With next weeks trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees come into this weekend’s three game series with some needs. For the Yankees, both Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada are sidelined with injuries so New York may be looking to add a left-handed bat to their lineup. The Sox, on the other hand, are getting a left-handed bat without having to do anything.
David Ortiz will rejoin Boston’s lineup tonight after missing 47 games with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. He was placed on the DL on June 3rd and over the course of his absence the Sox did not lost any ground in the division compiling a 26-19 overall record. Ortiz completed a six game rehab assignment this past week in which he went 5-for-18 (.278) with three home runs, six RBIs and five runs scored.
“I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not 100 percent, but I’m close to it,” said Ortiz, whose 53 extra-base hits versus the Yankees since the start of 2003 lead the majors. “I think I am where I would like to be.”
He’s right where manager Terry Francona and his teammates want him to be as well, back in the lineup.
“Getting him back is going to be huge,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia told the team’s official Web site. “His personality, his presence in the lineup—he changes the game just being in the lineup. We’ve tried to weather the storm long enough. It’s time to get David back and get ready for our final stretch run.”
The Yankees will look to add a left-handed slugger to make up for the two injuries and talks have begun to stir about the addition of the homerun king, Barry Bonds, who has been a free-agent all season.
“I’ll mention it. We’ll cover everything,” Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner said Thursday before club officials began high-level meetings. “No stone will be left unturned.”
In tonight’s match up, the Red Sox will send Josh Beckett (9-6, 3.98 ERA) to the mound to face the Yankees for the fourth time this season. Beckett boasts a 3-0 record vs. the division rivals beating them at home on April 12 and twice at Yankee Stadium on April 17th and July 4th.
New York will counter will rookie Joba Chamberlin (2-3, 2.52 ERA). Since entering the rotation, Chamberlin has started nine games and is 1-1 with a 2.64 ERA. In his July 6th start against Boston he allowed three earned runs on four hits in six innings of work at Yankee Stadium.
Saturday afternoon’s game will kick off around 4:00pm and featuring a veteran pitching match up. Tim Wakefield (6-7, 3.69 ERA) will face Andy Pettitte (11-7, 3.86 ERA) in a game that will showcase two pitchers who combined have won 386 games and thrown 5,411 innings in 30 total years of MLB service.
In the series finale, Jon Lester (8-3, 3.20 ERA) will face Sidney Ponson (6-1, 4.02 ERA). Over his past nine starts, Lester has been very impressive boasting a 5-0 record. Since being picked up on waivers by New York, Ponson has pitched very well holding a 2-0 record and a 4.36 ERA.
The Yankees are currently three games behind the Sox and Rays for the AL East lead so this series could make or break their run for the division. The Sox enter the series with the best home record in baseball (36-11) and have hope that this series can propel them to a division lead that they can hold onto for good.
It’s going to be a fun weekend at Fenway Park, so don’t miss the opportunity to see baseball hottest rivalry in action. Tickets are still available to Saturday and Sunday’s games!
Gil Meche tossed seven shutout innings allowing only five hits while striking out four Rays en route to Kansas City’s 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The win was Meche’s eighth on the year and his second consecutive performance where he earned a victory.
The game did not look like it was going to go Meche’s way after he struggled to get out of the first inning throwing 31 pitches in 26 minutes, allowing two of the five hits. He allowed two more hits in the second inning but after that settled down and only allowed two runners to reach base during the rest of his outing.
“He didn’t start off very good, obviously, way too many pitches, having trouble putting hitters away,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “It was really impressive to see him make up for it, getting ahead in the count and staying ahead. It took him three to get it going, but he stuck with it once he got it going.”
KC opened up the scoring in the first inning on a sac-fly by Mark Grudzielanek that plated David DeJesus. They struck again scoring three runs in the fourth inning on four hits. Ross Gload knocked in an RBI single to put KC ahead 2-0 and then Joe Buck connected on a two RBI double to increase the lead to 4-0.
Before the game, Meche had promised Buck that he’d toss a gem only if he could shave the catchers head. Buck agreed, and Meche kept his end of the bargain with his performance on the night.
“He was begging to do it, promised me he’d pitch good, and I’m a catcher, I’ll do anything to help a pitcher,” said Buck, who opted to keep his goatee to offset the clean pate. “He kept his promise.”
The Rays were able to score runs in the eighth and ninth inning off of the Royals bullpen cutting the lead to 4-2 but Joakim Soria was able to record the final three outs to earn his 27th save on the season. Maybe the Royals should cut each other’s hair more often.
“I told him after the game, his head’s staying like that for a while,” Meche said. “We’re going to keep shaving that head every fifth day. It was a fun day. I think he looks pretty good like that.”
The win was Kansas Cities’ first in four games after they had been swept by the Detroit Tigers. The loss drops Tampa Bay down to a tie for first in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox. Boston has one more game in the win column at 60. The New York Yankees sit three games behind both teams heading into this weekends three game series with Boston at Fenway Park.
It’s true, the Boston Red Sox bullpen finally came up big in Wednesday afternoons 6-3 win in 12 innings over the Seattle Mariners, completing the three game series sweep. Five pitchers relieved starter Clay Buchholz and combined to toss 6 2/3 scoreless innings of work en route to Boston’s first sweep in Seattle since July of 1993.
With the score tied at 3-3 in the 12th, Mike Lowell connected on a two-run RBI single off of Seattle reliever Sean Green (2-3) that put the Sox ahead for good. It was his second hit on the afternoon and could not have come at a more clutch spot. With sluggers Manny Ramirez (knee) and David Ortiz (wrist) out of the lineup, Lowell delivered exactly when he needed to.
“Since I’ve been with the Red Sox, we don’t play well in Seattle. So this was a big series for us,” Lowell said.
In a post game interview, the question was posed upon Lowell if he believed that with the sweep the Red Sox have vanquished their road woes, especially with David Ortiz returning to the lineup this Friday. His response, “I think we’ve done that … but you’ve got to do that. No one else is going to feel sorry for you.”
That doesn’t mean people aren’t going to feel sorry for Seattle.
The loss drops the Mariners to 25 games under .500 (38-63) and the worst record in the American League. They have now lost five in a row and eight of their last ten games.
“No matter how many times you get hit between the eyes, you have to get back up and get after it,” said Seattle OF Raul Ibanez who hit his 14th homerun of the season off of Buchholtz in the 4th inning.
The loss for the Mariners also wastes another great start from their young ace pitcher Felix Hernandez. At 22 years old, the hard throwing right hander can only wonder how his record sits at 7-6 with an incredible ERA of 2.95. Hernandez pitched six innings allowing only two earned runs while striking out six. It was his eighth consecutive start with allowing three or fewer earned runs.
Buchholz threw well for Boston but also came up with a no decision. Besides the Ibanez homer in the fourth inning, the rookie was awesome through the first five innings. He ran into some trouble in the sixth allowing a lead off single to Jose Lopez and two batters later a game tying homerun by Jose Vidro. A walk to Adrian Beltre and then a single to follow by Jeremy Reed ended Buchholtz’s outing with a stat line of 5 1/3 innings pitched, three earned runs allowed on seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
The Boston bullpen took over, and the rest was history.
Justin Masterson, making his debut out of the pen, came on and helped clean up the mess Buchholtz had left him with. He was very effective tossing 2 2/3 perfect innings, retiring all eight batters he faced.
Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Jonathan Papelbon and Craig Hansen would combine to pitch four more scoreless innings of work to hammer down the road win. Papelbon (4-3) pitched the 11th to earn the victory and was able to get out of a one out jam with runners at first and third by forcing Kenji Johjima to ground into an inning ending double-play. Hansen worked the 12th to earn his 2nd save on the season.
The Sox now have today off as they head back to Boston for their longest homestand of the season that will feature a three game series against the New York Yankees followed by a three game series with the Los Angeles Angels and close with a three game set against the Oakland Athletics.
New York comes to town on Friday only 3 ½ games behind the division leading Tampa Bay Rays and 3 games behind the Sox in the standings so excitement is already brewing around Fenway. Red Sox Tickets are still available for all three games!
Pedro Martinez will be spending some time away from the New York Mets after the passing of his father in the Dominican Republic. Among the candidates to fill-in for him on Saturday were Ruddy Lugo, Brian Stokes, Jon Niese, Nelson Figueroa, and Claudio Vargas. All of those players either did not have adequate rest or Major League experience. Chosen instead was journeyman right-hander Brandon Knight. Knight appeared in 11 games for the Yankees in 2001-2002, and spent time since then in the Pirates system, as well as independent leagues.
Knight was close to retirement earlier this year, but encouragement from his wife helped him choose to return to baseball.
“My wife, Brooke, convinced me to go for it and in my heart, I felt I needed to give myself one more chance,” he said.
Since Knight joined the Mets AAA affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs in May this season, he has a 5-1 record and an era of 1.60, with 49 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. His performance helped earn him an invite to the US Olympic Team in Beijing, as well as Pacific Coast League player of the week award after a 6-inning 12 K performance.
Martinez is only expected to miss one start, but Knight’s performance will decide if he will stay with the NL East leading Mets for longer.
The New York Yankees continue to roll at home, winning their 10th straight at the Stadium in completing a sweep of the Minnesota Twins. Mike Mussina pitched eight innings for his 13th win on the year. The crafty veteran continues to lead an ailing Yankees pitching staff and has emerged as the club ace at age 39. “Moose” gave up only 6 hits with 0 earned runs on 7 strikeouts.
The offense for the Yankees came mostly by way of the double. Both Alex Rodriguez and Justin Christian had 2 run doubles for the Bombers in the 5-1 win. New addition Richie Sexson completed the offense with a sacrifice fly. The win put the Yankees 11 games over .500 at home. It’s the road that has really given the Yankees trouble this year. Away from the Bronx the Yankees are only a .500 team.
The Yankees are hoping to bring some of their recent momemtum on the road with them as they head to Fenway Park on Friday night to take on the 2nd place Boston Red Sox. All remaining games with the Sox are very important for New York. The Yankees are only 3.5 games out of first and only 2 games behind the Red Sox in the loss column.
Red Sox vs Yankees tickets are still available for this weekend’s series. Game 1 on Friday night features Joba Chamberlain vs Josh Beckett. Should be a good one.
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
The Boston Red Sox have not played their best baseball on the road this season, but luckily for them Dice-K Matsuzaka has. Matsuzaka tossed another beauty Tuesday night to help the Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 in front of the Safeco Field crowd of 38,425 fans. The win improves Matsuzaka’s road record to a perfect 5-0 on the season with an outstanding 2.20 ERA in eight starts away from Fenway Park.
Dice-K threw seven scoreless innings before the M’s got to him in the eighth for their only two runs of the game. Through seven, Matsuzaka had allowed only two hits while striking out six batters before he was rattled for the two runs. It looked like he may have a chance for his second career complete game with the Sox but manager Terry Francona took the ball from him after he allowed three of the first four batters to reach base in the eight and opted to go with his bullpen which was the right move.
Hideki Okajima was able to hammer down the final two outs in the eight and Jonathan Papelbon was summoned for the ninth and needed only nine pitches to record his 30th save of the season.
The win moves the Sox a half game behind the Tampa Bay Rays who lost on Tuesday to Oakland by a score of 8-1. The loss for the Mariners moves them to a season-worst 24 games below .500 (38-62).
“I think the one thing we’ve noticed with Lester and Dice-K, the rest has done them some good,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “But when they’ve gone out in the eighth, the ups and downs seem to have gotten to them a little bit which I think is understandable.”
J.D. Drew gave Dice-K and the Sox a 1-0 lead with a solo homerun in the top of the first inning. The homerun was Drew’s 18th on the season and came on a 3-2 pitch with two outs off of M’s starter R.A. Dickey. Dickey (2-5) allowed three more runs in the fifth inning on four hits. Drew and rookie Jed Lowrie both knocked in runs with sac flies and the other Boston run came on an RBI double by Mike Lowell which scored Dustin Pedroia.
“We had some tough games against (the Angels), and Lester comes in and slams the door and Dice-K follows in his footsteps,” Drew said. “The offense just had to score a few runs.”
Drew continues to pick up the slack with David Ortiz out of the lineup, belting 14 homeruns in his absence. Ortiz is expected to make his first start since May 31st this Friday night at Fenway Park when the Red Sox take on the New York Yankees.
This afternoon, the Sox will send Clay Buchholtz to the hill and will try to go for their first road sweep of the year. Buchholtz (2-5, 5.88 ERA) has not won a game since May 2nd and has lost his first two decisions since returning from the DL on July 11th. In those games, he has pitched well besides some first inning woes where he has allowed seven runs in the first inning over his last three starts.
“(We talked about trying) to manipulate the sitting down and getting back up for the first and time, and see how that works, and maybe we can break that first inning barrier that’s there right now,” Buchholz told Boston’s official Web site of his pre-game bullpen routine.
Seattle will counter with Felix Hernandez (7-6, 2.95 ERA). The 22-year old has dominant stuff but has not been getting a lot of run support from the Mariners offense. Hernandez has faced the Sox twice this season, beating them once at Fenway Park 8-0 on June 6th and losing to them 5-3 in Seattle on May 26th.
Following today’s game, the Red Sox will head back to Boston and resume play on Friday against the New York Yankees. Tickets are still available for the weekend series at Fenway Park!
Entering the 9th inning Tuesday trailing 5-2 to the New York Mets, the Philadelphia Phillies knew that with closer Billy Wagner unavailable to pitch due to muscle spasm in his throwing shoulder, anything was possible. Six runs and four relief pitchers later, the Mets witnessed just how valuable a good closer can be.
The Phillies batted around sending 11 batters to the plate in the 9th inning rally that helped lift them past the division rival Mets and take a 1 game lead in the NL East standings. The devastating blow came from 2007 NL MVP Jimmy Rollins when he clocked a go-ahead two-run double to propel the Phillies to their 54th victory on the season.
“It started last year,” Rollins said, referring to the Phillies’ comeback from seven games behind the Mets with 17 to play to win the division. “You never give up.”
New York had played the spoiler in Joe Blanton’s first start with Philadelphia since being traded from Oakland. Blanton allowed five runs on eight hits in six innings of work in his NL debut but did not factor into the decision because of the late inning heroics by his teammates.
Johan Santana also did not factor into the game’s decision after pitching very well for the Mets. Santana tossed eight solid innings allowing only two runs on eight hits but got nothing to show for it after his bullpen could not close the game out.
“After seeing that, you can’t help feeling that you want to be out there,” said the sidelined Wagner, who has 24 saves in 30 chances. “A lot of different things might have happened if I was out there. I’d rather be the guy standing here taking the blame instead of letting my teammates suck on this one.”
The loss puts the Mets 1 game behind the Phillies in the NL East standings and 4 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wildcard race.
The Yankees have 27 more regular season games at the old Yankee Stadium. It looks like they are trying to win them all. Last night’s 8-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins gave the ‘Bombers’ their 5th win in a row and their 9th straight at home. The Yankees have been closing the gap on the Red Sox and the Rays and now trail Tampa by 3.5 games in the AL East. The streak has come just in time for a key series this weekend at Fenway Park with the Boston Red Sox.
Last night’s rout included more big hits from 2B Robinson Cano. Cano who suffered at the plate in the 1st half of the season is hitting .522 since the All-Star break and went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI. Bobby Abreu also went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI including a 2 run homer in the 6th inning.
The Yankees will finish up at home with the Twins on Wednesday before heading to Boston for a three game set with the Red Sox starting on Friday night. Red Sox vs Yankees tickets are still available for the series.
CC Sabathia threw his third consecutive complete game for the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night. Since joining the Brewers, Sabathia is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.36, and 31 strikeouts to only 8 walks. CC surrendered only three hits and two walks, handing the Brewers their 7th straight win.
Sabathia’s no-hit bid was ended in the sixth inning by a Brendan Ryan single.
The Brewers are now only one game behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central Division.