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Daisuke done after 5 2/3 innings 06.07.09 at 3:32 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka gave way to reliever Justin Masterson after throwing 102 pitches (71 strikes) over 5 2/3 innings. Matsuzaka, who left the game with Omar Vizquel at first and two outs, allowed five runs on 10 hits, while striking out eight and not walking a batter.

Ian Kinsler would greet Masterson with a double into the left field corner, but a laser of a throw from relay man Nick Green nailed Vizquel at home to end the inning and finish off Matsuzaka’s line, keeping the Red Sox deficit at 5-3.

It was the first time this season Matsuzaka hadn’t walked a batter. It was also the first time since a four-inning outing, May 27, 2008, that he hadn’t issued a free pass.

Ellsbury leaves after five 06.07.09 at 3:29 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury has left the game with a right shoulder strain suffered when making a spectacular diving catch in the fourth inning on an Ian Kinsler fly ball into the triangle in center field. Ellsbury, who had to dive onto the warning track to make the grab, was replaced in center by Mark Kotsay, who moved over from right with Rocco Baldelli coming on.

Bay’s streak comes to an end 06.07.09 at 2:37 pm ET
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Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay was thrown out stealing to end the second inning, by Texas catcher Taylor Teagarden (remember him?). It was not only the first time this season that Bay has been gunned down — having gone 5 for 5 before today — but hadn’t been thrown out since April 22, 2007.

Since 2005 Bay has the second-best stolen base percentage of any player with at least 50 attempts (only behind former teammate Nate McLouth), now going 5 for his last 52.

As for the rest of the Red Sox, starter Daisuke Matsuzaka has given up four runs in the first three innings (one in the first, one in the second, two in the third).

Ortiz to get checked out Monday 06.05.09 at 6:11 pm ET
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David Ortiz has scheduled an eye exam for Monday to look into a problem he said he has had for “a few weeks now”. Ortiz said prior to Friday night’s game that his eyes have felt dried out on occasional at-bats which require him to focus on the pitcher for an extended period of time, forcing him to lose focus.

Ortiz said that he does not wear contact lenses and that the glasses he sometimes wears do not have a prescription.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that Ortiz tested well when the team conducted eye tests in Februrary.

The team has contracted Dr. David Kirschen and Dr. Daniel Laby to conduct extensive tests on the players’ vision in spring training ever since 2004. Included in the exam hand-eye coordination and depth-perception anlysis.

There is a precedent in regards to the doctors helping a player in mid-season. In ’04 Manny Ramirez came to Kirschen and Laby complaining that he was having a difficult time focusing on the baseball. After additional tests, the duo came up with an exercise Ramirez still uses in which he catches a hoop with balls attached, thrown at him from a close distance.

“It wasn’t as though his vision was bad, he was seeing the pitches like he always was,” explained Laby in an interview Friday afternoon. “But come June of ’04 he was not feeling like he was seeing and approaching the ball as well as he had been. That’s when we came up with the rings, and that worked for him.”

Read More: David Ortiz, eyes,
Red Sox/Tigers match-ups 06.03.09 at 2:26 pm ET
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Here are how the Red Sox and Tigers match-up against each team’s opposing pitchers Wednesday night:

Tigers vs. Josh Beckett

Polanco: 18 AB, 2 RBI, .222

Everett: 9 AB, HR, .333

Granderson: 8 AB, 6 K, .125

Inge: 6 AB, .333

Guillen: 5 AB, RBI, .200

Ordonez: 5 AB, .200

Laird: 4 AB, 2 K, .250

Cabrera: 3 AB, K, .000

Santiago: 3 AB, RBI, .333

Thames: 3 AB, K, .333

Red Sox vs. Armando Galarraga

Ellsbury: 3 AB, K, .333

Lowell: 3 AB, .333

Ortiz: 3 AB, RBI, .667

Youkilis: 3 AB, 2 HR, .667

Drew: 2 AB, K, .000

Lugo: AB, 2B, 1-1

Varitek: AB, BB, K, .000

Francona on Dale and Holley 06.03.09 at 1:33 pm ET
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Terry Francona noted on his weekly appearance on Dale and Holley that he will be using the same lineup for the third straight game, Wednesday night in Detroit. Here are the highlights from the appearance (with transcript courtesy Greg Cameron):

On 500 wins as Red Sox manager: ‘€œAny night we win I’€™m happy. This just means that in the grand scheme of things I’€™ve been fortunate.’€

On pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka‘€™s performance last night: ‘€œDice-K gets himself in trouble and seems to wiggle his way out of it.’€

After Michael Holley theorized that there is a method to Dice-K’€™s madness: ‘€œThat’€™s one way of saying it. He creates trouble and then gets out of it. Wins are wins.’€

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Francona after Sox’ win over Jays 05.31.09 at 5:59 pm ET
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Here is  Red Sox manager Terry Francona following his team’s 8-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre:

‘€œIt started with Lester. He was powerful. Shoot, the three hits were two bouncers to short and the ball to mikey Lowell that would have been a great play at third. He threw strikes, he missed bats. They fouled off a lot of pitches ,drove his pitch count up. He was good. He used all his pitches and there was power behind them.’€

Improve confidence from Lester: ‘€œTrying to always move forward. It should. He pitched great. It’€™s a lot easier to walk away and field good about yourself when you have something to show for it. I understand that.’€

‘€œWe scored early and then we added on and that’€™s always a good way. We spread it out. It’€™s a good way to play. We haven’€™t done that very much lately but it was a very good day today.’€

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Papi’s new stance pays off 05.31.09 at 3:27 pm ET
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When David Ortiz assumed his position at the plate Saturday, there was something different. Nothing dramatic, but it was there nonetheless.

While awaiting each pitch Ortiz was bouncing his bat on his back shoulder until the pitcher’s approach was in full swing. It was something he had never done, and wasn’t sure would continue.

But then came Sunday — a day after taking an 0 for 4 but hitting the ball hard twice — and Ortiz was back at it. This time it paid off. In his second at-bat, the Sox DH rocketed one of his hardest hit balls of the season off the center field wall for a double. It was the reward both Ortiz and hitting coach Dave Magadan were looking after what has been a wave of adjustments.

“It’s something I brought up to him about four or five days ago and then all of a sudden (Saturday) he showed up doing it in his pre-game stuff,” said Magadan, who suggested the same approach to Sean Burroughs in San Diego, but the then-Padres’ third baseman didn’t take to it. “We started talking about it and I just told him, ‘Yeah, give it a shot.'”

The impetus for the shoulder tapping with the bat is so that Ortiz’ swing can start on more of a flat plane, instead of looping around too much, which has been a problem.

“We wanted to flatten his bat a little bit. It was getting a little too erect and he he loads it’s almost too late, so we wanted to flatten it a little bit,” Magadan explained. “I know people are sick and tired of hearing it, but his batting practices have been unbelievable.

“I just don’t want him to get to a point where he’s thinking about his stance and mechanics and all of that instead of focusing in on the baseball. It’s just a reminder for him.”

HR Derby not for Bay 05.31.09 at 1:30 pm ET
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Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay, who enters Sunday third in the American League in home runs with 14, said that if asked he will not participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby during All-Star Weekend. MLB had announced that Bay was leading all AL outfielders in voting, last week.

The Sox’ left fielder has participated in the event one other time, in 2005 in Detroit, ending up with zero home runs. When asked the following year to participate in his then-home ballpark in Pittsburgh, Bay declined.

“I vowed to never to do it again. Plus, if you ever have seen my BP you could see it’s not my thing,” Bay said. “I’ll never do it again because it didn’t allow me to enjoy my time at the All-Star Game. When I was done it was the best feeling in the world because it was over with. It took away from my enjoyment of the whole thing.”

Five Things We Learned: Don’t Count On the Six-Man Rotation For Red Sox 05.30.09 at 7:31 am ET
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TORONTO — You see something new virtually every day in the course of a 162-game baseball season. And within the hours that encompassed the Red Sox‘ 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre, there wasn’t any shortage of uniqueness. 

You had David Ortiz, the slugger who finished his night hitting .189, come just a few meters away from putting at least some of his worries in the rear-view mirror with a blast just in front of the 400-foot sign in center field that would have been a first-inning grand slam with a little more punch. (Or if the roof was opened, which wasn’t an option after a day of beautiful sunshine turned to showers.)

Instead, you had Ortiz walk out of the stadium with another 0 for 4, left almost rhythmically saying, “just got to keep laughing, bro.”

There was a rookie pitcher, Daniel Bard, who made his presence felt by striking out five straight batters.

You even had the actor who played head of the board of Callahan Automotive, ‘Rittenhuer’ in the movie “Tommy Boy” — Sean McCann — hanging in the media dining room while preparing for the upcoming baseball amateur draft. (He is a part-time scout for the Blue Jays.)

But one thing you thing that was weighing on some folks’ minds while watching Tim Wakefield’s 4 2/3-inning, nine-hit, six-run outing against the Jays, and looking forward to Saturday’s start by Brad Penny, was whether or not they might be witnessing another unique moment a few weeks down the road.

Would the Red Sox actually go to a six-man rotation?

We learned that, even with the projected introduction of John Smoltz on June 16, and the continuing emergence of Clay Buchholz, adding the extra member to the starting staff is not a likely scenario, and if it does happen it isn’t something anybody should get used to.

Why the strategy most likely isn’t a reality was just one of a few things we discovered on the day the Red Sox allowed the Blue Jays to snap the nine-game losing streak that had started last week in Fenway Park

WHY IT WOULDN’T WORK

When it comes to talk of a six-man rotation, Josh Beckett doesn’t hide his feelings regarding the proposed project.

“I don’t like it,” Beckett said. “I don’t need five days in between each start. If that’s what they decide to do, there’s nothing I can do about it. But I don’t personally like it.” 

Wakefield, coming off one of his more frustrating outings of the season, had a slightly different view.

“It would be pretty cool because everybody would get an extra day, especially for the older guys,” he said. “I don’t know if they want to build in extra days for me, but I feel unbelievable right now.”

And then there are the thoughts of the Red Sox decision-makers.

While the team has discussed the prospects of going with six starters in the past, the Red Sox understand the problems with adding another pitcher to the rotation, and the uneasiness of Beckett and others is just a fraction of the equation.

Along with the tampering of each starter’s routine, there is also having to further adjust whenever an off day comes along. For example, in the first two weeks following Smoltz’ projected return to the majors, the Red Sox have two off days prior to the All-Star Game break. If such a plan would be hatched, it would most likely come during a stretch where there were no breaks in the schedule.

And then there is perhaps the biggest issue when it comes to why the Sox would shy away from such a ploy. With the extra starter comes one less member of the bullpen, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona had made no secret how much he enjoys the flexibility that comes with having seven relievers at his disposal. There also wouldn’t be a member of the starting staff which would be the kind of hurler who would be used out of the bullpen on their side-session day.

“That’s more of a longer discussion than just a happenstance coaching move because you’re going to affect the routine of the other five starters in the rotation, and the bullpen is the one thing that is overlooked,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “All of a sudden you take one more reliever out of the mix. We plan on being in the game every night so you look at the match-ups and potential for overuse comes into play.

“I wouldn’t say it’s not optimum, it’s just not as easy as it looks by simply adding a fifth starter. There are other expectations that go with it.”

As for Wakefield, the first four innings against the Blue Jays continued to suggest that he would be one of the most important members of the Sox’ rotation, no matter the number of members. But then came a five-run fifth by Toronto and the knuckleballer was left looking for yet another rebound outing five days down the road.

“I’m not going to lie, kind of. I thought his knuckleball was better today than it was when we faced him down in Boston,” said Toronto catcher Rod Barajas, referencing Wakefield’s eight-inning, one-run outing against the Jays, May 19. “I had no chance my first two at-bats. That ball was starting at about my chest and it was ending up at my feet. I thought I didn’t have a chance against him tonight, but in that fifth inning he just left some up.”

THE ROOKIE IMPRESSES

With one out in the sixth, and the Red Sox already trailing, 6-2, Bard started putting on a show. First he got Adam Lind swinging, and then Scott Rolen went down the same way. In the seventh the reliever would fan the side, punching out Kevin Millar, Lyle Overbay, and Rod Barajas.

While it was Bard’s fastball — which topped out at 99 mph and lived around 97 and 98 mph — was undoubtedly his bread and butter, it was the slider he threw four times (out of 32 pitches) which perhaps offered his most encouragement.

Three days before Bard and Farrell decided to change the grip on the slider, going from a two-seam grip to a four-seamer. It paid off, as did the rookie’s ability to harness the explosiveness of his heater down in the strike zone.

“You could see the balls were down. I was having a hard time getting the other ones down below the zone as finish pitch, and these ones I was throwing consistently down and down and away,” said Bard of his slider. 

The low-key Bard stopped short, however, of identifying the outing as a hallmark moment in his brief big league career.

“It feels good. That’s what I expect though, not necessarily the strikeouts but getting outs and executing pitches that makes you get hitters out at any level,” said Bard, who, after pitching two innings against the Jays, has now gone 8 1/3 innings since his promotion, giving up one run on seven hits while striking out seven and walking three.

“I think there’s an adjustment period whenever you’re moving up at any time. Last year I went throught it at Double A. It took me about a month, but that’s when you get that feeling, ‘Alright I belong here,’ and then you go out and start pitching and throwing with more confidence. You stop worrying about what people are thinking out here and it’s more a focus on getting out and winning ballgames.”

ORTIZ IS LAUGHING (SORT OF)

First came the first-inning blast on a first-pitch fastball from Toronto starter Casey Janssen that reached the center field wall, but also Vernon Wells’ glove. And then, two innings later, there was a line-drive rocketed down the right-field line that was snared by Overbay.

Lazy fly outs to center and left would end Ortiz’ night, leaving the DH shaking his head as he prepared to head out of the visitors’ clubhouse.

“You know what? All I can do about myself right now is laugh. I’m not going to cry,” he said. “Laugh, keep on swinging, and keep on waiting for the good luck charm to show up. There’s nothing else I can do.”

Was there some gratification stemming from the first at-bat smash even with it settling in Wells’ mitt?

“What do you think?” Ortiz said. “You can’t swing the bat no better than that.”

Did he think it was out?

“I hit it pretty damn good,” the DH said.

But the problem remains, both for Ortiz and the Red Sox, who haven’t scored more than three runs in any of the five games since the rearrangement of their batting order.

While many of the members of the Sox’ order have produced since Ortiz was moved to sixth and J.D. Drew slid up to the No. 3 spot (with Lowell, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jason Bay all hitting .294 or better), the two main components of the alteration have struggled somewhat. 

Up until Drew’s seventh-inning homer he had been 0 for 14 since moving up in the order, while Ortiz still stands at 2 for 15 (.133) with four strikeouts.

ELLSBURY PICKED UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF

Ellsbury couldn’t remember how he fared following the end of his 25-game hit streak while with Triple A Pawtucket, but he most likely won’t forget how he rebounded from the conclusion of his 22-gamer, which ended Thursday in Minnesota.

The Sox’ leadoff man notched his sixth and seventh hit of the road trip, knocking in his team’s first two RBI. His average stands at .304.

So now he has come within four games of reaching the halfway point of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hit streak, does he believe it is an attainable record?

“He did it, so why can’t somebody else do it?” Ellsbury said. “Records were made to be broken. Somebody will do it. It’s tough, but you never know. You never thought there would be another Michael Jordan and here comes LeBron (James). Yeah, it’s a reord that is probably going to withstand for a long time, but baseball is going to be around for a long time.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Ellsbury believes that it will be tougher to break Rickey Henderson’s record of 130 stolen bases in a single season than it will to top DiMaggio.

“I would say it’s harder to steal a base than get a hit,” he said.

LOWELL AIRED IT OUT

When Lowell’s grounder up the middle was fielded by shortstop Marco Scutaro, who threw it to Overbay in time to get the Sox’ third baseman for the first out of the fourth inning, it’s importance was hard to decipher. But it was important, on a few levels.

First, replays showed that Lowell’s contention that he had beaten the throw was accurate. But unfortunately for the Sox, first base umpire Tim McClelland didn’t see it at the time. As it turned out, it could have been a pivotal mistake by the umpire, with the visitors following up the out with back to back hits.

“He said he would check it after the game,” said Lowell regarding his argument with McClelland. “You get a little emotional because you want the hit. I’m usually not a guy who’s going to argue unless I feel I’m really, really right. I consider Tim one of the best umpires in the game. He just told me he would take a look. It was just that it was leading off the inning and it could have been a hit. I could have changed the strategy.”

There was a positive to the play for Lowell, however. He agreed with some of those in the press box who believed the race down the first base line might have been his fastest since coming back from hip surgery.

“That’s when you smell the hit,” he said. “I don’t think I could have done that a month ago.”

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