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Catching Up – Weekend Notes

08.16.10 at 10:31 am ET
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Back from a little beach break and time to catch up on a few notes from the weekend:

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* – Despite Sunday’s “too little, too late” rally against Texas’ pen, the Red Sox continue to struggle against opposing bullpens since the break, putting up just a .225 average (87-387) in that span, 4th worst in the AL:

.213 – Detroit Tigers
.217 – Tampa Bay Rays
.224 – Kansas City Royals
.225 – Boston Red Sox

The Sox batted .278 against opposing relievers prior to the break.

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* – Jon Lester may have been a little lucky to have had such an effective start on Saturday night, considering he fell behind 1-0 on more hitters (15) than he got ahead on (11). Going into Saturday, he went through 1-0 counts just 39% of the time this year, compared to 0-1 counts 48% (with the other 13% putting the first pitch in play).

After 1-0 counts Saturday, opposing hitters went just 3-15 (.200) against Lester with no walks. After 0-1 counts, they went 2-11. Two batters put the first pitch in play and they went 0-2.

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* – Lester and Company held the Rangers to 0-7 with runners in scoring position on Saturday, the 7th time this season that Texas has had no hits in 7+ AB with RISP, tied for the 2nd most such games in the AL:

8 – New York Yankees
7 – Texas Rangers
7 – Oakland A’s
7 – Cleveland Indians

The Red Sox have had 5 such games this season.

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* – The Red Sox caught 3 Rangers stealing on Saturday (actually it was 2 caught stealing and 1 pickoff), the 5th time this season that they’ve nabbed 3+ in a game, the most such games in the majors. The White Sox are 2nd with 4.

Here’s the thing: The Red Sox’ 5 such games this year matches the number that they had in the previous 6 seasons combined.

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* – Last Thursday in Toronto, David Ortiz had an RBI single on an 0-2 pitch in the 3rd inning. It’s significant because it was his first RBI hit on an 0-2 count this year. His last was June 16, 2009. Since coming to Boston, Ortiz racked up 10 RBI on 0-2 counts from 2003 through 2005, but just 3 since.

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* – Also on Thursday, John Lackey induced TWO run-scoring double plays. The last time that a major league pitcher had multiple run-scoring GIDP’s in the same game was June 16, 2009 (Paul Maholm of Pittsburgh). The last time that a Red Sox pitcher did it was May 25, 2007, when Daisuke Matsuzaka did it at Texas.

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* – On the 10 day road trip, Marco Scutaro led off the top of the 1st inning six times and went 0-6 while Jacoby Ellsbury led off the other four and went 0-4. For the season, the Sox’ leadoff men are now 17-58 (.293) with a .339 OBP when leading off the game (road games only). Those 17 hits are tied for the 2nd most in the majors, trailing only Oakland’s 20.

However, a closer look shows that they went 8-12 (.667) with 3 walks through May 16, but since then are just 9-46 (.196) with 1 walk over their last 47 road games and 1 for their last 18.

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* – On Friday night, Tim Wakefield became the first pitcher in the majors this season to throw only one pitch and have it hit for a HR. The only other Red Sox pitchers to do it (since 1974) were Alan Embree in 2005 versus Tampa Bay and Ugueth Urbina in 2002 against Toronto.

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* – Also Friday, the Red Sox lost despite hitting 4+ HR for the 3rd time this season. There have only been 7 games all season in which a team has hit that many HR and lost and the Sox account for 3 of those. One more such loss would tie the Red Sox single season record of 4 (set by the 2003 club) and two more would tie the major league record of 5, set by the 1987 Cleveland Indians.

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* – Also on Friday, Texas starter Tommy Hunter failed to record a strikeout against the Red Sox. Prior to that game, since the start of the 2006 season, the Red Sox have chased an opposing starter without striking out 21 times and were 18-3 in those games.

Draft update: Sox could reallocate Workman’s money

08.16.10 at 10:00 am ET
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With little movement having occurred between the Red Sox and second-round draft choice Brandon Workman, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Texas, the team is exploring the possibility of reallocating the money allotted for Workman and pursuing other later-round picks who were considered unlikely to sign. For instance, just days after athletic outfielder Lucas LeBlanc told the Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.) that he would enroll at LSU after the Sox failed to come close to his substantial asking price, the team has re-engaged with the outfielder to see if there might be a match.

The team has not abandoned the idea of signing Workman, with the door for signing him remaining cracked. Even so, it would appear that both sides have doubts about whether a deal between the Texas pitcher and the Sox might get done.

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Tick, tock: The latest on Sox draft signings

08.16.10 at 2:35 am ET
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With less than 24 hours left to the deadline for draftees to sign, the Red Sox have yet to finalize agreements with a number of their top picks. Of course, that is the case with many clubs, since Major League Baseball typically holds off on approving deals in excess of their slot recommendations until the days (or hours) before the deadline.

There has been some belt loosening over the weekend, but the lion’s share of deals with top talents won’t occur until Monday. Here, then, is a look at where some of the Sox’ most prominent unsigned picks stand:

Anthony Ranaudo (1st round supplemental, No. 39 overall): The story of the Sox’ supplemental first-round pick is now very familiar. The right-hander slipped in the draft because his health affected his performance during his junior year negatively. He proved in dazzling fashion during a summer in the Cape League that he is healthy, and that he deserves to be evaluated as one of the top pitchers to come out of college this year.

As of Friday, the Sox had not yet engaged Ranaudo or advisor Scott Boras in meaningful negotiations. Since then, there has been little news regarding the status of talks.

There is at least some thought that, since he entered the year being viewed as the top college pitcher, and his Cape performance restored his standing, Ranaudo may wait until the other top college pitchers such as Drew Pomeranz and Matt Harvey sign before Boras rolls up his sleeves to try to get a lucrative top-of-the-market deal done. If the Sox do not meet his asking price, then Ranaudo could return to LSU for his senior year to try to reassert himself as a potential top pick in the 2011 draft. That is what another Boras client, Matt LaPorta, did after the Sox drafted him in 2006 and made a substantial play for his services. (For more on LaPorta’s case, which has many similarities to Ranaudo’s, click here.)

Suffice it to say that the Sox were well aware that Ranaudo would be an expensive sign before the draft. As is the case for the Sox in all negotiations, they will set a limit to how far they are willing to go for Ranaudo, with the understanding that they may have to walk away from a pitcher whom they would love to sign.

All the same, it would certainly be a surprise if an agreement was not reached, given the team’s recognition that — given that they almost never draft before the end of the first round — it rarely has a chance to sign a player of Ranaudo’s pedigree.

Brandon Workman (2nd round, No. 57 overall): There has been little movement between the Sox and the big right-hander out of the University of Texas since Boston drafted Workman when he, somewhat to their surprise, slipped to the second round. That was in part a result of signability questions that arose when the right-hander told clubs that he was looking for first-round money.

Shortly after the draft, the Sox offered Workman a deal in line with MLB recommended slot for a second rounder (approximately $634,000). Workman declined. Since then, there has not been a subsequent offer, according to industry sources.

While it is possible that a deal could be struck, there has been growing pessimism about whether that might happen. There is still time for that to change, but right now, the outlook for Workman’s signing is uncertain.

Sean Coyle (3rd round, No. 110 overall): Coyle is making a choice between joining his brother, Tommy, at the University of North Carolina and turning pro by signing with the Sox. The Pennsylvania prep star is comfortable with either outcome.

He and his father are flying to Boston on Monday for a physical, and to see if the final details of an agreement can be hammered out. According to multiple sources, there is no official agreement between the player and the club at this juncture.

But there appears to be substantial momentum towards a deal being reached on Monday. If that happens, it would likely be for more than triple the slot recommendation of less than $300,000.

Garin Cecchini (4th round, No. 143 overall): Cecchini is a high-ceiling prospect from Louisiana with a commitment to LSU. Based on talent alone, he likely would have been a first-round draft pick this year, but there were questions about his signability and he suffered an ACL injury that essentially wiped out his senior year of high school, allowing him to slip to the Sox.

Prior to the draft, he sent a letter to major league teams saying that it would take a commitment of $1.75 million to convince him to bypass his scholarship offer. WEEI.com’s D.J. Bean reports that Cecchini checked out fine at his physical in Boston on Friday and that, while as of now, there is no deal in place, the Sox are expected to make a final offer to the projected third baseman that will “be a yes or no thing,” according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

If the Sox make a proposal that is roughly in line with what Cecchini seeks, he appears prepared to sign. If not, then he would be comfortable going to school. At this point, most indications are that a deal is likely to be struck.

–With the Sox having already spent more than $3 million to sign draft picks, and with the possibility of roughly doubling that amount with their top four unsigned picks, the team does not seem likely to pay heavily for players taken after the first 10 rounds, as they have done at times in recent years. Already, 11th rounder Lucas LeBlanc has said that he will honor his scholarship commitment to play outfield at LSU, telling the Advocate that the Sox’ offer was “nothing close to what I wanted.” Left-hander Dillon Overton, a 26th rounder who struck out four batters in two innings at the Fenway workout for draftees, likewise decided to turn down the Sox’ offer to pitch for Oklahoma.

D.J. Bean contributed to this report.

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Closing Time: Rangers 7, Red Sox 3

08.15.10 at 6:05 pm ET
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It was, until almost the end, an extremely impressive outing for Daisuke Matsuzaka. Pitching in the wilting Texas heat, he was undaunted, overpowering the Rangers for much of the afternoon, striking out eight and allowing just one run through the first six innings.

But unfortunately for Matsuzaka and the Sox, he was up against the most dominant pitcher to face the Sox this year. Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson has been virtually untouchable against Boston this year. He won his third start against the Sox this year by logging 7 2/3 innings and allowing just one run. On the year, he now has 0.86 ERA against the Sox, the lowest mark by a pitcher with at least 20 innings in a season since Scott Erickson had a 0.72 ERA against the club in 1991.

While the Sox rallied after Wilson’s departure with two outs in the eighth inning, it was not enough, as Boston dropped a 7-3 decision. They ended up losing the rubber match of the series against Texas, and finished a 10-game road trip with a 5-5 record.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Wilson was on the mound. The left-hander allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out eight in his latest dominant outing against Boston.

Manny Delcarmen had been quietly earning back trust as a middle-innings reliever for the Red Sox. Since July 28, opponents were 0-for-15 against him. But asked to come into Sunday’s game with two on and two outs, Delcarmen left a changeup over the plate that Michael Young blasted for a three-run homer to left-center to turn a 2-0 game into a 5-0 affair. Ultimately, those runs proved monumental, since the Sox’ three-run rally in the eighth was not enough.

–The Sox’ bullpen continued to represent a weakness. Not only did Delcarmen get touched for the Young homer, but Dustin Richardson and Michael Bowden allowed the Rangers another pair of insurance runs in the eighth.

Victor Martinez was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The punchouts matched a career high, previously accomplished five times, most recently last June 6.

Jed Lowrie (heat exhaustion) was not available on Sunday, a development that forced the Sox to employ two left-handed hitters (Ryan Kalish and Eric Patterson) against Wilson, a pitcher who entered Sunday having held lefties to a .107 average on the year. Though Patterson did muster an infield single off Wilson’s glove, the two combined to go 1-for-6 with three strikeouts and a double play against the Texas southpaw.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Darnell McDonald continued to assemble an impressive highlight reel against the Rangers, the team against whom he had his walkoff hit in his first game with the Sox this year. He went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer that briefly gave the Sox hope in the eighth inning, and for the year, he now is hitting .316/.400/.842/1.242 with three homers and 6 RBI.

–Matsuzaka was outstanding for much of the day, far better than his final line (6 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts) suggests. He featured tremendous life on his fastball and one of his best swing-and-miss sliders of the year. Through six innings, he kept the Sox’ deficit at 1-0, and given the conditions — 100-degree sweltering Texas heat, and a bullpen that has been running on fumes of late — the Sox could not have asked for much more.

Dustin Pedroia concluded a rehab that he deemed “good enough.”

Delgado has stiffness in left hip

08.15.10 at 5:51 pm ET
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — PawSox first baseman Carlos Delgado left the team’s 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Bisons on Sunday after three innings due to tightness in his lower left back and hip area. Delgado was originally scheduled to have the day off Sunday but requested he be in the lineup. He was replaced in the fourth inning by Lars Anderson at first base.

Delgado, 38, who has had two hip surgeries, said the tightness is not in the surgically repaired hip, but that it has been “sore for the last couple of days.” The first baseman said that the discomfort is “hopefully not” a setback, adding, that he and the PawSox will “see how it is tomorrow and take it from there.”

The stiffness was chalked up by Delgado to being something that comes up as one returns to game form.

“You want things to go pretty smooth, but you’ve got to get rid of some of those kinks and make sure that everything’s OK and you get into playing shape,” Delgado said.

PawSox manager Torey Lovullo didn’t seem too concerned with the injury as he, like Delgado, preached that the team and first basemen are better off not taking any risks.

“We’re going to err on the side of caution. … He was honest with us,” Lovullo said. “He said that he had a little hiccup in his back area, and we got him out of there. There was nothing more than that.”

Delgado played in just 26 games for the Mets last season and had 94 at-bats. He turned down other offers to come to Boston, a place where he hopes to contribute to a postseason push. Rehabbing second baseman Dustin Pedroia feels the same way about Delgado.

“He’s getting healthy,” said Pedroia. “His hip — you’ve seen it with Mike [Lowell] – there’s been a lot of guys that have had that hip surgery done, so we hope he gets healthy and then does what he’s accustomed to doing because he hits the ball a long way.”

Delgado struck out swinging against Bisons starter Raul Valdes in his lone at-bat Sunday. Since signing with the Red Sox last week, Delgado has gone 3-for-13 with two RBI and six strikeouts. There is no timetable for when he will join the Red Sox, but he can opt out of his contract if he is not called up by September 1.

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Pedroia: Rehab was ‘good enough’

08.15.10 at 5:21 pm ET
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Speaking after the conclusion of his two-game rehab stint with Triple A Pawtucket Sunday, Dustin Pedroia expressed a sense of urgency when touching on the subject of how he feels and whether he saw enough at-bats in anticipation of his return to the majors on Tuesday.

“Good enough,” Pedroia said of whether he was satisfied with his rehabilitation. “We don’t have time for [making sure everything's perfect]. We’re in a pennant race. I’ve got to try to get back in there, and I’ll figure it out.”

Pedroia, who has been out since June 25 with a broken bone in his left foot, added that he hasn’t “really been 100 percent all year.”

The 2008 American League MVP went 1-for-6 in two rehab games, playing second base on Saturday and serving as the designated hitter on Sunday. His main focus now is returning to the team as it makes a push for the playoffs.

“I’m fine. I feel fine,” Pedroia said. “I’ll get out there and play every day, and I’m excited about it. I haven’t been out there every day in a while, so I can’t wait.”

Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo, who pointed out that Pedroia’s goal on his stint was for the PawSox to go 2-0, looked less at the second baseman’s 1-for-6 weekend and more at what he saw in his swing.

“I think everybody wants to see him get up there and knock the ball around and get base hits and that’s going to happen, we know that,” said Lovullo. “His swing is productive no matter what, but what encouraged me is he had his front foot down — his lame foot, the one that causes problems. He’s balanced and he’s using the right side of the diamond. Good things are going to happen.”

Pedroia, who did say that he’s “done pretty well” despite not having a clean bill of health all season, didn’t care about his minor league numbers either. In fact, he doesn’t care what his major league stats read if it means he’s playing for a contender.

“I was nervous that I wouldn’t be OK physically [this weekend], but now that I am, we’re trying to win games, so I don’t really care how I do,” Pedroia said. “As long as we win, it doesn’t really matter.

“We’re four games out of getting in [as the Wild Card] and six out of the division, so we’ve got a lot of games left and we’re going to make our run at it,” he added.

As for his position Sunday, Pedroia seemed far less enthusiastic about DHing than he did about making it to October.

“Oh, I hated it. It’s not fun,” Pedroia said, half-joking. “You sit around. I’ve always played defense my whole life, so that was a little different.”

The Red Sox return home on Tuesday to face the Angels, where Pedroia is expected to make his return.

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Red Sox vs. Rangers matchups, 8/15

08.15.10 at 12:52 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

Looking towards their second straight series win and looking forward to returning home after a difficult 10-game road trip, the Red Sox go into Sunday’s rubber match against the Rangers with a lot on the line … again. With a win in this third game, the Sox would finish their trip going 6-4. For the final game of the series, the ball will be in the hands of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has quietly turned out a solid season.

Matsuzaka (8-3, 4.09 ERA) hasn’t lost since the end of June and has won three straight decisions since then. He received a no-decision in four of those games over the past month and a half, but the Sox have only lost two games in which Matsuzaka has started since the end of June. Going back even further, the Red Sox have lost only three games that he’s started since the end of May (he only lost once – June 30 to Tampa Bay).

In his last start, for the first time in over a month, Matsuzaka was bailed out by his offense. On August 10 against the Blue Jays, he gave up four runs on six hits while striking out seven, his highest number since June. On the negative side though, he only lasted 5 2/3 as he reached 110 pitches. His offense scored seven runs, however, and the bullpen only allowed one more run as the Sox won 7-5 in the first game of that series. In Sunday’s game, the Japanese right-hander will have a much taller task as he opposes a pitcher who has consistently sucked the life out of the Red Sox bats.

With the likes of Cliff Lee stealing the spotlight in the Rangers rotation, C.J. Wilson has quietly had a breakout season. Wilson (10-5, 3.30 ERA) has yet to win in the month of August, but he has still won seven of his last nine decisions, dating back to the end of May, including a current streak of three straight decisions. Of those 10 wins this season, two of them came against the Red Sox.

On April 22, Wilson tossed 6 2/3 of shut-out baseball, holding the Sox to just four hits as the Rangers won, 3-0. Almost three months later, Wilson returned to Fenway and delivered more of the same. On July 18, Wilson again threw 6 2/3 innings, this time giving up a run, but on only three hits while striking out a season-high 10.

Red Sox third-baseman/savior Adrian Beltré has the most success of any member of the Sox lineup against Wilson, as he’s hit 6-for-16 off him, the only batter to be over .300 against the lefty. The rest of the lineup is pretty sparse as Víctor Martínez and Mike Lowell are the only other batters to be above the Mendoza Line.

Meanwhile, the Rangers have fared much better against Matsuzaka. Michael Young is leading the way with his remarkable 7-for-11 tear. David Murphy is next best with a 3-for-5 line and Sox-killer Nelson Cruz is a respectable 2-for-5. Of all of them, however, only Young has hit a home run off Matsuzaka.

Red Sox vs. C.J. Wilson:

Adrian Beltré (18 career plate appearances against Wilson): .375 BA/.444 OBP/.688 SLG, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Víctor Martínez (16): .231/.313/.308, 1 double, 2 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (14): .154/.214/.231, 1 double, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

David Ortiz (10): .100/.100/.100, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts

Mike Lowell (9): .222/.222/.222, 1 RBI, 2 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (8): .167/.375/.167, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Darnell McDonald (5): .000/.400/.000, 2 walks

Eric Patterson (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Ryan Kalish and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have yet to face the Texas starter.

Rangers vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka:

Michael Young (12 career plate appearances against Matsuzaka): .636 BA/.667 OBP/1.091 SLG, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Chris Davis (6): .167/.167/.167, 2 strikeouts

Vladimir Guerrero (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts

Nelson Cruz (5): .400/.400/1.000, 1 double, 1 triple, 3 strikeouts

David Murphy (5): .600/.600/.800, 1 double, 2 RBI

Bengie Molina (3): .333/.333/.333

Josh Hamilton is 0-for-2 with an RBI and a strikeout while Taylor Teagarden is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Matsuzaka. Elvis Andrus, Andrés Blanco, Julio Borbon, Jorge Cantú and Mitch Moreland have yet to face the Boston starter.

Read More: C.J. Wilson, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rangers, Red Sox
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