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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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,
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