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5th Inning: Liriano gone, Penny stays

04.22.09 at 9:30 pm ET
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Francisco Liriano has been replaced by Matt Guerrier. Liriano had gone 7, 4 1/3, and 6 innings in his previous three starts, and threw 74 pitches, just 43 of which were for strikes. His line: 4 IP, 4 H, 7R, 4 BB, 6 K. Guerrier has given up at least one run in each of his last three appearances, although he cruised through his first frame Wednesday night by retiring Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, and Jason Bay in order.

The Red Sox have now struck out seven times, entering the game with the sixth-fewest strikeouts as a team in the American League

Brad Penny, by the way, finished the fifth having allowed six hits and two runs (one unearned). After facing one batter in the sixth he had thrown 76 pitches.

Ortiz talks between games

04.22.09 at 9:19 pm ET
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(By Drew Scott)

David Ortiz held court before Game 2 of the Red Sox‘ doubleheader with the Twins. Here are some highlights:

Are you trying to hit the ball to the left or is that just happening?

I don’€™t know man. I just swing man, just in case I hit it.

What do you do during rain delays?

I talk to you (laughs). Naw, I just hang around and chill and I always grab my computer and watch the other guys talk trash, hear Petey (Pedroia) screaming. It’€™s the longest three hours ever when you have that little man screaming.

How do guys stay loose? How do they handle rain delays?

I hate rain delays. They kind of get you out of what you want to do.

What do you think of what Mike Lowell‘€™s been doing that last few days?

Killing it man, killing! That’€™s what we get paid for, killing!

Read the rest of this entry »

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4th inning: One step back, two forward

04.22.09 at 9:13 pm ET
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Things started taking a turn for the worse for Brad Penny, with Justin Morneau hitting a 1-0, 91 mph fastball into the centerfield bleachers for a solo home run. Just for reference sake, Morneau didn’t hit any of his 23 home runs in 2008 on 1-0 counts. (I know, who cares.)

After a Jason Kubel ground-rule double, it looked like Penny might get out of the frame with just the one run after a Michael Cuddyer pop-up. But Brian Buscher’s grounder bounced off Nick Green’s glove, marking the shortstop’s third error of the day and allowing Minnesota’s second run.

While much has been made of Green’s offensive output, and his solid play in the field (highlighted in Tim Wakefield’s flirtation with a no-hitter in Oakland), it should be noted that shortstop is anything but Green’s natural position. Coming into this season he had played just 23 games at short in the majors after having totaled 191 at second base. (Note: Green did once again help his plus-minus by doubling in his second at-bat.)

That leads us to the Julio Lugo rehab update — 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk with Pawtucket.

Through four innings Penny has thrown 66 pitches, 41 for strikes.

The Red Sox responded to the Twins’ comeback thanks to a Jeff Bailey walk, Green’s double, a Jacoby Ellsbury run-scoring ground out to second, and Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.

Red Sox 7, Twins 2

3rd Inning: Ortiz works the wall again

04.22.09 at 8:53 pm ET
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In his 61st plate appearance, Jacoby Ellsbury drew his fourth walk of the season, leading off the third. Among regular leadoff hitters in the majors, Ellsbury’s free pass total was second-to-last (with Jimmy Rollins only having a pair). Believe of not, old friend Coco Crisp is third in the AL among leadoff men, totaling 11 walks coming into Wednesday.

After Dustin Pedroia’s fifth double of the season (remember, he led the AL with 54 a year ago), David Ortiz got a two-bagger of his own. The RBIs were his 738 and 739th of his career, breaking him out of a 10th-place tie with Joe Cronin for the most in Red Sox history. And in case you were wondering, Ortiz’ double came on a 92 mph Liriano fastball — who, in case you forgot, is a lefty. The DH has come a long way from whiffing badly on Koji Uehara 88 mph heaters.

All but one of Ortiz’ Fenway Park hits this season have come to either center or left field, yet all of his ground outs have been to the right side of the infield. He has now hit three doubles off the left field wall after managing 13 off the Monster a year ago. Both of his hits in Game 1 were to left.

Red Sox 5, Twins 0

2nd inning: Bombs away for Bailey

04.22.09 at 8:35 pm ET
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Jeff Bailey … yes, Jeff Bailey … helped the Red Sox jump out to a 3-0 lead, hitting his fourth career home run over the left field wall on a 1-0 Francisco Liriano change-up. Bailey had hit four home runs, while carrying a .255 batting average. (That would be 25 percent of hits going for homers).

Liriano has come away with four strikeouts — including the unbelievably hot-hitting Kevin Youkilis (his ninth punch-out of the season), but he did walk J.D. Drew, who has yet to have an at-bat today without getting on base. Youkilis would make up for hit by robbing Nick Punto of a third-inning hit down the third-base line.

When Liriano first came up in 2005 he had an outrageous 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. After batting elbow issues, it appears as though the 25-year-old might be returning to form, coming into Wednesday with a 9.6 K/9 clip.

Red Sox 3, Twins 0

1st Inning: Penny takes first step

04.22.09 at 8:12 pm ET
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It has been well documented how Brad Penny’s two Fenway Park starts have not gone swimmingly, giving up 17 runs. But it should also be noted that the first inning has also proved to be somewhat of a bugaboo throughout his career, having given up more home runs (30) in the frame than any other frame.

Game started at 7:57 with the temperature standing at 49 degrees.

Penny made it through the first in fine fashion (excluding a walk to Justin Morneau), throwing first-pitch strikes to each of the four batters he faced while tossing 10 of his first 16 offerings for strikes. He threw just two curveballs, with his fastball topping out at 93 mph.

Dustin Pedroia’s swing and miss at a third strike against Minnesota Francisco Liriano was just his 11th swing and miss of the season. Pedroia led the Red Sox in fewest swings and misses (8.1 percent) last season, with Jacoby Ellsbury finishing second at 12.6 percent. This year it’s Ellsbury who is the early lead, coming in at 8.0 percent, while Mike Lowell is second, missing eight of his 85 swings (9.4 percent)

Red Sox 0, Twins 0

Getting ready to roll in the rain

04.22.09 at 7:32 pm ET
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It looks as though the Red Sox and Twins are going to attempt to play the second game of their doubleheader Wednesday after all, with the scheduled start time slated for 7:55 p.m.

If you’re looking to pass the time, check out the 10 questions asked of Nick Green by intern Drew Scott after the Red Sox’ Game 1 win.

Wakefield makes history

04.22.09 at 5:27 pm ET
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With the 7-inning, rain-shortened complete game victory over the Twins, Tim Wakefield became the oldest pitcher since Charlie Hough to hurl back to back complete game victories. Hough did it June 17 and 22 in 1992 while pitching for the White Sox. Wakefield, who was coming off a complete game victory  against Oakland, is the oldest Sox pitcher to turn in a complete game (42 years, 263 days).

Wakefield now owns 32 complete games and has collected back to back complete games on six occasions. He has compiled a 1.69 ERA (3 ER/16 IP) over the past two games, giving up nine hits while fanning eight and walking three.

Mike Lowell is getting his first day off the season after starting the first 14 games, with Kevin Youkilis moving over to third base and Jeff Bailey starting at first in tonight’s Game 2, which is supposed to pit Brad Penny against Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano. While the weather is putting the 7:10 p.m. starting time iffy, the Sox are ready to wear uniforms with green trim along with green hats in honor of Earth Day.

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Red Sox call the first game; nightcap still scheduled

04.22.09 at 4:11 pm ET
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The first game of the day-night doubleheader was just called, with the Red Sox declared the 10-1 winners. The night game is still scheduled to start on time. That’s unique…

20 Things About the Red Sox

04.22.09 at 3:43 pm ET
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The rain keeps coming, with no indication about when or whether play will resume. New media relations staffer Leah Tobin is in her first week working with the Red Sox after working for the Astros and Padres in recent seasons. The change of working environment has been palpable: in those jobs, she never had a rainout, and endured only one rain delay at her home field thanks to the retractable roof in Houston and the perfect weather in San Diego. In Boston, Tobin has now faced a rainout and delay on consecutive days.

Anyhoo, with no game in progress, here’s hoping that those of you who are getting antsy for baseball can take solace in the following — a list of 20 things you might not have known about the Red Sox. In no particular order (these will be posted about five at a time…keep checking back!):

1) Jason Varitek went 2-for-5 with a homer on Monday. As our man Gary From Chapel Hill informs us, the Red Sox have won the last 17 games when he has collected at least two hits for them, dating to last May.

2) The fact that Manny Delcarmen has logged 8.1 scoreless innings this year has been well documented. But his regular-season dominance stretches back further than that. He has thrown 19.2 scoreless innings over 14 appearances dating to last Sept. 9. (He did, however, endure quite a blemish on that run of excellence in the form of a seven-run yield in just two innings against the Rays in the ALCS.)

3) We mentioned in the Five Things We Learned on Saturday that Hideki Okajima has an obscene 0.36 ERA when pitching on zero days of rest. Gary From Chapel Hill went into his Land of Magical Numbers to discover that he has the lowest such mark since the stat started being chronicled. Also on the list? Pedro Martinez, based on his work as a reliever for the Dodgers in 1993.

4) Kevin Youkilis deserves his title of on-base machine. He’s reached safely in each of the Sox’ first 14 games this year. He’s still got a ways to go before he catches up with his before-his-time soulmate in the mechanics of reaching base, Wade Boggs. Boggs started the 1983 season by reaching safely in 27 straight games.

5) Nick Green is making his ninth start of the year at shortstop. It is his most career starts at the position in any single season. As we mentioned in today’s Five Things, Green has a good chance of becoming the 10th player to spend 25 or more games at short since the start of the 2004 season. Who are the other nine? Click here for the answer.

6) George Kottaras recorded his first big-league RBI today in his eighth career game. He joines teammates Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek as Red Sox players who have started their careers with seven games without an RBI. Haywood Sullivan owns the Red Sox record for the longest start to a career without driving in a run, having gone 19 games without doing so after he debuted.

7) Reserve first baseman / outfielder Chris Carter believes that most rainouts are unnecessary concessions to the weather. While playing with Triple-A Tucson in the Arizona system, he claims to have endured monsoons on an annual basis. Don’t believe that Arizona endures monsoons? Think again!

8) Julio Lugo played in his first rehab game for Triple-A Pawtucket, going 0-for-3 with a walk. Lugo played eight innings. His rehab outing was less impressive than that of Jonathan Van Every, who in his first game since spraining an ankle in early March hit a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning to tie the game for the PawSox. Pawtucket went on to win, 8-7, in 11 innings.

9) It’s Terry Francona‘s 50th birthday. He’s 3-4 in career games on his birthday. Whoops: make that 4-4: the game was just called.

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