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Transcript of Terry Francona on The Big Show: Jon Lester won’t pitch Sunday, DL possible 07.06.11 at 4:18 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined The Big Show Wednesday afternoon to talk about his team’s injury problems and Tuesday’s night’s game-ending play at the plate, among other things.

Before the interview got serious, Francona was asked how many pieces of gum he chews per game.

“It’€™s probably 30 every couple of innings,” Francona said. “It’€™s not good. It’€™s gotten so bad, because I’€™m doing it so much I start gagging and I’€™ve got to get rid of it. It’€™s a bad, bad habit.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.

I’€™m kissing up to you Tito when I say this, but the greatest Red Sox manager in history. I think the facts will document me on that.

Is that the way you’€™re starting the interview? I’€™m getting nervous.

Boy I’€™ll tell you, what a game, what an ending that was last night. [Tom] Curran wants to ask you all about that huge play at the plate, but I want to ask you quickly before we get started on the serious part of the interview how many, seriously, how many pieces of bubble gum do you go through in one game?

Too many. Obviously, everybody knows I have a little bit of a tobacco problem, but I try to kind of cover it up. The gum ends up going in my mouth before I even know it. It’€™s ball one, ball two and I don’€™t even realize I’€™m putting it in. It’€™s a horrible habit, and when the season’s over I don’€™t do it. But during the season unless guys are going to never throw balls, I don’€™t see how I’€™m going to quit.

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Read More: adrian gonzalez, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Jason Varitek
Make no mistake, John Farrell thinks the ump blew the game-ending call 07.05.11 at 11:15 pm ET
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Blue Jays manager John Farrell didn’t immediately argue the final play of the 3-2 Red Sox win Tuesday night but once he saw the replay of the out call on Edwin Encarnacion at the plate, he made no mistake in criticizing the accuracy of home plate umpire Brian Knight on the tag attempt by Jason Varitek.

“We should still be playing right now,” the former Red Sox pitching coach said. “That play is right in front of Brian Knight. It was clear that Edwin did a good job sliding around the plant leg of Tek but his swipe tag missed him by no less than a foot. So right now, we should be out on that field playing.”

John McDonald lofted a soft single to left field with two outs and third base coach Brian Butterfield sent Encarnacion home from second with what would have been the tying run after Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to protect a 3-0 lead to start the ninth.

Darnell McDonald threw a strike to Varitek, who blocked the plate with his left foot. Replays showed that Encarnacion’s left foot was blocked but he hooked his right foot through and got the plate while Varitek’s swipe tag missed the body.

“From 90 feet from home plate and with the runner in between the view of ourselves and home plate, he made the call as it was. Unfortunately, we should still be playing,” Farrell continued. “After the replay, absolutely, because from our vantage point, Edwin is right in line with the play at the plate. We don’t have the benefit of replay but the wide margin he missed the tag, a little bit surprised the call went that way.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brian Knight, darnell mcdonald, Edwin Encarnacion
Closing Time: It’s a big 10-4 for Red Sox in win over Brewers 06.17.11 at 10:19 pm ET
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After five innings of Friday’s series opener between the Red Sox and Brewers, it looked like it would once again be The Adrian Gonzalez Show at Fenway Park. The Red Sox first baseman had just driven a ball into the first row of Monster seats to give the home team a 5-4 lead. The home run was Gonzalez’s third hit in three at-bats and had placed the powerful lefty just a single shy of the cycle with four innings still left to be played.

Then, the rest of the Red Sox offense decided to jump in on the fun.

The Sox offense added five more runs in the remaining innings and rode a strong finish by starter John Lackey to a 10-4 victory, the team’s 12th in its last 13 games. Every Boston batter who stepped into the box, including two substitutes, either reached base or drove in a run. (Both occurred in the cases of eight of the 10 players to see action.)

Here’s what else went right and one measly thing that went wrong in the Red Sox win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

–The biggest reason behind the Red Sox late surge in runs came not in the late innings but actually in the first. Although he allowed only two runs in the frame, Milwaukee starter Shawn Marcum, who had held this current set of Sox hitters to just a .194 career average before Friday, was taken out with a left hip flexor strain after throwing an astounding 44 pitches just to get three outs. As unfortunate as the injury was for Marcum and the Brewers, it allowed the Red Sox to get to relievers Marco Estrada and Daniel Herrera earlier than they would have and stretch the two relievers out enough to the point where they could score three and four runs on them respectively.

David Ortiz didn’t care much for Tropicana Field as he went a combined 0-for-8 down over the Sox three-game series in Tampa Bay. But he sure looked a lot more comfortable on his return home to Fenway, going 3-for-5 in Friday’s winning effort. That ties the DH’s season-high for hits and improves his home batting average to .353 on the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek,
Sunday’s (7:05 p.m.) Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Justin Verlander 05.29.11 at 8:00 am ET
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To those who follow the comings and goings of both the Red Sox and Tigers on a regular basis, the pitching matchup for the second game of Sunday’€™s doubleheader will look awfully familiar. Indeed, Justin Verlander and Josh Beckett faced each other when Detroit played in Boston on May 19. In that game, Beckett bested Verlander as he allowed just one run over six innings in a 4-3 Sox win before being pulled with neck stiffness. The Detroit fireballer was no slouch either with a quality start (8 IP, 3 ER, 9 strikeouts, 0 walks) of his own. Both pitchers earned no decisions after Boston reliever Daniel Bard allowed back-to-back home runs in the eighth to tie the game at three apiece before Carl Crawford hit a walk-off single in the ninth.

If Beckett’€™s (4-1, 1.69 ERA) performance against the Tigers in his last outing isn’€™t enough to instill any confidence from Red Sox fans, his career numbers at Comerica Park certainly should. In two career starts at the Detroit ballpark, Beckett is 2-0 over 14 2/3 innings pitched with just one earned run allowed. He has also struck out 17 Tigers on their own turf in that time. Another set of stats that should add to the good feelings concerning Beckett’€™s start is his performance thus far in the month of May. In five starts and 30 innings pitched, he has allowed just two earned runs for a monthly ERA of 0.60 to lower his American League-best mark in that category to 1.69.

If those numbers don’€™t frighten Detroit hitters, their own batting figures against Beckett certainly should. As a team, Detroit is hitting .205 against the righty. In fact, no Tiger with more than four plate appearances against Beckett has an average higher than .231 in such situations. Miguel Cabrera, he of the .313 career batting average, has yet to grab a hit, going 0-for-8 with a walk when facing Beckett.

If nothing else, the Tigers can at least take solace in the fact that they will be sending their own ace to the bump Sunday night. Verlander (4-3, 3.42 ERA) had been one of the best pitchers in the junior circuit with a no-hitter, the second in his career, already to his credit this season. But the tall righty came back down to earth slightly in his last start on Tuesday against the Rays. In that outing, Verlander allowed a season-highs in hits (nine) and runs (six) over six innings while striking out a season-low two batters.

The Sox bats will look to jump all over a potentially vulnerable Verlander, and expect middle-of-the-order hitters Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, both of whom have two home runs and three RBI against the righty, to possibly lead that charge. Also, Red Sox manager Terry Francona would be well-advised to keep Jason Varitek behind the plate as he has been for nine of Beckett’€™s 10 starts this season. The Boston captain is 2-for-5 with two RBI and a walk against Verlander while fellow backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 0-for-6 with four punchouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek, Josh Beckett
Closing Time: Red Sox 4, Indians 2 05.24.11 at 10:09 pm ET
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The Red Sox couldn’t do much against Indians starter Fausto Carmona, yet in a continuation of the run that has allowed them to climb back towards the top of the AL East, they were able to translate their limited offense into a victory. On a night when the Sox collected just five hits while Carmona was in the game, that proved to be plenty thanks to the pitcher who likely deserves the title of best in the American League to this point in 2011.

Josh Beckett is amidst a season-opening run that is among the best in team history. Beckett gave up one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings, and has now gone five straight starts allowing one or fewer runs, a streak that is tied for the longest by a Sox pitcher since at least 1919. (He is the fourth Sox pitcher to have such a run on record in a single season in that span, and the first since Derek Lowe in 2002.) His ERA during the run is a svelte 0.60, and his 1.69 ERA for the year not only leads the American League but also ranks among the best in club history to this point in the season.

His dominance permitted the Sox to claim a 4-2 victory over the Indians, the first time in five attempts this year that the Sox have won in Cleveland.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Beckett improved to 4-1, with the Sox now owning a 7-3 record in his 10 starts — a mark made all the more impressive by the fact that he has received the least run support of any Sox starter this year. He is now undefeated in his last nine starts, his longest run since going 11 straight at the start of the 2007 season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, David Ortiz, fausto carmona, Jason Varitek
Matt Albers: ‘It’s definitely frustrating’ 05.22.11 at 12:17 am ET
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Anything that could’€™ve gone wrong for Matt Albers did. The 28-year-old righty, who had been stellar all season for the Red Sox, was called upon in the eighth inning of Saturday’€™s game against the Cubs to bridge the gap to Jonathan Papelbon with usual setup man Daniel Bard scheduled for a day off.

But the only thing Albers set up was a Cubs win. He surrendered singles to Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro to start the inning and followed that with walks to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena and a double to Reed Johnson that turned a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 deficit. To top it all off, Pena trotted home when Jed Lowrie dropped Alfonso Soriano‘€™s pop-up.

Albers would ultimately be charged with six runs, five of them earned. He threw 31 pitches without recording an out, setting a dubious Red Sox record in the process. That was also the most pitches thrown by an American League pitcher without getting an out in recorded history.

‘€œIt’€™s definitely frustrating,’€ Albers said. ‘€œWe get the lead, and coming into the game, I want to shut the door and get that win. ‘€¦ I had a few guys two strikes and just wasn’€™t able to put them away. They had a couple tough at-bats and then a couple back-to-back walks hurt me.’€

Catcher Jason Varitek said Albers’€™ biggest problem in the inning was his location.

‘€œMatty was just missing,’€ Varitek said. ‘€œMatty’€™s done such a good job for us, but it was one of those things where guys took some good swings on some good pitches and got those first two hits. Then on the walks, he wasn’€™t overly wild, but he was just missing.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jason Varitek, matt albers,
Saltalamacchia starts to make his presence felt for Red Sox 05.19.11 at 12:43 am ET
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The return of former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez to Fenway Park after an offseason departure to the Tigers had many playing the ‘€œWhat if?’€ game heading into Wednesday night’€™s matchup between the two clubs.

After all, Boston management had chosen to divert free-agent funds away from a potential Martinez signing ‘€“ they offered him either three years/$36 million or four years/$42 million if he wanted to re-sign, far short of the four years, $50 million the Tigers paid ‘€“ in favor of signing big fish Carl Crawford, trading and signing Adrian Gonzalez and making captain Jason Varitek and relative newcomer Jarrod Saltalamacchia their catching tandem for the 2011 season.

That decision has come under plenty of scrutiny in the early stages of 2011. Saltalamacchia went through a period of defensive struggles, especially with his throwing from behind the plate. Meanwhile, while Martinez entered the night hitting .317, the Sox’ backstop duo was hitting just .204 entering Wednesday’s game, bad enough to be 11th among AL teams for catchers’€™ batting average. What’€™s more, their one home run combined would be last in the AL if it weren’€™t for the Joe Mauer-less Twins.

But on Wednesday, the Sox were left with no reason to lament the absence of Martinez. With two outs in the eighth inning of a scoreless tie, Saltalamacchia drove a pitch from Detroit reliever Daniel Schlereth to deep left-center to score Crawford from first for the game’€™s only run.

The RBI was Saltalamacchia’€™s first game-winner as a member of the Red Sox, and all of a sudden the story went from the prowess of catchers past to the potential of catchers present.

Saltalamacchia’€™s RBI double has only been the latest in what has been a notable turnaround for both him and Varitek at the plate. Since April 28, the tandem is hitting a much more solid .276 (19-for-69), beating out the averages of the Red Sox players at second base, shortstop, left field and right field over that time. By comparison, their .145 combined average from April 1-27 ranked dead last by position on the team. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek, victor martinez,
Peter Gammons on M&M: Jason Varitek ‘really believes’ in Alfredo Aceves 05.18.11 at 1:25 pm ET
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MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to offer his views on the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Gammons said that this month’s bad weather might turn into good news for the Red Sox in the long run.

“When they make this up in July as part of that day-night doubleheader on a Thursday night in July, theoretically, the Red Sox pitching staff should be in much better shape at that time,” Gammons said. “And the Orioles pitching staff should be pretty worn down. I think we saw, as [the Orioles] tried to use six relievers to get nine outs the other night, they don’t have a lot or reserves there after [Jeremy] Guthrie and the three kids. I think that’s a much better time for [the Red Sox] to play.”

With John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list, Gammons was asked if there are any available arms in the minor leagues. “No, there really isn’t,” he said. “[Pitching coach] Curt Young said to me yesterday that they’re very hopeful that within a month, [Felix] Doubront will be ready. He got set back in spring training when he had the elbow problems. Then he recently had the groin. He got up to I think 4 2/3 innings, and had the groin pull. He’s out for a couple of weeks, so that sets him back.

“And even though Andrew Miller is starting to throw much better and, according to Curt, has really started to calm down his delivery, we know he’s got the stuff but he really needs to wait a couple of months. He needs to be able to repeat that delivery, get back to where he was 4-5 years ago. He is so intelligent and so hyper, if he came up here and it all sped up on him, it might set him back another half a year.

“So, I don’t think there’s anybody. [Kyle] Weiland is not ready yet. I had heard that there was a possibility that they would take a look at one or two of the veterans that are out there still looking for jobs. Like, sign Kevin Millwood, put him in Pawtucket and see what happens.”

Asked about Pedro Martinez, Gammons said that does not appear to be an option. “When I last saw Pedro at the end of March, I can tell you he was not thinking about pitching,” Gammons said. “It would be fun, but I don’t think possible. He really wasn’t throwing. He was talking about knocking coconuts out of trees, not throwing to a catcher.”

Alfredo Aceves is being moved from the bullpen to the rotation, and at least one Red Sox player is encouraged by what he’s seen so far. Said Gammons: “Jason Varitek was making a very passioned support speech to me about Aceves. He really believes. I started laughing at first, because it seems that Aceves shook off every pitch that Tek put down. But at the same time, he said that there’s a lot there. He’s really optimistic about him pitching well.

“You guys know, Jason doesn’t go out of his way ‘€” he is never a phony about pumping people up. But he really believes there’s a lot there. It will be interesting to see if the guy does do it for what they need him for ‘€” five, six starts, whatever the time frame. Maybe this is his chance to do well. I don’t know. Jason really believes it.”

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Read More: andrew miller, Buck Showalter, curt young, Derek Jeter
Some Red Sox have dealt with wounds to their own pride 05.15.11 at 9:05 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The Jorge Posada tempest seemed to clear up on Sunday night. The catcher made his public mea culpa, said that he made a mistake, apologized to Yankees manager Joe Girardi and said that he planned to talk with New York GM Brian Cashman about the situation. He admitted that he acted poorly out of frustration when he asked out of the lineup on Saturday — when he was slated to hit ninth for the first time since 1999 — and that he hoped to put the incident behind him.

There are members of the Red Sox who can certainly identify with the challenges of dealing with a wounded ego when their role shrinks from what it has long been. Certainly, the early stages of the 2010 season offered a number of case studies in the phenomenon.

At that point, Tim Wakefield was transitioning unhappily into the bullpen. Mike Lowell was being asked to adjust to duty as a reserve, at a time when he desperately wanted to start. Yet he was playing reasonably well at a time when David Ortiz was not hitting, and so Ortiz was left to look over his shoulder to wonder whether he would be replaced by Lowell against left-handed pitchers.

That was a challenging time for the Sox, particularly given that those dynamics were all the more strained because the Sox weren’t playing well.

“In our situation last year, we went through a tough April,” said Sox manager Terry Francona. “It doesn’€™t always work out the way you want. You’€™re trying to balance the team, personal. You want everything to mesh, and it doesn’€™t always do that. But what’€™s more important is, not that you’€™re not going to run into problems, but how you get through them and where you go from there. David and I had to slug it out a little bit in April last year. There’€™s no getting around it. But we did, and we came through and got better for it. That’€™s what we try to do.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Jorge Posada
Ortiz on Posada: ‘They’re doing that guy wrong’ 05.14.11 at 11:35 pm ET
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NEW YORK — David Ortiz knows the challenges of being a designated hitter. For years, he hated the idea that, in his mid-20s, he was viewed as incapable of holding his own defensively to the point where his glove was taken away from him. Over time, he came to embrace the role of the designated hitter, but it took time.

Based on his experience, and on the respect that he has for the career of longtime Yankees catcher — and now DH — Jorge Posada, he had very clear feelings about what New York is doing. After the Sox beat the Yankees, 6-0, Ortiz inquired about what was going on with his longtime rival, who — after being slated to hit ninth for the first time since 1999 — took himself out of the lineup with what Posada described as back stiffness and a need to clear his head, and which the Yankees said was unrelated to health concerns.

“You want to know what I think? They’€™re doing that guy wrong. They’€™re doing him wrong,” said Ortiz. “You know why? That guy, he is legendary right there in that organization. And dude, DH-ing sucks. DH-ing is not easy.

“From what I heard, they told him from the very beginning that he’€™s not even going to catch bullpens. That straight up will start messing with your head. And you’€™re going to tell me that Posada can’€™t catch a game out there? Come on, man.”

Ortiz made clear that he did not endorse the idea of a player pulling himself out of a lineup. At the same time, he expressed sympathy for Posada’s position, suggesting that the change of role was confusing and frustrating.

“You don’€™t do that,” Ortiz said of a player taking himself out of the lineup. “But that’€™s what I’€™m trying to tell you guys. The confusion, the frustration that you’€™re living in, sometimes makes you make mistakes. He’€™s not perfect. He’€™s a human, just like everyone else. He probably [thought] it was the right thing to do, but now you see that [it wasn’t].”

Ortiz remained convinced that, while Posada has gotten off to a dreadful start, hitting .165 with a .272 OBP and .621 OPS, he is capable of more. Indeed, Ortiz felt that if his Yankee counterpart were to catch, it would help him improve his performance at the plate. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Jorge Posada,
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