|Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino back in, Stephen Drew out||05.03.13 at 6:14 pm ET|
Shane Victorino returns to the Red Sox lineup Friday, playing for the first time since April 24. Victorino, who had been sidelined with inflammation in his back, is hitting .292 with a .677 OPS over 19 games. The outfielder has scored 12 runs, while stealing three bases.
Also back in the lineup for the Red Sox after taking a game off is David Ortiz. Ortiz has an extra-base hit in each of his last nine games, matching the longest such streak by a Red Sox.
Getting the start for the Red Sox will be Felix Doubront, who goes up against Rangers’ left-hander Derek Holland (1-2, 3.38 ERA).
With the lefty on the mound for Texas, shortstop Stephen Drew gets the night off, with Pedro Ciriaco starting.
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup for the first of a three-game set in Arlington, Texas:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Pedro Ciriaco SS
Felix Doubront P
|Friday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Derek Holland||05.03.13 at 2:25 pm ET|
The Red Sox and Rangers open an intriguing series on Friday, one that features two of the top teams in the league in the season’s first month. The opener will pit two young left-handers in Felix Doubront and Derek Holland.
Doubront enters at 3-0 with a 4.24 ERA. In 23 1/3 innings in April, Doubront allowed 20 hits, 13 walks and one home run while racking up an impressive 29 strikeouts. The Venezuela native has picked up the victory in each of his last three starts, while punching out eight in his last two.
He is coming off of a 6 2/3-inning effort, scattering four hits, three runs and four walks, in an 8-4 win over the Astros. Three of those walks came in a shaky two-run first frame, but Doubront settled in nicely after that.
“After the first inning, I was really focused and in the strike zone,” Doubront said. “I wasn’t thinking about my mechanics at all. Just throw the ball and get quick outs to go deep in the game. I was so proud that I did that. I flipped the switch after the first inning and I got the W.”
Doubront is 0-2 with a 10.32 ERA in 11 1/3 career innings against the Rangers. In his only 2012 start against the team, Doubront was roughed up for six earned runs in five innings and picked up the loss.
Holland is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA. He has hurled 34 2/3 innings, allowing 24 hits, nine walks and two home runs while striking out 28. In his most recent outing, Holland was strong, but no run support cost him a chance at his second win. On Saturday, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits in seven innings of work as the Rangers were defeated by the Twins, 7-2.
“He’s been pitching and throwing the ball well,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “The results aren’t there, but he’s been throwing the ball well.”
Holland has had success against the Sox in his career, going 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA. In 33 innings, he has struck out 28.
Rangers hitters have had limited experience against Doubront, but Ian Kinsler has the most success. The second baseman is 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs vs. Doubront in his career. Dustin Pedroia has struggled a bit vs. Holland, hitting just .143, but he does have one career home run vs. him.
|Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘You can’t take away’ from how well Clay Buchholz is pitching||05.03.13 at 12:49 pm ET|
MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the Red Sox’ continued early season success, the Clay Buchholz controversy and the Celtics’ bid to pull off a comeback from a three-game deficit vs. the Knicks that would be similar to the Sox’ 2004 comeback against the Yankees.
Buchholz improved to 6-0 with seven shutout innings in a victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday, but he was accused by Blue Jays analysts Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris of doctoring the baseball. Buchholz denied the charges, and he was supported by NESN Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley, who took some shots at Hayhurst and Morris.
“Bottom line is that I am on Eck’s side,” Millar said. “I like Jack Morris, but the problem is we sit back here and are judging guys. You throw out a ‘Is he cheating’ or something like that. That’s a tough thing to do unless you’ve got some facts. The bottom line is the rosin bag is there for a reason. Pitchers put it all over their hat. … It’s for the pitcher’s grip. When you’re out there with a full-on lather, they all have something. They all lick their fingers off the mound, they all do something, they go to their hair if there’s some gel in there, but it’s just for a grip. But I’ll tell you what, you can’t take away the credit that this kid’s doing right now. I’m on Eck’s side.”
Added Millar: “Let’s focus on the job that he’s doing, instead of always trying to find out how, and some cheating thing. There are guys that know how to use the baseball and pitch the baseball and throw at their spot, and what Buchholz is doing is awesome.”
The Blue Jays are in last place despite an offseason spending spree that landed some high-profile players.
“You have to have a mix that’s going to kind of jell,” Millar said. “I’m looking at that team, it’s not that jelling mix. It doesn’t make sense yet. … I’m not saying it’s not going to happen. I’m just saying right now that team doesn’t like they’re a competitive club.”
Millar, a key member of the 2004 Red Sox, said the Celtics reached out to him about making an appearance at Friday’s Game 6 and, “It would have been pretty cool,” but he already had committed to play in a golf tournament with his father in Los Angeles this weekend.
“How ironic. Same two cities, same situation going on,” Millar said. “You can’t make this stuff up. … It’s going to be an exciting night at the Garden. I wish we were there.”
|Blue Jays analyst Dirk Hayhurst: ‘Clay Buchholz still cheated’||05.03.13 at 12:18 pm ET|
Dirk Hayhurst, a former major league pitcher who is a multimedia personality in Toronto, continued Friday to accuse Clay Buchholz of doctoring baseballs while firing back at NESN Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley and Boston fans. Hayhurst made the initial accusation after Buchholz shut down the Jays on Wednesday to improve to 6-0 this season. Jays TV analyst Jack Morris joined in after listening to Hayhurst’s accusation.
During a Friday appearance on Toronto radio station Sportsnet 590 The Fan, Hayhurst insisted, “I’m not wrong” about Buchholz putting a substance on the ball, although he offered no evidence that the substance was anything other than rosin from the bag that sits behind the mound for pitchers to dry their hands and get a better grip — which is what Buchholz has said it was.
“Look, I saw Clay Buchholz going to his forearm, where there was not skin-colored something there, taking two fingers, wiping it across, massaging said cream or Stickum or slickum or whatever the popular buzzword of today is, and then using it to grip the baseball,” Hayhurst said. “That’s illegal. You can’t do that.”
Added Hayhurst: “All of these things are technical rule violations. Is he cheating? Yeah. Is most of baseball cheating? Yes. Is my observation unfounded? No.”
Hayhurst said his attack on Buchholz was not sour grapes, as some have implied.
“The irony of this is that the lowest common denominators of the world out there will immediately latch on to the record and say all of your criticisms are discounted by the fact that your team sucks,” Hayhurst said, adding: “Fact: [The Jays] suck. And Clay Buchholz still cheated.”
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Xander Bogaerts continues to affirm top prospect status; Anthony Ranaudo dominates; Christian Vazquez intrigues||05.03.13 at 11:06 am ET|
This is why Xander Bogaerts is the top prospect in the Red Sox system. At 20, he continues to out-perform much older players at an advanced level even as he continues his education in the game.
For the first time in 2013, Bogaerts went deep for Double-A Portland on Thursday, driving a first-inning, solo homer to the opposite field in right-center. The homer ended his longest fence-clearing drought (21 games) in any of his three seasons playing with Red Sox full-season minor league affiliates. It was part of a 2-for-5 day that also included a double for the 20-year-old, and although his power numbers have been a bit slower than usual to develop this year, it is hard not to be impressed by what he’s doing.
He started slowly this year, his timing disrupted by criss-crossing the globe during the World Baseball Classic and by the fact that he had limited playing time for Team Netherlands before returning to Red Sox big league camp late in the spring. Bogaerts started the year out of sync — through nine games, he hit .171 with no extra-base hits, one walk and 14 strikeouts — but subsequently made the necessary adjustments to excel.
“[The season-opening struggle] all started in spring training when he got back from the WBC. He came back and he was a little concerned about his playing time and making sure he was getting his at-bats,” said Portland manager Kevin Boles. “He felt very uncomfortable at the plate and at the time he wasn’t very confident at the plate late in spring training. That’s how much he cares, that even though the at-bats in spring training don’t count, he wanted to make sure he was right. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tom Werner on D&C: ‘Winning is the best revenge’ for Terry Francona book||05.03.13 at 9:13 am ET|
Red Sox chairman Tom Werner joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about the team’s early season success and promote Saturday morning’s Run-Walk to Home Base charity event.
Following last year’s forgettable season, the Red Sox entered 2013 with low expectations around baseball.
“I am an optimistic guy, and we certainly thought we were going to do much better than we did last year,” Werner said. “We were amused at the preseason predictions. I think there were something like 41 ESPN analysts and they had 20 predicting the Toronto Blue Jays were going to win the division and I think 18 having the Rays win the division and zero having the Red Sox winning. So, it’s certainly been a very enjoyable month. And clearly, everybody is contributing.”
Werner credits the team’s new manager as the key.
“I think John Farrell, you start with how he’s turned around this pitching staff,” Werner said. “And not just Clay [Buchholz] and Jon Lester, but the back end of the rotation, it’s been terrific.”
The Red Sox stayed away from making any major splashes in free agency this past offseason, signing less-heralded players Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster to short-term deals.
“I think you guys know that we always want to win, and we have the resources to win. But you don’t necessarily win by signing those high-priced players,” Werner said. “It’s not that we cut our payroll this year. I just think we used it in a different way. We avoided the $150 million, five- or six-year contracts, the Carl Crawfords, and I think there’s another way to win.”
The turnaround comes after the ownership group was the recipient of some criticism in a book by former manager Terry Francona.
Said Werner: “Winning is the best revenge for that book, isn’t it?”
|This is not the first time Dennis Eckersley and Jack Morris haven’t seen eye-to-eye||05.03.13 at 12:50 am ET|
On Thursday, a form of ex-pitcher-on-ex-pitcher crime took place, when Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley ripped longtime American League opponent Jack Morris for comments the latter made as a Blue Jays broadcaster suggesting that Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was using an illegal substance to doctor the baseball. Eckersley suggested that Buchholz’s command of a wide range of pitches served as a rebuttal to the notion that he was using a foreign substance, and suggested on NESN that Morris’ claims to the contrary were “clueless.”
“When you throw a spitball, the ball falls off the table, and you know it right away. The hitters didn’t complain, but Jack Morris is. I think Jack Morris should zip it,” Eckersley said on NESN. “I feel sorry for Buchholz to even have to deal with this. I’m styling here, and you’re taking away from me, a guy that can’t even make it to the Hall of Fame yet, and he’s chirping over there — zip it.”
(More of Eckersley’s comments are here.)
Interestingly, this is not the first time that Eckersley and Morris have had a public — and personal — disagreement.
In 1992, when Eckersley’s Athletics played Morris’ Blue Jays in the ALCS, Morris denounced Eckersley’s conduct on the mound — most notably, his enthusiastic fist-pumping after a strikeout of an opponent — as “Little League stuff.” Prior to the following game, Eckersley and Morris spoke on the field. Eckersley offered the following account of the conversation in 1992, as recounted by numerous reports — including this one from The Associated Press — at the time.
“Who is Jack Morris, anyway?” [Eckersley] fumed. “Mr. Etiquette?” Read the rest of this entry »
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