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Red Sox vs. Rangers Live Blog, September 4

09.04.11 at 1:23 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Rangers will face off for the rubber match of their three-game weekend set at Fenway Park. For all the latest news, analysis and updates, join the Live Blog, below.

Red Sox vs. Rangers Live Blog

Sunday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: John Lackey vs. Matt Harrison

09.04.11 at 10:38 am ET
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The Red Sox and Rangers wrap up their weekend series Sunday afternoon in a last sneak peak at a possible first-round playoff series. John Lackey will try to end a string of mediocre starts for Boston while Matt Harrison makes his first start since being pounded for seven runs in five innings against the Red Sox on Aug. 24.

In his last start, Lackey (12-10, 5.94 ERA) surrendered four runs in seven innings to the Yankees in a loss. He had almost an identical start against Texas on Aug. 23 (6 2/3 IP, 4 ER), but Boston generated enough offense to get the win. Regardless, Lackey has given up three or more runs in seven straight starts dating back to July 27. Lackey’s control has been a bit off as well, as the Red Sox pitcher has walked 10 combined batters in his last three starts.

The current Rangers lineup has had a lot of success against Lackey, with a combined .327 batting average against him. Michael Young (.352 BA, 16 RBIs), Ian Kinsler (.448 BA) and Josh Hamilton (.480 BA, four home runs) have all hit Lackey very well.

Harrison (10-9, 3.54 ERA) had his last scheduled start skipped after getting steamrolled by Boston on Aug. 24. The left-hander gave up seven runs on 11 hits in that game. Carl Crawford did most of the damage for the Red Sox, driving in five runs, including three of of Harrison.

Despite the tough outing, Harrison is enjoying a career year for Texas. In his fourth year in the league, and first as a full-time starter, Harrison is recording career lows in both ERA and WHIP (1.30). The Red Sox are hitting .270 collectively against Harrison in his career. David Ortiz is 5-for-10 against the young lefty, while Kevin Youkilis has one home run off of Harrison in nine plate appearances.

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Red Sox finally give Erik Bedard run support, and he finally wins

09.03.11 at 9:37 pm ET
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In Erik Bedard‘s first five starts since coming to Boston, the Red Sox didn’t exactly overwhelm him with run support. In fact, they gave him barely any of it. The Sox had three runs or less in three of those starts (including one shutout), with the other two starts seeing the Sox score four runs in each. As such, it was hardly surprising that he had an 0-2 record as a member of the Red Sox entering the weekend. On Saturday, that luck finally changed.

After Bedard, who is still feeling occasional soreness in his left knee, struggled with command in the earlygoing Saturday against the Rangers, the Sox exploded for eight runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run homer from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a grand slam from left fielder Carl Crawford. With the runs (the 12 they put up fell just one short of the 13 they had totaled over Bedard’s first five starts in a Boston uniform) finally came Bedard’s first win as a member of the Sox.

“It was great,” Bedard said after the game. “When you put 12 runs on the board, it makes it easier on a pitcher. We got some key hits, a grand slam, another home run by Salty, and we just played good tonight.”

Once runs started popping up on the board, Bedard was able to settle down. His strongest two innings of the day were his last two, and both followed the Sox’ high-scoring fourth. Given the 9-3 lead, Bedard struck out four batters over the fifth and sixth innings, and left the game after the sixth with six strikeouts over 101 pitches. His innings and strikeout total tied personal bests in a Red Sox uniform.

“It starts out where [the Rangers] are scoring, and they seems like they’re tacking on,” manager Terry Francona said, “and he’s able to stop it… and we have the big inning, and the game completely just turned around.”

For Bedard, it turned aroudn in a big way. An uneasy start to his outing changed as the game progressed and the Sox built their lead.

“I was just missing a lot with my fastball early in the game, and then gradually, when the game went on, I got it better and better.”

Offense wasn’t the only way in which the supporting cast helped Bedard. Though he allowed three runs over the second and third innings, things could have been much worse were it not for a pair of inning-ending unassisted double-plays from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez with runners on the corners.

Gonzalez snagged a line drive off the bat of Michael Young in the first and jogged back first to double up Josh Hamilton to bail Bedard out of a dicey situation. He one-upped himself in the fourth inning when sprinted in to catch a Craig Gentry bunt on a botched squeeze play and tag Yorvit Torrealba out around the plate as the Rangers’ catcher tried to make his way back to third.

“It probably got Bedard an extra inning,” Francona said of Gonzalez’ defense. “We’re looking at first and third and one out, and all of a sudden we’re coming off the field one pitch later. That’s huge.”

Though the start had to be considered enocouraging at the end of the day, both the pitcher and the manager know that the left-hander still isn’t in tip-top shape. When asked why Bedard struggled with his command early on (three walks over the second and third innings), Francona was quick to answer.

“I would say a lot of it’s with his knee,” Francona said. “I think there’s still some soreness and somem instability. He ends up throwing with his arm more than his body. As much as you want pitchers to keep their legs under them, I think at times it’s more hard for him.”

Bedard said his knee felt better as the game went on. By the time the game was over, he could finally feel something he hadn’t felt since June 15: the feeling of being a winning pitcher. His record on the season now stands at 5-9.

“It’s nice,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s for the team. If we win the game at the end of the day and I pitch good and we play good, that’s all that counts.”

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Carl Crawford bounces back from illness

09.03.11 at 9:29 pm ET
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Through all the ups and downs of a season, sometimes all it takes is one swing of the bat to make people forget, albeit momentarily, past mistakes and shortcomings. On Saturday afternoon against Texas, Carl Crawford was able to do just that.

With the bases loaded and the Red Sox up 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth, Crawford stepped to the plate and blew the game wide open with his fourth career grand slam. The blast ignited Fenway and helped lead Boston to a relatively easy 12-7 win over the Rangers. Crawford said it was nice to feel the love from the fans as he rounded the bases.

“It’s a good feeling when the stadium’s cheering for you like that and everybody’s happy,” Crawford said. “It’s a nice feeling.”

Those feelings have been few and far in between in what has been a disappointing season for Crawford. Terry Francona enjoyed seeing his left fielder show everyone the reason why the Red Sox brought the former Rays star to Boston in the first place.

“It’s exciting,” Francona said. “It would be nice to see him string it together, but he can do that.”

Crawford was a late scratch due to illness on Friday in Boston’s dismal 10-0 loss to the Rangers. But he seemed at full health on Saturday and it showed in his play.

“I was glad to be back in the lineup and I was glad I didn’t feel sick like yesterday,” Crawford said. “I took some medicine when I got home [Friday] night and I was fine.”

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Josh Reddick’s X-rays negative, Jed Lowrie likely to miss Sunday

09.03.11 at 8:40 pm ET
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Though the Red Sox beat up on the Rangers with an eight-run fourth inning in a 12-7, they found themselves a bit beat up by day’s end. Shortstop Jed Lowrie left in the fourth inning with left shoulder tightness, while outfielder Josh Reddick finished a 4-for-4 performance by leaving in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch.

Manager Terry Francona gave updates on both players, and based on what he had to say, it doesn’t seem they expect either situation to be a major issue. Francona noted that though Lowrie had to come out of Saturday’s game, the shoulder issue is not serious, and that the team was just being careful with the infielder. Even so, the manager doesn’t expect to have Lowrie in Sunday’s lineup.

“Jed [was] just stiff, I think probably from a little bit of fatigue,” Francona said. “He’s played a lot. … I don’t think he’ll play tomorrow, [but] he’ll certainly be available. So we’re OK there. That might be me overreacting a little bit. I just don’t want to lose guys.”

Reddick had X-rays taken after leaving the game, but they came back negative. It’s uncertain whether he will play Sunday, but Francona did say that the plunking left a mark.

“[Reddick] got hit pretty good,” Francona said. “He was x-rayed, negative. He’s going to be a little sore tomorrow.”

Read More: Jed Lowrie, josh reddick, Terry Francona,

Closing time: Red Sox offense comes alive in big win

09.03.11 at 7:57 pm ET
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Through his first month in Boston, Erik Bedard pitched well but received little in the way of run support. The Red Sox offense seemed intent on making up for that on Saturday.

Carl Crawford hit a grand slam into the right field stands in the bottom of the fourth inning to propel the Red Sox to a 12-7 victory over the Texas Rangers Saturday afternoon at Fenway. The big win comes a day after the Rangers crushed the Red Sox, 10-0.

The Red Sox blew the game wide open in the fourth inning. Boston scored eight runs on eight hits in the bottom of the fourth alone. The Sox went from losing 3-1 to establishing a lead of 9-3 in a marathon 36-minute half-inning that featured 19 separate plate appearances. Crawford’s grand slam came after Boston had chased Rangers starter Colby Lewis (3.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) from the game.

Bedard (6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K) finally picked up his first win in a Red Sox uniform, just over a month after he was traded from the Mariners. Despite struggling a little early on in the game, Bedard seemed to gain confidence from Boston’s big fourth inning and pitched well through his final two innings of work. The nine runs scored during Bedard’s six innings pitched were the most he has received in support all season, from either Boston or Seattle.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Crawford’s grand slam was the fourth of his career and the second slam of the season for Boston (David Ortiz hit one back on July 27 against the Royals). Crawford ended up going 2-for-5 on Saturday.

–Boston nearly had another grand slam in the bottom of the sixth when Dustin Pedroia hit a double off the top of the centerfield wall with the bases loaded, scoring three more for Boston.

–With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, Mike Aviles hit in place of Jed Lowrie, who left the game with left-shoulder tightness. Aviles took advantage of the situation, singling to drive in a run, giving Boston the 4-3 lead and setting up Crawford’s grand slam.

Adrian Gonzalez has helped carry the Red Sox all season long with his bat, but he used his glove on Saturday to help Bedard out of some early jams. With one out and runners on first and third in the top of the first inning, Michael Young hammered a line drive down the first-base line. Gonzalez calmly snatched the ball out of the air before stepping on first to double up Josh Hamilton and end the inning.

Then, in the top of the fourth, Gonzalez caught a popped-up bunt off the bat of Craig Gentry on a suicide-squeeze attempt. The first baseman then tagged Yorvit Torrealba, who had sprinted from third to home, for the unassisted, inning-ending double play.

Gonzalez has been excellent defensively at first base for Boston with a .997 fielding percentage, second among all first basemen in the majors this season.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia came up with a huge two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score at three and spark Boston’s high-scoring inning. The catcher also picked up his first-career stolen base later in the fourth.

–Outfielder Josh Reddick set a career-high with four hits. The rookie had been struggling of late, hitting just .136 with no home runs and one RBI in ten games before Saturday’s win. Reddick was hit in the left hand by a pitch in the eighth inning but stayed in the game.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Bedard struggled early, allowing three runs through the first three innings. Control was a bit of a problem for the left-hander, as he handed out three walks through those first three innings. But he settled down after Boston’s big fourth inning and secured the win.

Kevin Youkilis struggled in his second game back from a stint on the disabled list with a sore back. Youkilis was 0-5 on Saturday after going 0-3 Friday night.

Dan Wheeler was shaky in relief, giving up three runs in 1.2 innings. Wheeler had been lights out prior to Saturday, surrendering just one run in his previous 9.2 innings pitched.

–Lowrie’s injury that caused him to leave the game is in the same shoulder (left) that caused the shortstop to miss 45 games between June and August earlier this year.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, carl crawford, colby lewis, Eric Bedard

Terry Francona: Matt Albers is fine physically

09.03.11 at 3:35 pm ET
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In his pre-game press conference Saturday afternoon, Terry Francona said that nothing is wrong physically with struggling reliever Matt Albers. The Boston right-hander has a 8.41 ERA after the All-Star break compared to a 2.55 ERA before the break.

Albers has been particularly dreadful of late, surrendering 18 earned runs in 9.2 innings pitched over his last ten appearances. He struggled again Friday night in Boston’s series opening loss to the Rangers, giving up three runs in just one inning of relief.

“He just had a tough time,” Francona said, dismissing the notion that something else is affecting Albers’ performance. “Physically he’s fine. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you go through ruts and things don’t go well.”

Francona said that Albers’ velocity is good, and that his poor outings are a product of falling behind in the count and making mistakes over the middle of the plate. Despite Albers’ struggles, Francona thinks that the reliever still has a chance to get back to his early-season form.

“If you look up at the end of the year, and his ERA is a little higher because he had that one stretch, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he can’t be that guy again that he’s been for most of the year,” Francona said.

For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Marco Scutaro out again for Red Sox

09.03.11 at 3:33 pm ET
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Shortstop Marco Scutaro will be held out of Boston’s game against the Rangers Saturday afternoon to get another day of rest. Scutaro sat out Friday’s series opener against the Rangers as well.

Jed Lowrie will get his second straight start at shortstop, batting sixth in place of Scutaro. Lowrie is 2-for-3 in his career against Rangers starter Colby Lewis. In his pre-game press conference Saturday, manager Terry Francona said he expects Scutaro will be back for the series finale on Sunday.

“I wanted to give him one more day,” Francona said. “We’ll play him tomorrow. I think these two days [of rest] will be really good for him… he’s a little beat up.”

The veteran shortstop missed five straight games in the middle of August with a sore back, but he had been back in the lineup since Aug. 20. Even with the season winding down, Francona insisted that he is not sitting players to be overly cautious with the post season looming.

“If they need it,” Francona said, referring to resting players in the stretch run. “Not if they don’t need it, but if they need it, it’s very important. We certainly try to keep an eye on them.”

For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,

Saturday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Erik Bedard vs. Colby Lewis

09.03.11 at 6:55 am ET
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The Red Sox and Rangers will square off in the second game of their three-game series Saturday afternoon at Fenway. Erik Bedard will take another shot at his first win in a Boston uniform, while Colby Lewis will take the mound for the AL West-leading Rangers.

Despite being unable to pick up a win in five starts for the Red Sox, Bedard (0-2, 3.46) has not pitched poorly in his stint in Boston. The lefty has a 3.46 ERA with the Red Sox, and he has walked just nine batters in 26 innings. Poor run support has prevented Bedard from notching his first victory with his new team. Out of all the Boston starters, Bedard has gotten the worst run support since Aug. 1, which is when he joined the team.

Even mother nature seems to be working against Bedard, as a rain delay in his last start against Oakland may have stopped him from picking up a win. Bedard had pitched four scoreless innings in that game but was yanked after a long delay in the top of the fifth. Boston went on to win the game 4-0.

Bedard did struggle a bit down in Texas last week, when he allowed four runs in six innings in Boston’s lone loss of that series. The Rangers are hitting .226 in 169 combined plate appearances against Bedard in his career. Second baseman Ian Kinsler has had the most success against the Boston pitcher, batting .333 in 29 plate appearances. Catcher Mike Napoli has hit two home runs and driven in five against Bedard.

Lewis (11-9, 4.19 ERA) was pounded in his last two starts for the Rangers, allowing 12 runs in 12 innings of work. One of those starts was against the Red Sox on Aug. 23, when Lewis gave up seven earned runs in six innings. Over the last two seasons, Lewis has a 5.34 ERA in five starts against Boston. But Lewis has been excellent on the road this season, with a record of 7-4 and a 2.71 ERA away from Rangers Ballpark.

David Ortiz will be one player trying to put a halt to Lewis’ road success. The Red Sox slugger is hitting .286 with three home runs and five RBIs in 15 plate appearances against Lewis. Adrian Gonzalez has also roughed up Lewis, hitting two home runs and three RBIs against the Rangers starter in Lewis’ loss to Boston last week.

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Read More: Adrian Gonzalaez, colby lewis, David Ortiz, Erik Bedard

Andrew Miller endures a balky outing

09.02.11 at 11:36 pm ET
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The most telling moment of Andrew Miller‘€™s abominable night came not when he walked the first two batters of the game on a combined 10 pitches, nor when pitching coach Curt Young visited the starter on the mound, but immediately after that.

With Josh Hamilton batting, Rangers leadoff man Ian Kinsler danced away from second. Miller checked on him once, then turned back and checked on him a second time when it appeared that Kinsler had started to take off.

But Miller flinched, unable to commit to the throw to second that could have picked off the runner and potentially changed the course of his night. He was charged with a balk, resulting in runners on second and third with no outs, rather than first base with one out.

Miller slammed the ball into his glove, disgusted by his mistake ‘€“ his second balk in the big leagues, and his first since 2007. Perhaps as much as any pitch he delivered, the balk typified the night of Miller, who got shelled for six runs in 1 1/3 innings while absorbing the defeat in the Red Sox‘€™ 10-0 loss.

‘€œThat’€™s probably a bad sign. It just goes to show you I probably wasn’€™t as comfortable as I should have been out there. I didn’€™t do a good job of slowing the game down, and it started to snowball,’€ said Miller. ‘€œI can’€™t remember the last time I balked. ‘€¦ Shoot. That goes to show you the game was a little sped up on me. I just wasn’€™t handling it well. That stunk because that ended up costing us a run.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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