April 30, 2012

G22: Red Sox 11, Athletics 6

Athletics - 010 000 500 -  6 11  2
Red Sox   - 042 050 00x - 11 11  1
David Ortiz hit two home runs and scored three times, Darnell McDonald went 3-for-4 (falling a triple short of the cycle) with three runs scored, and Clay Buchholz (6.2-7-6-5-5, 99) pitched six solid innings before faltering in the seventh. The Red Sox bullpen withstood two Oakland rallies in the late innings to get the team back to .500 (11-11).

[In getting back to 11-11, Boston had a RHE line of 11-11-1.]

Trailing 11-1, Oakland sent 11 men to the plate in the seventh, scoring five runs in the span of five pitches, when Coco Crisp singled in two and Josh Reddick homered into the visiting bullpen for three more. The A's then loaded the bases against Junichi Tazawa - giving more than a few fans flashbacks to the Red Sox's last home game - but Vicente Padilla struck out Daric Barton to end the threat.

Buchholz should have been out of the seventh with no damage at all if an interference call had been made on Barton on a grounder hit by Cliff Pennington. I guess umpires call that only if the runner really nails the fielder. Then it looked like Buchholz had struck out Jemile Weeks on a 2-2 pitch - Clay took 3-4 steps towards the dugout - but it was called a ball. None of this gets Buchholz off the hook for the single and the dong - and it doesn't absolve Bobby Valentine from being too slow to get the bullpen up - but there was some element of bad luck in that inning. So it was heartening to hear the crowd give Buchholz a nice hand as he came out of the game.

In the eighth, Scott Atchison allowed two singles and a walk to reload the bases with no one out. Atchison fanned Crisp, and then, with Franklin Morales pitching and Yoenis Cespedes looming on deck, Dustin Pedroia turned a magnificent 4U-3 double play on Reddick to end the inning.

Through the first six innings, Oakland left four men on base; they left a total of five in the seventh and eighth.

In the ninth, Alfredo Aceves allowed a harmless two-out double; he wisely dialed his fastball down a few mph to 94-95, and struck out Cespedes on a curve and Seth Smith on a changeup.

In addition to Ortiz (who is now hitting .448 (13-for-29) against lefties) and McDonald, Mike Aviles also went deep (and drove in four runs). Marlon Byrd went 2-for-4, with a double, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI. ... It was Ortiz's 36th multi-home run game for the Red Sox, one behind Ted Williams's team record of 37.
Tommy Milone / Clay Buchholz
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Youkilis, 3B
Ortiz, DH
Ross, RF
Shoppach, C
McDonald, LF
Byrd, CF
Buchholz (8.87 ERA) has allowed 7, 5, 5, and 5 runs in his starts this year. Opponents are battering him to the tune of a .991 OPS (.340/.404/.588). Lefties are batting .368 against him. Buchholz felt better about his last start than any of the others, but he still had trouble locating his cutter and his superior changeup remains a stranger.

Milone, a lefty, makes his 10th career start. He has pitched eight innings in two of his four starts, including an excellent outing against the White Sox last Tuesday (8-3-0-0-5, 98).

Full Count preview here.

April 29, 2012

G21: White Sox 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox   - 000 000 100 - 1  3  0
White Sox - 300 000 01x - 4  8  0
Gavin Floyd (6.2-3-1-1-9, 111) retired the first 14 Boston batters and did not allow a hit until Dustin Pedroia singled with one out in the seventh.

Beckett (6.2-6-3-3-8, 126) allowed singles to Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios and a home run to Adam Dunn to put the Red Sox in a quick 3-0 hole.

All three of Boston's hits came in the seventh. With two outs, David Ortiz doubled Pedroia to third and Cody Ross singled him in. The only other baserunners were Ross, who walked in the fifth, and Mike Aviles, who walked in the eighth.

Odd managing decision by Bobby Valentine: He let Nick Punto bat with two outs and runners at first and third (the potential tying runs) in the seventh, then used three pinch-hitters in the following inning.

The 126 pitches tied a career high for Beckett (first done in 2004 for the Marlins). Peter Abraham tweeted that Jon Lester (122) and Beckett (126) are first the Red Sox pitchers to go over 122 pitches in consecutive games since Pedro Martinez (127) and Tim Wakefield (124) did it in a July 21, 1998 doubleheader at Cleveland.

The Red Sox finished the road trip 6-1 - which did not seem remotely possible after last Saturday's debacle against the Yankees. (The Red Sox have had only one undefeated road trip of at least seven games in their entire history, a 9-0 trip from July 29 to August 7, 1977.) They are back at Fenway tomorrow night for a brief homestand against Oakland and the first-place Orioles.
Josh Beckett / Gavin Floyd

A win this afternoon would give the Red Sox a perfect 7-0 road trip. Boston has not won seven consecutive road games since June 12, 20-26, 2005.

After the game, they head home to face the A's and Orioles.

AL East
            W   L    GB    RS   RA  DIFF 
Orioles    13   8   ---    90   80  + 10
Rays       13   8   ---    98   94  +  4
Yankees    11   9   1.5   112   99  + 13
Blue Jays  11  10   2.0    97   90  +  7
Red Sox    10  10   2.5   115  114  +  1

April 28, 2012

G20: Red Sox 1, White Sox 0

Red Sox   - 000 100 000 - 1  4  0
White Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  6  0
Lester (7-5-0-1-7, 122) had his best start of the young season and Adrian Gonzalez's RBI single accounted for the game's only run as the Red Sox won their sixth consecutive game and raised their overall record to 10-10.

Peavy (9-4-1-1-7, 116) was Lester's equal, but his teammates stranded eight, including men at second and third in the first inning. Chicago wasted a one-out double in the fourth, and left runners at the corners in the seventh, as Lester laboured through his final inning, throwing 29 pitches.

Ryan Sweeney opened the fourth with a bloop double to right field. With one out, Gonzalez grounded a single into right-center and Sweeney scored, giving him at least one RBI in six of the Red Sox's last seven games. Sweeney was the only Boston runner Peavy allowed past first base.

Franklin Morales (P6, single, K) and Vicente Padilla (BB, 4-3) got through the eighth, and Alfredo Aceves pitched a perfect ninth (4-3, 1-3, K).
Jon Lester / Jake Peavy

The Red Sox (9-10) can get to .500 with a win tonight. It took them 40 games (May 15) to get to .500 last season. They have outscored their opponents 44-19 during the current five-game winning streak.

Darnell McDonald: "This is a dangerous team right now. We hit rock bottom when we were home, like Bobby said, and we started over."

Boston's lineup may not be stacked with All-Stars, but they have scored 114 runs (6.0/game), which is the best in MLB. They are also in the top three in team average, on-base, and slugging. Despite the recent success, the pitching staff is still fighting its way out of its early-season rut. Boston's 5.86 team ERA is last in MLB and its team WHIP of 1.515 is 29th.

Teams No Longer Running Wild On Red Sox

Brian MacPherson of the Journal notes that the Red Sox have all but stopped their opponents' running game:

Opposing runners stole more bases (156) and attempted more stolen bases (206) against the Red Sox than against any other team in the American League last season. In April alone, opposing runners stole 27 bases in 35 attempts against the Red Sox. No team allowed more stolen bases or saw teams attempt more stolen bases against them.

That's not the case this year. Even though opponents have gotten on base plenty against Red Sox pitchers - they've allowed 183 hits, third-most in the American League - they're not running much. An American League-low eight runners have tried to steal bases against the Red Sox this season.

That seven of those eight have been successful almost is beside the point — especially from the perspective of the pitching staff. The Red Sox have played the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers, three of the most prolific base-stealing teams in the American League. None of those teams has been able to get good-enough jumps off the Red Sox pitching staff.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia:
Runners are a lot like hitters, a lot like pitchers. They get into patterns and routines. A lot of guys, if you pick twice, they won't go. If you hold for a few seconds, they won't go. They'll shut it down. They're going on timing. If you can disrupt their timing, just like you disrupt a hitter's timing, it shuts it down completely — and now you're in a double-play situation instead having a man on second where, on a ground ball through the hole, he scores.
Rob Bradford takes "A look at why this starting thing is working out for Daniel Bard":
Figuring out how to pitch out of the windup for the first time since 2008. Check. Heading into his third start, Bard had allowed just four hits and four walks in 28 plate appearances with nobody on base.

Become pitch efficient. The last three innings against the White Sox he threw just 28 pitches, 20 of which were for strikes.

And, last but nowhere near least, make sure there is ample pitch diversity.

Once thought to be a fastball-first pitcher, Bard has not only developed a slider that may actually be his best pitch, but also a highly effective changeup which he incorporated a career-high 24 times Friday night. In fact, of the 58 changeups he has thrown this season, only one - A.J. Pierzynski's first-inning double - has resulted in a hit.
I do feel like I've gotten better with each outing, going back to the spring. I've gotten more comfortable with throwing off-speed in fastball counts. I'm more consistently throwing strike one with my fastball, which tonight was huge for me. So, just a combination of things. I'm just learning the nuances of starting. Tonight was I feel like a step in the right direction. ... I kind of have something that locks me back in [keeping his delivery and mechanics in sync] that I hadn't really incorporated before, it's just a little mental cue for me that I hadn't quite figured out the last couple of starts.
Bobby Valentine:
He had the adversity inning there in the third, we didn't catch one on a bloop, he came back, made very good pitches and wasn't distracted by it. We had two 20-minute innings where he had to sit in the dugout with a six-pitch inning of his own in between. Then went right back out and threw strikes ... The first time we looked at him we wondered if he could have a windup. We got through the windup, then we were worried about the third pitch. He got the third pitch, then we were worried about his ability to go more than 60 pitches. He just keeps progressing, he's doing well.
Peter Abraham, Globe:
If I told you that the Red Sox could trade for a 26-year-old starter with a 95-mph fastball, what would you think?

This starter has an an above-average slider, an improving changeup, and has shown he can go seven innings without losing velocity on his fastball. He is a proven commodity against American League East hitters and won't be a free agent for another four years.

Like what you hear? Of course you do.

Then why would you move Daniel Bard to the bullpen?
Through four starts, Bard has the best ERA on the staff:
                  ERA    WHIP
Daniel Bard      3.72   1.703
Felix Doubront   4.09   1.455
Josh Beckett     4.56   1.169
Jon Lester       6.00   1.500
Clay Buchholz    8.87   1.925
And speaking of the bullpen, since the Yankees scored their 15th run last Saturday, Red Sox relievers have pitched 15 innings, allowing only one run on nine hits, walking two and striking out 11.

One of the most impressive outings was Junichi Tazawa's three innings on Thursday. It was only the fourth time since 2003 that a Red Sox reliever pitched at least three innings for a save. The other three times occurred last year (Alfredo Aceves twice, Scott Atchison once). Before that, Casey Fossum and Bronson Arroyo did it in 2003.

April 27, 2012

G19: Red Sox 10, White Sox 3

Red Sox   - 020 005 201 - 10 13  1
White Sox - 101 010 000 -  3  6  0
Bard (7-6-3-1-6, 96) went seven strong innings and Darnell McDonald broke the game open with a three-run double in the sixth inning. The Microwave also homered in the ninth. Boston (9-10) has won five consecutive games.

The Red Sox trailed 3-2 when they batted in the sixth. With one out, Adrian Gonzalez walked and took second on a wild pitch. Kevin Youkilis walked and David Ortiz (who hit a two-run dong in the second) singled to load the bases. Cody Ross singled in a run to tie at 3-3. After Kelly Shoppach struck out, McDonald cleared the bases with a line drive into the left field corner. Marlon Byrd then singled McDonald home.

Ross and Shoppach had RBI singles in the seventh.

Bard had thrown 58 pitches through the first three innings (19-17-22), but then pitched economically, throwing only 38 over the next four frames (10-11-5-12). He allowed two doubles and a walk in the first and was victimized by a throwing error, a wind-blown pop-up single and a passed ball in the third. Paul Konerko homered on a 3-0 pitch in the fifth.

Matt Albers pitched the final two innings, retiring all six batters he faced on 18 pitches. Since that dismal game against the Yankees, the bullpen has been nearly perfect, allowing only one run in its last 13.2 innings, walking two and striking out 11.
Daniel Bard / John Danks

The Justin Thomas Era appears to be over (for now, at least). He has been sent down to Pawtucket to make room for fellow lefty Rich Hill, who underwent TJ surgery last June.

In nine rehab innings in Greenville (A), Salem (High-A), and Pawtucket (AAA), Hill walked two, allowed two runs, and struck out 18.

Red Sox: Crawford Has Sprained UCL

The Red Sox announced yesterday that Carl Crawford has a "sprain" of his ulnar collateral ligament. A team source told the Globe that Crawford "could miss up to three months".

Nick Cafardo's article indicates that means three months from now, so it looks like early August would be the best case scenario for his return. Crawford believes he'll be back sooner.
I don't know where they got three months from. I'm good. It's just one of those things you can't control. I'm still looking forward to coming back strong.
The pessimist in me fears that sometime in July, we'll be told that he does need surgery.

The Red Sox have won four consecutive games and are hitting .350 as a team over their last six games. Individually, both Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kevin Youkilis have started to make some noise at the plate.

Salty began the year 2-for-25, but he has 10 hits in his last 18 at-bats (.556). Yook was batting .174 through his first 13 games, but is 6-for-his-last-12. Also: Ryan Sweeney (.383) has hit safely in 15 of 16 games.

David Ortiz and Derek Jeter are tied for the American League lead in batting average, at .420. Tiz, who leads the AL with a .474 on-base percentage, has shown that those fans who thought he was cooked after 2009 (and I believe I was one of them) could not have been more wrong.

Gary Marbry of Nuggetpalooza notes that in the first three innings of games this year, Ortiz is batting 727 (16-for-22).

Down in Pawtucket, Will Middlebrooks is on fire. Through 20 games, the third base prospect is hitting .377/.429/.792/1.221, with nine home runs and 27 RBI. One NL scout said: "This guy is the (expletive) real deal."

Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy had an amusing conversation last night in the bottom of the seventh. Don borrowed a pair of gloves from an intern and referred to them as "mittens". This got Jerry more fired up than I have seen him in a long time: "MITTENS?!? Mittens don't have fingers! ... [sighs] 11 years of this." (Their exchange went on longer than this video, but it's a good sample)

April 26, 2012

G18: Red Sox 10, White Sox 3

Red Sox   - 205 020 001 - 10 12  1
White Sox - 101 100 000 -  3  7  0
Kevin Youkilis went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit two home runs to power Boston to its fourth consecutive victory on a chilly night (39 degrees) in Chicago.

Doubront (6-5-3-3-2, 110) and Junichi Tazawa (3-2-0-0-4, 51) took care of the pitching chores, with Tazawa earning a save for his three innings of work. The White Sox left 10 runners on base.

Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz knocked in runs in the first inning. Yook and Salty went back-to-back in the third. Ryan Sweeney had an RBI single in the ninth.

The Red Sox are batting .363 (69-for-190) with 10 home runs over their last five games. Runs scored in those five games: 9, 6, 11, 7, 10.
Felix Doubront / Philip Humber

Doubront has been the Red Sox's best starting pitcher over the first three weeks of the season, with a 2.92 xFIP in three starts and a 110 ERA+. His 0.4 WAR is tops on the staff, slightly better than Daniel Bard and Jon Lester (both at 0.3).

Humber pitched the 21st perfect game in baseball history in his last start, on Saturday in Seattle. Humber has retired 29 straight batters, still a far cry from the major league record of 45, set by Mark Buehrle of the White Sox in 2009. ... Johnny Vander Meer pitched consecutive no-hitters for the Reds in 1938.

Pitching Match-ups:
Friday: Daniel Bard / John Danks
Saturday: Jon Lester / Jake Peavy
Sunday: Josh Beckett / Gavin Floyd

Schadenfreude 128 (A Continuing Series)

George A. King III, Post:
Michael Pineda won't make his Yankees' debut until late April of next year at the earliest.

The Yankees found that out Tuesday when a dye contrast MRI exam revealed an anterior labral tear in the right shoulder that will require arthroscopic surgery to repair. ... Surgery is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday ...

"I am devastated," said Cashman, who ... believes Pineda suffered the tear on the 15th - and final - pitch of a game Saturday in the extended spring training game and that previous MRI exams, which didn't include dye contrast, showed a clean shoulder although he admitted there could have been a small problem that was dormant.
The injury was first described yesterday afternoon as a "discreet" [sic] tear, then later as "significant".
John Harper, Daily News:
Maybe Brian Cashman just ought to stay away from making major pitching acquisitions. Like the lousy blackjack player who keeps going back to Las Vegas, he always seems to have things end badly for him. ...

Cashman's laundry list of pitchers gone wrong is long, from Carl Pavano to Kei Igawa to A.J. Burnett to Jeff Weaver ...
Christian Red, Daily News:
Never has the Yankees’ need for a 39-year-old, ex-retiree been so great.
Joel Sherman, Post:
A betting man would not gamble that the Yankees ever get a high-end version of Pineda. And the short- and long-term ramifications of that are traumatic for the organization.

For the Yankees envisioned Pineda mastering a changeup this year to mix with his power stuff, galvanizing him as a top-of-the-rotation force by the time the 2012 stretch arrived.

And Pineda also was central to the Yankees' vow to shrink their luxury tax payroll beneath $189 million for 2014 to benefit from the inducements for doing so within the new collective bargaining agreement. ...

So for now, Pineda remains locked on zero wins as a Yankee, two fewer than Kei Igawa, nine fewer than Carl Pavano. Not exactly the class the Yankees dreamed he would be associated when they made short- and long-term plans upon obtaining him.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
The tear in Michael Pineda's shoulder might be the only thing keeping Phil Hughes in the rotation.

Hughes delivered another woeful performance Wednesday, failing to get out of the third inning as the Rangers took a 7-3 decision from the Yankees ...

Hughes and Girardi were looking for another positive outing Wednesday, as Hughes was facing a Texas team against which he has had great success against in the regular season. ...

Girardi didn't get his wish ...
Kevin Kernan, Post, March 31:
Following his putrid performance against the Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Pineda admitted his right shoulder is hurting, and now you must wonder if he will ever again be the pitcher he was for the Mariners during the first half of last season, the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they traded Jesus Montero to Seattle. ...

This was not just about a lack of velocity. Pineda became a pitching pinata, surrendering six runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out only two, lasting only 2.2 innings ... He admitted he tried to dial it up and couldn't. His fastball stayed mostly in the 90-91 mph range. The more he tried to muscle up, the more he lost command. Often, his fastball was straight as an arrow. ...

He then pointed to the back of his shoulder where the pain was most troublesome. That's the red flag of shoulder pain, and Pineda will undergo an MRI today — the worst possible news he and the Yankees could get. ...

He showed no fastball, no confidence; there was no life in his body, much less his pitches. He had lost it all and as he tried to explain all his pitching woes, you had to feel for him, but you also had to realize Pineda put himself in a bad situation by coming into camp way overweight. He was never mentally or physically ready for the challenge of being a Yankee.

Harley Hisner, Red Sox Pitcher

Photo by SoSHer Boggs26

One of the former Red Sox players invited back to Fenway Park for the 100th anniverary celebration last Friday was Harley "Jim" Hisner, now 85 years old.

Back on September 30, 1951, he was a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher making his major league debut in the final game of the season against the New York Yankees.

The Yankees' lineup featured five future Hall of Famers - Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizutto, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Johnny Mize - but Hines did quite well.

He faced Mantle to start the game and struck him out. Hisner pitched six innings and allowed seven hits and three runs. He walked four and struck out three. He also had a single in two at-bats.

In the seventh inning, Johnny Pesky pinch-hit for him and that was the end of his day. Spec Shea and Johnny Sain pitched a combined shutout and the Red Sox lost 3-0.

It was Harley Hisner's only major league appearance. You can read more about his career here.

April 25, 2012

Beckett's First Inning Pitches On Tuesday Were Called Correctly

Here is the plot of Josh Beckett's 37 pitches in the first inning on Tuesday night. Although Beckett was absolutely livid with home plate umpire Adrian Johnson on several pitches - barking on his way off the mound that Johnson forced him to get five outs in the inning - Johnson made no egregious or Vanoverian calls. In fact, it looks like Beckett got the benefit of the doubt on a couple of borderline balls.
Thanks to Brooks Baseball, as always.

G17: Red Sox 7, Twins 6

Red Sox - 042 010 000 - 7 10  0
Twins   - 010 005 000 - 6 14  0
After sending 10 men to the plate in the sixth, the Twins loaded the bases against Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the ninth, but Denard Span struck out on a changeup to end the game and give the Red Sox a three-game sweep in Minnesota.

Mike Aviles's three-run home run was the big blow in the second inning. Jarrod Saltalamacchia knocked in two runs in the third. Dustin Pedroia's triple and Adrian Gonzalez's single gave the Red Sox a 7-1 lead in the fifth. (David Ortiz went 0-for-3 with a walk; Pedroia also singled and doubled.)

Buchholz (5.1-10-5-3-2, 107) had at least two Twins on base in each of the first four innings, and Minnesota stranded eight runners in those four frames. After a perfect fifth and a strike out to start the sixth, Buchholz allowed singles to Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla. He was at 96 pitches, but Bobby Valentine was asleep at the switch and did not get Scott Atchison up until Buchholz had thrown three pitches to the next batter.

Span doubled in a run and then Buchholz walked Jamey Carroll to load the bases. Atchison (who fares worse against lefties, and threw two innings last night) allowed a two-run single to lefty Joe Mauer and Justin Thomas was hit for an RBI double by Justin Morneau before he hit Chris Parmelee in the head. Matt Albers allowed an RBI single to Trevor Plouffe (the eighth consecutive Twin to reach base safely) before getting a much-needed, inning-ending double play.

It was inexcusable bullpen management from Valentine (who came to Boston with a reputation as an excellent in-game tactician) and McClure. If the game is falling apart, don't go with your absolute worst pitchers; Morales (who has now thrown 19 straight scoreless innings on the road) should have been up instead of Thomas (who must have some seriously incriminating photos of BV).

Coupled with Valentine thinking the Red Sox were facing a lefty and then having to revise his lineup card when informed of his mistake and telling a radio station that Daniel Bard was available for relief tonight and then reversing himself when he actually spoke to Bard about it, it makes me wonder if he banged his head on something in the morning. Or was hung over all day. (Will BV apologize again for using Thomas in a high-leverage situation?)

[Also, NESN missed two first-pitch hits in that half-inning - Morneau's double and Plouffe's single - because it was trying to cram too many commercials into a pitching change. If you'd like to complain about this - they also missed a pitch to Cody Ross in the sixth because they were showing too many game highlights - call NESN at 617-536-9233 and tell them to please do the absolute minimum: show the programming they have agreed to broadcast.]

Vicente Padilla got a 1-2-3 seventh and Franklin Morales did the same in the eighth. But Aceves allowed a one-out walk and a single before a fair call on what looked like a foul ball down the first base line gave Boston a second out when Gonzalez scooped it up and stepped on the bag. After a hit batsman loaded the sacks, Span fanned.

The Red Sox are 7-10 and head to Chicago for four games against the White Sox.
Clay Buchholz / Liam Hendriks

In his first three starts, Buchholz's pitches have been up in the zone and he has paid the price, allowing 17 runs and 23 hits in only 17 innings. Opponents are hitting .324 against him with an OPS of 1.021. Buchholz says he has been studying video with pitching coach Bob McClure and admits to having little confidence in his changeup.
When my four-seamer and two-seamer are down, usually the changeup is down because it's basically the same pitch, just a different grip. ... My changeup has always been a pitch I've been able to throw 2-0, 2-1, 3-1. I don't have that confidence in it right now to go out there and throw it like I have in the past. That's what I've been working on the past couple of weeks, trying to get a feel for it. ... It's all release point-related. Once you find a release point, the changeup will come into effect. That's been up, too. If my four-seamer and two-seamer are down, usually the changeup is down, too.
Michael Silverman of the Herald posted this sad comparison:
John Lackey, 2011: 3 starts, 9.82 ERA, .323 opponents avg., 3 HR allowed
Buchholz, 2012: 3 starts, 9.00 ERA, .324 opponents avg., 6 HR allowed ...

Buchholz needs to get different results starting tonight. No pitcher wants to hear he's beginning to resemble Lackey.

Ortiz: "I'm Having So Much Fun"

David Ortiz leads the American League with a .444 batting average and a 1.200 OPS.

He has 28 hits in April, a new career high for the month - with six games still left to be played. He has hit safely in 13 of Boston's 16 games, with nine multiple-hit games. His 28 hits are the most by a Red Sox player through the first 16 games of the season in 75 years (Joe Cronin, 30 in 1937; looking ahead to tonight, Cronin had 31 hits through 17 games).

Ortiz did set the club record for most hits through the first 16 games for a left-handed hitter, besting Harry Lord's 27 hits in 1910.

I'm having so much fun playing the game again. I love to be able to do things on the field that I couldn't do before. I'm running the bases better and harder [he says he has lost 25 pounds], hitting lefthanded pitchers and going the other way. Everything I've tried to get better with, I'm getting better with. ... I have given everything I have every minute I've played for the Boston Red Sox because I love the name. I love wearing that uniform. That means so much to me to wear it, and wear it for the rest of my career. ...

I don't even care about the shift anymore. When they do it, they're going to pitch me a certain way, but I know they're going to give me one pitch on the outside part of the plate, and that I try to drive to the opposite field. And if I keep doing that, they're going to pitch me in, in, and more in, and that's fine with me, too. ... I still have my power, but what's important for me is to get on base and drive in runs.
Ortiz is punishing all pitchers, batting .442 against righties and .450 against lefties. ... In his last 10 games, he is hitting .525 (21-for-40), with a .900 slugging percentage.

I'm a bad [expletive]. That's what it is.
Carl Crawford is getting a second opinion on his sore left elbow. Bobby Valentine: "He's been a little concerned." ... Various Red Sox media tweets posted at SoSH sound ominous.

Daisuke Matsuzaka made his first rehab start on Monday, putting up a 4-6-3-0-3 line for Salem (A); he threw either 57 or 58 pitches. His next start will be on Saturday for Portland (AA).

In his ten games since Jacoby Ellsbury was injured, Mike Aviles is hitting .395/.425/.737/1.162.

Mark Melancon has pitched in three games for Pawtucket: 3.1-3-0-0-6. He says he needs to pitch inside more often. "I've just got to be more aggressive ... It's not too complicated."

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Cody Ross's two home runs on Monday night made him the first Red Sox player with a tying and winning home run, each in the seventh inning or later, since Dwight Evans on June 23, 1990.

April 24, 2012

G16: Red Sox 11, Twins 2

Red Sox - 302 230 010 - 11 18  0
Twins   - 100 010 000 -  2  6  0
It was a near perfect night in Minneapolis, as the Red Sox won their second straight game against the Twins.

Mile Aviles went 4-for-5, with two doubles and a home run, and three runs scored. David Ortiz singled and homered (a moon shot) and drove in three runs; Flo is batting .444. Adrian Gonzalez had three hits and two RBI, and scored twice. Ryan Sweeney, Marlon Byrd, and Kevin Youkilis each had two hits.

Beckett (6-5-2-3-5, 100) settled down after a shaky 37-pitch first inning in which he walked three consecutive batters, the last one forcing in a run. Beckett escaped a 2nd/3rd, one-out jam in the third - when the score was only 5-1 - (thanks to a diving catch by Byrd), and finished his night by striking out the side in the sixth. Scott Atchison pitched two perfect innings of relief, and Matt Albers finished up.
Josh Beckett / Nick Blackburn

April 23, 2012

G15: Red Sox 6, Twins 5

Red Sox - 120 000 201 - 6 12  2
Twins   - 000 410 000 - 5  8  0
Cody Ross hit two home runs - one to left that tied the game in the seventh and another shot, this one to right-center, to give the Red Sox a lead in the ninth - and Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves closed out the game as Boston snapped a five-game losing streak.

Lester (7-6-5-4-4, 112) breezed through the first three innings, hit a major snag in the fourth, but finished strongly, retiring his last seven batters. Franklin Morales allowed a triple to Jamey Carroll to open the eighth (Carroll came off the bag on his slide and was tagged out by Kevin Youkilis, but the umpire was either blocked by the runner or blew the call). Morales retired Joe Mauer before Bard came in to get the final two outs. Aceves worked around a harmless, one-out single in the ninth.
Jon Lester / Jason Marquis

Dear Sox: Please read this small pamphlet.

Boston (4-10) begins a seven-game road trip with three games against the Twins (5-11). From there, they play four games in Chicago.

Bobby Valentine said that Daniel Bard might be available out of the bullpen either tonight or on Tuesday. Bard is still penciled in to start on Friday against the White Sox.

April 22, 2012

NYDN: Valentine Faced "Near Player Revolt" In First Week Of Spring Training

Bill Madden, Daily News, April 21:
After the week that was, in which [Bobby Valentine] had to (1) apologize for disparaging Kevin Youkilis, (2) banish one of his GM's prize offseason acquisitions, Mark Melancon, to the minors and (3) proceeded to screw up two games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers by going against the basic tenets of Managing 101, wethinks Bobby V is already wondering what he's gotten himself into by returning to the managerial wars with the Red Sox.

And this doesn't include the near player revolt he had on his hands the very first week of spring training when, the Daily News has learned, he got all over shortstop Mike Aviles in what sources described as "a very ugly scene" during infield drills. After a group of Red Sox players confronted him with outrage, Valentine had to apologize to Aviles.

Since then, Valentine has outwardly praised Aviles ...

There is fast-growing clubhouse resentment toward Valentine, who's been too much of a culture shock for Red Sox players accustomed to easy-going Terry Francona, and all signs point to a long 100th season at old Fenway. The question is: Will it be a much shorter one for Bobby V?
Why did none of the Red Sox writers have this story? They seemed to have no clue about the clubhouse issues that plagued the team last year; did they collectively miss the boat on this story, as well? If this incident happened as Madden reports, it certainly gives Curt Schilling's statement of clubhouse rancor against Valentine more credibility.

That group of players had to include some (or most?) of the guys we would think of as the "leaders" on the team. Which means an important segment of the team has been pissed at Valentine since his first days in camp - and everything he has done since then has likely only deepened that dislike and distrust. No wonder Dustin Pedroia uncharacteristically popped off at Valentine's ill-timed and poorly-worded comments about Kevin Youkilis.
The Globe reports that Lars Anderson has been called up from Pawtucket (.255/.358/.400 in 15 games), replacing Jason Repko (disabled list).

The Red Sox will skip Daniel Bard's turn in the rotation (he would have pitched Sunday night). Valentine said Bard could be used out of the bullpen before his next scheduled start on Friday in Chicago. ... This could be the first step in moving Bard back to the bullpen and adding Aaron Cook to the rotation. According to Cook's contract, if he is not on the Red Sox roster by May 1, he can become a free agent.

And Happy 53rd Birthday, Terry Francona!

G15: Yankees at Red Sox, PPD

Update: Tonight's game has been postponed because of rain. No make-up date was announced.

Yankees - 
Red Sox - 

CC Sabathia / Daniel Bard

4.5 GB with 148 games remaining. Yesterday's game was a wallop to reasoned perspective, but I still believe that deficit can be overcome.

On May 7, 2011, the Red Sox were 14-18, in last place. Only three weeks later, on May 28, they were 29-22, in sole possession of first. That has zero predictive value for 2012, so feel free to ignore it. But it does show that a turnaround can happen, and happen quickly. This is not a .286 team - which works out to a 46-116 record. (Good old Cool Standings projects the Red Sox to finish at 76-86, with a 21.1% chance at making the playoffs.)

After today's game, the schedule for the next three weeks gets easier: Twins, White Sox, A's, Orioles, Royals, Cleveland, and Mariners. The wins will come. I guarantee it.

April 21, 2012

Bobby Valentine: "We've Hit Bottom"

Bobby Valentine:
I think we've hit bottom. That's what I told them after the game. ... If this isn't bottom, then we'll find some new ends to the earth I guess.
David Ortiz:
It's [expletiuve] embarrassing. Put it down like that.
Mike Aviles:
It sucked. That's it. There's no other way to talk about it. ... I'm probably not going to sleep all too well tonight. ... We have to figure out how to turn this thing around. In all honesty, I don't want to see it if it gets any worse. ... If this is bottom we're good because there's nowhere else to go but up, right?
Valentine tipped his cap to the fans as they booed him when he made a pitching change in the eighth inning:
The fans have been great so far. People I've met out to dinner, on the streets, on the bike ride, before the game, have been great. ... No one has yelled at me when I'm on my bike or tried to run me over or anything like that. That hasn't happened yet.
Ben Cherington says he is "very satisfied" with Bobby Valentine:
He makes the lineup out and he makes decisions during the game as to who's coming in. The players will always influence wins and losses more than anybody else. And that's no different here. He's doing the best he can with the roster he has.
The Red Sox acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd, 34, from the Cubs for pitcher Michael Bowden. Byrd is batting only .070 this year (3-for-43).
Yesterday's game was only the second time in the modern era (since 1900) that a major league team trailed by at least nine runs and ended up winning by at least six runs. The other game was on June 12, 1938, when the Tigers trailed the Senators 11-1, but rallied to win 18-12. (Tigers starter? Boots Poffenberger!)
Tigers   -  0  0  0   1  0 10   0  0  7  -  18  20  1
Senators -  0  0  7   4  0  0   1  0  0  -  12  15  2
The last time a team scored at least seven runs in consecutive innings in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry was on June 19, 2000, when the Yankees scored nine runs in the eighth inning and seven runs in the ninth, winning 22-1.

Red Sox - Most Runs Allowed in First 14 Games
      Runs  W- L
1980   98   7- 7
1901   96   7- 7
2012   95   4-10
1902   92   8- 6
1996   89   2-12
Red Sox - Largest Blown Leads
June 4, 1989   10  vs Blue Jays
April 21, 2012  9  vs Yankees
June 30, 2009   9  at Orioles
June 26, 1987   9  at Yankees
April 18, 1950  9  vs Yankees
August 2, 1936  9  at White Sox
Yankees - Largest Comebacks
April 21, 2012  9  at Red Sox
May 16, 2006    9  vs Rangers
June 26, 1987   9  vs Red Sox
July 25, 1953   9  at Tigers
April 18, 1950  9  at Red Sox
April 18, 1950 (Opening Day)
Yankees -  0  0  0   0  0  4   0  9  2  -  15  15  0
Red Sox -  3  1  0   5  0  0   1  0  0  -  10  15  0
June 26, 1987
Red Sox -  4  5  0   2  0  0   0  0  0   0  -  11  15  2
Yankees -  0  0 11   0  0  0   0  0  0   1  -  12  18  1

G14: Yankees 15, Red Sox 9

Yankees - 000 001 770 - 15 16  0
Red Sox - 232 020 000 -  9 17  1
The linescore says it all.

Doubront (6-4-1-3-7, 99) pitched extremely well, but after he was pulled (at the right time), the roof fell in. And the walls collapsed. Then the whole fucking pile of house caught fire and burned out of control.

David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each had four hits.
Freddy Garcia / Felix Doubront

If it feels like forever since the Red Sox began a regular season with a bunch of wins, that's because it has. You have to go back to 2006 to find a Boston team that was winning "right out of the gate" (© Don Orsillo).
       Records        End of April
2012 - 1-5, 4-9
2011 - 0-6, 2-10      11-15
2010 - 1-3, 4-9       11-12
2009 - 2-6            14- 8
2008 - 3-4, 5-6       17-12
2007 - 2-3            16- 8
2006 - 6-1, 11-4      14-11
In 2007 and 2008, they hung around .500 for a while before finishing the first month with a winning record. In 2009, they started 2-6 before winning 11 consecutive games.

The Red Sox have a league-average offense, but they have scored three or fewer runs in seven of their 13 games. That low level of production will not get you a winning record. ... Since 2001, the Yankees have played 31 April games at Fenway Park, with a 9-22 record.

David Ortiz:
We've got the talent. We just need to execute. You're not going to spend the whole season just thinking about the talent that we have. We have to win games. We have to provide the opportunity to win games. I know that in everybody's mind it's the beginning of the season or whatever. But what's it going to take, until July for us to start winning? We need to step up and do something different and make things happen.

Rice: Red Sox-Yankees "Not A Rivalry Anymore"

Jim Rice, Sirius-XM's Mad Dog Radio:
It's not a rivalry anymore. Even when I was playing it wasn't really a rivalry because when you have a rivalry back then you're talking about guys that started in an organization and came up and played for both teams. Now you have the free agency. And you throw the name out there, "rivalry" now, and it's not because you have other guys that come from other organizations that did not start and continue playing with the Yankees. You've only got two with the Yankees just about now, Mariano and Jeter.
Man, talk about losing your fastball (or maybe never having a fastball). ... I don't see the NESN pre- or post-game shows very often, but any time I do, I'm shocked at how little substance Rice can provide. It's embarrassing.

TC should clue him in on a guy in New York called Robinson Cano. He's been playing second base there for more than seven years!... And Brett Gardner. And Ivan Nova (who shut down the Sox yesterday, Rice might recall). And Phil Hughes. And Joba Chamberlain. And David Robertson. And ...

April 20, 2012

Matsuzaka Begins Rehab Assignment On Monday

Daisuke Matsuzaka will begin a rehab assignment on Monday with Salem (A). He will pitch every five days and has a pitch limit of 75 for his first start.

Bobby Valentine:
Dice-K has been feeling pretty good. He's ready to start dealing with competition rather than rehabilitation. We'll monitor his pitches. He won't have any 30-pitch innings. He says he feels good.
Rehab assignments for pitchers can last 30 days, so Matsuzaka could be back with the Red Sox on or about May 23, less than a year after TJ surgery.

G13: Highlanders 6, Red Sox 2

Highlanders - 120 111 000 - 6 11  0
Red Sox     - 010 010 000 - 2 10  1
A wonderful afternoon of remembrance and celebration was marred a desultory effort by the Red Sox, who dropped their fourth consecutive game. They have been outscored 31-8 in those four games, and are now 4-9.

Buchholz (6-9-6-2-2, 103) gave up five solo home runs, including two to Eric Chavez.

Teams With Two Starting Pitchers Allowing 5 HR In One Game In Same Season
2005 Phillies - Vicente Padilla (April 19) and Cory Lidle (July 25)
2009 Red Sox - Josh Beckett (August 23) and Clay Buchholz (September 29)
2012 Red Sox - Josh Beckett (April 7) and Clay Buchholz (April 20)

Boston had at least one runner on base in eight of the nine innings, but could do very little against Nova (6-7-2-0-5, 93), who has not been charged with a loss in his last 19 starts, dating back to last June. David Ortiz homered to lead off the second and doubles by Cody Ross and Mike Aviles brought in another run in the fifth.
Ivan Nova / Clay Buchholz

On Saturday, April 20, 1912, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders 7-6, in 11 innings, in the first major league game played at Fenway Park.
This afternoon - exactly 100 years later - the two rivals will meet again. Both teams will wear 1912 replica uniforms.

April 19, 2012


In honour of Friday's 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park, here are three sections of a panorama, taken on Saturday, September 28, 1912, followed by individual player photos and some team pictures:
Jake Stahl, Manager/First Base

Bill Carrigan, Catcher, and Stahl

Steve Yerkes, Second Base

Heinie Wagner, Shortstop

Larry Gardner, Third Base

Duffy Lewis, Left Fielder

Tris Speaker, Center Fielder

Harry Hooper, Right Fielder

Joe Wood, Pitcher

Hugh Bradley, Pitcher

Buck O'Brien, Pitcher

Ray Collins, Pitcher

Lewis, Gardner, Speaker, Wagner

Pinch Thomas, Catcher

Les Nunamaker, Catcher

Hick Cady, Catcher

Team Photos

1912 World Series Photos here.