|07.25.10 at 12:46 am ET|
Red Sox starter Jon Lester had the stuff to make history on Saturday, retiring the first 16 Mariners hitters he faced, 10 of them by way of the strikeout. But his bid for perfection was ended with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, when a line drive to left-center by Seattle shortstop Jack Wilson clanged off the glove of center fielder Eric Patterson for an error. Wilson reached second, and against the next batter, Lester — pitching out of the stretch for the first time of the game — hung a curveball to Michael Saunders, who crushed it into the right field stands for a two-run home run.
That was the only offense that the Mariners mustered against Lester on Saturday. But it proved enough against a Sox team that could produce no offense of its own en route to a startling 2-1 loss.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–Eric Patterson was making his second start in center field for the Red Sox when the ball found him at a most inopportune time. Wilson’s liner to left-center proved to be the first error that Patterson has ever made in the big leagues as a center fielder. It is impossible to know whether Lester would have stumbled in his bid for perfection in the absence of Patterson’s misplay, but certainly, both Patterson and Lester wish they would have had the opportunity to find out.
–The Sox failed to take advantage of the few opportunities that they had. Most notably, Jeremy Hermida — in his first start since June 9 — struck out with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the second inning. Jed Lowrie twice flied out to right with two on and two out. The team was held hitless over the last 3 1/3 innings by the Mariners bullpen.
–Jon Lester through the first 16 batters of the game: 5 1/3 innings, no baserunners, 10 strikeouts. Lester after Patterson’s error: 2 1/3 innings, four hits, walk, five runs.
–Manny Delcarmen turned in his second straight poor relief outing. He entered the game with two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the eighth. He promptly forced in an inherited run without even making the Mariners put a ball in play, walking the first batter he faced and then hitting Jose Lopez to force in a run. He nearly gave up a grand slam to the next batter he faced, Justin Smoak, but the drive died on the warning track.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
–Lester set a career high with 13 strikeouts, the most by a Red Sox left-hander since Bruce Hurst punched out 14 on May 5, 1987. He showed one of his best changeups of the year, and had a full complement of swing-and-miss secondary offerings.
–David Ortiz hit his first homer of the second half, smashing an 89 mph fastball from Pauley into the stands in right-center for his 19th roundtripper of the season.
–Mike Lowell went 4-for-4 in his rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket. For details on that game, click here.
–A Red Sox team that is desperate for offense received positive news about two players. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez are nearing game-readiness, with Martinez likely to be activated (barring a setback) in Anaheim, and Ellsbury set to start a rehab stint with the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League Red Sox on Monday.
|07.24.10 at 11:04 pm ET|
Red Sox corner infielder Mike Lowell, in his second rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket, went 4-for-4 with three doubles against the Columbus Clippers (Triple-A affiliate of the Indians) on Saturday. Two of the doubles were lined to left field, one kicked off the glove of the Clippers’ first baseman and into right field and the single was dunked into right. After his fourth hit, Lowell — who played first base on Saturday — was lifted for a pinch-runner.
Lowell has now played two rehab games for Pawtucket. He will play again on Sunday, starting at third base.
The performance came amidst reports that the Tigers have expressed at least some interest in Lowell. WEEI.com reported that two Tigers scouts were in attendance at Lowell’s first rehab game between the PawSox and Toledo Mud Hens (the Triple-A affiliate of the Tigers). Lowell is hitting .213/.308/.350/.658 in 31 games with the Sox this year. He has been on the disabled list since June 24 due to discomfort in his right hip.
|07.24.10 at 7:43 pm ET|
Both outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Victor Martinez could play in games as soon as Monday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters in Seattle.
While Ellsbury is slated to start a minor league rehab stint by playing in the Gulf Coast League next Monday and Tuesday (with the possibility of going to Triple-A Pawtucket later in the week), Francona told reporters there was “a possibility” that Martinez could be activated from the disabled list during the upcoming series in Anaheim next Monday through Wednesday.
Martinez cleared an important hurdle on Saturday, catching a bullpen session thrown by Clay Buchholz without experiencing any pain. Martinez has been wearing a glove that is designed to give extra support to his broken left thumb, and he reported that the session with Buchholz was pain-free.
“The big concern was catching, and definitely after today, I feel great. It feels good just to get the feeling, and knowing that I’m pretty close to coming back,” Martinez told reporters.
The catcher added that he also felt less discomfort while hitting in batting practice, particularly from the right side, than he had earlier in the week. He has been able to move his hands closer together after having to spread them out in previous batting practice sessions. That, of course, raises questions about whether his thumb will have healed enough to permit him to perform at his customary standards, but the Sox are optimistic that he can still produce despite any lingering pain.
“I don’t doubt that he’s going to feel this,” Francona told reporters. “He hits a ball and doesn’t catch it clean or he hits a ball on the end of the bat, he’s going to feel it for a while. I don’t think that means he can’t be effective.”
Martinez will spend Sunday in the bullpen, catching pitchers as they warm up. If that goes without incident, then it would appear that the catcher could be activated as soon as Monday in Anaheim.
“It’s not in concrete but it’s certainly a possibility,” Francona told reporters. “When he’s ready, we’ll let him play.”
Ellsbury has played in just nine games this year due to five non-displaced rib fractures. He is hitting .250/.267/.341/.608. Martinez, who has been out since suffering a fracture in the tip of his left thumb on June 27, is hitting .289/.344/.480/.824.
While the Red Sox have remained among the league leaders in most offensive categories (runs, OBP, OPS, homers, etc.) in Ellsbury’s absence, the team has found it more difficult to make up for the Martinez’ production. Since Martinez went on the D.L., Sox catchers have represented a significant lineup liability, particularly with Jason Varitek also on the sidelines. Fill-ins Kevin Cash, Gustavo Molina and Dusty Brown are hitting a combined .169 with a .225 OBP, zero extra-base hits and two runs batted in.
The Sox have explored the trade markets for both outfielders and catchers, the return of a healthy Martinez and Ellsbury could impact that pursuit.
For more Red Sox news, visit www.weei.com/redsox.
|07.24.10 at 10:01 am ET|
Continuing their 10-game West Coast swing, the Red Sox will take on a familiar face Saturday night for the third game of their four-game series against the Mariners. David Pauley, a midseason call-up for the Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma, had previously been in the Red Sox system for four years. Pauley spent most of his time with Portland and Pawtucket in the minors, but he did make a few appearances with the Sox in 2006 and 2008. In 2009, he was designated for assignment to make room for John Smoltz and was eventually traded to Baltimore for Randor Bierd, who was released by Pawtucket on Thursday.
Since joining the Mariners on June 27, Pauley (0-2, 2.40 ERA) has been serving two roles: reliever and starter. As a reliever, the Colorado native didn’t get much of a chance to show what he had, pitching four innings while giving up no runs, three hits, three walks and three strikeouts. When ace Cliff Lee was traded to Texas on July 9, it was Pauley who filled in Lee’s rotation slot that day. He didn’t do that bad, giving up two hits and one earned run over five innings against the Yankees. However, he received only one run of support and the M’s fell short, 6-1. In his last start, it was déjà vu as the White Sox roughed up the Mariners, 6-1. Pauley didn’t fare as well as his first start however, as he gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings.
Meanwhile, Jon Lester has hit a rough patch of sorts recently. He picked up his fourth loss of the year against the Rangers on July 18, his first loss in nearly a month. Those two “recent” losses are an anomaly, though; before his June 22 loss against Colorado, Lester had won his previous eight decisions, not losing a game in over two months. Despite the “problems,” Lester (11-3, 2.81 ERA) still has been one of the more dominant pitchers in the league and the rock in the frazzled Red Sox rotation. Even in that loss to the Rangers he was effective, allowing three runs on nine hits over eight innings while striking out six. Just like Pauley, Lester didn’t get enough run support as the Red Sox lost 4-2.
In terms of matchups to look out for, it’s about as one sided as it could possibly be. Partly due to his prolonged tenure in the Red Sox minor league system and partly because of the depleted Boston roster, Pauley never has faced any of the current Red Sox batters.
For Lester, it’s pretty obvious who to look out for, and it’s right at the top of the lineup. One of the best leadoff men in history, Ichiro Suzuki knows exactly how to hit major league pitchers, and Lester is no exception. Ichiro is 6-for-18 against Lester with a couple of home runs, but the same isn’t the case for the rest of the Mariners lineup. Case in point: More than half of Franklin Gutierrez’ career plate appearances against Lester have resulted in a strikeout (7-of-13) while Jack Wilson is 0-for-8 in his career against the lefty.
The Red Sox will finish up the series against the M’s on Sunday afternoon before moving on to Anaheim in the last leg of their road trip.
Red Sox vs. David Pauley
None of the current Red Sox have faced the Seattle starter.
Mariners vs. Jon Lester
Ichiro Suzuki (18 career plate appearances against Lester): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.667 SLG, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 strikeout
Franklin Gutierrez (13): .231/.231/.231, 2 RBI, 7 strikeouts
Jose Lopez (12): .100/.250/.100, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Chone Figgins (9): .250/.222/.375, 1 double, 3 RBI, 2 strikeouts
Josh Wilson (9): .000/.111/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Russell Branyan (7): .429/.429/.571, 1 double, 3 strikeouts
Milton Bradley (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Ryan Langerhans (3): .500/.333/.500, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Casey Kotchman (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk
Josh Bard, Rob Johnson, Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak and Jack Wilson have never faced the Boston starter.
|07.23.10 at 9:43 pm ET|
Longtime MLB insider Peter Gammons made his weekly call into The Big Show to talk about all things Red Sox and baseball, especially at the most hectic time of the season: the trade deadline. Gammons covered many different topics, including the Red Sox’ plans for the next week as the July 31 deadline approaches, the plans for key free agents, the return of injured players and the rise of some minor league players in time to be traded.
“I don’t trade Clay Buchholz for a first baseman. The only way [the Red Sox are] going to win is with pitching,” Gammons said. ”Now, if you’re talking about [Felix] Doubront or something like that, that’s fine, but they’re not going to give up [Jon] Lester or Buchholz to get Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder. I think that’s what it would take.”
Below are highlights of the interview. To listen to the complete interview, click on The Big Show audio on demand page.
On the trade deadline’s significance:
You know, it’s kind of interesting. I’ve done a lot of research — gone all over the trade deadlines — and other than last year, where the Phillies got Cliff Lee, which clearly got them into the World Series, the last team that got to the World Series and did anything of significance at the trading deadline were the Red Sox in 2004 when they moved [Nomar] Garciaparra for [Doug] Mientkiewicz and [Orlando] Cabrera. The notion of pennants being changed by trading deadline deals is essentially fiction. In 2003, the Yankees got Aaron Boone and he hit under .200, but he did hit one famous home run. In 1999, the Yankees got David Justice, but otherwise, that’s about it.
On whether or not Theo Epstein should make a move at the deadline or wait for his roster to settle down:
Well, I think he looks at it as, “OK, can we do something for this year and next year?” You can get a catcher that can go both years. I think the relief pitchers are more temps because that’s the nature of relief pitchers. Outfielder, I think you would like someone who can play for you next year, but if you want a David DeJesus, that’s out of the window now. I think I was told 4-6 weeks on his thumb.
So I think he looks at it both ways. When you look at it, Beckett comes back, and [John] Lackey was certainly encouraging last night, if four times or five times around the rotation your starting pitching is the best in the league, then you’ve got a chance to catch Tampa and get into the wild card. You can go into the playoffs with Lester, Buchholz, Beckett, you’ve got a great chance to win every series.
I don’t think he’s going to trade off six prospects to go get a guy that’s going to fill in. I do think that Cody Ross was another world. I’d still pick [Rick] Ankiel if he shows he can play, the problem is he came back off the DL last night, hasn’t played any rehab games, so it’s hard to tell if you can take him. You still have the whole scope of it in the Jayson Werth thing, but that’s a big gamble until you sign him because he wants to be a free agent at the end of the year.
On the possibility of re-signing Adrián Beltré instead of bringing on a new big bat:
I think it’s going to be hard to sign Beltré. They’d like to. The question with attendance down — I think [in] 13 cities now — how many teams can afford a $13 million a year third baseman? I think that’s one of the things they have in the market. I still think the Angels’ first priority … well, I know their first priority is Carl Crawford, that’s why they put his locker next to Torii Hunter at the All-Star Game. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.23.10 at 2:06 pm ET|
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — There isn’t a more enthusiastic or likeable figure in the Red Sox organization than Daniel Nava.
The 27-year-old switch-hitter has already made a lasting impact on Red Sox Nation with his bases-loaded homer off Philadelphia’s Joe Blanton on June 12, becoming just the second big leaguer in recorded history to hit the first pitch in the big leagues for a grand slam.
But he knew that once Jeremy Hermida returned from his rib injury on Thursday, his days with the big league club were over – at least for now.
His famous home run on that Saturday afternoon came as a left-handed hitter. Nava is a natural lefty but showed enough skill and professionalism to turn around and hit from the right as well. But unfortunately, for him, not with much success at the big league level.
He batted just .182 [4-for-22] against left-handed pitching, in his six weeks with the Red Sox. That’s not to say he can’t hit right-handed. In addition to his game-tying homer in the third inning Thursday against Toledo’s Charlie Furbush, he homered from both sides of the plate for Pawtucket back on April 30. He had 10 doubles with the Red Sox but just one right-handed.
So when Nava homered and drove in three runs with two hits right-handed Thursday, there was reason for Nava to break out that sincere smile he showed off in Boston.
“I think he needed to turn around and get a little more familiar with the right-handed swing,” Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo said. “But he’s a hitter, he’s going to hit no matter what. He just needs the reps, he needs the ABs and it was nice to see him get going from that side of the plate.”
“I’m naturally left so when it comes to the right side, it takes a little more time for me to get locked in,” Nava said. “I just wasn’t doing a very good job up there with that so I knew that was what I had to focus on.”
Lovullo was happy for Nava and just happy to have him back as his team beat Toledo, 5-4, in 10 innings when Nava scored the winning run on a single by Lars Anderson.
“We missed him,” Lovullo said. “Unfortunately, he’s not in the big leagues but fortunately for us, he’s here in Pawtucket.
Lovullo isn’t worried about Nava since he knows the hard worker will work on what he needs to in order to make the right statement to Red Sox management.
“He’s just such a polished hitter, he’s got a professional approach and with one swing of the bat, got us back in the game.”
Nava was humble about his right-handed homer that got the team back in the game on Thursday.
“It helped us get back into the game, and that was huge because at the time it was 3-0, so to get us back in the game,” Nava said.
Nava flew back to Boston following Wednesday’s game in Oakland, taking a red-eye, grabbing what precious nap time he could before stopping off and then heading down Thursday in order to play right field for the PawSox.
“I was trying to sleep and I couldn’t do it very well,” Nava said. “I was tossing and turning in a two-inch chair so that wasn’t going too well. After the season, I still have a lot of games left and have a lot of games left and have work to do. I have to work on some defense and polish that up. I have a lot of things I need to work on in order just to make myself better, whether I stay here or get called up, doesn’t matter. That’s the stuff for the long term I need to do better.
“I was able to go back to my place and get a couple hours of sleep. If that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t even been able to function.”
His manager thought he functioned quite well.
“Here’s a guy that flew from the West Coast to the East Coast on a red-eye, got up today after sleeping on the plane, came to the ballpark and helped us win a baseball game,” Lovullo said. “I can’t say enough about what he did.”
Lovullo said he did consider giving Nava the night off following the travel but re-considered.
“I was going to leave it up to him but we were talking about coming back to here and making statements,” Lovullo said. “I want to get back to the big leagues as soon as possible and I think he did a good job of that.”
|07.23.10 at 12:32 pm ET|
ESPN baseball writer Jerry Crasnick joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning and talked about the upcoming trade deadline. Like many of his other baseball writing brethren, Crasnick noted that the Red Sox will need to be patient before they can decide what type of role they will play in this season’s trade market.
“For a team like the Red Sox, they have to wait until the very end to throw up the flag, so I think that’s what’s going to happen,” Crasnick said. “They’ve had guys hurt. They’re on a tough trip right now. They really have to see where they stand at the end of this trip and then decide, ‘Look, are we going to pull the trigger on something momentous? Or maybe could we do some selective selling?’ ”
Crasnick, who will be headed down to Cooperstown next weekend to cover the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, also discussed the possibility of Johnny Damon entering the Hall of Fame.
“He ran the bases. He played on winning teams, and if he got to 3,000 hits, I, to be honest with you, would have a hard time keeping him out,” Crasnick said.
What follows are more highlights from the interview. To hear the entire interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Isn’t it possible, with all of the teams in contention, that we’ll see less dealing at the deadline rather than more?
It’s really difficult. People tend to try to read these things. I think usually it’s going to be disappointing. It always seems to be a little bit less than people expect. The other thing this year obviously is the economic situation and how many big contracts teams are prepared to take on, and that’s always a big factor, too. Read the rest of this entry »
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