|Red Sox vs. Indians Match-Ups, 4/29||04.29.09 at 3:32 pm ET|
Jon Lester and Fausto Carmona are both 25, both signed to long-term deals, both feature some of the best pure stuff of any starters in the American League, and both are off to slow starts in 2009.
Carmona has yet to record a quality start in his four outings, having allowed at least four runs in each. Opponents are hitting .289 with a .923 OPS against him.
Lester started poorly, allowing 11 runs in 11 innings in his first two starts, all the while maintaining that his stuff remained sharp. His two most recent starts have supported the notion: in his last 13 innings, he’s allowed two runs and struck out 16.
RED SOX VS. FAUSTO CARMONA (2009: 1-3, 7.36; CAREER VS. RED SOX: 1-2, 8.10)
These are the regular-season numbers for the Red Sox against Fausto Carmona. Of course, the regular-season numbers tell a rather incomplete story, since J.D. Drew’s 0-for-4 would look quite a bit different if his grand slam in Game 6 of the 2007 American League Championship Series were factored into the equation.
That said, the availability of Drew (who was 2-for-4 with the aforementioned granny in the 2007 ALCS against Carmona) and Kevin Youkilis (3-for-4 with a walk in the ’07 ALCS) is uncertain tonight, as manager Terry Francona disclosed on Dale & Holley today that both are nicked up to the point where a day off might be in order.
Jason Bay (2): 1-for-2
J.D. Drew (4): 0-for-4
Jacoby Ellsbury (2): 0-for-2
David Ortiz (5): 3-for-5, double, homer
Dustin Pedroia (4): 1-for-3, double
Jason Varitek (4): 2-for-3, walk
Kevin Youkilis (6): 0-for-3, 3 walks
INDIANS VS. JON LESTER (1-2, 4.88 in 2009; 2-0, 4.03 LIFETIME VS. CLEVELAND)
Two of the most significant appearances of Jon Lester‘s career took place in Cleveland. The first, of course, was his first major-league start since he had been declared cancer-free. On July 23, 2007, Lester returned to the hill with six sharp innings, allowing two runs, to earn an emotional 4-2 win.
The second was somewhat more obscure. In Game 4 of the ALCS, Lester entered a contest in which the Sox were getting hammered by a 7-3 count. He was nothing short of dominant, pitching three shutout innings in relief of Tim Wakefield while allowing just one hit and striking out four, his velocity ticking up towards the mid-90s. When Wakefield’s torn labrum prevented him from pitching in the World Series, that outing offered a compelling case that Lester was capable of taking the ball. He did, earning the victory in the clincher against the Rockies. In some ways, then, that relief outing in Cleveland served as a springboard to Lester’s emergence.
Here are the regular-season numbers for the Indians against him:
Asdrubal Cabrera (3 career plate appearances): 0-for-0, walk, two sacrifices
Mark DeRosa: 1-for-3, double
Ben Francisco (3): 0-for-3
Ryan Garko (7): 2-for-6, double, walk
Tony Graffanino (3): 0-for-1, two walks
Travis Hafner (11): 3-for-10, sac fly
Victor Martinez (6): 4-for-6, homer
Jhonny Peralta (12): 2-for-10, two walks
Kelly Shoppach (6): 2-for-4, double, two walks
Grady Sizemore (12): 2-for-9, triple, homer, three walks
|Francona on Ortiz: ‘He is Coming’||04.29.09 at 1:01 pm ET|
In his weekly interview on the Dale and Holley show, Red Sox manager Terry Francona addressed topics such as David Ortiz’s slow start, minor injuries to J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis, and Jacoby Ellsbury’s steal of home on Sunday night.
Here are some highlights (transcription provided by Jared Shafran):
Q: Does Ortiz have to reinvent himself? Are the old days gone for him?
A: I think his bat speed has been better in the last week. His balance has been a little off but he has been hitting some really good balls to left field. Those show, to me, that he is coming. He is working his way into feeling good about himself. He is working hard and we do see a lot of improvement.
(Regarding Ellsbury’s steal of home Sunday night) Q: Did you have an issue with taking that chance with 2 outs the way he did?
A: “No issue. We know Andy is slow to the plate but those opportunities happen once or twice a year and you either seize it or don’t. Berroa happened to be playing deep enough where it became a possibility, Andy didn’t look over, Jacoby took off and it worked. It was like the perfect storm.
Q: Was it a situation where if one thing was different then it doesn’t happen?
A: There’s a lot of ways that it could’ve been avoided. Their dugout was yelling but no one heard them. You don’t want to do it in the middle of an inning so it’s a great play when it works, its obviously an exciting play. I’m sure people will be talking about it. I’m just glad he was safe. … You could feel the electricity in the stadium and then we followed it up with a hit. We’ll take runs any way we can.
Q: Any lineup changes for tonight’s game?
A: “JD’s quad got tight as the game went on so we are keeping an eye on him. Youk got hit in the exact same spot twice now so he is a little sore. There’s a possibility that both of them wont be in the lineup. If we need to play Van Every in right and Bailey at first then we will.
|Whither, Papel-power?||04.28.09 at 5:32 pm ET|
It’s hard to find too much fault with a pitcher whose ERA still tilts the skills below 2.00, but the last few outings by Jonathan Papelbon (1.93 ERA this year) have been, well, somewhat un-Papel-ish.
First, all the disclaimers:
1) Papelbon has converted all five of his save opportunities.
2) Though he’s given up eight hits in 9.1 innings, each of the last six have been singles, including several groundballs that found holes.
3) Last September, there were questions about whether Papelbon was mortal when he allowed a 5.56 ERA that month. He responded with 10.1 shutout innings in the postseason.
All of that is to say that one probably shouldn’t read too much into Papelbon’s performance through the first three weeks of the season. Nonetheless, it is also clear that he has not quite been up to the standards of his historic career start. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox vs. Indians Match-Ups, 4/28||04.28.09 at 3:36 pm ET|
Novelty abounds in the match-up between the Indians and Red Sox tonight. Not only are the Sox going for their 12th straight win – which would match their 12-game winning streak of the 2006 season as their longest of the decade – but both teams will be facing the starting pitchers for the first time. Brad Penny has never faced the Indians, and Anthony Reyes will be enjoying his unveiling against the Red Sox.
So what to expect without a history to rely upon? Well, contact – early and often – would seem a decent guess. Of the 127 pitchers to log at least 15 innings, this year, Reyes ranks 112th with 4.24 strikeouts per nine innings, while Penny is 123rd (fifth to last) with a 3.00 ratio.
RED SOX VS. ANTHONY REYES
Reyes was a highly regarded prospect coming up with the Cardinals but never panned out. The Indians were able to acquire him for a minor-leaguer whose expected ceiling was that of a big-league reliever. Because he has spent almost all of his career in the National League, only a few members of the Sox have seen him:
Jason Bay (7 career plate appearances): 3-for-6, walk
J.D. Drew (3): 0-for-3
Brad Penny (2): 0-for-2
INDIANS VS. BRAD PENNY
As was probably obvious from the fact that Penny has hit against Reyes, the two did make a start against each other once before, when Penny was with the Dodgers and Reyes with the Cardinals. The Cards hammered Penny that day (10 hits and six runs in five innings) en route to an 11-3 win.
Though Penny has faced Reyes, he has never before faced the Indians, and so most of the Clevelanders will be enjoying their first first-hand view of the pitcher. Here is the history of Penny against the members of the Indians whom he faced when they were with other clubs (including the three pitchers who have hit against him):
Mark De Rosa (28 plate appearances): .296 average, .286 OBP, .407 slugging, 1 homer
Tony Graffanino (6): 1-for-6, single
Carl Pavano (4): 1-for-4, single
Kerry Wood (3): 0-for-3
Anthony Reyes (2): 0-for-2
|9th Inning: Saito On, Red Sox Win||04.26.09 at 11:19 pm ET|
Takashi Saito, the go-to option for the ninth inning on nights when Jonathan Papelbon is unavailable, finds himself in precisely that position tonight. He hasn’t been dazzling thus far with the Sox, entering tonight with a 5.06 ERA and one save, his career ERA creeping above 2.00 (from 1.95 before this year to 2.03) in the process.
But he’s now 2-for-2 in save situations with the Sox. He got Jorge Posada to pop out to second, retired Hideki Matsui on a pop-out to third and then, after Melky Cabrera singled to center, getting pinch-hitter Johnny Damon on a deep fly-out to right.
Saito’s work was less significant than that of 24-year-old Justin Masterson, 25-year-old Hunter Jones and 22-year-old Michael Bowden, who limited the Yankees to one run in their eight innings en route to a sweep of a three-game series against the Yankees and a nine-game homestand against the Orioles, Twins and Yankees.
|8th inning: Bowden Mowin’||04.26.09 at 10:58 pm ET|
Noteworthy: Jonathan Van Every is in as a defensive replacement in right for J.D. Drew.
Michael Bowden has been in deep counts against virtually everyone he’s faced, but he’s held the Yankees hitless through two innings. His fastball is not overpowering – it tends to be a 91-94 mph offering – but his quirky, funky delivery allows him both to hide the ball and create deception, even on a fastball that doesn’t have a tremendous amount of movement.
Bowden got Mark Teixeira to fly to left, then got Nick Swisher to tap a comebacker on a changeup. Then, on a full count, Bowden had Robinson Cano swinging out of his shoes at a 93 mph fastball that ducked under the hitter’s bat for a strikeout. It was an impressive outing for Bowden, who has allowed just two runs in three starts in Triple-A this year. Bowden has 15 strikeouts in 14 minor-league innings, and two in as many frames tonight.
His first taste of Yankees-Red Sox is likely at a successful conclusion. Takashi Saito is warming in the bullpen, readying to close the ninth.
BOTTOM 8: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 1
Mark Melancon remains in the game for the Yankees in the eighth, in part becuase he needed only seven pitches for his first big-league inning. The sequel was not as good as the original.
Kevin Youkilis hit a grounder that snuck under the glove of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (another entry in the log of those who think that the Yankees’ shortstop is overrated for his glove work) for a single. On a night when Youkilis is 1-for-3 with a walk and single, his batting average, OBP and slugging marks have all gone down.
Melancon then lost the strike zone, walking Jonathan Van Every on five pitches and hitting Jason Bay to load the bases.
But Mike Lowell hit into a fielder’s choice to third baseman Angel Berroa, who threw home for a force, Jason Varitek struck out and Nick Green (in perhaps his final at-bat as the Red Sox’ starting shortstop) grounded to second for a force out, the Sox squandering three runners.
The night has been a significant and successful player develoment moment for Melancon, Bowden and Hunter Jones.
Takashi Saito is coming in for the ninth.
RED SOX 4, YANKEES 1
|7th Inning: Debutante party||04.26.09 at 10:52 pm ET|
Michael Bowden is one of the top Red Sox pitching prospects. But late last year, after he made his major-league debut with an August start (a win over the White Sox), the Red Sox decided not to undergo the effort of trying to prepare him for work out of the bullpen for the stretch, feeling that it would be too disruptive to do so at the conclusion of what had been a dominating 2008 campaign.
It appears that preparation is overrated. Bowden – called up specifically for today’s game to assist a short-handed bullpen that is without Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen and Ramon Ramirez – retired the Yankees in order in the top of the 7th. Angel Berroa fouled out to the catcher, Brett Gardner lined out to left and then Derek Jeter – in his 8,102nd at-bat, a number that is tied with Mickey Mantle for the most in Yankees history – struck out swinging at a 91 mph fastball. (Did Jeter ask for the ball?)
Bowden’s second professional relief effort – and first as a major leaguer – is off to a solid start.
BOTTOM 7: RED SOX 4, YANKEES 1
Mark Melancon came in to replace Andy Pettitte, who actually finished the night with 116 pitches – his most since last May 17. Melancon is described by some as the potential successor to Mariano Rivera. His first big-league appearance was perfectly solid – a three-up, three-down inning against Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
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