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Seattle GM: ‘No idea’ that Red Sox so close on Mike Napoli 12.03.12 at 11:41 am ET
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Shortly after news that Mike Napoli had reached a three-year, $39 million agreement with the Red Sox, the general manager of one of the Sox’ chief competitors in the pursuit of the free agent, Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners, talked about missing out on the catcher/first baseman.

“You never know,” Zduriencik told WEEI.com at the Opryland Resort. “We had discussions with him, but at the end every player has to make their own decision, and I respect that. You never know if you’re close or not. You have good dialogue going, but in the end, who knows? At the end the player decides what he feels is best for him. Mike’s a great guy and it’s a good fit for Boston, so congrats.”

When asked he had any clue that Napoli was close to a deal with the Red Sox heading into the winter meetings, Zduriencik said, “I had no idea. None at all.”

For more on the Napoli deal, click here.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Jason Vargas 07.01.12 at 9:34 am ET
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Felix Doubront

Despite posting a 3-2 record in the month of June, Felix Doubront could welcome a turn of the calendar to July.

While the left-hander did improve his record to a team-best 8-4, it wasn’t the same Doubront that offered a hint of a possible All-Star selection early on in the season. He recorded an ERA of 5.87 in June, as he saw the number dip to 4.54 for the season, second-worst among Red Sox starters. He threw just one quality start during the month and allowed 7.6 hits per game, a number that increased after a forgettable start his last time out.

That came against the Blue Jays on Monday, when he threw six innings, allowed 11 hits, including two home runs, and seven runs (five earned) and struck only two to pick up his fourth loss of the season. Doubront, who leads the team with 87 strikeouts, hadn’t fanned two or less since May 7 when he struck out two at Kansas City.

The Venezuelan has never faced the Mariners and has only pitched against two of their players in his short big league career. He will oppose Jason Vargas, who also may greet the month of July with pleasure. He went 1-3 in five starts with a 7.87 ERA in June. He enters Sunday afternoon’s matchup with a 7-7 record and a 4.54 ERA for the season.

Vargas did well to rebound from a disastrous performance on June 20, when he lasted only 4 1/3 innings against the Diamondbacks and allowed nine hits and 10 runs (all earned) and gave up five home runs. Against the Athletics on Tuesday, he pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and two runs (both earned) while striking out a season-high 10. It wasn’t enough to earn the win though, as he did not get a decision.

The 29-year-old lefty will go for his first win since June 4 against a Red Sox team that he’s 1-2 against with a 4.26 ERA in his career. His last start against the Sox came on May 14, when he lasted six innings, allowed seven hits and five runs (all earned) and struck out just three as he took the loss. The Red Sox roughed him early with a pair of runs in the first and they never looked back in a 6-1 victory.

In 72 career chances against current Sox batters, Vargas has allowed just a .250 batting average and struck out 10. In 12 plate appearances against Vargas, Adrian Gonzalez hits .364 while Kelly Shoppach has batted .444 with a home run in 10 chances.

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Saturday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Josh Beckett vs. Erasmo Ramirez 06.30.12 at 8:22 pm ET
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Josh Beckett

Beyond the early-season incident of going golfing while nursing an injured lat, Josh Beckett’s 2012 season has been one of extreme frustration, one full of wasted gem after wasted gem on the mound.

Beckett’s numbers imply anything but a resume worth of gems. He’s 4-7 with a 4.14 ERA and is 0-3 in his last three trips to the hill, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. In fact, in his last six starts, Beckett has pitched at least seven innings and produced four quality starts. And in his 12 total starts this season, only two can really be qualified as disastrous ones, and those occurred in the season-opener and May 10.

Since his last win on May 20, Beckett has lowered his ERA and allowed no home runs and just two walks across 29 innings over the course of four starts despite going 0-3 in them. On Saturday night, Beckett will look to build on that success and get back in the win column when he returns from the disabled list to take on a struggling Mariners team at Safeco Field. The right-hander was placed on the DL on June 16 with shoulder inflammation.

Historically speaking, Beckett is at his best when he faces the Mariners. He’s 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA in nine starts against them since becoming a member of the Red Sox in 2006. That includes his last start against them at Fenway Park on May 15, when he tossed a seven-inning shutout while allowing just four hits and collecting a season-high nine strikeouts en route to a 5-0 victory.

This season’s version of the Mariners may be one of the worst offensively that Beckett has seen in his career. The M’s rank 27th in batting average (.234), 29th in on-base percentage (.295) and 28th in slugging percentage (.366). Their best hitter statistically, Ichiro Suzuki, is hitting just .272 this season and they’re coming off of getting two-hit by Aaron Cook on Friday night.

Part of the reason that Beckett has been unsuccessful this season in finding the win column may be because of a lack of run support. In his seven losses, the Red Sox have scored a total of 12 runs, which is just 1.7 per game. They’ll try to turn that around against Erasmo Ramirez, who will make his fourth career start for the Mariners.

The rookie right-hander, who started the season as a reliever, is 0-2 with a 4.18 ERA. He made seven appearances before being sent down to Triple-A Tacoma in early May and then returned to Seattle on June 13 in a starter’s role. After two rough outings, the 22-year-old put together a gem on June 25 against the Athletics. He pitched eight innings, allowed just three hits, one run (earned) and struck out 10, but suffered the loss as the Mariners fell 1-0.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Aaron Cook vs. Hector Noesi 06.29.12 at 5:51 pm ET
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Aaron Cook

After spending 10 seasons with the Rockies, Aaron Cook has moved on to the Red Sox. He’s made just two starts this season in the wake of injured starters in the rotation, and on Friday night he’ll do it again as he takes the mound against the Mariners in the second game of Boston’s West Coast trip.

After spending the first month of the season in Pawtucket, Cook made his first Red Sox start on May 5 due to the absence of Josh Beckett, who missed that start due to a sore lat muscle, which led to the much-discussed incident in which it was reported that Beckett went golfing with the injury.

As it turned out, Cook may have liked to forget his start just as much as Beckett would like to have forgotten the controversy. Cook gave up seven runs (six earned) in 2 2/3 innings as he was quickly chased by the Orioles. He didn’t strike out anyone as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 8-2.

Cook had a chance at redemption on Sunday, as he was called up a day before his start to replace Clay Buchholz, who had to miss his start due to a serious case of esophagitis. Cook, who was returning from the disabled list after receiving 11 stitches due to a gash on his left knee suffered on a play at home plate, made better in his second opportunity.

He pitched five innings, scattered six hits, gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out none as he earned his first Red Sox victory in a 9-4 win over the Braves. Now, with Buchholz still on the disabled list, the 33-year-old right-hander will make his third start with the team against the Mariners, a team he has never faced. He’s faced five different current Seattle batters, posting a combined .100 opponents batting average and striking out four in 20 combined appearances.

The Mariners will counter with Hector Noesi, a young pitcher who has had extreme difficulty finding success this season. In 15 starts, the 25-year-old is 2-9 with a 5.50 ERA. The Dominican hasn’t won a game since May 6, and is 0-6 in his last nine starts.

Noesi might be turning a corner after a fairly impressive outing last time out against the Padres. Despite taking the loss, Noesi pitched six innings and gave up only two runs (both earned) although he surrendered seven hits. He’ll go up against a Red Sox team that he’s faced off against twice as a member of the Yankees in his two-year big league career.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Charlie Furbush 08.14.11 at 2:20 am ET
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Tim Wakefield

The Red Sox and Mariners will wrap up the season series Sunday night at Safeco Field in a pitching matchup of a Boston veteran and a Seattle rookie. Tim Wakefield will take the mound for the Red Sox, boasting 18 more years of major league experience than his 25-year-old counterpart, Charlie Furbush.

After an 8-6 win over the Twins on August 8, the Red Sox are now 11-4 in games that Wakefield (6-4, 4.92 ERA) starts. The veteran logged his third-straight quality start against Minnesota in his last game, lasting seven innings while allowing three earned runs. Aside from a rough seven-run outing on July 24, Wakefield hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since July 1 against Houston.

However, that one rough outing came against the Mariners, who amassed 10 hits, including two home runs, against Wakefield at Fenway Park. Still, the Red Sox and Wakefield managed to record a win, as Boston’s offense exploded for 10 runs in the first five innings on its way to a 12-8 victory. Sunday’s outing will be the knuckleballer’s third of the season against the Mariners. In his first start of the year back on May 1, Wakefield allowed one earned run while striking out three hitters and walking one over 5 2/3 innings. The Boston starter hasn’t lost to Seattle since August of 2010.

Wakefield has handled the Mariners well, holding contact hitters like Ichiro Suzuki and Adam Kennedy well below .300 batting averages. Ichiro has managed just 10 hits in 41 plate appearances, while Kennedy is hitting .219 with a double and a home run in 33 plate appearances. Miguel Olivo has posted respectable power numbers against Wakefield, hitting .278 with two home runs and five RBI in 20 career matchups. As a team, the Mariners are hitting .240 in 138 combined plate appearances vs. the right-hander.

Furbush (2-4, 4.46 ERA) spent the first half of the season in the Tigers’ bullpen before being traded to the Mariners on July 30 with Casper Wells for Doug Fister and David Pauley. Furbush has started two games in Seattle with mixed results. On August 3, he pitched five innings of one-run, two-hit ball but was pulled after just 62 pitches. In his last start, the Rangers touched him up for seven runs on eight hits while drawing four walks in four innings.

The southpaw has performed reasonably well in 55 matchups against left-handed hitting, allowing just one home run while striking out 15 and holding opponents to a .273 average. In two appearances at Safeco Field, Furbush is 1-0 with three strikeouts and a 3.00 ERA. The 25-year-old started just two games with Detroit but pitched five shutout innings against the Red Sox on May 27 as a Tiger at Fenway Park. Furbush allowed just two hits while striking out six batters and walking two. The Red Sox had a four-run lead when he came in, and Boston eventually held on for a 6-3 win.

Josh Reddick and Adrian Gonzalez were the only two Red Sox hitters to solve Furbush in that game, as both hitters went 1-for-2 against the left-hander. However, both Reddick and Gonzalez struck out in their other plate appearances. Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia all went o-for-2 against Furbush.

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Red Sox beat buzzer with Bedard deal 07.31.11 at 8:46 pm ET
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The Red Sox barely beat the 4 p.m. deadline to acquire left-hander Erik Bedard from Seattle. (AP)

CHICAGO — So, how close did it come?

The Red Sox have a history of pushing the boundaries of the trade deadline. In eight previous years under Theo Epstein, the Sox had consummated 10 different trades on July 31, including a couple of complex deals — a four-team swap to move Nomar Garciaparra and acquire Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz in 2004 and a three-team deal to send Manny Ramirez packing in favor of Jason Bay — that barely squeezed under the 4 p.m. deadline.

This year, the clock was once again winding down toward the deadline.

“It wasn’t clear we were going to be able to get anything done until the last minute again,” said Epstein. “I don’t know why that always happens to us. … It was a little stressful.”

The Sox and Mariners could not match up precisely based on the prospects in the Red Sox system — there were players whom the Sox didn’t want to sacrifice — and so Boston had to find another party to give the Mariners the return that they needed to move Bedard. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Felix Hernandez 04.30.11 at 10:04 pm ET
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Tim Wakefield

After Clay Buchholz was scratched from his start Sunday with a stomach illness, it will be Tim Wakefield who toes the rubber against Seattle for his first start of the season. Wakefield has made seven appearances out of the bullpen so far, notching a 5.56 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and no record in 11 1/3 innings.

Wakefield has struggled with the Mariners in his career. He is 4-10 with a 4.18 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 27 career outings, including 17 starts. Wakefield lost his only start against Seattle last season, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Current Mariners are hitting .272 against Wakefield. Jack Cust has done the most damage, as he is hitting .440 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs in 25 at-bats. Adam Kennedy, Miguel Olivo and Milton Bradley all have a home run and three RBIs off Wakefield.

If Wakefield’s poor record against Seattle wasn’t enough of a reason for Sox fans to be concerned, there’s also the fact that Felix Hernandez will be on the mound for the Mariners. The reigning American League Cy Young winner is 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA this season. He has won each of his last two starts against Oakland and Detroit, respectively, allowing just two earned runs on eight hits and five walks over 13 2/3 innings.

Moreover, Hernandez is 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA in eight career starts against Boston. He won his only start against the Sox last season, allowing just one earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out nine over 7 1/3 innings.

Current Red Sox are hitting .259 against Hernandez. J.D. Drew leads the way with a .391 average and two home runs in 23 at-bats. Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Mike Cameron all have a homer off Hernandez, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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