red Sox history to belt five round-trippers in the month of April. Tim Naehring (1994), Mike Andrews (1969), and Bobby Doer (1941) had all hit four in April. The blast made it a three-run game at 6-3.
What Went Wrong for the Red Sox
– Run-prevention became quality start prevention when Mike Cameron blew the easy lineout in the first. As a result of the blunder Buchholz unraveled in the first and had thrown 43 pitches and allowed four unearned runs before the first frame was over. The game eventually strayed from being a low-scoring affair on both sides, but had Cameron not dropped the ball and the wheels not fallen off in the first inning, the Red Sox may have had themselves a comfortable margin of victory.
– Mike Cameron wasn’t the only Red Sox defensive upgrade to downgrade sprits at Fenway on Saturday. Scutaro booted a routine grounder to short in the top of the sixth inning, allowing B.J. Upton to reach base and eventually advance into scoring position. The error did not prove costly as Red Sox reliever Scott Atchison escaped the inning by striking out Pat Burrell
– The Rays continued to run against the Red Sox from the get-go. Carl Crawford took off on a 3-1 count to Ben Zobrist and as a result wasn’t doubled up when the Rays right fielder grounded to second. On the very next at-bat the Rays left fielder stole third uncontested and scored on the error to Cameron with two down.
B.J. Upton also got in on the action, stealing second base after reaching on an error to Marco Scutaro. He appeared to have also stolen third base during Pat Burrell’s at-bat in the inning, though the scoring was changed later in the game to state that he had advanced on a wild pitch from Atchison.
|04.17.10 at 8:23 pm ET|
The game began that began Friday night as a pitcher’s duel continued to be an April nail-biter as it extended deep into extra innings on Saturday. Josh Beckett went seven innings and allowed and allowed an unearned run to counter Wade Davis‘ five innings of one-run ball, yet it was the Jeckyll-and-Hyde Red Sox bullpen that ironically sealed the game’s fate.
With Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched the ninth on Friday, unavailable after the birth of his son, Gunner, Daniel Bard entered the game to begin extra innings. He promptly fanned Burrell on three pitches before inducing a groundout to first from Reid Brignac and fanning Dinner Navarro on an 83-mph slider. All nine pitches Bard threw in the tenth went for strikes. Following the clean innings from Bard, Delcarmen’s 12th was nothing short of ugly.
Delcarmen walked Evan Longoria on a full count to begin the 12th and got Carlos Pena fly out on a lazy ball to left field. Jeremy Hermida remained busy when B.J. Upton promptly scorched one into the glove of the left fielder on the next pitch. Delcarmen was an out away from escaping the inning before Pat Burrell send a 2-0 fastball into the Monster seats to make it a 3-1 game. Brignac flew to Drew to end the inning.
The game had appeared to be in the bag for the Red Sox in the 11th inning when an error by Evan Longoria with two men on loaded the basses for David Ortiz. With the five-man infield installed for the Rays, the struggling designated hitter again grounded one to Pena, who got the force-out at home. Adrian Beltre then gave Longoria a shot at redemption by grounding into a 5-3 double play.
Ortiz had nearly ended it immediately upon the game’s resuming. Ortiz blasted Lance Cormier’s third pitch, blasting it just foul down the right field line. Ortiz worked the count full and and eventually grounded out on a hard-hit ball to first baseman Carlos Pena. Adrian Beltre bounced to third before Jeremy Hermida went down swinging on a 78-mile-an-hour curveball.
Rafael Soriano pitched the bottom of the 12th and earned the save. The newly acquired reliever fanned Hermida to begin the bottom of the inning before Varitek drove a fastball to centerfield for a double. Mike Cameron, who had entered the game after Bill Hall was pinch-hit for Victor Martinez, flew out in foul territory to Longoria and Scutaro flew to right field to end the game.
Lance Cormier, who had appeared to have gotten himself into trouble in the 11th and allowed some hard-hit but harmless balls in the ninth and 10th, earned the victory, throwing three scoreless innings while allowing two hits and picking up a strikeout.
The previous highlight of the game had been a throw from second baseman Reid Brignac. Kevin Youilis was easily gunned down at the plate in the sixth inning after Tim Bogar sent him from first base on a David Ortiz single, keeping the game at a deadlock.
|04.17.10 at 6:00 pm ET|
Ashley Papelbon gave birth to the couple’s second child Saturday, rendering closer Jonathan Papelbon unavailable for either of tonight’s games between the Red Sox and Rays. Daniel Bard will continue the first game, currently tied 1-1, should the Red Sox not score in the bottom of the ninth.
The newborn Gunner Papelbon weighs 8 pounds, 8 ounces and is 21.5 inches.
|04.17.10 at 5:15 pm ET|
“I’m pretty happy with how today went,” Ellsbury said, adding that he’d “like to hope [the middle of the week] would be a reasonable time” to return.
|04.17.10 at 3:33 pm ET|
According to a team source, relief pitcher Alan Embree has agreed to push his opt-out date back from April 15 to April 30. If Embree is not on the Red Sox‘ 25-man roster by that date then he will be eligible to become a free agent. Embree has pitched in four games for the PawSox, allowing three runs on two hits in 3 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out three. Pawtucket Red Sox radio broadcaster Dan Hoard was the first to report the news.
|04.17.10 at 1:32 pm ET|
Sometime on Saturday night, the Red Sox and Rays will conclude their suspended Friday night affair (left in limbo in a 1-1 tie entering the bottom of the ninth inning). Then, approximately 30 minutes later, the two teams will plow ahead and start their second game of the series.
When they do so, the Sox will be sending a pitcher to the mound who has had great success against the Rays in Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz has probably been at his best against the Rays during his career. He is 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA, his best against any big league club, in four starts. That record includes a complete game effort in a 2-1 loss in 2008.
In his first start of the season vs. Kansas City, Buchholz got plenty of support from the Sox offense, as Boston tagged Gil Meche and scored eight runs in the game. That was more than the Sox starter would need, as he allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings. The most egregious mistake that Buchholz made was to Jose Guillen in the second inning, as the red-hot Royals outfielder smacked a homer to left-center field.
Buchholz made two starts against Tampa Bay last September, and looked good in both of them. He went six innings and allowed three runs in a 6-3 Sox victory on Sept. 3, and was even more impressive on Sept. 13, when he let up just one run in seven innings of work, allowing just five hits and striking out five as well.
The Rays will go with James Shields, who has been solid in his two appearances in 2010. He scattered nine hits and allowed three earned in a no-decision against Baltimore in his first start, striking out six and walking two. The long ball was a problem for Shields in that one, as he allowed three solo shots to the Orioles. Shields followed that up with a better day against the Yankees, allowing two earned runs in 5-1/3 innings while striking out five and walking three.
Shields has not been at his best against the Sox in his career, with a 3-7 record and a 5.32 ERA in 12 starts. He did toss a complete game shutout in April of 2008, but other than that he has had his troubles. Last year he made four starts vs. Boston and was just 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA. He gave up five earned in two of those starts, but was much better in the other half, allowing just two earned runs in 7-1/3 on May 3 and three earned over six innings on Sept. 13.
Two Sox hitters who are struggling, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz, have excellent career numbers against the Tampa starter. As good as Shields can be, he might be a good pitcher for the Sox to be facing in this series.
Red Sox vs. James Shields
Marco Scutaro (39 career plate appearances vs. Shields): .216 average/.231 OBP/.243 slugging, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (27): .417/.481/.833, 2 home runs, 4 doubles, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
David Ortiz (27): .391/.481/.870, 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (26): .130/.231/.174, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (25): .167/.200/.167, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (25): .360/.360/.480, 3 doubles, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (24): .455/.500/.636, 1 home run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jason Varitek (22): .190/.227/.333, 1 home run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Adrian Beltre (19): .167/.211/.389, 1 home run, 11 strikeouts
Jeremy Hermida (19): .294/.368/.353, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Victor Martinez (12): .333/.333/.417, 4 strikeouts
Shields has never faced Mike Cameron or Bill Hall.
Rays vs. Clay Buchholz
Carl Crawford (13 career plate appearances vs. Buchholz): .250 average/.309 OBP/.333 slugging, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Jason Bartlett (12): .273/.333/.273, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Evan Longoria (12): .182/.250/.364, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Carlos Pena (9): .125/.222/.125, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Pat Burrell (6): .000/.167/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Ben Zobrist (6): .400/.500/.400, 1 walk
B.J. Upton (5): .500/.600/.750, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Dioner Navarro (3): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts
Buchholz has never faced Willy Aybar, Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez or Gabe Kapler.
|04.17.10 at 4:30 am ET|
The Red Sox issued the following explanation about how tickets will be handled for the conclusion of Friday’s suspended 1-1 contest between the Sox and Rays, which was halted entering the bottom of the ninth inning due to heavy rain:
“The continuation of [Friday’s] game is governed by the rules of Major League Baseball. In accordance with those rules, the first game of the series must be played to completion before the second game may commence. Thus, tonight’s game will be continued tomorrow, Saturday, April 17, at 7:10 p.m., due to the likelihood of adverse weather earlier in the day. The Saturday game already scheduled will start approximately 30-45 minutes after the completion of the suspended Friday night game.
“Fans holding tickets for tomorrow’s regularly scheduled Red Sox-Rays game on Saturday, April 17, may use them for both the conclusion of tonight’s game, which will begin at 7:10 p.m., as well as for the game originally scheduled to be played. Tickets for tonight’s suspended game, April 16, will not be valid for use tomorrow for either one. Gates will open at 5:10 p.m. [Saturday].”
|04.17.10 at 2:16 am ET|
Setting the scene …
Ortiz rifles a ball down the right-field line, towards the wall. Tampa Bay right fielder Ben Zobrist scoops it up, throws to cut-off man Reid Brignac, who tosses a strike (slightly up the line) to catcher Dioner Navarro.
Youkilis is waved home by Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar. The end result has Youkilis being tagged out by Navarro, allowing for the first out of the inning and plenty of questions for Bogar after the game. Here is what the first-year third base coach had to say after the game was suspended in the ninth inning, still tied at 1-1 (click here for the ‘Closing Time’ recap):
(What did you see?) “The ball hit down the line, wet grass, mud, right against the wall. I felt like they had to make two perfect throws to throw him out and they didn’t make two perfect throws but it was pretty close though. I obviously understand with no outs getting thrown out at the plate, but I thought there was a chance to take the lead.”
(Thoughts about holding the runner with nobody out) “I think it’s obvious in normal baseball that’s what you do. I just felt like it was an opportunity to score a run right there, especially with the conditions of the field. It was a play they had to make perfectly, and he was thrown out. That’s the way it goes.”
(Dealing with the uniqueness of Fenway’s dimensions) “For me personally that’s just a ball down the right field line. I know he was up against the wall. I thought he had an opportunity to score. You have to give them some credit too, they made a good replay. Navarro made a nice tag on a ball that was a little bit up the line. It wasn’t like he was out by 30 feet. It was pretty close.”
(Would you have done it again?) “I think so. The same scenario, with the weather the way it was, and what was coming. Obviously you can always go with the percentages of nobody out, hold him, and then you got your chances. At that point I just thought it was a good opportunity for us to pick up a run right there with nobody out. In hindsight, yeah, I should have held him. But if he scores we’re not talking right now.”
(Having to answer these questions) “It happens. I guarantee you before the year is over I’m going to be talking to you again. That’s baseball. That’s not going to change the way I approach the game. Obviously it didn’t work out for us so I’m held accountable for that, and I’m fine with that.”
(Was Youkilis slowing down coming around third?) “If you’re trying to say Youk was laboring, I didn’t think he was.”
(The dynamic of being a third base coach) “It’s a tough job. It’s not an easy job and DeMarlo [Hale] did it good, if not better, than anybody ever has. It’s kind of nice that he’s on the staff that I can go and talk to him. The best thing you can do as a third base coach is not see you guys, and I don’t think he talked you a whole lot.”
(Did you know there were going to be night’s like this one) “I think if there’s not a night like this there’s something wrong. I don’t think you’re going to be 100 percent every time. If someone is perfect every night they will have a job forever. It’s one of those things where you make a big decision, things don’t go your way and you’re accountable for that decision. That’s why I’m standing here, I’m accountable for getting him thrown out.
(Why you sent him) “I thought he was going to score, it just didn’t turn out our way. Statistically, with nobody out, sometimes you want to hold him. I just thought it was a good opportunity to score a run right there.”
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