|An ‘aggressive’ John Lackey is a good John Lackey||04.08.14 at 12:07 am ET|
When it comes to taking the mound every fifth day, John Lackey has learned that he’s best when he doesn’t mess around.
Sporting an early season repertoire that has included more fastballs and less curves, Lackey has been getting ahead in the count and sending a message to hitters — get me early or don’t get me at all. Lackey was efficient, and at times dominating, allowing just five hits and one run, while walking two and striking out five in seven innings as the Red Sox beat the Rangers, 5-1.
“It’s been a lot of fastball action early on. So far, my arm has been feeling pretty good,” Lackey said. “I’ve been challenging guys and trying to get ahead in the count, and A.J. [Pierzynski] called a great game again for me tonight. I was able to get ahead and dictate some at-bats and it makes things go a little bit faster.
“I definitely want to pound the strike zone. I want them to know that I’m going to throw strikes. If you’re going to get me, you better get me quick [in the count] because I’m coming after you for sure. It can work both ways, if you’re not locating well, you can give it up pretty quick, too, that way. Just have to continue to locate and hopefully keep pitch counts down and get deep into games.”
After going six solid innings (90 pitches) in Baltimore on April 2, leading the Red Sox to their first win of the season, Lackey took the hill Monday at Fenway, the same mound that he stood on while clinching Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. Ironically, it was also the last time the Red Sox had won at Fenway after being swept by the Brewers in the home opening series over the weekend.
But if there’s anyone on the staff that knows something about stopping a losing streak, it’s Lackey. He’s been an ace longer than Jon Lester. And on Monday night, the Red Sox needed a pitcher to take the mound who could give the Red Sox a chance to avoid their first four-game losing streak since losing eight straight to end 2012.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: John Lackey vs. Tanner Scheppers||04.07.14 at 10:55 am ET|
Lackey comes into the game after kicking off his season with a 6-2 win on April 2 against the Orioles. The veteran right-hander gave up just two earned runs on three hits over six innings and struck out six en route to Boston’s first victory of the season.
After the win, Lackey, who tossed just 90 pitches, credited new Boston backstop A.J. Pierzynski with some of the outing’s success.
“I always try to work pretty quick, especially when you’re throwing strikes and feeling pretty good about it,” Lackey said. “A.J. called a great game. That helps a lot with tempo when you don’t really have to think too much about what pitch you want to throw. When he’s throwing down the one you’re looking for, things kind of roll pretty good.”
Lackey historically has struggled against the Rangers, as he is just one of two pitchers with at least 29 starts against Texas to have a losing record. The 35-year-old is an overall 12-15 in 38 starts vs. the Rangers with a 6.01 ERA and a WHIP of 1.59. He last faced off against the Rangers on June 5, 2013, when he got a no-decision after giving up one run on five hits with five strikeouts over six innings. Boston ultimately lost the game 3-2 after Craig Breslow gave up two runs in the seventh.
Scheppers, who is in his third season at the major league level, has limited experience against the Red Sox, with just five relief appearances against Boston. Scheppers’ last outing against the Sox came on June 6, 2013, when he came in for the eighth and struck out two batters while walking one in a scoreless inning.
|Why David Ross and tired Red Sox are glad first week is over||04.06.14 at 6:56 pm ET|
The mere thought might provoke snide laughter among skeptics.
One week into the season and the Red Sox are a tired group. How else to explain sloppy play and mental lapses on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? The Red Sox not only lost their home opener, spoiling the ring ceremony glow a bit, they were swept at Fenway by a Milwaukee team that is coming off a 74-win season and was picked for next-to-last in the National League Central by many experts.
But upon further review, you can see why. The Red Sox played a night game Thursday, traveled back early Friday morning and then got up early to get to Fenway and prepare for their ring ceremony before a 2:05 p.m. game Friday. They were allowed to sleep in Saturday, only to play a tedious 11-inning contest Saturday night that took four hours, 23 minutes to complete. They then got up early Sunday morning to make their way to Fenway and try to salvage a game from the Brewers.
Yovani Gallardo made sure to make life miserable by keeping the ball down all day as Milwaukee stifled the Sox, 4-0, to complete the three-game sweep of the fatigued champs.
“That was a lot going on,” catcher David Ross said. “No excuses and I’m not making excuses but getting in late, the ring ceremony, turn around night game, extra innings, day game. They took it to us. You have to give credit to that team. We’ll regroup, have a night game [Monday], get some rest. It’s a long season, have a lot of games left and we have guys in here that play hard so I’m not worried about that.”
What will turn it around? A little rest and little luck, starting with the Rangers Monday night in Boston.
“I think it’s a little bit of both,” Ross said. “Some of those ground balls that are finding holes are at guys and some of those hard hit balls find the gaps or find the outfield grass. Rest helps, too. Guys get in this first weekend. You have all sorts of stuff going on, getting unpacked and your apartment settled. Figuring out how to get home because I know a couple of guys got lost the other day going home. Just getting readjusted.”
|Sunday notes: Will Middlebrooks (right calf) heads to DL, Brock Holt recalled, Garin Cecchini on hold for now||at 11:40 am ET|
After feeling a twinge in his lower right leg during pre-game sprints Saturday night, Will Middlebrooks was diagnosed Sunday with a Grade 1 strain of his right calf and immediately placed on the 15-day disabled list.
The third baseman underwent an MRI Sunday morning that revealed the nature of the injury. Taking Middlebrooks place on the roster is utility infielder Brock Holt, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.
In playing the first four games of the season, Middlebrooks was 4-for-13 (.231) with one homer, one double and four strikeouts.
“He was disappointed when he first felt the calf grab him,” Farrell said. “The exam probably confirmed some of the thoughts based on the way he was reacting and responding to the sprints he went through and what he felt afterward. Unfortunately, we’re missing a power right-handed bat that was getting off to what looked to be a pretty darned good start.”
“It’s going to be case. He’ll be back on the field when he’s first available but it’s not going to be for another two weeks.” Longer? “Could be but we don’t know that yet.”
Farrell said the organization decided against promoting top infield prospect Garin Cecchini due to the desire to see Cecchini get more defensive reps with Triple-A Pawtucket.
“While he’s had some good at-bats there there’s still some development defensively that’s taking place,” Farrell said. “His time is coming but we didn’t feel like it was right now.”
Cecchini is hitting 5-for-9 (.556) in his first four games with Pawtucket this week.
Holt comes to Boston after being one of the last cuts in camp, when the team decided to keep infielder Jonathan Herrera.
“We’ll see what the best matchup might provide with those two guys,” Farrell said of Herrera and Holt. “Right now, Brock is the one that is on the roster. To get someone here currently to fill that spot and then in response to put Will on the DL. Whether we look find a better fit, that’s something we’re always looking for, not just this case but every other case so we’ll see what transpires over the two-week period that Will is going to be missed.”
Herrera was thrown into the fire Saturday night as the emergency fill-in at third base when Middlebrooks was initially scratched.
“This is a veteran guy who’s been accustomed to that role,” Farrell said of Herrera. “He finds a way to contribute based on his skills and he was able to do that [Saturday] night. Short notice, given the level of experience he has, he’s been in that position before and did everything we could’ve asked.”
Lester is set to make his second start of the season and is looking for his first win. The southpaw lost on Opening Day despite pitching very well, allowing six hits and two runs in seven innings. He threw 104 pitches, 73 for strikes, and had eight strikeouts compared to one walk.
“I felt pretty good from the start,” Lester said after the loss. “I was missing a little bit in the first couple of innings. Really, the one thing that I thought hurt me was the leadoff walk in the second. Other than that, a bunch of singles [five of the six hits he allowed were singles] and a solo homer.”
Lester has faced the Brewers only once before, back in 2011. In a loss, Lester went eight innings, allowing four runs (three earned), striking out eight and walking three. Lester allowed three home runs in that game.
During spring training, Lester looked strong, pitching in three games, winning one and losing one. He had an ERA of 0.71 and a WHIP of 0.789, pitching in 12 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and one earned run while striking out 14 and walking three.
Gallardo faced the Red Sox in 2011 during the same series, his only appearance against the team. Like Lester, he loss the game, giving up five runs, eight earned, striking out four and walking two over three innings.
Gallardo had a 3.98 ERA and a WHIP of 1.623 during spring training, pitching in six games, winning none of them and losing two. He pitched 20 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits, 12 runs, nine earned runs and six walks.
Brewers vs. Lester (LHP)
Lyle Overbay (31 plate appearances): .321 AVG/.387 OBP/.607 SLG, 2 doubles, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Mark Reynolds (31): .269/.387/.500, 3 double, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
Carlos Gomez (10): .100/.100/.100, 1 RBI, 4 strikeouts
Ryan Braun (4): .333/.500/.667, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Aramis Ramirez (4): .750/.750/1.000, 1 double, 1 RBI
Rickie Weeks (4): .500/.500/1.500, 1 double, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Jeff Bianchi, Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado, Logan Schafer and Jean Segura have not faced Lester.
Red Sox vs. Gallardo (RHP)
Jonny Gomes (17): .154/.353/.385, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Jonathan Herrera (6): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout
David Ross (4): .500/.500/1.250, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Dustin Pedroia (4): .667/.667/1.667, 1 HR, 1 RBI
David Ortiz (2): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 walk
|Ice-cold Clay Buchholz (six, runs, 13 hits) struggles badly as Red Sox fall in 11 at frigid Fenway||04.05.14 at 11:33 pm ET|
Clay Buchholz was as ice-cold as the elements Saturday night.
Back-to-back doubles from Khris Davis and Logan Schafer in the 11th inning off former Brewer Burke Badenhop broke a 6-6 tie and led Milwaukee to its second straight interleague win over the Red Sox, 7-6, Saturday night in a four-hour, 23-minute marathon at a frigid Fenway Park. Francisco Rodriguez struck out the side in order in the 11th to send Boston to its second straight loss at home and drop them to 2-3 on the very young season.
The game began just after 7 p.m., with a temperature reading of 48 degrees and a wind chill in the upper 30s. By the 10th inning, Fenway was less than half-full and the temperature had dipped into the upper 30s.
Buchholz, the Red Sox starter, allowed a career-high 13 hits and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The Brewers used two long home runs from Mark Reynolds and Carlos Gomez off Buchholz and clutch hitting to race out to a 6-2 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
“I missed with a lot pitches and when I did they seemed to put the barrel on it and find some holes,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, the couple of home runs they hit were pitches not where they were supposed to be. Just a lot of mistakes that they found holes for.
“I felt fine. It took a little bit to get loose. It was pretty cold out there. But other than that, it was just basically missing in the middle of the plate or missing up [in strike zone] and that’s where their hits came off of. I don’t think I threw one good pitch that was hit, that I look back on and I don’t think he should’ve hit that pitch. That’s the way it goes.”
Buchholz is slated to pitch next Thursday in the Bronx in the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees.
“I’ve been around for a little bit so you can’t dwell on your last start,” Buchholz added. “To do that, it’s probably not going to work out too well for you. Just put in the work that I have to do to get ready for that start against the Yankees.”
Buchholz was bailed out by his offense and did not figure in the decision. Buchholz, who managed only 72 pitches on the night, didn’t allow more than eight hits in any start in 2013 and had never allowed more than seven hits in any game at Fenway.
“You don’t want to give up that many hits ever,” Buchholz said. “But they were swinging early and that’s what I want teams to do, I want them to swing, I want them to put balls in play. I have to do a better job of limiting that and obviously putting pitches where I want to. I wasn’t able to do that at all tonight, really. That’s the way the game goes some times. I have to figure it out before the next time out.”
The Red Sox, playing without David Ortiz (rest), Will Middlebrooks (right calf) and Mike Carp (back) in the starting lineup, managed to battle back as the Brewers started to self-destruct, namely third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segura.
With one out, Dustin Pedroia reached on a fielding error by Ramirez. The next batter, Daniel Nava, hit a routine grounder to Segura at short that appeared to be tailor-made for an inning-ending double play. But instead of a 6-4-3 DP, Segura bobbled it and retired only Nava at first.
Mike Napoli followed with a rocket to the center field bleachers off Brewers starter Wily Peralta that cut Milwaukee’s lead to one, 6-5.
The Red Sox used more Milwaukee mayhem in the field to tie the game in the sixth. The Brewers appeared ready to escape a first-and-second, none-out jam when A.J. Pierzynski grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Jonathan Herrera grounded softly to Segura at short. Segura bobbled and couldn’t recover as Xander Bogaerts scored from third.
|Ryan Braun on his Fenway reception: ‘The more you deal with it, the easier it becomes’||04.04.14 at 9:59 pm ET|
Ryan Braun wasn’t about to kid himself.
This wasn’t going to be like Monday in Milwaukee when an adoring crowd welcomed him back to the majors from a PED suspension with a rousing ovation.
He knew Fenway was going to give him a different kind of reception, the one that Alex Rodriguez and other suspected PED users got in the past.
Starting with the lineup introductions Friday afternoon, every time Braun’s name was announced over the Fenway P.A. system, fans serenaded him with boos, boos that got louder and louder each time he came to the plate.
“I’ve dealt with it for the last couple of years,” Braun said. “It’s not something that’s new to me. I’ve had plenty of experience dealing with it and I think, regardless of how challenging anything is, the more you deal with it, the easier it becomes to deal with it.
“So, I dealt with it in 2012. Had my best year last year. I was off to a good start before my early departure.”
Braun’s “early departure” of course was mandated by MLB when he admitted to PED use and was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season.
“All I can do is focus on things I can control, focus on trying to prepare myself in helping my team win games. I’m happy we were able to win. Obviously, an incredible team over there. It was a special day for them, getting to enjoy what they were able to accomplish last year. Certainly, I wasn’t anticipating a reception like I got in Milwaukee. Just focus on the things I can control.”
On Friday, Braun went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and didn’t really contribute as his team scored four times in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie and walk away with a 6-2 win over the Red Sox.
“It always makes it so much better,” Braun said. “I think I’m at a point in my career where I’ve had a lot of individual success and this game is always so much more fun when the team is winning. It’s really not an enjoyable job or profession when you’re not winning. The more games we’re able to win, the more that what I do individually doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on me.”
|Red Sox get their bling in a stirring home opener||at 6:37 pm ET|
In a 60-minute ceremony before their 2014 home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were honored for their improbable run to the 2013 World Series title. The ceremony began with the unveiling of a 2013 World Series banner over the Green Monster in left.
Then, first responders and victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing brought in the World Series rings to the Red Sox owners, who then handed them out to the players. The players, led by David Ortiz then rose the American flag and the 2013 world championship flag up the center field pole before Boston firefighters of Engine 33 lowered it to half-mast in tribute to the two firefighters, Michael Kennedy and Edward Walsh, lost in a fire in Boston on March 26. The emotional ceremony was capped off by former Mayor Tom Menino tossing the ball to current Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who threw the pitch to David Ortiz.
The City of Boston and New England have captured eight pro championships since the 2001 New England Patriots captured Super Bowl XXXVI. All eight were represented on the field before the ceremonial first pitch.
|John Farrell looks forward to an extra special opening day: ‘This is a day we should all enjoy’||at 12:25 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell says the 2014 home opener at Fenway Park will be something extra special as the team receives its rings for the 2013 World Series title and Boston Marathon bombing victims and first responders are honored as an inspiration during the team’s championship run.
“Opening day on the road or at home, they’re special in their own right,” Farrell said. “This one will obviously have a lot of significance to it, given how special 2013 was and I’m sure there’ll be a flashback or two in the minds of everyone, particularly what might stand out most clear and readily in each and every guy. This is a day we should all enjoy.”
|Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on John Lackey, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Daniel Nava||03.22.14 at 6:00 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford assess the next-to-last spring outing of Red Sox starter John Lackey, who gave up 10 hits and five runs, including two home runs, over 4 2/3 innings Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Petraglia and Bradford discuss the latest on contract negotiations for David Ortiz and Jon Lester and the base running lessons involving Daniel Nava.
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