|Closing Time: David Ortiz, Red Sox stay red-hot in win over Astros||04.27.13 at 10:49 pm ET|
Felix Doubront overcame a rough start to turn in a quality outing, leading the Red Sox to an 8-4 win over the Astros. The victory was the Sox’ fourth straight, and 14th in their last 19 games.
The Red Sox improve to 17-7, a win total they hadn’t reached in 2012 until May 15. The Astros’ loss also ensures the Sox will have won six of their eight series thus far this season.
Doubront lasted 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while throwing 103 pitches. After allowing two runs in the first, the lefty rebounded to not allow another score until Houston added one more in the seventh. It was the fourth time in 36 career starts he has lasted at least 6 2/3 innings, the same distance he reached in his last start.
“The one thing that we’ve seen is that many times it’s taken him a couple innings to get into the flow of the game,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell of Doubront. “That was the case again tonight. It was in spring training. Once he hits his stride, he becomes much more efficient. That was the case again tonight. Forty-one or 42 pitches after two innings, then all of a sudden you start to see those 9-to-14 pitch innings that allow him to get deeper into the game. it’s just a matter of him finding his rhythm on the mound and fortunately he was able to come through that first inning without a big number on the board.”
Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Sox:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Jacoby Ellsbury is now 3-for-5 with the bases-loaded this season after the leadoff hitter drove in the Red Sox’ first two runs via a one-out single in the second. The hit drove in both Jarrod Saltalmacchia (walk) and Will Middlebrooks, who had doubled off the top of the left field wall.
- David Ortiz notched the second second-inning bases-loaded hit for the Red Sox, rifling a double into the left field corner to score both Ellsbuy and Stephen Drew (walk). It was the designated hitter’s second hit of the game, giving him 11 hits in 14 at-bats against right-handed pitching. The hit made it 4-2 Red Sox.
- Ortiz added another RBI by lining out to left field in the fourth, scoring Daniel Nava (double). The at-bat came after Houston manager Bo Porter replaced starter Brad Peacock with lefty Travis Blackley to face the DH. Peacock finished his night allowing five runs on six hits and five walks over 3 1/3 innings.
“I think when David’s healthy, I don’t want to say it’s more focused. The fact is he has a major injury he suffered a year ago that’s behind him. We all know what type of hitter he is,” Farrell said. “You see the progression and the continued improvement the last two years, particularly against left-handed pitching. Tonight that was the case again. Blackley’s got good stuff, and the sac fly on a good fastball off the plate away — that’s not easy to do. We’re all recognizing he’s doing things that look to him to be very easy. But it’s hard to imagine or script out that he would come back and have this type of performance given the layoff.”
- Drew reached base three times, once via a seventh-inning single that plated Saltalamacchia with Red Sox’ sixth run. He also walked twice.
- After going two straight games without a hit for the first time this season, Nava bounced back a pair of hits, including a seventh-inning RBI. That single to left was followed by Dustin Pedroia’s third hit of the game, pushed the Sox’ lead to five runs. It was Pedroia’s second straight three-hit game, while seeing the second baseman now reach base in 23 of his 24 games this season.
- Jonny Gomes broke out the leather for a second straight night, saving potentially two runs by reaching up and grabbing Robbie Grossman’s line-drive just before the left field wall in the eighth inning.
“There’s been a couple times he’s entered the ballgame and he’s been challenged right away. He makes a heck of a play on a line drive right at him. If that ball gets over his head, that inning has a chance to get more interesting than it was already,” Farrell said. “He’s done an excellent job defensively in left field for us.”
- With the bases-loaded and two outs in the eighth, reliever Alex Wilson fanned the potential game-tying run, pinch-hitter Rick Ankiel. It was the lefty hitter’s 19th strikeout in 46 plate appearances.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Doubront threw 31 pitches (just 14 strikes) in the first inning, leading to an early 2-0 lead for Houston. It was the most pitches ever thrown by the lefty in a first inning. The Astros first run came when Doubront issued a bases-loaded walk to Chris Carter. (It was the fourth time in the starter’s career he has forced a runner home with a free pass.) That was followed by sacrifice fly from Ronny Cedeno.
- Mike Carp made two outs in the Red Sox’ four-run second inning.
- Daniel Bard was pulled after throwing nine pitches, eight of which were balls. He would be charged with a run after Matt Dominguez greeted Wilson with an RBI single, scoring Carlos Pena.
|Lineup: Mike Carp back in at left field for Red Sox against Brad Peacock, Astros||04.27.13 at 3:08 pm ET|
The Red Sox will be going up against Astros’ starter Brad Peacock Saturday night, with Felix Doubront taking the hill for the hosts.
Peacock, a 25-year-old righty (and former 41st-round pick of the Washington Nationals, will face a Red Sox lineup that has Mike Carp playing left field and Daniel Nava at right.
Carp is hitting .500 against righties this season (8-for-16), only behind David Ortiz (.692, 9-for-13) on the Sox.
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup in the third of a four-game set:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Daniel Nava RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Mike Carp LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Stephen Drew SS
For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes struggles again; Bryce Brentz shows discipline; Kolbrin Vitek getting squeezed?||04.27.13 at 1:41 pm ET|
Right-hander Matt Barnes gave up a career-high 11 hits, six of them for extra bases (5 doubles, 1 triple) and matched a career high by yielding six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings for Double-A Portland on Friday. In 14 innings this year, Barnes has shown power stuff — as evidenced by his 17 strikeouts in 14 innings, and his 13 swings and misses out of 83 pitches on Friday (16 percent) — but he’s also seemingly struggled with location and execution.
On Friday, he showed plenty of arm strength (sitting at 92 mph, up to 95) with good action on his curveball and changeup, but struggled to command the secondary offerings for strikes and to keep his fastball down in the zone. The result was an ugly line, something that has characterized three of Barnes’ four outings to date this year. He’s given up 14 runs in his 14 innings, with opponents owning a .387/.449/.581 line against him.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Portland manager Kevin Boles will join Down on the Farm on Sunday to discuss Michael Almanzar‘s emergence as a late-blooming prospect as a 22-year-old in Double-A. He’ll also discuss a number of interesting prospects in Double-A Portland. To listen, tune into WEEI from 8:30-9 a.m. on Sunday, or listen to the complete interview at weei.com/podcast.
A look at what happened elsewhere in the system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-4 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Right-hander Joel Hanrahan velocity (94-97 mph) but struggled with his location in an innings of work, giving up a double and two-run homer. He struck out one and threw nine of 14 pitches for strikes. He’s slated for another rehab outing on Sunday.
– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk while driving in a run. A notoriously aggressive hitter throughout much of his career, Brentz has undergone an interesting change of course in the season’s first week. Through 11 games, he’d walked just once while striking out a dozen times. In eight subsequent games, he’s walked six times with six strikeouts. In those eight games, he’s 7-for-26 (.269) with a .406 OBP and three extra-base hits (a double, triple and homer).
– For the first time as a professional, Jackie Bradley Jr. had a three-strikeout game. He went 0-for-5. He started in right field, a position where he could see action in the big leagues in the not-too-distant future depending on the duration for which Shane Victorino is sidelined. The soonest that Bradley could be called back up without a Red Sox player landing on the disabled list would be Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Astros matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Brad Peacock||04.27.13 at 9:05 am ET|
Saturday night’s Red Sox-Astros game will feature two 25-year-old starting pitchers in Felix Doubront and Brad Peacock.
Doubront is coming off of his most durable performance of the year, going 6 2/3 innings in a 9-6 win over the A’s on Monday. He surrendered three runs on three hits, walked five and struck out eight in his third start. This was the first time in 2013 when the left-hander went more than five innings. With the victory, he improved to 2-0 and lowered his ERA to 4.32.
“I feel good,” Doubront said after the game. “I was throwing the ball real good. My arm feels a lot easier throwing the ball.”
The Astros, new to the American League and making their first visit to Fenway Park since 2003, are an unfamiliar opponent for Doubront. Only two hitters in the almost unrecognizable Astros lineup have ever faced Doubront: Carlos Pena and Chris Carter are a combined 1-for-11 against him.
Peacock is 1-2 on the season, sporting a hefty 7.50 ERA. In four games started and 18 innings, he has given up 20 hits, six home runs and eight walks, with 15 strikeouts. He is part of a staff that is among the worst in the league in terms of team ERA.
His most recent outing was his worst thus far. Against Seattle, Peacock only got through 4 1/3 innings, allowing a season-high nine hits and seven runs while walking one and striking out a season-low one batter. The Astros’ bullpen has been busy in Peacock’s four starts as he has only gotten through five innings once.
“Too many deep counts,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “That’s something that Brad is going to have to work on. When you find yourselves in deep counts, your pitch count is going to spike real high. And when you have a lot of deep counts, hitters are hitting in good hitter’s counts. The more times hitters hit in good hitter’s counts, they’re normally going to put their better swings on pitches.”
Shane Victorino is the only Sox hitter to have faced Peacock, going 0-for-3 in his career.
|Closing Time: Red Sox continue to cruise through April, topple Astros||04.26.13 at 10:59 pm ET|
Other than dealing with an excruciatingly methodical pace, the Red Sox had little problem former Sox pitcher Erik Bedard Friday night.
The Sox hit three of their four home runs against the Astros’ starter on the way to a 7-3 win over Houston at Fenway Park. The lefty finished giving up five runs on eight hits over three innings.
Bedard’s counterpart, Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster, managed to pick up his first win of the season, allowing two runs over six innings. Dempster continued his trend of living the life as a strikeout pitcher, fanning 10 more, giving the righty 43 over his five starts. The Sox hurler began the game by striking out four of the first five Astros he faced.
The Red Sox pitchers set a new team record for most strikeouts in a single month with 232 K’s. (The previous record was set September 2000).
“Ryan did a great job. He always does,” said Red Sox catcher David Ross. “He knows how to pitch. He establishes his fastball in and out and he’s a typical veteran pitcher. Knows when he wants to use his heater. Threw some great 3-2 sliders early on in the game to keep their hitters off balanced. He had like a Bugs Bunny splitty tonight. I think it was really working good on some of those guys. It was like some Nintendo stuff going out there. he did a great job. A really good job.”
When asked what a “Bugs Bunny splitty” was, Ross said, “It’s like the video game one. a really good one. It’s like better than the Yosemite Sam one.”
Offensively, Ross led the way with a pair of home runs while finishing with four hits. (It was the catcher’s first four-hit game of his career.) Also homering for the hosts were David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks. The Sox totaled a season-high 17 hits
“I thought we had an excellent approach against Bedard, considering the number of pitches he threw through three-plus innings, we were able to get into their bullpen fairly early again tonight,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “When we got some fastballs on the plate, we did a very good job of driving the baseball.
“Considering 17 hits, and I don’t want to say it could’ve been a little bit more on the runs total, but overall, just a very good approach from the plate.”
With the Red Sox’ 16th win of the season (16-7), Farrell’s team matches a club record for longest continuous stretch that a Sox team has ever been in first-place to begin a season. They are now one win away from the club record for most wins in the month of April (set in 1998 and 2003).
Here is what went right (and wrong) for the American League East-leading Red Sox:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Dustin Pedroia got things going for the Red Sox with his fourth extra-base hit of the season, a double off the left field wall to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury. It was Pedroia’s second double in the last three games after managing two in the first 20 games. With the run, the Red Sox have now outscored their opponents, 17-3, in the first inning. (Pedroia would notch another double in the third inning.)
- Ross launched a Bedard fastball well over the left field wall for his second home run of the season. The solo shot – which was the Sox’ 20th of the season (11 of which have come at Fenway) – was Ross’ first hit in the last 10 days. He then, of course, added his second homer of the game in the fourth. It was the 11th time the catcher has tallied a multiple-homer game.
- Mike Napoli set two new records for the Red Sox, coming away with his 17th and 18th extra-base hits, as well as his 12th and 13th double, the most of any player for the month of April. Napoli’s third-inning two-bagger, a shot down the left-field line, scored Pedroia with the hosts’ third run, while his double in the seventh hit off the base of the center field wall.
- Middlebrooks hit his sixth homer of the season, lofting a Bedard changeup over the wall in left. It was his first home run of the season against a left-hander. The third baseman’s homer was immediately followed by Ross’ blast, marking the third time this season the Red Sox have come away with back-to-back homers.
- Ortiz kept the home run barrage going with his second in as many nights, just clearing the center field fence with a solo blast in the fifth inning.
- Ellsbury’s 11th stolen bases of the season is a Red Sox record for the month of April.
“The biggest thing is Jake has got a real good feel for key points or trigger points on a given pitcher to be able to pick that out and get a very good jump,” Farrell said. “When he gets a very good jump, when he gets a good jump, regardless of if it’s a decent unloading time by the given pitcher, he feels confident and we’re confident in his base stealing ability. There was some question or reluctance in spring training and wondering if he was ever going to be aggressive, but I think he’s really showing that.
“When he’s healthy, he’s one of the more dynamic players in the big leagues. Whether it’s on the base paths or the ability for extra base potential in the box, he’s doing that again.”
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Bedard was painfully slow, with the game needing 1-hour, 30-minutes to get through three innings. The Astros’ starter needed 91 pitches to get through three innings.
- With the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth, Ellsbury’s line-drive up the middle was caught by shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, who threw to third baseman Matt Dominguez to double off Middlebrooks. Fortunately for the Red Sox, Jonny Gomes stepped up to knock in his first two RBI as a member of the Red Sox with a two-run single.
|Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew out against Erik Bedard||04.26.13 at 3:00 pm ET|
The Red Sox go up against one of their former teammates, Erik Bedard, in the second of the four-game set against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park Friday. The Sox will send Ryan Dempster to the mound.
Few Red Sox have had success against Bedard entering the game, with David Ortiz (.208, 32 at-bats), Jonny Gomes (.174, 28 at-bats), Mike Napoli (.200, 19 at-bats), Dustin Pedroia (.071, 16 at-bats), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.111, 9 at-bats) all having previously struggled against the lefty. (For all the matchups, click here.)
Victorino is out of the lineup once again due to lingering back issues, while Stephen Drew is also out the starting lineup with the lefty going for Houston.
Here is the lineup the Red Sox will send out against Bedard and the Astros:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Jonny Gomes LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Daniel Nava RF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
David Ross C
Pedro Ciriaco SS
|Kevin Millar on M&M: ‘I know Papi – he gives you his heart on his sleeve’||04.26.13 at 1:28 pm ET|
Kevin Millar talked with Mut & Merloni Friday about Clay Buchholz‘s historically strong start, what Will Middlebrooks may need to do to break out of his April slump, and Millar’s reaction to David Ortiz‘ speech at Fenway Park on Saturday.
Millar said Buchholz has begun to locate his pitches better this year and work more confidently around the strike zone.
“Sometimes the confidence factor takes a little while, but he’s added a cutter. He’s always had a nice heavy baseball that he throws between 93 and 95. Great straight changeup. … He’s got a great arsenal of pitches along with a great curveball, and now you’re looking at a kid who’s knowing how to pitch and also is locating,” Millar said. “That’s the biggest thing when you’re talking about a pitcher who’s found it. He’s starting to paint stuff.”
Millar has first-hand experience with Buchholz’ array of pitches: He was part of the Orioles team that Buchholz no-hit in his second big league start on Sept. 1, 2007.
“It was a bad scouting report by the Baltimore Orioles,” Millar said of that day. “No one said anything about his straight changeup, and he does throw it to righties, and he had that James Shields-type changeup that day. He just threw a great game.”
Millar also is selling Boston Strong shirts on his website, kevinmillar.com, to benefit the Greg Hill foundation, which has been donating to the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks. While he wasn’t in town for Ortiz’ pregame address to the Boston fans on Saturday, Millar said he knows Ortiz’ words, even the profane ones, came from the heart.
“He gives you everything he has. Tremendous heart,” Millar said. “When he was holding that microphone, it’s not easy — you’ve got 36,000 people, he’s in the middle of the stadium, there’s no script, and you saw him speaking from his heart. You feel like you’re speaking to the fans, and you don’t realize sometimes that it’s [on television], but you saw the lip quivering when he dropped the curse word, but you knew that was from the passion. And I know Papi — he gives you his heart on his sleeve. It shocked everybody, but he did it, and he did it for the love of the city and the passion that he brings daily.”
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