|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Allen Webster vs. Pedro Hernandez||05.08.13 at 10:48 am ET|
The Red Sox will get another look at Allen Webster as he takes Felix Doubront‘s place in the rotation on Wednesday. Pedro Hernandez will start the third game of the series for the Twins.
Doubront is heading to the bullpen to replace the injured Joel Hanrahan, while Webster, one of the Sox’ most promising pitching prospects, will make his second major league start.
The 23-year-old Webster impressed in his first outing in Boston on April 21, striking out five Royals over six innings. He averaged 95 mph with his fastball, at times throwing it as hard as 98 mph. He also used his offspeed pitches confidently, mixing in his curveball and changeup with his two-seam and four-seam fastballs.
Webster allowed three runs, two earned, in that start. Both earned runs came via solo homers in the fifth inning, to Alex Gordon and George Kottaras.
Over 20 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket this year, Webster has 26 strikeouts and six walks. He’s started four games and posted a 2.70 ERA. Control was something of a problem for him in the past, as he averaged more than four walks per nine innings in 24 minor league starts last year. Through the first five weeks of this season, though, he seems to have put those issues behind him.
Hernandez has done a little of everything for the Twins this year. He’s made three starts along with two relief appearances — one in long relief when Vance Worley lasted only one inning against the Mets on April 12, the other when he pitched the ninth inning of an 8-5 loss to the Marlins.
The 24-year-old Hernandez has a 3.92 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP through 20 2/3 innings. Last year, he pitched just one game for the White Sox, which happened to be against the Red Sox on July 18.
In that game, Hernandez lasted four innings, giving up eight runs on 12 hits, three of which were home runs. Cody Ross homered off him twice, and Adrian Gonzalez went deep once.
|Closing Time: A painful, ugly mess as Twins beat Red Sox||05.07.13 at 10:12 pm ET|
It was night when injury was added to insult for the Red Sox.
Ryan Doumit doubled, homered and scored twice as the Twins handed the Red Sox their fourth loss in five games, 6-1, Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
Wilkin Ramirez singled home Ryan Doumit in the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie, one batter after a collision that injured a pair of Red Sox starters. David Ross collided with Will Middlebrooks while chasing a Chris Parmelee foul pop near the Twins dugout, behind the on-deck circle.
“David Ross has a left quad contusion right above the knee area,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “When he slid, both he and Will, the shin guard kind of peeled back a little bit and he slammed into the wall at that point, so he’s day-to-day. It’s not anything in the knee. Structurally, that’s checked out fine. But he started to get some swelling in that inning and we got him out of there.
“Will is undergoing X-rays and CT scans on that right side. When he slid on his left side, he kind of whipped over and slammed into the wall. [As a precaution], we got him out of the game. He took the next at-bat, didn’t feel anything. He stated he could’ve gone further but as a precaution we got him out of the game.”
Ross would stay in the game for one batter before coming out with a strained left quadriceps while Middlebrooks came out after the sixth inning with pain in his right side. The double dose of injury news comes one night after the Red Sox lost their closer Joel Hanrahan to a strained right forearm.
Ryan Dempster (2-3) was the tough-luck loser as his offense and fielders failed him, early and late, respectively. Lefty Scott Diamond (3-2) stifled the Red Sox on three hits over seven shutout innings.
“A very good outing by Ryan Dempster,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, not much to show for it on our end, and that’s not taking anything away from Diamond, who lived on the edge and stay out of the middle of the plate, even when he got in a couple of fastball counts. He located well.
“In the time he was in the there, I don’t think we had a guy past first base. Other than that, it was a solid outing by Ryan Dempster.”
During a four-run Minnesota eighth that blew the game open, Farrell appeared ready to get his first ejection as skipper, arguing a call at first when he felt Doumit ran inside the baseline, causing a Jarrod Saltalamacchia error that continued Boston’s misery in the inning.
“We execute the out at home,” Farrell said. “The return throw is low as he’s trying to throw around the runner Doumit. He steps on [Mike] Napoli’s foot, clearly indicates he’s inside the base path. The explanation to me was … I’m still trying to figure out the explanation. I’ll just leave it at that. That 45-foot lane is there for a reason. He wasn’t in it. By the rule, he should’ve been out.”
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
• Injuries mounting very fast. There’s no immediate prognosis on the Middlebrooks or Ross injuries but the Red Sox can ill afford a repeat of 2012 when injuries to starting position players midway through the season depleted their depth and eventually took its toll. The Red Sox are already dealing with injuries to Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey while hoping Napoli and David Ortiz hold up over the course of the season.
• Scott Diamond looked like Cole Hamels. The lefty, mixing his 89 mph fastball with a wide variety of offspeed pitches, kept the Red Sox batters off balance all night.
• Saltalamacchia continues to struggle badly. He over-swung at an 81 mph slider down and in during his first plate appearance in place of Ross. Salty did connect for his fourth homer of the season, an opposite field solo shot over the Monster to open the ninth.
• Before getting injured, Will Middlebrooks‘ struggles continued, going 0-for-2 with a strike out, dropping his average to .192 on the season.
• Pedro Ciriaco woeful in the field. Life has not been kind to Red Sox third basemen. Middlebrooks has struggled in the field this season and his two errors on routine grounders to open the eighth opened the flood gates for the Twins, who blew the game wide open.
“Short term, not a concern,” Farrell said of the club’s depth situation at third base with Middlebrooks’ status uncertain. “That was uncharacteristic of Pedro tonight. He has shown to be a very dependable defender. Two miscues are unlike him. Long term, we don’t think Will’s situation is more than day-to-day at this point. We’ll certainly get a better read when the test results come back. My thoughts haven’t gone down that path yet.”
• Lefty Craig Breslow couldn’t get anyone out, literally. After coming in for Dempster, Breslow allowed three hits, one walk and two runs, one earned, as Saltalamacchia committed the third Red Sox error of a brutal four-run eighth.
Ryan Dempster will face off against one of the only other Canadian starting pitchers in the majors, Scott Diamond of the Twins, at 7:10 p.m. on Tuesday.
Dempster picked up his second win on May 2 as the Sox beat the Blue Jays, 3-1. He struck out just four, his lowest strikeout total of the year, but allowed only one run on four hits and three walks over six innings.
With the Sox bullpen struggling of late, the team will hope for Dempster to pitch as far into Tuesday’s game as he can. This year, he’s twice gone five innings, twice six and twice seven, last finishing the seventh inning on April 21 against the Royals.
Dempster has started just three games against the Twins in his career, two of them last year with the Rangers. He struck out 13 over 14 innings in those two starts and allowed just two runs, picking up wins in both games.
Diamond has put together a string of three solid starts since starting off on shaky ground this season. He’s pitched at least six innings in each of his last three starts, and most recently gave up two runs over six, striking out three and walking one, as the Twins beat the Tigers, 6-2, on May 1.
Diamond emerged as a decent starter for the Twins last year in his first full season in the big leagues. Over 27 starts, he posted a 3.54 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. His strikeout numbers were underwhelming (just 4.7 per nine innings, the second-lowest rate in the American League) but he balanced that out with the lowest walk rate in the AL, walking 1.6 batters per nine innings.
Diamond has never pitched against the Red Sox. The only current Sox who have faced him are Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino, both of whom are hitless against him in three plate appearances each.
Apart from Jamey Carroll, who owns a .467 OBP against him in 15 PAs, Dempster has fared well against most current Twins. Justin Morneau has a solo home run against him, but Joe Mauer has had trouble with Dempster, striking out five times in seven appearances against him.
|Monday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Vance Worley||05.06.13 at 9:40 am ET|
Clay Buchholz will aim to continue his dominant start to the season against the Twins on Monday as the Sox return home from trips to Toronto and Texas. Vance Worley will start for the Rangers in the 7:10 p.m. game.
Buchholz has been one of the best starters in baseball over the first month of the season. His 1.01 ERA is the best in the majors, and his 0.96 WHIP is fifth best in the American League.
He is stranding an uncommonly high number of baserunners — 91.4 percent compared to the league average of 73.4 percent — and that number likely will come down as the season goes on. But he’s also striking out 9.47 batters per nine innings, and he’s consistently pitching deep into games. All of his starts have lasted at least seven innings.
After Buchholz beat the Blue Jays in Toronto on May 1 — striking out eight, walking three and shutting out the Jays over seven innings — Toronto broadcasters Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst suggested that Buchholz was using an illegal substance to doctor the ball.
Sox manager John Farrell called the accusations “unfounded”, and Buchholz said he was just using rosin to help him grip the ball.
Buchholz has made five career starts against the Twins, with mediocre results. He has a 1.45 WHIP and a 4.25 ERA against them in 29 2/3 innings. Last season he saw them twice, pitching 12 1/3 innings and giving up six runs (five earned) on 17 hits and four walks.
Worley’s season has been the opposite of Buchholz’ in just about every way. He’s tied for the worst ERA in the majors, 7.22, and owns the worst WHIP, 1.92, through six starts. He’s struck out just 17 batters in 28 2/3 innings and is averaging less than five innings per start, although that average is dragged down somewhat by his worst outing, in which he gave up nine runs (seven earned) in just one inning against the Mets on April 12.
Last time out, Worley made it through just 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers, giving up six runs on 10 hits and a walk as the Twins lost, 6-1, on April 30.
Worley has faced the Red Sox only once, as a Phillie back in 2011. He lasted seven innings and gave up just one run, striking out five as the Phillies won, 2-1.
The current Sox have barely seen Worley at all — this is his first season in the AL, and none have faced him more than three times. The Twins are slightly more familiar with Buchholz, and Justin Morneau is hitting .500 against him in 14 plate appearances with an RBI.
|Hot Stove: Twins trade OF Denard Span to Nationals||11.30.12 at 11:03 am ET|
The Nationals acquired center fielder Denard Span from the Twins for minor league pitcher Alex Meyer on Thursday.
Span hit .284 with 90 steals and a .357 on-base percentage during five seasons with the Twins. Last season, he hit .284 with four home runs and 41 RBIs. He missed games late in the season due to a strained right collarbone, which let Ben Revere play some games and showcase his talent, likely leading the Twins to pull the trigger on dealing Span.
“He’s going to bring a dimension to the club that we haven’t had before,” Nationals’ general manager Mike Rizzo said, “a fast-moving, exciting guy that makes contact and moves the guy around and can fly around the field.”
With Span taking over in center, 20-year-old NL Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper moves to a corner, likely left field, with Jayson Werth probably staying in right.
Span tweeted that he was excited to be joining the Nationals.
The 22-year-old Meyer, a top prospect for the Nationals, played for the Potomac Nationals in the Carolina League and the Hagerstown Suns in the South Atlantic League this past season. Combined, he was 10-6 in 25 starts with a 2.86 ERA.
|‘The clock is ticking’ on these Red Sox||08.05.12 at 10:07 am ET|
After the most devastating loss of the season, the harsh reality finally started to set in last night for the Red Sox. They are going to need a miraculous turnaround to make a postseason run.
Do the Red Sox feel the desperation?
“It’s a pretty harsh term,” Kelly Shoppach said after the nightmarish 6-4 loss to the Twins. “I’m not a big fan of desperation but we understand we need to win. We need to do things that we can do well and I think if we do those things, we’ll have a chance to win every night.”
The irony is they have two players who were on the two teams that completed such a miraculous run just last year.
Shoppach and Nick Punto were on the Rays and Cardinals, respectively.
The Rays caught the Red Sox, who were 10 1/2 games up in the wild card in early September. The Cardinals caught the Braves, who were 9 1/2 games up in the National League wild card in the same time frame.
The 2012 Red Sox have a lot more leeway. They are five games out of the wild card and in a format that allows an extra team to make the playoffs in each league. And Shoppach believes there is still time and plenty of talent in the clubhouse.
“Sure, sure I do,” he said. “This is one of the most talented teams I’ve ever been on. A lot of ups and downs throughout the season. We need an extended up.”
But don’t ask Shoppach to relieve 2011, even though he was on the winning side of things.
“I’m not talking about it,” he said.
Punto, on the other hand, thought the comparison was a good one.
“We were a mediocre team last year,” Punto said of the Cardinals. “In St. Louis, we were mediocre team team until September and we went on a really nice run, got some help from Atlanta and somehow came back from a 9 1/2 game deficit. The similarities here are very similar. We’re very mediocre. We’re not playing good baseball. We have the talent in the room to do it. We just haven’t so we need to know we need to go on this run. The clock’s ticking so it’s time to start playing good baseball.”
Still, the silence in the Red Sox clubhouse after Saturday’s game reflected just how shocked they are to find themselves 53-55 and falling fast in the playoff picture.
“I think just as surprised as everyone else,” Punto said.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Twins matchup: Jon Lester vs. Samuel Deduno||08.02.12 at 10:00 am ET|
The Red Sox welcome the struggling Twins to Fenway Thursday night for the first in a four-game series.
Jon Lester (5-8, 5.49) will take the mound for Boston, looking to rebound from an atrocious July in which the 28-year-old posted a 9.36 ERA. After kicking off the month with a strong outing in Oakland, allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings, Lester has given up at least four runs and failed to make it past the sixth inning in each of his last four starts.
In 21 games with their nominal ace on the mound, the Sox are a disappointing 8-13. Particularly troubling however, have been Lester’s struggles at home this season, where he is just 2-6 with a 7.39 ERA in 12 games. That’s unusual for Lester. In the three seasons prior to 2012, he has been essentially the same at home as on the road. If anything, he’s actually been better at Fenway, with a 3.34 ERA compared to his 3.40 on the road.
His struggles, however, have not been limited to Boston this year. On April 23 in Minnesota, for instance, in his one and only start against the Twins, Lester allowed five earned in seven innings, though the Sox pulled out a 6-5 win. Collectively, Minnesota’s current lineup is hitting .282 with an impressive .413 on-base-percentage in 104 plate appearances against the lefty. While Lester has surrendered just two home runs, the Twins have gotten to him in other ways, boasting more RBIs (17) and walks (17) than strikeouts (14).
Red Sox fans can take heart, however, in knowing that the Twins enter Wednesday with the worst run differential in the American League (minus-84) and plan to send a 29-year-old rookie with just 28 innings of big league pitching experience to the hill Thursday night. After pitching 2 2/3 innings in relief for the Rockies in 2010 and three innings for Padres last year, Samuel Deduno (2-0, 3.13) has made four straight starts for Minnesota, earning wins in his last two outings.
Deduno struggles with his control, but when he can command it he has an excellent curveball, which he throws nearly a 30 percent of the time. The right-hander’s curve is also his out pitch, accounting for an incredible 75 percent of pitches in two-strike counts. He also features a fastball in the low 90s and a slider, which account for 41 percent and 23 percent of his pitches, respectively.
Deduno has not faced any current Red Sox hitters.
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