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Terry Francona grateful for ‘some semblance of order’ in Red Sox bullpen

08.04.11 at 5:50 pm ET
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A lot has been said about Jacoby Ellsbury‘€™s consecutive walk-off hits the past two nights, but an argument could be made that the Red Sox center fielder wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to win the game had it not been for some strong performances out of the Boston bullpen.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched perfect ninth innings on both Tuesday and Wednesday against the Indians in non-save situations while situational lefties Franklin Morales and Randy Williams each put together outings that lasted longer than an inning without allowing a run.

Those performances were, of course, preceded by Daniel Bard‘€™s horrid performance on Monday (he allowed three runs in just 1/3 of an inning to break up his career-best scoreless streak of 26 1/3 innings), but Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that the strength of the rest of his relievers in their given roles makes those games easier to swallow.

‘€œWe’€™re going to lose the occasional game,’€ Francona said. ‘€œBut we don’€™t need three mounds down there. Guys throwing and not knowing who’€™s throwing. Games we lose like that hurt, but next game, we’€™ll go back and there’€™s some semblance of order.’€

That order ends with Papelbon as it has since 2006. The closer has allowed just one hit and no runs in his last eight outings, all of which lasted a full inning, and that kind of performance has Francona thinking back to five years ago when the rookie Papelbon had a tiny ERA of 0.92.

‘€œHe’€™s been terrific,’€ said the Sox skipper. ‘€œHe’€™s had a couple outings where he’€™s given up runs and it hasn’€™t helped his ERA [which stands at 3.35 entering Thursday]. But he’€™s been way closer to the Pap we saw his first year or so. Command of his fastball, the cutter, throwing the split, he’€™s been terrific.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: franklin morales, Jonathan Papelvon, randy williams, Tery Francona

Peter Gammons on M&M: Ellsbury ‘possible’ MVP candidate

08.04.11 at 1:14 pm ET
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MLB and NESN analyst Peter Gammons joined the Mut & Merloni show Thursday to talk Jacoby Ellsbury and his break-out season, Erik Bedard coming to Boston, as well as all other things Red Sox related. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

After Wednesday night’s walk-off home run–his second walk-off hit in as many nights, Ellsbury is continuing to have his best season as a professional and may now be mentioned as a potential MVP candidate.

“I think it’s possible because it is not a dominant MVP season,” Gammons said. “I mean, I think there are a number of guys. I was thinking about this yesterday, you can make arguments for all three guys at the top of the Red Sox order. When you get down to the discussion, and I’ve voted for MVP many times, you boil it down to six, seven, eight guys and you go from there, but it is fascinating at the monster years those three guys have had.

“What I was getting at, when I was on the phone at the trade deadline with other teams is the regard he has around baseball. Managers and general mangers going, ‘this guy has got to be one of the five best players in the league.’ ‘€¦ It is amazing the reputation he has as a player. Now he is a dominant center fielder, he has so much speed. ‘€¦ When you have a leadoff hitter with the highest on base, the highest OPS, the highest pitches per at bat and the guy hits 18 home runs, that is amazing.”

Gammons added: “I actually got to know Jacoby well in 2004 [playing in the Cape League] and I went to a lot of games in Falmouth when he played for Falmouth. A lot of times he hit ninth, he was a left fielder. I still don’t understand why he wasn’t playing center, but that’s OK. It is hard to picture the power he developed, he was just a developing athlete and it’s been fascinating to watch. He is really ripped. It is almost like a guard in basketball kind of body. He is extremely strong he just doesn’t look it.”

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Read More: David Ortiz, Erik Bedard, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester

‘One bad pitch’ thwarts Tim Wakefield in his attempt for career win No. 200

08.03.11 at 11:46 pm ET
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Tim Wakefield will have to wait another day.

For the second straight game, the knuckleballer pitched well in attempting to claim his 200th career win, but, once again, couldn’t quite claim the victory.

Unlike last Friday’s outing where the Red Sox fell to the White Sox 3-1, the Red Sox were able to pull out a victory, 4-3, in walk-off fashion. The decisive blow this time came off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury, who claimed his second consecutive walk-off hit in as many nights.

“I made one bad pitch to [Ezequiel] Carrera and that was it,” Wakefield said. “I thought it was a little down and it just didn’t have the movement I wanted.”

The pitch Wakefield lamented came in the seventh inning when the Indians center fielder ripped a ground-rule double into the right field seats, scoring Lonnie Chisenhall to tie the game, 2-2. That would be the end of Wakefield’s night.

The Red Sox offense gave Wakefield two runs in the bottom of the first, but that would be all they would get until the ninth.

Wakefield pitched well, going 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on five hits. He finished with six strikeouts.

“He pitched terrific,” manager Terry Francona said. “Again, it’s hard. I know what is riding on the game and for him personally, but you kinda have to do what is right to win the game. Everybody is pulling for him to get the win, including myself. He really did pitch well.”

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Read More: Ezequiel Carrera, Jacoby Ellsbury, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield

Closing Time: Second consecutive walk-off win for Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury

08.03.11 at 10:15 pm ET
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The sensational season for Jacoby Ellsbury continues.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth Ellsbury hit a walk-off solo home run into the bleachers in center field to give the Red Sox a 4-3 win. It was his second walk-off hit in as many nights.

“It felt great, I wasn’t sure, I know the wind had been blowing in, I hit a ball pretty good earlier in the game to right that didn’t get out, and when I hit it I knew I hit it well, I was just hoping it had enough,” said Ellsbury of his home run, which made him the first Red Sox player to notch walk-off RBI in consecutive days since Butch Hobson did it on Aug. 27-28, 1978.

“I didn’t know what to do once it went over and I was running around the bases. That was exciting, obviously I’ve never experienced that in the big leagues. It was fun.”

Tim Wakefield was going for career win No. 200, but when he allowed a ground rule double to Ezequiel Carrera in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game at three he was chased from the game.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ 68th win of the year…

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Wakefield pitched fairly well, just two rough innings prevented him from earning career win No. 200. Wakefield went 6 2/3 innings, allowed three runs on five hits and struck out six. He did not allow a hit until the fourth inning, which was a home run to Indians rookie Jason Kipnis.

- After collecting two hits in the game Adrian Gonzalez extended his hit streak to 13 games, which is also the third longest of his career. He had two 17-game runs in 2006. It is currently the longest hit streak in the American League.

- Coming off of a tough weekend in Chicago against the White Sox where he went 1-13, David Ortiz is glad to be back at Fenway Park. With his single in the first inning, he has had hits in 12 of his last 14 home games. He is hitting .340 (18-53) with 19 RBIs in those 14 games. Ortiz also has totaled 19 RBIs in his last 19 games overall.

- Despite his 25-game hit streak coming to an end last Friday night in Chicago against the White Sox, Dustin Pedroia still has an impressive one going at Fenway Park. With a two-hit performance Pedroia has now hit safely in his last 25 games at home. It is the third longest home hitting streak by a Red Sox member since 1919 and the longest since Nomar Garciaparra‘s 31-game streak in 2003.

- Randy Williams pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Prior to the game he had allowed runs in three of his five appearances with the Red Sox.

- Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn the win. It was his second win in as many nights. It was the second time in his career that he has earned the win in back-to-back games. In his last eight appearances he has allowed no runs and just one hit.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Home runs are becoming an issue for Wakefield as the home run he allowed to Kipnis in the fourth inning was the 17th home run he has given up this season. In his last four games alone he has allowed six.

- Jarrod Saltlamacchia struck out three times, including one with two outs in the eighth inning with the potential go ahead run at second base.

A look at the Red Sox’ pursuit of Ubaldo Jimenez, Erik Bedard, others

08.03.11 at 8:20 pm ET
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Ubaldo Jimenez sat in the Fenway Park interview room Wednesday afternoon, answering questions about joining his new team. He talked about how much he had grown since last pitching in Boston — a Game 2 start in the 2007 World Series with the Rockies in which he allowed two runs over 4 2/3 innings.

It was a scenario some had predicted as the non-waiver trade deadline approached last week. And it all came true, except for one small alteration — Jimenez was wearing a Cleveland Indians hat.

“If I tell you no, I’€™m probably going to be a liar because as a human being, you’€™re going to get all kind of thoughts in your mind,” said Jimenez when asked if he was paying attention to where he might be headed prior to the deadline. “I heard so many rumors, of course I thought about it. I put myself in different situations with different teams.”

And as the final few days until the deadline whittled away, the Red Sox were one of  the teams making a fairly significant push to put Jimenez in their organization.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox made a substantial offer to Colorado for Jimenez Friday, with the Rockies responding with a counter-offer later that day. The issue, however, was that Colorado was looking for near-major league-ready players — looking for some of the Sox top young position players — the kind of which the Sox were not in a spot to offer up in such a deal.

In fact, it was believed on the Red Sox side of things that they would most likely end up having to allocate even a steeper price of prospects in any deal for Jimenez than what Cleveland ended up trading because of there would be less of a presence of near-big league-ready chips.

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Read More: Erik Bedard, ubaldo jimenez,

Transcript of Terry Francona on The Big Show: Pinch-running Jarrod Saltalamacchia ‘was our best chance to win the game’

08.03.11 at 5:33 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined The Big Show on Wednesday to talk about the status of his club, including the addition of Erik Bedard, an injury update on Clay Buchholz and Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Indians.

To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

There has been much speculation as to how well Bedard can handle the media in the national stage that is Boston. Edgar Renteria is a great example of someone who thrived with a small-market team, then floundered in Beantown, hitting just .276 with eight home runs and 70 RBIs in his lone season with the Red Sox. Francona, however, is only concerned with his newest starter’s on-field performance.

“You know it’€™s funny, I was looking back at some stats, trying to see where we were with him coming in. [Bedard's] numbers are almost identical this year to Buchholz’€™,” Francona said. “I mean identical. To the point of one guy gave up 10 home runs, one guy gave up 11. Walks per innings, it’€™s just about identical except Erik’€™s are probably a teeny bit better. Now again, his personality with the media might not be what people are looking for, so that may affect how fans view him, maybe the way the media views him.

“I don’€™t care if this guy goes on [the JayLeno [show]. We want him to get people out. We’€™ll handle the humor. Just go out and pitch and be on time and play the game right. And if he doesn’€™t want to do a ton of interviews I really don’€™t care.”

Following is a transcription of the interview:

Tito, in general we were talking about umpires before you came on and Steve Buckley wants to give me the unwritten rules of the baseball: what you’€™re supposed to do in the dugout, what you’€™re supposed to do at the plate. In general, I think managers are a different story. You can speak to both. As a manager, you probably know when you can approach an umpire and as a player, there was probably a time when you knew, ‘€œOK I can’€™t say anything to this guy.’€

You know, the umpire thing, I think it was easier before. There are so many younger umpires now that you really don’€™t have a feel sometimes. Sometimes you go out there and you say something and you say, ‘€œOh, I might have overstepped in a hurry.’€ With the older umpires you used to be able to say a lot of stuff and get away with it. Then they’€™d tell you, ‘€˜Tito, stop. OK, you either stop or you’€™re gone.’ Now you don’€™t have relationships with these guys where they trust you or you trust them so you’€™re kind of walking a fine line.

Jim McKean, Richie Garcia, those guys. You always knew exactly how far you could go with theoe guys?

That’€™s what I mean. Steve Palermo, all those guys. Randy Marsh. Randy Marsh threw me out of a game a couple years ago and then called me after the game to make sure I was OK. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Erik Bedard

Thursday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Erik Bedard vs. Justin Masterson

08.03.11 at 2:33 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Indians will play their season series finale Thursday night in a pitching matchup between a former Red Sox hurler and a brand new Boston trade acquisition. Erik Bedard will make his Red Sox debut in Fenway Park, a venue that hasn’t treated him well in the past. As for Masterson, he returns to Boston for just the second time since being traded for Victor Martinez in 2009.

Bedard (4-7, 3.45 ERA) will be making just his second start since June after missing most of last month with a knee sprain. The 32-year-old left Seattle on a bad note, recording just four outs in his last start with the Mariners. He gave up five runs on three hits and walked four in an 8-0 loss to the Rays.

Despite that lackluster performance, Bedard has posted a solid ERA after a rocky start to the season. He lost his first four starts of the year to go along with a 7.71 ERA, but recovered well with a 1.39 ERA in May, and a 2.25 ERA in June. However, because the Mariners rank 30th in batting average, on-base percentage and runs scored, he has very few wins to show for it.

It’s no secret Bedard has struggled as a visitor in Fenway Park. He has a 6.99 ERA, 1.84 WHIP and allowed the Red Sox to hit .270 in six career starts. Of course, he no longer has to face the top-ranked offense in the majors, and will face an Indians lineup that ranks 15th in runs scored and 22nd in batting average.

Back on April 10, Bedard lasted only four innings against the Indians while giving up six runs on 10 hits, including two homers. In 45 combined plate appearances, Cleveland’s lineup has hit .324 off Bedard with two home runs and four RBIs. Travis Hafner is 4-for-14 in his team-high 19 matchups, including five walks and seven strikeouts. Asdrubal Cabrera is 3-for-6 in eight plate appearances with a home run and two RBIs.

Masterson (8-7, 2.56 ERA) has developed into one of the Indians’ top starters, leading the pitching staff in ERA and strikeouts (112). The right-hander won his first five starts of the season but has gone 3-7 since, despite keeping his ERA below 3.20 throughout the year. In Masterson’s last six losses, the Indians scored just four total runs (0.67 runs per game).

The 26-year-old is coming off one of the best months of his career, going 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA in seven July starts. In 45 2/3 innings, Masterson surrendered 32 hits and eight earned runs while striking out 37 hitters and walking seven. He’s only been taken deep four times this season, and just once since May 30. In his last outing, Masterson pitched through the eighth inning, allowing two runs on nine hits in a 5-2 win over the Royals. Back on May 23, Masterson held the Red Sox to two runs over seven 2/3 innings to lead the Indians to a 3-2 victory.

The Red Sox have compiled 82 plate appearances against Masterson, with Carl Crawford leading the way from his days in Tampa Bay. In 16 career plate appearances, Crawford is hitting .385 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs. Marco Scutaro, on the other hand, has struggled in 13 matchups, managing just one hit and one walk. Newly acquired Mike Aviles has hit .333 in 12 plate appearances vs. Masterson, including an RBI double and three strikeouts.

Indians vs. Bedard

Travis Hafner (19 plate appearances): .286 BA/.474 OBP/.286 SLG, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts

Asdrubal Cabrera (8): 3-for-6, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jack Hannahan (5): 3-for-5, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Michael Brantley (3): 1-for-3, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Austin Kearns (3): 0-for-3, 1 strikeout

Carlos Santana (3): 0-for-3, 1 strikeout

Matt LaPorta (2): 0-for-2, 1 strikeout

Lou Marson (2): 1-for-1, 1 double, 1 walk

Red Sox vs. Masterson

Carl Crawford (16 plate appearances): .385 BA/.438 OBP/.923 SLG, 2 home runs, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (13): .083/.154/.083, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Mike Aviles (12): .333/.333/.417, 1 double, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts

David Ortiz (9): 2-for-9, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (8): 1-for-7, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (7): 0-for-6

Kevin Youkilis (6): 0-for-3, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Jarrod Saltalamacchia (5): 1-for-5, 1 double, 1 strikeout

Adrian Gonzalez (3): 0-for-2, 1 walk

Josh Reddick (3): 0-for-3, 1 strikeout

Read More: Erik Bedard, Indians, justin masterson, Red Sox
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