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Sox’ rotation shuffle: Wake on Wednesday, Beckett backed to Friday

05.10.10 at 7:55 pm ET
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The struggles of Josh Beckett have been significant. The need to keep Tim Wakefield stretched out and sharp for a potential return to the rotation looms large.

Hence, the Red Sox tried to address the proverbial pair of birds with one stone by tweaking their rotation this week. Wakefield, who appeared in relief on both Friday and Sunday nights against the Yankees, will get a start against the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon. That outing, in turn, will permit the Sox to push Beckett — who was originally slated to pitch on Wednesday — back to a Friday start in Detroit.

With the extra couple of days, the Sox will have Beckett throw an extra between-starts side session in hopes of correcting some of the mechanical issues that have resulted in his starting the year with a 1-1 record and 7.46 ERA through seven starts.

“[The rotation change] gives Beckett a chance to have a second side ‘€“ it probably won’€™t be lengthy, but a touch and feel, which is really good I think for him. It also helps us keep Wake stretched out like we wanted to do,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “We don’€™t know what the future holds, but we won’€™t have allowed him to get too far where he hasn’€™t pitched. I think it works as well as it can. We’€™re trying to make it work. I think this is a good thing.”

With regards to Beckett, the Sox would like to see him get extra work from the stretch. He’s been adequate (though still worse than his career numbers) while pitching with the bases empty (.278/.327/.454/.781), but dreadful with men on base (.357/.452/.586/1.038).

The Sox opted on this course after consulting with Beckett. The pitcher endured a particularly frustrating outing on Friday against the Yankees, looking nearly unhittable out of the gate while striking out five of the first six hitters, but then getting touched for a three-run homer in the third and then coming unhinged in the sixth inning, when he walked two, hit two batters, threw a wild pitch and gave up four hits.

It is worth noting that Beckett, to this point of the season, is walking 3.5 batters per nine innings, a mark that represents his worst since coming to the Red Sox. Even so, the Sox suggest that the issue with Beckett is purely mechanical rather than physical.

“Beckett physically feels really good,” said Francona, a statement that he would subsequently repeat. “His stuff [against the Yankees] was phenomenal.”

But, to date, whether his stuff has been phenomenal or flat, Beckett’s results have been, at best, inconsistent, at worst abysmal. He has made 18 career starts in which he’s allowed seven or more earned runs, and three of those have come in his last four outings (sandwiched around an excellent seven-inning, two-run, no walk effort in Baltimore). For that reason, Beckett and the Sox were open to exploring different ways to fix the problem.

“He expects to be Beckett,” said Francona. “When he’€™s not, he feels that responsibility.”

Yet the decision to have Beckett’s start pushed back by just one game is not without some benefit, given the Sox’ unusual rotation configuration. In addition to the current five-man staff (Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka), the Sox have Wakefield at the ready, and few other reliable options in the minors who would be viewed as major-league ready should one of those five falter.

For that reason, the Sox need to keep Wakefield (0-1, 6.03 on the year; 0-1, 5.40 as a starter) stretched out to the point where he can slot into the rotation relatively seamlessly should he be needed, either due to the poor performance of one of the current five rotation members or because of an injury. A start on Wednesday — his first since a 6.2 inning, two-run no-decision on April 25 — will serve the intended purpose of keeping Wakefield’s pitch count up.

With their sixth starter on the major-league roster, and not in the minors where he can pitch every fifth game, this solution struck the Sox as the right way to balance their short- and long-term interests.

“I think it’€™s obvious that we view Wake as a starter. … At the moment he’€™s not been a starter. But I would not want to get in a position where we’€™d need Wake to start and we have to build him back up. We’€™re trying to cover as much as we can,” said Francona. “If we have to be outside the box a little bit, I would rather do that than just say, ‘€œWe’€™ve got six for five. We’€™re in a bad spot.’€ We’€™re really not. We have good pitching. Let’€™s make it work the best we can.”

Read More: Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield,

The Factors: Week 5

05.10.10 at 3:38 pm ET
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LEADOFF NOTES –

* – The .379 OBP leading off innings by the Red Sox this week was still quite solid, but it marked just the 2nd week this season that they’ve been under .400.

* – Only 8 leadoff strikeouts by Boston pitchers tied for their weekly low this season.  Their 26 leadoff walks allowed this season is the 4th most in the AL, trailing only Cleveland, Toronto, and Kansas City.

* – Clip N’ Save:  Toronto has hit a major league leading 15 HR leading off innings this season.

* – Pittsburgh’s pitchers allowed the leadoff batter to reach base only 7 times in 6 games last week, a .130 OBP, best in the majors last week.  They entered last week having allowed a .395 OBP to each inning’s leadoff batter, the worst mark in the majors.

0-1 COUNT NOTES –

* – Boston hitters fell behind 0-1 in 50% of their plate appearances last week and are at 50.9% for the season, the highest percentage in the majors:

50.9% – Boston Red Sox
50.1% – San Diego Padres
50.1% – Baltimore Orioles
49.9% – Los Angeles Dodgers

Fortunately, the Sox have put up a .717 OPS after 0-1 counts (4th best in the majors).  They hit an AL high 5 HR last week after falling behind 0-1.

* – Sox pitchers got ahead only 42% of the time last week, the 3rd lowest mark in the majors.

* – Angels’ pitchers walked 15 batters last week after getting ahead 0-1 and have now walked 53 such batters this season, the most in the majors:

53 – Los Angeles Angels
44 – Colorado Rockies
42 – Boston Red Sox

1-0 COUNT NOTES –

* – You can see that the Red Sox rank 4th in OPS after 0-1 counts and are 8th this season after 1-0 counts (.858 OPS).  But when they put the first pitch in play, they’ve hit .427 with a 1.263 OPS.  Both lead the majors.  And they led the majors last year in first pitch hitting, when they batted .359 with a 1.029 OPS.

* – Darnell McDonald entered the season 2 for 13 (.154) in his career when putting the first pitch in play.  He’s 6-6 so far this season.

* – As well as the Sox have hit following 1-0 counts, the pitching has been pretty horrid after falling behind 1-0.  Last week, Sox pitchers allowed 5 HR (tied for the most in majors) and a .350 average (MLB high) last week after 1-0 counts.  The main culprits:

Josh Beckett – .392 average and .500 OBP after 1-0, compared to .221 average and .280 OBP after getting ahead 1-0.

Okajima, Ramirez, Schoeneweis relief troika – .375 average, 16% walks, and 6 HR after 1-0 counts, versus .242 average, 4% walks, and 0 HR after throwing strike one on the first pitch.

* – Clip ‘N Save – Toronto hitters have stroked 22 HR after getting ahead 1-0 this season, the most in the majors.

0-2 COUNT NOTES –

* – The Sox’ .133 average last week after getting in an 0-2 hole was their worst weekly mark so far this season.  Their .209 mark for the season to date still ranks 3rd best in the majors.

* – Opponents are 1-15 (.067) with 10 strikeouts after Daniel Bard gets ahead 0-2 this season.  In his career, he has struck out 64.6% of opposing hitters after 0-2 counts, the 2nd highest career mark in the AL (since 1990; min. 60 such BF):

66.5% – Bryan Harvey
64.6% – Daniel Bard
62.9% – Travis Phelps

* – Clip ‘N Save – Opposing hitters went just 2-37 (.054) last week against Toronto after falling behind 0-2, the lowest average allowed in the majors.  For the season, Blue Jays pitchers have allowed a .351 OPS after 0-2 counts, the best mark in the AL.

* – The Cincinnati Reds have not allowed a HR following an 0-2 count yet this season (in 201 batters faced).  They are the only team that has yet to do so.

FULL COUNT NOTES –

* – The Red Sox offense finally came to life last week on 3-2 counts, putting up a .548 OBP (6th) and 1.120 OPS (3rd) for the week.  Both were easily their highest weekly marks of the season.  They’ve still got a ways to go, though, carrying just a .392 OBP (28th) and .739 OPS (27th) on full counts for the season.  That OBP is still a full 100 points behind their full count OBP of last year (.492).

* – The 3-2 pitching by the Red Sox has been atrocious as they’ve allowed a .513 OBP and major league worst 1.050 OPS for the 2010 season to date.  The worst full-season OPS allowed by a Red Sox team on full counts was .912, by the 1998 squad.  This could be an interesting race.

* – Twins’ opponents went 0-17 on full counts last week and are batting .112 (10-89) for the season.

GROUNDBALL NOTES –

* – Boston’s .256 average on grounders was their highest since they put up a .271 in Week One.  Still, their .210 season-to-date average ranks 24th and is far from their .237 of last season.

* – The Sox induced 96 groundballs last week, easily a season high for them and 2nd most in the AL.  For the year so far, they’ve gained significant ground, allowing a .199 average on grounders (7th), much better than that 22nd ranked .244 from last season.

* – The Florida Marlins infield, including former Sox farmhand-turned-superstar Hanley Ramirez, has allowed a .258 average on grounders this season (28th).  This includes last week’s average allowed of .373.

LINE DRIVE NOTES –

* – The 53 line drives hit by the Red Sox last week were the most in the majors (Texas was 2nd with 46) and 10 line drive doubles was 2nd in the AL, trailing only Boston’s next opponent, Toronto (12).

* – Not only have the Yankees allowed the 2nd fewest line drives in the majors this season (142), but they’ve also allowed the lowest batting average on line drives (.638), far better than 2nd best Tampa Bay (.673).

* – Opponents were 30 for 32 (.938) on line drives versus the Orioles last week and are hitting .810 for the season, the highest line drive average allowed in the majors so far (and they’ve allowed the 2nd most liners in the AL).  Their line drive average allowed last season was .754.  Only the Angels (.759) was higher.  Yikes.

RISP NOTES –

* – Since that dismal showing in Week Two in which the Red Sox went just 4 for 42 with RISP (.095), the Sox have hit .333 or better in each of the last three weeks in those situations.  Their .337 average over the last three weeks with RISP is 17 points better than any other major league team during that span.

* – Boston’s pitching gave a lot of the offense’s RISP gains right back last week, allowing a .322 average (4th highest in the majors) and .463 OBP (2nd highest) last week.  It was Boston’s second straight week allowing a .300+ average with RISP.

* – JD Drew is batting .071 (1 for 14) with 1 RBI every 7 AB this season with RISP and 2 outs.  He’s hitting .304 with an RBI every 5.5 AB in all other spots.

* – How much longer can Tampa Bay keep up their .128 average allowed with RISP and 2 outs?  Their WORST week so far was Week One (.179), followed by two consecutive weeks where opponents combined to go 2 for 40, followed by .160 (Week Four) and .143 (last week).  Here are the all-time (since 1974) AL single season leaders in batting average allowed with RISP and 2 outs:

.126 – Tampa Bay Rays, 2010 (partial season)
.194 – Anaheim Angels, 2002
.197 – Oakland A’s, 1977
.197 – Oakland A’s, 1976

Batting Stance Guy: The Red Sox All-Moustache Team

05.10.10 at 2:25 pm ET
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Our good friend Batting Stance Guy is back, just in time to check in before going on his promotional tour for the soon-to-be best-selling book “Batting Stance Guy: A Love Letter To Baseball” (Click here to check it out.)

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays matchups, 5/10

05.10.10 at 12:53 pm ET
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Two weeks ago, the Red Sox traveled to Toronto and swept the Blue Jays in a three game series. John Lackey didn’t get a chance to see Toronto; instead, he will get his first crack at the Jays on Monday night.

Lackey will be trying to follow up a fantastic performance against his old team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in his last start. The right-hander let up just two hits and one earned run  in seven innings. After getting shellacked by the Tampa Bay Rays on April 19 ‘€” he allowed eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings ‘€” Lackey has gone seven innings in each of his last three starts and has lowered his ERA from 5.63 to 3.89 for the season.

The Sox starter faced Toronto once in the 2009 season, with good results. He lasted seven innings and gave up two earned runs, striking out six batters and walking three. That was only good enough for a no-decision, however, in the Angels’ victory. In his career, the right-hander is 3-3 in 11 starts against Toronto, sporting a solid 3.31 ERA. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon morrow, john lackey,

Francona, Lester after Sox win

05.10.10 at 7:18 am ET
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Here is some post-game comments from Red Sox manager Terry Francona and starting pitcher Jon Lester following their team’s 9-3 win over the Yankees Sunday night at Fenway Park:

Francona on Lester

‘€œTwo walks. When we got the lead he threw strikes, used his cutter. The two solo homers were the only damage. When you don’€™t walk people, against that lineup, even when they hit balls out of the ballpark, solo homers didn’€™t do us in. I thought the other night we leaned on him pretty hard so we didn’€™t want to, and it worked out pretty good. We scored some runs so we could get him out of there without extending him to the eighth. So that worked out good too, it’€™s a long year and we need a lot out of him. I thought his cutter was very good tonight.’€

‘€œHe’€™s always been able to build once he feels good and fortunately he’€™s maintained that. He’€™s a big, strong kid and he’€™s got a good delivery and he’€™s durable. There’€™s that hump he seems to have to get over every year but once he gets over it he’€™s OK.’€

Francona on David Ortiz (who ripped a second-inning, ground-rule double that scored a pair)

‘€œI thought it was a great swing. He worked the count deep and swung at strikes and put a good swing on it. I hope I don’€™t have to every night go back 10 days and remember what he did, there’€™s a lot of good things that happened tonight all the way around that we don’€™t have to break down every swing that David took.’€

Lester on his outing

‘€œFelt all right. Early on, I felt like I struggled a little bit with just the feel of the ball. Tough night to pitch, just a tough night to play baseball.  But got in a little bit of a rhythm early on.’€

‘€œWe want to go out there and play well, but regardless of what the team did the day before or week before I’€™m determined to go out there and pitch well. We only get to work every five days so it’€™s important to go out there and do our job. The past two days haven’€™t been much fun but it was nice to go out there and get once from those guys.’€

‘€œIt wasn’€™t any adjustments, 3-2 to Swisher I’€™m not going to walk him with a six-run lead at the time. It’€™d be stupid to put baserunners on at the time with the heart of their order coming up I went after him. He put a good swing on it and hit it out. Same thing with Alex. I’€™m 2-0, I’€™m not going to just start throwing stuff up there just to pitch around him. He put a good swing on it.’€

‘€œI feel good. I feel good mentally and physically going into each start. That’€™s half the battle and I just have to go out there and keep executing, keep the ball down. And for the most part I was able to do that tonight. Guys did a great job, it helps when guys go out there and score a lot of runs, takes a lot of pressure off.’€

‘€œJust a matter of time for guys to settle in. Buc has done a good job, kind of hitting his stride early, throwing the ball well. He had a rough one the other day but he’€™ll bounce back and be fine. Lack’€™s done a pretty good job, I think we’€™ve all, at times, done a pretty good job and once guys get one or two outing under the belt it’€™s kind of snowball effect and hopefully we can feed off of each other and get on a bit of a roll and kind of put this stuff behind us.’€

Why Beltre wore the glasses

05.10.10 at 12:22 am ET
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Adrian Beltre had a pretty good night, only after making a leap of faith not seen in any of his 13 seasons in the big leagues.

After striking out swinging in the second inning, Beltre determined that the wind was not helping matters. He remembered a pair of clear Oakley glasses he had stored away for such occasions, starting four years earlier while in Seattle. The problem was that the third baseman had never actually used the protective glasses in a real game … until Sunday night.

“That first at-bat I struck out and didn’t see the ball good. So I said, ‘I’ve got to try them,'” Beltre explained after the Red Sox‘ 9-3 win over the Yankees.

“My eyes are really sensitive and every time it’s windy I can’t see. Today the wind was really bad. It was the first time I’ve ever worn them. Ever. I’ve had them for many years but I’ve never used them.”

He might want to put the glasses in hibernation too long.

On the third pitch of his second at-bat Beltre launched a two-out, two-run double to center field. His next at-bat resulted in another double, this time to left field. By the end of the game he had raised his batting average to .333 with two RBI and two runs, all while wearing the yellow-lensed accessory.

Oh, and by the way, the glasses are not prescription.

Closing Time: Red Sox 9, Yankees 3

05.09.10 at 11:15 pm ET
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The Red Sox responded from two straight nights of Yankee blowouts with a decisive 9-3 win over New York, Sunday night at Fenway Park. The Sox pounded out nine runs on 10 hits, with all of the runs getting charged to Yanks starter A.J. Burnett. J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida, and Adrian Beltre each had two hits for the Sox. Jon Lester got the win, his third. (Click here for a recap.)

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- David Ortiz can still hit the fastball: One of Ortiz’ most encouraging swings of the season came with the count full and two runners on in the fifth inning. Burnett came in with his third straight fastball of the at-bat, a 95 mph heater which the Red Sox’ designated hitter turned on, hitting a blast to deep right field where it bounced into the stands for an RBI double.

- Jon Lester had his ‘A’ game: Lester turned in his fourth straight solid start, only allowing solo homers to Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez in his seven-inning outing. When it was all said and done the lefty struck out seven, walked two, gave up just four hits and the two runs in lowering his ERA to 3.71.

- Marco Scutaro got things off on the right foot: The first three balls in play by the Yankees were all grounders to short, which Scutaro fielded flawlessly. He also kicked things off in the first with a leadoff single, which would accompany two walks on the night. Scutaro came into the game hitting .333 when leading off the inning (13-for-39) with five walks. He also was hitting .287 with a .353 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot.

- A.J. Burnett started: While Burnett has started this season in style (coming in with a 4-0, 1.99 ERA), he continued his trend of failing at Fenway. The Yankees starter succumbed to nine runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. The outing pushed his ERA at the home of the Red Sox to 12.68 in five starts over the last two years.

- The offense was opportunistic: Five of the Red Sox’ nine runs came with two outs, with Adrian Beltre (2), Ortiz, Jeremy Hermida, and Kevin Youkilis. Hermida’s RBI was one of three on the night for the outfielder, who launched his fourth of the season in the fifth inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG ABOUT THE RED SOX

–Catcher Victor Martinez went 0-for-5 and stranded four runners, ending his modest six-game winning streak in which he hit .375.

–Outfielder Darnell McDonald went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, all against right-handed pitchers. While he is hitting .368 with a 1.323 OPS against left-handed pitching, he is hitting just .184 with a .516 OPS against righties.

Read More: a.j. burnett, darnell mcdonald, David Ortiz, Jon Lester

Pregame notes: Cameron headed to Pawtucket

05.09.10 at 6:20 pm ET
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Terry Francona met the media before Sunday night’s series finale with the Yankees and discussed a number of topics, including the status of Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury.

“Cam and Ellsbury are going to go out and do their stuff and then we’ll sit down with both of them — after BP– with the medical staff and try to get a little better handle on where we’re at.”

After meeting with Cameron the center fielder told the media that he will begin his rehab assignment with the Pawtucket Red Sox Monday night, serving as the team’s designated hitter. If all goes as planned he will play in the field Tuesday.

“I need to go see where I’m at, run around, dive, everything else. Kind of see what it feels like and see where I’m at and I have to be brutally honest with myself and be brutally honest with the staff,” he said.

“In my mind for a while, I guess the last week or so, something snapped in my mind as far as what day I was going to play. Basically the last few days generally let me know I can add a little bit more. Running-wise it’s pretty good. My steps are better. My steps are much better. Tomorrow will be a true test for me. I’ll go and really play the game, try and get some hits, dive head-first, but still be cautious to know I’m rehabbing, rehabbing trying to get back to the big leagues … I need to see where I’m at more than anything else, so I’ll try and go do it.”

Cameron has not played since April 18 with an abdominal strain and said the length of his rehab assignment will be based on his progress the next few days.

Francona was quick to note that Ellsbury is still behind Cameron in the rehab process.

Francona was asked how the diminished on-field role of veterans Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Mike Lowell and David Ortiz has impacted their leadership in the clubhouse.

“Anytime there’s a change, sometimes it can be a little unsettling. Saying that, it’s our responsibility to get it settled and play good baseball. I don’t know that you can go 20 years and not have change. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable personally, but again our job, all the things we talk about, you gotta live it out.”

Boof Bonser pitched three innings for Pawtucket on Friday night, allowing just one run on three hits. He threw 44 pitches, and Francona said Sunday that he thought Bonser would throw somewhere in the 60-65 pitch range for the Triple-A club in his next start.

Ramon Ramirez said his right triceps felt much better Sunday after leaving the game with tightness Saturday. The reliever, who played catch prior to Sunday night’s game, noted that the problem with his arm didn’t crop until he entered the game.

Marco Scutaro, who played with Dallas Braden with the A’s, had this to say about the Oakland pitcher who threw a perfect game Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays: “You just don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s the beauty of this game. He knows how to pitch. I think any major league pitcher can do it if you throw the ball where the catcher asks for it.”

Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 5/9

05.09.10 at 4:35 pm ET
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After being battered by the Yankees in the last two games, the Red Sox will have Jon Lester on the mound as they try to avoid the sweep Sunday night.

Lester has turned things around as of late after his early struggles, winning his last two starts to bring his season record to 2-2 with a 3.93 ERA. He followed up an outstanding one hit, 11 strikeouts, no run outing in seven innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 28 by holding the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to just 1 run over eight innings in his last start.

Lester’s first start of the season came against New York, and he had his issues. Three walks hurt the left-hander’s cause as he allowed four earned runs in just five innings of work, squandering a 3-1 lead. That was a rare tough start against the Yankees for the Sox’ starter, however, as over the past three seasons he is 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA in seven starts vs. New York.

He will be opposed by A.J. Burnett, who is off to a great start in his second year in a Yankees’ uniform. The hard-throwing right-hander is currently 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA, good enough for sixth in the American League.

Arguably his worst start of the season, however, did come in the first series against Boston. Burnett lasted a season-low five innings and gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits. But he has been dominant in his last two starts ‘€” much like Lester ‘€” allowing just one earned run and striking out a total of 12 batters in 15’€”1/3 innings in two victories over the Baltimore Orioles.

After some high scoring affairs the last two days (even if they were one-sided), this one could be a pitcher’s duel if these two starters continue their recent trends.

Red Sox vs. A.J. Burnett

David Ortiz (37 career plate appearances against Burnett): .250 average/.270 OBP/.611 slugging, 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 1 walk, 12 strikeouts

Dustin Pedroia (37): .286/.459/.500, 2 home runs, 9 walks, 2 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (35): .241/.343/.345, 1 home run, 4 walks, 7 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (33): .250/.364/.357, 3 doubles, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts

Adrian Beltre (30): .286/.333/.536, 4 doubles, 1 home run, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Jason Varitek (27): .208/.296/.417, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts

Victor Martinez (26): .316/.500/.579, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 6 walks, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell (23): .200/.304/.250, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (23): .286/.348/.333, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall (13): .182/.308/.364, 2 doubles, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Jeremy Hermida (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Burnett has not faced Darnell McDonald or Jonathan Van Every.

Yankees vs. Jon Lester

Derek Jeter (29 career plate appearances against Lester): .370 average/.414 OBP/.370 slugging, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts

Robinson Cano (25): .261/.280/.348, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Nick Swisher (22): .188/.364/.500, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 4 walks, 6 strikeouts

Alex Rodriguez (20): .263/.300/.684, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Jorge Posada (17): .200/.294/.200, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (17): .235/.235/.412, 1 hme run, 5 strikeouts

Nick Johnson (6): .000/.167/.000

Curtis Granderson (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Lester has never faced Francisco Cervelli, Brett Gardner, Ramiro Pena or Randy Winn.

Gammons on The Big Show: Leave Buchholz in rotation

05.09.10 at 9:49 am ET
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Peter Gammons joined The Big Show on Friday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. He said that all three contending teams in the AL East ‘€” the Sox, Yankees and Rays ‘€” have issues they have to deal with, and the answers will be coming soon.

“All three teams have a lot of questions to be answered, between now and the July 1,” he said.  “I’m sure the Yankees will be saying, ‘Should we get Roy Oswalt?’ The Red Sox are going to be saying, ‘Should we take a chance on Lance Berkman?’ There’s a lot that may be decided in the next eight weeks.”

A transcript follows. To listen, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

What do you do with Daisuke Matsuzaka, especially now that Tim Wakefield is just sitting in the bullpen?

They’ll probably give Daisuke four or five starts. Victor Martinez was saying to me that he couldn’t believe the difference in his fastball between the first and second inning. He said it picked up like four or five miles in velocity. Then he’s having a little more confidence throwing a few sliders, where in the first inning he had no confidence in his fastball that he was overthrowing every slider. How long do you go? I appreciate that he had a lot of time off, that he was hurt and didn’t pitch that much to get here. But there isn’t a lot of time in a division with Tampa and the Yankees to sit around and say, “OK. We are going to give him 10 starts.” But if he doesn’t start, what are you going to do with him? I think it’s one of the many questions that will be answered in the next month.

Wouldn’t it make sense to put Clay Buchholz in the bullpen?

I don’t think you take a 200-inning, second-year starter and put him in the bullpen. I don’t see that as a viable alternative. I think you have to go find a veteran reliever somewhere. They’re not going to challenge Tampa and New York if Buchholz isn’t good enough to make 30 starts on the season. He’s got the second best stuff on the staff. He’s got to be one of your top starters. To me, you just can’t take a guy out because the other guys can’t do the role. You can’t take him out. To me, you weaken yourself immeasurably if you take Buchholz out of the rotation.

If you go out and find somebody, what do you do with Wakefield and Matsuzaka?

That’s the problem. Wakefield has pitched out of the bullpen. Now the question is, at his age is it too late to ask him to go back? Just as it may be too late to ask him to go back and make 20 starts if his back is going to go. I think they have more of a chance of figuring out the bullpen thing. Either Wake or Daisuke is going to end up being the fifth starter, and then you move on from there. It is good that [Manny] Delcarmen is starting to throw a lot better, that home run last night was a joke. They are going to have to go get one more veteran reliever, because they don’t have minor leaguers that are going to come in and step up the way [Daniel] Bard did. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, peter gammons, Red Sox, Yankees
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