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Red Sox vs. Diamondbacks matchups, 6/16

06.16.10 at 12:26 pm ET
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Trailing four games in the AL East, the Red Sox will look to continue to feed on National League opponents when they go for their sixth interleague win of the season, against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Taking the hill for Boston will be left-hander Jon Lester, who has become the ace of the staff over the last month. Opposing him will be right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, whom Boston is very familiar with from the earlier part of the past decade.

The Red Sox will get their first look at Lopez (2-5, 4.45 ERA) in a National League uniform after seeing him for four years (2002-06) as a member of the Orioles. In 26 games against Boston, including 20 starts, Lopez is 10-9 with a 4.53 ERA. The Red Sox, however, had Lopez’€™ number in his last season with Baltimore in 2006 when they handed him four losses in five games, including his last start against them. Boston pounded Lopez for eight runs in only four innings en route to an 11-1 win.

David Ortiz and Jason Varitek, two of the longest-tenured Red Sox on the current roster, each have over 45 at-bats against Lopez for their careers. Ortiz has enjoyed the most success with a .326 batting average and six extra-base hits against the Arizona pitcher.

This season, Lopez has been a serviceable starter for the Diamondbacks. Though he’€™s 0-3 in his last four outings, Lopez received little offensive support, with only 11 runs in those starts. His last win came on May 15 against the Braves in his best performance of the season when he tossed eight innings of one-run ball in an 11-1 blowout victory.

Lester (7-2, 3.18 ERA), on the other hand, surprisingly struggled against Cleveland in his last outing, allowing six runs on nine hits in six innings of work. The 8-7 Boston loss marked the first start for Lester in which he allowed over four runs since giving up a season-worst seven runs in a loss to Tampa Bay on April 18.

For his career, Lester has never pitched against Arizona. In fact, the only Diamondbacks batter who has ever faced him is Adam LaRoche with two uneventful plate appearances. Nevertheless, Lester will be facing a hit-or-miss team that ranks fifth in the majors in home runs (78) and last in the league as the only team with over 600 strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jon Lester, Red Sox, Rodrigo Lopez,

Remy on D&C: ‘Offense is more than fine’

06.16.10 at 12:18 pm ET
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NESN Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday morning for his weekly discussion about the Red Sox. He talked about Boston’s recent success, interleague play, and Manny Ramirez‘ return to Fenway Park this weekend as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

‘€œI think he’s going to get booed,’€ Remy said of Ramirez. ‘€œHe quit on them, and it’€™s too bad. I thought a lot about that, and you think of how much people loved Manny when he was here, but the way it ended was not pretty, and I think fans remember that.’€

Remy also touched on the Celtics‘ blowout loss in Game 6 and what their mindset might be heading into Game 7.

Below are the highlights of the interview. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to hear the interview.

On the Celtics going into Game 7:

You feel bad you couldn’t close things out, obviously, but the fact is you know you have one more game to play and you gear up for that. It reminds me of the year the Red Sox came back against the Yankees. They pretty much conceded the series to the Yankees, then all of a sudden they win one, you win another one, win another one, then you say, ‘€œWow, we’re right back here.’€ I’m sure that’s what they are feeling today. It’€™s kind of tough that they didn’€™t close it out last night, but there’€™s one more game, and as we know after seeing this series, whatever happens doesn’€™t lead into the next game. Baseball is a little bit different because it’€™s every day, and in basketball at least you have a day off to prepare for what’€™s maybe coming in the next game.

On living in Southern California:

The culture is so different out there than it is around here. They just show up and want to see. The only time we had winning crowds in Anaheim was when Nolan Ryan was pitching. People would rather be at Disney[land] than at Anaheim Stadium. That’€™s a little bit different now, they’€™ve done very well. It’€™s a late-arriving crowd and they leave early. A lot of them are phonies and fakers. It’€™s a totally different act there.

On the Red Sox over the last week:

The surprise for me is how they’€™ve been able to fill in for [Jacoby] Ellsbury and all the guys that have been hurt. They’€™ve received contributions from Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava. It’€™s kind of weird how these guys have stepped in and done a good job. All of a sudden [David] Ortiz is getting hot again, [Dustin] Pedroia is getting hot again, [Victor] Martinez has been on fire.

It’€™s moving in the right direction, but the biggest thing for me is how they’€™ve been able to fill these gaps with the injuries they’€™ve got. You have [Josh] Beckett on the disabled list, you have [Daisuke] Matsuzaka on the DL now again. When all that is going on, I think [Terry] Francona has done a terrific job by mixing and matching and getting this thing to where they’€™re winning games.

On Daniel Nava:

When you get up there for your first major league at-bat, everybody’€™s legs are shaking. You’€™re literally so nervous. He picks up the first pitch and drives it out probably a lot on adrenaline. It’€™s a nice story, it’€™s been well documented over the last couple of days what the kid’€™s going through. It’€™s a feel-good story, but we’€™ll see how it goes as time goes on.

On interleague play:

I think there’€™s too much of it. I don’€™t like the fact that the players need different sets of rules. I like the idea of going into a World Series as National League vs. American League, I think it adds a little more to it. I think it’€™s just become too much, for the next two weeks we’€™re playing a National League team. ‘€¦ I’€™m against it, but if they cut it down to where you had a couple of teams you could play and that was it, that would be fine. I just think there’€™s too much of it right now.

On Manny Ramirez‘€™ return to Fenway Park:

This is what I’€™m looking forward to only because Ramirez is coming back. I think he’s going to get booed. He quit on them, and it’s too bad. I thought a lot about that, and you think of how much people loved Manny when he was here, but the way it ended was not pretty, and I think fans remember that. ‘€¦ Of course I miss him. Daily, you never knew what was going to happen with him. He created some of the funniest moments I’€™ve ever seen in my life. Plus, he was a great talent, a great hitter. That combination of Ortiz and Ramirez when they were on was special, so, yeah, I do miss him.

On the offense exceeding expectations:

[Adrian] Beltre has been special, he really has. I never expected this from him, considering the type of year he came off last year. He’€™s been really good and he impresses me the more I watch him, the way he plays the game, he plays hard. I mean, he wiped out two outfielders and put them on the disabled list, but he runs balls hard, he’€™s always thinking doubles, he breaks up double plays. I just love the way he plays the game and goes about it offensively, he’€™s really been good for the Red Sox.

The offense is fine, the offense is more than fine. The slow start was because the pitching wasn’€™t getting it done, but they’€™re getting it done now and they’€™re moving up the list. It’€™s pretty good, but I would like to see them all get healthy and see this team play together as a healthy group and see what they’€™ve got.

Read More: David Ortiz, Jerry Remy, Red Sox,

The Factors – A Good Six Weeks! – Part Two

06.16.10 at 8:56 am ET
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Here’s Part Two of “The Factors” where we are focusing on the last six weeks in which the Red Sox have played .650 baseball.  Did you miss Part One?  It’s here.

* – FULL COUNTS – OFFENSE - Over 18% of Boston’s plate appearances resulted in full counts last week as the Red Sox and Yankees were the only ones above 16%.  Boston took advantage to the tune of a .371 average and 1.131 OPS including 15 walks and an MLB-high 7 extra-base hits.  Over the last six weeks (40 games), the Sox have led the majors in full count “rate” at 15.7% of all plate appearances and have raked, putting up a .977 OPS (3rd in MLB) and .278 average (2nd).  Their 26 hits, 7 HR, and 26 RBI on 3-2 counts all lead or are tied for the major league lead in that span.

It’s strange to see that the Red Sox have rarely walked on 3-2 pitches this season, averaging one walk every 3.78 full counts seen.  Only the Houston Astros (4.52) have walked less often than the Red Sox in thos spots.  They’re on pace to have the lowest full count walk rate of any Red Sox team since 1988.  The last four Red Sox squads were all between 2.90 and 3.01.

UPDATE:  The Red Sox got into six full counts on Tuesday night, going 0-6 with three strikeouts.  It’s just the 2nd time since June, 2008 that the Red Sox have failed to reach base on 6+ full counts in a game.  The other was April 10, 2010.

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* – FULL COUNTS – PITCHING - It’s getting better.  This is another category where the Sox’ staff was absolutely awful over the first four weeks, having allowed a major league worst 1.037 full count OPS.  In the six weeks since, they’ve allowed a .901 OPS, which is improved but still high (20th).  My concern is that 14.7% of opponent plate appearances have gone to 3-2 counts for the season, the 3rd highest percentage in the majors.  Let’s look at some Red Sox pitchers and their full count results (2010 % / 2010 OPS / 2009 % / 2009 OPS):

John Lackey     – 17% /  .882 / 13% /  .753
Clay Buchholz   – 17% /  .506 / 14% /  .953
Jon Lester      – 15% / 1.100 / 13% /  .754
Josh Beckett    – 17% / 1.612 / 12% /  .914
D. Matsuzaka    – 16% /  .753 / 11% / 1.201
Tim Wakefield   –  9% /  .921 / 11% /  .752
Manny Delcarmen – 20% /  .752 / 18% / 1.012
Daniel Bard     – 13% / 1.045 / 11% / 1.008
Jon Papelbon    – 14% /  .886 / 16% /  .529
Ramon Ramirez   – 11% /  .778 / 16% /  .997

So out of 10 pitchers who have faced 100+ batters this season for Boston, only three (Wakefield, Papelbon, Ramirez) are getting into 3-2 counts less frequently than they did last season.  How long can Delcarmen and Buchholz dance around trouble when getting to 3-2 that often?  What adjustment does Bard need to make in order to be more effective deep in counts?

UPDATE:  Clay Buchholz went to 3-2 on five batters last night, resulting in two doubles and three strikeouts, a 1.200 OPS.

* – GROUNDBALLS – OFFENSE - The Red Sox are hitting just .213 (27th) on groundballs for the season and have had four games in which they failed to get a groundball hit.  However, the Angels, Rays, Blue Jays, and A’s have each had EIGHT games already without recording a hit on a groundball.

2010 Team Leaders: Batting Average On Groundballs With RISP and 2 Outs

.337 – Cincinnati Reds
.296 – New York Yankees
.282 – Arizona Diamondbacks

Boston checks in 14th at .229.  Toronto is last at .125 (9 for 72). Good luck keeping that up for the rest of the year, Cincy.

UPDATE:  Boston hitters went 4-10 (.400) on groundballs Tuesday night versus Arizona.  Two of them (Pedroia’s double and Martinez’ infield single, both in the 3rd inning) drove in runs.

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* – GROUNDBALLS – PITCHING - Run Prevention, baby! The Sox allowed a .188 average in Week 10 and just .196 over the last 40 games. For the season, the Red Sox are allowing a .206 groundball average on the road (.258 last season) and .200 at home (versus .232 last year).  The big “winners” for Boston so far this year in terms of groundball average allowed include Daniel Bard (.103 vs .273 last season), Manny Delcarmen (.146 vs .253), and Jon Lester (.158 vs .221).  John Lackey has not been all that impressed with the re-tooled defense thus far, as opponent grounders have gone through to the tune of a .240 average.  The Angels helped him to a .182 mark last season.

UPDATE:  Sox pitchers/infielders held the Diamondbacks to 0-11 on groundballs last night.  Of course, there was that one error by Youkilis.

* – RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION – OFFENSE - The Red Sox have been torrid over the last six weeks, putting up an .876 OPS with RISP (2nd) and .900 with RISP and 2 outs (1st).  With RISP and 2 outs, the Sox are on pace (.847 OPS for the season) to finish with the 2nd best mark of any Red Sox club since 1974.  Which one was better?  Last year’s (.890), which was the 2nd best in MLB since ’74.

Adrian Beltre has been Boston’s main beast with RISP and 2 outs, having put up an AL leading 1.416 OPS (min. 35 such PA):

1.416 – Adrian Beltre, BOS
1.065 – Justin Morneau, MIN
 .995 – Mark Teixiera, NYY

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* – RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION – PITCHING - While Sox pitchers haven’t been anything special with runners in scoring position this season (.769 OPS allowed; 20th), they have been pretty good at getting out of the jams with 2 outs (.677 OPS allowed; 7th).

Starting May 30 through Sunday, the Red Sox have scored 31 runs with RISP and 2 outs and they’ve allowed only 10 (I’m counting RBI so there could be other runs here but you get the gist).  Opposing hitters have gone 7-48 (.146) in those situations in that span.  For the season, three familiar teams lead the way in Run Differential With 2 Outs & RISP:

+33 – Tampa Bay Rays
+32 – New York Yankees
+28 – Boston Red Sox

Lord help the Pirates (-59) and Orioles (-52).  No other team is worse than -22.

Doubront positioned to make big league debut

06.15.10 at 11:18 pm ET
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The decision isn’t final, but in all likelihood, the big league unveiling of Red Sox pitching prospect Felix Doubront will take place on Friday.

The 22-year-old, according to a team source, is the front-runner to be brought up to Boston from Triple-A Pawtucket to make a spot start in place of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who went on the 15-day disabled list just prior to the start of Saturday’s game with a strained forearm. Doubront was activated by the PawSox on Tuesday, following a brief spell on the seven-day D.L. with a shin contusion.

Doubront has positioned himself for a callup with a dominant performance thus far in 2009. He started the year back in Double-A Portland, where he forged a 4-0 record with a 2.51 ERA, and then proved even more effective with Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 2-1 with a 1.08 ERA in four starts. Between those two stops, he has struck out 54 and walked 22 in 59 2/3 innings.

“Doubie’s been lights out, man,” said Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, who was in Pawtucket for all four of Doubront’s starts. “I’€™m really impressed with him. Obviously, he’€™s got good stuff and an idea of what to do with that, but his poise on the mound is something that, when you play behind him, he exudes a quiet confidence.”

That trait was particularly evident in Doubront’s last outing, against Reds top pitching prospect Aroldis Chapman, the heralded pitcher with a 101 mph fastball who signed out of Cuba this winter for more than $30 million. Doubront allowed one run on five hits in five innings, and struck out five. The PawSox, on a day when Chapman apparently did not have his best stuff, jumped on the Reds’ prize hurler for seven runs in the first two innings.

“When we went out and [Doubront] faced Chapman in Louisville, their stud lefty vs. our stud lefty, he rose up to that challenge,” said Nava. “That was something that made us all just say, ‘€˜We would love to have you on the bump against anybody.’€™”

It was the same poise that Doubront exhibited in 2009, when he pitched at Fenway Park for Portland in a Futures at Fenway contest. That day, Doubront logged four scoreless innings before tiring in the fifth, when he gave up a two-run homer in a no-decision. Still, with seven punchouts that day, the left-hander offered an indication of his ability to embrace a spotlight start.

“With pressure, I think he thrives on it. He seems to be ready. He’€™s young, but he handles himself very well,” said Sox reliever Dustin Richardson, who pitched with Doubront at three stops, in 2007 with Single-A Greenville, in 2009 with Portland and this year with Pawtucket. “That’€™s what you want from a starter ‘€“ a guy with three pitches who seems like he’€™s going deep in games pretty consistently. He’€™s doing well right now. I can definitely see him coming up and helping the team.”

Read More: aroldis chapman, felix doubront,

Pedroia: ‘I’m getting better’

06.15.10 at 11:17 pm ET
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For Dustin Pedroia, the thump is starting to come back. He is once again lining the ball around the park.

In his club’s 6-3 victory over the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, he went 2-for-3 with a double, marking the fourth straight game (and seventh straight at Fenway) in which he has had at least one two-bagger. That is the longest streak of home games with doubles by a Red Sox since Wade Boggs had a seven-game run in 1983.

The run is more noteworthy because of what preceded it. Last week, Pedroia went 14 at-bats without a hit, and a knee injury — incurred on a slide into home against the Tigers last month — that was affecting his swing came to light. That led to questions about how long Pedroia might be impaired at the plate. Even Pedroia admits now that he had fallen out of his approach.

“I thought I was messed up there for a while. I was having trouble walking up stairs. It kind of worried me. My legs are like three inches ‘€“ that was part of the problem,” he laughed. “I was striking out quite a bit. I was lunging out to try to hit the ball. That’€™s not really a part of my game. I try to stay on my backside as much as possible.”

But in the last handful of games, he appears to have turned the corner. Over his last five games (including four contests since he underwent an MRI on his knee on Friday that revealed no structural damage), he has recorded as many hits (10) as he has outs, resulting in outstanding across-the-board numbers: a .500 average, .545 OBP and .700 slugging percentage. On Tuesday, he scored three runs, crossing the plate in each of the three innings in which his team collected runs.

His teammates have seen too many runs like this to be surprised.

“That’€™s the last guy I worry about, Pedroia,” said David Ortiz. “I knew it was coming. Laser show.”

Pedroia, too, seems to be enjoying renewed confidence. He continues to get treatment (“Anti-inflammatories, Advil, whatever that does,” he shrugged) that appears to have restored his swing to its usual effect.

“I’€™m going to get 650 at-bats. There are going to be some times when I hit it hard and some times when I don’€™t hit it hard,” Pedroia informed a questioner who asked about his recent approach. “I’€™m glad you recognize that I’€™m hitting the ball hard.”

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Wade Boggs,

Closing Time: Red Sox 6, Diamondbacks 3

06.15.10 at 10:15 pm ET
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The Diamondbacks represented a potentially easy mark for the Red Sox on Tuesday. The team was reeling from the news that first baseman Conor Jackson had been traded, and that Arizona was prepared to listen to offers on virtually any of their players leading up to the trade deadline. And the Sox performed in a fashion befitting the roles of the two clubs, with the Sox improving to 10 games over .500 with a 6-3 win over the last-place team in the NL West.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

David Ortiz scalded the ball in three of his four plate appearances. He blasted an 89 mph fastball from Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy over the Red Sox bullpen by the triangle for a two-run homer (his 13th of the year, but his first since June 2) in the first and, after fouling out in his second at-bat, had a smash to first and then lined a single to right in his last at-bat. Ortiz now is hitting .444 (8-for-18) in his last four games, with multi-hit performances in three of them.

Dustin Pedroia continued his recent surge, going 2-for-3 with a double, three runs and a hit by pitch. In his last five games, he is now hitting .500 (10-for-20) with a .545 OBP and .700 slugging mark. For more on Pedroia’s resurgence, click here.

Clay Buchholz struck out eight — tied for his second most punchouts this season — to claim his ninth win of the season. It was, however, an unusual outing for Buchholz, in that despite having walked just one batter, the Diamondbacks managed to run up his pitch count, knocking him out after 5 2/3 innings and 113 pitches. Still, Buchholz featured a powerful fastball that he used to set up his off-speed offerings.

–The Red Sox bullpen picked up Buchholz, delivering 3 1/3 shutout innings. Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon (14 saves) all delivered the goods.

–With starting shortstop Marco Scutaro sidelined while recovering from a cortisone shot in the base of his neck, fill-in Bill Hall turned in a solid defensive performance, most notably when he had the quick hands to react to a bad hop chopper up the middle in the top of the seventh inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Before Tuesday’s game, manager Terry Francona in his weekly discussion with the Dale & Holley Show, said that, with shortstop Marco Scutaro out while recovering from a cortisone injection in the base of his neck, he planned to “ride the Nava wave” by putting outfielder-qua-folk-hero Daniel Nava into the lineup as the leadoff hitter. After collecting two hits in each of his first two big league games, Nava did not put the ball in play in four plate appearances on Tuesday. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk, though Nava did see plenty (20, to be exact) of pitches.

Read More: Arizona Diamondbacks, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia

Sox set to sign first rounder Vitek

06.15.10 at 9:29 pm ET
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Red Sox first round pick Kolbrin Vitek passed his physical on Tuesday, and now only has to sign his contract for it to become official, something that he will likely do on Wednesday.

Vitek, 21, was taken by the Sox in the first round (No. 20 overall) of last week’s amateur draft. The junior out of Ball State hit .371 with 17 homers and 16 steals, and was named a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which recognizes the top college player in the country.

Though Vitek played second base this year for Ball State, in large part to preserve his arm (he was also the team’s Sunday pitcher, and had a 3.28 ERA), he will play third base and serve as designated hitter for the Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League.

According to multiple sources, Vitek agreed to sign for Major League Baseball’s recommended slot bonus, close to the $1.359 million bonus for which last year’s No. 20 overall pick signed.

For more on Vitek, click here.

Read More: ball state university, kolbrin vitek, mlb draft 2010,

C’s road show impacts Fenway

06.15.10 at 6:39 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Tuesday the Boston Transportation Department will close various streets in the Fenway neighborhood and surrounding areas during tonight’s Celtics playoff game.

Brookline Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic from the Landmark Center to Kenmore Square beginning at the end of the third quarter of tonight’€™s Celtics game. The area around Fenway Park has been posted with no parking/tow zone signs. 

Starting at 7:30 p.m. tonight, the Boston Transportation Department will begin towing vehicles parked on Ipswich Street, from Boylston Street to Charlesgate, and on Brookline Avenue, from Park Drive to Kenmore Square.

This will also be the case on Thursday if there is a Game 7 between the Celtics and Lakers that evening in Los Angeles.  The Red Sox urge fans to use public transportation if at all possible.

Read More: Celtics, City of Boston Parking, City of Boston transportation, Red Sox

Francona on D&H: Nava’s grand slam ‘only happens in Fenway’

06.15.10 at 2:14 pm ET
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Because of the potential of a long day of basketball talk on Wednesday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke with the Dale & Holley show a day early on Tuesday about a myriad of Red Sox topics, including interleague play, Tuesday’€™s starter Clay Buchholz and Daniel Nava’€™s historic grand slam.

‘€œThere wasn’€™t a whole lot of time there to digest it,’€ Francona said. ‘€œHe took the first swing and all of a sudden, it’€™s history. What a cool moment. It’€™s a cool moment anyways, but when you add it all up, his history, the journey he got to here and then having it be at Fenway, there’€™s a lot of things. That stuff only happens at Fenway.’€

He also discussed the return of former Sox slugger Manny Ramirez to Boston and what he believes the fan reaction will be.

‘€œI have no idea how this is going to be,’€ Francona said. ‘€œThis is going to be one of the more interesting returns probably in the history of the game. It could range anywhere from them throwing a parade to a riot. You just don’€™t know. ‘€¦ From where I sit, if he comes here, I hope we get him out.’€

A transcript of that interview follows. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

What did you know about Daniel Nava before Saturday’€™s game, and what did you think of the big moment?

For what we knew about him, he was a kid that came over and played a lot of spring training games. So we’€™ve seen him play bits and pieces of a lot of games actually. Saying that, if I sat here and told you that he was going to hit a grand slam in his first swing, I, you know. We were all watching. Obviously, it’€™s an interesting scenario. His first major-league at-bat. Everybody’€™s on the top step to see how he looks and how he’€™s handling it. There wasn’€™t a whole lot of time there to digest it. He took the first swing and all of a sudden, it’€™s history. What a cool moment. It’€™s a cool moment anyways, but when you add it all up, his history, the journey he got to here and then having it be at Fenway, there’€™s a lot of things. That stuff only happens at Fenway.

Does he actually think you know where all the parents sit in Fenway Park?

That was hilarious. I was trying to have a conversation with him because I knew he was nervous. We were kind of sitting there on the dugout steps. I was kind of just yapping at him a little bit, and then all of a sudden, he goes, ‘€œHey, where do my folks sit?’€ I said, ‘€œI don’€™t care kid! Go get a hit.’€ But it was funny. It’€™s just funny what are going through young guys’€™ heads. He had a lot of things going on. It’€™s just kind of funny. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Red Sox, Terry Francona,

Red Sox vs. Diamondbacks matchups, 6/15

06.15.10 at 12:25 pm ET
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The Red Sox will try to keep up their strong start to the interleague portion of the schedule when they face the Diamondbacks Tuesday night in the first game of a three-game series at Fenway Park. The Sox are now 4-2 in interleague play after taking two out of three from the Phillies yet again over the weekend. Arizona itself took two out of three from Toronto back in May in its own interleague series of the season but remains in the cellar of the NL West, thanks to a league-worst 5.43 ERA. Ian Kennedy, perhaps the lone bright spot in the Arizona rotation, will try to buck that trend of poor pitching Tuesday night when he goes up against Boston starter Clay Buchholz.

Kennedy (3-3, 3.17 ERA), a one-time Yankees prospect who was traded in the offseason as part of the three-team deal that brought Curtis Granderson to the Bronx, has been nothing if not solid for the Diamondbacks this season. He’€™s coming off a strong June 9 performance against the Braves in which he went seven innings without allowing an earned run and gave up just three hits. He did however show a bit of a wild side, though, as he walked a season-high five batters. Overall, Kennedy has not allowed more than three earned runs in any outing since giving up six to the Dodgers in his second start of the season.

Surprisingly, despite Kennedy’€™s 14 appearances as a member of the Yankees between 2007 and 2009, the vast majority of the Red Sox batters will be seeing Kennedy in live action for the first time. Victor Martinez is the only Boston player to have any experience in the batter’€™s box against the young starter. The Sox hope that Kevin Youkilis can return to the lineup and make his first cuts against Kennedy after he missed Sunday’€™s contest after being hit in the elbow by a pitch Saturday.

Buchholz (8-4, 2.52 ERA) has even less experience against his opponents as he has never faced even a single Arizona hitter in his career. He will look to bounce back from his first loss in his last six starts, a seven-inning, three-run outing against Cleveland that would be considered by all accounts had the offense not put up a goose egg and the bullpen not allowed eight runs of their own in the 11-0 loss. Still in those last six games, Buchholz is still 5-1 with a 1.45 ERA and has easily threatened Jon Lester for the title of ace of the staff.

A few Arizona hitters to pay attention to when they step in the box against Buchholz is second basemen Kelly Johnson. Johnson’€™s 13 home runs are just three shy of his career-high just 61 games into the season and his 37 walks lead the team.

Red Sox vs. Ian Kennedy

Victor Martinez is the only Red Sox player to ever have faced Kennedy and is 1-for-3 against the Arizona starter in his career.

Adrian BeltreMike Cameron, J.D. Drew, Bill Hall, Mike LowellDarnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, David OrtizDustin PedroiaMarco ScutaroJason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis have all never faced Kennedy.

Diamondbacks vs. Clay Buchholz

No Arizona player has a single career plate appearance against the Boston starter.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, diamondbacks, Ian Kennedy, Red Sox
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