Mets David Wright, Dodgers Hiroki Kuroda, and Rangers Ian Kinsler each suffered a ball to the head last Saturday during various MLB contests, and each of the players are currently in different states of recovery. David Wright’s return to the lineup this season is doubtful, as Kuroda and Kinsler have both been released from their hospital locations. The most unusual situation involving pitcher Kuroda (who had a ball fire back at him on the mound) says he is “lucky to be alive” but feeling good.
Wright is hungry to get back on the field despite his recent shock to the head. “David wanted to take a chance to go out and play, but we decided to take it away from him and DL him based on the recommendation of our doctors who consulted with a specialist,” said Mets general manager Omar Minaya. “It’s a medical decision.” The recent hit-by-pitch occurrences have created the notion that punishments should be more severe for pitchers aiming at a hitters body. Usually a warning is issued to begin with before immediate ejection from the game if the act is conducted again.
Frank Francisco shut down the heart of Boston’s order in 10 pitches to help the Texas Rangers hold on to win 4-3 last night, putting them ahead of the Red Sox in the AL Wildcard race. After blowing the lead in the same scenario last Friday, Francisco found redemption this time around when he fooled Victor Martinez with a split-fingered fastball in the dirt. “I got a little excited,” Francisco said. “That was a good game for us, a very important game. I got a little bit excited. Everybody did.”
Kevin Youkilis will be back in the lineup for the Sox on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays after serving his five game suspension. So far this season Youk has posted a .311 batting average with 20 homeruns and 66 RBI’s. The Red Sox will look to find their rhythm on the offensive end heading into the three-game series at Toronto. Next weekend starting August 21st they are set to host the New York Yankees at Fenway for a three-game weekend series. The Sox could really use a winning streak starting Tuesday, knowing they have fallen to 7 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East division standings.
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The Boston Red Sox have recently acquired shortstop Alex Gonzalez from the Cincinnati Reds. He is signed under a $6 million option for next season and dealt for one or two players later to be named. Gonzalez was a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2006 before heading to the Reds. He was not present for the entire 2008 season; sidelined with a fractured knee added on to complications in his right elbow. In his 68 games played with the Reds this season he hit for a .210 average. Despite his below average numbers from the plate, he surely makes up for it on the defensive end.
Gonzalez is expected to fill the void in the left side of the infield for Boston this Saturday against the Texas Rangers. The Sox are set to open the series against Texas tonight at 8:05 pm.
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John Lester will be taking the mound for Boston tonight at 8:05 pm, as they open up a three game series against the Texas Rangers with Kevin Millwood as their probable starter. In Lester’s five starts since the All-Star break, he holds a 3.00 ERA with a 1-1 record. Boston is just barely edging out The Rangers in the AL Wildcard race by a half game. After failing to close out the series against the Detroit Tigers, Boston is in search of a win to get them back where they need to be.
The last time the Sox matched up against Texas for a series, the Rangers handled them in all three games. “We’re bunched up with a couple teams, but obviously when we play them it’s heightened a little,” third baseman Mike Lowell said. “It’s going to be a good series. We’re playing much better baseball than we did last week. Hopefully, we can carry it over into Texas.” Don’t miss your chance to see the Red Sox as they battle for a playoff spot in these last few weeks of the regular season.
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The final day before the trading deadline was an eventful one. Though no top-level players changed hands, a good deal of players will be donning new uniforms the next time they take the field. The Los Angeles Dodgers traded Josh Bell and Steve Johnson for Baltimore closer George Sherrill. The Pirates traded John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for Kevin Hart, Josh Harrison, and Jose Ascanio. The Royals only needed to send cash considerations to the Tigers to obtain Josh Anderson.
Deals to look out for tomorrow: Roy Halladay talks are “dead” according to J.P. Ricciardi, though the team is open to discussing deals tomorrow. The Rangers, Angels, and Red Sox are still in the hunt. Padres closer Heath Bell may be on the move as well. The Marlins are reportedly interested, but are unwilling to part with the players San Diego wants. Bell’s teammate Adrian Gonzalez is also said to be the subject of heated talks between the Padres and Sox, but no deal is iminent.
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In an eventful weekend series against the Texas Rangers, the Sox were dominated by Kevin Millwood, saw Jon Lester flirt with perfection, and ultimately fell short in the rubber game. On Friday night the Red Sox ran into one of Kevin Millwood’s occasional flashes of brilliance. The Rangers’ right-hander went seven strong innings, scattering 7 hits and four walks without an earned un (one unearned on a Chris Davis error). Eddie Guardado and Darren O’Day each pitched a scoreless inning to give the Rangers a rare win in Boston; breaking an 8 game losing streak at Fenway. “It’s a different year,” Rangers second baseman Kinsler said in a post-game interview. “It’s just another win. We’re just trying to keep winning.” David Ortiz provided Boston’s only offense of the night, driving in Jason Bay on a single in 8th.
The Sox would fare far better on Saturday. Jon Lester took a perfect game into the 7th inning, before finally surrendering a double to Michael Young. “I was real happy it was a well-struck ball,” Lester said. “It wasn’t an infield hit or anything like that.”Though Lester’s second bid for a historic game a Fenway was over, he went the distance for a dominant 2-hit complete game. Boston’s offense came alive with 8 runs, including David Ortiz’s second homer of the year. “That’s how you get back to hitting balls and start hitting well, put a good swing on a ball,” Ortiz told reporters after the game. “Even though you don’t get the good luck, it will come.”
Daisuke Matsuzaka struggled in Sunday afternoon’s game. He lasted just 5 2/3 innings, surrendering five runs on ten hits. The Ranger offensive attack was led by left-fielder Nelson Cruz. Cruz went 3-4 with a double, triple, and home run (just a single short of the cycle), driving in one run and scoring three times. Vincente Padilla gave up 2 earned runs in 7 innings of work, improving his record to 4-3 on the season. Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect 9th in a non-save situation. Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury left in the 4th inning with a shoulder sprain, and will be evaluated later today.
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As the fans at Fenway Park watched Boston’s 10-run first inning lead slip away, Red Sox manager Terry Francona could only ponder at what to do next as Tuesday night’s score began to resemble that of a football game. The final, 19-17 with the Red Sox over the Texas Rangers in one of the wildest games of the 2008 MLB season for sure.
“At some point,” the Red Sox manager said, “you’re thinking about going for a field goal.”
That ‘field goal’ came in the eighth inning when Kevin Youkilis’ three-run homer pushed the Sox ahead for good, giving them a three-run cushion which would be enough for the win. The home run was his second of the night and 22nd on the season. The blast brought fans to their feet as Youkilis circled the bases in almost a sprint like fashion.
“I also felt the emotion of the boos today,” after two strikeouts, he said. “So the roller coaster ride in Boston’s always fun. Luckily, we got the cheers at the end.”
In the end they got plenty of cheers, but the Sox were fortunate that they were able to get lots of cheers early on as well. During the bottom of the first inning for the Red Sox they sent 14 batters to the plate en route to scoring 10 runs off of Texas starter Scott Feldman. Feldman would only last 2 2/3 innings while allowing 12 runs, but became the first pitcher to not lose a game while allowing that many runs since Gene Packard of the St. Louis Cardinals got the win in a 16-12 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 3, 1918.
“Nobody should ever score 10 runs in the first inning. It’s embarrassing,” Feldman said. “But we know our team is capable of fighting back.”
The big blows in the first came on a pair of three-run homers by Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. The bombs were his 15th and 16th on the season and Ortiz attributes his power to having a day off on Monday night in Chicago to rest his sore wrist.
“That way I could have more days like this,” he said.
Besides the two home run performances by Ortiz and Youkilis, the Sox received five hits from Dustin Pedroia, two hits and three runs from J.D. Drew and two hits and two RBI’s from Jed Lowrie. Everyone in the Sox starting lineup reached base which proved to be important because everyone in the Texas line recorded a hit. The Rangers finished with 20 on the night, the second night in a row they’ve accomplished that feat.
“After that first inning when they had us down 10-0, I think everybody in the ballpark and everybody in all of Massachusetts thought that the game was over,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington.
The Rangers were able to claw back by scoring two in the second on a Chris Davis two RBI single making the score 10-2. After the Sox tacked on two more runs in the third to make it 12-2 the Rangers bats awoke in the fifth inning, scoring eight runs on eight hits. The big blast came on Ian Kinslers three-run shot off of relief pitcher David Aardsma’s first batter faced. In the bottom half of the inning, Boston scored two more times on Youkilis’ first homer of the night to put the Sox ahead 14-10.
Texas wouldn’t quit, plating five runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead 15-14 and send Fenway Park into a state of shock and disarray.
“This was a game that I think potentially could have been a major downer for us,” said Sox 3B Mike Lowell, “and we actually turned around and made it actually a great win.”
After Youk’s heroics in the eighth, closer Jonathan Papelbon came in to slam the door shut by recording the final three outs in the ninth inning, picking up his 32nd save on the season. The win moves Boston to within three games of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East division after TB fell to Oakland by a score of 2-1 last night. The Sox are currently in the lead for the AL Wildcard spot by 2.5 games over the Minnesota Twins and 5 games ahead of the New York Yankees.
Tonight, Boston sends Jon Lester to the hill to try and make it three in a row for Boston. Lester is 10-4 on the season and suffered his first loss in 10 starts in his last outing in Chicago where he tossed seven innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits. The Rangers will give the ball to Luis Mendoza who currently holds a record of 3-5 on the year. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm EST.
The New York Yankees were able to end their series in Texas on a high note. After dropping the 1st two games of the series and losing Joba Chamberlain to injury, the Yankees bounced back to win the final two games against the Rangers. In last night’s win veteran Mike Mussina picked up his 15th win and the Yankees shutout a potent Rangers offense.
They Yankees got on the board early with a solo homerun by Derek Jeter. Jeter would later add an RBI single, as the Yankees went on to win 3-0. Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect 9th, earning his 28th consecutive save on the season. Alex Rodriguez continued to struggle in Texas and went 0-14 in the series.
Things won’t get easier for the Yankees. They continue their road trip tonight against the LA Angels for the 1st of a three game set.
Things took a turn for the worse last night in Texas for the New York Yankees. The Yankees who just opened a 10 game road trip, lost the game to the Rangers on a 9th inning grand slam by Marlon Byrd. The loss came after starter Joba Chamberlain was forced to leave the game in the 5th inning due to shoulder tightness. Losing Joba could be a big blow to the Yankees chances in the AL East. Already without starter Chien Ming Wang the Yankees have been relying on the arms of Joba, Mussina and Pettite. Joba is headed back to New York for further tests and will likely miss at least one turn in the rotation.
The Yankees’ loss last night was also particularly frustrating considering they had battled back to tie the game at 5-5 in the 8th inning. The Yankees also missed an opportunity to pick up a game on the 1st place Rays and 2nd place Red Sox. The Yankees and Rangers will be back at it tonight with Andy Pettite facing off against Matt Harrison.
A week ago the inaugural game for the 2008 season was played in Tokyo, Japan between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. While the two teams enjoyed the trip and media hype, the rest of Major League Baseball could only watch and wait for their first regular season games. Well after yesterday, the wait is over and baseball is back in season! Thirteen games graced ballparks across the country and fans returned from their winter hibernations, awaking to the sounds of sausage and beer vendors roaming the stands. For 26 teams yesterday was a new slate, a fresh start and chance to show everyone that this is their year.
It’s too early to make any predictions, but the only thing that really matters right now is that its baseball season and fans couldn’t be happier.
AL Round Up
The last opening day at Yankee Stadium will have to wait at least one more day due to rainstorms in the Bronx, NY that forced the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays to postpone yesterday’s scheduled afternoon game. The Yankees have already announced that 2008 will be their final season in the 76 year old stadium, and at years end will be moving to a brand new park that has cost the team over 1 billion dollars to construct.
In Detroit, the Kansas City Royals spoiled the Tigers home opener with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings. Tony Pena Jr.’s tiebreaking RBI single with two outs in the 11th would prove to be the game winning hit for the Royals. Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and a stolen base in the win. Justin Verlander pitched the first six innings for the Tigers allowing 4 earned runs on 4 hits over 6 innings. He stuck out 6 batters and walked one in the performance and came away with a no decision. Right-handed pitcher Leo Nunez threw two hitless innings of relief and picked up the victory. Over the off-season the Tigers were one of the teams who hit the market hard for new players and currently have a pay-roll of $138 million dollars compared to the Royals $57 million.
C.C. Sabathia struggled in his opening day performance but the Cleveland Indians were still able to hold on for a 10-8 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Jacobs Field. Chicago 1B Jim Thome welcomed Sabathia, the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, back home with two monster home runs to center field in his first two plate appearances. Still, the Sox could not overcome a 7 run 2nd inning by the tribe that was led by a Franklin Gutierrez three-run homer and a solo shot by Grady Sizemore. Gutierrez went 3-3 on the day. The knock out punch for the Indians came in the bottom of the 8th inning when Casey Blake hit a two-out double with the bases loaded to break a 7-7 tie. Octavio Dotel took the loss for the White Sox while Rafael Betancourt logged the win with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless work.
With ace pitcher Scott Kazmir on the 15-day DL to start the season, the Tampa Bay Rays handed the ball to James Shields to open the year and it turned out to be a great move. Shields pitched 7 strong innings and picked up the win in Tampa Bay’s 6-2 opening day victory over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. After allowing two runs on a Kevin Millar 2 RBI double in the 1st inning, Shields settled down and did not allow another run in his outing. The Rays received three hits from C Dioner Navarro and a solo home run from OF Eric Hinske. Jeremy Guthrie suffered the loss for Baltimore, allowing all 6 runs (5 earned) over 5 1/3 innings while scattering nine hits and 1 walk.
The Seattle Mariners have high hopes for the 2008 season, and a lot of that is based on the off-season acquisition of new ace pitched Erik Bedard. In his first outing with his new team, Bedard pitched 5 innings while allowing 1 run on 3 hits that helped lift the Mariners past the Texas Rangers 5-2 last night. Bedard struggled at times finding the plate and throwing strikes, and in return walked 4 batters. 2B Jose Lopez went 2-4 and had 2 RBI’s in the win for Seattle. In the losing effort, SS Michael Young went yard in the 1st inning off Bedard and losing pitcher Kevin Millwood pitched well allowing only 2 unearned runs on 4 hits through 6 innings.
Torri Hunter returned to Minnesota for his debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim only to be welcomed with an 0-4 performance at the plate and a 3-2 loss from his former Minnesota Twins. Livan Hernandez hurled 7 innings for to earn the win allowing 7 hits and 2 runs. Hunter’s replacement in CF for the Twins, Carlos Gomez, scored two runs in the game, including the eventual game winner in the 5th on a Michael Cuddyer RBI single. Joe Nathan pitched the 9th inning and earned the save, striking out Hunter during his effort.