|07.03.10 at 3:13 pm ET|
Fortunately for the Red Sox, Jon Lester‘s next start falls in the three-game series against the Orioles, a team that the Boston starter has dominated over his career. On the mound opposing Lester on Saturday night will be Jeremy Guthrie, who struggled through the month of June in interleague play.
Lester (9-3, 2.86 ERA) has a staggering 11-0 record against the Orioles with a 2.06 ERA in 14 career starts. In his last outing against Baltimore at Camden Yards, the left-hander pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in an 8-2 Red Sox win. Lester’s performance came during his eight-game winning streak, in which he lowered his ERA from 8.44 to 3.13.
In his last start, Lester arguably pitched his best baseball of the season, tossing a five-hitter in a complete game while striking out nine batters. What was more impressive was that Lester outdueled reigning two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and went the distance after the bullpen was needed for eight innings the previous day due to Clay Buchholz getting injured.
Guthrie (3-9, 4.30 ERA), meanwhile, has been going in the opposite direction of Lester, losing five straight decisions. In interleague play against the Mets, the Giants, the Marlins and the Nationals, Guthrie allowed 17 runs in 25 total innings of work. Guthrie’s last victory came on May 25 at home against the Athletics in which he pitched six innings of one-run ball.
In his career vs. Boston, the right-hander is 1-6 with a 4.52 ERA. Guthrie was matched up with Lester in his last start against the Red Sox and took the loss despite allowing two runs on 7 1/3 solid innings of work. David Ortiz has the most success against Guthrie on the Boston roster, hitting .276 with three home runs and eight RBIs. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.03.10 at 6:35 am ET|
Bowden got off to a dreadful start this year while fighting his way to gain consistency with the new mechanics he had spent the offseason working to achieve. His arm action was sometimes long, and his velocity seemed to dip. Entering a start on May 31, his ERA was 5.83, and his position as one of the Red Sox’ top depth options seemed in jeopardy.
Five weeks now seems like a long time ago. On Friday, Bowden retired the first 13 batters he faced, and ended up allowing just one run on one hit (a solo homer) in 7 2/3 innings. He walked none and struck out four. In his last seven starts, he now has a 1.83 ERA with 33 strikeouts and just eight walks. In the process, he has dropped his season ERA by more than two runs, to 3.77.
Right now, the Sox are reluctant to displace him given his excellent work in the PawSox rotation. At the same time, the team believes that he could be a contributor out of the bullpen — an area of growing need for the Sox, given both the major league club’s performance struggles and the recent injury to Manny Delcarmen — as the season progresses. And while a starter almost always has more value to an organization than a reliever, Bowden could offer the Sox significant value if he could emerge as a viable bullpen contributor, given that he could help the team to avoid having to overpay for a reliever in a trade.
Right now, the cost of acquiring a reliever remains steep, given that virtually every contender is interested in bullpen help, and, according to a major league source, there are few teams with potential relief chips that have put up the For Sale sign. Among the possibilities thus far are the Indians with Kerry Wood, the Pirates with Octavio Dotel, the Diamondbacks with Chad Qualls, the Royals with anyone other than Joaquin Soria and perhaps the Blue Jays, who feature players like Scott Downs. Eventually, the Mariners could also join that group.
That said, given the typical misgivings associated with acquiring relief help, the idea that Bowden could help as a reliever at the major league level — and, perhaps, improve his own trade stock in the process by showing that he can translate his year-after-year minor league success to the big leagues — is tantalizing.
Bowden did not get the call from Pawtucket on Friday. Instead, it was Robert Manuel (1.54 ERA) who was summoned to Boston. But one way or another, whether as a starter or a reliever, the Sox are increasingly certain that the 23-year-old Bowden will make an impact on the Sox at some point this year, a prospect that just a few weeks ago looked less certain.
“He’s definitely going to have an opportunity at some point,” said a team source.
|07.02.10 at 10:57 pm ET|
A ragtag crew of recently unrecognizable outfielders has done an admirable job of filling in for the Red Sox this year. But the fact remains that, with Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and Jeremy Hermida all relegated to the disabled list for substantial stretches of the season, the Sox need J.D. Drew.
In his typically unassuming fashion, Drew has been a crucial presence for the Sox this year. The team, after all, has been in a desperate struggle for production from its outfielders for most of the season. Though Hermida, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava have all had huge hits in key moments (indeed, Nava collected the game-winning RBI in the Sox’ 3-2 win over the Orioles on Friday by flicking a pinch-hit single down the right-field line in the eighth inning), the Sox have received woeful production from their outfielders.
As a group, Sox hitters entered Friday hitting .251 (worst average among the 14 AL outfields) with a .322 OBP (last), .407 slugging mark (13th) and .729 OPS (13th). Those numbers would have been far worse without Drew, who entered the contest hitting .272/.361/.466/.823. He has, moreover, been a steady lineup presence, playing in 69 of his team’s first 79 games this year, fifth most on a club that has been decimated by injuries.
All of that being the case, Drew’s absence from the lineup on Wednesday, when he was scratched with a stiff neck, was felt. The outfielder suggested that, while he recognizes the need for Sox players to fight to get on the field at a time when so many teammates are sidelined by injuries, he simply could not play.
“I think you understand the burden of trying to carry a little extra load. At the same time, you’ve got to relax and do what you do,” said Drew. “I had a pretty severe crick in my neck on Wednesday and was going to try to get in the lineup then, but it just didn’t make any sense. I couldn’t get it loose before the game. … about the ninth inning the night before it was kind of getting tight. I knew it was going to go one way or the other, I was going to sleep it off or it was going to get bad. The next day I couldn’t really do a whole lot. Came in, got some treatment, talked with Tito and it just didn’t make sense to try to do anything. I could hardly hold my left arm up as it was. Took a day with a day off following, and it worked out good today.”
Indeed it did. Drew returned to the lineup, and was the only Sox player able to do any damage against Baltimore starter Brad Bergeson. In his first two at-bats of the night, he lined a pair of fastballs over the Green Monster for solo homers.
“As soon as I stepped back into the box, everything fell right into place back where I wanted it to go,” said Drew. “Some nights you step in there and feel real good. I saw the ball well. Other nights, it’s not always like that and you’re battling. But I had a couple pitches out over the plate and a couple real good swings at them.”
The contributions were felt, since those two homers represented the only runs scored by Bergeson until the eighth inning, when the Sox scored the winning run. Drew’s 17th career multi-homer game (second of 2010, and sixth as a Red Sox) gave him 10 for the season. In his last 13 games, he is now hitting .353 with five homers.
The timing of the performance offered a reminder of other times, most notably when the Sox were without David Ortiz in June 2008, when Drew proved capable of carrying a short-handed club. Yet as appreciative as the Sox were about Drew’s performance on Friday, manager Terry Francona cautioned against the theory that the club might jump on the back of its right fielder.
“Those are the two of the prettiest swings you’ll ever see. When he’s hitting the ball like that to left field, it’s gorgeous. He has that swing. And it’s a good thing. We hit a couple of balls hard, but Bergesen was changing speeds and he stayed down so well, we didn’t have a whole lot to show for it,” said Francona. “I don’t know that [relying on Drew to get hit is] a real good way to go into a game. You start trying to reach and pull the ball and end up rolling over. I think you just have to play the game. It would be great if guys want to get hot, but I don’t think you can go into a game feeling like that.”
And so, the Sox will not ask Drew to offset the lost production of players such as Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek. Nonetheless, the team will gladly accept performances such as the one Drew delivered on Friday.
|07.02.10 at 10:50 pm ET|
When Daniel Nava‘s blooper down the right field line found just the right patch of grass to land on in front of a hard-charging Nick Markakis, Marco Scutaro raced around third with the go-ahead run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. The perfectly-placed pop up was the difference as the Red Sox held on for a 3-2 win over the Orioles at Fenway Park.
It was far less spectacular than the first pitch he saw in the majors when he drilled a Joe Blanton pitch
over the wall for a grand slam, sparking a 10-2 romp over the Phillies before a national TV audience on June 12.
But to Nava, this bleeder was far more significant.
“This one helped our team win,” Nava explained. “That’s what’s more important. The other one was obviously a lot of fun but this one had a lot more riding on it in terms of the team. The other one was something nice that happened, obviously but this is more important as far as us winning the game and putting another one up in the win column, it was huge.”
The situation itself was far different since Nava came to the plate with far less time to prepare himself mentally for this at-bat. He was sent up to pinch hit for Eric Patterson with two outs in the eighth to face lefty reliever Will Ohman.
“I haven’t done it a whole lot,” Nava said. “I have talked to other guys about it. You just have to get yourself ready. That’s something I’m still learning to do. It helps to know, at least a little bit in advance, that you might be going up compared to cold turkey and just running out there.”
Nava became just the latest to pick up the slack for the Red Sox, a team that keeps winning despite an avalanche of injuries.
“I don’t know,” Nava said in trying to explain the ‘different hero every night’ theory. “I think because we’re not all trying to carry the team ourselves.”
One thing Nava didn’t agree with was the assessment that the Red Sox are somehow on a ‘magical’ run overcoming injuries and hardship.
“We’re all relying on everybody else,” he said. “I don’t know if you want to sit here and say, ‘Is it magic?’ I don’t know. It’s just us going out playing hard, getting good pitching today and timely hitting.
“I don’t know if anyone’s really sitting there thinking about it like that. It’s just going one game at a time and seeing what happens and leaving it all out on the field is what it sure seems like.”
|07.02.10 at 9:16 pm ET|
On a night where both J.D. Drew and Tim Wakefield were easy headline-stealers, Daniel Nava once again found himself in the limelight in a 3-2 Red Sox victory over the Orioles on Friday night. In a tie game with two down and Marco Scutaro at second base, Nava was called on to pinch-hit for Eric Patterson and promptly dropped a blooper into shallow right field that fell in the middle of an Orioles gathering consisting of Ty Wiggington, Julio Lugo, and Nick Markakis. Brad Bergesen took the loss but was masterful in his 7 2/3 innings, with Wakefield picking up his third win of the year. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 19th save.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Drew had his 17th multi-homer game of his career second of the season. Given how effortless his second dinger was, it should come as no surprise that the Orioles were the victim of the other such performance, a 2-for-4, two-homer night in an April 30 Red Sox’ loss.
Both of Drew’s shots were to left field, with the first barely clearing the wall and the second a no-brainer into the monster seats. His first homer put the Sox on the board in the bottom of the second and gave them a 1-0 lead following a double play grounded into by Adrian Beltre. Later, with the Sox down 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Drew launched a screamer to left that got out in a hurry. Given his recent injury concerns, it was a bit peculiar just how hard he ran on the play, as he was about halfway to second before breaking into a trot from his initial sprint.
Perhaps noteworthy is the fact that all four of Drew’s big flies in his multi-homer games this season have been solo shots.
– Wakefield was tremendously economical, throwing 96 pitches through eight innings. The first inning was fairly indicative of his night, as he threw just six pitches and got three fly-ball outs. He didn’t work himself into trouble often, as the fifth frame, in which six Orioles hitters came to the plate and one scored, was his most troubling of the night. He saw four batters or less in all of his other innings.
– After Adam Jones became the first baserunner of the night for the Orioles with one down in the second, kind-of-new Red Sox catcher Kevin Cash re-introduced his arm to the AL East by gunning the Orioles’ center fielder down while attempting to steal second, thus ending the inning and inducing a roar from Fenway Park.
All in all Cash did well re-acclimating himself with Wakefield’s knuckleball, as a pass ball following a strikeout to Orioles designated hitter Josh Bell in the top of the seventh was the lone negative, a play that proved to have no bearing on the inning.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Aside from Drew’s solo blasts, the Red Sox didn’t exactly fare well in effort to get past Bergeson and into the Orioles’ bullpen. Bergesen was efficient on the night, throwing 100 pitches through 7 2/3 innings. Though his final pitch was a double off the left field wall by Scutaro, Bergesen proved to be far more difficult than his 6.83 ERA entering the night would have suggested.
In the first seven innings, the Red Sox were able to put just three men on base, as Drew scored on each of his two hits. Kevin Youkilis singled in the second and reached on an error in the fourth, while Darnell McDonald singled in the fifth. None of the three baserunners were advanced to second.
Bergesen even came back to get Drew in the seventh. After jumping ahead 0-2 with two fastballs that Drew watched, the Orioles starter nibbled around the plate with a pair of sliders before getting Drew swinging on an 83 mile-an-hour changeup.
– Markakis had an impressive night in the field and as impressive a night as an Oriole hitter could have had against Wakefield. He made his first head-turning play of the night in the third inning, diving to snag a liner off the bat of Darnell McDonald that was falling fast and thus recording the first out of the inning.
Then, as generally seems to be the case with Markakis in Fenway, the offense came. After Miguel Tejada flew out to Scutaro to begin the top of the fourth, Markakis tied the score at one with a homer to right. It was Markakis’ fifth homer in Fenway. He entered the night hitting .308 with 16 doubles and four dingers in Boston.
|07.02.10 at 8:31 pm ET|
BOURNE — Red Sox draftee Anthony Ranaudo, in his third start for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League, threw seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 Brewster win on Friday, scattering five hits while walking one batter and striking out five. He threw 88 pitches, 60 for strikes.
The LSU product’s fastball hovered around the low 90’s and topped out at around 94 mph, according to Brewster manager Tom Myers. He experienced some trouble early with his curveball, bouncing it repeatedly in front of the plate in the game’s early innings. However, he was able to get better control with the pitch as the game went on and even struck out one Bourne batter on three straight curves in the sixth inning with two runners in scoring position.
In three starts for Brewster, Ranaudo has now thrown 17 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run (he has given up one unearned run). He has allowed seven hits and walked three while striking out 16. Opponents on the Cape are hitting just .117 against him this summer, good enough for third in the league and just six points behind the pitcher in second place, Bourne’s Mike Morin who allowed just one hit to Brewster in his losing performance Friday night.
Ranaudo was taken by the Red Sox in the supplemental first round of this year’s draft, with the No. 39 pick. According to a report in the Cape Cod Times, if he doesn’t get a bonus more typically conferred upon one of the first 10 picks in the draft, he could go back to LSU for his senior year. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein and director of scouting Amiel Sawdaye were both in attendance for Ranaudo’s start. Epstein refused comment on contract negotiations between the two sides.
|07.02.10 at 8:00 pm ET|
It was mid-“I-was-designated-for-assignment”-story that Terry Francona decided to interrupt Kevin Cash‘s session with reporters on Friday. Surprised to see so much media gathered around the catcher, Francona asked if Cash’s dog had died. Upon overhearing the topic of the discussion, the Red Sox skipper quipped,”You’re going to get designated again if you keep talking.”
Such playful banter isn’t generally commonplace when a team down two catchers brings in a borderline journeyman, but with Cash, who had been acquired from the Astros just a day earlier to fill a position left occupied by injured catchers Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, it was too familiar an environment to not smile in.
The catcher, whose previous tenure with the Red Sox consisted of portions of the 2007 and 2008 seasons, was called the “perfect guy” for the team to get given their situation by the manager.
“He’s a guy that’s caught here before,” Francona said. “He knows our staff. He knows our coaches. He knows our team. He walked through that door today, and it was a welcomed sight. He’ll help us. Our baseball ops guys did a great job in a hurry.”
Cash’s numbers will never stand out as being particularly pretty. His .188 career average is far from enthralling and the 61 games he played with the Sox in the ’08 season were a career high. Even so, his familiarity with the guys throwing to him could provide relief for a position that is in dire straits.
“[I’ve] already gone over some of the guys I don’t know with [bullpen coach] Gary Tuck,” Cash said. “The guys that I do know, it’s comforting. Gets a little nerve-wracking when you’re in a ballgame and you haven’t caught a guy.”
Varitek, who did not deny that a medical procedure on his foot could be in the cards depending on further evaluation, could appreciate the comfort level to which his manager referred.
“He’s been here, so it brings some stability back,” Varitek said. “That will be good.”
As for the interrupting voice in the clubhouse, Cash seems to appreciate knowing his surroundings as much as Francona does having him.
“I’ve got 20 people around and he’s popping off,” Cash said of Francona. “I’ve done this before where I didn’t know anybody and you get to know people pretty quick, but it’s nice to know the bulk of this team.”
|07.02.10 at 6:38 pm ET|
With all of the injuries and all of the activity necessary to account for a full roster of 25 healthy players, it figured Friday would be one of the busiest pre-game updates of the season.
Jason Varitek was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a minimally displaced fracture of the second metatarsal on the top of his left foot.
“He needs to be in a boot, he needs to be non-weight-bearing for two-to-three weeks and we’ll see how quickly he can heal,” Francona said. “Very similar to [Dustin Pedroia] in the diagnosis, just a different bone. The time frame we’ll see. We don’t know.”
Varitek and Victor Martinez [broken left thumb] are both on the DL.
[Click here to listen to Francona explain how Varitek was injured on Wednesday night against the Rays.]
Manny Delcarmen was placed on the DL with a sore right forearm and reliever Robert Manuel was called up to take his place. Manuel was recently selected to the 2010 Triple A All-Star game, having posted a 1.54 ERA out of the bullpen in 41 innings pitched thus far. He has gone 4-1 with eight saves in as many opportunities.
With the Red Sox making a move with the Astros to help a depleted catching situation that is also without Victor Martinez, Francona said that in getting Cash, who played for the Red Sox in 2007 and ’08, Epstein acquired the “perfect guy.”
Niuman Romero, a switch-hitting infielder who has played mostly shortstop and third base in the minors, was called up to replace Angel Sanchez, who went to Houston in the deal, on the roster.
The Red Sox entered play Friday night with a 47-32 record, the third-best mark in the majors and just 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East. The Yankees were beaten earlier Friday in extra innings by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Francona spoke about a trio of Red Sox pitchers to encounter injuries lately. Francona said that Josh Beckett‘s most recent session went “very well,” and that he tossed 41 pitches. Beckett will travel with the team on their upcoming road trip and will pitch a Gulf Coast League game on Tuesday. The team plans on Beckett throwing 55 pitches.
And finally, Clay Buchholz, who pitched just one inning in his start last Saturday in San Francisco before leaving with a hyperextended knee, is doing “very well” and is slated to start on Monday in St. Petersburg against Tampa Bay.
|07.02.10 at 6:00 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst J.P. Ricciardi joined The Big Show on Friday afternoon to talk about the Red Sox losing and getting players back off the DL, who Boston could acquire at the trade deadline, and filling the hole behind the plate.
‘I would think that Theo is in the process of doing a lot of minor moves to continue to keep the baton passed,’ Ricciardi said. ‘Every game is a battle for them now and every game that they win and keep putting W’s in the column they just keep waiting for these guys to come back. When the cavalry comes back, it’s a pretty good group coming back.’
Ricciardi also touched on the success the Padres have enjoyed this season and how they’ve been the most surprising team.
Below are the highlights of the conversation. Visit The Big Show audio on demand page to hear the interview.
What can the Theo Epstein do at the trade deadline with the Red Sox getting players back off the DL?
Yeah and I think that’s a good point. They are coming back which is a nice sign. You look at the Mets, without [Carlos] Beltran how long they’ve gone, I mean that’s a long time to go without a guy. If you’re looking at the guys, basically its four to six weeks and with [Dustin] Pedroia it might not even be that long. He’s really going to push himself and as long as he can put any kind of pressure on that foot and move around a little bit I bet he’s back quicker. Internally, they’ll try to patch it together. Six weeks of the major league season seems like a long time but obviously six months is a lot longer, so I think they’ve done an incredible job as far as keeping themselves in the race. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.02.10 at 5:34 pm ET|
Then their other catcher – and captain – took one off the foot the very next day. At first the foul ball off Carl Crawford’s bat that hit Jason Varitek‘s left foot seemed like just another shot that a catcher takes during the course of the season.
“Crawford was hitting and he foul-tipped a ball behind him,” Varitek explained. “It hit my lead foot. The likelihood of where it was, the foot had to be at a certain angle and a certain position from my understanding. He hit it right.”
Or wrong, as was the case for the Red Sox. Then Varitek woke up the next morning.
“Obviously, it was hurting, but I didn’t know how bad,” Varitek continued. “They said we might want to get this X-rayed just to make sure. The original [reports] came back fine. I had a hard time sleeping, woke up in the morning and we said we’re going to get this looked at further.
“I actually thought I’ll be good by Saturday. I actually had the CT and the MRI and they said you’ve got to go back to the office to do another test they need to do, and I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to go to a charity event, and I’ve got to get out of here.’ I honestly didn’t think it. Then I got different news.”
With a break, there comes the possibility of using a pin to stimulate the growth of the broken bone.
“At this point, they’re still evaluating a lot of different things,” Varitek said. “I will undergo further evaluation to make sure we’re attacking it from all angles.”
As far as a timetable, Varitek was non-committal.
“That’s still kind of up in the air as far as we just have to see how the bone heals first,” Varitek said. “I’ve got to do no weight-bearing for a period of time.”
Despite the injuries piling up at an alarming rate, the captain of the Red Sox feels there’s reason to be optimistic the team can overcome them and remain in contention in the second half of the season.
The team has had to replace both of its catchers in the last week as Martinez and Varitek landed on the disabled list, along with Dustin Pedroia and Manny Delcarmen, who was placed on the DL on Friday with a sore right forearm.
“We’re in a good spot and that’s the good thing, really we are,” Varitek said. “Just to be where we’re at right now, with everything, even to this point this team has had to deal with, starting with the most important thing, starting pitching. Losing a couple of guys, having to adjust with that and then move from there. There’s a reason we are where we’re at because we’ve had contributions from a lot of people.’
The Red Sox entered play Friday night with a 47-32 record, the third-best mark in the majors and just 1 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the American League East. The Yankees were beaten earlier Friday in extra innings by the Toronto Blue Jays.
“It’s been a little different course for this team, having to deal with a lot of people at different times,” Varitek said.
One of those different people is someone the Red Sox and Varitek are more than familiar with – Kevin Cash, Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher for parts of 2007 and ’08.
“Cash brings, he’s been here, so it brings some stability back. That will be good,” Varitek said.
Obviously, Varitek’s injury also couldn’t have come at a worst time for him personally, as it appeared he was sure to get more regular reps behind the plate.
“You can’t really change the timing of it when something like that happens, but regardless, Vic and I work real well,” Varitek said. “We’ve had a good thing going, this was just going to be for a short period until Vic got back. I was looking forward to it because it was fun to be healthy and playing. But it just happens.”
Varitek, with a walking boot on his left foot and crutches leaning against his locker, maintain a sense of humor.
“I was actually pretty good,” Varitek said of his own putt-putt tournament on Thursday night, before issuing a challenge to another Red Sox player with a broken bone in his foot – Dustin Pedroia.
“We’ll race,” Varitek said.
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