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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Jon Lester vs. Ricky Romero 04.11.12 at 5:50 am ET
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Jon Lester

In the final game of the Red Sox’ season-opening road trip, the Sox will face Toronto in a 12:30 matinee Wednesday at Rogers Centre. It will be a battle of the southpaws, as Jon Lester will take the mound for the Red Sox in search of his first win, while the Blue Jays will counter with Ricky Romero, a young ace looking to improve on a strong 2011 season.

Lester pitched well in his first outing this season, but he received no run support from a Red Sox lineup tasked with facing Tigers ace Justin Verlander last Thursday. The Red Sox wasted a two-run, ninth-inning rally when Detroit’s Austin Jackson hit a walkoff single down the third-base line in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 decision.

Lester pitched well in the game, totaling 107 pitches through seven innings of work while allowing one run on six hits, striking out four and walking three. Lester has pitched well against Toronto in his career, as he is 10-4 with a 3.06 ERA against the Blue Jays. He is 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 11 appearances at Rogers Centre.

Last September, Lester was one of many Red Sox players whose sub-par performance kept the team out of the playoffs, but the one highlight of his September came in Toronto. Lester was on the mound for Boston’s 14-0 win Sept. 6, and he tossed seven shutout innings of six-hit ball while striking out 11. That outing was one of two appearances last season in which he reached double digits in strikeouts.

Romero will take the mound looking to improve on his first start of the season, when he lasted five innings in the Blue Jays’ 7-4, 16-inning win over the Indians. Romero pitched well aside from a difficult second inning in which he gave up four runs on three hits and two walks. Aside from that inning, Romero pitched four innings of no-hit ball and allowed just one other baserunner on a walk.

Romero has struggled against the Red Sox, recording a 4-6 record with a 7.12 ERA in 13 appearances. He was slightly improved against the Red Sox last season, when he went 2-2 with a 6.56 ERA in 23 1/3 innings of work. Both of Romero’s wins against the Red Sox last season came in September, when he won back-to-back starts against Boston and allowed three earned runs in each outing while striking out 11 in 14 2/3 innings.

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Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: John Lackey vs. Ricky Romero 09.14.11 at 10:11 am ET
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John Lackey

After an emotional night when Tim Wakefield finally picked up his 200th win, the Red Sox have to get back to work on Wednesday afternoon when they finish their two-game series with the Blue Jays. John Lackey will try to bounce back after suffering a contusion of his left calf that cut his last start short, while Toronto’s Ricky Romero looks to continue an impressive season.

As he finishes an historically poor year, Lackey (12-12, 6.30 ERA) has a chance to partially redeem himself in the coming weeks as Boston finds itself in the midst of the wild card race. With the Rays losing to the Orioles Tuesday night, the Red Sox have a four-game lead over Tampa Bay with their four-game showdown beginning Thursday.

It may be a relief to some that Lackey is not set to pitch in that series. His 6.30 season ERA is the worst among American League pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched. In his last start against the Rays, Lackey gave up five runs in three innings before being pulled after getting hit in the leg with a line drive.

Lackey has struggled mightily in three starts against Toronto this season. The right-hander has given up 20 runs in 15 innings in those starts, posting a 1-2 record. In his last start against the Blue Jays back on July 4, Lackey surrendered seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings in a debacle of a start. The current Toronto lineup is hitting .281 off of the Red Sox starter, with Adam Lind‘s .565 batting average off of Lackey leading the way.

Romero (14-10, 3.01 ERA) has had the best season of his young career in 2011. The American League Pitcher of the Month for August, Romero is seventh in the AL in ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .217 average. His last start came against Boston, as the 26-year-old lefty picked up his first win of the season against the Red Sox, holding them to three runs in 6 2/3 innings.

While it has been a good year for Romero overall, he has struggled against Boston in 2011, giving up 14 runs in three starts. The Boston lineup is hitting .314 collectively off Romero in his career. Kevin Youkilis in particular has had success off Romero, hitting .389 with three home runs in just 24 plate appearances.

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Read More: adam lind, john lackey, Kevin Youkilis, Ricky Romero
Closing Time: Andrew Miller’s woes continue in loss to Jays 09.08.11 at 9:58 pm ET
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Andrew Miller

The good news for Andrew Miller — if it can be called that — is that the erratic lefty was around the plate. The bad news was that he got way too much of it. Miller failed to get out of the second inning in his previous start because of a lack of control and while he lasted longer this time around, the second inning once again proved problematic.

Miller gave up four runs in the second, which seemed like 40 against Toronto lefty Ricky Romero, and the Sox left Toronto on the wrong side of a 7-4 score. The Sox dropped three out of four in Canada and have now lost six of eight with a three-game series in Tampa up next with a Rays team that needs a big weekend to climb into the playoff chase.

It wasn’t so long ago that Miller was providing tantalizing glimpses of his ability. But the momentum from Miller’s two strong August starts is now gone and the Sox are once again facing a dilemma with the enigmatic lefty. With injuries to Erik Bedard and Josh Beckett clouding the rotation, it seems likely that Miller will continue to get his turn.

Miller’s start wasn’t all bad. He worked three scoreless frames into his five innings of work and walked only two batters. The Sox have been committed to seeing what Miller can do, but at some point those chances have to turn into consistent outings.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– The Sox could do nothing with Romero until he finally tired in the seventh. That stood in stark contrast to their earlier-season success when they pounded him for 11 runs in only 8 2/3 innings. But it’s been more than two months since the Sox saw Romero and this time around he breezed through their lineup, allowing just three hits through six innings, while striking out seven. After allowing a bloop double to Jacoby Ellsbury to open the game, Romero didn’t allow another hit until the fifth when Josh Reddick doubled.

Dustin Pedroia‘s slump continued as he went 0-for-5, leaving him with just one hit in his last 23 at-bats. It’s the worst slump of the season for the second baseman who has seen his OPS tumble by more than 20 points. The low point of a rough series came in the ninth when he came to bat as the potential tying run, but he struck out for the third time.

– The 3-4-5-6 hitters in the Sox lineup — Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Jed Lowrie– went 0-for-16 with a walk.  Youkilis is 5-for-28 since returning from the disabled list.

– The second inning was once again Miller’s undoing as he allowed four straight hits including a three-run homer off the bat of J.P. Arenciba. Credit Miller with keeping the Jays pretty much in line after that, but the four runs were a crushing blow.

Michael Bowden retired the first four batters he faced, but he was once again victimized by the long ball when Eric Thames took him over the right-field wall. Bowden has allowed three home runs in his 15 1/3 innings and they have all come in his last two appearances.

– It’s probably too late for Felix Doubront to make a real case to be a lefty reliever in the postseason, but he didn’t help his cause any by allowing back-to-back doubles in the seventh, including one to the left-handed hitting David Cooper.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Marco Scutaro made several fine defensive plays and he and Youkilis combined on one that saved the Sox a run in the first inning. Scutaro went deep into the hole to cut off a ground ball off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion and Youkilis — who was filling in for Adrian Gonzalez at first base — made a nice pick on the throw.

– Scutaro’s contributions didn’t end there. He went 3-for-4 with a two-run single and leaves Canada with 17 hits in 30 at-bats in his old ballpark.

– Reddick was in the lineup to give Carl Crawford a day off and he was one of the few to do anything against Romero the first two times through the lineup. Reddick lined out in his first at-bat and doubled in the fifth. He has a five-game hitting streak and is 9-for-20 in that stretch.

– With Ellsbury’s two doubles, he now has 70 extra base hits this season. The last Red Sox’ center fielder to record that many? Carl Everett in 2000.

Read More: andrew miller, Jacoby Ellsbury, marco scutaro, Ricky Romero
Thursday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Andrew Miller vs. Ricky Romero at 11:25 am ET
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Andrew Miller

After blowing a three-run lead on Wednesday, the Red Sox look to salvage a series split on Thursday night in Toronto. Andrew Miller will look to rebound from his last outing, when he lasted just 1 1/3 innings and allowed six runs, five hits and four walks. Ricky Romero, the American League Pitcher of the Month in August, will take the mound for the Blue Jays. Romero struggled in his most recent outing against the Yankees, allowing five runs over 6 2/3 innings in an eventual 6-4 loss.

Prior to his loss to the Yankees, Romero was a model of consistency for the Blue Jays. Toronto won eight straight games with Romero on the mound from July 21 through Aug. 29. But Romero has a poor track record against the Red Sox. In two starts against the Red Sox this season, Romero is 0-2 while giving up 11 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings. Romero lasted just 4 1/3 innings in both outings.

Miller, who had started to struggle in late July, appeared to return to form in the two starts before his last outing. The left-hander won both of those starts, allowing just one run over 11 2/3 innings and striking out nine.

Miller has never started against Blue Jays, but did pitch once against them in relief as a member of the Tigers in 2006. In just 1/3 of an inning in that outing, Miller faced two batters and gave up a walk and an earned run. Second baseman Kelly Johnson has the most success in his career against Miller, going 3-for-5 with a triple and two walks.

The Red Sox line-up has hit well against Romero. Seven Sox batters (David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro, Darnell McDonald, and Jed Lowrie) own career batting averages above .300 against Romero.

Ellsbury, who is hitting .412 against Romero, has enjoyed success against the Blue Jays all season long, hitting .403 with four home runs and 13 RBIs. Ellsbury hit a home run in Wednesday night’s game, raising his season total to 25 and bringing him within five home runs of the first 30/30 season of his career.
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Read More: andrew miller, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ricky Romero,
Red Sox prospect Noe Ramirez aims to reach big leagues ‘as quickly as possible’ 08.18.11 at 11:45 am ET
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Noe Ramirez Lowell Spinners

Noe Ramirez (Photo from John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Monday night at midnight was the deadline for all draft picks to sign with their respective clubs that drafted them back in June. Many players waited until the last day to sign, including the Red Sox’ fourth-round pick, right-handed pitcher Noe Ramirez from Cal State Fullerton.

“It was antsy, I was real antsy,” Ramirez said, just hours after arriving in Boston and reporting to the Lowell Spinners, the short-season Single A affiliate of the Red Sox, on Wednesday. “I just stayed positive. I talked to Gary Brown, a prospect with the Giants who I played with in college. He was in a similar situation and I just talked to him and he said everything would be fine. This is just how this business is. Monday was antsy for me, but I just want to get out here. I am glad it is all over with, I just want to play baseball.”

The deal got done early Monday evening, with Ramirez getting a signing bonus of $625,000. The Major League Baseball recommended bonus for a player drafted No. 142 overall is $180,000, but Ramirez received more than triple that, which is a reflection that the Sox believe that his talent was in line with that of a second-round pick.

Ramirez acknowledged that he was a little surprised with where he went in the draft.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Ramirez said. “I am not thinking about that anymore. I got drafted my the Red Sox. This was one of my top choices honestly, it has a lot of history and tradition. I feel like this is a blessing. It is surreal.”

Scott Boras is Ramirez’ advisor and the 21-year-old is happy and feels secure having a guy like Boras representing him.

“It is pretty cool,” Ramirez said. “They take care of their guys. They have a lot of experience and know what they are doing. It is good to have. I have a lot of trust in him.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, noe ramirez, Ricky Romero,
Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Ricky Romero 07.06.11 at 7:19 am ET
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Tim Wakefield

Tim Wakefield will square off against Ricky Romero in Wednesday’s series finale at Fenway Park. Both pitchers will make their first starts against an American League opponent since mid-June, and both hurlers posted rather different interleague numbers this season. Wakefield struggled in his last two starts against the Astros and Pirates, while Romero shut down the Phillies, Cardinals and Braves in his last three outings.

Wakefield (4-3, 4.82 ERA) will look to rebound from a shaky start against Houston, when he gave up five runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings. Wakefield has cooled off after winning three of his first four starts, posting a 2-2 record and 5.48 ERA in his last five outings. The knuckleballer gave up five runs in each of his last two appearances and hasn’t logged a quality start since June 19.

The Blue Jays have 155 combined plate appearances against Wakefield but have been held to just two home runs and a .226 team batting average. Five Toronto regulars have seen Wakefield at least 10 times, and none of those hitters has an average over .286. That number belongs to Aaron Hill, whose team-high 37 plate appearances vs. Wakefield have yielded 10 hits, a double, two RBIs and six strikeouts. Yunel Escobar has hit the Boston starter well in seven plate appearances, logging two singles and a home run. Wakefield has dominated Corey Patterson in 18 meetings, holding him to a .167 average and striking him out three times.

Romero (7-7, 2.75 ERA) is the undisputed ace of the Blue Jays staff, leading the team in wins, ERA, and strikeouts (99). It’s been an up-and-down season for Romero to say the least; after losing three of his first four decisions, he won four of five to bring his record to 5-4. However, a recent 2-3 stretch has put him back at .500. While he might not have too many wins to show for it, Romero has been stellar in his last four starts. Dating back to June 15, he’s posted an ERA of 1.49, including a complete-game shutout of the Cardinals on June 26.

Despite Romero’s impressive numbers, the Red Sox have handled him with relative ease. Back on April 18, Romero was lit up for five runs on eight hits before being pulled with one out in the fifth inning. As a team, Boston is hitting .380 off the Blue Jays starter with 10 doubles, one home run and 19 RBI. J.D. Drew has led the way, hitting a torrent 11-for-22 against Romero, including a home run, a triple and five walks. David Ortiz has performed nearly as well, hitting .435 with a home run and seven RBI in 27 career plate appearances. Kevin Youkilis has a team-high two home runs off Romero.

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Read More: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Ricky Romero, Tim Wakefield
Red Sox vs. Blue Jays matchups, 8/10 08.10.10 at 10:38 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Red Sox earned a split of their four-game series against the Yankees by winning Monday, 2-1. On Tuesday, they begin a three-game set against a Blue Jays team that has won five of its last six — against the Rays and Yankees.

The Sox will send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound with a record of 8-3 and a 3.96 ERA. Against the Blue Jays in his career, Matsuzaka is 6-1 with a 3.45 ERA.

Matsuzaka pitched well in his last two outings against the Indians and Tigers, totaling 14 innings, five earned runs and 11 strikeouts to help the Sox earn two important wins.

The Blue Jays will hand the ball to Ricky Romero, who is 9-7 with a 3.37 ERA. The Sox have hit well against Romero, especially David Ortiz, who in 14 plate appearances has a .462 batting average with three doubles, a home run and five RBI.

Romero’s best outing of the season came against the Yankees on Aug. 3, when he pitched a complete game and held his opponent to two runs.

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Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, Ricky Romero,
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