|Through 17 years, two names and three teams, A.J. Pierzynski has seen this before from David Ortiz||04.09.14 at 8:52 pm ET|
Perhaps it’s overstating it to say A.J. Pierzynski expected David Ortiz to drive a rocket about 100 feet beyond the fence in right field in the eighth inning Wednesday for the game-winning three-run homer in a 4-2 win over the Rangers. But certainly it’s safe to say he wasn’t surprised. After all, Pierzynski has seen this sort of thing for the better part of two decades, dating to when Ortiz — then known as David Arias — was an up-and-coming slugger for the Mariners‘ affiliate in the Single-A Midwest League and Pierzynski opposed him with the Twins’ Midwest League team in Fort Wayne in 1996.
After that season, the M’s traded “Arias” to the Twins as a player to be named for Dave Hollins. After he moved between organizations, Ortiz revealed two things to the Twins — first, that his listed date of birth (February 18, 1975) was inaccurate, and that he had been born on Nov. 18, 1975, and secondly, that despite the fact that his full given name is David Americo Ortiz Arias (with Arias being his mother’s maiden name), he went by the name of David Ortiz.
Pierzynski was unfamiliar with those details. But he knew what he saw immediately in early 1997, when he and Ortiz were teammates with the High-A Fort Myers Miracle.
“My first game I ever played with David, or one of my first, in ’97, when he first came over, we were playing maybe Port Charlotte, the Rangers,” Pierzynski related Wednesday after the fourth win of the season. “Ninth inning, they brought in a lefty, and he hit a walkoff homer to left field. And I had known, playing against him the year before, I was in Fort Wayne and he was in Appleton, and I said, ‘Man, this guy can hit a little bit.’ Then we traded got him and I was like, ‘Man, we got this Arias guy.’ And then we he came over, he was Ortiz, and I said, ‘Man, I think we traded for the wrong guy!’ It was the same guy.”
Indeed it was. And in many ways, Ortiz remains the same guy even now, 17 years later, with Pierzynski reunited in Boston with his former Twins teammate. Not much has changed in the interim.
Wednesday was just another in seemingly countless big moments where the game turned on one of his at-bats late. His three-run homer traveled some 100 feet beyond the Pesky Pole in right and was the 24th career go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later, his last also coming against the Rangers on June 6 last year.
“David’s special,” Pierzynski said. “He loves the big moment. He lives for the big moment. We saw it again today. Through his ups and downs, whatever it is, David wants to be up there and he’s always wanted that. I’ve known him for 20 years and he’s always wanted to be the guy at bat in those situations.”
Peavy last took to the mound during an emotional home opener last Friday against the Brewers. Despite scattering six hits and allowing just two earned runs over six innings during the start, Peavy got a no-decision after Edward Mujica gave up four earned runs in the ninth. Peavy struck out three in the first but allowed two runs in the second, including a solo home run by Jonathan Lucroy.
“Anytime you have a chance to win and you don’t have your best stuff, you don’t feel the best or have the best feel, you’re OK with it, but you expect more,” Peavy said, (via MLB.com). “At the end of the day, you want to pitch deep in the ballgame, you want to give up less than two runs. That second inning got away from me. I couldn’t stretch it out late.”
The 32-year-old righty has not played against the Rangers since his time in a White Sox uniform. Peavy came away with a no-decision on April 7, 2012, after he gave up three runs on eight hits over the course of six innings en route to Chicago’s 4-3 win over the Rangers. Due to struggles against the Rangers in 2010 and 2011, Peavy has an 0-2 record with a 7.59 ERA and a WHIP of 1.59 in games against Texas.
Ross also enters Wednesday’s game after a no-decision in his first start of the season. The 24-year-old gave up three runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits over five innings against the Phillies on April 2. The Rangers ultimately won the game 4-3 after they scored three runs in the ninth inning.
While Ross is in his third season in a Rangers uniform, his outing against the Phillies was the first start of his major league career. Consequently, Ross has only 3 1/3 innings of experience against the Red Sox. During that limited time on the mound, Ross has given up one earned run on five hits while walking one and striking out three. That lone run came in Ross’ most recent outing against Boston — a relief appearance on June 6, 2013, when he lasted just a third of an inning.
Rangers vs. Peavy (RHP)
Adrian Beltre (40 plate appearances): .222 AVG/.250 OBP/ .444 SLG, 2 doubles, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Prince Fielder (38): .278/.316/.389, 4 doubles, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 10 strikeouts
Shin-Soo Choo (24): .429/.500/.714, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Elvis Andrus (12): .333/.333/.333, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts
J.P. Arencibia (8): .167/.375/.167, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Mitch Moreland (6): .500/.500/1.500, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
Josh Wilson is hitless in two plate appearances vs. Peavy.
Red Sox vs. Ross (LHP)
Jonny Gomes (2): .500/.500/.500
Dustin Pedroia (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout
Jackie Bradley Jr. and A.J. Pierzynski each have one strikeout in one plate appearance vs. Ross.
Mike Carp, Jonathan Herrera and Daniel Nava are hitless in one plate appearance vs. Ross.
David Ortiz has one walk in one plate appearance vs. Ross.
|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.”
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