|Red Sox vs. Rangers Live Blog, Aug. 8||08.08.12 at 1:26 pm ET|
After splitting the first two games of a three-game series, the Red Sox will look to return to .500 on Wednesday afternoon against the Rangers. The Red Sox are 11-7 since the All-Star break against American League opponents with better records than them . . . and 1-6 against teams with worse records.
Josh Beckett will return to the mound for the first time since July 31, when he suffered back spasms while pitching on a wet Fenway Park mound. He will face off against Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison, an All-Star who is 13-6 with a 3.17 ERA this year.
For all the latest news, analysis and insight from the game, join the WEEI.com Live Blog, below:
|Ryan Lavarnway named best defensive catcher in International League; Jackie Bradley Jr. best everything in Carolina League||08.08.12 at 12:08 pm ET|
One honor stood out above all others in the Red Sox system in Baseball America’s annual Minor League Tools Survey. While a number of Red Sox prospects were recognized in a number of categories, the most notable was the recognition by International League managers of Ryan Lavarnway as the best defensive catcher at that level.
Lavarnway, of course, has long faced considerable questions about his defensive abilities. But he has worked tirelessly over the course of his professional career, since being drafted in 2008, to improve. While he spent most of his year in a time-share at the position, this year in Pawtucket, he was an everyday catcher this year in Triple-A, having set a career high for games caught in a season with 80, 14 more than he’d ever before caught in the minors.
Being an everyday catcher — and dispelling the notion of his defensive shortcomings — has been a long undertaking for Lavarnway. To get the opportunity to catch everyday in Pawtucket, as a sort of final stop in his grooming for a major league role, meant quite a bit to him.
“It’s something that I’ve wanted for a while and it was hard-earned and hard-won,” Lavarnway said of catching everyday. “This is what I have wanted and this is what I have been trying to earn for a long time.”
He earned the respect of his league in the process, resulting in an award that reflects a tremendous amount of work over the past four years.
|A not-so-toolsy time for the Red Sox||08.07.12 at 11:07 am ET|
Baseball America released its fascinating perennial Tools Survey, getting the feedback of every major league manager to determine the players with standout attributes. While Angels sensation Mike Trout was something of a no-brainer for Most Exciting Player, and familiar superstars claimed the most prestigious categories (Miguel Cabrera, for instance, was named the Best Hitter in the American League), the Red Sox were minimally represented in the voting.
To see the complete survey results, click here. The Red Sox named in the survey were:
David Ortiz – third place, Best Strike-Zone Judgment
Adrian Gonzalez – second place, Best Defensive First Baseman
Dustin Pedroia – second place, Best Defensive Second Baseman
|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Mickey Pena returns, Chris Carpenter dominates, Daniel Bard posts another zero||08.07.12 at 10:51 am ET|
A quick look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday, highlighted by a pair of left-handers taken in last year’s draft who made their returns to the mound . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-1 WIN VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– Jose Iglesias had his best game in more than two months, going 3-for-5 with a double. It was his first game of three or more hits since he had a four-hit contest on May 18. It also marked the second consecutive game in which the shortstop has collected an extra-base hit. He’s reached base in seven straight games during which he’s hitting .300 (9-for-30) with a .344 OBP and .367 slugging mark.
– Chris Carpenter continued what has been a dominant stretch in Triple-A, firing a shutout inning and striking out two batters. In 10 appearances of one inning each in Triple-A, he’s permitted just one run (0.90 ERA) while striking out 11, allowing six hits (.182 opponents batting average) and walking five.
– In his 21 pitches, Daniel Bard elicited just one swing and miss, but he continued to demonstrate the ability to get bad contact on a consistent basis. He tossed a scoreless inning, working around a walk by getting three groundball outs. In his last six outings, opponents are 2-for-20 against him. In 24 minor league games, he is getting twice as many groundouts as flyball outs, and so while he has posted solid if unspectacular strikeout totals (26 in 25 2/3 innings), he’s held opponents to a .223 average. He’s held opponents scoreless in seven of his last eight appearances, and in the one exception, he fired a shutout inning before giving up a pair of runs when taking the mound for a second inning, the first time since June that he’d made a multi-inning appearance.
– Zach Stewart continued his run of effective starts since the Red Sox acquired him from Chicago in the Kevin Youkilis trade. He tossed five shutout innings while allowing three hits (two singles and a double) on Monday, working to a 3.32 ERA. While he wasn’t getting swings and misses at the outset of his Pawtucket tenure, in his last five starts, he has 26 strikeouts in 25 innings. His stuff, health, performance and roster status (he’s on the 40-man roster) suggest that, if the Red Sox needed to turn to Triple-A for a starting depth option, Stewart would stand an excellent chance of being the move. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Cook dazzles, top four explodes as Red Sox rout Rangers||08.06.12 at 9:58 pm ET|
Aaron Cook will not go down without a fight.
The right-hander’s rotation spot appeared to be in jeopardy given his recent struggles (he’d allowed 17 runs (15 earned) in 19 innings over his last three outings) and the excellent work of Franklin Morales as a starter on Sunday, a continuation of the left-hander’s strong perfomrance in that capacity in June and July. But on Monday night against a Rangers team that still numbers among the best in the game, he delivered one of his best outings of the year.
Cook tossed seven innings in which he permitted just one run on six hits (three singles, three doubles). He struck out two (matching a season high) and walked three (blowing past his previous high of one) and, after giving up six homers over those last three starts, he kept the ball in the yard against a deep Rangers lineup. He required just 98 pitches (59 strikes) to deliver perhaps his second best start of the year.
The Sox were able to ride that impressive performance to a 9-2 victory that returned the team to .500 at 55-55.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Aaron Cook recorded 15 outs via groundball in his seven innings of work. In games in which he has not allowed a homer, the Sox are now 4-0. The right-hander has five quality starts in his nine outings thus far. At the least, he reasserted himself as a legitimate (if somewhat inconsistent) rotation depth option. And, perhaps the outing will earn him at least another turn in the rotation going forward.
– For the first time all year, Dustin Pedroia had three extra-base hits in the game, matching a career-high with three doubles while going 3-for-4. It represented a contrast to the second baseman’s previous six games, in which he hit .167/.219/.267/.485.
– For the first time all year, Jacoby Ellsbury had multiple extra-base hits in the same game, slamming one off the Green Monster and shooting the other down the left field line as part of a 3-for-5 night. He now has three doubles in the last two games, matching the number of extra-base hits he had in 18 prior games.
– Carl Crawford is seemingly locked in. He ripped two doubles (one to right and one to left), drove a sac fly to deep center and lined out to the base of the scoreboard in left as part of a 2-for-4 night in which he drove in a pair. In his last 10 games, he’s hitting .351/.372/.725/1.097 with eight extra-base hits (three homers, four doubles, a triple) and 12 RBI.
– Adrian Gonzalez delivered three run-scoring singles, and he’s now hitting .418 with a 1.130 OPS with runners in scoring position.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk. His average dropped to .227 with a .771 OPS.
|Ben Cherington: ‘Bobby [Valentine] is our manager and we’re not considering anyone else’||08.06.12 at 6:41 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington spoke for approximately 20 minutes prior to Monday’s game between his team and the Texas Rangers about embattled Bobby Valentine, at a time when public debate about the manager’s job security has become increasingly vocal with the Sox struggling to a 54-55 record. Cherington said that there are no plans to replace Valentine, and suggested that while Valentine — as a key member of the organization — has played an important part in the team’s struggles, he is merely one contributor to a collective failure.
“Bobby’s our manager and we’re not considering anyone else,” said Cherington. “He’s as committed to managing the team as he ever has been, and we’re committed to him and trying to do everything we can to support him and make this work.
“Ultimately, again, when the performance isn’t what you want — which is not, we acknowledge that — I’ve said this before, winning and losing always has more to do with players than anything else. I don’t question the effort of the players. I think our players have fought and battled, worked hard, played hard, fought out of tough things. It’s not a question of effort. At some level, the players on the team, it’s a reflection of me, it’s a reflection of the front office. So, if players win or lose more than anything else, then I need to be accountable for that. We need to be better day to day and put ourselves in the best position to win tonight, tomorrow, the next day, and we’ll continue to work on those things behind closed doors. We expect what follows to improve. It needs to.”
Asked whether Valentine would remain the manager for the rest of the season, Cherington would not offer a definitive answer.
“I’m not going to comment on that. He’s our manager. I’m not getting into timelines. I’m not going to get into a timeline for myself either,” said Cherington. “We’re just doing the job right now, doing the job the best we can, and we’re focused on making it better and I support Bobby.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox Minor League Roundup: Daisuke dismayed; Bailey’s next step; new knuckleballer unveiled; Bogaerts locked in||08.06.12 at 11:05 am ET|
A snapshot of the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday, when a pair of big league pitchers made rehab appearances in the upper levels, a new knuckleballer was unveiled, Salem shortstop Xander Bogaerts continued an amazing stretch and outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker continued his terrific performance of the past two and a half months . . .
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN (10 INNINGS) VS. LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– Daisuke Matsuzaka worked three innings while allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits (four singles and a double) while striking out three and walking one. He also hit a batter. Matsuzaka threw 49 of 75 pitches (65 percent) for strikes.
The frustrated pitcher declined direct comment, instead relying on translator Jeff Cutler to pass along his analysis of the outing.
“The result tells it all,” Matsuzaka told reporters, in a comment issued through Cutler. “I’m hopeful that I can pitch more and go deeper in the game next time.”
That said, in a three-run second inning, the rally started on a groundball past third (where Mauro Gomez, still trying to re-learn the position, was playing) and into left field and an error on a potential force out by Jose Iglesias.
– Jose Iglesias went 1-for-5 with a double for his first extra-base hit in 19 games, dating to July 14. He is hitting .247/.294/.280/.574 for the year (as compared to his 2011 line of .235/.285/.269/.554).
– Juan Carlos Linares went 2-for-5 with a homer, his fifth in 37 games in Triple-A. It was his first homer in 14 games, as the outfielder had been in a slump since late last month, hitting .161/.156/.226 over his previous nine games.
– Josh Fields worked around a pair of hits, striking out a pair of batters in a scoreless 10th inning to earn the victory in his first appearance with Pawtucket, following a promotion on Friday.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 11-2 WIN VS. ERIE (TIGERS) Read the rest of this entry »
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