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Report: Red Sox draftee Ranaudo concludes dominant summer on Cape

07.19.10 at 1:31 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, Red Sox draftee Anthony Ranaudo has left the Brewster Whitecaps after a dominant stint in the Cape Cod Baseball League. The news was first reported by thecollegebaseballblog.com, and confirmed by the Cape Cod Times.

Ranaudo, whose draft stock dipped this year due to injuries and struggles on the mound at Louisiana State University, turned in a dominant performance for Brewster this summer. Ranaudo was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 23 2/3 innings, striking out 22, walking seven and allowing just seven hits. That performance fulfilled his summer ambitions, as expressed to WEEI.com shortly after he was drafted.

‘€œIt’€™s a new start for me. Honestly, I feel like I’€™m in midseason form right now,’€ said Ranaudo. ‘€œI told my dad the other day after my start, I wish I had five or six or seven more starts. Hopefully I can get that under my belt in the Cape, really develop some more and show the Red Sox that I’€™m still the same pitcher I was last year, still the same talent, and go from there.

‘€œThe strides I made at the end of the season were significant. I feel like I’€™m pitching the best I pitched for a long time,’€ he added. ‘€œHopefully I can go to the Cape, prove myself more and show the baseball world that I’€™m still the same pitcher and still the same talent that I was entering the season and all of last year.’€

Ranaudo was taken in the supplemental first round by the Red Sox with the team’s third pick, and the No. 39 overall choice. While such a pick has a recommended slot value of close to $850,000, Ranaudo — who was viewed as one of the top five or 10 draft-eligible players at the start of 2010 — is expected to seek money more in line with a top 10 pick.

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Red Sox vs. A’s matchups, 7/19

07.19.10 at 11:28 am ET
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The Red Sox open up a very important 10-game road trip on the West Coast, their longest trip of the season, Monday night when they take on the Athletics. The Sox have struggled out of the second-half opening gate, losing three out of four to the Rangers at home immediately following the All-Star break. However, with several key players set to return from the disabled list in the coming weeks, all the Red Sox need to do on this trip is make sure that they stay at most an arm’€™s length away from the Yankees and Rays at the top of the division before they can make a push with their restored roster. Daisuke Matsuzaka will kick off the crucial set of games on the hill for the Red Sox with Ben Sheets performing similar duties for the A’€™s.

For those Sox fans with excellent memories, this pitching matchup may look familiar, and that’€™s because it is. These two same pitchers squared off earlier this season, on June 2 in Boston. Matsuzaka performed the best out of the two, going 6 2/3 innings while allowing just three earned runs and striking out seven. Sheets allowed four Boston batters to score over his six innings of work. The Red Sox took the contest 6-4, thanks in part to David Ortiz‘€™ 2-for-2 effort at the plate with a home run and two RBI to go along with a double and two walks.

Since that time, Matsuzaka (6-3, 4.56 ERA) has continued to steadily improve his pitching line. Since that early June outing, he has seen his ERA drop nearly a run from 5.49 to its current level. His last start shows even some more cause for optimism among the Boston faithful. In his last start before the All-Star break, Matsuzaka threw a quality start against Toronto, going six while allowing just two earned runs to go along with five punchouts. What was most dazzling, however, might have been that he had no walks for just the third time in 19 starts this season.

Sheets (4-8, 4.63 ERA), on the other hand, hasn’€™t changed much since that day in early June. He had given up either three or four earned runs in each of his last seven starts before a July 10 shutout of the Angels bucked that trend. The Sox offense may have the best chance to look effective early against Sheets, who has a 6.16 ERA in the first two innings this season. That number drops to 3.79 in the third frame. Also, another stat of note is Sheets’€™ line at home, where he is 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA, as opposed to the road, where he 0-5 with a 6.66. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Ben Sheets, Daisuke Matsuzaka,

J.P. Ricciardi on The Big Show: Major move unlikely for Sox

07.19.10 at 11:13 am ET
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ESPN baseball analyst J.P. Ricciardi joined The Big Show on Friday to discuss the All-Star Game, address possible MLB deadline trades, and give some insight of what its like to be a general manager in the big leagues.

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

Are you happy baseball is back?

That Wednesday after the All-Star Game is a tough day. It’€™s like the end of the season. No more box scores, you go into withdrawal.

What do you think of the Red Sox?

Well, obviously, I think this is the greatest test they are going to have in the course of the year, they have done an unbelievable job up to this point. I think their mettle is going to get tested with the road trip, but I wouldn’€™t put anything past these guys. They’€™ve done a great job. I think Theo [Epstein] is going to be working the lines to make the club better and maybe some smaller moves, maybe something in the bullpen, maybe another bat in the outfield. I don’€™t think you will see anything major.

Obviously, the guys coming back are going to be an addition to the club to help them, within a two-week period, three-week period, whatever it is, but this is going to happen to be the time where everybody just pulls it up and pulls together and tries to get through it. I don’€™t see a major move coming. I just think they are pretty happy with what they have coming back and this is the time that is going to try what their mettle is all about. They have done such a great job up to this point.

Where are the GMs at with the trade deadline?

I think it all comes down to the individual team and the player and what there level of interest of certain guys are, and obviously I have to believe if Prince Fielder is going to be moved then the bar is going to be set really high. If you are talking about so many middle relievers out there and you find one you think is a better fit for your club and its not going to cost you a lot, that trade would probably be done real quick. I think from a standpoint of where teams are in trades, you know there are a lot of conversations that just go on that just keep leading to, Can we keep making progress, and sometime trades get pulled off the table and they are back on within two or three days because the other route didn’€™t just through.

Every trade is an individual trade, has its own body of work to it. Some take a long time, some take a short time, some are dead, some come back to life. That’€™s a great thing about the trade deadline. Obviously, it gets closer to you as you push for it, and as I think you get to those last four or five days the posturing is done and really the guns are out, ready to go. Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Red Sox have talked to Marlins about Ross, Nunez

07.19.10 at 11:04 am ET
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The Red Sox have put in a phone call to the Marlins to gauge the asking price for outfielder Cody Ross and relief pitcher Leo Nunezaccording to a report by the Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer. Ross is hitting .279 this season with seven home runs and 46 RBI this season and could be a stopgap until Jacoby Ellsbury returns from the disabled list. Nunez has a 2.79 ERA and 22 saves as the Marlins’ closer and could be a huge help to a struggling Boston bullpen. The Braves and Yankees are also rumored to have contacted the Marlins about Ross in their search for outfield help.

Read More: Cody Ross, Leo Nunez, Trade deadline,

Sunday Tweets!

07.19.10 at 9:43 am ET
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Some tweets (with additional background) from Sunday’s loss:

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* – Prior to losing yesterday, the Red Sox had won 20 straight at Fenway when they receive 6 or more walks. Their last loss came on June 5, 2009, also versus Texas. The streak tied the longest such streak ever by a Red Sox team (the 1948 team also won 20 straight) and came within 5 games of the all-time longest:

25 – Cleveland Indians – 2006-07
25 – Cincinnati Reds – 1975-76
25 – Houston Astros – 1968-69

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* – The Rangers have now won 12 of their last 13 road games (dating to April 2007) when they strike out 12 or more batters. Their only loss in that span came on April 21 of this season, versus Boston (when they allowed 6 walks!).

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* – The Red Sox are now 8-18 (.308) during the first weekend following the ASB since 2004. And keep in mind that they are “thisclose” to being 7-19.

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* – Sunday was the first time that the Red Sox have struck out 14+ times at Fenway since 2005, snapping a streak of 429 straight home games with fewer than 14 strikeouts. The longest current home streaks with fewer than 14 strikeouts in baseball:

1,114 – Kansas City Royals (August 5, 1996)
544 – Chicago Cubs (September 2, 2003)
224 – Houston Astros (August 25, 2007)

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* – The Rangers have struck out 12 or more Red Sox twice at Fenway in 2010. Prior to this season, they hadn’t done it since 1993.

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* – Through 5 innings yesterday, the Red Sox had only 2 hits. They’ve now lost 21 of their last 24 when they have 2 or fewer hits through 5 innings dating back to last July 21. That winning percentage (.125) is the the 2nd worst in baseball in that span (Pittsburgh is 1-20; .048). Boston is 0-9 in such games at Fenway in that span.

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* – Red Sox starter Jon Lester allowed 6+ hits in his first 5 IP of a Fenway start for the first time since July 5, 2009, a span of 16 home starts.

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* – Lester allowed an extra base hit with 2 outs and runners in scoring position for just the 2nd time in 2010 (the other was April 12) and the first time at Fenway since July 30, 2009.

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* – Lester allowed multiple baserunners in each of the first two innings yesterday for the first time since April 12.

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* – (Saturday night leftover) – Kevin Youkilis‘ two-out, 9th inning, hit that tied the game on Saturday made Red Sox hitters 3 for 9 (.333) since the start of last season in the ultimate “game on the line” situation (2 outs in the 9th, runners in scoring position, trailing by 1 run). They went 0-8 in 2008. Since the start of 2008, the Dodgers (7) and Rockies (5) are the only teams with more than 4 such hits. The Rays are 1-18 (.056) in that span, the lowest average in the majors.

Cash on play at the plate: ‘I thought he was out’

07.18.10 at 6:31 pm ET
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At the time, it was nothing more than the fourth run for the Rangers, giving the visitors a three-run lead in the eighth inning.

But at the end of the day, the decision by home plate umpire Gary Darling to call Elvis Andrus safe at home when the replay suggested he was out might have changed the complexion of the final few frames. What it definitely did was elicit a spirited round of boos toward the ump for the remainder of the game.

Darling ruled that Andrus had gotten his foot to the plate before catcher Kevin Cash could apply the tag, after receiving a throw from left fielder Darnell McDonald. Cash and — judging by the subsequent argument by both Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester and manager Terry Francona ‘€“the Red Sox disagreed.

‘€œI thought he was out,’€ Cash said after the Red Sox’€™ 4-2 loss to the Rangers. ‘€œIt was a close play, I know that. [Darling] was saying he got his foot in, at least that’€™s what he was telling Tito.’€

Asked if he believed the call was a no-brainer at the time of the tag, Cash said, ‘€œYeah, just given where I was. I was probably 12 inches in front of the plate. At least that’€™s what I thought I was. I think that’€™s the reaction I showed. It wasn’€™t like I looked around and waited for a call.’€

The Red Sox would eventually bring the tying run to the plate after a Mike Cameron solo home run, and Billy Hall reaching on a fielding error by Texas’ second baseman Ian Kinsler. But J.D. Drew struck out, and Marco Scutaro flew out, ending the Sox’ threat.

Martinez plays catch for first time since injury

07.18.10 at 6:05 pm ET
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Victor Martinez took another step in the right direction, Sunday, when he played catch for the first time since going on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left thumb May 29.

While it was just a very light game of toss, just the fact the catcher was able to wear a glove offered a good deal of optimism.

“It was a good step,” Martinez said. “Obviously I was playing catch very carefully, but it’s still sore. But at least I was able to put my hand in the glove, so that was a big thing.”

Martinez, who will be making the 10-game West Coast trip with the team, still wouldn’t put any timetable on his return. He has swung a bat, although taking swings from the right side continues to be somewhat uncomfortable.

“We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. We’re taking it day by day now,” Martinez said. “It’s definitely a lot better. That’s a good thing, that it’s a lot better. So I’m pretty excited about it.”

For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at WEEI.com/redsox.

Beckett eyeing Friday for his return

07.18.10 at 5:48 pm ET
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Josh Beckett just has one more test to pass before returning to the Red Sox‘€™ rotation ‘€“ an extended side session Tuesday.

If Beckett comes through Tuesday’€™s session in good shape, the plan is to have the righty pitch Friday in Seattle against the Mariners.

‘€œAs far as the build-up and stuff, I think I’€™m where I need to be,’€ Beckett said after the Red Sox’€™ 4-2 loss to the Rangers Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park. ‘€œObviously, I can’€™t make that decision all by myself. We’€™ll just have to see where it goes from there. As far as I’€™m concerned, yeah, I’€™m ready to start on Friday, but it’€™s not the be-all, end-all.’€

Beckett is coming off a rehab outing for the Pawtucket Red Sox in which he allowed three runs on five hits over four innings against Syracuse. In all, the Sox’€™ hurler has made three rehab starts, two for the PawSox, and one a simulated game against Gulf Coast League hitters.

‘€œReally good,’€ said Beckett when asked about his analysis of Saturday’€™s start. ‘€œI actually thought the worst inning was the best I felt in terms of the way I was throwing and stuff like that.’€

Regarding what he wants to get out of his side session Tuesday, and how it might be different from a normal in-between-start bullpen session, Beckett explained, ‘€œIt’€™s just making the adjustments from pitch to pitch instead of taking two or three pitches to make the adjustments.’€

If Beckett does pitch Friday, it will be 72 days since he last took the mound, when he re-injured his back on May 18 in Yankee Stadium.

Closing Time: Rangers 4, Red Sox 2

07.18.10 at 4:35 pm ET
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The Red Sox faced another tough lefty starter but this time they had no ninth-inning magic. C.J. Wilson fanned a career-best 10 batters and the Rangers scratched out eight hits and three runs off Jon Lester as the Rangers beat the Red Sox, 4-2, at Fenway Park to take three-of-four from Boston in the weekend series.

The Red Sox must now find a way to regroup as they face the daunting task of playing 10 straight against A.L. West foes Oakland [3], Seattle [4] and Los Angeles [3].

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The game was played on a sunny day at Fenway, with day being the operative word. The team has played 24 day games in 2010, winning just nine of them. The glare seems to bother these Red Sox, especially when they’re facing a tough lefty like they did on Sunday. Wilson struck out a career-high 10, including David Ortiz twice. It’s no disgrace as Wilson has now faced left-handed batters 97 times this season, allowing nine hits and striking out 26.

Wilson allowed only three hits in allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings. He biggest inning came in the sixth when he allowed a leadoff double by Marco Scutaro. But Darnell McDonald grounded out, David Ortiz flew out to left. And following a walk to Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre whiffed on a 2-2 pitch.

“Obviously, a leadoff double isn’t like a fun thing to pitch around,” Wilson said. “Today was just good day for me, I guess.”

– The offense, for the fourth straight game, could not sustain any prolonged attack. One reason, they simply blew chance after chance when given a free pass to first, six to be exact on the day. WEEI.com’s Gary Marbry reports that Red Sox had won 20 straight at Fenway when they receive at least six walks. Ironically, their last such loss: June 5, 2009 vs Texas.

“I walked just enough guys for them to swing, I guess,” said Wilson, who was responsible for five of the six free passes.

Gary Darling in the 8th. Bang-bang call at the plate when Darnell McDonald‘s throw clearly beat Elvis Andrus. But Darling ruled that Kevin Cash, out to cut off the angle on the throw home, tagged Andrus on the elbow while sliding safely in with his left foot. It was a pivotal call because it put the Rangers up three, and after Saturday night, insurance proved invaluable for the Rangers. Darling would be reminded of the call for the rest of the game as the crowd booed him on nearly every pitch.

– The Red Sox couldn’t defend the double steal. With Julio Borbon on third and Andrus on first in the fifth, Andrus took off for second. Dusty Brown, starting his first big league game behind the plate, threw down to second with Marco Scutaro covering. Scutaro’s angle to the ball was too close to the bag and Borbon took off and slide home safely with the Rangers’ first steal of home in nine seasons.

– The Red Sox allowed a Little League home run. With a scorching liner to left-center, Nelson Cruz doubled home Josh Hamilton in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1-1. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the play didn’t end there. Mike Cameron‘s throw missed the cut-off man and sailed to Dusty Brown at the plate. Upon seeing that, Brown threw accurately to third to Adrian Beltre as he saw Cruz taking off when the throw went home. It would’ve been close but Beltre allowed the ball to escape far enough for Cruz to take a shot at going home, which he did safely to complete the round trip.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Jon Lester was Jon Lester again. Before flipping his gum in disgust after the eighth inning in the vague direction of home plate umpire Gary Darling, he put up eight innings, allowing four runs and nine hits. He threw 118 pitches, 75 for strikes. He allowed three walks while striking out six. He showed grit and guts despite taking just his fourth loss in 15 decisions.

Michael Bowden. The right-hander, looking to continue an impressive run from Pawtucket, had a perfect ninth with two strike outs and fly to left. It was his first appearance with the Red Sox this season and he showed no nerves as he looks for a permanent spot in the club’s bullpen.

Kevin Youkilis over .300. Youk managed to get the average to .301 with two more hits and looks ready to continue the roll on the road. The Red Sox will need it.

Mike Cameron belted a home run, his fourth, to open the ninth and start yet another ninth-inning rally. This one, however, would not end the way Saturday night’s did.

Read More: C.J. Wilson, Jon Lester, Rangers, Red Sox

Red Sox reach 600th consecutive sellout

07.18.10 at 4:13 pm ET
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Here is the team’s press release:

With a sellout in this afternoon’€™s game against the Texas Rangers, the fans of Red Sox Nation have reached 600 consecutive regular season sellout games at Fenway Park extending their record of most consecutive sellouts in baseball history.  The previous Major League Baseball record of 455, set by the Cleveland Indians between 1995-2001, was surpassed by Red Sox fans on September 8, 2008.  The record streak began on May 15, 2003, in the second year of the new ownership.

‘€œOn behalf of John Henry, Tom Werner, and our entire organization, I would like to salute the fans of Red Sox Nation who have extended their own all-time Major League Baseball record to an astonishing 600 straight sellout games,’€ said Larry Lucchino, President/CEO.  ‘€œWe congratulate them for achieving this extraordinary milestone and for the passion and dedication they have for the game, for their team, and for their ballpark.  We will continue to work hard to ensure that we are worthy of their loyal and steadfast support.’€

The Red Sox players and coaches recognized the fans of Red Sox Nation for their significant accomplishment by tossing commemorative baseballs into the Fenway Park crowd at the start of Sunday’€™s game.  Ownership, ushers and other staff members also distributed the commemorative baseballs to fans throughout the game.

LONGEST RECORDED REGULAR SEASON SELLOUT STREAKS IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

No.     Team                                                  Years
600*   Boston Red Sox                                  2003-2010
455      Cleveland Indians                               1995-2001
203      Colorado Rockies                               1995-1997

LONGEST RECORDED REGULAR SEASON SELLOUT STREAKS IN AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS HISTORY

No.     Team                                               Years
744     Portland Trailblazers (NBA)              1977-1995
600*   Boston Red Sox (MLB)                     2003-2010
407     Colorado Avalanche (NHL)              1995-2006

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