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Smoltz first inning vs. New Hampshire

05.26.09 at 7:16 pm ET
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MANCHESTER, N.H. – Following a scoreless top of the first for Portland, John Smoltz took the m0und for the Sea Dogs and received a partial standing ovation from the Fisher Cats crowd.

He faced right-handed batting left fielder Todd Donovan, Adam Calderone, a lefty-hitting right fielder and right-handed batting second baseman Brad Emaus.

Smoltz allowed a line drive single back up the middle to Donavan, forcing Smoltz to duck for cover on a 2-1 pitch. Donovan stole second on a 2-1 pitch to Calderone, who flew out to center on the next pitch.

With a runner on second, Smoltz struck out Emaus on a slider for the second out. He fanned Brian Dopirak on six pitches to escape the inning scoreless on 19 pitches, 12 for strikes.

Smoltz topped out at 91 MPH, throwing mainly between 83-89 in the inning. The radar gun at Merchantsauto.com Stadium is considered 4-5 miles slower than the traditional radar gun.

Read More: john smoltz, Red Sox,

Welcome to… Merchantsauto.com Stadium

05.26.09 at 6:34 pm ET
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MANCHESTER, N.H. – John Smoltz will make his second major league rehab start here in Manchester and his first with Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.

The 42-year-old righthander is expected to throw in the neighborhood of 50 pitches or three innings for the visiting Sea Dogs against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Smoltz pitched last Thursday for Single-A Greenville, allowing just one hit and striking out two over three scoreless innings at Augusta and reported that his right shoulder felt strong.

He will wear the No. 44 as his customary No. 29 is already being worn by lefty hurler Dustin Richardson.

Read More: john smoltz, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Portland Sea Dogs, Red Sox

Papi in an alternate universe

05.26.09 at 11:17 am ET
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So, David Ortiz could very well arrive at the ballpark not in the middle of a batting order for the first time … well … for the first time in a long time.

Ortiz did hit fourth in 33 games in 2005, but that’s fourth. Fourth doesn’t appear to be the next step for Papi this time around. No, we have to go back to ’04 to find the last time Ortiz visited the unfamiliar territory of fifth or sixth in the lineup. In that season he hit fifth three times, and sixth once (in the starting lineup, of course).

So when was Ortiz’ most recent journey to the lineup’s under-belly? It was May 11, 2004, and that came courtesy the presence of one C.C. Sabathia, a lefty so tough that Red Sox manager Terry Francona believed the righty-heavy order going in order of Kevin Millar, Manny Ramirez, and Jason Varitek was the way to go. It worked out pretty well. Ortiz went 3 for 4 with his eighth homer of the season.

Ortiz would slide back into the No. 3 spot until one week later, when Francona went with Millar at No. 3, Ramirez in the cleanup spot, and Ortiz at the No. 5 hole with left-hander Mark Hendrickson on the mound for Tampa Bay. That didn’t work out as well, with Papi going 0 for 3.

Never again would Ortiz start a game with his name anywhere but the third or fourth spot on the Red Sox’ lineup card … until now?

In case you were wondering, here is Baseball-Reference’s link to how Ortiz has fared in each spot in the order.

Read More: David Ortiz, lineup,

Memorial Day match-ups: Red Sox/Twins

05.25.09 at 8:17 am ET
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The Twins are coming off a sweep of the Brewers, and are riding a six=game home winning streak, but their Monday starter, Francisco Liriano, is fresh off a four-inning, seven-run start. Something’s got to give. Here’s some hints as to what might tilt the momentum one way or another heading into the Red Sox and Twins Memorial Day matchup:

Red Sox Vs. Liriano

Rocco Baldelli: 7 ABs, 2 hits, .286 BA, 2 SO, 0 BB

J.D. Drew: 4 ABs, hit, .250 BA, 2 SO, BB

Julio Lugo: 4 ABs, hit, .250 BA, SO, 0 BB

Jason Bay: 4 ABs. 0 hits, 3 SO, BB

David Ortiz: 3 ABs, hit, .333 BA, SO, 0 BB

Mark Kotsay: 2 ABs, hit, .500, SO, 0 BB

Nick Green: 2 ABs, hit, .500, 0 SO, 0 BB

Kevin Youkilis: 2 ABs, 0 hits, 2 SO, 0 BB

Dustin Pedroia: 2 ABs, hit, .500 BA, SO, 0 BB

Jacoby Ellsbury: 2 ABs, 0 hits, 0 SO, BB

Jason Varitek: 1 AB, 0 hits, 0 SO, 0 BB

Jeff Bailey: 1 AB, hit, 1.000, HR, 3 RBI, 0 SO, BB

Read More: Francisco Liriano, Red Sox,

Judy Blais said it was foul … that’s good enough for me

05.24.09 at 4:03 pm ET
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Went out to the left field foul pole, on top the left field wall, where I found a woman from Barre, Vermont named Judy Blais. Judy was standing just in back of the foul pole, right almost in line with the trajectory of Kevin Youkilis‘ blast which would ultimately be reviewed by crew chief Joe West. Blais’ assertion?

“I’m a huge Red Sox fan, but unfortunately it was definitely foul,” she said. “I asked my boyfriend what everybody was so excited about down in the seats because there was no doubt it was foul, not by much, but definitely foul.”

No matter. The Red Sox would go on to score three times in that same fifth inning, one coming on a run-scoring double off the base of the right field wall by George Kottaras, and the other via a two-run single from Nick Green. Red Sox 6, Mets 5.

Another HR review call

05.24.09 at 3:58 pm ET
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Another home run review and another call against the Red Sox.

Kevin Youklilis opened the fifth inning with a towering drive down the left field line that appeared to sail over the foul pole for a home run.

But third base umpire Joe West signaled foul. Red Sox third base coach DeMarlo Hale made an impassioned plea. Then Red Sox manager Terry Francona came out begging for at least a review and he got one.

After about five minutes, the crew came back out and ruled that it was still a foul ball. Youkilis flew out to right field.

On Saturday night in the ninth inning, the crew overturned third base umpire Paul Nauert’s call of a double on a ball hit by Omir Santos and called it a two-run homer, the difference in New York’s 3-2 win.

Read More: HR review, Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox,

Ellsbury continues to streak

05.24.09 at 2:55 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to a career-best 19 games with a double to left off Tim Redding with two outs in the second. Ellsbury flew out amidst a hail/rain storm in the first inning.

Before the game, Red Sox manager Terry Francona addressed the Ellsbury streak and what has impressed him the most.

“I think what makes streaks special is playing game right,” Francona said. “It makes it in my mind better because it’s in the context of playing game right. Like last year with Ellsbury, the 50 steals. I don’t know how many time you saw a steal of third with us up (by a wide margin). It just makes it more impressive when it’s done the right way.”

Ellsbury’s double came in the same inning as Mike Lowell’s prodigious shot over the Green Monster with Jason Bay and J.D. Drew aboard. Drew doubled prior to Lowell’s eighth homer, which is second on the team behind Bay’s 13.

David Ortiz continues to slump, with a strikeout and a flyout to left to end the second inning.

Read More: David Ortiz, hitting streak, Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

Nothing says ‘Play Ball’ like the ‘Ballad of Tim Wakefield’

05.24.09 at 2:15 pm ET
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So, with the ‘Qwik-Dry’ being applied to the infield, and squeegees pushing the puddles to the side, Mother Nature has allowed baseball to return. In celebration we bring you ‘The Ballad of Tim Wakefield’ as performed by Bill Janovitz.

Fenway rain delays equal hijinks

05.24.09 at 1:59 pm ET
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We’re in a rain delay at Fenway Park with one out in the bottom of the first inning. The game was halted with David Ortiz batting, Dustin Pedroia on via a walk and one out. First came the thunder, then came the hale, and finally a downpour of rain. Rain delays are good for two things, 1. Sports writers breaking diets out of boredom; 2. Wacky videos …

We’re prepared for all occasions at WEEI.com, that’s why we also already have a rain delay post ready to repurpose at a moment’s notice.

K-Rod’s back… in clubhouse

05.24.09 at 1:04 pm ET
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After serious back spasms sent Francisco Rodriguez to the hospital following Saturday night’s game at Fenway Park, the availability of the Mets closer was unknown before the series finale on Sunday.

Rodriguez, with a large wrap on his lower back, reported that he felt “much better” this morning. He was taken from the visitors’ clubhouse on a stretcher to the hospital for treatment and observation. J.J. Putz closed out Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Red Sox.

Rodriguez earned his 12th save when he pitched the ninth inning on Friday night, preserving New York’s 5-3 win over the Red Sox in the series opener. He has converted all 12 save chances and is tied for the major league lead.

Read More: Francisco Rodriguez, K-Rod, New York Mets, Red Sox
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