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Fenway Unfaithful-O’s Scott rips fans

04.20.09 at 3:55 pm ET
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Baltimore Orioles left fielder Luke Scott ripped the fans at Fenway Park following a 12-1 Red Sox win that completed a four-game sweep of Scott’s Orioles. ‘€œGlad to get out of here with negative people,” Scott said. “Just a lot of trash talking, a lot of vulgarity. It just takes away from the game.’€

During the eighth inning, a fan threw a foul ball back over the Orioles dugout and into the field of play while Javier Lopez was pitching.

That’s not to say that Scott didn’t have criticism of his own team. As a matter of fact, he essentially blamed his pitchers, especially relievers, for getting swept out in the embarrassing four-game set.

‘€œWe didn’€™t pitch well, except for yesterday, but at the same time, the last two days we ran into really good pitching,” Scott said. “When we score runs, we’€™ve got to have guys hold it on the mound. When guys are struggling on the mound, we’€™ve got to pick up the slack and swing the bats. It’€™s a tough league, tough game, so we’€™ve got to make the adjustment.’€

The series began ominously for Baltimore on Friday night when they scored seven in the second and jumped out to a 7-0 lead, only to lose, 10-8.

Read More: Fenway Park, Luke Scott, MLB, Orioles

Lowrie expected to undergo surgery

04.20.09 at 3:34 pm ET
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Shortstop Jed Lowrie met with Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona this morning, his fifth medical consultation since landing on the disabled list last Monday, following three appointments in Boston and one with Dr. Thomas Graham of the Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore. After the meeting with Sheridan, it seems likely that Lowrie will undergo surgery to fix the non-displaced fracture in his left wrist.

“I think there’s a pretty good chance that he’s going to have a surgery in the next day or so, but we’re still having some internal discussions,” said manager Terry Francona. “In saying that, I think it’s pretty good news. I think the medical people think even with the surgery that he would be having, he could be palying by the All-Star break. That’s where we’re at today. We’ll obviously know more today or tomorrow.”

Julio Lugo, meanwhile, came through some tests in front of Red Sox medical personnel without incident, and so will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday.

9th inning: Hunter Jones’ debut

04.20.09 at 2:20 pm ET
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Hunter Jones had not been in a game before today, but he had been up in the bullpen. By his own admission, the adrenaline when he got up in the second inning of what looked like a blowout on Friday was almost overwhelming. That being the case, he felt grateful for the chance to warm up but not enter the game, so that he could know what he was dealing with in terms of adrenaline in a major-league setting.

Today, Jones – who had a wild cross-country adventure trying to get to Oakland on Wednesday – made his major-league debut, entering for the top of the ninth of a 12-1 game against the Orioles. The left-hander – signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005 – made good on the opportunity. He got a pair of groundouts from Luke Scott and Gregg Zaun and then, after third baseman Gil Velazquez threw away what should have been the final out of the game, Jones got a pop to left from Jason Bay.

He now enters the Baseball Encyclopedia with a clean inning next to his name.

Red Sox win, 12-1.

8th Inning: Javier Lopez searches for the meaning of himself

04.20.09 at 2:13 pm ET
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I don’t believe that Javier Lopez — a well-spoken and thoughtful product of the University of Virginia (wa-hoo-wa) — is terribly obsessed with metaphysical or ontological concerns, but surely there is a part of him that must wonder what, exactly, his current purpose is on the Red Sox staff.

Lopez entered the top of the eighth, his seventh game of the year. His role has been as the last man in for most of those:

In his first four games, he entered when the Red Sox were trailing, mostly by healthy margins.

In his fifth game, he was brought in for the 12th inning of a tie game against the A’s after every other bullpen option had been exhausted. He lost the game.

In his sixth game, he entered a tie game in the sixth inning. He failed to retire either of the two batters he faced (walk, single).

Today, he entered for the eighth inning of a game that his team was leading 12-1.

Lopez had a relatively smooth inning, recording three outs after a leadoff double by Brian Roberts. But here’s the issue for Lopez: the depth of the bullpen allows the Sox to use both Hideki Okajima and Manny Delcarmen in leveraged situations against left-handers. Lopez’ role in that universe becomes a bit unclear.

That is not to suggest that he’s not a good pitcher – his 2008 season was excellent, with a 2.43 ERA reflecting a very effective option. But so long as the Sox have a full complement of healthy relievers, most of his outings could come in situations of limited importance.

The Sox went quickly in the bottom of the eighth. Hunter Jones comes on to make his big-league debut in the top of the ninth as the Sox look to conclude a four-game sweep over the O’s.

7th Inning: Plucking Bird Feathers

04.20.09 at 1:53 pm ET
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Manny Delcarmen stays on against an Orioles lineup that is well suited to the reliever’s strengths. The Orioles featured seven left-handed or switch-hitters in today’s lineup. And, of course, Delcarmen thrives against those who bat from the port side of the plate. Entering today, left-handers were just 1-for-14 (.071) against Delcarmen, while right-handers were 4-for-11 (.364). A year ago, Declarmen held lefties to a .190 average and measly .544 OPS, while righties hit him for slightly better marks of .218 / .658.

Delcarmen threw fastballs on 15 of his 16 pitches while facing three batters in the sixth. Luke Scott flied to center, Gregg Zaun walked and Robert Andino flied to right. His day was done after four outs, which included the crucial double play by Wigginton in the top of the sixth. Delcarmen is now up to 8.1 scoreless innings to start the year.

Delcarmen was replaced by Hideki Okajima, who made quick work of Felix Pie with a three-pitch strikeout. Okajima, who seemed incapable of preventing inherited runners from scoring last year, has now done just that with all three of his inherited runners this year.


Radhames Liz comes on for the Orioles. Right now, an Orioles pitcher must feel queasy anytime a ball is put in play. Then again, the Orioles fielders could be forgiven for feeling queasy at the sight of Liz on the mound: he enters today with a 36.00 ERA.

The two conflagratory elements of Liz pitching and the Orioles fielding came together in predictible harmony in the bottom of the seventh. Liz walked Jason Bay to start the inning, and Mike Lowell bounced a double (pardon me if you’ve heard this refrain – a difficult but makeable play for Robert Andino at third) down the left-field line. Luke Scott misplayed the ball in the corner, allowing Bay to score from first.

(The Orioles, by the way, entered today having allowed 15 unearned runs — seven more than the Angels, who rank second in the majors with seven unearned runs. The Red Sox entered today with one unearned run allowed.)

The damage wasn’t done. After Liz retired Jason Varitek, he hit Nick Green with a pitch and then allowed a run-scoring single to Jacoby Ellsbury. Dustin Pedroia followed with another run-scoring single to center, and Liz completed his day by hitting David Ortiz on the shoe with a slider. Reliever Matt Albers replaced Liz.

New pitcher, more gruesome results for the Orioles: Kevin Youkilis dumped a pop-up down the right-field line for a run-scoring single (first baseman Ty Wigginton could not make a play on a ball that fell roughly 150 feet from the plate) and Chris Carter hit a sac fly to center for his first RBI of the 2009 season. After Jason Bay collected a single for his first hit of the day (following two walks – Bay has been an on-base machine this year, having reached at a .482 clip), Mike Lowell lined a single to center. That concluded the line on Liz, whose woeful start to the season has now included a yield of 10 runs and just four outs – good for a 67.50 ERA.

Jason Varitek struck out, an almost merciful act to end the inning after six more Red Sox runs.

Javy Lopez is coming on, Gil Velazquez (who pinch-ran for Lowell) is at third, and you can bet that Hunter Jones will be making his big-league debut before this one is over.


6th Inning: Masterson out, Red Sox add on

04.20.09 at 12:52 pm ET
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Justin Masterson attacked the strike zone relentlessly, presumably part of an effort to get through the sixth with the specter of Manny Delcarmen in the bullpen looming behind him. Masterson fired four straight strikes to Cesar Izturis (the last yielding a groundout to short) and then worked Nick Markakis to an 0-2 count. But Markakis, who appears on the cusp of earning a reputation as one of the brightest young talents in the A.L., worked his way back into the count, taking a couple close pitches and then fouling off another pair. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Markakis lined a ball back up through the middle, and just over the head of Masterson.

It was the final offering of the day for Masterson, who leaves after 84 pitches, precisely 2/3s (56) of which were strikes.

Delcarmen enters with a runner on first and one out.

Sox relievers have been pretty solid in the early stages of 2009 while dealing with inherited runners, having allowed just four of 17 to score. Delcarmen has stranded one of two.

Correct that: Delcarmen has now stranded two of three inherited runners. After Aubrey Huff reached on an error by shortstop Nick Green, Green made amends by starting a 6-4-3 double play on a grounder that Ty Wigginton hit on a 94 mph fastball. Masterson’s final line checks in at 5.1 innings, four hits, one run (earned), two walks, three strikeouts, and many a congratulatory high-five in the Red Sox dugout.


The game now rests on the shoulders of the bullpens. O’s starter Mark Hendrickson departs after five innings, five hits, three runs, three walks and six strikeouts. Of his 103 pitches, the only one that was really scorched was the homer by Varitek. One could make a case that he deserved a better fate than being in position only for a loss or no decision.

Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate – part of the fleecing of the Astros in the Miguel Tejada deal – is now on. The hard-throwing right-hander made quick work of Mike Lowell (4-3 groundout) before allowing a base hit to Jason Varitek. Varitek lined a single that a diving (“falling” would be a more accurate gerund) Robert Andino failed to glove at third.

Make no mistake: the ball was hit hard, and Varitek (now batting second) deserved credit for the hit. But it was playable, yet another instance of the Orioles failing to convert a playable ball into an out. Entering today, the Orioles defense ranked dead last in the majors in defensive efficiency, having converted just 64.5 percent of balls in play into outs. They have played like the worst fielding team in baseball for their four games in Fenway.

Indeed, they continued that trend this inning. Nick Green popped out for the second out of the inning, but then a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder up the middle snuck under the glove of second baseman Brian Roberts - again, a tough play that could have been turned into an out, but that was not – for a single. With runners on first and second, Dustin Pedroia then lined a single to center (the second baseman’s third hit of the day, marking his second three-hit game of the series) to drive in Varitek.

David Ortiz then lined a ball towards the junction of the center field wall and The Wall, by the 379-foot marker in left center. Center fielder Felix Pie had a play on the ball but alligator-armed it – another tough play that the Orioles could not convert into an out. Ortiz, to the delight of his teammates, chugged into third with a triple, good for his fifth and sixth RBIs of the year. With his double and triple today, Ortiz has tripled his extra-base hit total for the first 12 games of the year.

The O’s then walked Kevin Youkilis, who now has three free passes today. Chris Carter followed with an inning-ending strikeout, this one swinging. Carter has five at-bats this year, four of them ending in strikeouts.


5th Inning: The Talented and Unflappable Justin Masterson

04.20.09 at 12:46 pm ET
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Last year, it was widely assumed that Justin Masterson could show the sort of stuff that would be impossible to replicate as a starter. His fastball velocity crept up from the 88-92 mph range as a starter to the mid-90s as a reliever. The role of reliever — in which Masterson could cut loose for one- or two-inning bursts — was thought to play a part of that.

Not so today. Masterson was still pumping mid-90s gas past the Orioles in the fifth inning. He got Robert Andino to bounce a comebacker, Felix Pie to fly to right and then struck out Brian Roberts looking on a back-door sinker that snuck over the outside corner. He threw three pitches that were between 94 and 96 mph in the inning. Though Masterson is now at 73 pitches, no one is up in the Red Sox bullpen.


Dustin Pedroia jumped on Mark Hendrickson‘s second pitch of the inning for a fly-ball double off the left-field Wall. More on the notion that he’s happy to be at home after a double that may not have reached the warning track in most parks: he hit .344 with a .911 OPS at home in 2008, and a still-excellent-but-not-quite-as-good .309 / .827 on the road.

Even with a runner on second and none out – a situation that led to an average of 1.15 runs per inning in the majors last year – the Sox could not capitalize. David Ortiz flew out to left on a curveball, and after Kevin Youkilis was intentionally walked, Chris Carter — who came on to replace the injured Rocco Baldelli in the top of the fifth — struck out looking at a fastball on the outside corner. That’s the same thing he did in his last at-bat on Saturday. Jason Bay then grounded out to short, and Hendrickson has done a good job of keeping his team in the game.

Justin Masterson returns to the mound for the 6th, but Manny Delcarmen is warming.


4th Inning: Baldelli Out

04.20.09 at 12:18 pm ET
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Rocco Baldelli, who had been dealing with leg soreness, left the game prior to the top of the fourth inning, replaced by Chris Carter in right field. The injury was described as a mild left hamstring strain.

Justin Masterson started the inning by walking Aubrey Huff on four pitches, but then recovering by getting Ty Wigginton to his into a 6-4-3 double play on a slider. Luke Scott whacked a single into right on a changeup, but Masterson rendered the hit harmless by striking out Gregg Zaun on a slider that broke over the outside corner to the left-handed Zaun. Through four, Masterson has needed just 14 pitches per inning and 56 overall. Barring a hiccup in the fifth inning, he should pitch into — or perhaps even complete — the sixth.


Mark Hendrickson has settled nicely. He retired Jason Varitek (pop to right), Nick Green (strikeout, changeup) and Jacoby Ellsbury (strikeout, fastball up-and-in) in order.

The 6-foot-10 Hendrickson enjoyed a brief basketball career with the Philadelphia 76ers. He once had this to say about the challenges of making the transition to the NBA (a league whose best two players came straight out of high school) and MLB (a game where even the best players spend years in the minors.

“Without a doubt, (the easier transition to the pros) would be basketball. You have idea what it’€™s like in the minor leagues,” said Hendrickson. “I kind of laughed when the Blue Jays gave the speech (to minor leaguers) saying, ‘€˜You’€™re professional athletes now.’€™ I just thought, these kids have no idea what it’€™s like to be a professional athlete.”

3rd Inning: Freel injured

04.20.09 at 12:11 pm ET
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Ryan Freel led off the inning for the Orioles, toting with him a most unusual stat line: an .071 average and .314 OBP thanks to one hit in 14 at-bats and five walks. Freel collected the Orioles’ first hit of the day against Justin Masterson, beating out a grounder into the hole between short and third.

That started an unfortunate succession of events for Freel, who was sacrificed to second by Felix Pie. Masterson wheeled around to try to pick off Freel, but his throw caught the Orioles utility player in the back of the helment. Freel remained on the ground, barely moving, for a couple of minutes, and had to be helped off the field by the Orioles training staff. Freel suffered a concussion as a member of the Reds in 2008, and it looks like he just absorbed another one.

He was replaced at second by pinch-runner Robert Andino, who moved to third on Brian Roberts‘ groundout to second and then scored when Cesar Izturis lined a ball that ricocheted off the glove of Mike Lowell (who was playing on the grass to take away the bunt from Izturis) and to shortstop Nick Green. Izturis beat the throw by a couple steps, permitting the Orioles their first run of the game.

Izturis stole second, with Sox catcher Jason Varitek making a terrible one-hop throw to second. Izturis likely would have stolen the base regardless, but it nonetheless had to rate as one of the worst throws of Varitek’s career. (Opponents are now 8-for-9 trying to steal on Varitek this year.) The steal was rendered harmless, however, when Nick Markakis flew out to center. Masterson is now at 44 pitches through three innings.


First, our man Gary From Chapel Hill (who has some unbelievable stuff in Nuggetpalooza about Hideki Okajima on zero days of rest) checks in with this nugget:

This is the 17th time since the start of the 2004 season that the first four Red Sox batters have reached base in the first inning of a game.  The Red Sox have won 15 of the last 16.

Good stuff.

Ortiz, who was on an 0-for-10 skid in the first inning until his first-inning double, struck out swinging at an 86 mph fastball from Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson. Kevin Youkilis followed by smashing a ball to center that Felix Pie tracked down for the second out of the inning. Hendrickson should have concluded a very tidy 1-2-3 third, but Rocco Baldelli‘s fly to right-center crashed off the glove of Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis for a three-base error.

One could imagine Orioles manager Dave Trembley swallowing hard at that sight, given his insistence that a small-market team like Baltimore cannot compete in the A.L. East if they give outs away to the potent lineups of their division.

In this instance, the consequences of Markakis’ error reinforced the point. Hendrickson issued a six-pitch walk to Jason Bay, then battled Mike Lowell for an eight-pitch strikeout on a nice curveball.

The Red Sox did not score, but Hendrickson needed 14 pitches to complete the inning after Markakis’ error. His day on the mound just became one inning shorter.


2nd inning: Varitek Unloads

04.20.09 at 11:43 am ET
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Everybody knows about Justin Masterson‘s sinker. The pitch served as his ticket to a second-round selection by the Red Sox in the 2006 draft, and then to the majors last year.

But late last year, he unveiled a four-seam fastball that has surprising velocity and, at times, good movement across the plate. He’s featuring that pitch today, having gotten leadoff man Aubrey Huff to swing and miss under a 92 mph four-seam fastball for a strikeout (presumably, Huff was anticipating a sinker), getting Ty Wigginton to fly meagerly to center on a 95 mph fastball and then, after a walk to Luke Scott, getting a groundout to second from Gregg Zaun on the sinker.

Masterson has yet to allow a hit through two innings, a not uncommon theme for the right-hander. Last year, opponents were 11-for-62 (.177) against him in the first two innings.


Jason Varitek, batting right-handed, fell into a quick hole against Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson. But after falling behind 1-2, he worked his way back to a full count, and then unloaded on a batting practice fastball (85 mph) from the Baltimore left-hander. Varitek smoked a ball into the Monster Seats for his third homer of the year and his first as a right-handed hitter.

Interestingly, seven of Varitek’s 13 homers last year came with two strikes, including four that came on full counts. This was his first homer on a two-strike pitch this year. Varitek is now batting .250, but with six of his eight hits having gone for extra bases, he now has a .976 OPS.

The Red Sox went down quickly thereafter, with Nick Green popping to first, Jacoby Ellsbury grounding out to second and Dustin Pedroia striking out swinging on a ball that was very down and very outside. One might criticize his pitch selection, except that he actually hit a similar pitch for a single in the first.


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