|Why Jonny Gomes isn’t about to panic about Red Sox: ‘I don’t think we’re scuffling’||04.08.14 at 11:23 pm ET|
Forget the 3-5 record, the .211 average with one homer with runners in scoring position and the five ground ball double plays Tuesday night in a 10-7 loss to the Rangers.
Jonny Gomes isn’t worried about the timely hitting yet because, the way he looks at it, the Red Sox haven’t really started. After all, the 2013 Red Sox were the third-best team in all of Major League Baseball in such situations, hitting .278 with 50 homers and a .794 collective OPS. Only St. Louis (.330) and Detroit (.282) were better in the clutch with runners on.
“I don’t think we’re scuffling,” Gomes said. “I don’t think we’ve started. I think it’s too early in the season offensively, defensively, pitching to say we’re scuffling. The starters are barely cracking 40 at-bats right now.”
On Tuesday, the Red Sox were 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position while grounding into a season-high five double plays, one shy of the club record.
“That’s a pitcher’s best friend but it’s early in the season and you want to look at the positive side of things,” Gomes said. “We hit into five double plays and we scored seven runs, I’m sure that’s pretty rare, too. Like I said before, I like where we’re at. If we can score seven runs on five double plays, I think we’re scratching the surface on some things on the positive side.
“He’s got a good downward angle to his ball, a left-hander who is extremely over-the-top with some velocity behind it. Saw some ground balls today from that.”
“I just had my sinker working,” added Rangers starter Martin Perez, who induced all five double plays, including three in the first three innings and five in the first six frames.
“Once we’re down five, even though we got a number of lead-off hitters on base, we’ve got to be a little bit protective of just giving away outs and it was the ground ball double play that snuffed everything out,” Farrell noted.
“I think [trailing 5-0 and 9-1] speaks for itself. It makes it a lot easier on the starting pitcher and they were able to add some early runs. Playing catch up is tough, especially at this level,” Gomes said.
To Gomes’ point, the Red Sox Tuesday, even in a lopsided loss, started to show signs of warming to the task. They were a very respectable 5-for-14 with RISP, including 4-for-9 and a walk over the last three innings as the Red Sox made things close.
Gomes, 0-for-4 this year with runners in scoring position, would rather just look forward to Wednesday’s starter Jake Peavy.
“Jake is getting his second start [Thursday],” Gomes said. “Two days ago our bullpen sure wasn’t scuffling with all those Ks. We just have put a positive nine together and we’ll roll.”
After posting their first home win of 2014 on Monday night, the Red Sox will play their second game against the Rangers, sending Felix Doubront to the mound against fellow Venezuelan left-hander Martin Perez on Tuesday evening.
Doubront, along with John Lackey, are the only Red Sox starters to have recorded a win in 2014. Doubront picked up the win in the finale of the series at Baltimore on Thursday, as he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs (all earned) on six hits while striking out four and walking one.
“Overall, pretty good,” Doubront said after the game. “My delivery was good. For the first game, it was good.’’
The 26-year-old Doubront has faced the Rangers six times in his career, including three starts in 2010, 2012 and 2013. The southpaw has an 0-3 record with an 11.40 ERA and a 2.6 WHIP over 15 innings of work, allowing 31 hits, 21 runs (19 earned) and one home run, striking out 15 and walking eight. He also picked up a save against Texas in 2010.
Doubront’s worst outing against the Rangers came in 2011, when he came out of the bullpen and allowed three runs (all earned) on two hits and two walks while only managing to get one out.
Perez has only faced the Red Sox once, back in 2012. The 23-year-old got the start that day and went six innings, giving up a run on five hits, striking out one and walking two. Despite pitching well, Perez got a no-decision and the Red Sox won the game in the ninth inning.
The southpaw got his first start of the season against the Phillies on April 1, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs (both earned) on seven hits, striking out seven. While the Rangers won the game, 3-2, Perez did not get the decision, as Joakim Soria picked up the win in the ninth inning.
Rangers vs. Doubront (LHP)
J.P. Arencibia (13 plate appearances): .167 AVG/.231 OBP/.500 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
Elvis Andrus (10): .333/.400/.333, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Alex Rios (9): .111/.111/.111
Adrian Beltre (6): .667/.667/1.000, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 1 strikeout
Prince Fielder (6): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Shin-Soo Choo (5): .000/.200/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Mitch Moreland (4): .750/.750/.750, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Jim Adduci, Robinson Chirinos, Michael Choice, Leonys Martin, Donnie Murphy and Josh Wilson have not faced Doubront.
Red Sox vs. Perez (LHP)
Jonny Gomes (6): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia had no hits in three plate appearances vs. Perez
|An ‘aggressive’ John Lackey is a good John Lackey||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
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