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Carl Crawford wouldn’t mind if Matt Garza became a Red Sox 07.24.12 at 11:03 am ET
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Carl Crawford makes it perfectly clear.

‘€œI’€™m not going to play GM,’€ said the Red Sox outfielder.

But with the rumors circulating about the potential of one of his former Rays’€™ teammates, Matt Garza, coming to Boston, Crawford was open to giving his analysis of the pitcher.

‘€œWhen I played with him in Tampa he was one of those highly competitive guys. With that rotation down there, they all fed off each other,’€ he said. ‘€œHe’€™s a guy that hates to lose. He’€™s really intense, and he’€™s got great stuff.’€

Then there is the question regarding how Garza would fit in Boston.

For his career, the 28-year-old righty has compiled a 23-15 mark with a 3.34 ERA against the American League East. In five postseason games, Garza has totaled a 3.48 ERA with his team going 3-2 in those starts.

Included in Garza’€™a postseason resume is his Game 7 win in the 2008 American League Championship Series against the Red Sox, in which he allowed just one run on two hits over seven innings.

‘€œI definitely felt comfortable behind him in the big game,’€ Crawford said.

Garza, who is likely to miss his next start with triceps soreness, has been reportedly drawn interest from numerous teams, with the Dodgers perhaps displaying the most interest.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline,
Closing Time: Jon Lester left still looking for answers as Blue Jays sweep Red Sox 07.22.12 at 5:05 pm ET
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Just when Jon Lester thought it couldn’€™t get any worse ‘€¦

The Red Sox starter struggled through perhaps the worst outing of his career, allowing a career-high runs (11) and home runs (4), while tying his mark for most walks surrendered (5), in the Sox’€™ 15-7 loss to the Blue Jays, Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Lester saw his ERA jump from 4.80 to 5.46 after giving up the 11 runs over just four innings, allowing nine of the runs to come in the initial two innings. The lefty now has a 15.62 ERA in his last three starts (21 runs, 12 1/3 innings), having not made it past 4 1/3 innings in any of the outings.

It marked the most runs allowed by a Red Sox starter since Doug Bird when he allowed 11 over 2 2/3 innings on May 24, 1983. The last time a Sox starter gave up 11 runs was when Tim Wakefield suffered though a 5 2/3-inning, 11-run outing on May 5 against Toronto, with all but one of the runs being unearned.

It continued a bad trend of the top of the Red Sox rotation, with the team carrying a 13-23 mark in starts by Lester and Josh Beckett. Conversely, the Yankees are 23-12 in games their two highest-paid pitchers ‘€“ CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda ‘€“ have started.

Here is what went wrong for the Red Sox in suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of the Blue Jays:

WHAT WENT WRONG

– On Lester’€™s very first pitch of the game, Brett Lawrie turned a 94 mph fastball around, depositing it well over the left field wall for a quick 1-0 lead for the Blue Jays. It was the third time this year a player has hit the first pitch of the game for a home run, with the Reds’€™ Zack Cozart and Derek Jeter of the Yankees previously accomplishing the feat.

– The five-inning first inning included a successful squeeze bunt by Jeff Mathis, scoring Rajai Davis. There was no option to go home with the ball as catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia retrieved the bunt, leaving home plate open for Davis to score.

– The first inning pitch counts for Lester in his last four starts is as follows: 31, 29, 27, 29. He would finish his first two innings having thrown 54 pitches, his second-highest count for the initial two frames this season.

– Lester’€™s troubles continued in the second when J.P. Arencibia blasted a three-run homer over the left-center field wall with two outs in the second inning to extend the Blue Jays’€™ lead to 8-3. That was followed by a solo shot by Davis, giving the visitors a six-run lead after having made just five outs. It marked the first time since last season’€™s Opening Day Lester had allowed three homers in first two innings.

– Daniel Nava continued to struggle, going hitless and in four at-bats. He is now gone 8-for-74 (.108) dating back to June 25.

– With the Red Sox still within striking distance at a four-run deficit, reliever Mark Melancon came on in the eighth and struggled through a four-run outing while just getting one out.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Adrian Gonzalez hit his ninth homer of the season ‘€“ a three-run job ‘€“ in the first inning. The bomb was the first baseman’€™s second of the season in which he cleared the right field fence at Fenway Park, having done it three occasions last season.

Jacoby Ellsbury notched his first home run of the season, taking Henderson Alvarez over the center field wall in the fifth inning.

– Junichi Tazawa turned in one his best outings in his young major league career, throwing three shutout innings, while allowing just two hits and no walks to go along with five strikeouts.

Dustin Pedroia clarifies not visiting mound, relationship with Bobby Valentine 07.19.12 at 9:28 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia wanted to clear a few things up prior to his first game back off the 15-day disabled list on Thursday.

First was the well-publicized trip to the mound by Bobby Valentine in Chicago, during which multiple media outlets surmised the reason for Pedroia not participating in the conference was due to a disdain for the manager.

Pedroia offered this explanation:

‘€œI swallowed my dip, man,’€ he said, referencing his chewing tobacco. ‘€œBobby came out and right when I went to take a step I went to take my dip out and I [expletive] swallowed it. Man down. I chilled out right there.

‘€œDavid [Ortiz] was playing first base and he said, ‘€˜What the [expletive] is wrong with you?’€™ I told him, ‘€˜I swallowed my dip, man.’€™ ‘€

And then there is topic of Pedroia’€™s interaction with Valentine.

The second baseman realizes that, like the trip the mound in Chicago, an example those wanting to define the pair’€™s relationship is when Pedroia offered some pointed comments toward Valentine on Patriots Day following the manager’€™s controversial analysis of Kevin Youkilis the night before.

‘€œI like Bobby,’€ he said. ‘€œI had a relationship with [Terry Francona] over time. Me and Bobby get along great. I think the perception is that because I stood up for my teammate earlier in the year. Bobby said some things, and I talked to Bobby about that. Bobby looked at me and he said, ‘€˜Hey, I would have said the same thing.’€™

‘€œThat whole thing deal was weird because it was that 10 o’clock game. So I got to the yard at 7:45 in the morning and I was the first one here and all the media came in and asked me about it. I don’t read much anymore, so I got the questions and I didn’t even read what was said before I commented, and I wish I would have done that. I told Bobby that.

‘€œMe and Bobby have been fine. You hear all the stories about everyone’s unhappy. We’re all trying to win, man. I’m trying to win. Bobby’s trying to win. We communicate. We’re on the same page. Just because I don’t play cribbage with Bobby doesn’t mean we don’t have a good relationship. We’re all professionals and trying to accomplish the same thing. I hope that helps the perception of me and Bobby.’€

Pedroia punctuated his comments with this: ‘€œEverybody wants something to talk about if something isn’t going right. That’s not the case. We’re fighting our butts off trying to win and throw a big-ass party. Bring your green hat.’€

Read More: Bobby Valentine, Dustin Pedroia,
Do the Red Sox really get screwed by the umpires more than other teams? 07.19.12 at 11:42 am ET
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A Red Sox hitter said to me the other day regarding some questionable strike calls: “It’s the only thing I don’t like about wearing this uniform,” suggesting that Sox hitters suffer through more expanded strike zones from umpires than most teams.

And, while there is that prevailing belief throughout the Sox’ clubhouse, there is also a thought in the world of baseball that the lack of empathy from home plate umpires is a product of Red Sox hitters complaining too much.

So, thanks to BaseballAnalytics.org, we went looking for some facts. (While we could only identify individual players, and not entire team rankings, this might give somewhat of an idea of the landscape) …

Using the site’s analytics program — a product also utilized by various major league teams — we called up all the big league hitters, clicked on pitches seen, out of the strike, and, finally, strikes looking. And the player who umpires apparently hate the most is … (drum roll) … the Mets’ Lucas Duda.

Duda blows away the field when it comes to seeing the most poorly called (according to PitchFX) strikes, compiling 118 of them this season. The second-place hitter is Seattle’s Dustin Ackley, who stands at 97.

The leader among Red Sox is David Ortiz, who, according to the program, has had 67 poorly called strikes against him this season (17th in the majors). Second on the team is Mike Aviles (53), followed by Adrian Gonzalez (45) and Dustin Pedroia (42).

As for getting rung up on a bad pitch, Milwaukee’s Corey Hart leads the way, having suffered such a fate 14 times. The Red Sox leader is Aviles, having six such punch-outs, followed by Gonzalez’ five.

In this current series, Aviles has been called out on strikes two times on balls out of the strike zone, while the only such incident for the White Sox has been involving Adam Dunn.

So, who in the last five years has had the right to beef more than anybody? That would be Bobby Abreu, who leads the majors since the beginning of 2008 with 738 poor strike calls against him (Ortiz has 530 in that same span), with a major league-leading 70 strikeouts via a bad decision by the ump (Ortiz, 53).

Your thoughts …

Do you think home plate umpires treat Red Sox hitters differently than other teams?

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Batting Stance Guy give us nine things we will miss about Kevin Youkilis 07.18.12 at 1:00 pm ET
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Parting ways with Kevin Youkilis wouldn’t be the same without old friend Batting Stance Guy chiming in …

Breaking down the key plays in the Red Sox’ Saturday night loss to the Rays 07.15.12 at 12:02 am ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox‘ 5-3 loss to the Rays Saturday night was one of those games which had a laundry list of notable decisions and defining plays.

Here are some explanations from the clubhouse after the Sox’ defeat. (For more on what went wrong, and right, in the series’ second game, click here):

MIKE AVILES MISHANDLING JOSE MOLINA’S GROUNDER

With the Red Sox having taken a one-run lead thanks to Will Middlebrooks’ two-run homer in the fourth, the Rays came back in the fifth to got Jeff Keppinger to third with one out in the following frame. With the Sox’ infield playing slightly in, Molina hit a grounder just to the right of Aviles. The shortstop, however, rushed the play a bit, resulting in the ball bouncing off his glove and the Rays tying the game at 2-2 with Desmond Jennings scoring.

“That’€™s a play I make every time. I should have taken my time,” Aviles said. “If I got him at the plate, I got hima t the plate, or just take the out at first. I knew I had the chance at home, and I rushed it rather than just play the hop. It wasn’€™t a hard hit ball and it didn’€™t have Jennings running at third. I knew I had a little bit of time with Keppinger, even though he went on contact. I rushed it. I pretty much blew it.”

CODY ROSS FAKE STEAL OF HOME

With two outs in the sixth inning, and the scored tied at 2-2, Ross found himself at third base with Rays starter David Price on the mound. Price chose to pitch from the wind-up, allowing the Sox’ outfielder to fake a steal of home. The problem came when Price stepped off and targeted picking off Ross at third, with third baseman Jeff Keppinger already standing at third base. But, even with Ross stumbling somewhat back to the bag, Price’s throw sailed over Keppinger’s head, allowing the visitors to take a 3-2 lead.

“It’s a play where you’re trying to get him to balk and he stepped off like he was supposed to,” Ross said. “I got caught in a bad spot, and luckily he threw it away and ended up scoring a big run for us. The heart was pounding a little bit. … It was panic. I looked back and he was standing on the bag. My heart started racing and just tried tackling the bag. Luckily he threw it away.”

CLAY BUCHHOLZ‘ TROUBLES IN THE SEVENTH

With Buchholz sitting at just 76 pitches heading into the seventh, the pitcher didn’t think twice when Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine asked him if he was OK to come out for another inning.

But after he walked Luke Scott, hit Jeff Keppinger and proceeded to allow a sacrifice bunt by Jennings, the righty’s outing came to an abrupt end.

“I wouldn’€™t have told him I felt fine unless I felt fine. I felt good,” Buchholz said.  “I got behind Scott, still trying to find a change-up at that point in the game and I spiked a couple of them. It is what it is, you can’€™t give up free baserunners to a team like this.”

“Buchholz was really good. He was really good until right at the end there,” Valentine said. “I had questions about sending him out but he didn’€™t have that many pitches and he said he hadn’t even broken a sweat yet. Then a walk and a hit batter later, you know. But he was very good. Curveball was very good, changeup. Command of his fastball was good. He got some called strike threes, swinging strike threes. He looked good.”

WALKING HIDEKI MATSUI

After Matt Albers came on for Buchholz, Valentine chose to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui to load the bases to get to Jose Lobaton. The move didn’t pay dividends, as Lobaton worked a run-scoring walk to tie the game, and was followed by Elliot Johnson’s go-ahead sacrifice fly.

Valentine cited Matsui’s history of coming through in the clutch, along with Lobaton’s relative inexperience, as the deciding factor in making the move.

“Just that he’€™s a pro,” said Valentine when asked what he prioritized when walking Matsui. “Figured I’€™d take the young guy, get one ground ball and get out of the inning instead of going after a guy who’€™s made his living driving runs in.”

Matsui had been struggling, hitting .175 while not getting an at-bat since July 5. He entered the game 1-for-4 against Albers.

Valentine also pointed out that, after the Lobaton walk, he didn’t want to bring in Andrew Miller to face the left-handed hitting Johnson due to the concern of having Miller enter the game with the bases-loaded.

PEDRO CIRIACO’S FAILED BUNT ATTEMPT

With the Red Sox trailing by a run in the eighth inning, Jacoby Ellsbury led off the frame with a double. Ciriaco, he of the .500 batting average, decided on his own to try and bunt for a hit. After failing on Price’s first pitch, the second baseman didn’t offer at pitch No. 2. But on the third offering, Ciriaco popped up another bunt attempt just enough to allow Rays’ catcher Molina to haul it in for the inning’s first out. After consecutive fly balls to center field by Ross and Middlebrooks, the threat was over.

“That was never on,” said Valentine. “He was just bunting for a hit. He was just trying to get a hit there. He felt, you know the third baseman has to hang a little because there’€™s a guy on second, I guess. He was trying to put it down the line. We weren’€™t playing for a tie there.”

“I was on my own, so I was just trying to get something going or to get a base hit,” Ciriaco explained. “It was a good pitch. I just didn’t do the right thing. I think it was a good opportunity to try to bunt, and that’s what I tried to do.”

RYAN SWEENEY’S HAMSTRING WAS A PROBLEM

The reason Valentine chose not to pinch-hit for Brent Lillibridge in the ninth inning, with one out and the first baseman representing the tying run, was because his best pinch-hitting option, Sweeney, had been hampered by left hamstring tightness.

Lillibridge, who went 1-for-4 while filling in for Adrian Gonzalez, would strike out in the at-bat.

“I had a hamstring tweak yesterday, but I should be back in there tomorrow,” the outfielder explained. “I just felt it the whole game and sometimes it was spasming up on me, so I just wanted to be cautious. I was ready at the end. … I was ready, but I don’t know if he didn’t want to use me because of my leg or whatever. I’m just hoping it will be better tomorrow.”

As for Gonzalez, the medical staff told Valentine the first baseman wasn’t available, needing to rest his sore lower back another day without swinging.

Closing Time: Rays drop Red Sox back to .500 07.14.12 at 10:29 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox‘ momentum was short-lived.

The Sox squandered some key opportunities against Tampa Bay starter David Price, ultimately dropping a 5-3 decision to the Rays, Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Bobby Valentine’s club went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The loss moves the Sox back to .500 (44-44), two games in back of Tampa Bay.

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz did his part, leaving with a one-run lead in the seventh. The righty ended up allowing three runs on three hits, striking out eight and walking one over 6 1/3 innings.

Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox:

WHAT WENT WRONG

– With Buchholz pulled, leaving runners on second and third with one out in the seventh, Red Sox manager decided have reliever Matt Albers intentionally walk pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui to load the bases. The move backfired on a 3-2 count, Albers walked Jose Lobaton to tie the game. Elliott Johnson would give the Rays the lead in the next at-bat via sacrifice fly to deep center field.

– According to WEEI.com stat man Gary Marbry, the bases-loaded walk by Albers gave the Red Sox 10 for the season, the most in the American League.

– B.J. Upton added an insurance run for the Rays with a solo home run off Red Sox’ reliever Andrew Miller in the eighth inning. It was only the second home run allowed by Miller this season, with the other one coming May 23.

– With the bases loaded and the Red Sox carrying a one-run lead, Pedro Ciriaco launched a fly ball to medium right field with one out in the fifth inning. The fly out, however, wasn’€™t enough to get Kelly Shoppach home from third, with the catcher being narrowly nabbed by the throw from Ben Zobrist to keep the Sox’€™ lead at one.

– In the bottom half of the inning the Rays would tie the game up at 2-2 as Mike Aviles couldn’€™t handle a ground ball into the hole between third and shortstop off the bat of Jose Molina, bouncing off his glove and allowing Jeff Keppinger to score.

– The Red Sox initially fell into a 1-0 hole in the third thanks to Sean Rodriguez’€™ sacrifice fly to deep center field, plating Desmond Jennings. Jennings had led off the frame with a single, the first hit of the game against Buchholz.

– Daniel Nava continued to slump, going 0-for-4. Coming into the game, the outfielder had hit just .125 (7-for-56) with an OPS of .449 over his previous 15 games.

– With a chance to get Jacoby Ellsbury to third (representing the tying run) with nobody out in the eighth inning, Ciriaco’s bunt attempt was popped up, resulting in Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina to snatch it for the inning’s first out. After a David Ortiz walk, Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks both flew out to center to end the threat.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– The start marked the fifth time in his last six starts that Buchholz has pitched into the seventh inning, leaving with runners on second and third and one out in the seventh. His eight strikeouts also marked the second-most he’€™s totaled this season. The righty finished at 87 pitches, having thrown just 78 (55 strikes) through six.

– Will Middlebrooks’€™ power returned in a big way, with the rookie launching a two-run blast over the left-center field wall in the fourth inning, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. The homer was Middlebrooks’€™ 11th of the season, and first since June 29.

– Cody Ross forced Rays starter David Price into a key error, darting down the third base line in a fake attempt at stealing home. Price, who was pitching out of the windup, stepped off and threw over to third in an attempt to pickoff Ross. But the throw went well over the head of third baseman Jeff Keppinger, allowing for Ross to score the Red Sox’€™ go-ahead run.

– Wade Boggs was not only in attendance, but he was with his grandson, Beckett Boggs, who got to meet the pitcher he was named after, Josh Beckett, before the game. Beckett’s dad (and Wade’s son) Brett was named after George Brett.

With trade deadline looming, David Ortiz talks 10-5 rights 07.12.12 at 2:01 am ET
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The notion of blowing up the Red Sox roster has been surfacing here and there in recent weeks. They stand at 43-43, just 2½ games out of a wild card spot, but 9½ games behind the Yankees for first place in the American League East.

And while there have been different definitions of turning the roster inside-out, the consensus is that the far end of the spectrum when it comes to truly blowing things up involves actually trading David Ortiz.

It isn’t going to happen.

The first dynamic that comes to mind when exploring the possibility of Ortiz entering into trade discussions is the designated hitter’s 10-5 rights (10 years in the major leagues, and five continuous seasons with the same team), allowing the player the right to refuse any trade. For the first time, Ortiz discussed (and even thought about) the topic.

“I’ve never thought about it,” he said. “My name has never been mentioned in a trade, so why should I think about it? If I have to, I have to.”

So, what would be Ortiz’ inclination regarding the clause?

“It all depends,” he said. “Let’s say [Kevin Youkilis‘] situation, where it wasn’t going to fix itself. … But I look at it this way: Whoever knocks on my door is going to need me. But, to be honest with you, this is the first time I’ve ever even thought about.”

The reality is, however, such a decision won’t have to be made.

Ortiz’s value is worth much more to the Red Sox than any other team considering the new rules. Unlike in years past, teams are only allowed to receive draft picks for free agents signing elsewhere if the qualifying player has spent the entirety of the season with one organization. In other words, the Sox would have to receive the value of not only the slugger in return, but also two top draft picks. It’s a package that would seem difficult to extract from a team which might be getting just two months of service — no matter how impressive the offensive output — given that the acquiring team wouldn’t be able to get any picks for Ortiz.

Moreover, the Red Sox have also said that they hope to keep Ortiz in a Red Sox uniform until the day that he retires, a point recently reiterated by Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino to WEEI.com.

“We love and respect David Ortiz. He is part of the heart and soul of this team and this franchise, and we want him to play his entire remaining career with the Boston Red Sox. He has carried this 2012 team with his performance and leadership,” said CEO/president Larry Lucchino. “His latest 4th of July accomplishment of 400 home runs is but another reminder of his greatness and Hall of Fame worthiness.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Larry Lucchino,
Batting Stance Guy does it again: The Franchise, Season 2 outtakes 07.11.12 at 1:41 pm ET
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Video: Viewing the Home Run Derby through the eyes of David Ortiz 07.10.12 at 5:47 pm ET
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KANSAS CITY — David Ortiz sat out Monday’s Home Run Derby, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t right in the middle of the action.

Ortiz wore a Looxcie camera (for a look at the device, click here) on his hat during the contest and was good enough to pass on the video to WEEI.com. The following is the Derby through the eyes of the Red Sox‘ designated hitter:

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