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Penny leaves in the seventh 05.14.09 at 6:02 pm ET
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Red Sox starter Brad Penny gave way to reliever Hideki Okajima with one out and a runner on third in the seventh inning. Penny allowed four runs on seven hits, striking out four and walking one. Sixty-one of his 97 pitches were for strikes.

Penny clearly heeded his own advice, limiting the free passes, and thereby not giving into multiple big innings. 

“Avoiding walks,” said Penny before Wednesday’s game regarding the key to any success he might have. “Staying out of the big inning. People are also going to try to bunt on you and move runners over. They’re going to steal on you like Tampa Bay. The Angels have always been consistent with that, bunting and moving guys over.”

Unfortunately for Penny, Okajima couldn’t get out of the seventh unscathed as Jeff Mathis launched a fly ball to left field which Jason Bay made a diving catch on, but it did allow Erick Aybar to tag up from third with the go-ahead run.

For Okajima, that was his 10th inherited runner of the season, with the lefty now having allowed three to score. Last season he allowed 13 of his 25 inherited runners to score.

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Catching/Real Estate update 05.14.09 at 5:23 pm ET
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While we’re sifting through the Red Sox‘ game with the Angels (which stood at 3-3 heading into the sixth inning), thought you might want to know where Tim Wakefield’s former batterymate, Doug Mirabelli, was and what he was doing.

Evidently, Mirabelli has joined a new team … Coldwell Bankers Schmidt Realtors.

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Who’s on first? 05.14.09 at 3:13 pm ET
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Gil Velazquez is still with the Red Sox. Jeff Bailey is still the Red Sox’ starting first baseman. And Chris Carter is, as far as we know, still waiting by the phone somewhere in the Anaheim area just in case anything changes.

What does it all mean? Well, it all adds up to Nick Green dusting off the first baseman glove he got a few years back.

Green has played exactly one inning at first base as a major leaguer, and it was that lone frame — coming with the Yankees in a game against the Red Sox in 2006 — which served as the very first time in the infielder’s life that he played the position.

Green entered the game in the ninth inning with New York holding a 14-10 lead. He had two chances, a pop up off the bat of Mark Loretta, and then a Wily Mo Pena grounder which he fielded and flipped to Mariano Rivera for the final out of the game.

“First pitch was a fly ball to me,” Green remembered. “Got a fly ball and a ground ball. (Jason) Giambi had to come out for some reason so they asked me if I could play first and then just threw me out there. The thing I learned from that experience is that I can catch it and throw it, but as long as I’m aware of where I am on the field I should be alright.”

Green had used Andy Phillips’ glove that day, but decided to get his own first baseman’s mitt after the experience. Unfortunately for the utility infielder his first-ever specialty glove was stolen just as he was getting used to it, forcing him to break in the one he currently possesses. As far as actually using it, Green credits his work with former Red Sox manager Jimy Williams even before making that Aug. 18, 2006 appearance at Fenway Park.

(That, by the way, was the same day Jon Lester experienced a Storrow Drive car crash, which led him to the examination that revealed he had cancer.)

It wasn’t the first time Green was thrust into playing a new position for the first time. Back on Aug. 15, 2004, while playing with the Atlanta Braves, Green got his first introduction to being an outfielder when he came on for J.D. Drew. In that one inning he had to borrow Drew’s outfielder’s glove.

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Bard makes his mark 05.14.09 at 12:00 am ET
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Daniel Bard came in with none out and the Red Sox trailing, 7-4, in the sixth inning, with runners on second and third. The first batter he faced, Mike Napoli, struck out on three straight fastballs, the last one clocking in at 98 mph. Juan Rivera followed by taking a 96 mph fastball the other way for a sacrifice fly. The rookie then retired the side by getting Howie Kendrick to ground out to third on a first-pitch curveball.

Bard had two 96 mph fastballs, four heaters than measured 97 mph, and the one 98 mph offering in his first inning.

The righty reliever finished his first outing giving up one hit and one walk, while striking out a batter and not allowing a run over two innings, throwing 38 pitches. He gave way to Takashi Saito with the Red Sox trailing, 8-4.

For more Bard see:

How costly to call up Bard?

The Red Sox have some unique relievers

Don’t forget this Bard guy

Read More: Daniel Bard,
Heading into Game 2 05.13.09 at 9:23 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Shocker … it’s nice weather for the Red Sox and Angels’ game at Angel Stadium Wednesday night. It will be Tim Wakefield against Matt Palmer, he of the 3-0 mark and 3.06 ERA. In case you were wondering, no member of the Red Sox have faced Palmer, although the same can’t be said for the Sox’ starter’s relationship with the Angels hitters.

Torii Hunter (14 for 38, .368), Bobby Abreu (11 for 30, .367) and Chone Figgins (6 for 18, .333) have given the knuckleballer the most trouble, while Gary Matthews Jr. (3 for 21, .143) has struggled the most of those in the LA lineup.

As for other matters going on heading into the second of a three-game series (which, in case you didn’t know, has Brad Penny pitted against Ervin Santana in the finale), Dustin Pedroia most likely won’t play tonight, taking another day to recover from a strained right groin. Pedroia said there wasn’t any setbacks, which as he points out, would be hard to do considering he “didn’t do anything” Tuesday.

Here is your Mike Lowell defensive update, which appears to be of more concern than the Mike Lowell offensive update considering his steadiness at the plate (.310, 6 HR, 28 RBI). Even after making his fifth error of the season, Tuesday night, he still owns the highest fielding percentage of any qualifying third baseman in the game (.974), which is .003 better than second-place Brooks Robinson. In fact, Lowell would have to make errors on his next seven chances to fall into a tie with Robinson.

While Chris Carter is somewhere in the Anaheim area, having been flown across the country as insurance, he isn’t at the stadium. Carter could, however, be thrust into action as soon as Thursday once Pedroia is put back in play. The other piece of the first baseman/extra outfielder puzzle, Mark Kotsay, was encouraged after stepping up his running program yet again and said he is hopeful to head back on another rehab outing early next week.

Pedroia won’t be in the starting lineup 05.13.09 at 2:55 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Speaking on Dale and Holley, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the second baseman Dustin Pedroia won’t be in the starting lineup for the Sox’ game against the Angels, Wednesday night. Both Pedroia and Francona had said prior to Tuesday night’s Sox win that the No. 2 hitter would be available to potentially build on a stellar pinch-hitting record (5 for 7 for his career).

Pedroia said the most games he has missed at any one time came in 2006 when he was sidelined eight contests after being hit in the hand with a pitch. He played in 157 games last season, with two of the absences coming with Francona resting his regulars at the end of the regular season. One of the other off days was injury/performance-related on June 2 in Baltimore.

Leading into that mandatory off day, Pedroia was just starting to creep out of a slump that had taken him all the way down to .260, and the second baseman was nursing a thumb injury that had been aggravated a week before.

Jason Bay stands as the only Red Sox capable of playing in all 162 games this season, a feat he managed in 2005 but has no intention of setting as a goal.

“I noticed [Pedroia] kept talking about it, so I said, ‘You know what man, I’m not trying to toot my own horn but I’ve done it, and in hindsight, it’s way overrated,” said Bay, who would tie Tuesday night’s game with an eighth-inning ground out. “It’s cool to say you did it. But after having done it, there’s a big difference between that and having two, three or four well-placed days off over the course of a season.”

It remains to be seen if David Ortiz is going to need a day off after driving in the Red Sox’ second run by getting plunked in the left wrist by a Darren Oliver eighth-inning fastball. Despite being hit on almost the identical spot that led to the wrist ailment which sidelined him last season, Ortiz as optimistic he would be able to play in the series’ second game.

He also bemoaned his lack of good fortune, telling the story of how Tuesday night he decided to slightly adjust his wrist band only to have the ball hit a spot on the wrist that would have been protected if that change hadn’t been made.

“I’ll tell you what, man, that’s bad luck and I’ll tell you why,” he said. “I’ve got this wrist band and it’s kind of thick so I always wear it down here. But today when I was putting them on I was like, ‘I’ll wear them a little higher.’ That (pitch) hit me right there where the wrist band was supposed to be protecting. That’s what I thought about. Oh no this is not fair.”

It is unclear if closer Jonathan Papelbon will be available or not after throwing an 18-pitch inning in earning his ninth save in as many tries, Tuesday. After the game Papelbon attributed a low-90’s fastball to feeling a bit sluggish.

“I was just tired. The off days, man, along with the travel, it’s tough,” Papelbon said. “It was one of those days. I knew I didn’t have my good fastball. I knew I had to try and locate and just try and compete.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon,
Ortiz thinking about home run drought ‘every day’ 05.12.09 at 9:44 pm ET
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ANAHEIM — Torii Hunter smiled a broad smile while sitting in front of his locker at Angel Stadium prior to his team’s game with the Red Sox, Tuesday night.

“If they don’t want him,” the LA outfielder said, “we’ll take him.”

The “him” Hunter was referring to was his longtime friend, Sox DH David Ortiz, who enters the three-game series with the Angels having gone 130 regular season at-bats without a home run, the second-longest stretch of his career. And judging by the session Ortiz held with the media prior to the series opener with the Angels, the slugger hasn’t actually been able to avoid thinking about the homerless stretch.

How often is he thinking about it?

“Every day,” said Ortiz when asked how often he thinks about going without a home run this season. “Every day. Sleeping. Eating. Having breakfast. (Going to the bathroom.) It’€™s bad.

“Just keep on working. It’s early. I’d like to do it from the very beginning, but I know things are going to get better.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz home run, Manny Ramirez,
The pill that could save the Sox 05.12.09 at 12:58 am ET
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It is called “MAXALT” and it could be a difference-maker for the Red Sox.

The pill costs about $80 a pop, goes to work in a few hours, and has meant the world to Jonathan Papelbon, with the latest example of its effectiveness coming last Wednesday.

“Before,” Papelbon said, “I probably would have to say, ‘Give me a night.’ It was bad.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The Daniel Bard Era begins 05.10.09 at 6:13 pm ET
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The Red Sox have decided the time is right to break out Daniel Bard.

After giving up just two runs and six hits in 16 innings — during which he struck out 29 and walked five — Bard has been brought up to the Red Sox, where he will join the team’s bullpen starting Sunday night in the Sox’ series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It might be a little quicker. I don’t think any of us had a hard time slowing him down, or wanting to slow him down because he is such a bright piece of our future … It wasn’t like I was sitting here banging on Theo, ‘You’ve got to get this guy here.’ The last time I did that it killed us,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, referencing when the Sox summoned reliever Cla Meredith in 2005 only to see the sidewinder issue two walks and a Richie Sexson grand slam in his first three big league batters.

“I think when we all sat down and talked it just made some sense. And I guess some of it had to do was that we didn’t have to have him here right now. I think that’s important right now, too. By that we don’t have to give him the ball in the eighth inning and, ‘OK kid, our hopes are pinned on you.’ We didn’t want to do that either. Hopefully the timing is good.”

The Red Sox’ corresponding move was to designate Javy Lopez for assignment, who had allowed 13 runs on 20 hits in 11 2/3 innings.

“We talked to Javy last night after the game and told him what we were going to do, which is designate him for assignment, which is hard to do,” Francona said. “He’s a nice kid. He’s a gentleman. He works hard. He’s just having a hard time getting people out … The way we were using him, we weren’t getting the most out of our bullpen.”

While the plan is to ease Bard into his first major league action, Francona couldn’t guarantee anything, once again using Meredith’s debut as an example.

“What would be ideal is to get him in a game where we have a little bit of leeway. That may not happen. I think I said the same thing with Clay Meredith. We’ll see. We really don’t know,” Francona said. “I don’t think that is the most urgent thing on everybody’s mind right now. We told him the experience will be fantastic and we think he can help us win at the same time. We’ve tried to balance that in the past and we’ll continue to try and do it.”

Continuing to look back at that Meredith promotion, Francona added, “I remember we desperately needed a bridge in the sixth inning. We just couldn’t get it done. I thought with his funkiness and teams not seeing him, it would be the perfect bridge. It went against probably everything I believe in, Theo relented and it was a bad mistake on my part.”

For Bard, who gave up no runs and five hits in 10 1/3 innings in spring training, the promotion wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

“He was probably the talk of the camp, not only our camp but everywhere you went everybody was talking about him,” Francona said. “We tried to monitor that a little bit because especially in our market there’s a lot of media, there’s a lot of people who want to get to him. But he handled himself very well, he continued to throw the ball very well, went to Triple A and picked up right where he left off. If he attacks the strike zone he’s going to have success, it’s hard to get around it. He’ll give up a hit or a home run every once in a while, but his stuff is too good. He handles the running game. There’s not a lot of moving parts for young pitcher that throws that hard. There’s not a lot of effort to get the ball up there, which is great.”

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Final: Indians 9, Red Sox 2 05.06.09 at 10:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox fell to the Indians, 8-2, in the teams’ series opener, Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Taking the loss was Justin Masterson, who threw a career-high 112 pitches, giving up six runs over 6 1/3 innings. Victor Martinez did the most damage for Cleveland, going 3 for 5 with a home run, four RBI, and three runs. Martinez is now hitting .398.

The 2-5 hitters for Cleveland — Asdrubal Cabrera, Martinez, Shin-Soo Choo, and Mark DeRosa — each had three hits and combined to go 12 for 19 with seven runs and eight RBI.

Earning the win for the visitors was Carl Pavano, who threw more pitches (103) than he had in nearly four years. Pavano lasted six innings, giving up two runs on six hits.

More after heading down to the clubhouse …

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