|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Pirates matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Francisco Liriano||09.17.14 at 8:54 am ET|
In another good outing last Thursday, a rejuvenated Buchholz (8-8, 5.19 ERA) pitched 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball against the Royals. He notched seven strikeouts in the winning effort, his third consecutive victory.
Manager John Farrell was most impressed by the right-hander’s location on his pitches throughout the start in Kansas City.
“As we’ve seen over the last four starts, he’s been very efficient, he’s had multiple pitches,” Farrell said. “I thought he had a great changeup to go along with a well-located fastball tonight, and he continues to pitch very effectively, very consistent.”
Last week’s start is just one of the many quality outings Buchholz has put together in latter part of the season. Over his previous four starts, he’s allowed no more than three runs or six hits in one outing. On Aug. 31, he threw a complete game against the Rays, one start after he pitched 8 1/3 innings vs. the Blue Jays.
So far through September, Buchholz has a 2.84 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in two starts. Before the All-Star Game, the 30-year-old’s ERA was near six. Since then, it’s under five, thanks in part to his recent success.
Unlike his starts at Fenway Park, Buchholz has pitched well away from Boston. In 13 starts, he’s compiled a 3.96 ERA and a 5-3 record. Opposing hitters have a .241 batting average against him on the road compared to a .309 mark at home. Against National League opponents this season, though, Buchholz has only managed to pitch 13.2 innings combined over three starts, allowing 13 runs.
Buchholz has yet to face the Pirates in his career. However, catcher Russell Martin has been a thorn in the right-hander’s side with four home runs in 12 career plate appearances.
|Hot Stove: LHP Francisco Liriano reportedly agrees with Pirates||12.21.12 at 1:20 pm ET|
Liriano spent 5½ seasons with the Twins before being traded to the White Sox in late July. The 29-year-old Dominican compiled a 6-12 record with a 5.34 ERA for the year. In his six-year career he’s 53-54 with a 4.40 ERA. His career highlight is a 1-0 no-hitter he pitched against the White Sox on May 3, 2011.
|Trade Deadline: Francisco Liriano goes from Twins to White Sox||07.28.12 at 11:22 pm ET|
The White Sox announced (via twitter) that they acquired left-hander Francisco Liriano from the Twins in exchange for versatile 23-year-old Eduardo Escobar and 23-year-old left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
Liriano, 28, is 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA for the Twins, but he possesses electric stuff that makes him an interesting wild card as a pickup. He has 109 strikeouts in 100 innings, ranking third in the AL with 9.8 strikeouts per nine, but he’s also issued 55 walks (5.0 per nine). He had an eye-opening three-start run earlier this month, going 1-2 but with 31 strikeouts and 10 walks in 20 2/3 innings and forging a 2.61 ERA over that span, but then yielded seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings in his most recent start on July 23.
Escobar is hitting .195/.275/.244/.519 in 35 games this year for Chicago, having played second, third, short and left field. Hernandez was hammered by the Red Sox for eight runs in four innings. He is 8-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 85 2/3 combined innings in Double-A and Triple-A this year.
|Tuesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Erik Bedard vs. Francisco Liriano||08.09.11 at 11:44 am ET|
The Red Sox‘ six-game road trip continues Tuesday night with their second game against the Twins. The Red Sox are battling the Yankees for the AL East, and they’ll look to take care of business against a fourth-place Twins team that’s 13 games under .500 and has the third-worst run differential in the majors (-110).
Erik Bedard will make his second start for the Red Sox. Still rebuilding arm strength after a knee injury, Bedard might be on another limited pitch count Tuesday. In his first start with the Red Sox, he gave up three earned runs in five innings against the Royals in a game the Red Sox eventually lost. Bedard did not factor in the decision, throwing just 70 pitches, 49 for strikes. He recorded three 1-2-3 innings but struggled through the second and third, giving up seven hits and failing to cover first on a ground ball to the right side of the infield.
The Twins will answer with Francisco Liriano, who is 7-9 with a 5.03 ERA. Liriano has alternated wins and losses over his last four decisions, and his ERA has gone virtually unchanged in the last month. The Angels rocked Liriano in his last start, scoring seven earned runs on 10 hits in five innings on Aug. 4.
Bedard is a career 2-5 with a 4.18 ERA against the Twins, but he pitched a six-inning shutout at Target Field earlier this season. The Twins bat a combined .232 against Bedard, with a paltry .283 slugging. Only Jim Thome has homered off Bedard, and Bedard has given up just three total extra-base hits.
Liriano has always struggled against the Red Sox. He is 1-3 in four career starts, with a 7.78 ERA and .296 opponent batting average. He has not faced the Red Sox this season, but went 1-1 against them last season. His numbers at Target Field ‘ 10-9, 4.06 ERA ‘ are slightly better.
Joe Mauer is Minnesota’s best hitter against Bedard, batting .313 with a double and two walks. Michael Cuddyer is batting .300, and he leads the Twins with a .423 on-base percentage. He has also struck out 10 times.
|Closing Time: Red Sox 6, Twins 2||05.20.10 at 9:42 pm ET|
The contest had all the makings of an outstanding pitcher’s duel. Both Red Sox starter Jon Lester and Twins counterpart Francisco Liriano feature the sort of ridiculous arsenals that are more often seen in videogames than among their pitching peers.
Lester (4-2, 3.53) lived up to his part of the bargain. One day after Clay Buchholz needed just 104 pitches to reach the ninth inning against the Twins, Lester one-upped his teammate. He overpowered Minnesota in Boston’s first complete game of the season, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out nine and walking none.
Lester carved up the strike zone with an explosive fastball that touched 97, a devastating cutter and a very effective changeup. Those weapons allowed him to go the distance in just 103 pitches (76 strikes).
But the Sox managed to ambush Liriano (4-3, 3.25) en route to a one-sided 6-2 victory.
Liriano had fired seven shutout innings against the Sox on April 15, but the team wasted little time in ensuring that it would not be zeroed out by the pitcher again. Liriano, who had entered the contest not having permitted a single homer in the 2010 season, permitted two to the Sox. The first was a solo shot delivered by Adrian Beltre into the Sox bullpen in right-center in the second inning. Then, one inning later, Kevin Youkilis added to his team’s 1-0 lead, jumping on a 96 mph fastball for a three-run homer with two outs.
Given Lester’s dominance, the outcome of the game was never again in question.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
–Jon Lester delivered the Sox’ first complete game since last Sept. 12 in a night when he was able to dominate the strike zone with a complete mix of pitches. As such, he has put his early-season struggles completely behind him. After starting the year with an 0-2 record and 8.44 ERA in his first three starts, he is 4-0 with a 1.65 mark in his last seven starts. He has now gone at least seven innings in each of his last five starts, the second longest such streak of his career.
–Kevin Youkilis is enjoying quite possibly the single best stretch of his career to date. His May numbers have been, quite simply, outrageous. He entered Thursday hitting .404/.590/.731/1.321 this month, marks that would be the best of his career in each category. He continued piling on, blasting a three-run homer (his eighth of the year and fifth of May) and ripping an RBI double down the left-field line against Liriano.
–Adrian Beltre delivered one of his finest offensive performances with the Sox. He put the Sox on the board in the second with an impressive opposite-field wallop into the Sox bullpen for his third homer of the year, and added to that a walk, a double down the left field line and a run, going 2-for-3.
–Victor Martinez continued to show signs that he is breaking out of his yearlong slump. He entered this week with just nine extra-base hits on the year. He has since collected five (two homers in New York on Monday, three doubles against the Twins on Thursday), and he now appears to be impacting the ball in a consistent fashion not seen since last season.
–Dustin Pedroia delivered a pair of highlight-reel defensive plays. In the top of the fifth, the Twins put their only runner in scoring position of the night against Lester when Justin Morneau hit his 200th career double to lead off the frame. But Lester rebounded to get a groundout to third and fly to shallow right, bringing up Delmon Young with two outs. Young fisted a ball to shallow right field. Pedroia raced back several steps and extended his diminutive frame to its fullest to catch the ball in the webbing of his glove and keep Lester’s shutout intact.
One inning later, Pedroia made a diving stop of an up-the-middle smash off the bat of Nick Punto, hopped up and threw out the Twins’ third baseman by a couple steps.
Pedroia did, however, commit his first error of the season in the ninth inning, closing his glove too quickly on the pivot of a potential double play ball in the ninth inning. Prior to Pedroia’s two-base error, Pedroia and Youkilis had created an airtight seal on the right side of their infield, as the Sox entered the night as the only team in baseball with zero combined errors from their first and second basemen.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
–J.D. Drew continued his struggles against left-handers, going 0-for-2 against Liriano. In fairness, Liriano is one of the toughest left-on-left matchups in the game. Even so, Drew is now hitting .212/.263/.288 against southpaws this season.
–Dustin Pedroia continued his modest slump. He went 0-for-3 with a walk, and over the last seven games, he is now hitting 4-for-26 for an average of .154 with an OBP of .313 and a slugging mark of .308.
|Closing Time: Twins 8, Red Sox 0||04.15.10 at 3:52 pm ET|
The Red Sox had their chances early against Twins starter Francisco Liriano, but after the team stranded four runners (including three in scoring position) in the first two innings, they were overmatched by the Minnesota left-hander from that point on. Liriano tossed seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out eight, and the Twins lineup exerted steady pressure on the Sox pitching staff, collecting 15 hits in an 8-0 win. (Recap.)
The Red Sox mounted a scoring threat right out of the gate. With one out in the top of the first inning, Dustin Pedroia singled and Victor Martinez doubled to put runners on second and third with one outs. That brought cleanup man Kevin Youkilis to the plate.
Youkilis typically excels in such situations. In his career, he entered Thursday with a line of .453/.468/.726/1.194 and 117 RBI in 171 plate appearances. But on Thursday, Youkilis struck out on three pitches, the last a nasty slider that he swung and missed. Liriano got Adrian Beltre to ground out to escape the threat unharmed.
Had Youkilis and the Sox jumped on the Twins left-hander early, the game might have assumed another complexion. But with those early missed opportunities, Liriano had the opportunity to settle in and dominate.
What Went Right For the Red Sox
–Dustin Pedroia laced three singles, and now has four multi-hit games this year, tied with Jacoby Ellsbury for most on the Red Sox. While April has typically been the worst month of the season for Pedroia (entering Thursday, his career average, OBP, slugging and OPS were all lower in April than in any other month of the year), he’s been great thus far this year, hitting .405 with a 1.253 OPS.
–Scott Schoeneweis continued to show promise as a left-handed specialist. Most notably, he punched out Joe Mauer with two outs and a runner on second to end a threat in the sixth. Though Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel later lined singles off of him, he has struck out six of the 10 left-handers he’s faced (while allowing three singles). Schoeneweis did, however, give up a two-run homer to right-hander Michael Cuddyer on a towering flyball just over the left-field fence, a couple feet to the right of the foul pole.
–Bill Hall took a pair of walks from Liriano. Not only was he the only Sox hitter to take a walk, but the game marked the first time since last April 27 that Hall had as many as two free passes in a game. For a hitter who finished 2009 with a .258 OBP, that is somewhat encouraging.
–Ramon Ramirez got his first swing and miss of the season, getting a fastball past Nick Punto. The promise, however, was short lived, as Punto doubled on the next pitch. Ramirez did get a couple more swings and misses in the eighth inning, and was credited with 1.2 shutout innings.
What Went Wrong For the Red Sox
–The Twins jumped all over Tim Wakefield, collecting 10 hits and six runs (five earned) against him in 5.1 innings. Wakefield kept the Sox in the game through four innings, in which he limited Minnesota to a single run, but a mix of some bad luck (notably including a Denard Span bloop double down the left field line) and some knuckleballs over the middle of the plate did in the knuckleballer’s day.
–The defense was sloppy. The Sox committed three errors: one by Hall (making his first start in center since 2007) who overran a single, one by Victor Martinez (on a rushed throw to second, which he once again fired high and right) and one by Adrian Beltre.
The team was also hurt by a mental error from Martinez. With runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth, Denard Span hit a run-scoring double. But Kubel stumbled while rounding third, leaving Span far off of second. Martinez hesitated, then threw behind Span at second. His throw there was late, and it allowed Kubel to race home with a run.
While Martinez has just one error thus far this year, he has performed poorly behind the plate.
–Adrian Beltre got into his second three-ball count of the season when he took a 2-2 pitch with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning. However, in a situation where a walk would have meant a run, he chased a fastball that might have been ball four, pulling an up-and-away fastball to shortstop for a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Beltre has now batted 34 times this year without a walk.
–J.D. Drew went 0-for-4 and struck out three times. While all of his at-bats came against left-handed pitchers, Drew has struggled throughout the early days of the season, hitting .143 with a .476 OPS and 13 strikeouts in 28 at-bats.
–With Jacoby Ellsbury already out, Mike Cameron also proved unable to play due to a lower abdominal strain. If those two are unavailable, the Sox bench becomes extremely thin, without a desirable outfield backup behind the outfield combination of Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall and J.D. Drew.
|Boof Bosner gets ready to start over||03.02.10 at 9:33 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boof Bonser has experienced change before.
The 28-year-old is in his first spring training with the Red Sox after being traded by the Twins in exchange for minor league reliever Chris Province in December. As he goes through the early paces of life in a new organization, he is able to draw upon the experience in 2003-04. On Nov. 14, 2003, he was traded by the Giants to Minnesota in a trade that has been reviewed countless times over the last six years. In exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski — whom the Twins were looking to dump to clear payroll — the Giants gave up Bonser, four-time All-Star Joe Nathan and former All-Star Francisco Liriano.
The trade appeared to be one of the most lopsided in baseball history when Liriano had a meteoric big league debut in 2006, making the All-Star team en route to a 2.16 ERA. Since then, however, the former phenom has struggled to regain his form while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Still, Nathan has offered the Twins a closer who has performed as one of the best in the game for several years, and it seems safe to suggest that the Giants would rather not have made the deal.
Bonser was reminded of the trade with some frequency while with the Twins. Reporters would approach him and Nathan (who lockered next to each other) to inquire about the deal.
“It is cool [to have been part of such a memorable deal], definitely,” said Bonser. “We just kind of laughed about how reporters would always come up and say, ‘Do you realize you were part of one of the best trades?’ That was about it. There was nothing really said amongst us.”
Still, Bonser is now in position to try to draw on the experience of that deal. That was the only other time that he has changed organizations. Now, he is adjusting to life on the other side of Fort Myers following his move from the Twins to the Sox.
“It was another organization I was going to, and it was almost like starting over again [with the Twins],” said Bonser. “It’s sort of like here, I came over here. It’s starting over again.”
Bonser will have the opportunity to do just that on Wednesday night. He will start the second game of the Sox’ day-night doubleheader, taking the mound against Boston College. The former first-round selection admits that he has “no idea” what to expect about how his pitches will come back as he returns from labrum surgery that wiped out his 2009 campaign. That being the case, he admitted that he is excited and curious to see what he will bring to the mound against BC.
“I think it’s going to be different [from pitching in instructional league in the fall], because a) it’s a new organization and b) it’s spring training. Last year, I was leaving the season. Now, I’m going to get going again,” said Bonser. “It’s my first surgery, obviously. I’m trying to learn as I go along what comes back, how this all works out. … I’ll find out tomorrow.”
Bonser said that he has felt comfortable on the mound, though he is working to iron out the usual spring mechanical kinks. Even so, he is waiting for games to give him an indication about how hitters will react to his stuff. That process begins on Wednesday, as he takes the mound as a starter.
For now, Bonser — who has a career 5.12 ERA, with a 4.12 mark as a starter and 6.38 ERA as a reliever — is being prepared as a starter to lengthen him out. More likely, his ticket to a roster spot with the Sox would come as a reliever, a role in which his fastball velocity has played up in the past, the adrenaline of entering mid-game elevating his strikeout numbers to 9.5 per nine innings.
“I think [the adrenaline] might be a little too much at times [as a reliever], but it’s there,” said Bonser. “Too much means I can get over-amped at times,” resulting in diminished command and feel for his pitches.
That, however, is a concern for down the road. For now, Bonser is simply looking forward to the act of gearing up for a season and getting a sense of what his arm, now healthy, can do in game situations.
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