|Red Sox-Indians series preview||05.23.13 at 10:53 am ET|
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will make his return to Fenway Park on Thursday night when he and his first-place Indians make their only trip of the year to Fenway Park.
It should be an emotional return for the manager, who spent eight years at the helm of the Sox, winning two World Series in Boston and bringing the team to the playoffs four times during his tenure.
“I’m sure I’ll have a lot of emotions,” Francona said on Wednesday. “The one thing I want to remind myself — and I have — is that this game is tough enough to play and I don’t want our guys having extra baggage during that series. I need to be very cognizant of that, that whatever feelings I’m having, I’ll deal with ‘em.”
The Red Sox have already taken on Francona’s Indians, sweeping Cleveland in a three-game set back in April. But things have been going considerably better for the Tribe since the Sox last saw them; they sit a half-game above the Tigers in the AL Central, having their lead cut from 2½ games after dropping both games of a two-game set against Detroit. The Indians have gone 20-10 since their series with the Red Sox, and 12-6 in the month of May. Prior to the series against Detroit, the Indians completed a four-game sweep of the Mariners, winning three of the four in walk-off fashion.
The Red Sox are coming home after a successful road trip in which they went 6-3, taking two of three against the Rays, sweeping the Twins, and salvaging the final game of the series against the White Sox after dropping the first two contests. A Yankees loss on Wednesday put the Red Sox within a half-game of the division leads and 2½ games above the third-place Orioles.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set.
Thursday: Ryan Dempster (2-4, 4.27) vs. Zach McAllister (3-3, 2.65)
Friday: John Lackey (2-4, 3.31) vs. Justin Masterson (7-2, 2.83)
Saturday: Jon Lester (6-1, 3.15) vs. Scott Kazmir (2-2, 6.35)
Sunday: Felix Doubront (3-2, 5.61) vs. Corey Kluber (3-3, 5.19)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia has enjoyed solid offensive production over the course of this month, batting .313/.377/.542 in 16 games this May. The catcher went 3-for-9 in the series against the White Sox, hitting his fifth home run of the year on Monday night. He also caught two runners stealing in the last game of the series, double the amount of runners he had thrown out before Wednesday night.
|Ben Cherington on D&C: In-season contract talks with Jacoby Ellsbury unlikely||05.23.13 at 9:52 am ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, in an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, said that the Red Sox have talked at various points with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury about the possibility of something other than a one-year deal. However, each time, the team and player elected to agree to a one-year contract that avoided an arbitration hearing but that kept Ellsbury moving on a path towards free agency after the 2013 season. And now, in a season where Ellsbury has shown some recently promising offensive signs (reaching base in six of his last seven plate appearances) but has mostly struggled en route to a .249/.318/.340 line, Cherington suggested that the Sox expect that the team will not engage in contract talks with the 29-year-old until after the season.
“Because Ellsbury has gone through arbitration the last three years, there’s been an opportunity to talk to [agent Scott Boras] and Jacoby each of those years in the winter before spring training or early in spring training about his status. And each of those years we’ve signed a one-year deal and settled his arb case before it went to a hearing.
But during those talks, you talk about a lot of things. You talk about other options, other contract options, other sorts of scenarios,” said Cherington. “We’ve had those conversations. It’s just, in this case, we agreed before the season that we would defer it until the end of the season. That’s our expectation right now. You never say never. Things can change. But our expectation is we pick up the conversation after the season.”
As far as Ellsbury’s struggles, the GM suggested that there is reason to believe that the center fielder is in line for a turnaround.
“It’s a combination of things, and some of this is speculation, but we’ve seen a lot of lefties already early in the year. … He’s been a little bit unlucky on balls in play — hit some balls right at people,” said Cherington. “There’s nothing really alarmingly different in the underlying numbers — the strikeout percentage and the swing-and-miss rate. He’s still compact. He’s still doing a lot of things that he’s always done well. He’s healthy, the bat speed is there, the tools are there — he just looks to me like a guy who’s going to get hot at some point and we’ll stop talking about it. By far, the best outcome for all of us is for Jacoby to feel good, be productive in the leadoff spot. That helps him, helps us win games and I still think that’s going to happen.”
Whereas Ellsbury’s track record — and the similarities between the aforementioned underlying fundamentals this year and in previous seasons — gives the Sox optimism, the struggles of Will Middlebrooks — hitting .203/.236/.413 this year — are different. He doesn’t have the same established big league track record spanning multiple seasons, and he’s enduring a spike in his strikeout and swing-and-miss rate.
Still, Cherington expressed optimism that the 24-year-old will work his way through an early-career player development struggle to become a steady, meaningful contributor. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Clay Buchholz dominates, leading Red Sox to 6-2 win over White Sox||05.22.13 at 11:27 pm ET|
For most of Wednesday night, the Red Sox offense was utterly subdued by White Sox pitching. Yet even before Boston broke out its lumber and blew open the game in the final two innings, the offensive shortcomings proved irrelevant thanks to the (once-again) masterful work of Clay Buchholz, who dominated in Boston’s 6-2 road win at U.S. Cellular Field.
David Ortiz drove in a pair of Red Sox runs with a bloop single in the first inning, and that was all Buchholz (7-0) needed as he only allowed one run and five hits with four strikeouts and three walks over seven innings pitched (113 pitches). He didn’t have his best stuff, working through some jams and holding White Sox hitters 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Buchholz earned his first decision in his last four starts, as he had been stuck at six wins since May 1. The 28-year-old is now tied with Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish and Indians pitcher Justin Masterson for second in the American League in wins, and leads the league with a 1.73 ERA.
“I felt good overall,” Buchholz told reporters. “Had that little first-inning wait. I couldn’t really get into sync there and I walked a couple guys. I felt like I threw some good pitches and didn’t get the benefit of the doubt on the call. Battled through that with a couple good defensive plays. After that, I felt pretty good. Got the ground balls when I wanted but they weren’t hit hard enough to turn two. I was definitely still fortunate to give up one run to a team like that.”
The start has been spectacular but not fluky. Over the last full calendar year, dating to last May 22, Buchholz has a 2.84 ERA (tied with Felix Hernandez for the second best among AL starters, minimum 162 innings). Since the start of last year, he has 20 starts of at least seven innings permitting two or fewer runs, tied for the third most in the AL during the span.
“He had to pitch around some men on base. He continued to take his time and make quality pitches,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell regarding Buchholz. “He put a number of balls on the ground that, for whatever reason, whether it was the soft grounds, didn’t have the pace that normally are turned to double plays that might have prevented some of that pitch count that got up there. he kept us in check, [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] with two outstanding throws to second base to cut down would-be baserunners. A solid performance on his part once again.”
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox lineup: Jacoby Ellsbury remains atop order; Shane Victorino out||05.22.13 at 4:11 pm ET|
CHICAGO – Coming off a one-hit, one-walk performance Tuesday night, Jacoby Ellsbury remains atop the Red Sox’ lineup with the Red Sox going up against lefty Hector Santiago. (Santiago is filling in for Chris Sale, who was scratched due to shoulder tendonitis.)
Shane Victorino is out of the lineup for a second straight game, still battling a hamstring issue suffered in the sixth inning Monday.
“Shane is not in the lineup again tonight, but he’s gaining mobility,” Farrell told WEEI Wednesday afternoon. “The soreness that he felt the other night after he came out of the game continues to subside, so he’s moving in the right direction, and hopefully, he’s back in our lineup soon.
“My view is it’s always going to be a game or two, and hopefully, that will be the case. I think the thing we have to balance here, as everyone well knows, is that over the past three weeks, it’s been on-again, off-again, and we need to continue to factor that in and not look to risk anything where, again, we’re looking at a day-to-day situation. I’m not saying the DL is imminent, but the fact is that he’s better today than he was two nights ago, which is all good news.”
Here is the lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Jonny Gomes LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Daniel Nava RF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Stephen Drew SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Clay Buchholz P
|John Farrell offers updates on health of Shane Victorino, David Ross||05.22.13 at 3:33 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell gave a heath update on outfielder Shane Victorino, infielder Stephen Drew and catcher David Ross on Wednesday
“Shane is not in the lineup again tonight, but he’s gaining mobility,” Farrell told WEEI. “The soreness that he felt the other night after he came out of the game continues to subside, so he’s moving in the right direction, and hopefully, he’s back in our lineup soon.
“My view is it’s always going to be a game or two, and hopefully, that will be the case. I think the thing we have to balance here, as everyone well knows, is that over the past three weeks, it’s been on-again, off-again, and we need to continue to factor that in and not look to risk anything where, again, we’re looking at a day-to-day situation. I’m not saying the DL is imminent, but the fact is that he’s better today than he was two nights ago, which is all good news.
“Stephen Drew is back playing every day. He jarred the back on that headfirst slide on the double back in Minnesota. He is doing good there,” Farrell added. “David Ross, we’re hopeful he will be in Portland tomorrow to get some at-bats and … we’ll just have to go through the normal protocol with MLB when it comes to concussions. So there’s some lengthy paperwork as you might expect to get that taken care of. But we’re hopeful that he’ll be back for us during the Cleveland series.”
|John Farrell: Jacoby Ellsbury will remain in leadoff spot for now||05.22.13 at 3:28 pm ET|
Making his weekly appearance with “Salk & Holley” Wednesday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that struggling outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will remain in the leadoff spot “for the immediate time, right now.”
“I’m not going to say that that would be the case forever,” Farrell said. “But our goal is to get him going — it’s happened to him before where he was dropped down in the order to get his legs back underneath him and get him going. That has certainly not been ruled out. For now, he still remains in that leadoff spot.
“What I don’t want to do — and I mentioned this a number of times — I don’t want to go through a complete revamping, turning the lineup upside down and shifting two or three guys to the front of the order and replacing those guys in that six or seven slot area. Again, trying to get the highest on-base guys at the top of the order based on matchups as to how guys are going. Some people might point to Daniel Nava as a primary one- or two-hole hitter, but he’s done such a good job for us in that six-hole of driving in runs and hitting for power, plus getting on base … it’s not just ‘Hey, take this guy out of the slot and he becomes a different hitter just because we get him from the one-hole to the six- or seven-hole.’”
Farrell said Ellsbury has done his due diligence when it comes to trying to break out of his slump.
“There’s some inconsistency in timing, no doubt about it,” Farrell said. “It’s encouraging that last night, he gets on two times, one by a walk and one by a base hit up the middle. He’s working with Craig Colbrunn obviously — early work, extra BP. I don’t necessarily think … I know a lot of people are going to say ‘Well, he’s got pending free agency, and that’s the elephant in the room that’s weighing him down.’ I don’t get that sense. I think it’s human nature [to look at] what lies ahead. But Jake has always been a guy that, when adjustments are recommended, they take some time for him to incorporate, and we’re going through that right now.
“When you compare video from this year to 2011 when he had the big year, fundamentally, you’re going to see the same mechanics, the same swing. Where things are different — and for any hitter, the most important thing is seeing the baseball. If he’s seeing it, typically, he’s going to be on time. And sometimes, some of the thoughts that might creep in there — whether that’s frustration, whether it’s from trying to execute a certain swing, those thoughts might interrupt that link from seeing the ball to executing the swing. I think that’s where we’ve seen the inconsistency come from — he’s trying to get it right. Sometimes, by trying harder, you get less benefits from the efforts you’re putting in.”
For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.
|Wednesday’s Red Sox-White Sox matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Hector Santiago||05.22.13 at 1:55 pm ET|
The Red Sox will look to salvage the final game of the series against the White Sox behind the undefeated Clay Buchholz. He’ll be opposed by left-hander Hector Santiago.
There’s not a lot to say about Buchholz that hasn’t already been said. He’s been incredibly consistent through his nine starts, allowing more than two earned runs only once and going seven innings or more in eight outings. He comes into his 10th start of the year with the lowest ERA in the American League at 1.78 and a 6-0 record, though Buchholz has gone winless in his last three starts. He gave up two earned runs on four hits and three walks in his last outing against the Twins, going seven innings and fanning nine. The Red Sox couldn’t push across the go-ahead run until the top of the 10th inning, earning Buchholz his third no-decision in as many starts.
But Buchholz is far from frustrated about failing to pick up wins despite delivering dominant pitching performances. “Team wins. That’s what this game’s about. There’s absolutely no disappointment,” the righty said after his last start. The Sox have won all but one game that Buchholz has started in 2013.
Buchholz hasn’t had a lot of success when facing the White Sox over the course of his career, entering the game with a 1-2 record and 5.02 ERA in five games against Chicago. His last outing against the club was a gem, however. Buchholz threw eight innings, allowing only one run on six hits while walking one. Paul Konerko has given Buchholz some trouble in the past, going 6-for-12 against the right-hander with a home run and a double.
White Sox ace Chris Sale was initially slated to take on the Red Sox in the last game of the three-game set, but a case of tendinitis in his left shoulder (his throwing arm) will sideline him. Sale, who is 5-2 with a 2.53 ERA on the year, is expected to miss only one start.
Taking the mound in his place will be Santiago, who will be pitching on only three days rest. Santiago went 3 1/3 innings on Saturday, giving up three runs on four hits and four walks, but had to use 80 pitches to get through the outing. The 25-year-old is relatively new to the White Sox rotation; he made seven relief appearances before getting his first start on May 2. Out of the bullpen, Santiago owned a 2.51 ERA in 14 1/3 innings, while he has pitched to the tune of a 2.95 ERA as a starter in 2013 over 21 1/3 innings.
The Red Sox have only seen Santiago once before, last season in a three-inning relief appearance. In the outing, Santiago allowed two earned runs on two hits and a walk while striking out two. The lefty spent the majority of 2012 pitching in relief for Chicago, with the exception of four starts, all coming in the last month of the season.
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