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Closing Time: John Lackey, Red Sox turn it on against Mariners

07.22.11 at 10:05 pm ET
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John Lackey continues to lower is ERA, and heighten expectations.

The Red Sox starter turned in another strong outing, this time allowing just one run on eight hits, striking out two and not walking a batter over seven innings. The result was a 7-4 Red Sox win over the Mariners Friday night at Fenway Park.

The Sox got to Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, knocking him out with one out in the seventh inning after an Adrian Gonzalez bases-loaded single plated both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury. It was only the second time in Hernandez’ last 13 starts he hasn’t made it through seven innings, with the 11 Red Sox hits marking the second-most allowed by the right this season.

Lackey has now allowed three or fewer runs in four of his last five starts, allowing six runs over 27 innings (2.oo ERA) for those games. He has now lowered his ERA from 8.01 to 6.28 since returning from the 15-day disabled list June 5.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win …

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– Ellsbury continued his power surge, launching his 16th home run over the visitors’ bullpen in the third inning to give the Red Sox the lead. The homer was the outfielder’s seventh of the month, tying him with Jose Bautista and Aramis Ramirez for most in the majors during that span.

Dustin Pedroia kept his good times rolling, extending his career-high hit streak to 19 games, tying the mark for the longest stretch in the American League this season. He would finish with his 12th three-hit game of the season, boosting Pedroia’s baatting average to .299. The second baseman also claimed his 19th stolen base of the season in 22 attempts, leaving him one shy of his career-high.

– The RBI single by Kevin Youkilis in the first inning made the third baseman six for his last 10 with runners in scoring position and two outs. The hit this time scored Dustin Pedroia and knotted the game at 1-1. Youkilis would knock in two more (one via an error) with a one-out single in the seventh, plating Pedroia and Gonzalez.

Daniel Bard made it through another appearance without giving up a run, this time coming in to retire the final out in Seattle’s half of the eighth inning. He now has gone 22 games without surrendering a run, a stretch that includes 23 innings. It tied Calvin Schiraldi’s streak from 1986 that saw him pitch 23 flawless straight innings from July 20 -August 17.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Lackey failed to get a three-up, three-down first inning for his 18th straight start, this time allowing a run via a Dustin Ackley single. Of the 123 pitches in big league baseball with 15 or more starts this season, Lackey is the only one who has yet to claim a 1-2-3 first inning.

Franklin Morales suffered through his worst outing since coming back from the disabled list, allowing a three-run homer to Mike Carp in the eighth inning. Prior to the homer, the lefty had thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings over eight games, giving up just one hit and a walk dating back to his June 28 activation from the DL.

– The Red Sox grounded into four double-plays, with David Ortiz, Marco Scutaro, Carl Crawford and Youkilis all succumbing to the twin-killings.

Red Sox vs. Mariners Live Blog, July 22

07.22.11 at 7:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox are getting ready to take on the Mariners, who will turn to reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez in hopes of snapping their 12-game losing streak. Though J.D. Drew owns the most success of any Sox hitter against Hernandez, he will be on the bench, with Josh Reddick getting the starting nod.

For the latest news, updates and analysis from the game, join the Live Blog below.

Red Sox vs. Mariners Live Blog, July 22

Trade Deadline: Red Sox reportedly have discussed Jeff Francoeur

07.22.11 at 6:17 pm ET
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According to a report from Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, the Red Sox have had discussions with the Royals about Kansas City outfielder Jeff Francoeur.

The report cites a source noting that the Red Sox’ contact with the Royals regarding Francouer has been “exploratory.” Francoeur, 27, is hitting .264 with 13 homers and 59 RBIs to go along with a .310 on-base percentage. He has an OPS of .973 against left-handed pitchers.

Morosi states in the report that Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran could insist upon blocking a trade to American League teams with his no-trade clause.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Jeff Francoeur,

Red Sox pregame notes: Josh Reddick provides a ‘lift’ while J.D. Drew sits

07.22.11 at 5:16 pm ET
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One has to wonder just how long this rest is going to last for J.D. Drew.

On Friday, Red Sox skipper Terry Francona made no bones about the fact that he his going with the scorching hand of Josh Reddick in favor of the ice-cold Drew, despite Drew playing in the final year of his five-year, $70 million deal.

Drew is batting .219 with just four homers and 21 RBIs in 77 games this season. Reddick, called up in May, was recalled on June 18 when Carl Crawford went on the disabled list, and hasn’t been back down to Triple-A Pawtucket.

“[Reddick is] swinging the bat awfully well,” Francona said. “It’s kind of hard not to play him. Josh deserves to play. He’s given us such a lift in our lineup. We want to win games. At the moment, Red gives us a better chance.”

Reddick was penciled in as the starter in right field Friday, and is batting .378 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 29 games. Friday marked his fifth start in right field after 14 starts in left and two in center.

“It’s a great feeling, being a part of a lineup like this,” Reddick said prior to the series opener with the Mariners.

Reddick, in speaking to reporters before the game, said he’s not going to let trade talk involving his name distract him from the task at hand.

Francona – as is his trademark – was proactive in letting Drew have time to process the decision to sit him against righty Felix Hernandez. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, Clay Buchholz, J.D Drew

Daniel Bard on The Big Show: I’m not ‘locked into any one role’

07.22.11 at 4:27 pm ET
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Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard said that he was open to any role that might present itself in the future, whether it’s closing, starting or continuing as the team’s set-up man, when he joined The Big Show on Friday with Michael Holley and Rob Bradford who was sitting in for Glenn Ordway.

“I’m a pitcher. I don’t see myself as locked into any one role,” Bard said. “Right now I’m a middle reliever, I’m just going to be the best one I can be. If that means pitching in a different role down the road, whether that’s pitching the ninth inning or pitching the first inning, I’m open to it.”

Jonathan Papalbon’s impending free agency promises to have an impact on Bard’s future one way or the other. If Papelbon leaves, Bard would likely assume the closer’s role. But if he stays, Bard was asked if he would consider converting back into a starting pitcher.

“I’ll address that situation if it comes next year. It’s too tough, too many factors that are out of my control to really say right now how I would feel,” Bard said. “I’m thinking about this year. I’m just thinking about right now. That’s not much of answer for you.”

Listen to the whole interview on The Big Show audio on demand page. Here are more highlights from the conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: billy wagner, Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon,

Trade Deadline: Astros reportedly shopping Wandy Rodriguez, but few buyers

07.22.11 at 12:55 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman wrote Friday that the Astros would like to unload pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers before outfielder Hunter Pence.

Rodriguez is 3-3 with a 3.67 ERA this season, but the 32-year-old righty still has $39 million left on his contract through 2014. Part of that price tag comes from his 2014 option becoming a player-option should he get traded. Heyman also wrote that AL teams such as the Red Sox and Yankees don’t think Rodriguez could make it in the American League.

Myers is 3-10 with a 4.70 ERA. The right-hander will turn 31 in August and is due $11 million in 2012.

Heyman added that new Astros owner Jim Crane wants the team to cut $16 million off its payroll, but Carlos Lee ‘€” the highest-paid player on the Astros at $18.5 million ‘€” cannot be traded due to his unspectacular .274 batting average and seven home runs (he had averaged more than 27 in his previous 12 seasons).

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, brett myers, carlos lee, Houston Astros

Trade Deadline: Twins will be buyers, looking for bullpen depth

07.22.11 at 12:46 pm ET
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Despite being six games under .500 and six games back in the AL Central, the Twins intend to be buyers, specifically looking for middle-inning bullpen help, writes FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

‘€œWe just need depth,’€ general manager Bill Smith said Friday morning. ‘€œWe’€™ve got [Joe] Nathan, [Matt] Capps and [Glen] Perkins at the back ‘€” that’€™s a good group. … We’€™re fine with those three late in games. We just have some inexperience getting to that point.’€

Rosenthal also wrote that the Twins have just about weathered the storm of injuries they’ve endured this season, with just Denard Span and Justin Morneau left on the DL.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Bill Smith, Glen Perkins, Joe Nathan
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