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New field adds to Scutaro’s confidence 05.05.10 at 8:24 am ET
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When Marco Scutaro left Fenway Park for his team’s recent road trip, there was an uneasy feeling regarding his defense.

The shortstop already had three errors and wasn’t playing with the kind of confidence he possessed throughout what was considered by some as a Gold Glove-caliber season in Toronto last year.

But two of the more consistent playing surfaces in the American League — the Rogers Centre and Camden Yards — helped get Scutaro’s confidence back, and then came the nice surprise upon returning home: The Red Sox had changed the cut on the infield grass.

“I’m feeling more comfortable. I think with the short grass it’s been even better,” said Scutaro, who hasn’t made an error since April 17. “They cut the grass and I think it’s been better. With the long grass it felt like you had to rush everything. That’s how it was before we left. It’s all about making adjustments. This game is about adjustments.

“It’s just trying to get used to [the field] and make adjustments. I think the grass was what was messing up the ground balls up. The dirt, it’s not that bad. But the grass was thick and ground balls would go all over the place. It feels better.”

Scutaro’s defensive resurgence was put on display in the Red Sox’ 5-1 win over the Angels Tuesday night.

With runners on second and third, one out, and the Sox holding a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Kendry Morales hit a hard ground ball into the hole between third base and shortstop. Scutaro ranged to his right, took the ball on one hop on the dead run, leaped in the air and threw a strike to first baseman Kevin Youkilis to limit the Angels to just one run.

‘€œThat was something, wasn’€™t it?’€™’€™ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ‘€œI think off the bat you’€™re looking to see if the runner can score because the ball is going into left, and we turn it into an out. Yeah, that was huge.’€™’€™

Pedroia might have missed the tag 05.05.10 at 7:49 am ET
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It was universally praised as another example of Dustin Pedroia’s baseball acumen.

With one out in the eighth inning, the score tied and the bases loaded full of Angels, Bobby Abreu rifled a hard grounder to Pedroia at second base. First the infielder smothered the ball, and then he started chasing back baserunner Erick Aybar, who was coming from first. Upon meeting Aybar, Pedroia lunged at him, applying his glove to the runner’s back, before flipping the ball to Kevin Youkilis at first base for the inning-ending double play.

There was one problem: By the time Pedroia’s glove touched Aybar, he had already taken the ball out of his glove.

“I just wanted to make sure I came at him fast so he didn’t stop, and then he hit the ground. I don’t know what happened,” Pedroia said. “I was just trying to tag him. I tripped over him. It kind of happened so fast, but it worked out for us.”

Regardless of how it was actually executed, the play was undoubtedly one of the biggest of what would turn into a much-needed 5-1 win over the Red Sox.

“He did a great job,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “As the game gets closer, you’re going to see the best out of Pedey. I think we’ve come to expect that.”

“It was a great play,” Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro said. “It was pretty much the key of the game. A great play.”

Closing Time: Red Sox 5, Angels 1 05.04.10 at 10:07 pm ET
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The Red Sox claimed a 5-1 win over the Angels Tuesday night at Fenway Park thanks in large part to Jeremy Hermida’s two-out, three-run double in the eighth inning, breaking a 1-1 deadlock. The two-base hit, Hermida’s second hit if the night, was made possible when Angels’ left fielder Juan Rivera failed to get over to the corner of the left field warning track, where the ball ultimately bounced off of. (Click here for a recap.)


– Jon Lester’s night: The lefty cruised through the first seven innings, allowing just one run while striking out five and walking one before running into a bit of trouble in the eighth. The run was the first allowed by Lester in three starts. He also continued to keep the ball on the ground, allowing 15 groundouts compared to three fly balls. He had come in inducing grounders 71 percent of the time. The final line for Lester: 8 IP, ER, 5 K 2 BB, 120 pitches.

Marco Scutaro came to play: The Red Sox shortstop not only notched a pair of doubles — one of which led to the Sox first-inning run when Victor Martinez plated the leadoff man with a fielder’s choice — but Scutaro also continued his improvement in the field. Most notably, he was able to range to his right into the hole between third and short to grab Kendry Morales‘ one-hop liner in the fourth, set up and throw the LA baserunner out for one of Scutaro’s better defensive plays at Fenway. Prior to the game Scutaro was saying that he felt more comfortable on the Fenway field, especially since they had cut the grass at a shorter length.

– Dustin Pedroia’s instincts: With one out in the eighth, the scored tied at 1-1, and the bases loaded Bobby Abreu hit a smash to Pedroia, who was playing on the edge of the infield hoping to throw the potential game-tying run out at first. First the second baseman smothered the smash, and then, instead of trying to go home, he chased down the runner at first (Erick Aybar), pinned his glove on Aybar’s back, and flipped the ball to first baseman Kevin Youkilis while falling to the ground to end the threat.


David Ortiz lost his momentum: Ortiz couldn’t capture the good vibes captured Saturday night in his two-home run game against the Orioles, once again having problems. Tuesday night the designated hitter not only went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but failed to come through at what was, at the time, the game’s key moment. With the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth, Ortiz hit a hard grounder on a 2-0 count that turned into a 4-2-3 double play.

– The Angels were able to run: OK, it was just one stolen base — a swipe of third by Mike Napoli — but it was third base and it was Mike Napoli. It was the first stolen base allowed by the Red Sox in their last seven games.

Lackey: Angels’ free agent approach ‘a little suspect’ 05.04.10 at 8:39 pm ET
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John Lackey, who is scheduled to start for the Red Sox against his old team, the Angels, Wednesday at Fenway Park, met with the media Tuesday afternoon. Although there were frew revelatory comments from the starter, Lackey did offer some interesting insight when asked about the Angels propensity to letting free agents walk after their contracts expire. “It is different,” Lackey told the Orange County Register. “The way they preach the team game and the way you’re supposed to give it up for the team — that’s a little suspect.

“You’re supposed to give it up for the team. Then when it comes time, they might not give it up for you. … I totally knew what the situation was (when he reached free agency).”

Lackey signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Red Sox last offseason.

Here is the rest of what the pitcher had to say:

(On facing the Angels) It’€™s going to be fun, man. That’€™s kind of the way things go these days. I’€™m happy to be here and I enjoyed my time in L.A. as well. It should be a fun challenge?

(On emotions) We just need to win right now, man. Doesn’€™t really matter much who were playing right now. Need to pitch well and win the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

Lowell: ‘I understand the situation’ 05.04.10 at 1:08 am ET
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Mike Lowell knows 4-for-4 with three doubles will put a smile on his face — as was the case following the Red Sox‘ 17-8 rout of the Angels Monday night at Fenway Park — but it doesn’t guarantee another shot at repeating the performance when the next day rolls around. (Click here to listen to Lowell’s postgame interview.)

“I understand the situation,” Lowell said after upping his batting average to .300. “It does seem at times where you think you’€™re on a tryout basis, just because I think we’€™re feeling things out as a team. If I can make that decision as hard as possible, it means I’€™m doing something good.”

With right-hander Ervin Santana on the mound for the Angels in the second game of the four-game set, the likelihood is that Lowell won’t be getting another crack at repeating the performance come Tuesday. Designated hitter David Ortiz has hit a respectable .333 against Santana, while also coming off a two-home run game two games ago, and even though Adrian Beltre is just a .200 hitter off the Angels starter, he did hit his first homer of the season in the series opener.

When asked whether he believed performances like the one he put on Monday should earn him more playing time, Lowell was up front with his answer.

“I feel like I’€™ve earned more playing time with the last 11 years of my career,” said Lowell, who is a career .273 hitter against Santana. “If you take away 2005, if you tell me my numbers were terrible last year, then I deserve not to play. That’€™s my stance. We’€™ll go to the next question. I can open up a big bag of worms.”

Lowell also addressed the comments made by Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein to The Boston Herald after Sunday’s loss that changes might be on the way. (‘€œIt either changes itself or we have to do something to change it,” Epstein told the Herald.)

“If it’€™s not true, yeah, I would take offense to it. But I think everyone has to look at themselves in the mirror and say does this apply to me. If it does, you have to correct it. I don’€™t have a problem with him saying it,” Lowell said. “I don’€™t think anyone in here thinks we were playing good baseball. Hopefully, that will start.”

Pedroia addresses the fans of New England … sort of 05.04.10 at 12:26 am ET
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The questions had been asked following the Red Sox‘ latest round of healing — a 17-8 win over the Angels Monday night at Fenway Park — when Dustin Pedroia asked for tape recorder to be turned back on.

“To the fans of New England,” the second baseman began.

‘€œEverybody can be [expletive] happy when you’€™re [expletive] 30-1, but what is everybody going to do when we’€™re 12-14? Are you going to show up to work the next day and write an [expletive] story? Hell no. You’€™re going to write the best story of your life. We’€™re going to try and play the best [expletive] game of our life tomorrow. That’€™s what you’€™ve got to do when you’€™re 12-14. Don’€™t put your head down and mope. Grind it out. You believe. That’€™s what we’€™re built on.’€

So, there you have it.

Just prior to Pedroia’s message to “the fans of New England,” he also touched on some perception that the chemistry of the team hasn’t jelled with the combination of new players and losing not allowing for the kind of cohesion previously seen in the Sox clubhouse.

“When you win, it’s not magnified. When your 12-14 everybody jumps on the new guys like it’s their fault,” Pedroia said. “It’s not their fault. Nobody has played unbelievable. There’s a few guys who have played good but the new guys have been fine. Boston is different, man. They demand you go out there every day and play your butt and try to win. It takes some time to get used to, but once you get used to it, man, there’s nothing like playing here. It’s the best place in the world. Everybody needs to take a deep breath and do what we did tonight.”

In case you missed it, what the Red Sox did Monday night was notch seven players with multi-hit games on the way to a 20-hit attack.

Closing Time: Orioles 12, Red Sox 9 05.01.10 at 9:58 pm ET
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Red Sox pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield combined to allow five Baltimore home runs, paving the way for a 12-9 win over the Orioles, Saturday night at Camden Yards. The Sox had carried a 4-1 lead into the fifth, but the O’s responded with 10 unanswered runs off of the first two Red Sox’ hurlers. David Ortiz highlighted the Red Sox’ night by hitting two home runs. (Click here for a complete recap.)


– Daisuke, Inning 5: Matsuzaka succumbed to a horrific frame in the fifth inning. The Sox’ starter seemed to be relying on his fastball more than in the previous four innings, and it cost him with most of the biggest Orioles’ hits in the six-run inning coming off of Daisuke’s heater. Matsuzaka had actually retired the first batter he faced (Luke Scott) in the fifth, but after that it went all downhill. First, Ty Wigginton notched only Baltimore’s second hit of the game when he homered to center. After that came a single, a walk, a force out, another single, yet another single, and finally a three-run homer from Matt Wieters. One more Miguel Tejada double and Matsuzaka’s night was done.

– Wakefield reunion with the ‘pen didn’t go well: The last time we saw Wakefield pitch out of the bullpen it was in the 2004 American League Championship Series, marking his fourth straight scoreless relief outing. That went a whole lot better than this did. First, it appeared that the routine of getting ready in the middle of an inning — as was the case in the fifth — left Wakefield a bit out of sorts (while seemingly forcing Matsuzaka to stay in for one more batter than Terry Francona most likely would have preferred). The end result was three homers allowed by Wakefield, which was the first time a Red Sox reliever had allowed three homers since Keith Foulke in 2006. Watching the outing it was hard not to think that Wakefield has potentially a great deal of value in the rotation, but very little in the bullpen.


– Daisuke, Innings 1-4: Matsuzaka couldn’t have been much better prior to the clock striking 8:30 p.m. He allowed one earned run on just one hit, getting over first-pitch strikes to 11 of the first 13 hitters he faced. While his fastball wasn’t dominant (ranging between 89-91 mph with one reaching 94 mph), his slider was. The pitch was the punctuation on all four of the Red Sox’ starters strikeouts.

– Ortiz’ power stroke: After taking extensive early batting practice, Ortiz saw the extra work pay off. Getting the start at designated hitter for the second straight game, Ortiz got his hands in on an 90 mph, inside fastball from O’s starter Brad Bergesen and deposited it just over the left field wall for his second homer of the season. And even though his next at-bat resulted in an fly-out to left field, the swing offered a reminder of when Ortiz is going good, driving an outside-edge fastball the other way. Then, in the eighth, Ortiz made Francona’s move not to pinch-hit for him against left-hander Alberto Castillo by launching his second homer of the game on to Eutaw Street. It was Ortiz’ 35th career multi-homer game, and his first since last Aug. 26.

– Not your Van Every-day substitute: With Jeremy Hermida sitting the game out with a sore quadriceps, Jonathan Van Every stepped up and did his part while starting in center field. First the 30-year-old took the first pitch of the third inning and sent it over the center field fence, giving the Red Sox’ a 2-1 lead. Then, later in the third, Van Every got a solid jump on a sinker liner off the bat of Adam Jones, allowing the outfielder to eventually make a diving, inning-ending stab. It supported Terry Francona’s theory that Van Every was better suited to center than Darnell McDonald, who got the start in left field.

– Martinez is figuring things out: Earlier in the week, Sox’ catching instructor Gary Tuck suggested Victor Martinez was on his way to getting his throwing straightened out. That’s certainly looking to be the case, as Martinez threw out his second baserunner attempting to steal in as many nights. The approach is noticeable, with the catcher displaying a much shorter arm stroke compared the side-arm method he had previously fallen into.

Frandsen claimed on waivers by Angels 04.29.10 at 8:11 pm ET
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Infielder Kevin Frandsen, whom the Red Sox traded for from the Giants in spring training, was claimed off waivers by the Angels after the Sox had designated him for assignment to make room for Alan Embree on the 40-man roster. The right-handed-hitting Frandsen, 27, hit .258 in 17 games for Triple-A Pawtucket with two home runs, managing a .308 average against left-handed pitching.

Beltre says ‘Thank you’ to Buchholz 04.27.10 at 11:58 pm ET
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TORONTO — Adrian Beltre is getting a big dose of unique moments in his short Red Sox career.

Last week it came when the free-swinging third baseman won a game with a bases-loaded walk. And Tuesday night — in the midst of what turned into a 2-1 win for the Red Sox over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre — Beltre found another aberration in the form of what could have been the most costly of errors.

With one out and nobody on in the eighth inning, and the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead, the usually slick-fielding Beltre gathered in a slow bouncer off the bat of Vernon Wells. But after double-clutching, he tossed the ball wide of first baseman Kevin Youkilis, putting the potential game-tying run at second base.

“The ball got in the packet of the glove, I couldn’t get it out, and then I threw a cutter,” explained Beltre regarding his fourth error of the season. “It wasn’t the runner. It was just a bad grip, rushed it, pulled the ball and threw a cutter.”

Fortunately for Beltre, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz eased the pain.

The starter promptly got Lyle Overbay on strikes, and then induced a weak fly ball to center off the bat of Alex Gonzalez to end the threat, and calm Beltre’s nerves.

“That was good. He was behind me after I made that play,” Beltre said. “I told him to pick me up and he did, big time. That was huge. Nobody wants to make an error, but when you make an error like that you’re just praying the run doesn’t score, especially the way he was throwing the ball tonight. It was one of those plays you’re praying the pitcher picks you up and get out of the inning. It happened.”

Drew had another bout with vertigo 04.27.10 at 11:29 pm ET
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TORONTO — J.D. Drew said after the Red Sox2-1 win over the Blue Jays that he was stricken with another case of vertigo Sunday night and early Monday. It is a condition that the outfielder has suffered through at various times in his career, with the last bout coming at the end of May, 2008, forcing him to miss a game. Drew said the symptoms had subsided enough by game time Monday that he was able to play, and by Tuesday’s first pitch the problem had dissipated.

“The first at-bat (Monday) I felt like I was kind of floating, but as my heart rate got going things started speeding up and I was able to faze out of it,” he explained. “It felt better as the game went along, and it felt fine tonight.

“It’s one thing you don’t want to deal with over an extended period of time. I felt much better tonight. What happened in 2008 it was something I woke up with it, and had it all day. What happened the other night was that I had it all night, I woke up 4 a.m. in the morning and the room was all over the place.”

Drew ended up playing some of a key role in the Red Sox’ win Tuesday night, drawing a two-out walk to load the bases in the eighth inning, setting up Mike Lowell’s game-winning, run-scoring free pass. The Sox’ right fielder also had a hit to go with his two walks, boosting his batting average to .191.

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