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Red Sox Road Woes Continue

10.10.09 at 4:21 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — In some ways, it comes as little surprise that the Red Sox were steamrolled by the Angels in Anaheim. After all, the team had been out of sorts on the road for most of the season, particularly against the American League West.

While the Sox enjoyed their third straight 95-win season and their sixth in seven seasons, the team did so almost solely on the strength of its play at home. The Sox went 56-25 at Fenway, good for a .691 winning percentage that was good for the second-best home mark in the American League, behind only the Yankees. But on the road, the Sox were a sub-.500 team, with a 39-42 mark (.481).

Interestingly, that record was tied for the third-best in the A.L., but it was well behind the Angels (48-33) and Yankees (46-35) for the top road record.

The Sox’ regular season road performances were particularly pronounced against A.L. West clubs. When visiting the Angels (2-4), A’s (1-2), Mariners (1-2) and Rangers (1-5), the Sox had a 5-13 mark. Against the same clubs at Fenway, the Sox were 8-8.

“It’€™s never easy coming out here,” said corner infielder Kevin Youkilis. “It’€™s not easy playing on a different time schedule. I think that’€™s why, when we come to the West Coast, we’€™ve struggled a little bit here during the season. In the playoffs we’€™ve done pretty well, but it’€™s just one of those things. You get in a comfort zone when you’€™re in your own city.”

The Sox lineup, of course, is primed to take advantage of the dimensions at Fenway. By and large, the team makes an effort to construct a batting order with right-handed hitters who pull the ball (Youkilis, Jason Bay, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Lowell all typically fit this bill) and left-handed hitters who use the whole field (Jacoby Ellsbury and, when they are at their best, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz). That would help to explain why nearly all of the Sox’ regulars (save for Victor Martinez) enjoy better numbers at home than on the road, a development that also plays into the team’s home-field advantage.

The Sox hit a remarkable .284 with an .862 OPS at Fenway in 2009, averaging 5.9 runs per game. On the road, they hit .257 with a .753 OPS, pushing just 4.8 runs a game across the plate.

“There’€™s always a different vibe when the crowd is screaming for you. Does that take away the fact that we still need to execute? No,” said Lowell. “Sometimes a crowd definitely plays a factor. You get those 3-1, 3-2 counts and it puts a little bit of different pressure on the opposing pitcher. We welcome that. Our fans have always supported us tremendously. It’€™s definitely a different vibe, a positive vibe for us.’€

Now, after dropping a pair in Angel Stadium, the Sox are looking forward to their return to Fenway Park. All the same, there is one asterisk that looms over the team’s efforts to get back into the series on their home field: even if they win two straight in Boston, the Sox would still have to travel back to Southern California and win a game on the road. While the task is not impossible, the club’s overall performance away from Fenway Park suggests that the team has a challenge in front of it if it hopes to emerge from the Division Series.

Francona: ‘We Need to Win a Game’

10.10.09 at 2:16 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Really, when an offense scores one run in 18 innings and manages just four hits each in consecutive games, there is only so much that a manager can say. And so, on Friday night, following his team’s 4-1 loss to the Angels in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered the most basic analysis when asked what his team must do differently to avoid elimination now that it is down 2-0 in the best-of-five ALDS.

“Our strategy is that we need to win,” Francona said. “We need to win a game.”

Here is the transcript of Francona’s postgame remarks.

Q. The lack of offense, is that more something with your team, or is it just their pitching is that good right now?

Francona: It’s probably a little bit of both. They certainly have executed very, very well. [Jered] Weaver tonight, he wasn’t pitching [out of] the stretch very much ‘€” [Jacoby Ellsbury’s] triple. You know, he throws across his body with the deception we talked about before the game. He executed his pitches, and we looked like we started trying to pull a little bit too much.

We didn’t square up on the balls.

Q. Can you talk about [Josh Beckett’s] performance tonight?

Francona: Yeah, I thought he was good. Fourth inning he was up a little bit. Mike Lowell makes that diving catch. We limit it to one run that inning. Other than that, going into the seventh,  I think he had one 19-pitch inning, an eight and an 11. Threw a lot of good changeups to kind of slow him down. And the triple really hurt.

The way they were limiting our offense, that was obviously a big hit.

Q. Going back to Fenway, will that be enough to get the offense clicking? And what else can you do?

Francona: Well, I certainly hope so. I don’t know if I can answer that. What we’ll be trying to do is win the next game we play, that’s what we always do. I certainly hope so. We’ve had a tough time these last two games swinging the bat. That’s an understatement.

Q. Does your strategy change now that you’re 0-2, and if so, how?

Francona: No, our strategy is that we need to win. No, we need to win a game.

Q. You’ve obviously liked this team and the situation is obvious. Are there some things about this team’s character that you feel they might rise to the occasion now?

Francona: Well, I think that’s how we always feel. I’d rather not be down 0-2, because the team we’re playing is really good. If you put yourself in a position where you make a mistake, it can really cost you. But until they tell us to go home, we’ll take our team and keep going. That’s how we always feel.

Q. You said you guys were trying to pull Weaver quite a bit. What was he doing that was getting you to do that?

Francona: No, he throws, you know, like we talked about before the game, he throws across his body, a lot of deception. If you do try to pull the ball, you get yourself in trouble. That’s a lot easier said than done.

You know, he was pretty effective. Located everything. He pitched. He executed his game plan very well.

Q. In Josh’s last inning he went 3-0 on the first three hitters. Were you thinking about taking him out then? What were you thinking then?

Francona: I would never take him out after a 3-0 count. He’s thrown a three- or four-hitter going into that inning. No, I didn’t think he was tired. I thought he was fine.

We had [Billy] Wagner up for [Chone] Figgins, which we ended up going to anyway, but up to that point we were staying with Josh.

Read More: ALDS, Angels, Josh Beckett, Terry Francona

Beckett frustrated with Bucknor, himself

10.10.09 at 2:01 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — After the Red Sox‘ 4-1 loss to the Angels, Josh Beckett was still confused as to the way home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor handled an incident in the seventh inning when the Sox’ starter hit Mike Napoli with a curveball the batter seemingly turned into.

After Bucknor awarded the base to Napoli, Beckett immediately yelled into the umpire saying, “He didn’t move out of the way!” Yet, it was how the ump handled the situation following the hit batsman that frustrated the Sox’ pitcher.

“I just wanted him to show me some respect,” Beckett said. “He just straight-faced me and walked away. He’d be pissed if I did that to him. Just listen to what I have to say. Don’t just take your mask off, and walk away. I know I can’t say anything. I guess they have more power than anybody. It’s a frustrating deal because … I’m not even a person that you’ll respect. I don’t know what I need to do.”

Beckett, who allowed four runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings — succumbing to a three-run seventh, did, however, want to make it clear that he didn’t have a problem with the calling of balls and strikes by Bucknor, just by the incident following the Napoli hit-by-pitch.

“I thought C.B. did a great job tonight,” Beckett said. “I just didn’t understand (the reaction to the hurler’s complaint).”

As for Beckett’s outing, it appeared to be going smoothly until that seventh. With two outs and pinch-runner Howie Kendrick at second base, Maicer Izturis rifled a single into right-center field to give the Angels the lead for good. After hitting Napoli, Erick Aybar launched a triple over the head of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to add two more runs.

“I just make a (expletive) horse-(expletive) pitch to him and I made a horse-(expletive)pitch to Aybar,” Beckett said. “Horrible locations, you get your (butt) kicked.

“If I make the pitch to Itzuris I don’t have to worry about facing Aybar. This one is mine. It sucks. You’ve got to make one of those two pitches.”

Lester on Game 4 Start: ‘I’ll Be Ready’

10.10.09 at 1:51 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Left-handed pitcher Jon Lester said that he will be available and ready to make a start on three days of rest in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Angels should the series get to that point.

Prior to Game 2, a 4-1 Red Sox loss to the Angels, manager Terry Francona suggested that the team wanted to see how Lester felt one day after throwing 100 pitches in his Game 1 loss before committing to having him throw a side session on Saturday in anticipation of a possible start on Monday (should the Sox win on Sunday to extend the best-of-five series to a fourth game). He also made it clear that, all things being equal, the Sox would like to use Lester in a potential Game 4 and Josh Beckett so that it can have Josh Beckett on the mound in a potential Game 5.

Just before leaving the Sox clubhouse for the airport to fly back to Boston, Lester said that there was nothing coming off of the start that would prevent the Sox from bringing him back on short rest in Game 4.

“It’€™s up to [Francona]. I’€™ll be ready if he needs me to go,” said Lester. “Physically, everything is fine. No problems.”

Read More: game 4, Jon Lester, short rest, three days

Terry Francona’s Pre-Game Press Conference

10.09.09 at 7:20 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Here is the complete transcript of Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s pre-game press conference with the national media:

Q. Could you talk about the development of Buchholz in the second half and how he really took off for you?

The last I’d say probably 10 starts, which is roughly one-third of the season maybe, he was one of the better pitchers in the league. Which is, at a time we were getting a little bit banged up, it certainly made our glass look a lot more full.

They were talking about a younger pitcher that’s come through our organization, and now he’s going out there being somebody that we want to pitch in a playoff-type game. We went through the whole thing last year where it didn’t work, and he had to go back to Triple A. Now having him pitch for us in this type of atmosphere, and he’s earned it. It really, really helps, not just our team, but our organization.

After last night I wanted to ask how are you feeling today and how were you feeling after you left the stadium with the sickness?

I had a bad night. I just got flat out food poisoning. Everybody’s probably had it. Believe me when I tell you, I got rid of it (laughing).

Better today?

I just have a headache. I’m fine. Thank you for asking. I was miserable yesterday.

The game probably didn’t help?

No. No, it really didn’t.

You’re obviously very confident about Josh. Can you describe a little bit about your time with him and what it is that’s made you feel so good about him in a situation like the one he’s in tonight?

Well, I wish we could take credit, but he was doing these types of things before we got him back when he was with the Marlins as a young kid. We all know about that.

He works so hard. And it’s not just for these type of games. He looks forward to tonight’s game.

That doesn’t guarantee anything, but we like when he has the responsibility of a game like this. He’s going to go out and going to give you everything he has. And everything he has is pretty good.

You can’t just have the will to do it. You’ve got to have the stuff. But when you combine that, it ends up being some type of pretty special. And that’s what he’s done.

I wanted to ask you a question about Scott Kazmir. When you saw the Angels obtain him late like they did, was it in your mind at all that they might have been thinking about a possible match up with you guys or the Yankees given that Scott’s pitched pretty well against those two teams?

You might be giving me too much credit. What I do remember is we were going to Tampa, and I was excited. Then I realized we were coming back and playing the Angels, so it tempered that a little bit. Again, they made their move. We have our hands full. I don’t sit back. As I said, you’re probably giving me a little too much credit.

He has pitched pretty well against you guys and the Yankees in his career?

Yes, he has.

And for a kid he did that when he was pretty young, too. Is that something that has impressed you that he’s been able to be that good?

His first couple of outings against us were borderline overwhelming us. I mean velocity, slider, he was real young and he was probably, I don’t want to say wild in the zone, [but] just enough where we had some horrible numbers against him. He’s evolved a little bit. He doesn’t throw quite as hard as he used to, hopefully. For a while he got away from the slider, but now I know that’s come back. So he’s good. He’s been good for a long time. He’s been pitching for a long time. I know he’s not that old.

Is there a common thread to guys who pitch well in this month on this stage? Is there something about the temperament that allows them to channel all of the pressures?

I would think so. I would think so. The guys that I’ve been around, Schilling or Beckett and Lester, this stage brings out the best. They don’t again, sometimes you just get beat because you’re playing good teams, but it doesn’t happen because of nerves or because you’re shying away from the competition.

Again, they’re going to get the best of Beckett, they might beat him. I hope not. But he’s obviously very excited about this challenge, and it usually shows in the way he pitches.

About Abreu, is he the same kind of headache in the Angels lineup as he was in the Yankees’ lineup? Or is there some different dynamic that he brings to their team?

Last night in a situation where we’re playing back, trying to get him to just maybe take a grounder and get out of the inning with a run, he doesn’t give in. He’s such a professional hitter. He’ll take his walk. He always has done that.

This is on a team that maybe didn’t used to do that as much, so he probably has brought a little bit of a different look. I think he still has some guys that are pretty aggressive, but maybe not quite as much as in the past.

Read More: Bobby Abreu, Clay Buchholz, Terry Francona,

Pregame Notes: Sox Would Like to Use Lester in Game 4

10.09.09 at 6:53 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Red Sox manager Terry Francona made clear that — assuming that the Sox are not swept — his team’s preference is to use Jon Lester on three days of rest in Game 4, which would allow the team to use Josh Beckett for a potential Game 5 should the series be extended to that point. The team will fly back to Boston after Friday’s Game 2, and if Lester (who threw 100 pitches in the Sox’ 5-0 loss in Game 1) is feeling well enough, the team will have him throw a side session, which would leave him positioned to start on Monday in a Game 4.

“We’€™ve already talked to him. We’€™re going to see how we get through tonight,” Francona said. “He may throw a side tomorrow. There’€™s a decent chance, he threw 100 pitches, we’€™d like to bring him back. I’€™m getting ahead of myself, but that would allow Beckett to pitch Game 5. That’€™s what we’€™re hoping to do. But we’€™ve got to get through tonight and make sure Lester’€™s OK.”

Lester has made one previous start on three days of rest in his career, that coming on April 23, 2008, when Beckett was scratched from his start due to illness. After throwing 6-1/3 innings and allowing three runs while logging 106 pitches against the Rangers on April 19, Lester allowed four runs in five innings while throwing 80 pitches in a 6-4 loss to the Angels in which the left-hander received a no-decision.

The Sox are not going to tether themselves to a plan in which Lester would pitch with short rest, but they will evaluate to see if the pitcher feels up to it, and if so, they will proceed with a plan to have him come back. The only other time that the Sox used a starter on no more than three days of rest in the playoffs under Francona took place in 2004, when Derek Lowe won Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees on two days of rest.


‘€” Francona said that he did not give much thought to starting Jason Varitek for Game 2, since doing so would require the team to sit Mike Lowell, who has a .313 career average against Angels Game 2 starter Jered Weaver. All the same, he noted his appreciation for what Varitek has done in not making an issue of playing time since Victor Martinez‘ arrival.

“He was kind of telling me not to tip-toe around him. Maybe I was … He told me, ‘€˜I’€™m a big boy.’€™ That really helped me,” Francona said. “I know I’€™ve said it. He’€™s got a ‘€˜C’€™ on his chest. He earned that. He hasn’€™t unearned it.”

Angels manager Mike Scioscia agreed. The former catcher raved unconditionally about Varitek’s impact on the Red Sox during his 12 years in Boston.

“I think it’s incredible when we look at Varitek and you look at not only what he’s achieved during the season, but I mean big games he’s played in the postseason. He’s been there day in and day out for such a long time and had a major impact on what they’ve accomplished in Boston,” Scioscia said. “This guy is certainly a leader. I think he’s just a prototypical winning catcher. The guy that goes back there and understands the importance of calling 150 pitches. Having a pitcher execute the 150 pitches, and making anything you do offensively secondary to that.

“He’ll have an ugly at-bat and put that mask on and all of a sudden he’s an All-Star catcher back there again. I think there’s an important lesson for a lot of young catchers and something we certainly try to pound into our youngsters about the influence that you’re going to have on a game. Even when he’s not swinging the bat well, he’s had as much of an influence on Boston’s success in the last six, seven years as anybody over there.

I know that they’ve appreciated what he’s done. Certainly, he’s a catcher. Looking from afar, because until you’re in the dugout with a guy, until you’re in the meetings, maybe you don’t get a flavor for it. But I’d be very shocked if there is anything different than the perception I have for Jason, what he’s done. He’s a heck of a catcher.”

‘€” Francona reported that he is feeling better after dealing with food poisoning on Thursday. The manager said that he was trying to get a few extra moments of rest up until game time on Thursday, which is why he was unable to make his way to the field during pregame introductions or the pregame meeting with umpires. But he has been able to start eating again, and feels fine to handle his responsibilities on Friday.

‘€” Bobby Abreu said that, after his experience with the Angels (with whom he signed a one-year, $5 million deal) in 2009, he would like to return next year.

“Of course I want to be back. I have a good time over here. This organization, the team, the manager, the owner and the fans, too. They treat me very well over here. I think they really appreciate the job that I’ve been doing all year round,” Abreu said. “Of course I want to come back. I want to come back. I don’t want to go nowhere else. I want to stay with the Angels.”

That stance could bear some relevance for the Red Sox. Hypothetically, if the Sox did not re-sign Jason Bay, and found the Matt Holliday sweepstakes to be too expensive, a player like Abreu could represent a short-term fix who could offer production while occupying a lineup spot until a prospect such as Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish was ready to assume a regular role in Boston’s outfield.

Then again, based on his 2009 performance ‘€” hitting .293 with a .390 OBP and, perhaps more importantly (at least in financial, if not actual, terms), receiving credit for changing the dynamic of the Angels lineup ‘€” Abreu may look for something more than another one-year deal.

Read More: Bobby Abreu, Derek Lowe, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett

The Red Sox Lineup With Martinez

10.09.09 at 6:07 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — For the second straight day, the Red Sox will feature Victor Martinez behind the plate, this time paired with starter Josh Beckett. There had been a lot of debate, of course, about whether the Sox should feature the offensively superior lineup, or whether they should put Jason Varitek behind the plate to work with Josh Beckett, given that the pitcher is still clearly (and by his own admission) more comfortable working with Varitek — after four years — than he is with Martinez — with whom he has been paired for three games.

In theory, the argument is understandable, but from a practical standpoint, the difference for the Sox with Martinez behind the plate has been undeniable. In 32 regular-season games with Martinez starting behind the dish, the Sox averaged 6.3 runs per game and went 21-11. From the time of the trade deadline through the end of the season, when Varitek started, the club went 14-14 and averaged 5.1 runs per game.

Of course, if Beckett is dominant, then 5.1 runs per game would be plenty for the Sox to position themselves to win. All the same, at least down the stretch this year, it would be difficult to argue that the Sox are not a better team with Martinez catching than with Varitek.

The Sox lineup on Friday will be the same for Game 2 as it was for Game 1:

Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Martinez, C
Youkilis, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Bay, LF
Lowell, 3B
Drew, RF
Gonzalez, SS

For more, read Rob Bradford’s “Beckett, Red Sox Need Wins, Not Sentimentality”.

Read More: Jason Varitek, victor martinez,

Kevin Millar on D&C, 10/9

10.09.09 at 12:42 pm ET
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Former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about his role as a commentator on the MLB Network, his picks for tonight, his view of Kevin Youkilis‘ intensity level, and his stance on the catcher-pitcher relationship. Here are the transcript highlights. Click here for the full audio on demand.

Is this MLB Network paving the way for a post baseball career or are you just having fun?

You know what, I’m having fun right now. I just came up here it’s a great network, I’m having fun. I’m working with Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter and Victor Rojas last couple days. You know what, it’s been fun, but I want to play, I’ll still play, but if it ends I would love to do something like this.

If somebody told you prior to last night’s Red Sox-Angels game that this team would not only only get four hits and not a base hit and not score a run, you would have said the odds happening on that would be what?

I would have said probably zero.

It was a great-pitched game, obviously, the Torii Hunter home run put the Angels up and gave them momentum, but I thought it was going to be a battle because [John] Lackey could be as tough as possible also, and you know obviously he threw a great game and got in trouble that one inning and the Sox couldn’t get anything across.

Who do you like tonight, then?

Well, you got to go to [Josh] Beckett. To me, that’s the one thing I thought the Red Sox … If this comes to a bullpen type game, they have the advantage because they have so much power at the back end of that bullpen with [Jonathan] Papelbon, [Daniel] Bard and [Billy] Wagner and it just doesn’t stop, and you could think they could just play a six- or seven-inning game. If Beckett’s on, he’s as tough as ever also, but on the flip side, who are the Angels starting tonight?

Jered Weaver.

You got Weaver, he’s won 16 games, Beckett’s won 17. I know Weaver pitches well at home. It’s going to be a battle. These two teams match up pretty well against each other.

Are you surprised at the way the Jason Varitek [situation] unfolded? … They bring Victor Martinez in and Terry Francona was not hesitant to send his captain to the bench and pinch-hit for his captain when he was in there and it appears he’s not going to see any action in this series.

It’s always a tough thing, and [Jorge] Posada‘s going through it right this second, same type thing. You have a guy like Varitek who’s been there and obviously the trade for Victor around the July deadline it started making things a little bit uneasy I would say, you know, I’m not on the team. You have Mikey sit down a couple of days, I know Ortiz sits down a day, and then Varitek. It was kind of a revolving thing, and that’s not an easy situation because Varitek being your captain and being your leader on that club. There are so many other intangibles that Jason brings that we sometimes as fans just look at stats and numbers and, “OK, he’s hitting .204 or .327″ or there’s more in this game behind the scenes that happens. Varitek gets paid to put down fingers also and know lineups and execute different things. It’s tough, but as we get older we get different roles that we’ve got to take also. And personally, that’s what happens.

When you have four guys in three spots, somebody is going to sit, somebody is going to be unhappy about sitting. What happens in the clubhouse dynamics when they make it known they are not happy with the way it’s going?

It can affect the other guys, but Jason Varitek is a professional. All four of these guys are professionals. You are not dealing with an amateur player that can cause problems. You want guys to play, let’s get that straight, but you’re not going to make everybody happy. You’ve got 25 guys, everyone wants to play. I mean, [Casey] Kotchman was a starter before he came over, he’s been on the bench and I’m sure he’s not happy, but these guys are professionals. That’s a good clubhouse. That seems like a great group of guys.

What is your take on the pitcher-catcher relationship on the battery here. Do you care if a pitcher feels more comfortable with a catcher even if that catcher can’t hit?

We had that discussion yesterday on the Posada-[A.J.] Burnett situation. I think that’s important that you want that pitcher comfortable throwing to that catcher because that’s the game. I mean, you’ve got to pitch and you’ve got to catch the ball. Offensively, you’re going to hit and score some runs, but especially when you’ve got a horse like Beckett or a horse like Lester.

[Regarding Kevin Youkilis], where do you come down on that school of thought in terms of how a guy prepares and how a guy succeeds or fails?

I think Youkilis brings it every day. He’s a ballplayer. You’ve got to love that. There’s a lot of haters in this world. Guys want to bring you down. Kevin Youkilis gives everything he has on every pitch. You have to respect that, especially in Boston. That’s a perfect scenario. This is what you want, this is Boston Red Sox stuff.

I understand if it’s a 9-2 game in the eighth inning and he’s 3-for-3 and he’s slamming his helmet down or slamming his bat. That could be tiresome sometimes to teammates and guys that are struggling. I can see that side of it could wear you out, so Youkilis has to pick his spots. The guy brings it every day and you have to respect that. This is a ballplayer . I wouldn’t listen to anything if I’m him about somebody saying, “You’re offending a 16-, 17-year veteran.” That whole veteran thing, it’s … listen, veterans and rookies and all that stuff, treating this guy weird, or you’ve got to respect that guy ‘€” that’s great. But you know what? Let Kevin be Kevin. And that’s the way he plays the game.

Did you ever have an argument with Youkilis?

Never. I mean, he didn’t play a whole lot when I was there because I was there in ’03, ’04 and ’05 and Billy Mueller was there so [Youkilis] spot-started. But that’s who he is. … He’ll have a demeanor sometimes where playing against him, he could rub you the wrong way. David Ortiz can rub you the wrong way if you don’t know him. I love David, he’s the nicest man in the world and the biggest smile and biggest heart, but you could watch David’s mannerisms sometimes from the other side. Guys will ask me, “How is this guy?” He might walk with his head down or he might hit a home run and it’s a slow trot around the bases. If you don’t know these guys from the other side, yeah, they could rub you the wrong way. It kind of looks like the old Paul O’Neill, when he kind of whined about everything. But these guys come at you, and they come out to win.

There might be a little extra anger for Beckett when he goes on the mound. Do you like Beckett a little more edgy, a little more angry, or could it go too far?

No, I like him when he’s got the edge. I think that’s part of him. He’s a bona fide No. 1 guy. You’ve got to give him the edge. I think he’s better that way. He’s a boy from Texas, a big hunter. Hey, go out there with the edge. He got the old Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens mentality. Go out there with the edge. It’s a big game for the Sox tonight. It’s not a must-win, but you don’t want to go back to Boston with an 0-2 deficit and now you’re in an elimination game.

Would you take Miguel Cabrera on your team?

Yeah, this is not a bad guy by any means. Who hasn’t been out and gotten a little drunk late night somewhere, sometime in their life? The new thing is obviously the involvements with the wives. I don’t know the fight with the wife. That is a little disturbing and I understand that side of it, but a guy coming in drunk? Come on. He got caught. How many times have you walked in drunk and you didn’t get caught from the public? Most of the times you come in, pass out on the couch and no one knows about it.

The Angels have denied again and again ramping up for this series, that the Red Sox’ hold over them is absolutely nothing. What does last night accomplish for them?

Yeah, you have the articles, you have the questions. But I think the one intangible is Torii Hunter, and that was before the home run. He is a great leader I love to watch this guy play, but then he hits the three-run home run and that was more than just a home run. That home run and that energy he showed in the dugout that was all the questions you’re hearing about. “You guys can’t beat the Red Sox.” For a week straight, they had to answer that same stuff. “How are you going to beat the Red Sox”  He hits the big home run and its like “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. That’s what I’m talking about.” You appreciate that energy and I think that’s the guy that could get this club over the top. But just his mentality and let’s stop the nonsense.

It’s kind of like the 86 years, that’s all we heard in ’03. This group, all we heard about was 86 years, this and that, and 25 cabs, and we’re like, “What? That’s nonsense. These are a bunch of ballplayers, you can’t even name us. You don’t even know who Mueller is and Millar and Todd Walker at that point, and Ortiz.” This was the group that came in and I believe that changed that nation a little bit, was the ’03 team, and that’s what Torii Hunter can bring to the Angels is, “Stop the nonsense. Let’s turn this page.”

Red Sox vs. Angels Game 2 Preview

10.09.09 at 12:08 pm ET
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The Boston Red Sox entered the visitor’s clubhouse in a familiar situation 24 hours ago when they were all set to begin their postseason run opposing the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS for the fourth time since 2004. Yet, after Angels starter John Lackey held Boston scoreless for 7 1/3 innings limiting the batters to only four singles in last night’s 5-0 Angels’ win, the Sox now find themselves in an unfamiliar 1-0 deficit heading into Game 2 of the series.

Even though Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester did not show his usual command on the mound, the left-hander’s lone mistake resulted in a three-run home run to Angels’ outfielder Torii Hunter to give the Halos a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning-one they would not relinquish.

Tonight, the Red Sox attempt to shake off the offensive rust that resulted in no extra-base hits and no runs and turn the home-field advantage in their favor by heading back to Boston with a 1-1 series tie. With the chance to clinch the ALDS at Fenway, the Sox call upon right-handed ace Josh Beckett (17-6, 3.86) to resume his postseason dominance and blank the Angels the way Lackey silenced Boston’s bats in last night’s defeat.

Despite struggling the second half of the season, October has always been one of Beckett’s best months of the year. After leading the Florida Marlins to a World Championship in 2003, Beckett was outstanding in his postseason debut as a member of the Sox in 2007 where he compiled a 4-0 record with a microscopic 1.20 ERA. Last year, the Texas native struggled in the postseason with an oblique injury, though he managed to pick up one win along with posting an overwhelming 8.79 ERA.

In his career against the Halos, Beckett owns a 2-3 record in eight starts with a respectable 4.13 ERA including an 0-1 mark in two starts this year with a 4.50 ERA. In his last start opposing Los Angeles on Sept. 17, the hard-throwing right-hander hurled eight strong innings of three-run ball earning a no-decision in Boston’s 4-3 loss.

Confident that they have shaken off the so-called “hex” of being incapable of beating the Red Sox, the Angels look to continue their quest for their first World Series since 2002 by sending Jered Weaver (16-8, 3.75) to the mound. Like Beckett, Weaver had difficulty matching his consistency from the first half of the season. After putting together an impressive 10-3 record along with a 3.22 ERA in 18 starts, the right-hander finished the year going 6-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break.

Winning a career-high 16 games for the Halos, Weaver has dominated the Sox in 2009 collecting a 1-0 record with a hardly-visible 0.66 ERA in 13 2/3 innings. In eight career starts, Weaver has managed a 2-2 record against the Sox with a reputable 3.99 ERA.

Though the Angels won Game 1 of the set, they did so with questionable calls that seemed to go against the Red Sox. After first-base umpire C.B. Bucknor called Angels’ second baseman Howie Kendrick safe twice following a Kevin Youkilis tag, replays indicated that he was indeed out. Though it did not affect the scoring of the game, it did drive up Lester’s pitch count.

Here is how both pitchers have fared against their opponents’ batters:

Josh Beckett vs. Angels batters

Bobby Abreu (88 career plate appearances) .203 AVG, .375 OBP, .333 SLG, 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 19 walks, 23 strikeouts

Vladimir Guerrero (39) .242, .359, .455, 1 double, 2 home runs, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts

Maicer Izturis (28) .370, .393, .481, 3 doubles, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Chone Figgans (25) .364, .440, .455, 2 doubles, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts

Gary Matthews, Jr. (22) .143, .182, .190, 1 double, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Howie Kendrick (20) .421, .450, .579, 1 home run, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Juan Rivera (20) .111, .200, .111, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Torii Hunter (17) .333, .353, .400, 1 double, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Jeff Mathis (7) 2-for-7, 2 doubles, 2 strikeouts

Kendry Morales (7) 0-for-7, 3 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (7) 0-for-6, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Erick Aybar (5) 2-for-5, 1 strikeout

Robb Quinlan (3) 0-for-3, 1 strikeout

Reggie Willits (3) 0-for-2

Jered Weaver vs. Red Sox batters

David Ortiz (24 career plate appearances) .350 AVG, .417 OBP, 700 SLG, 2 home runs, 1 double, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (22) .300, .364, .600, 2 home runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (18) .353, .389, .529, 1 home run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (17) .313, .353, .313, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (15) .231, .333, .385, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (12) .375, .583, .375, 4 walks

Jason Varitek (12) 3-for-12, 2 doubles, 2 strikeouts

Jacoby Ellsbury (11) 3-for-11, 1 home run, 1 strikeout

Brian Anderson (6) 1-for-6, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Jason Bay (6) 0-for-5, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Joey Gathright(5) 3-for-5

Jed Lowrie (5) 1-for-5, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Alex Gonzalez (3) 1-for-3, 1 strikeout

ALDS Game 2 – Live With Merloni, Schilling, Bradford and Speier

10.09.09 at 5:55 am ET
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Enter the Virtual Press Box on Friday night for Game 2 of the American League Division Series between the Red Sox and Angels! WEEI.com will be hosting an in-game interactive forum, with ongoing commentary from former Red Sox players Lou Merloni and Curt Schilling, and reporters Rob Bradford and Alex Speier live on the scene in Anaheim.

Join the conversation! Offer your own commentary, take part in polls, and watch the game with a group unlike any other.

The pressbox opens at 9:30 p.m. Be there.

ALDS Game 2 – LIVE

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