|Red Sox pregame notes: John Farrell trying to avoid creating ‘uncertainty’ with lineup shuffles||05.15.13 at 7:10 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been a period in which productivity has been glaringly absent. The Sox have now scored three or fewer runs in eight of their last 12 games, with their average of 3.3 runs per game in that span ranking 13th of the 15th teams in the American League.
So how to fix it? Manager John Farrell was asked whether he’d contemplated tinkering with the lineup. While he acknowledged considering the possibility of such a measure, he decided that he’d rather show more faith in a group that roared to one of the best starts in franchise history.
“I have given it some thought. And yet the one thing that I don’t want to create in there is more uncertainty,” said Farrell. “And I think at a time when you could understand if some frustration starts to filter in, I want there to be some stability and some continuity to the work that we’re doing. That includes they understanding that there’s a lot of belief and trust in them as players and we didn’t go to 20-8 at one point with a completely different set of players.
“We’re not going to run from them. I really like our team,” he added. “This is a group that’s talented and going to be very successful.”
Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury has been a considerable part of the team’s early struggles. He’s hitting just .256 with a .321 OBP and .363 slugging mark. In May, those numbers dip to .200/.290/.255.
The Sox recognize that Ellsbury is a singularly impactful member of their roster when he reaches base. But he’s been doing that so rarely that it seemed reasonable to ask Farrell if he might consider moving from his familiar spot as a leadoff hitter.
“Certainly there’s a track record in which to refer to. I know he’s working diligently to get back on track, particularly his timing at the plate,” said Farrell. “I do know this — when he does get on base, it changes our entire [complexion] — not only to start or lead off a game, but throughout the course of a given game, when he’s on base. Whether or not he’s in the leadoff spot, that’s one time. That’s the first at-bat. After that, I don’t want to say that we’re not creating opportunities for ourselves, but, to me, the more glaring thing is how we’ve created those opportunities and yet the ball hasn’t fallen our way.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Red Sox tied for first place after blowout loss to Twins||05.08.13 at 10:52 pm ET|
Allen Webster isn’t ready to be the Red Sox’ savior quite yet.
In his second major league start, Allen Webster was roughed up all over the place in what resulted in a 15-8 Twins victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night at Fenway Park. It was the Sox’ sixth loss in their last nine games. They now are tied for first place in the American League East with Baltimore (21-13).
Webster allowed eight runs on six hits, walking three in just 1 2/3 innings. He was followed by Felix Doubront, who proceeded to allow six runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. The starter threw 54 pitches, while Doubront made 105 pitches in relief.
After the game, Webster was informed he would be returning to Triple-A Pawtucket.
After striking out the first batter of the game, Jamey Carroll, Webster proceeded to issue two walks before Justin Morneau‘s ground-rule double. Trevor Plouffe followed with a sacrifice fly, which was followed by Ryan Doumit‘s two-run homer to give the visitors a 4-0 lead after the first half-inning.
“I can’t say it was just because of some emotion that took him out of his game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Webster. “Right from the start, just the inability to establish a given pitch to a certain area to get a strike when needed. And when he got behind in the count, then he’s obviously at a disadvantage. Against this team, if there isn’t a secondary pitch to command behind in the count, we saw tonight what they can do.”
And even though Jonny Gomes‘ first-inning grand slam and Stephen Drew‘s RBI single gave the Sox a one-run lead heading into the second, the combination of Webster and Doubront teamed to allow seven runs in the second, paving the way for the Minnesota rout.
Doubront is scheduled to make his next start, with Webster heading back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
“Our plan had been, and still remains, that Felix would take that turn,” Farrell said. “We stated that yesterday. We tried to be as clear as we could with the guys involved, both Allen and Felix, just to get through these two days so there was no confusion if Felix got up last night, or if he didn’t get in was he going to pitch and make that start today. So just from a communication standpoint we tried to be as clear as possible over these two days. But we haven’t come off that initial plan, which is Felix starting the next time through.
“Once again, physically everything checks out. He doesn’t complain or state any tightness or physical limitations. But still, even with stuff might be a little bit reduced for what we’ve known him for, we’ve got to pitch accordingly. That is to still locate. Every time they showed a replay it seemed like a ball found the middle of the plate, even when he was ahead in the count. The finish and the lateness to the stuff is not as sharp as we’ve seen, but that’s the plan right now.”
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox loss.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• David Ortiz‘ 27-game hit streak came to an end, making him two games shy of reaching Johnny Damon‘s 29-game stretch in 2005. Dom DiMaggio holds the team record, hitting in 34 straight games in 1949. Ortiz finished going 0-for-5, dipping his average from .414 to .381. After the game, the designated hitter spiced things up via Twitter:
End of my hitting streak tonight the season stil going and l hope Dan shaugnessy is a happy man now… Not more 426 enjoy it✌
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) May 9, 2013
• Pedro Ciriaco made his third error in the last two games, whipping a high throw on Josh Willingham‘s ground ball to lead off the seventh inning. Ciriaco was getting the start at third base in place of the injured Will Middlebrooks.
|Closing Time: John Farrell, Red Sox turn back crowd, Blue Jays for win||04.05.13 at 10:43 pm ET|
TORONTO – Friday night, John Farrell got the last laugh.
On a night that was defined by a constant wave of boos and chants directed at the former Blue Jays manager, Farrell’s Red Sox managed to send most of the 45,328 at Rogers Centre home disappointed via a 6-4 win over the Jays.
After blowing a three-run advantage, the Red Sox took the lead for good in the eighth when Jonny Gomes raced home from third on Mike Napoli’s soft grounder to third baseman Maicer Izturis with one out.
Gomes, who pinch-hit for Daniel Nava with one out in the eighth, had walked before heading to third on Dustin Pedroia’s double to deep center field.
The Red Sox were able to add an insurance run thanks to Will Middlebrooks’ leadoff homer in the ninth.
After the eighth-inning run, Red Sox relievers Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan held the Blue Jays scoreless for the final two frames.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ third win of the season:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Pedroia, Shane Victorino and Pedro Ciriaco each had two hits apiece. Jackie Bradley also got on two more times, notching a hit and a walk.
- Koji Uehara has now allowed just nine of his 57 inherited runners to score over the course of his career after helping the Red Sox get out of a sixth-inning jam. After Felix Doubront allowed a leadoff double to J.P. Arencibia, Uehara came on to strike out both Rajai Davis and Colby Rasmus before ending the threat via a fly out off the bat of Adam Lind, allowing the Red Sox to hold their one-run lead. The righty now has six outs while having thrown just 14 pitches this season.
- Napoli accounted for the Red Sox’ first home run of the season, taking Josh Johnson over the right field wall with nobody out in the fifth inning. The two-run blast plated Pedroia and gave the Sox a 4-1 advantage.
- Jose Iglesias continued to impress in the field, ranging deep in the hole between shortstop and third base to gather in a Melky Cabrera grounder before proceeding to flip a laser of a throw to Pedroia at second base. The stab forced Jose Reyes at second for the second out in the home half of the third inning.
- Felix Doubront turned in a decent outing, giving up three runs on nine hits over five innings. The lefty struck out six and didn’t walk a batter, leaving with a 4-3 Red Sox lead.
- The Red Sox were the beneficiaries of three errors by Blue Jays’ second baseman Emilio Bonifacio.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Reyes turned on a Junichi Tazawa fastball with one out in the seventh to tie the game at 4-4. It was Reyes’ fourth hit of the game. The reliever had allowed just one home run in his 44 innings last season.
- Middlebrooks suffered a fielding blunder in the first inning when he was coaxed not to throw to first on Cabrera with Reyes bluffing like he was going to run home from third. The Red Sox limited the damage, however, when Middlebrooks started an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play the very next batter via a Edwin Encarnacion grounder.
- Iglesias was struck in the right elbow with a 93 mph fastball from Johnson on first pitch the No. 9 hitter saw. After being checked by Farrell (who was roundly booed upon entering onto the field) and the training staff, the shortstop remained in the game before ultimately being replaced by Ciriaco in the fourth inning.
- Immediately after Napoli handed the Red Sox a three-run cushion with his two-run homer, Doubront surrendered a solo shot to Mark DeRosa. It was DeRosa’s first homer since April 5, 2010. The Jays then cut the Sox’ lead to a run when Reyes doubled in Izturis with a rocket down the left field line. (Reyes would be cut down at third trying to stretch the play into a triple.)
- After the Blue Jays’ two-run fifth inning, the Red Sox had a chance to answer when Ciriaco led off the sixth with a double. But the opportunity was squandered when Jacoby Ellsbury struck out, Daniel Nava popped out to second base, and – after an intentional walk to Pedroia – Napoli was called out on strikes.
- The Red Sox went on to waste another scoring chance in the seventh when Brett Cecil struck out Victorino, Bradley and Ciriaco after allowing the Red Sox to put runners on second and third with nobody out. (Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked, followed by a Middlebrooks’ double.)
- Bradley was thrown out trying to score from third on an Ellsbury ground out in the ninth, but was ruled out after Bonifacio throw to Arencibia. Replays showed, however, that the baserunner beat the tag.
|Jonny Gomes launches moonshot, Will Middlebrooks dodges bullet in Red Sox spring loss to Orioles||02.27.13 at 10:30 pm ET|
SARASOTA, Fla. — In a spring training game that saw Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffer a scare with his right wrist, Jonny Gomes blasted a long home run to left field while several Red Sox relievers looked strong early on as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 5-3, Wednesday night at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
Reliever Franklin Morales started the game and retired the side in order on 12 pitches, eight strikes. The lefty was making his first appearance of the spring.
But the bigger story came in top of the first when the Red Sox (2-4) appeared to dodge a major bullet. With an 0-1 count, Middlebrooks took an inside fastball from Orioles starter Chris Tillman. Middlebrooks attempted to check his swing and avoid being hit. He was successful in avoiding the pitch but he immediately grabbed his right wrist and went to manager John Farrell. He was taken out of the game and replaced with Pedro Ciricaco. As he went into the dugout, he threw his helmet against the back wall in obvious frustration.
The team later said Middlebrooks, who broke the same wrist last August in Cleveland when hit by a pitch, was suffering from “right wrist soreness” and would be re-evaluated Thursday in Fort Myers. After the game Middlebrooks said he felt no pain and it was “just a scare” and a “freak thing that scared everybody.” He pointed to the outside of his right wrist, where he suffered the break last August and said the initial discomfort was in the same area.
Alex Speier has much more, including reaction from Middlebrooks.
The group of Morales, Joel Hanrahan, Koji Uehara, Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller all threw a single inning of work. Only Hanrahan allowed a run, and it was unearned, as Ciriaco threw high to first on a routine grounder in the second inning, and Nava couldn’t reach up and grab it.
But the good run of pitching ended in the sixth when Junichi Tazawa was roughed up for two runs on four hits and committed a balk in the sixth. The two runs came on an opposite-field homer to left by Chris Davis, erasing Boston’s 2-1 lead and putting Baltimore ahead, 3-2. Tazawa has allowed five hits and two runs over two innings in his first two appearances. Drake Britton allowed two more runs on three hits in the seventh as Baltimore built a 5-2 lead. Read the rest of this entry »
|Larry Lucchino on the state of the Red Sox||02.14.13 at 4:48 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, in a 30-minute media session, fielded questions on all things Red Sox. He expanded on comments made earlier in the week by team principal owner John Henry, who suggested that the team had shifted away from the core philosophy that had yielded six playoff appearances in seven seasons between 2003-09, and that a course correction is now in effect.
Lucchino highlighted the team’s basic emphasis of on-base percentage and long at-bats that drive up the pitch counts of opponents as centerpieces of the philosophical drift.
“[Henry] feels pretty strongly that we deviated from a basic philosophy of grinding relentless at-bats deep in the count, on-base percentage, some of the fundamental things that got us to the success we had. We have fallen considerably,” said Lucchino. “We used to have incentives in contracts relating to on-base percentage to show you how important we thought it was. I think there was kind of a deviation from that, somewhere along the way.”
Asked why that deviation occurred, Lucchino offered the following.
“I think it kind of grew gradually, and if you’re not ever-vigilant, that can happen to the organization. That’s one factor,” said Lucchino. “Perception that everybody now gets it, everybody now understands it, and don’t we have to look for some new metric or approach? And we in some ways outsmarted ourselves. Those are two of the factors.”
Among other topics: Read the rest of this entry »
|Jonny Gomes on D&C: ‘There’s no sabermetrics for chemistry’||at 10:59 am ET|
New Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes talked with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday about his clubhouse presence, hitting against righties, and comparisons with Kevin Millar.
While not always putting up All-Star numbers, Gomes is well-regarded for his reliability and positive clubhouse presence. He said it’s important to have good chemistry on a team.
“I don’t care what profession you are in. If you are working with your friends, if you are working in a healthy environment, if you’re working in a fun environment, the performance kind of shines a little bit,” he said. “I always go back to a little metaphor. When you’re 12 years old on the sandlot, 12 years old on the basketball court, you’ve got two captains, you’re one of the captains, who do you pick? You don’t pick the best player, you pick your friend. … That’s how it needs to be at the big league level. When you’re playing Little League Baseball and your best friend’s pitching and you’re in the outfield you’re diving and catching that ball, 100 percent.”
Gomes has gone through much adversity in his lifetime, suffering a heart attack at 22 years old among other tough times.
“If you had to check off a heart attack, I guess I’d do it at 22 vs. 62,” Gomes said. “But yeah, I’m grateful for everything I have. … Therefore I don’t take it for granted. Can it be exhausting ‘living every day like it’s your last and playing every game like it’s your last?’ Absolutely. But at the same time, from the road I’ve taken, nothing is a guarantee.”
The Red Sox starting nine will feature many new regulars, including Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli. Many view Gomes as a platoon player due to his struggles vs. right-handers (.209 last year) and he understand that perception, but he’s not settling for anything.
Said Gomes: “Do I expect [to play full-time]? No. Am I ready for it? Yes. Whoever else is in competition for left field, expect to get 500 [at-bats]. That’s like me saying I expect to win the World Series. Are we? I don’t know, but you’ve got to set your goals and shoot high for them.”
|Jonny Gomes is not a platoon player: ‘I came into camp ready to play 162′||02.13.13 at 10:13 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jonny Gomes made it very clear Wednesday that he does not consider himself a platoon player. He considers himself an everyday major league outfielder, ready to contribute to another winner.
“Platooning isn’t a position,” Gomes began. “There’s not platooning in high school, there’s not platooning in 12-year-old all-stars. We’re baseball players. Baseball players, there’s two ‘L’s. There’s leather, lumber and you play every single day. Have I platooned in the past? Yeah, and it’s helped us win. I figure, if you succeed at platooning, you should have the opportunity to have more on your plate. If you succeed at a task, you should be able to have more on your plate.
“Am I putting my foot down, asking for more time? No, absolutely not. I do whatever helps the team. Last year, I platooned with a couple of guys, no one ran their mouth, no one did anything [disruptive] and that all leads to success and that all leads to winning. As soon as you have guys butting heads for playing time, it all starts to go downhill a little bit. I came into camp to play 162. It’s not my choice, I don’t make the lineup but when my name is call, count on that I’ll be ready.”
Gomes was signed to a two-year deal in the offseason for $10 million to help fill a void in left field. He is a .284 hitter with a .894 OPS against left-handed pitching. He is .223 and .732 against righties. He helped Oakland to a wild and crazy ride to the AL West title in 2012, something he reminded everyone Wednesday at JetBlue Park.
“What can I add? Hopefully, some right-handed sock,” Gomes said. “I’ve got some speed as well. Just continue to play the game right. I’m open to batting anywhere in the lineup so up, down, move around, protect some guys, help some guys touch the plate.
“Obviously, I’m a little biased to the chemistry [factor]. I have three division titles in the last five years with three different teams. Last year with Oakland, $41 million payroll in the AL West. You can’t really say we did it with a bunch of Ferraris. I wouldn’t recommend building that team again and running it out there but what does it all go to, what does it all go to?
Everyone looks back into the clubhouse, it’s got to be the clubhouse, it’s got to be everyone being friends. Again, I did it in 2010 with the Reds and 2008 with the Rays, and what does it all have in common? It’s different for everybody but once you get inside that clubhouse, you figure some things out, it really does all add up. I definitely biased to it. I haven’t done it once, I haven’t done it twice, I’ve done it three times in the last five years. Granted, I don’t have a ring but division titles are pretty hard to come by these days and hopefully get some more.”
One more thing, don’t ask Gomes about the 2012 Red Sox.
“I think what’s different about me and some of the guys that came in here, we weren’t miserable last year,” he said. “I wasn’t. Do I know what happened here last year? Absolutely. But I’m not going to let that bring me down. I wasn’t a part of it. I won a division title last year. We had a great year. I don’t know about [being] miserable and butting heads with everyone in the clubhouse. I can’t respond to that because I didn’t do it. I’m not going to change the person I am by any means. I’m just going to come in here and do what I do.
“I’ve played the game long enough, been in the game for a while. I’ve seen it work, I know it works. At the same time, I’ve seen this place rock and roll. I was against these guys in 2004 and 2007. I’ve seen Sox Nation, Fenway, Boston just being at the highest level it could possibly be. We’re not too far removed from that. There are still some core pieces in here that have rings, that have Red Sox [World Series] rings. It’s not like were bringing the 70s or 80s [Red Sox teams] back. We don’t have to go too far back in the history books to find winning in a Red Sox uniform. These guys are still here.
“Time will tell, right?,” he said.
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