Right-handed hitters are only batting .170 against Sox pitcher Justin Masterson. Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima, Craig Hansen, and Manny Delcarmen are struggling in the pen. The Sox have 6 healthy starting pitchers.
At this point, moving Justin Masterson to the pen is the next natural step. Four games behind the Rays, the Sox can’t afford to lose games blown in late innings. The Sox hope that with Masterson’s solid presence in either the 7th or 8th innings, there will be less pressure on the rest of the bullpent.
Masterson will do a short stint in AAA to adjust to pitching in relief. Clay Buchholz will eventually replace him in the rotation, but first baseman Jeff Bailey was recalled in the meantime to take his roster spot.
Hiroki Kuroda’s first year in the MLB has been a rollercoaster ride. His solid perfomances were generally bookended by abysmal ones. Kuroda’s June started and ended with 6-run, 2.2 inning outings… with a 4-hit complete-game shutout in between.
Kuroda did not seem to be fazed by giving up the hit, his focus was on the score of the game.
“My main concern was that he was the leadoff hitter in that inning, it was a 2-2 count and I didn’t want to walk him because I didn’t have that big of a lead,” Kuroda said through a translator. “I was concentrating more on not allowing any runs. I wasn’t really nervous, but I felt the pressure from the fans because they were expecting something big.”
Kuroda settled down, not allowing any more baserunners on the night. With the win, the Dodgers moved into a tie for first in the NL West with Arizona.
Kuroda spent 11 years playing for the Hiroshima Carp of the Japanese Central League before signing with the Dodgers in December of 2007.
After the first two games of this weekend’s Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees series, things were looking great for the Boston Red Sox. They’d captured victories on both Thursday night and Friday afternoon against the Bronx Bombers and it finally looked liked their bats were going to come around after an awful series sweep in Tampa Bay. It appeared that right when they needed a series win on the road, they were about to accomplished the feat but the weekend would prove to fair in favor of New York who evened the series out by claiming one run victories on Saturday and Sunday.
Jon Lester pitched a complete game five-hitter in Boston’s 5-0 win in the first game of the series to end Boston’s five-game losing streak. The win was his seventh on the season and his second complete game shutout on the year. Lester was the first Boston pitcher to throw a complete game shutout in the Bronx since Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat in 2000.
“It was cool. It was definitely a different experience,” Lester said. “You watch the game and it seems big, but when you’re out there on the mound, it’s a pretty big stadium and a lot of people.”
Friday afternoon Josh Beckett tossed six strong innings and the Sox were able to win again by the score of 6-4 with the help of one of the most bizarre hits in recent years. Kevin Youkilis belted a two-RBI triple in the third inning that helped tie the score at 3-3 but the hit itself was inches away from being a homerun. Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon had a good beat on the Youkilis blast that was heading towards the left field fence. He made a great effort to catch the ball and for a moment actually had it in his glove before crashing into the wall, jarring the ball which sprang loose and actually rested on the top of the wall’s padding for multiple seconds before falling back in play on the warning track. When all was said and done with, two runs had scored, Youkilis ended up at third, and Damon left the game with a sprained/bruised left shoulder and has since been placed on the 15-day DL for the first time in his career.
“It was bizarre,” said Sox third basemen Mike Lowell who was the hero of the game with four RBI’s and the go-ahead three run homer in the fifth inning. “I’ve been playing awhile. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
In the two wins, the Sox had a combined 23 hits and 13 runs compared to the Yankees 11 hits and four runs. Yankees Manager Joe Girardi was not happy with his team’s effort and in the post-game press conference made it known.
“Last night was a frustrating loss,” Girardi said. “Today’s a frustrating loss.”
The Yankees responded well and were able to receive a very strong pitching performance from Mike Mussina on Saturday to pick up a 2-1 victory. Mussina hurled six innings allowing only four hits and no runs while striking out five to earn his 11th victory on the year.
New York was able to take a 1-0 lead on a Melky Cabrera RBI single in the 2nd inning and plate their other run in the 6th inning on a Brett Gardner Sac fly to left.
Mariano Rivera was called to close the door in the 9th and immediately got himself into a jam. J.D. Drew singled to lead off the inning and Manny Ramirez was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on with no outs. Mike Lowell kept things alive with an RBI single to right, scoring Drew and cutting the Yankees lead in half making the score 2-1. Rivera would then hit Kevin Youkilis to load the bases with no outs.
As good as things looked for the Sox, Rivera reached down deep and was able to record the final three outs without allowing another run to score. He was able to strike out Coco Crisp for out number one, retire the struggling Jason Varitek on an infield pop up to first and then end the game on a Julio Lugo strike out.
“We gave ourselves a great chance with really good at-bats in the ninth and then Mariano went to work and really carved us up for three batters,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He gave himself no wiggle room and he didn’t need it.”
In Sunday’s game, the Sox attempted to rebound from the tough loss and capture a road series for the first time on the road trip. Tim Wakefield provided Boston with another quality start, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing three runs. When he exited the game, the Sox were on top 4-2 and he was replaced in favor of Javier Lopez. Lopez allowed a two run triple to Robinson Cano that evened the games score at 4-4.
The game would go to extra innings and the Yankees were able to get to Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to score the game winning run in the 10th inning off of a Brett Gardener dribbler up the middle that deflected off of Alex Cora’s glove into center field, scoring Cano to make the final score 5-4 New York.
“Seems like that’s what’s going to happen if you’re going to beat me this year: broken bat or find-your-way-through-the-infield somehow,” Papelbon said. “I’ve got to be able to go out and get the first guy.”
The Sox struggled to only win three games on their 10 game road trip and have slipped behind the Tampa Bay Rays by five games in the AL East Standings. Currently Boston is a half game ahead of the Minnesota Twins in the AL Wild Card race and they will be welcoming Minnesota to Boston for a three game series starting tonight.
Minnesota has been playing great ball winning eight of their last 10 games including five in a row. They will send Scott Baker to the hill tonight to face Dice-K Matsuzaka in the series opener. Baker is 5-2 on the season with a 3.65 ERA while Matsuzaka, currently 9-1, will be going for win number 10 on the year.
Following the three games with Minnesota, the Sox will welcome the Baltimore Orioles into town for a three game set this coming weekend. Tickets are still available for all remaining games on the current homestand.
Are the Boston Red Sox considering signing Barry Bonds? Depends on who you ask. Some say Bonds already had a secret tryout for the team in response to losing slugger David Ortiz to injury. While the move would certainly make baseball sense for the Sox, many are speculating that the fan backlash may be too harsh for Red Sox executives to consider signing the home run king. According to Larry King who recently spoke with Bonds, Barry continues to work out and stay in baseball shape. Barry however, thinks it’s unlikely that he’ll get any offers from MLB teams. It is rumored that if Bond plays, he would play for the league minimum and donate that salary to charity.
So the questions remain: will the Red Sox pick up Bonds? Will Red Sox nation accept Barry? Stay tuned for more as this story develops.
The rosters for the 2008 All-Star Game have been released. The Red Sox, Yankees, and Cubs are well represented among the starters. Both the Angels and the Cubs each send two starting pitchers and their closer. The Last man ballot, as well as the managers’ choices for starting pitchers are not available yet. (more)
Arthur Rhodes woke up with a sore arm. Brandon Morrow pitched four out of the last five days. Carlos Silva threw a side session on Sunday. R.A. Dickey threw over 100 pitches in his last start. With no one left in the bullpen, who would the Mariners pitch in the 15th inning of a 1-1 game?
Third-string catcher Jamie Burke.
Burke was not a complete stranger to the mound. He had thrown 4 innings in the minors, and had the ability to keep the ball over the plate. Unforunately for the Mariners, he did not have that much velocity. Miguel Cabrera hit a double and was replaced on the basepaths by Michael Hollimon. Marcus Thames’ sac fly in the next at bat sealed the win for Detroit. Burke was able to retire Ivan Rodriguez and Edgar Renteria, leaving to a standing ovation from the tired home crowd.
Ichiro Suzuki, Willie Bloomquist, and Adrian Beltre also offered to pitch if the game went past 15 innings.
2007 Cy Young winner, C.C. Sabathia is headed to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Indians completed the trade with the Brewers on Sunday night, getting four top prospects in return. The deal ends weeks of speculation about where Sabathia and his expiring contract would end up. To land C.C. the Brewers gave up left fielder Matt LaPorta, pitchers Rob Bryson and Zach Jackson and a player to be named later.
For the Brewers the move signals their intent to make a push for the playoffs this season. The Brewers haven’t been to the playoffs since 1982. Milwaukee is currently in a tight race with the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in the strong NL Central Division. The Brewers and Cardinals both trail the Cubs by 3.5 games.
The list of 2008 MLB Home Run Derby participants is steadily growing. Chase Utley’s 24 homers lead the majors, and the list of contestants. Also competing are Marlins’ Dan Uggla (23), Astros’ Lance Berkman, Rangers’ Josh Hamilton (19), and Indians’ Grady Sizemore (22).
Vlad Guerrero, last year’s derby champ, has expressed interest in competing again but has not been officially invited yet.
The hits just keep on coming, unfortunately just not for the Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays finished off a three-game sweep over the reigning World Series Champions with a 7-6 victory Wednesday night at Tropicana Field and in doing so increased their AL East lead to 3 ½ games over the struggling Sox.
“It’s a really good feeling. I can’t tell you that I expected it—I’d be lying—but right now we do expect to win on a nightly basis,” manager Joe Maddon said after the Rays improved the best record in baseball to 20 games over .500 at 52-32.
Rookie Evan Longoria went 3-for-4 while driving in three runs to lead the way for the Rays in their second series sweep of the season over Boston on their home field. Longoria connected on an RBI single in the first inning off of Red Sox starter Dice-K Matsuzaka and then delivered the big blow in the seventh inning when he smacked a two-RBI double to left-center field off of reliever Craig Hansen to put the Rays on top 5-4 at the time.
The Sox were unable to hold on to a three run lead which they had built up over five innings off of Rays starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. A Dustin Pedroia homerun in the first inning put the Sox up early 1-0 but Longoria tied things up in the bottom half of the first with his RBI single. Manny Ramirez would put the Sox back up 2-1 with an RBI groundout in the third inning which scored Pedroia who had tripled earlier in the frame.
Boston tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning on a J.D. Drew triple that scored Pedroia. Drew then scored on a Kazmir wild pitch to give the Sox a 4-1 lead.
After Hideki Okajima pitched a scoreless sixth inning, Manny Delcarmen came on to work the seventh inning and that’s when things went south for Boston. Delcarmen was not able to retire any batter that he faced, allowing three hits in a row to Josh Barlett, Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford.
Sox manager Terry Francona had seen enough and summoned Craig Hansen from the pen to try and get out of the bases loaded jam. Only problem with this move was that Hansen’s performance was as equally as pathetic as Delcarmen’s. Hansen would also not retire any batter he faced, walking two and allowing the two-RBI double to Longoria that gave the Rays the lead for good.
“We missed a lot of opportunities to spread the game out,” Francona said. “But still saying that, we had a lead … they got to Delcarmen, and things unraveled in a hurry.”
Once again, the Sox were able to score two runs late in the game to cut the Rays lead to one but were unable to tie the score before the game’s final out.
“It reaffirms to us that we can play against these guys and we can beat the Red Sox,” Maddon said. “Now we have to prove that we can beat them in Fenway Park also.”
He’s right. The Rays are 6-0 against Boston this season at Tropicana Field and 0-6 against them at Fenway Park. The teams will not meet again until a three game series at Fenway in early September, followed by another three game set in Tampa Bay the following week.
One positive note for the Sox was the performance by 2B Dustin Pedroia. On the game Pedroia went 4-for-5 with a home run, triple and two doubles. He had two RBI’s and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Over the course of the streak he is 25-44 for a .568 batting average with three homers. Even with the great numbers, the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year is not happy with the result in the series sweep.
“This series, they played better than us. They pitched better than us. They hit in the clutch better than us,” Pedroia said. “That’s why we didn’t win any games.”
Things will not get any easier for Boston as they now travel to New York for four games against their arch rivals. The Yankees are not exactly playing great baseball but always elevate their level of play for this match up.
In tonight’s match up, two lefties will take the mound in a battle of the southpaws. Jon Lester will toss for the Sox while Andy Pettitte will chuck for the Yanks.
Here are the other pitching match ups for the remainder of the series:
Fri, Jul 4 1:05 pm EDT J. Beckett vs. D. Rasner
Sat, Jul 5 3:55 pm EDT J. Masterson vs. M. Mussina
Sun, Jul 6 8:05 pm EDT T. Wakefield vs. J. Chamberlain
For a long time, ‘the Tampa Bay Rays win’ was a phrase that you expected to only hear 60 maybe 70 times a year. Well, the Tampa Bay Rays won again last night beating the Boston Red Sox 3-1 and are on a pace to win a franchise record 100 games. The team that for so long was MLB’s runts of the litter have proven night in and out that they’re ready to play and win against anyone.
Matt Garza tossed seven solid innings and was able to out-pitch the Tampa Bay killer, Tim Wakefield. Going into the game, Wakefield had been 19-3 lifetime against Tampa Bay and 9-1 at Tropicana Field. None of this mattered to Garza who allowed only five hits and an unearned run in his second dominant outing in a row. The win improves his season record to 7-4 and lowers his ERA to 3.47 on the year.
“These guys aren’t like they used to be,” Wakefield said. “They’re pretty good over there.”
The Rays have now won seven of their last eight games and hold the best record in all of baseball at 51-32. They continue to play solid baseball and prove the critics wrong that they will be a competitor down the stretch run of the season.
“It’s still a long road, and we have to take it day to day,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays took advantage of a few Wakefield wild pitches to plate two of their runs. In the first inning, Carl Crawford scampered home after a wild pitch and then late in the fourth inning Evan Longoria was able to advance from first to second on another wild pitch to move into scoring position. The very next batter, Dioner Navarro, looped and RBI single to right field to drive in Longoria. Navarro would add some insurance in the eighth inning, driving in his second run of the game to cap the scoring off at 3-1.
With the win, the Rays are now 2 ½ games ahead of the Sox in the AL East, the largest deficit for Boston since they trailed by three games on April 9th.
“I don’t really care to talk about who we’re missing. We showed up to win and they outplayed us,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “That’s what matters to us. … Regardless of who you have out there, you either win or you don’t.”
Francona could be hinting at the absence of Sox slugger David Ortiz from the lineup who has been sidelined now for over a month with a wrist injury. Regardless of Ortiz not being in the lineup, the Sox need to find a way to win close games. They’ve lost four straight now by a total of only five runs.
Their lone run yesterday came on a J.D. Drew sacrifice fly in the 4th inning, but other then that their bats were held in check most of the night by Garza and the bullpen work of J.P. Howell and Grant Balfour in the eight and ninth innings.
“We go out there against Boston fully expecting to win,” Balfour said. “We’re not shocked to win a ball game. It’s really no surprise to us.”
Boston will try to avoid the series sweep for the second time this season in Tampa Bay by sending Dice-K Matsuzaka to the mound to take on Rays ace Scott Kazmir. Matsuzaka is currently 9-1 with a 3.21 ERA on the season while Kazmir’s numbers are also very good at 7-3 on the year with a 2.28 ERA. Matsuzaka has not faced the Rays yet this season while Kazmir will be trying to avenge a loss on his first start of the season back on May 4th.
Following the game, the Sox will head to New York to take on the Yankees in a four game series over the weekend.