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Trade Deadline: Twins reportedly to become sellers after 14-run loss

07.27.11 at 6:39 am ET
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In recent weeks, the Twins were reportedly torn between trading veterans at the deadline or hanging on to their talent for a playoff push. According to The Sporting News, Monday night’s 20-6 loss to the Rangers has made that decision much easier, and the Twins will now look to sell.

The blowout loss dropped the Twins to 15-16 over their past 31 games, and seven games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. At 47-55 entering Tuesday, the Twins are 14 games out of the AL wild card race.

The Twins reportedly have been asked about outfielder Michael Cuddyer (who pitched the eighth inning in Monday night’s loss), outfielder Denard Span and pitcher Kevin Slowey.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer,

Control issues plague Andrew Miller in a new way

07.27.11 at 12:47 am ET
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When Red Sox starting pitcher Andrew Miller was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket a little more than a month ago, the scouting report on him was that he had been almost unhittable at times in the International League ‘€” in fact, he had held hitters to just one hit in three different starts that lasted longer than five innings ‘€” but that he also had control issues that could grow once he hit the majors.

Through Miller’€™s first three starts, he had managed to mask these accuracy problems as he kept his walk totals below three in each while maintaining a solid 3.06 ERA. But in every start since those first three, Miller’€™s walks had grown from four to five to six in his last start against Baltimore, during which he managed to not allow a run over 5 2/3 innings despite the numerous free passes. During those next three outings, Miller saw his ERA grow to 4.65.

Following the Red Sox’ 13-9 win over the Royals on Tuesday, during which Miller walked only two in 3 2/3 innings but allowed seven runs (five earned) on a season-high nine hits, the southpaw admitted that control was again a factor, although in a different fashion than before.

Miller again showed an inability to throw strikes early in counts. In fact, 13 of the first pitches he threw to the 22 batters he faced were called balls. In the fourth, he started down in the count to Alex Gordon (1-0) and Billy Butler (2-1) before each hit a home run.

This time, instead of his inaccuracies leading to balls off the plate, they led to pitches where Miller tried to force a strike well within the strike zone, which made for easy hitting on the part of the Royals hitters.

‘€œI felt like I just seemed to dig myself a hole for every at-bat,’€ Miller said. ‘€œTrying to come back from 2-0 and 3-1 turns into a lot of hits and long innings. That’€™s what you’€™re trying to avoid.’€

Red Sox manager Terry Francona thought the issue came down to one particular pitch in the lefty’€™s repertoire.

‘€œHe didn’€™t locate his fastball very well,’€ the skipper said. ‘€œThrew some good changeups, but he just missed. Then, he didn’€™t follow [catcher Jason Varitek'€™s] glove very much. Velocity was good. Came out of his hand really nice. Actually stayed in his delivery pretty well. Just didn’€™t throw the ball where he wanted to.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller,

Closing Time: Red Sox offense proves it’s as easy as 3-4-5

07.26.11 at 11:02 pm ET
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They are considered the faces of the organization. Two old, one new. But Tuesday night, they were the heart and soul of the order.

Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz ‘€“ the Red Sox 3-4-5 hitters Tuesday in that order ‘€“ were a combined 10-for-13 at the plate with nine RBI in Boston’€™s big 13-9 win over Kansas City in the second game of a three-game set between the two teams.

Although they will be grouped together for their efforts, the individual efforts of the three Soxeteers cannot be ignored. Pedroia went 4-for-5 and finished just a home run away from the cycle in his third game as the cleanup hitter. Ortiz set a career-high by smacking three doubles around the park Tuesday night. Gonzalez, who was 2-for-3 with two RBI, showed once and for all that he is well over his post-All Star break slump.

Combined with the other eight Red Sox who saw playing time Tuesday ‘€“ all of whom reached base at least once ‘€“ the trio kept both KC starter Danny Duffy and the rest of the Royals pitching staff from ever feeling too comfortable, forcing the visiting squad to turn to outfielder Mitch Maier to pitch the eighth inning.

What cannot be ignored, though, was the poor showing by Red Sox starting pitcher Andrew Miller. The lefty lasted just 3 2/3 innings while allowing seven runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks while only striking out one. Although he didn’€™t receive a loss for his efforts, Miller’€™s ERA sunk to a not-good 5.45 following the effort.

Here’€™s what else went right and wrong in the Red Sox win:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

–Ortiz’€™s five RBI were a season-high and the most he’€™s accrued in a single game since he tallied six way back on Aug. 12, 2008 in a 19-17 win over the Rangers. His four hits also were a new season-high and gave him three straight multi-hit games to raise his average back over .300 to .304.

–Maybe it’€™s time for a lineup change? OK now that that joke is past us, consider Pedroia’€™s stats when hitting out of the cleanup spot in his career following his 4-for-5 showing Tuesday night. The stout second baseman is hitting .558 (19-for-34) with 10 extra-base hits (five doubles, one triple, four home runs). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, andrew miller, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia

Red Sox vs. Royals Live Blog, July 26

07.26.11 at 7:14 pm ET
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For all the latest news, analysis and updates from Fenway Park, join the WEEI.com live blog!

Red Sox vs. Royals

Red Sox pregame notes: Francona not desperate for deals

07.26.11 at 6:07 pm ET
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Just five days remain until the July 31 deadline for trades that don’t require waivers, and even as the Red Sox continue to explore opportunities to improve, they remain on pace for 100 wins. The Red Sox are in a position where they can see about avenues for improving their 2011 roster (while also eying chances to better their position in future seasons).

But manager Terry Francona suggested that he is comfortable without a desperate push to acquire someone before the deadline. Based on the performance of his team and the shape of the depth options in the minor leagues, he would not complain if the Sox do not make a trade.

‘€œI like our team,” said Francona. “Again, I’€™ve been around here long enough to know that [GM Theo Epstein] is going to be on the phone doing his due diligence, which he’€™s supposed to. I don’€™t need to sit up here and say what we need because I think my job is to get the most out of these guys and I like them a lot. But I also know Theo’€™s going to try to make us better if he can.

“I do feel pretty strongly, because I get to hear the conversations, I like our young players enough in our system that I’€™m not voting or I’€™m not saying, ‘Hey, go do this,’ because I like our young guys, too. I really like the idea of our young guys coming up and helping us. I don’€™t think that hamstrings us one bit.’€

OTHER NOTES

Kevin Youkilis is out of the lineup on Tuesday, one day after he tweaked his hamstring while running to first base on Monday, but the Red Sox believe the issue is a relatively minor one based on his evaluation by trainer Mike Reinold on Monday.

“He’€™s a little sore, but he came through the exam last night pretty good, which is really good,” said Francona. “When he hit the bag, it looked bad. He kind of came off limping. We took him out of there for precautionary reasons. I’€™m glad we did.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Kevin Youkilis

Righty pitcher, lefty pitcher: Why it doesn’t matter to Josh Reddick

07.26.11 at 6:00 pm ET
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Tuesday night’€™s start normally wouldn’t have that much significance for Red Sox right fielder Josh Reddick, who will start his 10th straight game in the Boston outfield when he hits the diamond against the Royals. But this one certainly will as it is just the second time in Reddick’€™s career that Red Sox manager Terry Francona has given the left-handed hitter the nod to start when a southpaw, in this instance Kansas City rookie Danny Duffy, was on the hill.

‘€œIn the past, I haven’€™t started against lefties,’€ Reddick said before the game. ‘€œLately with the left-handed relievers coming in, for him to keep me in there is just showing how much I’€™ve proved to him and how much I’€™ve proved to myself I’€™m ready to stay up here.’€

In that limited experience, Reddick certainly has justified Francona’€™s confidence in the 24-year-old lefty batter. Going into Tuesday’€™s game against the Royals, Reddick was 9-for-18 with a home run, a double and two walks against lefty pitchers this season. That two-bagger came Sunday against Seattle reliever Aaron Laffey when he drove in a run of the fifth inning of a 12-8 win. His other start against a lefty came against Phillies All-Star Cole Hamels with Reddick singling in his only at-bat against Hamels before the latter was pulled after just four innings.

Francona said that the decision to keep Reddick in the lineup wasn’t one he ever foresaw being a difficult one.

“I don’€™t think we ever viewed him as a guy that couldn’t hit left-handers,” said the Sox skipper. “I think it was more, whether it was coming away or in to him, if he gets it up and in an area where he can reach it, I don’€™t think it really matters.”

Reddick credited the early success against his fellow lefties to his ability to approach a southpaw no differently than a northpaw, as it were.

‘€œJust staying consistent whether it’€™s a righty or a lefty,’€ he said. ‘€œJust doing the same thing, not switching it up too much and getting a good pitch to hit. ‘€¦ It’€™s not like I’€™m going up there and sitting on a different pitch. I’€™m always sitting on a fastball. Then reacting to everything that’€™s not a fastball.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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Tuesday’s Red Sox-Royals Matchups: Andrew Miller vs. Danny Duffy

07.26.11 at 3:27 pm ET
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The Red Sox will play host to the Royals in the second game of a four-game series Tuesday night at Fenway Park as they try to recover from Monday’s marathon loss in extra innings.

Andrew Miller (4-1, 4.65), who made his 2011 debut June 20, gets the call for the Red Sox, while the Royals will send rookie Danny Duffy (2-4, 4.58) to the hill. Miller is in his sixth season, but he has only appeared in 20 or more games in two of those six seasons.

Miller is coming off of an outing where he struggled with his control, but battled to get out of jams and did not allow a run in the Red Sox 4-0 win over the Orioles July 20. Miller allowed six walks in just 5 2/3 innings, but only allowed two hits and struck out three to earn the win.

The Red Sox have won five of the six games that Miller has started since he joined the rotation. Miller has not made it into the seventh inning in any of his starts with the Red Sox. He has allowed 16 earned runs in 31 innings of work.

Duffy is coming off of one of his better outings of the season. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits and earned the win in the Royals 4-2 win over the White Sox on July 19. The outing before that Duffy was the touch luck loser as he gave up only two runs in six innings, but the Royals offense did not help him out any as the Royals fell to the Tigers 3-1 on July 7.

Duffy was optioned to triple-A on July 8 before being recalled on July 19.

Both pitchers have very little experience against the opposition. Duffy has never faced anyone on the Red Sox. Miller has only faced four members of the Royals, all fewer than 10 times. Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur each have nine at-bats against the left-hander. Cabrera has one hit, while Francoeur has two.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, Danny Duffy, Jeff Francoeur, melky cabrera
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