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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.

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 »

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Trade Deadline: Giants’ pursuit of Carlos Beltran slowing down? 07.21.11 at 12:35 pm ET
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According to a report from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Giants have a hit a sang in their pursuit of Carlos Beltran. The Giants, according to Martino, are now willing to assume most of the $6 million owed to Beltran for the rest of the season but will not give up a top prospect in exchange for the outfielder. The Mets are willing to pay the remainder of Beltran’s salary but want an elite prospect in return.

Beltran leads the National League with 30 doubles and 47 extra-base hits. He also ranks in the top 10 in walks, OBP, RBI and OPS.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, carlos beltran, Giants, Mets
Trade Deadline: Red Sox reportedly inquired about Colby Rasmus 07.20.11 at 4:05 pm ET
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According to a report from Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated, the Red Sox have contacted the Cardinals about the possibility of trading for outfielder Colby Rasmus. The 24-year-old Rasmus — who hit 23 home runs with a .498 slugging percentage last season — has nine homers and is batting .241 in 89 games this season.

The Sox were one of several teams that asked about Rasmus, according to the Heyman report, but Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said that he is not shopping Rasmus and is highly unlikely to move him.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, Cardinals, Colby Rasmus, Red Sox
Live Blog: Andrew Miller, Red Sox look to finish off road trip strong against Orioles 07.20.11 at 12:16 pm ET
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Orioes/Red Sox live blog

Trade Deadline: Yankees reportedly interested in Carlos Beltran 07.19.11 at 8:11 am ET
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According to a Tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Yankees are one of the teams who have shown interest in Mets’ outfielder Carlos Beltran. Olney writes: “NYY are one of the teams that have had conversations with the Mets about Carlos Beltran,but unless pure salary dump,can’t see it happening.”

ESPN New York reported early Tuesday morning that the Mets are willing to pick up the entirety of what is left on Beltran’s contract in exchange for the right prospect. If Beltran is dealt on the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline he will be owed $6 million for the rest of the season.

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Live Blog: Red Sox, Josh Beckett look to push Rays further back in standings 07.17.11 at 8:09 pm ET
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Rays/Red Sox Live Blog

Trade Deadline: Cubs won’t deal Jeff Baker 07.16.11 at 1:34 pm ET
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Cubs utility man Jeff Baker can hit, play multiple positions and is affordable at just $1.75 million this season. That sounds like the perfect trade deadline pickup for a contending team looking to add a bat for the stretch run. The only problem is that he’s not available, according to a Fox Sports report.

Ken Rosenthal notes the Red Sox and Indians were among the teams that were interested in the 30-year-old Baker. Peter Gammons also raised the possibility on WEEI.

Indeed, the right-handed hitting Baker would be an affordable, yet experienced hitter to compliment the lefty-heavy Sox’ lineup. Baker has hammered left-handed pitching to the tune of .318/.367/.543 during his career and he is batting .375 with two home runs in 72 at bats this season. It could be posturing on the Cubs part, but Baker is still a year away from becoming arbitration eligible and Rosenthal notes that Cubs GM Jim Hendry sees him as part of next year’s club.

Read More: 2011 Trade Deadline, cubs, Indians, Jeff baker
Live Blog: Red Sox take on Rays at Tropicana Field 07.15.11 at 6:43 pm ET
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Red Sox vs. Rays Live Blog

Harry Manion on M&M: ‘Big chance’ Roger Clemens walks away unscathed 07.14.11 at 1:20 pm ET
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Boston lawyer Harry Manion joined Mut and Merloni Thursday, saying the prosecution in Roger Clemens‘ perjury trial was “reckless” and “disrespectful” with their use of inadmissible evidence, leading to a mistrial. He added that he did not believe there would be another trial for Clemens due to double-jeopardy.

“Here’s the question: Is the declaring of the mistrial while the defendant, Roger Clemens, is at jeopardy? In the law, that means he’s at trial,” Manion said. “Jeopardy is attached for the purpose of double-jeopardy ‘€¦ the constitutional concept that you cannot be be prosecuted twice for the same crime.”

“I’m telling you, what you’re going to be hearing over the next 24 hours [is] a motion from the defendant, [Clemens' attorney] Rusty Hardin saying, ‘Jeopardy attached. You can’t try him twice. It wasn’t my fault. It was the government’s fault. Release him, and call this over.’ If that’s the case, he walks away a completely free man, never to be prosecuted again for anything that happened in Congress.”

The prosecution twice made mention of Laura Pettitte’s account of what her husband, Andy, had told her about a conversation between he and Clemens. It was ruled inadmissible evidence prior to the trial, and when the prosecution showed video of her 2008 affidavit, U.S. District Jude Reggie Walton took a recess and eventually declared the mistrial.

“I try cases all the time. I’m a trial lawyer,” Manion said. “This is what all those pre-trial motions are about. They’re called motions in limine. It’s the judge telling the lawyers, ‘Look. In your opening statement, in your evidence, stay away from the subject matter. I ruled it inadmissible.’ If you tread over the line, you get yourself in trouble with the judge.

The defendant can get sanctioned, admonished, but that the defendant has a lot of rights. The prosecutor does not. The prosecutor has to obey the letter of the law. When a judge says, ‘Stay away from Mrs. Pettitte’s affidavit, stay away from the conversations she allegedly had,’ and then you go refer to it in your opening, and worse, you play a tape of it involving a congressman in which the conversation is alluded to and highlighted on the screen and sits in front of the jury, that is such reckless conduct, and such disrespectful conduct that I could see Judge Walton — who is nobody to mess with, I mean he is a real tough, strict judge. I could see him walking out at 2:00 this afternoon and granting a motion to dismiss this prosecution.”

A hearing to revisit the matter is scheduled for Sept. 2, but Manion believes that all of the attention given to the way this week’s trial fell apart that getting an indifferent jury would be too challenging.

“This is also just absolutely terrible pre-trial publicity. The entire world knows now what has happened, and you’re never going to get a fair jury. You can’t even change the venue. Fundamental fairness [says] don’t prosecute Roger. He has a big chance right now to walk away from this. We’re going to find out I think in the next 24 hours whether that happens or not.”

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