|Closing Time: Ryan Dempster stifles Jays, Joel Hanrahan closes it out||05.02.13 at 10:31 pm ET|
Although Ryan Dempster missed out on an opportunity to make Red Sox strikeout history, he garnered something that he values even more highly: a win.
Dempster — who joined Pedro Martinez as the only two pitchers in franchise history to punch out seven or more batters in their first five starts for Boston — didn’t record his first strikeout until the fourth inning, and he finished with just four strikeouts on the night. However, while pitching to contact, after Brett Lawrie led off the first with a homer, he shut down Toronto over the duration of his six-inning outing, limiting the Jays to three singles and three walks over the duration of his efficient outing in positioning the Sox for a 3-1 victory at the Rogers Centre, on a night when he struggled early to find the strike zone.
When the Sox signed Dempster to a two-year, $26.5 million deal this offseason, he was expected to offer a reliable source of innings. Increasingly, he’s been that, with four straight outings of at least six innings.
At the same time, there were questions about how he would adapt to the AL East. With Thursday’s outing, he’s now faced all four of his divisional opponents, with a 2.34 ERA in 23 innings, 29 strikeouts and 11 walks.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
• In an unexpected turn of events, when the Red Sox looked to lock down a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning, it was Joel Hanrahan rather than Andrew Bailey who secured the save. Hanrahan tossed a scoreless ninth for the 100th save of his career, working around a leadoff single by getting an infield pop-up and a game-ending double play.
Bailey had not pitched since April 28 (with three days off); indeed, that April 28 appearance was Bailey’s only appearance since April 24, raising questions about whether there is a physical issue that has limited his availability. After the game, manager John Farrell told reporters that Bailey had been rendered unavailable due to soreness in his biceps.
“Andrew was not available. Obviously, Joel closed out tonight’s ballgame. But [Bailey has] felt some discomfort in the bicep. He got on the mound a little bit before the game yesterday and felt the discomfort. Was still there today, so he was unavailable,” Farrell told reporters.
Asked if there was concern that the issue might sideline Bailey for more than a couple of days, Farrell was optimistic.
“Hopefully not,” the manager told reporters. “He was able to put a ball in his hands, but it didn’t feel right, as he said, so we’re not going to take any chances with that, particularly with Joel being back healthy, but the most important thing is, this is a good series win.”
|Red Sox notes: Shane Victorino set to return, Daniel Bard struggles||05.02.13 at 8:45 pm ET|
The Red Sox had said all along that they were comfortable keeping Shane Victorino off the disabled list so long as, by the end of the current three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays, it looked as if he was nearing a return from his lower back strain. Mission accomplished.
Victorino took full batting practice on the field prior to Thursday’s game, and not only will he be available to play against the Rangers in the upcoming weekend series in Texas, but he’ll also be available as a bench option in the series finale against the Blue Jays.
“He tried to talk his way into the lineup today, but we’re holding him out,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “He’s available tonight, so if a game situation calls for it, he is available. Everything points towards him being back in the lineup tomorrow.
“It’ll be better news as long as we don’t have recurrence, which is why we’re taking the extra day just to be that much more cautious, but he’s done a tremendous job for us in all phases of the game,” Farrell added. “In his absence, though, we’ve gotten very good production from Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes, and it’s provided additional at-bats to those two guys to get some regular playing time and get back in the flow of things. Coming out of spring training, it’s been sporadic work. I always try to look at the silver lining in it. But getting Shane back will be a boost for us.”
Victorino, who has been out of the lineup for seven games since suffering his injury against the A’s last Wednesday, is hitting .292 with a .358 OBP and .319 slugging mark.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell: Accusations of Clay Buchholz cheating ‘unfounded’||05.02.13 at 7:14 pm ET|
However, late on Wednesday night, former big leaguer Dirk Hayhurst – now a radio show host on WFAN 590 in Toronto — suggested that Buchholz might be doctoring the baseball.
Forget the hair, I just saw video of Buchholz loading the ball with some Eddie Harris worthy slick’em painted up his left forearm. Wow.
— Dirk Hayhurst (@TheGarfoose) May 2, 2013
On Thursday, Red Sox manager John Farrell called such allegations by Hayhurst “unfounded.”
“It bothers me immensely,” Farrell told reporters. “When someone is going to make an accusation — and in this case, of cheating — because they’ve seen something on TV, he’s got rosin on his arm. Rosin was designed to get a grip. He’s got it on his arm. I’ve seen some people that have brought photographs to me. They’re false. The fact is that the guy is 6-0. He’s pitched his tail off. People are going to point to cheating? Unfounded.”
Buchholz likewise said that he’s just using rosin to grip the ball. Read the rest of this entry »
|Clay Buchholz named AL Pitcher of the Month||05.02.13 at 4:59 pm ET|
Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz was voted American League Pitcher of the Month for April, it was announced Thursday.
Buchholz compiled a perfect 5-0 record with a 1.19 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 13 walks in 37.2 innings pitched over five starts to help the Red Sox match the all-time club record with 18 wins in April (also 1998 and 2003) and close out the inaugural month with the best record in the majors at 18-8.
This is his second career Pitcher of the Month Award, previously accomplishing the honor for August 2010. Among qualifying starters in the A.L. (minimum 36.0 innings), Buchholz finished tied for first in wins, was second in ERA, was fifth in opponent batting average (.192), was tied for seventh in strikeouts and was tied for eighth in innings pitched.
For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.
|Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz sits; Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, David Ross in lineup||05.02.13 at 2:58 pm ET|
With left-hander J.A. Happ on the mound for the Blue Jays, the Red Sox will give David Ortiz his second game off since returning from the disabled list. With the slugger sitting, Mike Napoli will hit cleanup and serve as the designated hitter, while Mike Carp gets a start at first base. Meanwhile, David Ross will start his second straight contest with the Sox facing their second southpaw in as many nights.
Ross will catch Ryan Dempster, who will be looking to set a Red Sox record by recording his sixth straight game of seven or more strikeouts at the start of his run with the team. He is currently tied with Pedro Martinez for the longest such run in franchise history with five straight starts of seven or more punchouts.
RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mike Napoli, DH
Daniel Nava, RF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Mike Carp, 1B
David Ross, C
Stephen Drew, SS
Ryan Dempster, SP
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes and the Red Sox depth equation; the amazing Cecchini; Cody Kukuk’s step forward||05.02.13 at 1:07 pm ET|
Prospect rankings are funny things, sometimes possessing dubious value. After all, the exercise of affixing a numerical hierarchy to a group of prospects typically accomplishes little more than taking a snapshot of a single moment in time, glossing over the reality that player development is a dynamic, ever-changing process — sort of like a picture of a group of 10-year-olds featuring one kid who towers over the rest, but who will become the shortest one in her class by the time she turns 12.
But, viewed in the broader context of the shifts in rankings, rather than the rankings themselves, such exercises can be fascinating, and say quite a bit about not just players but an entire organization. Case in point: Matt Barnes and the Red Sox.
On Wednesday morning, one major league talent evaluator was thinking aloud about Barnes’ place in the Sox’ pitching order. Prior to spring training, most prospect rating lists had Barnes ranked at the top of the Sox’ crop of minor league arms; an occasional dissenter deemed Barnes the second best pitcher in the Sox system, behind only Allen Webster.
Now? One month into the 2013 season? The evaluator noted that if the Sox’ minor league pitchers were re-ranked, a compelling argument could be made that Barnes was the sixth best pitching prospect in the system, behind (in some order) Allen Webster, Henry Owens, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo, all of whom have shown the ability to dominate this year with more complete pitch mixes than Barnes currently possesses. The conclusion?
“If Matt Barnes is your sixth-best pitching prospect,” the evaluator noted, “then your system is in pretty interesting shape.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. J.A. Happ||05.02.13 at 9:42 am ET|
Ryan Dempster will start at Toronto’s Rogers Centre for the first time in his 16-year career on Thursday, facing J.A. Happ and the Blue Jays in the final game of the series.
Dempster has struck out at least seven batters in each of his first five starts with the Red Sox, and he’s twice fanned 10, with 43 punchouts to go with 14 walks on the year.
In his last start, against the Astros on April 26, Dempster gave up two runs on four hits over six innings, walking three and striking out 10. He’s averaged six innings per start as he’s put together a 3.30 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
Happ made his first start of this year against the Red Sox back on April 5. He struck out six and walked three over 5 1/3 innings, holding the Sox scoreless, but exited in the sixth after throwing 99 pitches to that point.
Happ allowed four and five runs in his next two starts after that one, but he has been better over his last two outings. He got a no-decision in his last start, on April 27 against the Yankees, when he allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings.
In three career starts, plus one relief appearance, against the Red Sox, Happ has a 4.91 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Those numbers are largely due to two rocky starts he made against them in 2009 and 2011, giving up five runs in each of those outings.
Originally, Happ had been scheduled to pitch the Jays’ series opener against the Mariners on Friday, but he moved up a day because of an injury to Josh Johnson.
Dempster last faced the Blue Jays in 2005, as a Cub in interleague play. None of the current Toronto hitters who have faced him at least 10 times have hit him very well. Jose Bautista, who’s seen him 12 times, is hitting .200 with one double against him.
Jacoby Ellsbury has enjoyed some success against Happ, hitting .333/.364/.556 in 11 plate appearances with two doubles.
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