The Boston Red Sox did all that they could to try and pull out a victory Monday night, but the Tampa Bay Rays were able to hang on and capture a 5-4 victory in the first game of three in a series which features the top two teams in the AL East.
Tampa led the game 5-2 entering the 9th inning and sent out closer Troy Percival to try and finish the Sox off. Percival was able to strike out Manny Ramirez for the first out of the inning but then allowed three consecutive hits. Mike Lowell doubled to get things started. Kevin Youkilis then singled to put runners at the corners with only one out. Up next, Brandon Moss doubled to deep right, scoring Lowell and moving Youkilis up to third.
Jason Varitek just got under a Percival change up but the fly ball was deep enough to drive in Youkilis from third on a sacrifice fly. With the score now at 5-4, Rays manager Joe Madden had seen enough from his closer and called for J.P. Howell from the bullpen to record the final out. Madden and Percival exchanged words as the closer was not happy to be replaced in the middle of the inning.
“Percy was very upset, and I knew he was going to be very upset. He and I go way back, and everything’s going to be fine between he and I,” Maddon said. “He’s been (closing games) for years and I know he wants to be the last man standing, but I have to do what I believe is right at that particular moment.”
Howell came on to face Julio Lugo who was able to stretch the count full only to line out to short ending the game and the Boston rally.
“This is an intense series,” Lowell said. “I know there’s a little history, but I think both teams played good baseball.”
The history Lowell’s referring to goes back to the two team’s last series at Fenway Park when Coco Crisp charged the mound after being plunked by Jamie Shields. Shields, who started last night’s game and picked up the victory, was suspended six games for his actions that resulted in a benches clearing brawl.
“I knew from both sides nothing was going to happen. It was over,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re professionals, they’re professionals, and all that business is in the past.”
The Rays were able to jump on the board early scoring a run in the first inning on a solo home run by B.J. Upton off of Sox rookie pitcher Justin Masterson. The home run was Upton’s 6th on the season.
A Lowell single in the 4th drove in Dustin Pedroia to even the score at 1-1. Lowell finished the game with three hits.
Tampa Bay came right back in the bottom half of the inning scoring twice on a Gabe Gross two-run homer that gave the Rays a 3-1 advantage. This was the third game Masterson has allowed multiple home runs in this season.
The Rays would tack on another run in the 5th on a Carlos Pena double to put them ahead 4-1.
J.D. Drew continues to hit well for the Sox and belted his 16th home run on the season in the 6th inning to pull Boston a little closer at a score of 4-2.
Masterson was pulled after six innings and relieved by another rookie, relief pitcher Chris Smith. Smith did not last very long after facing some control issues. He would walk the bases loaded and be yanked from the game by Sox manager Terry Francona in favor for Javier Lopez. Lopez was able to get out of the bases loaded jam but did allow for one of the inherited runners to score. The run would be the eventual game winner.
“It’s no fluke. They’re a talented group,” Lowell said. “I think a lot of times when you have a lot of young guys, you don’t know how they measure up. There’s no track record. But I think the talent is there. You’ve got to respect that.”
With the win, the Rays now sit atop the AL East with a 1 ½ games lead over Boston and the best record in all of MLB.
Tonight, the Sox send knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to the hill to try and stop the bleeding. Wakefield has enjoyed great success throughout his career against the Rays, especially while pitching in Tampa. In 29 career starts, Wakefield boasts a 19-3 record with a 3.16 ERA against the divisional foes.
For Tampa Bay, Matt Garza will take the ball and try to stop Wakefield and the Sox. In his last outing, Garza was nearly perfect allowing only 1 hit and 1 walk in his complete game victory against the Florida Marlins. He recorded 10 strike outs in the performance.
“That’s the best pitching performance I’ve ever caught,” Rays’ catcher Shawn Riggans said of the effort by Garza, who allowed only a Hanley Ramirez homer during his first career complete game.
First pitch tonight is at 7:10pm EST.
Red Sox DH David Ortiz plans to attend the All-Star Game later this month, but it will only be as a spectator. The current vote-getter for American League DH has a partially torn sheath on a tendon in his left wrist, suffered in a game at Baltimore on May 31st.
“I’m going to go to the All-Star Game. Show respect for the fans,” said Ortiz “I’m not going to be able to play.”
Ortiz was wearing an immobilizing cast, but has since had it removed. He’s begun hitting off of a tee, and may begin soft toss sessions before the team heads to New York.
“I’m still working my way up,” Ortiz said. “I’m feeling better everyday. I’m not going to tell you when I’m going to be 100 percent because I don’t know.”
Ortiz was leading the team with 13 home runs and 43 runs batted in when he was injured. In his absence, right fielder JD Drew has stepped up to power the Sox offense. In the past 30 days drew is batting .337 with 12 homers, 27 RB, 1 stolen base, and a whopping OPS of 1.31 (this puts him as #1 in scoring in most standard format fantasy baseball leagues in that time).
Ortiz is not likely to return until he is assessed again after the All-Star Break.
This weekend was a tough one for the Red Sox, losing consecutive one-run games to the Houston Astros. On Saturday night the teams had a combined 27 hits for 21 runs, including a wild third inning with 9 two-out runs. Despite the messy start, Sox starter Jon Lester was lined up for the win after a 5-run Sox rally in the 6th.
Unfortunately for the Sox, Ty Wiggington ended Manny Delcarmen’s scoreless innings streak in the Eighth inning. Wiggington’s game-tying solo shot was the first run Delcarmen had surrendered since May 27th; a span of 13 2/3 innings over 12 appearances. Lance Berkman continued the Astros’ two-out success and nailed a go-ahead double to left field to put Houston ahead for good.
Mike Lowell hit a clutch solo homer in the 9th to bring the Sox within a run, but Houston closer Jose Valverde cooled down and managed to get Kevin Youkilis and Jason Varitek to strike out to end the game.
The red-hot Sox offense kept it going in this game, with four-hit performances by Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia, and a combined 8 RBI from 4-6 in the order. Sox pitching gave up double-digit runs for only the 4th time this season. Lester’s 6 earned were the most he’s given up this year. David Aardsma’s 2 runs (1 earned) were the first he’d surrendered since June 6th.
The pitching staff fared far better on Sunday. Starter Josh Beckett scattered 8 hits and 2 walks across 7 innings, but left after the 7th with 111 pitches.
“Too many pitches,” Beckett said. “I have to cut down on some of the three-ball counts and go deeper in the game and give myself a better chance to win. ”
David Aardsma came on in relief, and gave up a one-out single to Miguel Tejada. Sox manager Terry Francona went back to the pen and brought in Hideki Okajima. Okajima has struggled with inherited runners this season, and has not been brought in with runners on since May 14th. Okajima would toss a wild pitch to move Tejada to second, and give up a go-ahead single to Mark Loretta. For the second time in two days, Loretta was the difference maker against his old team.
“His pitch is the [split] changeup, so I was completely sitting on the changeup there, you have to,” Loretta said. “I was out in front just a hair, but I was able to stay back just enough to get it up the middle.”
Okajima has allowed 12 of his 15 inherited runners to score this year. The split-changeup that got him through his first MLB season seems to have lost much of its fire. Okajima again refused to speak to the media after the game.
With the loss to Houston, the Sox lost the top spot in the American League East, which they have held since June 3rd. The Tampa Bay Rays mounted an 8th inning rally against the Pirates to move into first place. The Sox start a three game set against the Rays on Monday night in Tampa (where they were swept in April). After that series, the Sox head to New York to play the Yankees, and then return home to face the Twins.
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.
Tickets are still available for all remaining Red Sox home games!
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.
It doesn’t happen that often, but on Monday night Josh Beckett was out pitched at Fenway Park. Dan Haren tossed seven shutout innings of two hit baseball to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks past the Boston Red Sox 2-1 in a good old fashion pitchers duel. With the win, Arizona has now won the last five games Haren has taken the mound.
Haren, now 8-4 on the season, was acquired by the D-Backs through an eight player trade last winter with the Oakland Athletics. In the yesterdays win, he was able to use a plethora of fastballs to keep Sox hitters at bay for most of the evening.
“I was pretty aggressive with my fastball, probably more fastballs than I usually do,” he said. “It really wasn’t the game plan coming in. I was just able to keep it down and away.”
Over the first six innings, the Sox were held to only one hit which came on a double by Jason Varitek in the third. The only other runner to reach base during that time was Jacoby Ellsbury who drew a two-out walk in the third inning as well.
“He’s tough. It doesn’t matter who he’s pitching against,” Beckett said of Haren. “There are a few pitchers in the big leagues today that I enjoy watching and pitching against … Haren’s obviously one of them.”
Beckett’s line through six was equally as impressive, allowing only three hits and no runner to reach past second base. It was in the seventh inning that gave the Red Sox ace a little trouble.
To begin the inning, Beckett issued a walk to Connor Jackson. Mark Reynolds followed it up with a one out single to left field. With runners on first and second and only one out, Chris Young belted a wall-ball double scoring Jackson and moving Reynolds to third. Chris Snyder then pushed a ball to the right side of the infield to drive in the second run of the game putting Arizona ahead 2-0.
The Sox were happy to see Haren stay in the dugout to begin the eight inning and were able to produce a run off of relief pitcher Tony Pena. Julio Lugo walked with one out and then Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia connected on back-to-back singles which loaded the bases for J.D. Drew. Drew just got under a Pena fastball, hitting a sac-fly to center field which knocked in Lugo from third to cut the lead to 2-1. Up next, Manny Ramirez had a chance to put the Sox on top with two runners in scoring position but lined out to third base to end the threat.
Former Sox farm hand Brandon Lyons worked the ninth inning for Arizona and retired the side in order on only five pitches to record his 16th save on the season. Lyons was dealt from Boston to Arizona in the Curt Schilling deal prior to the 2004 season.
Boston is currently 1-3 on their homestand after having won 19 of their previous 22 games at Fenway. They still have the best home record in the American League at a 29-10 mark.
Looking ahead, Justin Masterson will try to get the Sox back into the win column tonight going for his fifth win on the season. The rookie has been a nice surprise filling in for the injured Clay Buchholtz. Masterson is 4-1 on the year with a 3.00 ERA in six starts. He has not allowed more then four runs in any of his outings.
Doug Davis will hurl for the D-Backs and attempt to pick up his third win on the year. Davis, who has not won a game since May 23rd, is coming off of two impressive outings that both ended in no-decisions but Arizona wins. Over his last 13 innings of work, Davis has allowed only one earned run while striking out 15.
Tonight’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.
During an interview with Dennis and Callahan on WEEI Friday, Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling announced that he will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. The former Sox ace missed significant playing time after the 2004 season due to an ankle injury, and has nursed shoulder problems since then. Before this season, Dr. Craig Morgan (who performed surgery on Shilling’s shoulder in 1995 and 1999) advised that Schil’s career could be in jeopardy if he did not have offseason surgery. Instead, Schilling and the team opted to try a rehabilitation plan that would have a better chance of allowing him to pitch this year.
This plan was not successful, and Schilling faces season, if not career-ending surgery. Schilling was quoted as saying that there is a “pretty good chance I have thrown my last pitch forever”.
The change of plan comes from MRI results, the increasing amount of pain, as well as decreasing physical abilities. Schilling has been able to throw off of flat ground, but has been unable to throw off of the mound without severe pain. The procedure Monday is focused on alleviating that pain. During an MRI in January, Schil was not able to hold his arm over his head long enough to finish the procedure. He has mentioned having issues with things as simple as turning a doorknob.
“If you use a scale of 1-10 and 10 is pitching in the big leagues, I’m at about 3 right now,” Said Schilling. “I’m going in to make it not hurt anymore.”
Three days after firing the General Manager Bill Bavasi, the 25-47 Seattle Mariners fired coach John McLaren. The ’08 Seattle squad’s payroll of $117 million has not translated to success on the field. Despite signing Eric Bedard and Carlos Silva, as well as re-signing Richie Sexson, and the presence of former MVP Ichiro Suzuki; the team has underachieved. Just two weeks ago coach McLaren’s profanity-laden postgame tirade made headlines as he railed against team’s level of play.
Bavasi’s vacancy will be filled by associate GM Lee Pelekoudas. McLaren’s spot will be filled by Jim Riggleman. Riggleman racked up a 486-598 record during the 90′s as skipper of the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs. The M’s will look to end their current losing streak on Friday against the Braves.
The speculation is over. So is Willie Randolph’s 3 season run as the manager of the New York Mets. The Mets fired Randolph overnight in response to a lackluster season (34-35) from a very talented Mets team. Bench Coach, Jerry Manuel will take over as the Mets Manager. The move comes one month shy of Randolph coaching the NL squad in this year’s All-Star game at Yankees Stadium. The event would have been very special for Randolph given his many years of success as a member of the New York Yankees.
The Mets also fired Pitching Coach, Rick Peterson and 1st Base Coach Tom Nieto.
Josh Beckett pitched seven scoreless innings allowing only 6 hits to lead Boston past the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 yesterday at Great American Ballpark. Not only was Beckett phenomenal, but the Red Sox bats came to life even without sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in the lineup. The Sox were able to produce nine runs on 12 hits including four homeruns on the afternoon.
Coco Crisp, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and Dustin Pedroia all went yard in the rubber game of the three-game series. The win improves the Sox overall record to 44-28 and the team has now won 9 out of their last 12 games.
“We swung the bats early real well, we spread it out and had a good day at the ballpark,” manager Terry Francona said.
Besides his homerun in the3rd inning, Ellsbury also made a little history stealing his 32, and 33 base of the season which is good enough for a Red Sox rookie record. Kenny Lofton holds the American League rookie record of 66 stolen bases back in 1992 and many believe that if he stays healthy, Ellsbury will have a chance to top this mark.
“It’s pretty neat to do something that hasn’t been done in Red Sox history for 100 years,” Ellsbury said. “Still, it’s all about getting momentum in the game. I wouldn’t say it’s deflating to steal second and third then score, but it does establish momentum with Josh on the mound.”
Homer Bailey took the loss for the Reds. Bailey, now 0-3 on the season, was once considered the Reds top pitching prospect in over a decade and has struggled in all three of his major league outings this season. In 12 1/3 innings of work Bailey has allowed 12 earned runs, walked 10 and surrendered six home runs to opponents. Manager Dusty Baker was hesitant to comment about the young pitchers future with the team or if he’d be demoted to the Triple-A club.
“There’s got to be some discussion,” Baker said. “If you’re not making pitches, and that’s your job, you’ve got to figure out what’s up and why. They hit him pretty good.”
David Aardsma and Mike Timlin pitched scoreless 8th and 9th innings to preserve the win for Beckett, whose record improves to (7-4) on the season.
Since losing Ortiz to the DL, Drew has provided a much needed spark from the middle of the lineup. During the month of June, he is batting .447 with seven homer runs and 16 RBIs.
The Sox will now travel to Philadelphia for a three game series against the Phillies. Bartolo Colon pitches tonight for Boston while Cole Hamels will hurl for the Phills. Tonight’s first pitch will be at 7:05pm at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA.