|Francona on D&H: ‘Patience pays off’ with Ortiz||05.26.10 at 1:12 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday and talked about David Ortiz’ turnaround. Said Francona: “That’s what I was trying to tell people six weeks ago is ‘Just slow down.’ When you’re a radio personality or a writer, you can be wrong. When you’re the manager, a coach or a GM, we don’t have that luxury of changing our mind so you have to patient. When you have good players, a lot of times that patience pays off.”
As for Ortiz’ slow trot around the bases Monday that has gotten some press, Francona said, “I guess more what I care about as long as the ball goes over the fence, then I’m OK.”
Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
So, in the offseason when you were talking about run prevention, this is what you meant.
Again, when you get pitching, everything looks a lot better. [Jon] Lester pitches against a really good team. [Adrian] Beltre made some plays that on normal nights, normal players, they probably not only score runs but have rallies. He’s going left and right. You’re seeing a guy play with confidence and the ability. Yeah, it’s exciting. Did it take us a while to get there? Yeah, but now that it’s kind of got there, it’s fun to watch.
I [Michael Holley] was talking about how bad David Ortiz was and how maybe the Red Sox should release him, but I was wrong. What do you think the biggest key to his turnaround has been?
You’re probably not the only one to say that. Again, that’s what I was trying to tell people six weeks ago is “Just slow down.” When you’re a radio personality or a writer, you can be wrong. When you’re the manager, a coach or a GM, we don’t have that luxury of changing our mind so you have to patient. When you have good players, a lot of times that patience pays off. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Red Sox 2, Rays 0||05.25.10 at 10:03 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox won their fourth straight game and second in a row against the Rays, beating Tampa Bay, 2-0, behind another standout pitching performance by Jon Lester. The Sox starter, who went six innings, was followed up by three scoreless innings of relief by Manny Delcarmen, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, respectively. David Ortiz supplied all the offense the Sox would need, launching a two-out, two-run double in the third inning. (Click here for a recap.)
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
- Lester continued a dominating run by Sox starters, allowing just one run over six innings while striking out nine. Over the last 26 innings, Red Sox starting pitchers have given up just a single run. During the Sox’ current four-game win streak the starters are a combined 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA. The game marked just the second time in 12 chances that the Rays had lost a game to left-handed starter (the other being Dallas Braden‘s perfect game).
- David Ortiz (who has seemingly been in the “What Went Right For The Red Sox” category every game). After hitting his two-out, two-run double into the left-center field gap in the third, Ortiz now has 21 RBI in his last 18 games after totaling four for the entire month of April. Making it even more impressive this time around is that Tampa Bay starter James Shields has been a strikeout machine against lefties, fanning more left-handed hitters than any pitcher in baseball.
- Adrian Beltre reminded Joe Maddon why the Tampa Bay manager dubbed him the best defensive player in the history of mankind (or something like that). Here is what Maddon told our man Alex Speier: “[Beltre is] clearly the best [third baseman] I’ve ever seen in person. I think [Evan Longoria] is good, I used to think Scott Brosius was really good. … [Eric] Chavez was good, but Beltre was stupid good. I think Beltre is the best who I’ve ever seen with my two eyes – defender, not just third baseman, but defense.” After making two diving stops of grounders Tuesday night to prevent Tampa Bay rallies, that opinion most likely hasn’t changed.
- Home plate umpire Bob Davidson seemed to do the Red Sox some favors, making some generous strike calls in favor of Lester. One finally pushed the Rays’ patience to the point of no return, with Carl Crawford first disputing a strike well outside the zone before getting into a heated argument in which he made contact with Davidson before being ejected. Upon his leadoff hitter’s ejection, Tampa Bay manager Maddon got tossed after executing a good ol’ fashioned, nose-to-nose exchange with the umpire.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
- Jacoby Ellsbury, who was originally held out of the lineup just for the sake of getting a “breather,” according to Red Sox manager Terry Francona, was struck with a pain in his left side prior to the game. The ailment led the Sox to alter their plans of designating outfielder Darnell McDonald for assignment, instead choosing to DFA reliever Scott Atchison. The execution of designating Atchison, who does have an option left, is purely procedural and he is expected to be optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday.
- Lester’s only downfall was his control. The lefty starter walked five during his 111-pitch outing, matching a career-high he had accomplished on three separate occasions. Two of the previous five-walk outings were totaled in 2006, with the other coming in Cleveland on April 14, 2008, believed by many to be the last game before Lester went on his current run of excellence. After that game against the Indians (4 1/3 innings, 4 runs), Lester had a heart-to-heart with pitching coach John Farrell, who managed to get the lefty believing exactly how dominant he could be. Since that game in Cleveland, Lester is 34-14 with an ERA of 3.20.
|Red Sox vs. Rays matchups, 5/25||at 1:11 pm ET|
The Red Sox will look to continue their climb up the AL East ladder Tuesday night as they take on the division-leading Rays for the middle game of a three-game series. The Sox took the first game, 6-1, the team’s first win over Tampa Bay this season, thanks to stellar pitching by Clay Buchholz and two clutch home runs from David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis. Sox ace Jon Lester will look to continue the current streak of solid pitching performances while Rays starter James Shields will try to cool the hot Boston bats.
Lester (4-2, 3.47 ERA) was excellent in his last start on May 20 against the Twins. In that game, he held the Twins to just one run and struck out nine in a complete-game effort, the first and only complete game tossed by a Sox starter so far in 2010. That performance against Minnesota was just the latest in Lester’s resurgence as the ace of the Boston staff. After giving up 15 total earned runs in his first three starts, including a season-high seven to the Rays on April 18, he has returned back to his old form, surrendering just eight runs in his last six starts.
Shields (5-1, 3.08), on the other hand, has been just as stellar as his Boston counterpart while being much more consistent. He has given up more than three runs on just one occasion. Luckily for Sox fans, that one time came against the local nine in a game where he surrendered four earned runs over 6 2/3 on April 17. However, the Rays still managed to pull out the 6-5 victory en route to their early-season sweep of the Sox at Fenway.
No matter how many runs these two pitchers allow, fans can still expect the two to rack up the strikeouts when they each take the hill Tuesday. Shields ranks second in the AL in K’s with 66 while Lester is not too far behind in fourth with 63. However, despite Shields’ slight advantage in this category, it would not be surprising to see Lester come out on top in the strikeout column by the game’s end. The Rays as a team strike out the second-most in the AL with 357 total K’s. Carlos Peña (47), B.J. Upton (46) and Evan Longoria (44) all rank in the top-10 of the junior circuit, meaning Lester could have a punchout field day.
One matchup to look out for will be between Shields and Youkilis. Youkilis has been one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball in May. In his last eight starts, he’s gone 12-for-30 (.400) with five home runs, 12 RBI and 10 runs scored. As good as he’s been lately, he has been just as bad against Shields, hitting far below the Mendoza Line at .115 with nine strikeouts in 29 career plate appearances. It will be interesting to see if Youkilis can continue his excellent May against a pitcher with whom he has struggled so mightily in the past.
If Youkilis and the Sox can overcome Shields and the Rays, they will move to within 6½ games of first place. They are currently just 1½ games behind the Blue Jays and 2 games back of the Yankees in the AL East standings.
Red Sox vs. James Shields
Marco Scutaro (43 career plate appearances against Shields): .250 average/.279 OBP/.350 slugging, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 double, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (30): .370/.433/.741, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 doubles, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
David Ortiz (30): .385/.467/.846, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 6 doubles, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (29): .115/.207/.154, 1 double, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (28): .357/.357/.464, 3 RBI, 3 doubles, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (28): .462/.500/.769, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jacoby Ellsbury (25): .167/.200/.167, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Jeremy Hermida (22): .250/.318/.300, 2 RBI, 1 double, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (22): .190/.227/.333, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Adrian Beltre (19): .167/.211/.389, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 double, 11 strikeouts
Victor Martinez (16): .375/.375/.438, 3 RBI, 1 double, 5 strikeouts
Mike Cameron is 1-for-3 with a double and a strikeout against Shields. Bill Hall has never faced the Tampa Bay starter.
Rays vs. Jon Lester
Carl Crawford (34 career plate appearances against Lester): .258 average/.303 OBP/.290 slugging, 1 RBI, 1 double, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Carlos Pena (34): .310/.353/.862, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 1 double, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
B.J. Upton (34): .188/.235/.375, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Jason Bartlett (28): .346/.393/.346, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Dioner Navarro (25): .250/.375/.250, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
Evan Longoria (24): .304/.333/.565, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 walk, 6 RBI
Ben Zobrist (16): .333/.500/.333, 2 RBI, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Willy Aybar (15): .200/.200/.400, 3 doubles, 7 strikeouts
Gabe Kapler (12): .333/.500/.333, 1 RBI, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Hank Blalock (10): .333/.400/.333, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
John Jaso, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez have never faced Lester.
|Lester remains red hot||05.20.10 at 11:59 pm ET|
Jon Lester was exceptional on Thursday.
Two years and a day from the anniversary of his no-hitter against the Royals on May 19, 2008, Lester was once again unstoppable for the Sox in the back end of May, taking care of the Twins with a complete game, nine-strikeout effort as the Sox romped 6-2 to sweep the two-game series with Minnesota.
Why did he win? Basically it came down to the simplest factors that give pitchers success — he threw strikes and worked quickly.
“I think his high pitch count for an inning was 12, 10, 11, 12. Pounding the strike zone,” manager Terry Francona said. “Throwing everything to the two dangerous lefties, front-door cutter, he used all his pitches. When he did give up a hit like to [Denard] Span he bore down on the count, he came back. Same thing after [Justin] Morneau. There are a lot of ways for him to go right now and still attack the strike zone even against some of those hitters.”
Lester started hitters off with strikes, getting to an 0-1 count on 27 of 31 hitters he faced on the night. That made for an extremely efficient night against the Twins lineup. Entering the ninth inning, he only had 84 total pitches and ended the night with an economic 103, or 11.44 per inning. He used his four-seam fastball, cut fastball, curveball, sinker and change at any time in the count and used his defense to bail him out of any jams. The performance continued a trend.
After a rocky April, Lester has been simply dominant. In his last five games, he has pitched 38 innings, allowed eight earned runs and struck out 42 while picking up wins in three out of the five and going at least seven innings in each.
“I got some good pitch outs and I was able to establish that we were throwing strikes tonight,” Lester said. “With that lineup they are not going to strikeout or walk a lot, they are going to swing the bats and I got some good pitches and some double plays when we needed them and that is a big night as far as a team thing. Following what [Clay Buchholz] did last night and able to go out there and do it again.
The start was the 100th of Lester’s career and and he is officially the winningest pitcher through 100 starts to start a career, with a 46-18 mark for a .719 winning percentage. Since 2006, Lester’s winning percentage is second only to the incomparable Tim Lincecum (45-17), a player with two consecutive Cy Young Awards on this mantel.
Lester is on the sort of roll that can anchor a rotation for weeks or even months. He said after the game on Thursday that he feels like he is in the type of groove where the five days between starts feels like one. Gone are the rough outings to start the season. Hello, summer heat.
“There are still some things that I am working on that followed me from April,” Lester said. “But, you know, that past month-and-a-half, almost two months have gone by pretty quick. It is a lot nicer when you get on that roll early on and the five days seem like it is tomorrow. It is a good feeling.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox 6, Twins 2||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: Red Sox 9, Yankees 3||05.09.10 at 11:15 pm ET|
The Red Sox responded from two straight nights of Yankee blowouts with a decisive 9-3 win over New York, Sunday night at Fenway Park. The Sox pounded out nine runs on 10 hits, with all of the runs getting charged to Yanks starter A.J. Burnett. J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida, and Adrian Beltre each had two hits for the Sox. Jon Lester got the win, his third. (Click here for a recap.)
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
- David Ortiz can still hit the fastball: One of Ortiz’ most encouraging swings of the season came with the count full and two runners on in the fifth inning. Burnett came in with his third straight fastball of the at-bat, a 95 mph heater which the Red Sox’ designated hitter turned on, hitting a blast to deep right field where it bounced into the stands for an RBI double.
- Jon Lester had his ‘A’ game: Lester turned in his fourth straight solid start, only allowing solo homers to Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez in his seven-inning outing. When it was all said and done the lefty struck out seven, walked two, gave up just four hits and the two runs in lowering his ERA to 3.71.
- Marco Scutaro got things off on the right foot: The first three balls in play by the Yankees were all grounders to short, which Scutaro fielded flawlessly. He also kicked things off in the first with a leadoff single, which would accompany two walks on the night. Scutaro came into the game hitting .333 when leading off the inning (13-for-39) with five walks. He also was hitting .287 with a .353 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot.
- A.J. Burnett started: While Burnett has started this season in style (coming in with a 4-0, 1.99 ERA), he continued his trend of failing at Fenway. The Yankees starter succumbed to nine runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. The outing pushed his ERA at the home of the Red Sox to 12.68 in five starts over the last two years.
- The offense was opportunistic: Five of the Red Sox’ nine runs came with two outs, with Adrian Beltre (2), Ortiz, Jeremy Hermida, and Kevin Youkilis. Hermida’s RBI was one of three on the night for the outfielder, who launched his fourth of the season in the fifth inning.
WHAT WENT WRONG ABOUT THE RED SOX
–Catcher Victor Martinez went 0-for-5 and stranded four runners, ending his modest six-game winning streak in which he hit .375.
–Outfielder Darnell McDonald went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, all against right-handed pitchers. While he is hitting .368 with a 1.323 OPS against left-handed pitching, he is hitting just .184 with a .516 OPS against righties.
|Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 5/4||05.04.10 at 1:45 pm ET|
It was a long, strange month for Jon Lester. The beginning of April was a nightmare, just like it had been in the previous year. The talk and questions were mounting for the young Red Sox ace, but perhaps now he is pulling himself out of his early-season doldrums.
In his last two starts, his ERA has lowered from 8.44 to 4.71. He hasn’t given up an earned run since he gave up seven against the Rays on Apr. 18. Those starts were still in April.
The May numbers still aren’t what we have come to expect from Lester over his career in a Red Sox uniform. He is 5-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 12 starts in May, but things seem to be turning around.
His strikeouts have increased in every game, topping out at 11 against Toronto last time out, and his swings and misses have increased in every start this season.
For two teams that seem to be all too familiar with each other, Lester has only faced the Angels four times in his career in the regular season, sporting a 1-1 record with a 7.78 ERA.
Ervin Santana should be the ace of this Angels staff, but with his numbers and up and down performances, it’s hard to label him the clear cut No. 1. Santana clearly has the stuff to be an ace, especially after 2008, when he won 16 games and struck out 217 batters.
But minor ailments have held him back, and this year he isn’t off to an ace-like start. In five starts this season, he is 1-2 with a 4.59 ERA, and his only true ace-like performance came in a complete-game effort against Toronto on Apr. 18.
The Angels hurler has struggled against the Red Sox. He is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in six starts vs. Boston, with two losses coming at Fenway Park, where he sports a lofty 6.33 ERA.
ANGELS VS. JON LESTER
Bobby Abreu (14 plate appearances): .308 average/ .351 OBP/ .462 slugging percentage, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Maicer Izturis (9): .375/ .444/ .625, 1 walk
Juan Rivera: 2-for5, 1 walk
Howie Kendrick: 1-for-4, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Erick Aybar: 2-for-3, 1 walk
Jeff Mathis: 1-for-4, 1 strikeout
Torii Hunter: 2-for-3
Mike Napoli: 0-for-3, 1 strikeout
Reggie Willits: 2-for-2, 1 walk
Never faced: Kendry Morales, Brandon Wood
RED SOX VS. ERVIN SANTANA
Adrian Beltre (41 plate appearances): .200 average/ .220 OBP/ .400 slugging percentage, 2 homers, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Marco Scutaro (21): .167/ .250/ .333, 2 walks, 1 strkeout
David Ortiz (17): .333/ .412/ .667, 1 homer, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (15): .000/ .067/ .000, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (13): .182, .308/ .273, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (12): .273/ .333/ .545, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Victor Martinez (12): .500/ .583/ .800, 1 homer, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (9): .250/ .333/ .375, 1 walk
Kevin Youkilis: 1-for-2, 1 walk, 1 stikeout
Never faced: Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida
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