|Kevin Youkilis: 2004 World Series title ‘made my life’||05.28.14 at 9:46 pm ET|
He was a 25-year-old infielder wondering how long he would be toiling for the Red Sox in the minor leagues when he was called up on May 15 in Toronto to fill the void left by Bill Mueller’s trip to the disabled list. He homered in his first game against Toronto righty Pat Hentgen.
The eighth-round pick of the Red Sox in 2001 would play in 72 games in 2004, hit seven homers and drive in 35 runs. He would even get two plate appearances against the Angels in the 2004 ALDS, won by Manny Ramirez on the walk-off homer in Game 3 at Fenway Park.
But Youkilis had a seat in the dugout for the ALCS against the Yankees and the World Series against the Cardinals. With 73 games in four months for the Red Sox in his debut season, the “Greek God of Walks” had himself a World Series ring.
“For me, it changed my life,” Youkilis recalled Wednesday afternoon at Fenway. “I went from making minor league money to all of a sudden making major league money then getting a full share in the World Series. My life changed dramatically. It made my life. In the minor leagues, you’re grinding it out so much, paycheck to paycheck and then you all of a sudden get a little bit of money, it helps you out in so many ways.”
The glamour and attention would eventually lead to a wedding ceremony (never formalized) to Boston socialite Enza Sambataro. After they split, Youkilis would settle down and eventually marry and start a family with Julie Brady, the sister of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“I look around at a lot of things. That was my first season. When you’re a rookie, you don’t really know what you’re doing. They’re telling you what to do and you’re trying to not mess up as much as possible and trying to conform and make an impression. That year was such an amazing year, winning a World Series. I always joke around about everyone has said, ‘Eighty-six years of heartache,’ and it was like four months for me. This is great. Are we going to do this every year? You finally realize, after we did it again in 2007. And then you realize, later, it’s special and it’s hard to do. And you’re going to have a lot of in-between years. And for the team to do it last year was an amazing feat.”
|John Farrell: ‘Erratic’ Felix Doubront can’t pick up defense (or himself) in ‘terrible’ loss||04.25.14 at 12:33 am ET|
Felix Doubront was not that pitcher Thursday night.
In one of the ugliest games of the Farrell era in Boston, the Red Sox committed four errors in the first three innings, finishing with five on the night, while adding three wild pitches, 12 walks and a passed ball in a 14-5 loss to the New York Yankees Thursday night at Fenway Park. In the two losses to the Yankees, the Red Sox allowed 10 unearned runs.
Doubront was shelled for seven runs, three earned, on six hits and lasted just 2 2/3 innings, falling to 1-3 on the season. Doubront got out of the first inning down just 1-0 on the first of three errors from Xander Bogaerts and a passed ball from David Ross.
In the second inning, Doubront wasn’t as lucky. He was victimized by a Dustin Pedroia drop at second base, two wild pitches of his own doing, and two hits as the Yankees scored three times for a 4-0 lead. Add in two more errors in the third, one committed by Doubront himself, and three hits and the Yankees had a 7-0 lead. Doubront threw 73 pitches in just 2 2/3 innings of work.
“It was a bad night,” Doubront lamented afterward. “I couldn’t get my job done. It was probably a loss of concentration. That’s what happened. It was terrible.”
“Once again, spotting the opponent a number of runs to get behind early. Felix was erratic with his command. We contributed with some plays defensively to extend a couple of those innings and the sooner we move past this one the better,” Farrell added.
Farrell insisted with his team and Doubront the effort is there but the focus might not be.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. CC Sabathia||04.24.14 at 9:18 am ET|
Through four starts in 2014, Doubront has struggled, going 1-2 with an ERA of 5.48 and a WHIP of 1.55, second worst among Red Sox starters and only better than Clay Buchholz. Doubront’s 15 strikeouts are the lowest among the team’s starting rotation.
The 26-year-old last played on April 19 against the Orioles, going 6 2/3 innings and giving up two runs on five hits, striking out a season-high seven batters and walking two. Doubront pitched well, throwing 70 of his 107 pitches for strikes and allowing one extra-base hit. While Doubront got a no-decision, the Red Sox won the game 4-2, despite his rough first inning.
“I don’t really know what happened [in the first],” Doubront said after the game. “I think I overthrew a couple balls and I was thinking too much, and I calmed down and I was trying to throw strikes and get quick innings, and I did.
“Just throw down in the zone [after the first], throw more breaking balls, just throw strikes. And they swing. They’re a team, if you’re throwing a strike, they’re going to swing. I went with that, just throwing my cutters down in the zone. Tried to get quick outs and that worked.”
Doubront’s last start against the Yankees came on April 13 in New York. The southpaw went 6 2/3 innings, throwing 101 pitches and allowing three runs on a season-high seven hits. The Red Sox lost, 3-2.
After watching the Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda blatantly used pine tar on his hand in a 4-1 win on April 10 at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox manager said he had no choice but to call for home plate umpire Gerry Davis to inspect the right side of Pineda’s neck in the second inning Wednesday at Fenway Park.
What Davis found was an obvious streak of pine tar used by the pitcher to gain an advantage on the grip of the baseball. The blatant use of pine tar represented an obvious violation of rule 8.02 (4) of applying a foreign substance to the ball and Pineda was immediately ejected. After being warned by MLB after his previous violation in New York, Pineda faces an almost certain suspension of at least eight games from Major League Baseball for the latest infraction.
John Farrell explained his case in detail after Boston’s 5-1 win Wednesday night:
“In the second inning it looked from the dugout that there was a substance on his neck,” Farrell said. “You could see it, I could see it from the dugout. It was confirmed by a number of camera angles in the ballpark, and given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something.
“I fully respect on a cold night you’re trying to get a little bit of a grip. But when it’s that obvious, something has got to be said.”
Farrell continued: “I can say our awareness was heightened, given what we’ve seen in the past, and it was confirmed today.”
Farrell was asked if he fears the Yankees retaliating and asking umpires to check Red Sox pitchers on the mound. Clay Buchholz was accused by Toronto broadcasters early in the 2013 season of using suntan lotion for the same purpose.
“We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that. As obvious as this was, I felt like he needed to be checked at the time.”
|Jacoby Ellsbury gets much warmer reception than Johnny Damon in his return: ‘The fans were great’||04.23.14 at 12:06 am ET|
After all, when Damon signed with the Bronx Bombers prior to the 2006 season, he was roundly booed and excoriated every time he set foot inside Fenway Park. It didn’t stop when he left after winning a World Series in 2009 and played for Detroit, Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
But Ellsbury is no Johnny Damon. For whatever reason, Ellsbury was booed on Tuesday but no where near as fiercely as Damon when the original “Idiot” returned in 2006 for the first time.
As a matter of fact, Ellsbury thought the Red Sox fans showed great restraint and respect. True, it’s a lot easier to say that when you triple to open the game, making a diving catch in the bottom of the first and knock out the opposing pitcher Jon Lester with a two-run double in the fifth, all part of a 9-3 Yankees cakewalk Tuesday night at Friendly Fenway.
“Anytime a win is a good game,” Ellsbury said. “I’m happy I could go out there and help the team win tonight. I thought the fans were great. I thought the reception was nice. The tribute the Red Sox gave on the video board [was] unexpected, and I thought it was very classy of them to do that.
|Jacoby Ellsbury gets mixed reception then delivers a reminder to Fenway fans||04.22.14 at 8:06 pm ET|
That didn’t take long.
Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Fenway Park for the first time since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees and received a mixture of boos and cheers in the lineup introductions about 15 minutes before first pitch.
He received more boos as he was announced as the first batter of the game.
Then Ellsbury, as was often the case in his time in Boston, quietly showed off his multiple talents as a way of exacting revenge.
In the first at-bat of the game, he drilled a Jon Lester pitch high off the center field wall, so high that a fan wearing a Bruins jersey nearly fell over the 17-foot high barrier and onto the warning track below.
He was awarded a triple on fan interference and scored on a Derek Jeter single to center.
Ellsbury didn’t stop there. Grady Sizemore, brought in to help fill his void at the top of the order, led off the first for the Red Sox. Ellsbury ranged over 30 feet to his right to make a sliding, tumbling grab of a sinking liner for the first out. The play would be significant as Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to left field.
Before the top of the second, the Red Sox paid tribute to Ellsbury with a montage of his days in Boston, featuring highlights in the field from 2013, capped by his appearance on the Duck Boats in Rolling Rally after the World Series win last October. The montage was produced with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing underneath.
For good measure, Ellsbury knocked old friend Jon Lester out of the game in the fifth when he drilled Lester’s 118th pitch to left-center for a two-run double, making it 7-2 Yankees.
— Kelsey Ellsbury (@kelsey_ellsbury) April 22, 2014
|Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Ivan Nova||04.13.14 at 9:42 am ET|
Though 1-1, Doubront has struggled in his first two starts of the season. After picking up a win against Baltimore, Doubront only made it through 2 2/3 innings against Texas on April 8, giving up five runs on six hits and a home run while striking out two and walking three. The rough outing, which was the shortest of his career, leaves Doubront with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP.
“I wasn’t tired,” Doubront said after the game. “I don’t know. I can’t explain what happened. I was feeling really good during the first two innings and the whole day, in my bullpen and the start of the game. I started doing too much. I think that’s what happened. I was trying to do too much and overthrow.”
The 26-year-old has played against the Yankees 12 times in his career, eight of them being starts. In 2010 and 2011, he came out of the bullpen four times, giving up two earned runs off of 17 batters faced. The southpaw picked up no-decisions in those contests.
2012 was a good year for Doubront against the Yankees as he made four starts and went 1-1 with an ERA of 2.52 and a WHIP of 1.200. While he went 2-1 against them in 2013, he had a 6.30 ERA with a WHIP of 1.700.
Similar to Doubront, Nova has struggled in 2013, going 1-1. The 27-year-old picked up a win at Houston in his season debut, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs while walking five and striking out one. His second game, against Baltimore on April 8, saw him go only 3 2/3 innings and give up seven runs on 10 hits and a home run.
Nova has struggled against the Red Sox, going 2-3 in eight games with a 5.50 ERA and a WHIP of 1.699. Nova’s best year against Boston was in 2012, when he went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a WHIP of 1.250. In his games against the Sox in 2010, 2011 and 2013, his ERA was over six and he did not record a win.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Michael Pineda||04.10.14 at 9:39 am ET|
Buchholz will make his second start of the season, five days after Saturday’s appearance against the Brewers. The 29-year-old struggled in that game, lasting 4 1/3 innings and giving up six runs on 13 hits, including two home runs, while striking out three.
“It took a little bit to get loose,” Buchholz said after the game. “It was pretty cool out there. You don’t want to give up that many hits ever. They’re swinging early and putting balls in play.”
Buchholz ended up with a no-decision as Boston was able to come back and tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning before falling in 11.
Buchholz has faced the Yankees 12 times (all starts), holding a 5-5 record with an ERA of 5.32 and a WHIP of 1.601. Last year Buchholz was dominant against the Yankees, going 3-0 in three games with an ERA of 0.50 and a WHIP of 0.94.
Pineda pitched well in his debut with the Yankees, his first major league start since 2011 (he had shoulder surgery in 2012 and pitched in the minors last year). Pineda went six innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday and allowed one run while striking out five. His performance wasn’t good enough, however, as he was saddled with the loss as the Yankees were shut out, 4-0.
|Clay Buchholz sharp early, tires late against Yankees, but shoulder ‘feels fine’||03.20.14 at 8:36 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new approach to getting ready for the regular season seems to be agreeing with Clay Buchholz.
The right-hander, slotted into the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation, looked sharp for most of his five innings Thursday night in a 3-2 loss to the Yankees at JetBlue Park.
Buchholz said early in spring training that with a spot assured in the rotation he would look to slowly increase his intensity during games and not start full throttle. On Thursday, he mixed in all of his pitches, working his curveball and two-seam fastball to generate a multitude of ground outs.
“It was mostly two-seam and cutters,” Buchholz said. “The two-seam, that’s the reason I throw it, to get ground balls. Whenever I’m staying on top of it and smooth through the delivery, that’s most of the times what happens.
“I was down in the zone for pretty much the first four innings. In the fifth inning, [the wind] started blowing a little bit, tried to get my legs back underneath me and started overthrowing. I left some balls up in hitters counts and gave up a couple of hits. But I needed to be in that 70 to 75-pitch range.”
Buchholz allowed five hits and three runs in his five innings, throwing 73 pitches (49 strikes). He walked one and struck out three. Buchholz is now 2-2 with a 2.77 ERA. He’s allowed 10 hits and walked three in 13 innings, striking out eight while allowing four runs.
“It’s different than the last couple of times out but I felt good with just about everything,” he said. “I battled a little bit with the changeup but other than that, threw every other pitch pretty well.”
Buchholz added that his right shoulder through four starts feels strong and nearly ready to start the season.
“It feels fine,” Buchholz said. “I think fatigue was the only thing that set in today. I thought like the ball was coming out of my hand better today than it has, with less effort. Felt good in the bullpen and felt good in the first four innings. It’s just getting that pitch count to where we need it to be before the season starts.
|Grady Sizemore collects three hits in minor league game: ‘I still have to prove I’m the guy’||03.19.14 at 3:05 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Grady Sizemore continued his red-hot spring on Wednesday, this time in a Triple-A spring game outside JetBlue Park.
Sizemore collected three hits in four at-bats over seven innings during Pawtucket’s game against the Norfolk Tides, Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate.
Sizemore blooped a double to shallow left in his first at-bat in the first inning. He slowed around first base as the left fielder dove for the ball but then accelerated toward second once he saw the ball was not caught.
“Every day has been better and better,” Sizemore said after the Triple-A game. “Every day seems to be a little bit stronger and the body seems to be reacting a little bit faster each week and I’m just trying to build off that.
“I didn’t know how the body was going to hold up, on a day to day [basis], or if I was going to be able to push it every day, and so far it’s allowed me to kind of keep upping the volume and pushing the intensity. I still don’t feel like I’ve reached that ceiling where I went too far. As long as I’m there, I’m happy.”
Sizemore said he’s not thinking about whether he’s ready to break camp with the team in a week.
“I’m not looking at it that way. I think it’s just trying to get back into shape, get conditioned, get the body feeling right and get the timing right,” Sizemore said. “It’s one of those things where I still have to earn a spot. I still have to prove I can play every day and still have to prove I’m the guy.”
The Red Sox didn’t get much of an opportunity to evaluate Sizemore in the field as his only chance came when he fielded a double in the gap in right-center early in the game. Defense is an area where Sizemore says he’d like to see a greater comfort level.
“Everything feels good but I still feel like there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Sizemore said. “Just getting breaks, getting a better first step and feeling more explosive and feeling more explosive and feeling that first step. I’m happy where it’s at but I’d like a little more improvement.”
Sizemore drove a slider to right field in the third for a single and singled on a two-strike count in the fifth before grounding out to second base to end the seventh. He came out of the game and headed to the Red Sox clubhouse with training staff to cool down. He is expected to start Thursday night in center against the Yankees.
Sizemore did not attempt to steal a base in his three appearances on the bases.
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