Archive for June, 2009

Red Sox at Orioles Match-Ups, 6/30

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

In 2004, Rich Hill was among the nearly 3.2 million fans who turned out for the Red Sox victory parade following the team’€™s first World Series win in 86 years. Five years later, the Boston native will have a significant reason to root against the club he rooted for while growing up: he’€™ll be facing them on the mound for the first time in his career.

While it may be difficult for Hill to face the team he grew up admiring, he certainly can’€™t afford to let distractions get in the way of his performance. In eight starts this season, Hill has gone 3-2 with a bloated 6.03 ERA ‘€“ not to mention, he’€™s only twice managed to stay in the game for over six innings in 2009.

His counterpart tonight is John Smoltz, another pitcher who will be looking to find his form. Following a lengthy recovery from shoulder surgery to start the season, Smoltz finally pitched his first game in a Sox uniform last Thursday against the Washington Nationals, lasting only five innings and giving up five earned runs.

Though Smoltz allowed four runs in a rough first inning last week, he eventually settled down and allowed just one run on three hits over the next four innings in Washington. He’€™s finally healthy, and he’€™ll be pitching against an Orioles team that has dropped five of their last seven and currently occupy last place in the AL East. What’€™s more, the Orioles are winless against the Sox this season.

Smoltz has faced the Orioles just six times in his career, going 1-1 with a 4.37 ERA against the Bird.

ORIOLES VS. SMOLTZ

Robert Andino (9 career plate appearances against Smoltz): 1-for-9, 6 strikeouts
Gregg Zaun (9): 1-for-8, walk, 5 strikeouts
Ty Wigginton (7): 3-for-7, strikeout
Aubrey Huff (5): 1-for-4, walk, strikeout
Brian Roberts (5): 2-for-5
Luke Scott (3): 0-for-2, HBP
Melvin Mora (1): 0-for-1, strikeout

RED SOX VS. HILL

Jason Bay (16 career plate appearances against Hill): 1-for-14, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (1): 1-for-1

Red Sox Place Mike Lowell on 15-Day Disabled List

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

The Boston Red Sox today placed third baseman Mike Lowell on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to June 28) with a right hip strain and recalled first baseman/outfielder Jeff Bailey from Triple-A Pawtucket.  Bailey is wearing No. 55 and is active for tonight’€™s game against the Orioles.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Lowell, 35, is hitting .282 (75-for-266) with 18 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 41 RBI and 30 runs scored in 68 games for Boston this season.  The right-handed hitter has made starts in just two of the Red Sox’€™ last nine games and returned to Boston following Sunday’€™s game in Atlanta.  On Monday, Lowell received an injection of Synvisc in his right hip.  The third baseman underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip during the offseason.

For Bailey, 30, it is his second stint with the Major League club this season.  The right-handed hitter was originally selected to the active roster on April 22 and went 13-for-69 (.188) with three doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBI and 10 runs scored in 23 games before being optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket on May 31.  In 36 games with the PawSox this season, Bailey is batting .259 (36-for-139) with 13 RBI and seven home runs, tied for the second-most on the club.  He has hit safely in each of his last nine games beginning June 20, going 12-for-34 (.353) in that time.

Lowell: Shot went well

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell reported that the shot of Synvisc administered to his surgically repaired right hip on Monday morning in Boston went well. The doctors discovered more fluid in the area than originally anticipated, which explained his recent discomfort.

“I guess the main thing was that they weren’t really expecting to find fluid in there, but they ended up finding a significant amount of fluid so I think that’s a good thing,” Lowell said. “They took the bad stuff out and put the good stuff in. I’m a little bruised from the injection itself but I do feel I have a lot more mobility. I think I’ll be able to tell more tomorrow when I get stretched out and stuff.

“At least for me mentally, it’s a comforting feeling, that there was fluid in there and they took it out. It explains why there was discomfort. It makes a lot more sense to me. You can bank on the fact that everything structurally is fine and your body is trying to protect itself when it’s in a vulnerable state. If there wasn’t fluid I would say, ‘What’s causing it?’ I’m happy they found it. But I think the next few days will be big.”

It is unlikely Lowell will join the team in Baltimore for the remainder of the Red Sox’ three-game series, instead staying behind to work with physical therapist Scott Waugh. The third baseman suggests that Thursday should be the deciding day as to whether he can re-enter the lineup Friday, or whether he might have to land on the 15-day disabled list. (Lowell, whose only action this weekend came when he entered Saturday’s game as a pinch-hitter, has played in just three of the Sox’ last eight games.)

“If I don’t have a big improvement in mobility and flexibility and all of that I have to believe their going to think of something DL-wise, but if I feel really good I might play Friday,” he said. “So Thursday is the day we chart what’s going on.

“I kind of felt like I had a little more space to move around with, but that’s just walking. I just have a little bit of an ache because of the needle that went in that area. I think after that wears off, probably by tomorrow morning, I’ll know, and I’ll know for sure once I stretch with Scotty.”

Red Sox vs. Orioles Match-ups, 6/29

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Tonight, Jon Lester takes to the hill against the AL East cellar-dwelling Baltimore Orioles. The southpaw, who comes into the game with a 6-6 record, will face a lineup carrying a .273 average, good enough for fifth in the majors. Lester will get his first dose of rookies Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold if they’re in the lineup this evening.

Here’s how the Orioles hitters have done against Lester:

Nick Markakis (26 at-bats) .240 avg/.269 OBP/.400 SLG (4 2B, 1 RBI)
Brian Roberts (25 at-bats) .273/.360/.545 (HR, RBI)
Aubrey Huff (24 at-bats) .364/.417/.636 (HR, 2RBI)
Melvin Mora (18 at-bats) .176/.222/.176 (2 RBI)
Adam Jones (15 at-bats) .417/.533/.417
Gregg Zaun (9 at-bats) .143/.333/.143
Luke Scott (8 at-bats) .000/.000/.000 (3 SO)
Oscar Salazar (5 at-bats) .250/.400/.500
Ty Wigginton (5 at-bats) .600/.600/.800
Robert Andino (2 at-bats) 1.000/1.000/1.000
Felix Pie (2 at-bats) .000/.000/.000

The entire Red Sox lineup will get their first look at Orioles rookie righthander Jason Berken tonight. Berken comes into tonight’s game with a 1-4 record and 6.32 ERA. The Green Bay, Wis., native has fanned 19 batters in 31.1 innings this season for the O’s.

Red Sox at Braves Match-Ups, 6/28

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

In 2005, Brad Penny bet a batboy that he could not down a gallon of milk in an hour. The batboy succeeded in doing so, but threw it up. When the team found out, they suspended the batboy. Penny was quoted as saying “It’s kind of ridiculous that you get a 10-game suspension for steroids and a six-game suspension for milk.”

Anyway, that said here is what today’s pitchers in the Red Sox/Braves tilt have done against their respective opponents:

Brad Penny vs. the Braves

Chipper Jones – .310/.375/.452 (1 HR 10 RBI, 3 SO)      

Nate McLouth – .200/.200/.300 (0 HR 0 RBI, 1 SO)

Garret Anderson – .222/.222/.333 (0 HR 1 RBI, 1 SO)

Dave Ross – .111/.111/.222 (0 HR 0 RBI, 3 SO)

Jeff Francoeur – .286/.286/.714 (1 HR 2 RBI, 1 SO

Kelly Johnson (3) – .667/.667/.667 (0 HR 1 RBI, 1 SO)

Casey Kotchman (3) – .333/.333/.333 (0 HR 0 RBI, 0 SO

Matt Diaz (2) – .500/.500/1.000 (0 HR 1 RBI, 0 SO)

Brian McCann (2) – .500/.500/2.000 (1 HR 1 RBI, 0 SO)

Tommy Hanson, a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, made his major league debut earlier this month on June 7th and has since taken no time to prove that he is going to be around for awhile. Through his first four starts in the big leagues, Hanson is 3-0 with an ERA of 3.13. In his last two starts against Cincinnati and the Yankees, he has not allowed a run.

Before he was called up, Hanson was leading the international league in ERA by just .25 over Clay Buchholz.

Lowrie resumes his rehab

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Jed Lowrie absentmindedly rubbed his left wrist as he spoke Saturday in front of his locker before the Paw Sox home game against Syracuse. Now almost 10 weeks removed from the surgery to repair that area, the wrist — which Lowrie said was at 85 percent of his right wrist when he was last tested a few weeks ago — is less of an impediment to the shortstop’s return to the majors than is the need to simply get back in playing shape.

Lowrie returned to the lineup on Saturday night with Triple-A Pawtucket against Syracuse to resume his rehab with the PawSox. He was in just his third game since undergoing his surgery in mid-April on Tuesday when he was hit by a pitch in the left knee on Tuesday during his first at bat in Norfolk. He remained in the game singling in the top of the third eventually scoring on an Aaron Bates double.

With the three days off, Lowrie’s efforts to regain his timing at the plate and his game stamina have been slowed, at least temporarily.

‘€œI don’€™t have a timetable right now,’€ Lowrie said. ‘€œThe pitch to my knee didn’€™t help on Tuesday. It’€™s only my third real game back because of Tuesday so I’€™m just looking to get at bats.’€

The Sox followed a conservative course in getting the 25-year-old shortstop back into the field.

‘€œIt tightened up on him so we’€™re obviously taking our time on it,’€ said Paw Sox manager Ron Johnson. ‘€œHe rehabbed for a couple days and yesterday he went out for a full pre-game. I talked to him this morning at the airport and he flew back today, not with us, and he said he was ready to go tonight.’€

“He hasn’€™t played a lot,” Johnson continued. “The focus with Jed is to make sure he’€™s ready. This is almost like a ‘€˜re-spring training’€™ for him.

While Lowrie is eager to return, he also recognizes that he will do himself few favors by rushing his rehab or becoming frustrated by the pace of his progress.

‘€œI know I’€™m a major league shortstop and I believe in myself,” said Lowrie. “I’€™ll be back as soon as I can get back.’€

Red Sox at Braves Match-Ups, 6/27

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Javier Vazquez didn’€™t get a chance to face the Red Sox when the Braves were in Boston last week, and perhaps that was just as well for the pitcher. For his career, Vazquez is 2-6 against the Sox. He seems to have a weakness for throwing homerun balls to his batting Boston counterparts, having given up 11 homers in just 10 games pitched.

Mike Lowell (out of the lineup again today due to hip discomfort) and David Ortiz both have two career homeruns a piece against Vazquez, but look for J.D. Drew to flash his elusive smile as he goes to bat against a pitcher who he’€™s homered off of four times. Well, maybe a smile is a lot to ask of Drew, but at least he’€™ll be happy on the inside.

(The only pitcher against whom Drew has homered more often is Claudio Vargas. Drew has taken Vargas deep five times.)

In his last two starts against Boston, Vazquez has allowed 12 runs in 11 2/3 innings.

On the other side of the ball is 42-year-old Tim Wakefield, who’€™s tied for the most number of wins this season on the Sox pitching staff with Josh Beckett. Wakefield (9-3, 4.47 ERA) will be looking to become the first Boston pitcher to 10 wins in 2009 as he faces a Braves team that didn’€™t go down easy against him last week in Boston. (Wakefield allowed four runs and got a no-decision.)

Ignited by David Ortiz’€™ recent surge and a pitching staff with a 3.38 in their last 23 games, the Sox are 7-3 in their last 10 games and currently hold the American League‘€™s best record at 45-28. The Sox are also 38-24 all-time against the Braves.

BRAVES VS. WAKEFIELD

Garret Anderson (70 career plate appearances against Wakefield): .275 average/ .286 OBP/ .536 slugging, 5 homers, walk, 6 strikeouts
Casey Kotchman (18): .294/ .333/ .529, homer, walk, 2 strikeouts
Chipper Jones (17): .333/ .529/ .500, 5 walks, 2 strikeouts
Gregor Blanco (3): 1-for-3
Yunel Escobar (3): 2-for-3
Brian McCann (3): 1-for-3
Nate McLouth (3): 1-for-3
Martin Prado (3): 2-for-3, strikeout
David Ross (3): 1-for-3

RED SOX VS. VAZQUEZ

Mike Lowell (48 career plate appearances against Vazquez): .283 average/ .313 OBP/ .522 slugging, 2 homers, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Mark Kotsay (39): .200/ .282/ .286, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Julio Lugo (29): .296/ .345/ .444, homer, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (28): .417/ .500/ 1.000, 4 homers, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
David Ortiz (26): .304/ .385/ .652, 2 homers, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (20): .105/ .150/ .158, walk, 9 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (14): 1-for-14, 7 strikeouts
Jason Bay (13): 2-for-12, walk, 5 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (11): 7-for-10, walk, 2 strikeouts
Rocco Baldelli (6): 1-for-6, 3 strikeouts
Brad Penny (6): 1-for-5, 3 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (4): 0-for-3, walk, strikeout

Red Sox at Braves Match-Ups, 6/26

Friday, June 26th, 2009

RED SOX vs. JAIR JURRJENS

The last time the Red Sox faced Jair Jurrjens (in case you can’t remember five days back), they defeated the Braves, 6-5, in a walk-off thriller courtesy of Nick Green‘s ninth-inning blast. Jurrjens wasn’t particularly tough on the Sox, giving up five runs (though only two were earned) through six and allowing a two-run homer to David Ortiz as part of a four-run first. He was only charged with two of the runs on a technicality, as the error that caused the inning to continue was his own.

On the season the 23-year-old righthander is 5-5 with an ERA of 2.89, which currently ranks sixth-best in the National League. He has struck out exactly twice as many hitters as he’s walked (62:31 K/BB) through his 87.1 innings for the Braves this season.

Jurrjens was acquired prior to the 2008 season from the Tigers with in a heist trade that sent Edgar Renteria to Detroit. He finished third to Geovany Soto and Joey Votto in NL Rookie of the Year voting last year. He works mainly with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball as well as a changeup and slider.
Jurrjens, a native of  Curaçao, pitched in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands in 2006. (Alex Speier wrote an interesting piece about the Red Sox’ scouting efforts in the Netherlands and Holland, where “honkbal” is played. … Not that that has anything to do with Curaçao.)
He is the first ever native of Curaçao to pitch in the majors. Here’s how Red Sox hitters have fared against Jurrjens, almost completely based on Sunday’s contest:

Jason Bay (7 career plate appearances vs. Jurrjens): 1-for-5, RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO
Dustin Pedroia (4): 1-for-4
Mark Kotsay (3): 2-for 3
David Ortiz (3): 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, SO
J.D. Drew (3): 0-for-3. 2 SO
Kevin Youkilis (3): 1-for-3, SO
Jacoby Ellsbury (3): 1-for-3, SO
Nick Green (3): 0-for-2, HBP
George Kottaras (2): 1-for-2, RBI

BRAVES vs. JOSH BECKETT

On the hill for the Sox tonight is Josh Beckett, who is coming off his best start of the season and perhaps one of his best in a Red Sox uniform.

Beckett was extraordinarily efficient on Saturday against this same Atlanta club, needing only 94 pitches to toss a complete-game shutout at Fenway, his first complete game of the year, and his first-ever shutout with the Sox. He struck out seven Braves over the course of the night while giving up just five hits and walking none.

Boston’s ace enters the game with an 8-3 record to go with his 3.74 ERA. He’s gone at least six innings deep in each of his nine starts since May 5. With the exception of a June 14 hiccup in Philadelphia in which he was touched for six earned, he has been brilliant since May 16, posting a 1.60 ERA in seven starts while fanning 47 through 50.2 innings.

Beckett is on pace to reach the 200-inning mark for the third time in four seasons in Boston. Before coming to the Sox he had never reached 180 innings in a season.

Here’s how the Braves have done against Beckett. Aside from Garret Anderson, Atlanta batters have had a miserable time against the Sox ace:

Chipper Jones (30): 179 BA / .233 OBP / .393 SLG, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO
Garret Anderson (22): .450 / .500 / .700, HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO
Brian McCann (14): .214 / .214 / .286, 4 SO
Jeff Francoeur (11): .100 / .182 / .100, BB, 3 SO
Greg Norton (11): .111 / .273 / .444, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO
Casey Kotchman (10): .200 / .200 / .200, 3 SO
Kelly Johnson (8): 1-for-7, BB, 3 SO
Nate McClouth (4): 0-for-4
Yunel Escobar (4): 1-for-4, 2 SO
Omar Infante (3): 0-for-3, 2 SO
Martin Prado (3): 0-for-3
David Ross (2): 0-for-1, BB
Matt Diaz (2): 0-for-1, BB

Five innings, five runs, and 71 text messages

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

WASHINGTON — Here is John Smoltz after his five-inning outing, in which he threw 92 pitches and surrendered five runs, four of which came in the first inning: 

(Rough start, good finish) “I can’€™t be disappointed. I lost a little rhythm there in the first inning, which has happened three different times when I’€™ve been gone for a year and tried to slow down as much as I can. But I’€™ve got to give them credit. They battled me on seven, eight, and nine-pitch at bats. Made one bad pitch each at bat to give up a hit.

“But very encouraged by how good I can be, and how good I felt, and the stamina and everything going forward. I was really disappointed on the bloop hit. Two runs is two runs. Going to give up two runs. Felt like that was pretty much the unfortunate hit that put their young pitcher in a nice position to have a four-run lead against our lineup. All in all, most times if the line score is the way it is I’€™m going to be very disappointed, but I really can’€™t be at this point.

 “A lot of hard work. Although I’€™d like that mulligan in the first inning, that’€™s the way it happens. Now everything will be normal for me.”

(On his velocity) “Yeah, there’€™s still some room for that to improve. I got a little anxious and jerked some pitches that is normal and that’€™s the thing, when you go through this process, everyone wants to come out and throw great, but I threw so many quality iptches I was pleased with that I know within a matter of a few starts I’€™ll be honed in to where I want to be, and hopefully not have, when I hit Nick Johnson, kind of sped things up a little bit. All in a all, lot of hits product of poor placement and good placement by them. Before you know it, it’€™s 4-0 and I’€™m saying here we go again. Fortunately, could have gone another inning. Felt that strong.”

(How he felt at the end) “Yeah, said  I was good, but the situation in my first start and 90-something pitches, that’€™s what I was most disappointed about. I pitched myself out of a potential good game in that first inning with 35 pitches. I never felt couldn’€™t make a pitch, repeat a pitch, make an adjustment on a pitch.

“Once I got past the first inning, felt normal again. All encouraging signs for the future.”

(Going through all of his pitches) “I check them all off, except for the first inning, I started to feel for some pitches instead of throwing, and it cost me a couple of times. The best way to describe it is you get in that moment, you knmow it counts, trying to mak ehte best pitch you can. With some of those hitters, Josh Bard especially, he just battled me until I hung one. I made seven really, really good pitches in the at-bat and the one bad one he hit.

“Every time I got on the mound felt I can make those pitches. What’€™s happened fo rme was I made a lot of really, really good pitches early in the count with no conact, and with two strikes, have to make those pitches. That’€™s where I said my famiilarity will come back really quick in two to three starts.”

“Unfortunately it started out this way a few times in my career. Don’t get too worried about it. I was very encouraged by the stuff that I had tonight.”

(How this comeback was different than others) “It felt different because I had 71 texts today. It felt different because so many people were and have been rooting for me that’€™s what frustrates you. That’€™s what sturggled with most in first start. Wanted to do well for those people who have been so supportive.

“My buddy joked he flew up from Miami for one that last 1 2/3 innings. At least I got five innings today.”

“So much for going on eight days. I’m glad it’€™s over so I can resume the five-day rotation and do what every pitcher does, make improvements from game to game.”

“That’€™s what I feared most coming into this game, wanted to do so well for everybody involved, find self going, ‘How did I get here? How did four runs just happen?’ No matter if I’m 42 or 22, I feel like I can accomplish whatever I want this year. That’€™s why I came back, rehab went the way it did, now it’€™s just a matter of going out there and doing it like I did before.”

(more…)

Farrell on Smoltz’ outing

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

After John Smoltz five-inning, five-run debut with the Red Sox, Thursday night at Nationals Park, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell analyzed the starter’s outing:

(On giving up four runs in the first inning) “I’m sure there were some emotions and adenaline that was certainly flowing and I think that had an impact on certain pitchers that inning. He really gathered himself and really allowed some rhythm to take over and allow him to gather himself over the rubber and throw the ball downhill. I thought he was very good. The velocity was better than some games he has pitched in rehab. All in all I thought it was a very encouraging outing. Certainly enough to be successful at this level, to be sure.”

(On what was said between the first and second innings) “It was just a very simple reminder about things we have talked about on the side things we have given for feedback in his rehab starts, just buying some time over the rubber to allow his arm to get up and throw downhill. Once he did that the next four innings went as I think he had hoped, and certainly we hoped. We can’t leave out the first inning but all in all I think it was a very good starting point.”

(On what worked best for Smoltz) “The ability to throw three and four pitches at time for strikes. He still commanded his fastball better as the game went on. I think he realizes that he can use his fastball. There’s some similarities here we’ve seen from Schill as a veteran pitcher transitions or makes adjustments after a certain time. Where he has the ability to trust his fastball even more, not having to pitch to his secondary stuff. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be a 90 percent fastball guy, but I think they fouled off a lot quality offspeed pitches down in the zone when he had enough velocity to keep guys honest.”

(On if there is room for greater velocity after topping out at 93 mph) “There may be. He’s now got 35 innings under his belt. You see it with the guys in our rotation now. The power pitchers don’t get their stuff until the fifth, sixth week of the season. Not to say that’s the case with John. I don’t know that. But typically guys who pitch with above average velocity it’s a few starts into their regular turns. Keep in mind, John’s just coming out of spring training as far as we’re concerned.”

(On if the Sox were able to see the real Smoltz in the fifth, when he struck out the side) “I think we’ve felt that way the minute we took the mound. We don’t expect him to go out and strike out every hitter he faces. But there was no hesitation, there was an aggressivenes to the zone. I think it was a very encouraging outing.”