|Red Sox-Rays series preview||06.18.13 at 8:51 am ET|
It’ll be a busy two days at home for the Red Sox, who will play three games against the Rays before heading back out on the road.
The Red Sox will be happy to come home after a frustrating series in Baltimore, even if it is only for two days. The Sox went 3-4 on the trip, dropping three games in a four-game set at Baltimore. The Orioles edged out the Sox in a few close games, winning by a one-run margin in the first game, a two-run margin in the second game and a three-run margin in the last game of the series. Despite the tough set against the divisional rival, the Sox still sit in first place with a 42-29 record, two games ahead of the Orioles, and own the best record in the American League.
The Red Sox have gotten the better of the Rays so far this year, taking seven of the nine games they’ve played against Tampa Bay. After losing two of three to the Red Sox last week, the Rays dropped their second series in a row, losing three of four in a series at home against the Royals. The Rays have scuffled on the road, with a 15-17 record away from Tropicana Field compared to a 21-16 record at home. At 36-33, Tampa Bay has fallen to fourth place in the division, sitting five games behind Boston and only three games ahead of the last-place Blue Jays.
The Rays offense has been better than anticipated, ranking in the top 10 of major league teams in runs scored, home runs and OPS, but the pitching staff has been failing to come through and earn the team wins. After a series in which the Rays scored nine runs over four games against the Royals, the club decided to bring up the player they got from Kansas City in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis: highly touted outfield prospect Wil Myers. Myers has been hot in Triple-A, with a .286/.356/.520 line in 64 games. The slugger has also crushed 14 home runs and 13 doubles, while driving in 57 runs this season for the Durham Bulls of the International League.
Myers likely will make his much-anticipated major league debut sometime during Tuesday’s doubleheader. The twinbill, which is due to the postponement of a game back on April 12, is the Boston’s third doubleheader of the season, while the Rays haven’t played two in one day yet this season. The Red Sox are 1-3 in doubleheader games this year.
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game set.
Tuesday Game 1: Alfredo Aceves (3-1, 5.58) vs. Chris Archer (1-2, 4.80)
Tuesday Game 2: Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.91) vs. Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 8.03)
Wednesday: Ryan Dempster (4-7, 4.21) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 5.67)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• Mike Carp continues to make the most of the opportunities he’s been given. The first baseman/outfielder is 11 for his last 28 with a double, four home runs and eight RBIs, and has raised his line on the season to .324/.379/.686 despite an 0-for-19 stretch back in May. Carp already has three more home runs in 2013 than he did in 2012, and that’s in 59 less at-bats. The former Mariner had only 11 extra-base hits in 59 games for Seattle last year yet has clubbed 10 doubles, two triples and eight home runs this year in 42 games.
• The hits just keep on coming for Jose Iglesias. He’s hit in 18 straight games, good for the longest active streak in the majors and the sixth longest streak by a rookie in Red Sox history (Nomar Garciaparra is atop that list with a 30-gamer in 1997). Iglesias’ ridiculous production has forced the Red Sox to find ways to put him in the lineup on a regular basis, and Iglesias has done all he can to make himself more valuable. The sure-handed shortstop has taken his defensive talents all over the infield, making 16 starts at third base and even making a start at second base, giving Dustin Pedroia his first day off. Although the type of offensive production Iglesias is contributing is not likely to last, he’s hit .438/.485/.562 with eight doubles and a home run through 99 plate appearances with the big league club.
|A picture, not any home run, is what Mike Carp will remember about this road trip||06.16.13 at 2:07 pm ET|
BALTIMORE – Mike Carp has had quite a road trip.
The first baseman/outfielder kept his season-long momentum going heading into the Red Sox series finale against the Orioles at Camden Yards, going 6-for-18 (.333) with two homers during the Sox’ last two series away from Fenway Park.
But the success – even Saturday’s two-run homer – isn’t what Carp will remember most when reflecting on this road swing. What will define this trip is a picture he received from his wife.
The photo (seen right) is of Carp’s 10 month-old daughter, Cali, walking up to the television and identifying her father, whose image had popped up via the Red Sox broadcast.
“It was a crazy and surreal experience to know she’s so little and young, to look up and look at me on TV and say, ‘It’s Dad!’ That means the world to me,” Carp said. “I can’t wait to get home and hold her today.”
Things continue to be going well for Carp, who has seemingly found himself a home with the Red Sox. In 41 games this season, he is hitting .320 with eight homers and a slugging percentage of 1.051.
For the Red Sox – who only gave up cash to acquire Carp – their long-time identification of the player as many had undervalued is being justified.
“Mike Carp has been outstanding. There’s no other way to put it,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell prior to Sunday’s game. “Did we expect to get this type of production when we acquired him? Well, we thought there was a good hitter there. The opportunity has allowed him to produce as he has. It’s been a very good situation for him and us.”
Carp, who got the start at first base for a third straight game in the place of Mike Napoli (illness), identified consistency and confidence as the two driving forces behind having the kind of success he couldn’t bottle in Seattle.
“I know my role here, versus sometimes I didn’t know my role or where I fit in. I know what they’re going to ask me and I come to prepare myself ready to go. That’s the biggest thing. They have a lot of confidence in me.”
And as for how his first Father’s Day as a father went?
“We talked this morning,” he said. “Hopefully [Cali] stays up tonight until I get home so I can hold her, because that’s all I’ve been wanting to do for the last week.”
|Closing Time: Felix Doubront’s short outing sets up Red Sox for extra-innings failure in loss to Orioles||06.13.13 at 11:45 pm ET|
On a night when Felix Doubront lasted only 4 2/3 innings and left with the Sox in a 4-2 hole, the Red Sox nonetheless rallied to tie the game and send it into extras against the Orioles thanks in no small part to the outstanding performances of an assembly line of relievers. Franklin Morales (1 1/3 innings), Andrew Miller (2 scoreless frames), Junichi Tazawa (1 1/3 shutout innings) and Craig Breslow (two outs) all came on and kept Baltimore in check, buying time for the Sox to push across a pair of runs to knot the game, 4-4.
But after Alex Wilson — summoned from Pawtucket earlier on Thursday — delivered scoreless frames in both the 11th and 12th innings, the Orioles rallied for a two-out run in the 13th to claim a 5-4 walkoff victory. The game-winning hit came when Orioles slugger Chris Davis blooped a jam-shot — a 93 mph fastball located exactly where Wilson wanted it, on Davis’ hands — into shallow left.
The loss went to Wilson and the bullpen, but the fault lay with Doubront’s inability to offer reliable innings. After all, big league teams entered Thursday with a 64-240 record this year (.211 winning percentage) in games when their starters failed to log five complete innings. The Sox now are 1-8 in such bullpen-battering contests.
To highlight the impact of such short outings: The Sox are 40-19 (.678 winning percentage) when their starters go at least five innings, while their winning percentage drops to just .111 when their starters fail to deliver that modest innings total.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Doubront saw his streak of four straight starts of six innings snapped, on a night when he was hit relatively hard. He labored to a 103-pitch count in just 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits — a homer, two doubles and four singles. Though he issued just one walk and struck out five, and got six ground ball outs, Doubront remained winless against Baltimore.
– Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-5 and saw a number of streaks get halted. His 11-game hitting streak is no more. So, too, is a five-game streak in which he had a hit, scored a run and stole a base — the longest such streak by a Red Sox since Tommy Harper accomplished the feat in 1974. And when Matt Wieters delivered a low-flying laser to second base, Ellsbury had his streak of 18 straight successful stolen base attempts end.
|Mike Napoli leaves Red Sox-Orioles game due to illness||at 8:32 pm ET|
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli exited Thursday’s Red Sox-Orioles game prior to the bottom of the third inning. The team announced that his removal was due to illness. Napoli, who was 1-for-1 with a double, was replaced at first base by Mike Carp, who homered in his first plate appearance on Thursday.
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|Red Sox-Orioles series preview||at 1:17 pm ET|
The first-place Red Sox will make their first trip of the year to Baltimore, as they prepare to take on the Orioles for a four-game set starting Thursday.
The Orioles got the better of the Red Sox in their only meeting so far this year, taking two of three in Boston’s first home series of 2013. Baltimore has proven to be quite a pain in the neck for the Red Sox over the past couple of years. Since the beginning of 2012, the Sox are 6-15 against their divisional rivals.
But the AL East-leading Red Sox are on a roll. They haven’t dropped a series since May 20-22 against Chicago, and have won four of their last five. The Sox seem to be clicking on all cylinders, getting contributions from both expected and unexpected sources on a nightly basis. Even injuries (albeit not serious ones) to key players like Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury and Will Middlebrooks haven’t stopped the Red Sox from putting runs on the board, while the pitching staff has done its part to keep the team in just about every game. And the chemistry amongst team members has become obvious.
“It really is a fun group of guys,” said catcher David Ross. “It’s been this way since spring training. You fell good about coming to the park every day and we’ve played well as a group.”
That might be an understatement. The Red Sox have the best record in the American League at 41-26 and are second in the majors only to the Cardinals. They’ve extended their lead over the second-place Yankees to three games with a win on Wednesday. And the Sox have played well both on the road and at home, sporting a 21-14 record in Boston and a 20-12 record away from Fenway.
The Sox own a 3½-game lead over the Orioles, who sit in third place with a 37-29 record. Baltimore has been a surprising club to some; the Orioles didn’t do much over the offseason, with the re-signing of outfielder Nate McLouth their biggest move of the winter. But the Orioles have hung in in a tight division thus far and have proven that they have the tools to stay in the race down the stretch. Center fielder Adam Jones said that playing as a team and developing a winning mentality has helped keep Baltimore in the mix.
“We win as a team and we lose as a team. We can have a guy go 4-for-4, and if he loses, he’s just as ticked off as he’d be if he went 0-for-4. If we win, it’s ‘Who cares, we won, that’s all that matters,’ ” the outfielder said. “We win and lose as a team, and everyone has adapted that philosophy. We bring it every single day.”
The Orioles “brought it” against the Angels in their last series, taking two of three from Los Angeles. Baltimore has won 10 of its 16 games in the month of June. The Orioles have relied on their offense to make up for a pitching staff that has been disappointing so far. In terms of ERA, the Orioles pitching staff ranks as second worst in the majors (4.55). But the lineup has been solid, to say the least; Baltimore’s offense is third in OPS, is fourth in runs scored and leads all American League teams with 88 home runs.
Here are the pitching matchups for the four-game set.
Thursday: Felix Doubront (4-2, 4.84) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-3, 8.84)
Friday: Ryan Dempster (4-6, 4.40) vs. Chris Tillman (6-2, 3.89)
Saturday: TBD vs. Freddy Garcia (3-3, 4.47)
Sunday: TBD vs. Miguel Gonzalez (4-2, 3.71)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• Koji Uehara struggled in the last game of the Angels series, throwing a season-high 31 pitches in two-thirds of an inning and allowing two runs on a hit and two walks. But when called upon the next night as one of the remaining members of a depleted bullpen in the 11th inning on Monday night, Uehara came through in a big way. The right-hander threw only 16 pitches through two perfect innings, giving the Sox a chance to win. He was impressive after a day of rest on Wednesday as well, coming in with a runner on second in the eighth inning of a one-run game. Uehara struck out Rays cleanup hitter Evan Longoria with only three pitches. Uehara owns a 2.36 ERA in 28 games this year, striking out 36 while walking only six.
|Red Sox-Rays series preview||06.10.13 at 4:20 pm ET|
The Red Sox will spend a lot of time on the road in the coming weeks, kicking off a stretch of 11 of 14 games being played outside of Fenway Park. Their first stop will be in St. Petersburg, Fla., making their second visit to Tropicana Field to take on the Rays.
For the most part, the Red Sox enjoyed their last visit to the Trop, taking two of three from Tampa Bay back in mid-May. So far this year, the Red Sox have enjoyed a lot of success against the Rays, owning a commanding 5-1 lead in the season series against their divisional rivals.
The month of June has been kind to the Red Sox thus far; the Sox are 6-2 in their last eight games, coming off a 4-2 homestand in which they won series against the Angels and the Rangers. The Sox now sit alone at the top of the AL East, a game and a half ahead of the Yankees, and own the best record in the American League at 39-25. For the Red Sox, it seems like things are clicking on all cylinders.
“This is a great clubhouse, a great group of guys. It starts with the top and works its way down,” catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said after Boston’s 10-5 win over Los Angeles on Sunday. “Everybody knows their role and everybody knows what approach to take, which makes things easier. We’ve got a good group of veterans with a good group of young guys. It’s a lot of fun, especially being in first place, but we know we have to focus on tomorrow.”
The Rays sit four games out of first place, occupying fourth place in the AL East standings at 34-28. After a loss to Baltimore on Sunday, the Rays slipped to .500 in the month of June with a 4-4 record after a six-game win streak to conclude May.
The usually dominant Rays pitching staff has been somewhat of a disappointment so far this season, ranking in the bottom third of the majors when it comes to ERA and runs allowed. The loss of ace David Price hasn’t helped matters; the reigning AL Cy Young award winner has been sidelined since his last start against Boston, back on May 15. Matt Moore, who began the year with an 8-0 record, has gone from being a sure thing when on the mound to a big question mark after he was hit hard in his second outing in a row, losing his last two decisions. He gave up nine runs on 12 hits to the Orioles, and with the loss, the Rays dropped to fourth place while the Orioles moved into sole possession of third.
“It seemed like when I was getting ahead, I just wasn’t making a pitch,” Moore said. I would say that I feel like I got shelled to death more so than putting runners on when they didn’t have to do much.”
The Rays will turn to their most consistent starter, Alex Cobb, in the first game of the series. Here are the rest of the pitching matchups for the three-game set:
Monday: John Lackey (3-5, 2.79) vs. Alex Cobb (6-2, 2.39)
Tuesday: Jon Lester (6-2, 3.60) vs. Roberto Hernandez (3-6, 5.03)
Wednesday: TBD vs. Chris Archer (1-1, 4.91)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• With two home runs on Sunday, Saltalamacchia made people take notice of the hot streak he’s been on as of late. The catcher has put up a .273/.341/.515 line through 49 games on the season, belting eight home runs and 16 doubles. Through his last eight games, Saltalamacchia is hitting .367/.387/.833 with 10 RBIs and eight extra-base hits. Although Saltalamacchia’s high batting average on balls in play (.385) and increased strikeout rate (33.5 percent this year as compared to 31 percent in 2012 and a 29.8 percent career mark) suggest that he may not be able to sustain this type of production, he has been drawing more walks and getting on base more consistently than in years past.
|Mike Carp delivers one of the most bizarre high school baseball tournament stories, ever||05.25.13 at 3:39 pm ET|
With the state high school playoffs upon us, and Mike Carp serving as one of the Red Sox’ heroes Friday night, it’s a good time to surface one of the most bizarre state tournament stories you’ll come across …
The year was 2003 and Carp’s Lakewood (CA) High baseball team had rebounded from a 2-3 start to win 23 of its next 25 to claim a No. 1 seed into the postseason. The year before, the Lancers had reached the California state finals at Angels Stadium, only to lose to Delmon Young’s Rio Mesa High club.
Lakewood was slated to take on Valley View High, which boasted a pitcher/shortstop by the name of Steven Wright (who now pitches for Triple-A Pawtucket).
Before the quarterfinal tilt, Carp and his teammates were playing Pepper (one batter hits with a fungo about with soft tosses coming from teammates 10-15 feet away). A few hours later, Lakewood had claimed a 4-2 win and was already thinking about their semifinal game.
Then, upon arriving at school the next day, Carp and the rest of the Lancers discovered their season was over … because of that game of Pepper.
“Before the game we’re playing Pepper like any other game I had in high school,” the Red Sox outfielder/first baseman said. “I guess their coach wasn’t happy about it, came up to our coach and said we weren’t allowed to do that. Our coach told him we had done it forever and we were going to keep doing it.
“We didn’t know, but they played the game under protest. We beat them fair and square, 4-2. We show up to school the next day to find out they disqualified us. We thought they were going to the semifinals. It was a debacle for four days. We were trying to halt the game trying to get back in there, but they wouldn’t overturn it. Season over for us. We were the No. 1 seed and we thought we had a legitimate chance at winning.”
The reason for the disqualification? Evidently, overhand Pepper is not allowed in California high school baseball.
“Because it was overhand,” said Carp when asked for the reasoning behind the elimination. “We were literally standing 10 or 15 away from one another. I guess what they said they had on video guys were throwing normal BP, which I don’t know how you get that from a game of Pepper.”
So, what did Wright say when the two were reunited?
“He said that rules were rules,” Carp lamented.
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