|Sunday’s Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Jon Lester vs. Yu Darvish||05.05.13 at 8:47 am ET|
Jon Lester will look to move past his recent shaky starts on Sunday in Texas, facing Yu Darvish and the Rangers at 3:05 p.m.
After opening the year impressively, Lester’s performance fell off somewhat in his last two appearances. He walked six over 5 2/3 innings against the A’s on April 24, although he limited the damage to three runs and still picked up the win as the Sox offense helped him out.
Then, in his last start, Lester had his worst outing of the year, giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits and two walks over six innings as the Sox lost to the Blue Jays, 9-7, on April 30.
Lester still has a 1.14 WHIP and a 3.11 ERA through his first six starts of the year. He’s struck out 33 and walked 12 in 37 2/3 innings.
The Rangers haven’t been the most pleasant opponent for Lester to face over his career. He’s made 10 starts against them since 2006 and has a 4.57 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. His worst struggles came last year, as he only logged 8 2/3 innings in total over two starts and gave up 11 runs on 14 hits and six walks.
Darvish’s only career outing against the Sox ended in a loss, as he allowed six runs in 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 6, 2012. The 26-year-old from Japan is off to an excellent start in his second season with the Rangers, though, with a 2.33 ERA and an 0.93 WHIP through six April starts.
In five of his six starts, Darvish has struck out at least eight batters. Last time out, he fanned nine and walked three, allowing four runs as the Rangers beat the White Sox, 10-6.
Of the current Sox, Darvish has taken a beating from Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury has two doubles in his four appearances against Darvish, and Pedroia has three in the same number of PAs.
Nelson Cruz has dominated Lester in 18 PAs against him, hitting .529/.556/.941 with a home run, a triple and two doubles. Ian Kinsler has homered twice off of Lester in his 26 appearances.
|Hot Stove: RHP Zack Greinke meets with Dodgers||11.30.12 at 11:20 am ET|
Dodgers executives met with right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke in Los Angeles Thursday, Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown reports.
Greinke, 29, was 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA last season. He played for the Brewers until July 27, when he was traded to the Angels. With the Angels, Greinke was 6-2 in 13 starts with a 3.53 ERA. Over the past two seasons, he is 31-11 with a 3.63 ERA.
Greinke’s best year by far was in 2005 with the Royals. He won the AL Cy Young and was named an All-Star. That season he had 16 wins with an amazingly low 2.16 ERA.
Brown reports that the Rangers, Nationals and Angels also have interest in Greinke. Greinke reportedly has enjoyed his time in the Los Angeles area and might want to stay in the region, but he could opt for the Dodgers.
|Mark Teixeira has no love lost for ‘cheap’ Vicente Padilla but all the respect for Red Sox||07.07.12 at 1:10 am ET|
Mark Teixeira connected for what proved to be the game-winning two-run triple in a four-run seventh Friday night in New York’s 10-8 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Afterward, he took an even bigger swing at the man who threw the pitch, Red Sox reliever Vicente Padilla, a hurler who has a reputation throughout baseball of throwing at batters.
“Game-winning hits always feel good. But that one definitely felt real good,” Teixeira said. “I was making some jokes. I have to kind of get in line. He doesn’t have a lot of friends in the game but it was just a big win against an archrival. First game of a long series and we know it’s going to be a very tough series so it’s good to get this first one.
“He’s not going to want to mess around with this at-bat. Almost every at-bat he tries to throw at your head or tries to throw behind you or something screwy. But with first and second and the game on the line, he’s not going to do it then so I could actually dig in and look for a good pitch to hit.”
[Click here to listen to Mark Teixeira rip into Vicente Padilla.]
Teixeira and Padilla were teammates on the Rangers in 2006 and half of 2007 before Teixeira was traded to the Braves. Teixeira asked Padilla to stop hitting batters since he was constantly getting plunked in retaliation. Padilla refused. On Friday, Andrew Miller put two runners on in the seventh before striking out Robinson Cano. Bobby Valentine then pulled a surprise and had Padilla face Teixeira.
“I didn’t really even notice because I was worried about Miller throwing 97,” Teixeira said. “This guy is a big lefty, throwing 97, just struck out Cano. I wasn’t even thinking they were going to bring in somebody else so I was kind of getting in my right-handed mode to think about how I was going to hit against Miller. I was very surprised they brought in Padilla.”
Teixeira was very confident that he was not in physical danger in the situaiton that faced him in the seventh, with the Red Sox leading, 7-6. Padilla had allowed just one inherited runner to score all season and had a career-best 13-game scoreless streak on the line. Padilla allowed two of the four runs in New York’s seventh inning, his first two runs since May 23 at Baltimore.
“100 percent [safe], 100 percent, and he’s been pitching really well, too, so I didn’t think he would be messing around there,” Teixeira said. “It was definitely one of those at-bats where I knew I was going to get a pitch to hit.
“No one on and they have a three-run lead, yeah, I’m probably thinking he’s going to try and mess around and do what he does,” Teixeira said. “But in that situation I don’t think he’s trying to put any more players on. The game’s on the line there.
“The guy throws at people, fact of the matter. I’m not saying anything that’s news. It is what it is. I’ve always been someone who wants to play the game the right way. You play hard, you don’t play cheap. I’ve always just lived that way, too. Some guys decide to take matters into their own hands. In the NFL, he’d probably be suspended by Roger Goodell eight games, or a whole season but this is baseball.
“There’s only one guy in baseball. No one else does this,” Teixeira said. “That’s the thing that’s unbelievable to me. No one else in baseball does this. Whether he’s changed his ways, I hope he does, and that’s great, because he’s a good pitcher. The guy’s got really good stuff and it’d be nice to talk to him as a baseball player, not someone who throws at people.”
But his animosity toward Padilla didn’t keep Teixeira from showering the rest of the Red Sox with praise.
“It’s a little different but they still have some big names,” Teixeira said of the injury-riddled Red Sox. “I’ve never seen David Ortiz so locked in. They still have Adrian Gonzalez. You still have some good players over there. And the guys they brought in to replace the [disabled] players, they stepped up today with some big hits. It doesn’t matter who’s over there. They still have the “Red Sox” on their chest and they’re going to play hard.”
|Closing Time: Rangers demolish Jon Lester, Mark Melancon in blowout win vs. Red Sox||04.17.12 at 10:38 pm ET|
It wasn’t quite the worst outing of Jon Lester‘s career, but it wasn’t far from meriting such a title, as the Red Sox had little hope of recovering from his dismal start en route to a 18-3 loss to the Rangers. The left-hander lasted just two-plus innings, matching the shortest start of his career, and he allowed seven runs on eight hits and four walks while striking out two.
The Rangers made him labor in extraordinary fashion, foremost in a four-run, 49-pitch second inning. Overall, he required 80 pitches to record his six outs, becoming just the third major league pitcher since 2000 to make a start of no more than two innings while requiring at least 80 pitches. The last was Chris Young on April 15, 2007.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Lester, Lester, Lester. The left-hander was entrusted with a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first only to see the Rangers roar back for four runs in the next half-inning. He’s now been given leads by the Sox just twice in his three starts, but both times, Lester allowed the opposing team to take the lead back in the next half-inning.
On Tuesday, his most significant issue was an ability to Lester put away Rangers hitters once he got ahead of them. He got to two-strike counts on 11 hitters. As a group, the Rangers were 5-for-8 with three walks after getting into two-strike counts, not only keeping the bases filled with runners but also driving up the starter’s pitch count.
– Mark Melancon achieved a dubious sort of Red Sox and major league history. He was shelled for six runs without retiring a batter, giving up three home runs, including back-to-back home runs (one an absolute moonshot by Josh Hamilton to right, another a blast to dead center by Adrian Beltre). He tied a major league record (at least dating to 1918) by allowing three homers without recording an out. In just two innings this year spanning four appearances, Melancon has allowed five home runs, matching his total yield in 74 1/3 innings in the entire 2011 season with the Astros.
Melancon has been scored upon in all four of his outings, making him the first Red Sox pitcher ever to give up runs in four consecutive appearances of one inning or less to start his Red Sox career. The six runs he allowed without recording an out are also tied for the most by a Red Sox pitcher since at least 1918.
Melancon’s struggles have been sufficiently extraordinary (of the 18 batters he’s faced this year, he’s retired six) that despite the incredibly early stage of the season, the Red Sox may be in a position where — assuming that he is not injured and in need of a trip to the disabled list — they have to consider extraordinary measures, chiefly, whether to option Melancon to the minors. Read the rest of this entry »
On the first official workout day of spring training, Bobby Valentine had his pitchers engage in a most unusual task. He said that the Rangers lost the World Series because pitcher Colby Lewis — the starter for Texas on Tuesday night at Fenway Park against the Red Sox — could not pull back on a sacrifice bunt attempt and enact a “slash play,” with a swing meant to bounce a ball past a charging infielder. Instead, Lewis bunted into a double play in the early innings of Game 6 of the World Series, and Valentine felt that the Rangers thus lost the World Series for the pitcher’s inability to execute a play, since the double play bunt cost Texas a run, Game 6 ended up being tied through nine innings and ultimately the Rangers suffered an unfathomable defeat in extra innings.
So, with that memory fresh, Valentine decided to have his pitchers practice the slash play on the first day of spring training. Valentine said at the time that he thought the Red Sox pitchers “want to be the world champions, so I just thought if they could work on a fundamental, a technique now of bunting and slashing, then in that time before interleague play where we get them to come out and practice, they can have already had a foundation of what they might be asked to do and then again, if it’s before the playoffs and they’re doing it again, they just build on that foundation.” (More on Valentine’s introduction of the slash play to Red Sox spring training is here.)
The Red Sox prioritized the play that Valentine said cost the Rangers the World Series. But, it seemed fair to wonder, did the Rangers?
Asked about whether he thought about the value of the slash play when Lewis bunted into the double play, Washington chuckled. He mentioned that over the course of a baseball game, there were innumerable moments where, if the play had been executed slightly differently, the outcome of a contest would have changed completely.
But Washington did not rue Lewis’ failed bunt, and he did not alter how he conducted spring training as a result of that one specific play.
“Being in the American League, I don’t like to see my guys swinging at balls. It’s easier to hurt yourself. In spring training, I try not to let them swing. If it’s a bunt situation [in a game], I let them go up and bunt, but if they go up there and nobody’s on the bag, I’ll make them take,” said Washington. “That’s just me. everyone does things differently, but no, I don’t work on the slash.
“You try to cover everything,” he added. “That’s one thing that Bobby feels like he needs to cover. That’s not something that I made a priority. My priority with my pitchers is fielding their positions and throwing to bags, and they’re pretty [expletive] good at that. [The slash is] an advantage they can probably have if they can do it, but that wasn’t a priority of mine.”
|Nolan Ryan: Converting relievers to rotation ‘very valuable’||12.06.11 at 12:09 pm ET|
DALLAS — No team in the majors has been more aggressive in pursuing the conversion of relievers to the rotation than the Texas Rangers, and no team has benefited more from that strategy.
In the last two years, the team has seen C.J. Wilson go from a setup man to a top-of-the-rotation starter (now on the cusp of cashing in on a huge payday) who has gone 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA while making 67 starts. Last year, after free-agent Bobby Jenks declined an Offer to convert from closing to starting, the team moved Alexi Ogando from a setup role to the rotation, where he went 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 169 innings, earning an All-Star berth in the process. And now, the Rangers plan on moving closer Neftali Feliz to the rotation in 2012.
Despite pitching in a ballpark that is typically brutal for pitchers, the Rangers managed to craft a rotation that finished third in the American League with a 3.65 mark, the lowest by the organization in decades. In the process, the Rangers continued to create something of a blueprint for a cost-effective way to build a talented rotation.
When spurned by top-of-the-market options such as Cliff Lee, rather than paying huge salaries to free-agent starters whose career peaks may have passed (John Lackey, A.J. Burnett, etc.), the Rangers have looked to their own pool of pitchers with electric stuff and explored whether they had starting solutions within.
It is a model that other teams now seem intent on copying. Several clubs are exploring conversions of relievers to the rotation, including the Sox, who are keeping open the possibility of shifting Alfredo Aceves and/or Daniel Bard from the bullpen to the rotation. Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Maddux is speaking softly but carrying a big reputation||11.04.11 at 11:20 am ET|
The Red Sox want to talk to Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux about the possibility of becoming their next manager, but that desire hit an unexpected snag: Maddux can’t talk.
The 50-year-old, who is widely viewed as one of the best pitching coaches in the game, is currently suffering from laryngitis. That has limited his contact with the Red Sox and Cubs (both of whom have been granted permission to interview him) to text messages. Maddux was limited to that same communicative mechanism in “talking” with reporters about his excitement for the opportunities that await him.
“I’m humbled to find how highly some other organizations feel about me,” Maddux wrote in comments relayed by the AP. “It’s come upon our family and me quickly. Just last week we were in the World Series and managing another club was not on the game plan.”
The Rangers, of course, lost the World Series to the Cardinals in seven games. Nonetheless, Maddux is viewed as a key contributor to the fact that Texas — which had never won a playoff series in its first 39 years — has advanced to the Fall Classic in each of the last two years. Read the rest of this entry »
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