|Tuesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Tim Wakefield vs. Brandon Morrow||09.13.11 at 11:29 am ET|
After a sweep at the hands of the Rays this past weekend, the Red Sox will face Tampa Bay in a crucial four-game series next weekend that will likely determine the winner of the Al Wild Card. But the Red Sox can’t look too far ahead, as Boston starts a two-game homestand against Toronto Tuesday night. Tim Wakefield will take his eighth shot at win No. 200 Tuesday, while Brandon Morrow will try to bounce back from his last start against Boston, when he gave up eight runs in a no-decision.
Wakefield’s (6-6, 5.03 ERA) quest for his 200th win has been painful to watch for many Boston fans. While the knuckleballer hasn’t been spectacular lately, he has been in position to get the milestone multiple times, only to see his hopes dashed by a lack of offense or bullpen implosion.
In his last start, also against Toronto, Wakefield left the game with an 8-5 lead after five innings. But the Red Sox bullpen gave up five runs in the eighth inning of what turned out to be an 11-10 loss for Boston.
Wakefield has one win in two starts and two relief appearances against Toronto this season, giving up eight earned runs in 14 1/3 innings. Yunel Escobar has hit Wakefield well in his career, hitting .462 with one home run. But Wakefield has held Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista to three hits in 17 career plate appearances. The Toronto lineup has a .214 batting average against Wakefield, collectively.
Morrow (9-10, 5.12 ERA) has had problems picking up a win lately as well. The right-hander hasn’t won since Aug. 17, giving up 22 runs in his last four starts. Against Boston on Sept. 7, Morrow was rocked for eight runs in 4 1/3 innings. Jacoby Ellsbury knocked Morrow out of that game with a three-run home run in the top of the fourth, his second home run off of Morrow in just 14 plate appearances. David Ortiz has also had success against Morrow, hitting .429 with two home runs in 18 plate appearances. The Boston lineup has a .331 collective average against Morrow.
|Closing time: Daniel Bard goes wild in crazy eighth||09.07.11 at 10:40 pm ET|
It looked like Tim Wakefield would finally get his 200th career win Wednesday night in Toronto, as he left the game with a three-run lead, but a nightmarish performance from Daniel Bard and a career-high five earned runs from the reliever meant it would be yet an eighth straight appearance without a win for the knuckleballer. Though Boston made a late push with a two-run ninth, the Blue Jays defeated the Sox, 11-10 on a game that ended with Mike Aviles getting thrown out trying to take second.
Bard displayed major control issues, as he relieved Dan Wheeler and got the final out of the seventh, but as Wheeler also did, had difficulty when he went back out for the next inning. The hard-throwing reliever loaded the bases with nobody out by hitting Brett Lawrie, serving up a single to Adam Loewen (the first hit of the former pitcher’s career) and walking J.P. Arencibia. Though he came back to strike out Dwayne Wise and Escobar in succession, back to back walks to Eric Thames and Jose Bautista tied the game at eight, putting off Wakefield’s 200th win yet again. After Bard, who threw a career-high 36 pitches, was chased from the game, Edwin Encarnacion then doubled off Matt Albers to clear the bases, giving Toronto the win and Bard the loss.
As for Wakefield, the knuckle-baller tossed five innings for the Sox, allowing five runs (four earned) on three hits, while walking three, striking out three, and surrendering a two-run home run to Arencibia in the bottom of the second inning. Wednesday’s game was Wakefield’s eighth attempt at reaching the milestone since picking up career win No. 199 back on July 24 against the Mariners. Wakefield is 0-3 since that win.
With Wakefield not turning in an especially monumental performance, the Red Sox‘ bats put him in a good position to get the the win by getting to Toronto starter Brandon Morrow. Home runs from Jacoby Ellsbury (who also had a double as part of a four-hit night) and David Ortiz and a pair of runs batted in from Marco Scutaro helped provide the 45-year-old with an 8-5 lead when he exited the game. Adrian Gonzalez hit his 24th homer of the season to lead off the top of the ninth, with Scutaro later driving in Ortiz to make it a one-run game in the ninth with his third RBI of the game.
The heavy output from the offense made it the second straight night in which they scored double-digit runs against the Jays in as many nights (they enjoyed a 14-0 victory Tuesday in Toronto) after being shutout for 11 innings on Monday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Make that three straight appearances with at least one earned run for Wheeler dating back to Saturday’s three-run outing. The 33-year-old came on in relief of Franklin Morales and was able to get two outs to end the sixth inning, but his seventh inning was rocky. The reliever served up a double to Yunel Escobar, who would later score on an RBI single from Encarnacion. Wheeler left the game after allowing two hits, the one earned run and striking out one in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Before Saturday’s game against the Rangers, Wheeler had allowed just one earned run over his last 15 appearances.
– The Sox fell victim to a double-steal in the bottom of the third that was made worse by an errant throw from Scutaro, and right in the middle of it was Lawrie — the very man who doomed them in Monday’s walkoff Blue Jays win.
When Jarrod Saltalamacchia went to throw Lawrie out as the rookie took off for second, Bautista broke for home. The throw back to the plate from Scutaro was well to the left of of the catcher, and as the ball flew past the plate, Lawrie took third. He wouldn’t score on the play, as Adam Loewen struck out to end the inning on the next pitch.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Ellsbury reached the 25-homer milestone for the first time in his career, belting a first-pitch fastball from Morrow to right field for his 14th homer since the All-Star break. The homer also made him the 71st player since 1901 to have 25 homers and 25 stolen bases (he’s swiped 36 this year) in a single season, as was pointed out by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier on twitter. Ellsbury was stopped short of picking up his 37th steal of the season, as he was gunned down by Arencibia to end the top of the sixth inning.
It was Ellsbury’s third four-hit performance of the season. With it, he brought his average up to .316, which is the highest it’s been since Aug. 9.
– While Ellsbury reached 25 homers, David Ortiz got himself closer to 30. Ortiz launched a fastball from morrow deep into the right field stands, good for his 29th homer of the season. If he is to homer once more this season, it will be Ortiz’ second consecutive 30-homer season and seventh in nine seasons since coming to the Red Sox in 2003.
– The Red Sox continued to make things very difficult for Morrow. After the right-hander allowed eight earned runs over 5 1/3 innings on Wednesday, the former fifth overall pick has now allowed 21 earned runs to Boston in three starts (13 2/3 IP), and it isn’t the first season in which Morrow’s had major struggles against Boston. He totaled 5 2/3 innings in two starts with 10 earned runs against Boston in 2010.
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 »
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