|Wednesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Brandon Morrow||09.07.11 at 11:52 am ET|
As the season winds down, Tim Wakefield‘s chances at win No. 200 are diminishing. The knuckleballer will give the milestone another shot Wednesday night at Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays, a day after Boston beat Toronto 14-0. For the home team, Brandon Morrow will try to break a string of poor outings against a Boston club that has hammered him for 13 runs in two starts this season.
Wakefield (6-6, 4.95 ERA) has been unable to notch that 200th victory in six starts since picking up his 199th win on July 24. In those six games, Wakefield has a 4.97 ERA, not far off from his season average. He did not give up more than four runs in any game during that stretch and walked just eight batters compared to 25 strikeouts.
In his last start against Oakland on Aug. 26, he gave up four runs in just four innings before being pulled from the game. His last appearance was in relief last Friday against Texas, when Wakefield pitched four scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Wakefield has had some success against Toronto this season. The knuckleballer is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA against the Blue Jays in one start and two relief appearances. The Toronto lineup has a .219 combined average against Wakefield in his career. Yunel Escobar is 6-for-11 with one home run.
In his second season with Toronto, Morrow (9-10, 4.78 ERA) is also in his second full season as a starting pitcher. His 2011 ERA is a career worst for the right-hander. It has especially been a struggle of late for Morrow, who has lost three straight starts, giving up 14 runs in 16 innings in those outings.
Boston hitters have a .317 combined batting average vs. Morrow in 130 plate appearances. David Ortiz is 5-f0r-11 with one home run and 3 RBIs, while Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Varitek also each have homered once off Morrow.
|Jerry Remy on D&C: David Ortiz ‘nowhere near being finished’||at 10:26 am ET|
NESN color commentator Jerry Remy joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance on the show. Remy discussed a number of topics, including David Ortiz‘ status as a free agent this coming offseason and whether the slugger would consider signing with the Yankees.
“You’d have to think, with the signs that he’s giving you this year, that he’s nowhere near being finished,” Remy said. “The last couple of years he’s had bad starts and good finishes. He’s had a complete season this year.”
Ortiz is hitting .318 with 28 home runs and 91 RBIs. The 35-year-old also has a .994 OPS, third best in the majors. Remy said that Ortiz’ turnaround season has silenced any doubts that Boston might not want the veteran back after 2011.
“I don’t think there’s any question they want him here,” Remy said. “The question is what they’re going to take and what are the number of years are going to be. … Let’s face it, he’s getting up there a little bit. But there’s been no signs of that this year.
“I think [Boston] is where he wants to be. Is he the type that would go to [New York]? I think when money starts talking and years start talking, there’s a possibility. But I don’t think that’s his first choice. I think his first choice is right here.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On Boston’s 14-0 trouncing of Toronto Tuesday night: “That’s a good sign that they scored some runs. I was watching [Tim] Wakefield in the dugout probably wishing he had seven of those tonight.”
On Dustin Pedroia going 0-for-5 in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday: “I don’t worry about Pedroia. There’s always somebody, when you have a game like that, that takes an 0-for-5. There’s always somebody, and it was Pedroia yesterday who didn’t get a hit. I’m not worried about him at all, he’ll bounce back and he’ll be just fine. He’s the kind of guy that after a game like that he enjoys the win just as much as everyone else even though he didn’t contribute offensively.”
On Clay Buchholz’s possible return to the pitching staff this season: “My feeling is, I don’t think we’ll see him for the rest of the year. He thinks that he’ll back for the playoffs and be able to pitch out of the bullpen. To me, that might be a stretch. He hasn’t even pitched off a mound yet.”
On injured outfielder J.D. Drew: “I would love to see him come back because he’s a guy that’s capable of putting on a month. They would be very comfortable with having him back out there. The problem is getting him back out there on the field, and I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
|Red Sox Notes: Andrew Miller will start against Texas||08.30.11 at 5:28 pm ET|
As the calendar turns to September, the Red Sox will have a number of decisions to make regarding their pitching staff. The first move — although certainly not the last — involves the rotation for their series with Texas this weekend.
Andrew Miller, who has been sharp since returning to the rotation, will take the mound on Friday followed by Erik Bedard and John Lackey. Sox manager Terry Francona said that Tim Wakefield will pitch against Toronto when the team travels north for a four-game series with the Blue Jays, although the date has not been determined yet.
Miller has allowed just one run and six hits in his last two starts and is coming off his best outing this season — against the Rangers — when he threw 6 1/3 innings of three-hit shutout baseball. Wakefield, meanwhile, has struggled allowing 12 runs — eight earned — in his last two starts and has been sitting on 199 career wins since July 24.
“There’s a lot to think about,” Francona said. “Some of what [Miller] can do is pretty exciting and we want to give him a legitimate chance to do that. We gave him that time off because he was struggling a little bit. He came back and really threw the ball pretty well. What we’ve asked of Wake this year, he’s done exactly what we’ve asked. I know what’s on the line with him personally. I’m very aware of that. I think it’s my responsibility to always try to put our team in the best position, so that’s what we’ll do.”
Francona said that Wakefield could pitch out of the bullpen if needed and that flexibility will allow him to line up Wakefield and the rest of the rotation as needed. With 23 games in the next 23 days, including a Sept. 19 doubleheader, the Sox will likely have a need for all six of their starters down the stretch. Read the rest of this entry »
|Monday Nuggetpalooza!||08.29.11 at 11:20 am ET|
Here and there with the Red Sox:
* – Dustin Pedroia leads the majors with a .386 average against left-handed pitchers. He has a chance to be the first Red Sox player to lead the majors in that category since, well, Victor Martinez did it LAST SEASON with a .400 average against portsiders. In the 38 seasons since they began tracking the stat in 1974, the MLB leader in batting vs. lefties has never come from the same team two seasons in a row.
* – David Ortiz is gunning for his 9th consecutive season with 54+ RBI at home (he has 45 so far). No AL player since 1950 has had more than eight such seasons in a row (Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada). Ortiz would also join Rodriguez (12), Frank Thomas (9) and Rafael Palmeiro (9) as the only AL players with nine or more such seasons in their career (since 1950).
* – The Red Sox are 9-for-9 on steals of third base this season. They would be only the 4th AL team since 1950 to steal third 9+ times without being caught, joining the 1994 Orioles (13-for-13), 1980 Royals (11-for-11) and 2003 Athletics (9-for-9).
* – Josh Beckett has allowed at least one home run in seven straight starts, the longest such streak of his career. Since 2000, two Red Sox pitchers have endured longer streaks: Tim Wakefield (9) last year and David Cone (8) in 2001. No Red Sox starter has had a 10-game streak since Roger Clemens in 1986; amazingly, he went 9-0 with a 2.64 ERA during the 10-game streak despite the home runs.
The club record is 12 straight, held by Earl Wilson in 1964-65. Here are the three longest such streaks in major league history: Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox notes: Terry Francona suggests ‘I think the way the divisions are set up is not fair’||08.27.11 at 1:57 pm ET|
Maybe MLB was listening in when Terry Francona made some frank and honest suggestions about how baseball should consider re-structuring its playoff format starting in 2012.
“I hope they add about six,” Francona said in partially tongue-in-cheek fashion of adding MLB teams to the playoff pool.
Then he struck a more serious tone.
“I like the idea of having another wild card. I think it’s intriguing because it’s drawing more fans in and having more teams maybe think they have a legit chance, which is good.”
Then the blinds came down in the Fenway Park media room. A mesage from MLB perhaps?
“I thought that was me, I thought I was going down,” cracked Francona. “Wow, I thought I was going to say goodbye to you guys.”
But then Francona collected himself and continued to entertain the topic.
“I think the way the divisions are set up though is not fair,” Francona said. “I think you have to get more balance in what you’re doing. The question about sense of accomplishment, in ’04 we won 98 games. The only team that won more than us was the Yankees. We didn’t back in anywhere, and they were in our division. If they weren’t in our division, we would’ve probably won 102. If you’re going to start giving that much importance to a division winner and less to the wild card, I think there needs to be more balance. Look at our division right now, you’ve got four teams over .500.”
Would he be cool with 15 teams in each league and a possible interleague match-up in the final weekend of the season, perhaps in an NL park where an AL team would be without a DH?
“I’d be cooler if there was a designated hitter,” Francona said. “There’s decisions that need to be made by people that are smarter than me, hopefully. It’s never going to be perfect but I think there’s probably ways they can figure out to make it really good and a little more fair.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Friday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Gio Gonzalez||08.26.11 at 9:47 am ET|
The Red Sox will host the Athletics in the first game of a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park Friday night. The Red Sox will send knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (6-5, 4.97) to the mound as he goes after career win No. 200. He will be opposed by left-hander Gio Gonzalez (10-11, 3.24).
Wakefield will be seeking his 200th win for the sixth start in a row. He has two losses and three no-decisions since he won his 199th game back on July 24. He has pitched well in those five starts, allowing no more than four earned runs.
Wakefield originally was scheduled to pitch the series finale with the Rangers Thursday night, but manger Terry Francona announced earlier in the week that Andrew Miller would be starting and Wakefield would be pushed back to Friday.
Lifetime against the Athletics, in 41 appearances (30 starts), Wakefield has a 11-7 record and a 4.23 ERA. He has not faced the A’s this season.
After losing five starts in a row, Gonzalez bounced back in his last start on Aug. 20 when he earned the win in a 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays. He pitched eight innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out nine.
Gonzalez has struggled in August as he has allowed 15 earned runs in 25 1/3 innings and has an ERA of 5.33. He pitched against the Red Sox on April 20. He went six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and suffered the loss. He did strike out nine Red Sox hitters. Over the course of his three-year career, Gonzalez has faced the Red Sox four times and has a 1-1 record with a 5.64 ERA.
The Athletics do not have much experience against Wakefield besides Hideki Matsui from when he was with the Yankees. In 66 plate appearances he is batting .203 with two home runs and 10 strikeouts.
The Red Sox have not seen much of Gonzalez, either. Only Mike Aviles has double-digit plate appearances against him. In 11 plate appearances he is hitting .250 with three strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tim Wakefield’s unlucky run towards 200 wins||08.20.11 at 1:45 pm ET|
With a slightly different series of events, Tim Wakefield’s chase of his 200th career victory would now long since be done. Instead, he might have been in position by now to be eying Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the top spot in the Red Sox’ victory chart.
Instead, at a time when he is nearing a point that should permit him to take a bow in his career, he is dealing with an uncomfortable delay. In his own words (following his fourth straight unfulfilled attempt at career win No. 200), “the Wake Watch” has commenced, in which the milestone is being obscured, in part, by the protracted journey to reach it.
Yet that isn’t a reflection of the pitcher’s performance. In four starts since claiming career victory No. 199 against the Mariners on July 24 (on a day when he allowed seven runs in 6 1/3 innings but received 12 runs of offensive support), Wakefield has enjoyed his most consistent stretch as a starter this year.
In four straight starts, he has pitched at least 6 2/3 innings while allowing four or fewer earned runs. He has a 4.08 ERA in that span.
Yet on a team that is second in the majors in both runs scored and runs per game, Wakefield has gone 0-2 with two no-decisions in those four games. To put that run in context, no Red Sox starter since Brad Penny in 2009 has been winless in four straight games in which he allowed four or fewer earned runs and pitched at least six innings in each outing. In order to find a streak of longer than four straight starts by a Sox pitcher that didn’t net a victory, you have to go back to a five-start stretch by Tomo Ohka in 2000.
It is part of a pattern that has existed throughout Wakefield’s Red Sox career. He now has 112 starts in which he has either been pinned with a loss (55 of those) or taken a no-decision (57) while pitching at least six innings and allowing four or fewer earned runs. Read the rest of this entry »
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