The Los Angeles Dodgers have just completed some last minute roster adjustments, adding Chicago White Sox power hitter Jim Thome along with Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Jon Garland. The White Sox in return will receive Minor League infielder Justin Fuller. Arizona has agreed to claim a player to be named, who is speculated to be Tony Abreu according to Dodgers players.
Thome will join the Dodgers with 564 total home runs, and General Manager Ned Colletti believes he can add the necessary leadership for their upcoming pennant race. “He’s a great influence in the clubhouse, one of the true good guys in the game,” Colletti said. “He’s a tremendous leader. He called me to make sure we knew first base was not an option for him, but he’d help in any way he could. For a player to get on the phone just lets you know what kind of guy he is and I appreciate that.”
Dodgers head coach Joe Torre is expected to put the ball in Garland’s hands right away. The right-hander is essentially their answer to completing a solid 5-man rotation. LA is currently in a series against Arizona, which made it much easier for Garland’s travels. “That might be the strangest part about it. Finding out in the sixth or seventh inning, packing up and showering up, walking right across, it’s a little weird,” said Garland. “For me, born and raised in L.A., the chance to come back and play for the Dodgers, be right in the thick of a pennant race, it’s exciting.”
The Dodgers have three more games against the D-Backs before hosting the San Diego Padres for the weekend starting Friday, September 4th.
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Jamie Moyer got the call from the bullpen early in the 4th and threw for six scoreless innings, as the Philadelphia Phillies went on to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 last night at Citizens Bank Park. Veteran pitcher Pedro Martinez (who took Moyers spot in the starting rotation last week) gave up a solo home run in the 1st, but went on to retire the last eight batters he faced. After a 66 minute rain delay, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made the call to switch it up.
Most of Philadelphia’s run production came in the 3rd inning around the rain dely. Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz both contributed solo home runs in the 5th and 6th innings to add insurance, while Moyer was continuing to shut down the D-Backs line up. “I went out and did what I set forth to do, got them to put the ball in play and relied on my defense,” said Moyer.
The Phillies are scheduled to play Arizona tonight and Thursday before matching up against the New York Mets on Friday.
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Arizona Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb has decided to opt for season-ending shoulder surgery after months of attempted rehab. He has not been able to pitch since Opening Day of this season and can only throw at half speed on flat ground before feeling any kind of tension. In 2010 the Diamondbacks hold an option for Webb at $8.5 million or can buy out the deal for $2 million.
Webb’s career to this point has been nothing but positive, as he has only been injured for 15 days tracing back to 2003 when he had right elbow tendinitis. He won the NL Cy Young Award in 2006, and was the runner up in 2007 and 2008. From 2004-2008 he has thrown over 200 innings. He was one of the leading contributors to the Diamondbacks NL West title in 2007. If all goes well with surgery and rehabilitation, Webb should be ready to go for next season.
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Reed Johnson belted a grand-slam in the 8th inning of Wednesday’s 10-6 Chicago Cubs victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the home run proved to be the ultimate difference in the game. The home run was Johnson’s fourth on the season but helped propel the Cubs to only their second victory since the All-Star break.
Ted Lilly pitched six innings allowing six hits and three earned runs en route to his 10th victory on the season. Lilly also chipped in on the offensive side of things connecting on an RBI single in the fifth inning and then stealing third base which led to an RBI ground out by Ryan Theriot later in the inning.
“Obviously the big blow was the grand slam but Lilly did his part, a little base hit,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
“I mean the hit, I don’t know how to explain that one,” Lilly said. “That one kind of worked out. I didn’t hit it hard or anything, caught a break there.”
The Cubs may have also caught a break with Johnson’s grand slam. The ball was driven to right-center field and appeared to just clear the fence. As it was coming down, a fan reached over trying to make the catch himself but from the perspective of many, also looked as if he grabbed the ball from in play to make it a home run. The umpiring crew came together to make an official ruling and determined that the ball had cleared the fence before the fan touched it which resulted in a grand slam.
Arizona manager Bob Melvin was not very happy about the call but replays show that it appeared to have been the correct ruling.
“Early on, for the first few innings, we had some opportunities we didn’t cash in on,” Melvin said. “But we had been swinging the bats better, we had been better in those situations. There were a couple of man-on-thirds with less than two outs that we didn’t get in and those end up costing you as the game goes on a little bit.”
Along with the win, another good sign for the Cubs was the return of Alfonso Soriano to their lineup. Soriano was activated before the game and hit in the leadoff spot for the first time since fracturing his finger on June 11th. He went 1-5 including, a double in the six run eighth inning for Chicago.
The loss leaves the Diamondbacks only one game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the NL West while it give the Cubs a one game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
Next up for the Cubs will be the Florida Marlins, who head into Wrigley for a four game series that begins today
Nationals interim closer Jon Rauch was traded from the Washington Nationals to the Arizona Diamondbacks for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio yesterday. The move gives manager Bob Melvin a plethora of bullpen options. Melvin now has the luxury of using Juan Cruz, Tony Pena, Chad Qualls, or Jon Rauch to set up for Lyon in the 9th (or spot close if need be).
22-year-old Bonifacio was considered the best pure lead-off hitter the the organization, and was eyed as a long-term replacement for Orlando Hudson. Instead, he will be joining one of the youngest teams in the majors, and will have a chance to make an impact much earlier.
For 16 years now, Tim Wakefield has dazzled hitters with his famous floating knuckleball. Randy Johnson has taken a different approach, hurling blazing fastballs past hitters for 22 seasons. In Wednesday night’s battle of pitching veterans, the junk was more effective than the heat as Wakefield hurled seven shutout innings in the Boston Red Sox 5-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Fenway Park.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, last night’s pitching match up was the oldest in combined age ever at Fenway Park. Johnson at 44 years old and Wakefield 42 next week still both still have what it takes to retire major league hitters on a consistent basis.
“I’m not facing him as a hitter, so it’s kind of cool,” Wakefield said. “I’m actually facing their hitters and they have a pretty good lineup over there.”
For seven innings, Wakefield was able to keep that pretty good Diamondbacks lineup in check allowing only two hits and no runs while recording six strike outs. The win improves his record to 5-5 on the season with a 3.88 ERA.
The Big Unit pitched well allowing two runs on eight hits over six innings but it just was not enough to win. Both the runs he allowed came from the hands of RF Brendan Moss who was in the game so that lefty J.D. Drew did not have to face the left-handed Johnson. Moss had an RBI ground out in the second inning that scored Mike Lowell and then in the sixth inning he drove in Lowell once again on a one out sacrifice fly.
“I’ve faced Wakefield enough times when I was with the Yankees,” Johnson said. “I’ve been on the other side of these. I guess what goes around comes around.”
Johnson was relived by right-handed pitcher Juan Cruz to start the seventh inning. Cruz was not sharp allowing a lead off walk to Lowell followed by Coco Crisp’s third double of the game. Wakefield’s personal catcher Kevin Cash then belted a 3-run homer over the Green Monster deep into the night sky. The blast was Cash’s first home run since June 21, 2005 which ironically came off of Randy Johnson when he was pitching for the New York Yankees.
Manny Delcarmen replaced Wakefield on the mound and pitched a perfect eighth inning with two strike outs to record his 11th hold on the season. Craig Hansen tried to close the door in the ninth but was only able to get the first two outs before loading the bases. Sox Manager Terry Francona wasn’t taking any chances and summoned closer Jonathan Papelbon to come in and nail down the final out. Papelbon needed to throw only five pitches before striking out Chad Tracy to finish the game and pick up his 23rd save on the year.
“It’s a lot better to play 5-0 than 2-0,” Francona said, “especially the way the ninth inning unfolded.”
The win improves the Sox home record to 31-10 on the year, the best in the American League. Overall, they boast a 49-32 record, which currently ties them with the Chicago Cubs for the most wins in baseball halfway through the 162 game season.
Next up, Boston hits the road for a 10 game road trip with stops in Houston, Tampa Bay and New York. The Astros are currently six games under the .500 mark at 36-42 on the season. They’ve lost seven of their last 10 games.
Believe it or not, the match up in Tampa may be the most exciting of the three road series. For the first time in franchise history, the Rays find themselves in the race for the division half way through a season. Currently they are only one game behind the Sox and have won seven of their last 10.
Following that three game set, the Sox will travel into the Bronx to take on the Yankees for four games over the 4th of July weekend. No one is promising any fireworks this year but New York has picked up their play over the past month, keeping them in playoff contention. The big bats are all still in the lineup, it’s their starting pitchers that have been shaky all season long and with Chien-Ming Wang out until Sept. things will not be getting any better anytime soon.
The Sox return home on July 7th for a three game series against the Minnesota Twins followed by three games against the Baltimore Orioles which will lead right into the All-Star Break.
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It looked like Doug Davis and the Arizona Diamondback were well on their way to another road victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Leading 4-1 entering the eighth inning, Davis appeared to have everything under control. He’d allowed only five hits and one run, which came way back in the first inning on a Dustin Pedroia solo homerun. Other then that, things were looking pretty good and a win was only six outs away. Unfortunately for Davis and Arizona, the Boston bats came to life scoring four runs on six hits in the eighth inning propelling them to the 5-4 victory Tuesday night.
Julio Lugo and Jacoby Ellsbury opened the inning with back-to-back singles off of Davis before he was removed from the game by Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin. Davis was replaced by right-handed relief pitcher Chad Qualls who would not make it out of the inning.
Pedroia ripped an RBI single plating Lugo to pull the score to 4-2. J.D. Drew would then strike out to bring Manny Ramirez to the plate with two on and one out. Ramirez made a productive out, grounding out to third but in doing so advancing both runners into scoring position setting the stage for Mike Lowell.
Sitting fastball, Lowell belted a waist high two-seamer off the Green Monster to knock home both Ellsbury and Pedroia tying the game at 4-4. The double was Lowell’s 16th on the season and he’s now at 41 RBI’s on the year.
Up next, Jason Varitek picked a brilliant time to break out of his 1-30 slump and connected with an RBI single off of Qualls to drive in Lowell for the go-ahead run, putting the Sox up for good 5-4.
“Tek’s been a little bit unlucky,” said Lowell, “He’s hit better than just those numbers, but it always feels good for a ball to drop, especially in a big situation. Any comeback win is big, especially when I saw Tampa Bay won and we can stay atop our division.”
The win keeps the Sox one game ahead of the Rays in the AL East standings and makes next week’s showdown in Tampa Bay a match up that the Sox will be looking forward to. In their last meeting at Fenway Park, the two team’s benches cleared after Coco Crisp charged the mound after being hit by a Jamie Shields fastball.
With the loss, Arizona falls to 40-38 on the season but remains in the lead of the NL West by a four game margin over the LA Dodgers.
In the final game of the homestand, Boston will send Tim Wakefield to the mound to pitch against another seasoned veteran in Randy Johnson. While Johnson (4-5, 5.09 ERA) is 12 wins shy of 300 and second all-time with 4,687 strikeouts, Wakefield (4-5, 4.17) has lasted 16 seasons thanks to a slow knuckler and has a 172-151 career record. Both pitchers in their 40′s still put their teams in contention to win whenever they take the ball.
“The last four games that I’ve pitched have been extremely frustrating,” said Johnson, winless since May 18. “I feel good. I’m just frustrated because in all those games it’s essentially been one inning.”
Johnson has pitched very well at Fenway Park. Over the years he has compiled an 8-2 record there, despite a 5.01 ERA. He’s won his last four decisions in Boston. On the other hand, Wakefield has not received very good run support in front of the Fenway faithful. The Sox are averaging only 3.3 runs a game in his 15 starts this season.
Following tonight’s game the Sox will hit the road for a three game series in Houston which will wrap up interleague play. They will then head to Tampa Bay for the much anticipated Rays match up, followed by a four game series against the New York Yankees in the Bronx.
- If the Sox lose tonight, it will be the first time they have lost back to back series at Fenway Park in three years.
- J.D. Drew is hitless in the Arizona series, and so is his younger brother Stephen Drew. The two are a combined 0-16.
- David Ortiz may take some swings off a tee as early as this weekend to see where he is at in returning to the line up from his wrist injury that has sidelined him for 22 games so far.