|Thursday’s Red Sox-Angels matchups: Franklin Morales vs. C.J. Wilson||08.23.12 at 9:36 am ET|
Franklin Morales takes the mound at Fenway Thursday night as the Red Sox wrap up their three-game series with the Angels.
The 26-year-old Venezuelan was strong in his first start since returning from the bullpen Aug. 5, earning a win with six innings of one-run ball against the Twins, but has pitched progressively worse in his two outings since.
Morales allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings on Aug. 11 as the Sox fell to the Indians. In his last outing Friday night in the Bronx, the Yankees got to him for five runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings in the Sox’ 6-4 loss.
On the year, Morales is 3-3 with a 3.67 ERA but has had trouble at home, as his ERA jumps to 5.16 at Fenway. Having spent the majority of his career with Colorado, he has only faced four current Angels who have a combined two singles and no walks in six plate appearances.
Acquired by the Angels in the offseason for $77.5 million over five years, C.J. Wilson (9-9, 3.62 ERA) heads to the hill Thursday, hoping he can help his team continue to make up ground in the standings against his former club, the Rangers.
The lefty had a terrific start to the season, entering the All-Star break at 9-5 with a 2.43 ERA but has struggled since, going 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA in eight starts. Opponents’ batting average against Wilson is up almost 100 points in the second half, from .202 to .295 as the Angels have won just once (against the Royals) since July 6 with the 31-year-old on the mound.
Wilson has not faced the Red Sox this year, but over the previous three seasons he is 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA in 10 games against the Sox. He is even better at Fenway, where he boasts a 2-0 record, 0.63 ERA and one save in three games.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Chris Tillman||08.16.12 at 9:41 am ET|
Clay Buchholz gets the start Thursday night at Camden Yards as the Red Sox wrap up their four-game series against the Orioles. The start comes just one day shy of the five-year anniversary of Buchholz’s major league debut in 2007.
After spending much of April and May with the highest ERA in the majors, the 28-year-old has been Boston’s best starting pitcher for more than two months, leading the team in wins (10), ERA (4.24) and WHIP (1.28).
The Sox have won eight of Buchholz’s 10 starts since the end of May and the righty is coming off his best performance of the year: a complete game in which he allowed just two hits and one earned run en route to a 3-2 win over the Indians.
In his three previous starts against the Orioles this season, Buchholz is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA. The Sox won in his only start at Camden Yards this year, though Buchholz struggled, giving up five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
In 119 career at-bats, the current Orioles lineup is hitting just .210 against Buchholz, though five of their 25 hits have been for home runs. J.J. Hardy has been particularly successful against Buchholz, recording four hits, two homers and three RBIs in 10 at-bats.
Taking the mound for Baltimore Thursday is Chris Tillman. The 6-foot-5 righty boasts a 3.40 ERA along with a 5-2 record in just seven starts.
Tillman was called up from the minors on July 4 for a start against the Mariners, and in his season debut he carried a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning before he was removed with one out and two men on base.
Against Boston, Tillman has not had nearly the same success. In two career games against the Sox, Tillman is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA. The six Boston players with plate appearances against Tillman are hitting a collective .464.
|Bobby Valentine on The Big Show: ‘I go through things with open eyes’||08.15.12 at 4:02 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine joined The Big Show Wednesday afternoon to discuss his efforts to change how things are done in the organization and some of the challenges he’s faced along the way.
To listen to the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.
Asked if he has backed off in his managerial approach, Valentine said, “I don’t know. Again its that idea of making adjustments. I’ve been advised. I’m not a dummy. I go through things with open eyes. I’m trying to figure out, and again, this is four months into a very trying situation and I’m trying to figure out what works best to get the results we need.”
As for whether he feels has control of his team, Valentine said, “As far as how high we wear out pants or any of that stuff, I don’t need those kinds of controls. I think we’re working on a situation, an organizational structure, a team structure that could be as functional as possible as we go forward, day by day.”
Valentine said it was his job to focus the team on the task at hand, but acknowledged that the scrutiny wears on the players.
“I think there is a lot of emotion flying around here these days,” Valentine said. “One of the things I was discussing with one of the players was that all of this noise is one of the reasons players don’t want to sign here, because they don’t have to deal with this in other markets. They don’t worry about the drama of the day. They can just go out and play baseball.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Ubaldo Jimenez||08.09.12 at 10:03 am ET|
Having dropped six of their last eight after Wednesday’s 10-9 loss to Texas, the Red Sox hit the road in desperate need of a turnaround. Boston kicks off a crucial 10-game road trip with the first of four against the Indians Thursday night. Felix Doubront gets the start.
At 10-5 in 21 starts, Doubront has been Boston’s most reliable starter this season but has struggled of late. The 24-year-old has given up at least five runs and failed to last more than five innings in two of his last three starts, raising his ERA to a season-high 4.56.
Cleveland, however, might be just what the doctor ordered. The Indians are a major league-worst 11-24 against lefty starters this year and Doubront is no exception. The lefty has faced Cleveland just once in his young career, that coming back on May 12 in Boston, when he held the Tribe to just one run on three hits en route to a 4-1 Sox win.
With just 24 plate appearances against Doubront, the current Indians lineup is hitting a combined .136, with no home runs and a single RBI.
Taking the mound opposite Doubront will be Ubaldo Jimenez (8-11). The 28-year-old has struggled this year, posting a 5.29 ERA, more than a full run higher than his career mark of 3.95.
Jimenez has pitched even worse of late, as the righty is 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA in his last five starts and hasn’t won since before the All-Star break, when he beat the Rays on July 7.
In his last outing against Boston, Jimenez allowed seven runs and walked five in just 4 1/3 innings at Fenway on May 11. In his only other start against the Sox, the former All-Star gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings June 23, 2010, while pitching for Colorado.
The current Sox lineup however, is hitting just .208 in 53 at-bats against Jimenez, but boasts a much more respectable .354 on-base-percentage.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Twins matchup: Jon Lester vs. Samuel Deduno||08.02.12 at 10:00 am ET|
The Red Sox welcome the struggling Twins to Fenway Thursday night for the first in a four-game series.
Jon Lester (5-8, 5.49) will take the mound for Boston, looking to rebound from an atrocious July in which the 28-year-old posted a 9.36 ERA. After kicking off the month with a strong outing in Oakland, allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings, Lester has given up at least four runs and failed to make it past the sixth inning in each of his last four starts.
In 21 games with their nominal ace on the mound, the Sox are a disappointing 8-13. Particularly troubling however, have been Lester’s struggles at home this season, where he is just 2-6 with a 7.39 ERA in 12 games. That’s unusual for Lester. In the three seasons prior to 2012, he has been essentially the same at home as on the road. If anything, he’s actually been better at Fenway, with a 3.34 ERA compared to his 3.40 on the road.
His struggles, however, have not been limited to Boston this year. On April 23 in Minnesota, for instance, in his one and only start against the Twins, Lester allowed five earned in seven innings, though the Sox pulled out a 6-5 win. Collectively, Minnesota’s current lineup is hitting .282 with an impressive .413 on-base-percentage in 104 plate appearances against the lefty. While Lester has surrendered just two home runs, the Twins have gotten to him in other ways, boasting more RBIs (17) and walks (17) than strikeouts (14).
Red Sox fans can take heart, however, in knowing that the Twins enter Wednesday with the worst run differential in the American League (minus-84) and plan to send a 29-year-old rookie with just 28 innings of big league pitching experience to the hill Thursday night. After pitching 2 2/3 innings in relief for the Rockies in 2010 and three innings for Padres last year, Samuel Deduno (2-0, 3.13) has made four straight starts for Minnesota, earning wins in his last two outings.
Deduno struggles with his control, but when he can command it he has an excellent curveball, which he throws nearly a 30 percent of the time. The right-hander’s curve is also his out pitch, accounting for an incredible 75 percent of pitches in two-strike counts. He also features a fastball in the low 90s and a slider, which account for 41 percent and 23 percent of his pitches, respectively.
Deduno has not faced any current Red Sox hitters.
|Trade Deadline: Phillies P Cliff Lee reportedly ‘in play’||07.30.12 at 1:04 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted Monday that the Phillies are entertaining offers for pitcher Cliff Lee.
Tweeted Olney: Cliff Lee is in play in trade talks today. Rangers obviously the most logical landing spot, with 3B Mike Olt as possible centerpiece.
According to Olney’s sources, the price will be steep, as the Phillies are looking for a significant package of prospects in return.
Olney also tweeted that the Yankees are not expected to pursue Lee, as they lack the budget space to take on his sizable contract.
The 33-year-old lefty is due $25 million in each of the next three seasons. He is just 1-6 with a respectable 3.95 ERA in 2012.
|Trade Deadline: A’s reportedly interested in Jays SS Yunel Escobar, Diamondacks SS Stephen Drew||07.30.12 at 12:31 pm ET|
After missing out on acquiring Hanley Ramirez, the A’s reportedly have set their sights on Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Escobar is an option for the A’s, while the Blue Jays are believed to have strong interest in Oakland pitcher Brett Anderson.
On Monday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that Arizona’s Stephen Drew had joined Escobar among the A’s top choices at shortstop.
The Jays (51-50) could be willing to deal Escobar given they have highly-touted Cuban prospect Adeiny Hechavarria waiting in the minors.
Heyman reported that the Mariners also could be interested in Escobar.
The 29-year-old is hitting .255 with seven homers and 35 RBIs for Toronto. He is under contract through 2013 with club options for both 2014 and 2015.
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