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Closing Time: Sox bats silenced in loss to Orioles

07.19.11 at 9:43 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — The second start of Kyle Weiland‘s career followed a much different script than his first. The right-hander poured a wide-ranging arsenal into the strike zone, and though the Orioles strung together five hits — some of the seeing-eye variety — and three runs against him in the first three innings, Weiland remained poised while mixing fastballs, changeups, cutters and a surprisingly good slider (perhaps an adaptation of his curveball or cutter) for strikes.

It was a mix that netted Weiland the first quality start of his career, as he allowed just three runs on six hits and three walks over six innings. But it was not good enough for his first career win.

That was less a product of the rookie’s performance than that of Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, who held the Sox at bay for seven innings in which he allowed just two runs while scattering eight hits. He set the tone on a night when the top four hitters in the Sox’ lineup — Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis — combined to go just 2-for-16 with a pair of singles in the Sox’ 6-2 loss in Baltimore.

The loss snapped the Sox’ seven-game winning streak over Baltimore.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–While Weiland pitched well, he lacked a consistent putaway offering. Whereas he was able to get called strikes to lefties on backdoor curveballs with two strikes in Triple-A this year, the Orioles were able to foul off such offerings and, ultimately, to put most of Weiland’s offerings in play. He got five swings and misses on the night, three on a slider that was particularly impressive given that it is not a normal part of the right-hander’s repertoire. Of the six hits Weiland allowed, three came with two strikes.

–The slump deepened for Adrian Gonzalez, who went 0-for-4 and is now hitting .083 (2-for-24) since the All-Star break. Gonzalez acknowledged on Monday that his swing isn’t where he wants it to be, and his indecisive evening in the batter’s box further underscored the point. He struck out twice on sliders (one on a check-swing) from Jeremy Guthrie and grounded out twice (once on a double play smash up the middle), and seemed unusually uncertain of what pitches were coming.

–It was a night when the Sox felt the absence of suspended DH David Ortiz, who owns a .343 career average with three home runs against Guthrie.

Alfredo Aceves, who came on in relief of Weiland, allowed back-to-back homers in the bottom of the eighth inning (a two-run blast by Derrek Lee and a solo smash by Mark Reynolds) to eliminate any Sox visions of a comeback. The two longballs were uncharacteristic, as Aceves had permitted just four homers in 63 innings entering the night.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Josh Reddick matched a career high (previously achieved three times, including twice this year) with three hits in four at-bats, including a double. He is now hitting .367 with a 1.088 OPS for the year.

Dustin Pedroia collected an infield single in the first to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, matching a careeer-high he’d originally established in 2008.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia clubbed his second homer in as many nights, lining a fastball just over the scoreboard in right field for a two-run homer that accounted for the only Sox runs of the night. It was Saltalamacchia’s second homer in as many nights. For the year, he now has a .771 OPS, placing him in the top 10 among catchers with at least 200 plate appearances this year.

Red Sox Pregame Notes: Buchholz getting closer

07.19.11 at 7:30 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — The progress is starting to become evident. Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz threw long toss from 120 feet on Monday afternoon, in a session that gave the Sox grounds for optimism that his recovery from a frustratingly persistent back issue is advancing.

“[Monday] was such a good day that I think everyone was really pleased,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “I know we’€™ve got some hurdles to get through, but still, he really did well. The guys that were with him said you would never, it looked like a normal day of long toss on a guy that feels good about himself. So that was good.”

Buchholz said that he felt mild soreness on Tuesday, but he pinned that on throwing with greater intensity than at any time since he last tried to throw off a mound at the end of June in Philadelphia. As things stand, the right-hander is scheduled to throw again from 120 feet on flat ground on Wednesday and then, assuming there are no setbacks, to throw his first bullpen session in more than three weeks on Friday at Fenway.

That represents a significant checkpoint in Buchholz’ progression back to pitching, given that at earlier phases of his rehab, he felt the discomfort in his back most acutely when throwing off a mound.

“When he gets to the mound, that’€™s been the sticking point,” said Francona. “But again, we’€™ve taken pretty significant time off and yesterday was such a good day that I think everyone was really pleased.”

That included Buchholz.

“It was definitely a step forward,” Buchholz said of Monday’s long-toss session. “Hopefully get off the mound here in the next couple days, two or three days. That’€™s what I want to do: Put myself in position to get healthy and then come back and help this team win.”

The unexpectedly long stretch on the sidelines has Buchholz (6-3, 3.48 ERA) hoping that he will be able to regain his feel for his pitches upon his return. But, his arm feels good, and with improvement in his back, the right-hander believes that he is on the right track to return.

“I’€™ve tried everyday just to pick up a baseball just so that I don’€™t forget how it feels in my hand, the grips and everything. That’€™s one of the first things that will go if you don’€™t throw a ball for a while,” said Buchholz. “The arm feels really good though. I’€™ve been keeping up with the shoulder program. Now that I’€™m throwing a little bit more, it definitely feels better. That’€™s a good thing.”

OTHER NOTES

Bobby Jenks received a plasma-rich platelet injection in his injured lower back, a region that has now landed him on the disabled list twice this season. An exam in Boston, however, revealed that the issue is muscular rather than structural, and so the Sox are hopeful that once the soreness from the injection clears in the next couple of days, the right-hander will be in position to advance in his rehab. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Clay Buchholz, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jed Lowrie

Red Sox-Orioles Live Blog, July 19

07.19.11 at 6:43 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — The Red Sox own a 7-2 record against the Orioles this year, even having overcome Kyle Weiland‘s six-run yield (in four innings) in his major league debut to win the final game of the first half.The Sox, rather amazingly, also now own a 30-19 road record (best in the majors) after having started the year 0-6 away from Fenway.

For all the latest news, analysis and updates from Camden Yards, join the Live Blog below.

Red Sox at Orioles Live Blog, July 19

Trade Deadline: Yankees content with bullpen?

07.19.11 at 6:25 pm ET
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The Yankees have told teams they won’t be looking to improve their bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline, according to Dan Knobler of CBSSports.com.

While they have been reportedly interested in Royals closer Joakim Soria since last season, Knobler writes they are now content with the improvement of David Robertson (1.21 ERA) and the scheduled return of Rafael Soriano from the disabled list.

New York did send executives to San Diego, where the Padres have two available relievers in Mike Adams and Heath Bell. However, if the Yankees are targeting one pitcher this summer, it will likely be Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, bullpen, Joakim Soria, ubaldo jimenez

Trade Deadline: Red Sox join market for Ubaldo Jimenez?

07.19.11 at 4:22 pm ET
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The Red Sox are the latest of several teams to inquire about Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenezaccording to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, although it’s not clear how serious their interest is at this stage.

Colorado has a steep asking price for the right-hander, and there is steep competition from the likes of the Yankees, Reds and Rangers. The 27-year-old’s contract goes through 2013, with an $8 million team option in 2014.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Red Sox, ubaldo jimenez,

Trade Deadline: Dodgers GM meets with Hiroki Kuroda about rumors

07.19.11 at 4:16 pm ET
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Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti met with starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda on Monday to discuss the recent trade speculation over the right-hander. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Colletti told Kuroda that he did not want to trade him, but he was willing to give him a chance to play for a contender.

Kuroda has a no-trade clause and there’s speculation that he may not want to play on the east coast. Asked whether or not he would waive the clause and allow a trade, he said, “At this point, I don’t know yet … I have very complicated feelings.”

Kuroda is 6-11 with a 3.13 ERA this season, and is drawing interest from the Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Tigers.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Dodgers, Hiroki Kuroda, Ned Colletti

Transcript of Terry Francona on The Big Show: Sticking with veterans has worked in the past

07.19.11 at 4:05 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined The Big Show for his weekly interview Tuesday to discuss the team’s success, struggles and Sunday’s marathon win over the Rays.

J.D. Drew‘s underwhelming performance has been well documented this season, and with Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald waiting in the wings, Francona was asked who he plans on playing in right field as the pennant race rages on.

“[Drew] has a long history of doing what he’s done, and you’re right, to this point it hasn’t been what he normally does,” Francona said. “[Reddick] doesn’t have the history, but he’s been a huge part of what we’re doing for the last month. So it creates a little bit of a — I don’t want to say dilemma, because it’s good. I just don’t know exactly how it’s going to work. It’s easy just to put the guy that’s hot out there, but as a manager you have to think, ‘OK, am I hurting down the road more than I’m helping today?’ So that makes me think a little bit.

“I really couldn’t think back to a veteran that we stuck with that we weren’t rewarded for,” he added. “If we think somebody can help us, we do try to stick with him. How many times was I told I should not play David [Ortiz] the last two years? Well if I had listened to them it wouldn’t have been very smart. [Dustin] Pedroia, [Mark] Bellhorn, I mean you can go on and on and I just don’t think we’ve stayed with guys too long. Maybe I’ll miss a name or two, but I think for the most part if we think they can help us, we want to let them play or we’re going to miss out on some good baseball. And I don’t want to do that.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.

Were you a little bit concerned based on the travel and the late game [against the Rays on Sunday] that your guys might be a little too tired for that one last night?

Not really. Our schedule is so crazy, most of the time we play a lot of Sunday night games and we get in at 4:30 anyway, so what the heck is the difference of an hour and a half? The rule of thumb is if you can get to bed before the sun comes up, you’re generally OK. We didn’t quite make that, but we try to make some adjustments. We’re not hitting on the field tonight. We’re trying to save up our energy and use it in the game. We’re deep enough in the season now that we don’t need to hit on the field all the time. We’ll be OK. And we sent [Tim] Wakefield ahead to try to make adjustments, but you try to not let things get in the way of winning.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, J.D Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury
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