|Jacoby Ellsbury was slated for off day, but Shane Victorino not quite ready||05.18.13 at 6:24 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell had planned to give Jacoby Ellsbury his first day off of the season Saturday night, but Shane Victorino’s back still wasn’t quite healthy enough to allow for the outfielder’s return to the lineup. Victorino would have hit leadoff and played centerfield.
Farrell did say prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Twins Saturday night at Target Field that there is some hope that Victorino is ready to return for the teams’ series finale.
“He was hopeful for today last night,” said Farrell of Victorino, who left Thursday night’s game in the ninth inning after colliding with the Tropicana Field fence. “He’s a hard guy to keep out of the lineup because he wants to get in every day and he’ll probably push it or risk it a little bit more than maybe we’re comfortable with. I think the additional day will be good.
Ellsbury is hitting .247 with a .312 on-base percentage, having stolen 13 bases in 15 attempts. Heading into Saturday night’s game, the center fielder was 2-for-15 with three walks on the current road trip. Both Twins starters for the series’ final two games — Scott Diamond and Pedro Hernandez — are left-handers.
“Still some inconstancies with the timing,” said Farrell regarding Ellsbury. ” There’s time where he’ll show good patience, he’ll work deep in the count, and the next at-bat may be a little bit over aggressive trying to make something happen. And it comes down to timing. We see him where he’s squaring up some balls, he gets on base and he’ll create some havoc. But the consistency to which he’s made himself known for is a little elusive right now. He’s a key part for us. We need him to, and we may need to work with him, to get him going everyday. But his consistency has a huge effect and a huge impact on who we are offensively.”
In other injury news, Stephen Drew experienced some pain in his back while running through some hitting, fielding and throwing drills earlier Saturday afternoon, leading to the shortstop’s exclusion from the lineup. Drew, who tweaked his back while beating out a double in the eighth inning of Friday night’s game, had been slated to hit seventh against Diamond.
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Ryan Dempster vs. Scott Diamond||05.18.13 at 5:27 pm ET|
The Red Sox look to extend their winning streak to four games on Saturday night, with Ryan Dempster taking the hill against Twins lefty Scott Diamond.
Dempster was roughed up by the Blue Jays in his last outing on Sunday, allowing a season-high six runs on seven hits in five innings, coming out on the losing end of a 12-4 count. The starter’s ERA climbed to 3.75 from 2.93 after the loss, and he failed to go more than five innings for the first time since his second start of the season. His three home runs allowed were the most of any Red Sox starter in a single outing in 2013.
“I didn’t make good pitches and I’ve got to do a better job” Dempster said after the game. “There were sliders that were left up in the zone and I just didn’t have the slider I normally have, and that’s unfortunate.” Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia agreed that the Sox starter was off his game, adding, “He made some good pitches, but I felt like the game plan changed a little bit today from the last few games. … It just seemed any mistake we made, they were all over it.”
Despite the subpar performance against Toronto, Dempster has been a solid No. 3 starter in a reliable Red Sox rotation. Hitters are only batting .205 against Dempster over his eight starts this season, and he’s managed to strike out an average of 11.4 batters per game. Dempster has also avoided getting knocked out of the game early, going at least five innings and throwing over 90 pitches in every one of his outings in 2013.
The veteran righty has faced the Twins five times before in four starts and one relief appearance. A lifetime 5.19 ERA against the Twins is partially due to the 10 runs he allowed in his first outing back in 2002, but Dempster has only given up four earned runs in his last 21 innings against Minnesota. He took on the Twins during the last homestand, going seven innings while allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk while striking out eight.
He’ll be matched up against Diamond, like Dempster a native of Canada, for the second time this year. The Red Sox were not able to figure out Diamond in his first career start against the club; the lefty threw seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball, earning his third win of 2013. His last start wasn’t quite as dominant, however, as he gave up six runs to the Orioles on nine hits, including three home runs, one more than his season total prior to the start. The loss extends an unfortunate streak for Diamond, who has not won at his home park, Target Field, in nine starts.
“I got eaten alive out there,” Diamond said after the loss. “It was frustrating, I definitely left a lot of balls up in the zone today and paid for it.”
Diamond owns the second-lowest ERA in a very mediocre Minnesota rotation, coming into the game with a 3-3 record and 4.08 ERA. The lefty has only 15 strikeouts on the season in 35 1/3 innings, which is not out of the ordinary in the Twins rotation. None of the five starters have more than 22 strikeouts on the year.
|Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew sit||05.18.13 at 3:48 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — Shane Victorino is out of the lineup for a second consecutive day after suffering a back injury on Thursday night against the Rays. With the Red Sox facing a left-handed starter in Scott Diamond of the Twins, Jonny Gomes — who had the game-winning sac fly in the 10th inning of Friday’s game — will bat second and play left field, with Daniel Nava in right.
Similarly, with a southpaw on the mound, Ryan Lavarnway will get the start behind the plate for Ryan Dempster. Stephen Drew will also get a day off, with Pedro Ciriaco at shortstop.
RED SOX LINEUP
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Jonny Gomes, LF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Daniel Nava, RF
Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Pedro Ciriaco, SS
Ryan Dempster, RP
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes settles in; Jackie Bradley, Garin Cecchini hit the ground running; Bryce Brentz walks off||05.18.13 at 10:30 am ET|
Right-hander Matt Barnes has now settled into a string of consistently solid starts with Double-A Portland. On Friday, he allowed three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and one walk in six innings on Friday. (Two of the runs came in his sixth and final inning.) Over his last four starts, he now has a 1.96 ERA with 28 strikeouts and seven walks in 23 innings.
On Friday, he had his best velocity of the season, sitting at 95 mph and reaching 97 mph, all with command down and on the corners. Still, that comes as little surprise given that Barnes was comfortably in the mid-90s with command for most of his first professional season in 2012.
That being the case, his secondary stuff will always be the most significant aspect in determining the pace of his development and his ultimate projection. One evaluator who saw Barnes recently spoke highly of the progress that the right-hander has made with his changeup, which has developed at times into being his primary secondary offering. His curveball has been an effective pitch at times, but he’s made considerable strides in the ability to pull the string on a legitimate changeup since he started his pro career, giving him a pitch capable of keeping hitters from cheating on his powerful fastball.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-5 with a double and a three-run, walkoff homer with one out in the ninth. He’s starting to heat up, hitting for average, power and driving in runs in bunches. In his last nine games, Brentz is hitting .389/.421/.639 with two homers, five doubles and an RBI per game, bringing his line for the year to .280/.335/.510 with seven homers. He’s tied for fourth in the International League in RBIs with 29, thanks to a .328/.384/.612 line with runners on base (compared to a .237/.293/.421 line with the bases empty).
As Tim Britton of the Providence Journal recently noted, Brentz, 24, is trying to put his offseason gun accident behind him through his play. Though he still hears taunts from fans about the incident, he is trying to bring the focus to what he’s accomplishing on the field.
“Anytime something like that happens, your play is going to get the past behind you,” Brentz told Britton. “For anybody who’s ever done anything in baseball or had an offseason accident, their play is what makes people forget. It’s just bad that I put the organization through that situation, that the fans had to read about it.”
– Jackie Bradley Jr., 23, returned from a stint on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis and, serving as the designated hitter, went 1-for-3 with a triple, walk and hit by pitch. The walk was arguably his most impressive plate appearance of the night, an 11-pitch marathon against a left-handed reliever (Ryan Buchter) to lead off the ninth inning and set in motion a three-run, game-winning rally. It was Bradley’s first game in two weeks. He’s now hitting .304/.418/.391 in 12 Triple-A games this year. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Jonny Gomes’ sacrifice fly hands Red Sox extra-inning win over Twins||05.17.13 at 11:35 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — Jonny Gomes and the Red Sox did just enough.
After struggling offensively for much of the game, the Sox were finally able to get over the hump when Gomes plated Dustin Pedroia with the eventual game-winning run via a sacrifice fly to center field. The 10th-inning RBI allowed for a 3-2 win for the Red Sox over the Twins in the teams’ series-opener at Target Field.
“They had a couple double plays early on in the game, like just don’t run into a double play,” said Gomes regarding what he was thinking. “But just sort of a pitch to elevate really. Left-center, right. Just a pitch I could elevate, get under. And it worked out.”
Clay Buchholz turned in another stellar performance, this time allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings. The outing dropped the starter’s ERA to 1.78.
Buchholz was followed by relievers Andrew Miller (1 2/3 innings), Alex Wilson (one batter) and Koji Uehara (inning), who all were perfect in their stints. In fact, the Red Sox teamed to retire the last 17 Twins batters.
“It speaks for itself,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell regarding the pitching. “On a night when [Junichi Tazawa), we wanted to stay away from him, [Clayton] Mortensen was down. Andrew Miller what he did last night down in Tampa and again tonight, after the first three or four outings of the season, he’s really started to turn the corner. The dependability of strike-throwing is there, the breaking ball has been much more consistent to give him something to get right-handers off his fastball. They did an outstanding job coming to the mound.”
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Twins starter Vance Worley — who came into Friday with a 7.15 ERA — also turned in his second straight solid outing against the Sox. The Minnesota righty, who had allowed three runs over five innings in getting a no-decision May 6, allowed one run over six innings. This after the Sox came into the game ranking second in the majors with 5.28 runs per road game.
Here is what went right and wrong for the Red Sox in their 42nd game of the season:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- The Red Sox were able to prevent Buchholz from taking a loss in the seventh when Jacoby Ellsbury’s sharp ground ball up the middle couldn’t be gathered in by Minnesota shortstop Pedro Florimon, allowing Gomes to come in with the game-tying run. The hit tied the game at 2-2 and pushed Jarrod Saltalmacchia to third with one out.
- Despite dealing with a sore left side — which he aggravated once again in his first at-bat Thursday night — David Ortiz came through with his third three-hit night of the season.
- The Red Sox initially jumped to a 1-0 lead with a run in the first inning. The score came when Ortiz singled in Daniel Nava, who had singled and moved to second via second baseman Brian Dozier’s throwing error.
- Will Middlebrooks executed the first sacrifice bunt of his career, moving pinch-runner Pedro Ciriaco to second and Dustin Pedroia in the 10th inning. The bunt paved the way to an intentional walk issued to Stephen Drew, leading to Gomes’ sacrifice fly.
“I came up and [third base coach Brian Butterfield] came up and talked to me,” said Middlebrooks, whose only other professional bunt came while playing for the Single-A Lowell Spinners. “They had a pitching visit, I told him, ‘If you want to give it to me I can get it down.’ They didn’t give it to me first pitch, second pitch they gave it to me and I got a good pitch to do it on.”
Added Farrell, “What we’ve seen is he’s a very good athlete. He’s got good hand-eye coordination. Knowing that it wasn’t part of his game as an offensive player, still I thought the game situation called for it. He executed it perfectly. … Just gave him a heads up that it may be coming. In the 1-0 situation, knowing they’d have to throw him a strike, it was the pitch that he did a very good job with.”
- With closer Tazawa having pitched two innings Thursday night, Uehara closed out the game for the Sox for just his second save over the last three seasons.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- The Red Sox had an opportunity to claim the lead in the seventh, with Ellsbury at second and altalamacchia at third with one out and the game tied. But with lefty reliever Brian Duensing pitching, Nava — who entered the at-bat 2-for-15 against lefties since April 13 — struck out. Dustin Pedroia then popped out to second against righty reliever Casey Fien to end the threat.
- Buchholz’ only miscue came in the third when Florimon cleared the right field wall for a two-run homer and a Twins lead. It was just the second homer allowed by the Red Sox’ starter this season, and first since his initial appearance of the season.
“Good pitch, maybe the wrong spot to use it in,” said Buchholz of the home run. “It was actually a better pitch than I was wanting to throw. Just trying to throw a strike over…. He dropped the head to the ball…. Overall I felt pretty good.
“I was able to get out of trouble in big situations without giving up any more damage outisde of the home run. It doesn’t always work that way. Fortunately tonight I was able to do that and hand it over to the guys in the bullpen, and we came out with the win.”
- After rocketing a two-out double in the right-center field gap in the eighth, Stephen Drew seemingly hurt his lower back. After being checked out by trainer Rick Jameyson and manager John Farrell, Drew remained in the game. After a walk to Gomes, the Twins ended the Sox’ threat when Jared Burton struck out Mike Carp. The punch-out put the Sox at 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, after Farrell’s team had totaled the majors’ second-best OPS with RISP over the past three games.
“I ran so hard to get to second, just the way I hit the bag all my force bent my back in the middle. It was awkward,” Drew said. “Other than that, come in tomorrow and see how it is and go from there.”
|Clay Buchholz, rest of the Red Sox starters have executed an interesting traveling trend||05.17.13 at 10:09 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS – It’s not clear how it might translate into wins and losses, but John Farrell certainly has taken notice of the dynamic.
For the sixth time in as many opportunities this season, the Red Sox pitcher who was scheduled to start in a series opening game in different city than the team had played the night before, didn’t travel ahead of the club.
This time it was Clay Buchholz who remained with his team in St. Petersburg, Fla. the night before he was slated to take the hill against the Twins at Target Field Friday night.
“My only comparison was being here before,” the Red Sox manager said, “and guys would travel ahead a little more frequently.”
Asked if the dynamic might be a microcosm of the new clubhouse culture, Farrell said, “That’s the way I look at it. Some guys, just by nature, don’t want to go out head. They want to travel with the group and not have that feeling of separation.
“We give the option to every guy and still most guys want to stay with the team and don’t want to break away from that unit. They want to give the support the night before they’re pitching and feel like they can manage the travel and still be prepared to pitch.”
As for tangible results stemming from the strategy, it has been a mixed back. Heading into Friday, the Red Sox starters have totaled a 5.15 ERA, which dips to 3.52 without Felix Doubront’s 3 2/3-inning, six-run outing in Texas. And Buchholz brought the numbers down even further with his performance against the Twins Friday.
Yet, with or without early-season excellence, the intentions are what have struck a chord with those in the Sox’ clubhouse.
“I’ve always believed I’m not the only one playing, my teammates are all playing too,” said Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster. “The other thing is, what if you go 17 innings or something and I’m sitting on my couch or bed at home and my team ends up losing a game because I’m not there to help. You can sleep on a plane and get your rest.
“With this team, everybody kind of wants to be together. I think that’s awesome. It just everybody’s preference, but everybody here wants to stay and be a part of it.”
|This just in: Mike Napoli will not start 162 games this season||05.17.13 at 9:24 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — Heading into Friday, Mike Napoli led the American League in two categories. One was doubles. The other?
Prior to the series opener at Target Field, Napoli was one of 12 American League players who had played all 41 games.
“That was probably my longest stretch of games in a row of my career,” he said.
Thursday, however, the first baseman was informed by Red Sox manager John Farrell that the streak of starts would be coming to an end and Friday was to be Napoli’s first day off of the season.
He had entered Minnesota coming off a series against the Rays going 1-for-11. But this was more about maintenance than production. In fact, if it was up to the player, the streak would still be trucking along.
“I still feel good. I don’t even have to look at the lineup, I’m just in there. I’m prepared to play every day,” he said. “John came to me and let me know I would have the day off today so mentally I know I wasn’t going to play today, so that was a different feeling.
“Knowing I’m going to be in there every day, when I go home I know it’s going to be the same routine. But my body feels good. It feels fine. Playing first base is such a different feel, mentally and physically.”
Napoli explained that his new lot in life has a lot to do with a desire to join teammates Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury in maintaining a perfect attendance record this season. For the most part, he has lived up to expectations, totaling 34 RBI and more extra-base hits (26) than any player in the majors.
“Mentally it’s unbelievable,” said Napoli regarding the position switch. “I’m not going through the pitchers’ meeting. I’m not going through the game-calling situations. I’m not worrying about how I have to view each pitcher when they’re on the mound. You’re just mentally free. You’re just tackling baseball. It’s so different.”
He did point out that even when catching was part of his existence, such offensive downturns as he experienced in St. Petersburg weren’t an immediate result of whatever he was doing in the field. For that, he credits his former minor-league manager in the Angels’ farm system, Keith Comstock.
“He would always make me take a deep breath,” Napoli said. “If I came in and struck out, he always told me to take a deep breath and lead it go. He would be like, ‘You take a big, deep breath, blow it out, and it’s gone.’ I still do it now. I’ll be pissed off with an at-bat, I’ll take a deep breath, let it go and it’s time for defense.
“It was easy for me separate my defense and offense. When you’re catching, you can’t go behind the plate when you’re struggling hitting and bring that into catching. I was taught at a young age to be able to separate the two. For me, when it’s not going so good, I understand it’s part of baseball but you just try and minimize it.”
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