|Angels Pitching Update||04.10.09 at 11:32 pm ET|
The Angels have announced there starters for the rest of the series.
Joe Saunders will pitch tomorrow against Brad Penny. Saunders is 1-0 this season with a 0.00 ERA. He pitched 6.2 scoreless innings against Oakland in the win.
Dustin Moseley will go Sunday against Josh Beckett. Moseley has a career 8.10 ERA against the Red Sox.
|First 3 from Anaheim||04.10.09 at 11:21 pm ET|
After 3 innings in Anaheim the Angels have a 3-1 lead. Tim Wakefield hasn’t had great command of the knuckleball early allowing 3 ER, 3 walks, 4 hits and 1 hit batsman. The Angels threatened in the first two innings leaving three men on in the 1st and two men on in the 2nd. With runners on the corners, Wake managed to get Vlad Guerrero to ground into a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom half of the 2nd ending the inning. After three innings Wakefield has thrown 59 pitches, 32 for strikes.
George Kottaras seems to be handling the knuckle ball well. Francona said before the game that George has great hands and really was impressed by all the hard work he put in during spring training. Tonight is Kottaras’ first big league start.
In the top of the 3rd Ellsbury got on with a single and then stole his second base of the season. David Ortiz blasted a Jared Weaver pitch to dead center for a sac fly and his first RBI of the season. Dustin Pedroia was left on after a walk and his first stolen base of the season.
|Heavy hearts for Halos, Red Sox||04.10.09 at 7:55 pm ET|
(By Joe Zarbano, WEEI.com correspondent)
ANAHEIM — The news regarding the death of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart dominated the scene before the Angels and the Red Sox, Friday night, with fans leaving a make-shift memorial outside Angel Stadium. Before the game Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke at length regarding how difficult it is for both sides to deal with such a tragedy, which reverberated through what Francona calls the “fraternity” of baseball.
The schedule of pre-game events honoring Adenhart are as follows: 10:02 (EST) Adenhart video; 10:04, Moment of silence; 7:05, Adenhart family to throw out first pitch.
In game-related news, Francona reported that outfielder/first baseman Mark Kotsay (back) took grounders, ran, and took batting practice, but no timetable has been set for his return to the major league team. In other rehab news, John Smoltz (shoulder) will throw a bullpen in Oakland Wednesday in front of the Sox manager and pitching coach John Farrell, with a planned trip to Fort Myers to follow. Julio Lugo (knee) is currently in Fort Myers and continues to conduct conduct the same sort of mobility drills he was executing at Fenway Park this week.
Wearing their new alternate blue road uniforms in Anaheim against the Angels, the Red Sox will trot out the following lineup: Ellsbury CF, Pedroia 2B, Ortiz DH, Youkilis 1B, Drew RF, Bay LF, Lowell 3B, Lowrie SS, Kottaras C. For the Angels: Figgins 3B, Kendrick 2B, Abreu LF, Guerrero DH, Hunter CF, Morales 1B, Matthews RF, Napoli C, Aybar SS. Jeff Weaver will get the start for Los Angeles, with Tim Wakefield pitching for the Sox.
|9th Inning: Red Sox rally falls short||04.09.09 at 5:16 pm ET|
Though the Red Sox mounted an uprising against Rays closer Troy Percival, the distance that they had to travel due to the dominance of Tampa Bay starter Matt Garza and the struggles of Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka proved too great a challenge to overcome. Boston scored a run, but fell a run short in enduring a 4-3 loss to the Rays.
The Sox were almost denied the opportunity to rally thanks to the struggles of another one of their pitchers in the ninth. For the second straight outing, Hideki Okajima had no command, walking three Rays. He has now walked four and hit a batter while recording just one out. After Okajima walked the bases full, Justin Masterson came on to face Gabe Kapler, who sent a fly towards the triangle that Jacoby Ellsbury raced back to catch on the lip of the warning track.
With a two-run lead, the Rays went to Percival, the former smoke-thrower who now, as a 39-year-old, succeeds on the basis of smoke and mirrors. Percival threw four pitches, all fastballs, to leadoff man Jason Varitek. On the fourth, Varitek elevated the ball into a jet stream, clubbing his second homer of the year, both of which came left handed. As mentioned here, the Sox captain hit only two homers in his final 252 left-handed plate appearances of the 2008 season.
But the Sox could come no closer than the 4-3 margin. Jacoby Ellsbury, who took a 3-1 pitch that he thought was ball four, instead flied out after the pitch was called for a strike. Dustin Pedroia smashed a grounder to third that Evan Longoria consumed for the second out. David Ortiz (a career .083 hitter against Percival entering Thursday) walked, setting the table for the scorching hot Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis, who had reached in all four of his plate appearances (walk, two singles and a double) flied to the Triangle for the final out, concluding the Sox’ 4-3 loss in the rubber game of the series.
All things considered, it was an extremely impressive way for the Rays to begin their defense of the A.L. pennant. Tampa Bay received dominant starts from both Matt Garza and Scott Kazmir and showed the potential to create a number of solid bullpen match-ups against hitters in the late innings. The offense was perhaps even more impressive, flashing impressive power with five homers (two by Evan Longoria) that the team complemented with an aggressive style on the bases.
“It’s important you stress out the other team on a lot of different levels,” Rays skipper Joe Maddon said before the game. “There’s more power to this team than people believe…We want to be able to win games in different ways. We have a nice balance.”
For the Sox, the dominant outing by Josh Beckett in the season opener was the obvious highlight of the series. So, too, was the potential depth of a bullpen that possesses outrageously good stuff, as evidenced by the fact that Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez were employed as the low men on the totem pole over the three days. Aside from Kevin Youkilis, who is 8-for-11, and Varitek, who has two homers and a number of loud outs, few members of the Sox are enjoying consistently good results at the plate. Of course, a trip to the warmth of the West Coast might prove the needed tonic on that front.
|8th inning: Lowell Lays Out||04.09.09 at 4:40 pm ET|
Naturally, there were questions about Mike Lowell’s defensive agility. Coming off of surgery to repair his torn hip labrum last offseason, the third baseman is still working to regain his speed (not that there was much to begin with). But judging by the play he made in the top of the eighth, his first-step quickness and instincts dd not suffer from the surgery.
With one out, Jason Bartlett ripped a ball down the third-base line. Lowell leapt to his right and speared the ball before tumbling to the ground. The excellent play not only reaffirmed Lowell’s defensive abilities, but also allowed Ramon Ramirez to sail through an impressive outing. Ramirez struck out Aki Iwamura with a nasty 90 mph slider (incorrectly deemed a fastball on the stadium board), concluding an outing in which he needed just 13 pitches to record five outs.
The Sox received something of a reprieve in the bottom of the inning, with Brian Shouse replacing Matt Garza. Shouse was born in Effingham, Ill., which sounds like a euphemism of some sort. Shouse overlapped with Hersey Hawkins at Butler. Suffice it to say that the man who led the nation in scoring in college hoops was more prominent than the guy who became a southpaw specialist.
Shouse shattered the bat of David Ortiz on an inning-opening groundout, then gave up a single to Kevin Youkilis. No shame there: Youkilis is now 8-for-11 on the year.
The Sox first baseman advanced to second when Shouse got J.D. Drew to ground to first. Shouse’s work against the Sox left-handers concluded, Rays skipper Joe Maddon summoned Joe Nelson from his bullpen. Nelson, possessor of a 2004 World Series ring due to his three games with the Sox, walked Jason Bay and allowed a two-out double to left-center by Mike Lowell that scored Youkilis to make the game a 4-2 affair.
Lowell, representing the tying run, was replaced at second by pinch-runner Nick Green (making his Red Sox debut). Nelson, whose signature pitch is a changeup called “the Vulcan” for the spread of his four fingers while gripping the ball, then faced Jed Lowrie with the game in the balance.
Lowrie, just 1-for-10, worked to a full count as Nelson through change after change. But on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Nelson flung an 89 mph fastball over the inside corner. Lowrie swung through it, ending the threat.
Rays 4, Red Sox 2
|7th inning: Garza!||04.09.09 at 4:15 pm ET|
Manny Delcarmen stays in the game, in the process becoming the first Red Sox reliever to have an appearance spanning multiple innings this season. (The right-hander came on with a man on second and one out in the top of the sixth.) Delcarmen started the inning by walking both Carlos Pena and Willy Aybar, prompting Ramon Ramirez to loosen in the Boston bullpen. For the second straight day, it appears that Delcarmen and Ramirez – pitchers with the credentials of top set-up men or closers – are the ones summoned with the Sox trailing.
Delcarmen remained on the hill to face Matt Joyce with runners on first and second and no outs. That decision, no doubt, reflected the fact that Delcarmen (on the strength of an excellent changeup) held lefties last year to a .190 average and .275 OBP, compared to Ramirez, whom lefties tagged for a .300 average and .370 OBP in 2008.
Delcarmen retired Joyce on a fly to center (Pena tagging and advancing to third), resulting in Ramirez’ entry to face Gabe Gross. Though Gross was 1-for-1 off of Ramirez with a double, the move worked as well as Sox manager Terry Francona could have hoped. Gross bounced a comebacker on the first pitch he saw, resulting in an inning ending 1-6-3 double play.
For the Rays, Matt Garza returns to the bump for the seventh, 95 pitches already under his belt. Tampa Bay has been aggressive with the pitch counts of their starters the last two days, something that comes as at least a slight surprise given that the team’s season was a month longer than expected last year, and the team had taken precautions this spring to scale back the pitchers’ workloads. (The members of the rotation went a week or two into the Grapefruit League season before making their first starts.)
That said, not all 95-pitch outings are created equal. Garza has had few high-stress innings, no doubt playing into the decision to leave him in the game.
And a good decision it proved to be. Jason Varitek led off with a first-pitch dribbler in front of the plate that Garza grabbed and fired to first for the out. Jacoby Ellsbury was caught looking at a fastball on the inside corner, striking out with the bat on his shoulder (against a fastball, no less) for the second time of the game. And, finally, Dustin Pedroia flied harmlessly to center.
Garza, the 2008 ALCS MVP, has been a great pitcher against A.L. East opponents. He entered today with a 12-6 record and 3.13 ERA in the division, compared to marks of 7-16 and 4.66 against everyone else. It makes no sense, but the pattern appears to be continuing today, through seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball.
Rays 4, Red Sox 1
|6th inning: Daisuke Done||04.09.09 at 3:44 pm ET|
Akinori Iwamura will soon be demoted to the eighth or ninth spot in the Rays batting order, once B.J. Upton returns from the disabled list. That impending demotion speaks to the strength of a Rays lineup that has been showing some of its muscle today.
Iwamura continued an excellent season-opening series by hammering a double off the Monster, missing a homer by just a foot. The pop led to Daisuke Matsuzaka‘s departure from the game. Manny Delcarmen extinguised the threat to keep the game at 4-0.
Matsuzaka’s final line accurately represented his struggles: 5.1 innings, 9 hits (more than in any game in 2008), four runs (all earned), four walks, five strikeouts and three homers. The longball total matched a career worst for Matsuzaka.
As the Sox get ready to bat in the bottom of the sixth, this from Gary from Chapel Hill:
“The Red Sox have won only 6 of their last 30 games (dating back to mid-’07) when they’ve had 2 or fewer hits and no runs through 5 innings.”
Apparently, the statistical pessimism helped to ignite the Sox, who doubled their hit total and scored their first run off of Garza in the sixth. Kevin Youkilis (7-for-10) led off with a double and scored on a one-out Jason Bay Triangle Triple. But Bay was stranded there, as Mike Lowell lined out to second and Jed Lowrie flied to left.
Rays 4, Red Sox 1
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