Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells injured his left hamstring during drills Monday and is likely to sit for most of spring training. He was scheduled for an MRI later in the day and is currently waiting for the results. Manager Cito Gaston tries to find light in his injury saying its better to be hurt now than later in the year. “He’s got a chance to be ready to start the season, possibly as a designated hitter,” said Gaston.
Wells has been battling injuries in his recent career. He missed 52 games last season due to breaking his wrist and straining the same hamstring he is now having trouble with. In his 108 games played last year he batted .300 with 20 homeruns and 78 RBIs. The Blue Jays hope Wells can get better for spring training and be ready to go for the upcoming regular season. Gaston said Jose Bautista will stand in for Wells at center field when the Blue Jays take on the New York Yankees to open up their spring training.
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For the first time this season, the Tampa Bay Rays won a game against the Red Sox at Fenway. Unfortunately for the Sox, they managed to win the next one as well. On Tuesday the Sox gave closer Jonathan Papelbon the ball with a slim lead, and he was not able to hold on to it. Dan Johnson (recalled from AAA just before game time) hit a game tying homer to right, and Dioner Navarro doubled to drive in Fernando Perez and put the Rays ahead for good.
“It’s not going to be my first blown save and it won’t be my last,” Papelbon said to MLB.com‘s Ian Browne. “What can I say? There’s a human factor involved in this thing. We are human. We are going to make mistakes. Yeah, I’m human and I didn’t throw the pitch where I wanted to tonight.”
Although they would not be able to end the series ahead of the Rays, with a win on Wednesday they could enter their off day only a half game behind. The Sox could not muster it.
The first 13 innings of the game went quietly, with the only offense coming from a Willy Aybar single driving in Cliff Floyd in the second and a Pedrioa double scoring Jed Lowrie in the third. Sox pitching combined for 11 straight scoreless innings, but in the 14th Mike Timlin could not hold it together. Mass native Carlos Pena put the Rays ahead with a 3-run game-winning shot. After the Rays’ 14th inning attack, the Sox only managed one run on a Youkilis sac fly.
The Sox dropped to 2.5 games behind the Rays in the East, and 5.5 games ahead in the Wild Card (with the Twins losing to the Royals on Thursday night).
On Friday night the Sox face-off against a Jays team that has won 9 of their last ten games, and are making a run at the Twins’ place in the AL Wild Card hunt. The series may prove difficult for Toronto, who play their second double-header in five days on Saturday.
Starting Aces 9/12/08 – David Purcey, LHP (TOR 3-5, 5.23) vs Tim Wakefield, RHP (BOS 8-10, 4.11). 7:05pm on NESN/WRKO.
After reaching a season high record of 20 games over .500, the Boston Red Sox dropped both contests over the weekend to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. On Saturday night, the Sox fell 4-1 while on Sunday afternoon they lost by a score of 15-4. The two losses drop Boston 4.5 games behind the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays and their Wild Card lead now sits at only .5 a game over both the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins who are respectively tied for the AL Central Division lead.
On Saturday night Paul Byrd made his Fenway Park debut in a Red Sox uniform but his performance was overshadowed by former AL Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay’s outing. Halladay allowed only seven hits while pitching a complete game for the 8th time this season, the most in the majors. The Sox only run came in the ninth inning on a Dustin Pedroia solo homerun into the Monster seats to lead off the inning, but there would be no rally in this one. After the homer, Halladay calmly retired David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew to end the game and pick up his 14th win on the season.
After scoring 39 runs in three games against the Texas Rangers, the Sox could just never get something going against Halladay and the Jays.
“You can’t get caught up on how a team’s going—good or bad,” Halladay said after pitching his 39th career complete game. “Sure they were swinging the bats good against Texas. I look at quality pitches. I try to avoid who’s hot and who’s not.”
All the run support Halladay would need came with one swing of the bat by Alex Rios in the top of the first inning when he took Byrd deep into the Monster seats for his ninth homerun of the year, a two run shot that would prove to be enough to lift the Jays to their sixth win over the Sox this season in eight games played.
“He should make a pitching video. He’s pretty tough,” Pedroia said. “He throws strikes. He’s got great stuff and it’s tough to get into a rhythm on him because he’s creating his own rhythm for himself. We didn’t get anything going.”
The six other hits the Sox recorded were all singles, and three of them were erased by double plays so there just wasn’t much going on for the Boston bats, it was all Halladay.
On Sunday, the Sox looked to ace Josh Beckett to get the job done on the mound after the tough loss the night before, but Beckett lasted only 2 1/3 innings in his worst outing of the season and the Sox fell again to Toronto 15-4.
The Jays exploded for six runs in the first and knocked Beckett out of the game in the third by plating two more on DH Adam Lind’s eight homer of the season to make the score a comfortable 8-0 margin. On the afternoon, Lind went 3-6 with a homerun, four RBI’s and two runs scored. Alex Rios collected five hits and tied a franchise record with four doubles in the game; he also knocked in a pair of runs. Lyle Overbay, Mark Scutaro and John McDonald all collected three hits a piece as well.
“The fastballs Beckett threw ran back over the middle. They were elevated,” manager Terry Francona said. “We spent the majority of the day doing that. They were pretty consistent in scoring.”
The bullpen did not provide any type of relief to stop the bleeding as they proceeded to allow seven earned runs over the final 6 2/3 innings of the contest.
“Just a bad day all the way around,” Beckett said.
Boston’s two hottest hitters, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, were both able to connect on solo homeruns but other then three hits by rookie Jed Lowrie there wasn’t much going on for the Sox all afternoon.
For Toronto, Shaun Marcum (8-5) gave up one run and five hits in five innings earning the victory. He’s won his last three starts, allowing only four runs in 18 innings.
Boston will now hit the road for a set of three game series against division foes Baltimore, Toronto and New York. The Sox record against the AL East this season is only 21-23, the only division they have a losing record against. The series vs. New York on Aug. 26-28 will potentially be the Red Sox last trip to Yankee Stadium before it closes at the end of the season.
The next home game to be played at Fenway Park is scheduled for Friday August 29th against the Chicago White Sox.
The list of Sox players sidelined with the flu and minor injuries has thankfully gotten slimmer. After losing 3 out of 5 scheduled starting pitchers, 5 days from the captain, and over 15 starts by position players, the Sox have started to shape up.
Continuing the recent trend of great outings by Sox starters, Tim Wakefield went 7 innings, surrendering only 3 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks. Unfortunately for Wakefield, the offense continued to be anemic, only mustering 4 hits behind his gem.
“He got out of a lot of jams,” said Sox infielder Jed Lowrie. “We hit a lot of balls hard tonight. Any time a guy throws a three-hitter through eight innings, or seven innings, you’ve got to tip you hat. He worked well and was able to get out of jams when he needed to.”
This trend is a bit troubling, as the Sox bats have struggled for the past week.”You saw six starting pitchers all throw the ball extremely well,” said backup catcher Kevin Cash. “Unfortunately tonight we fell behind.” In the past 5 games, the Sox have only managed to score 4 runs – making it very easy for them to be behind the opposing team.
In all 3 games against the Jays, the Sox had a late inning chance to win it. They only faltered in the third game, facing closer BJ Ryan.
“Anything to extend the game…” said Sox skipper Terry Francona. “Having a chance is better than not having a chance.”
Mike Lowell returned to Third on Thursday, a welcome addition to the lineup as his backup Sean Casey is on the 15-day DL. This takes some pressure off of rookie Jed Lowrie, who had spent time at both first and third in their absence.
Tonight rookie sensations Clay Buzhholz (1-2, 4.08 ERA) and Edwin Jackson (2-2, 3.86 ERA) match up at Fenway for a 3 game set. The Sox will look to avenge the Rays sweep last weekend.
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.
While everyone’s eyes, ears, and …. imaginations have been focused on where Johan Santana would end up, the American League hot stove has been quietly churning. Here is a quick recap of some moves to date. (more)