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The Red Sox have made their final cuts and, as expected, Dennys Reyes and Matt Albers are in while Hideki Okajima and Alfredo Aceves are out.
The decision to keep Reyes and Albers was likely made with the intention of preserving depth as much as having the best players on the team. While Reyes and Albers did make the most sense statistically speaking, both would have been free to go elsewhere had the Sox not kept them on the 25-man, while Okajima and Aceves are now both down in Pawtucket, available should the need arise.
Albers, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, was one of the larger surprises of spring. With a 2.84 ERA and 13 strikeouts to just a pair of walks, he showed none of the control struggles that had hurt him in Baltimore. Dennys Reyes ended with a 2.70 ERA, and while he had strong peripherals to start, his walks have climbed of late while his strikeouts remained stationary.
Barring injury, here is your 2011 Red Sox roster for opening day:
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Marco Scutaro, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
J.D. Drew, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Jed Lowrie, IF
Mike Cameron, OF
Darnell McDonald, OF
Jon Lester, SP
John Lackey, SP
Clay Buchholz, SP
Josh Beckett, SP
Daniel Bard, RP
Bobby Jenks, RP
Dan Wheeler, RP
Matt Albers, RP
Dennys Reyes, RP
Tim Wakefield, RP
For the second straight game, the Red Sox seemed poised to break their losing streak with a late lead. And for the second straight game, they couldn’t hold on, as the Orioles put together a three-run eighth on Santo Luis to send the Sox to a 4-3 loss—their tenth straight.
For once, the Sox had no shot at losing thanks to a poor performance from their starting pitcher. With Brandon Duckworth taking the mound in the first inning (Jon Lester pitched in an intrasquad game, allowing five runs—four earned—in five innings with five strikeouts and no walks), it was a bullpen game through-and-through for Boston.
After escaping his two innings unscathed, Duckworth handed the ball over to Matt Albers with a 2-0 lead courtesy of a J.D. Drew home run in top of the third. Having gone all spring without allowing a walk, Albers regressed to his old bad habits against his former team, allowing a pair of free passes and a run while recording four outs.
The Red Sox tacked on another run in the fourth on a Drew Sutton triple, while a combination of Dan Turpen, Dennys Reyes, Jason Rice, and Tommy Hottovy held the Orioles off the board through the seventh inning. But with the win in reach, the Sox couldn’t seal the deal. Santo Luis came in and showed his great consistency in allowing singles. Luke Scott got it started, and was followed by four more base hits, scoring three runs and sending Luis back to the pen the losing pitcher.
Really, today was not a loss for the Major League Red Sox. That team won their part of the game. But it’s small consolation after seeing that string of losses growing one longer.
Fort Myers, FL (Sports Network) - Chase Lambin's three-run double capped a six-run rally in the ninth inning, sending Minnesota to a 9-8 spring training win over the Boston Red Sox.
Dustin Martin and Mark Dolenc singled in runs earlier in the inning, while Rene Rivera started the comeback with an RBI double off Bobby Jenks. The Boston reliever was charged with five hits and six runs -- two earned -- in one inning. Jenks also threw a wild pitch during an inning that continued thanks to an error from first baseman Aaron Bates.
Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed five hits and a run in six innings for Boston, while Minnesota starter Brian Duensing surrendered seven hits and six runs -- three earned -- in 4 2/3 frames.
Adrian Gonzalez homered for the Red Sox.
Fort Myers, FL (Sports Network) - J.P. Arencibia belted a two-run homer in Toronto's four-run seventh inning as the Blue Jays held on to top the Boston Red Sox, 11-8, in spring training.
Arencibia finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and scored twice for the Blue Jays, who got a pair of hits, including a solo shot, and two RBI from Adam Loewen. David Cooper also plated three RBI in the win.
David Purcey recorded the win in an inning of work, surrendering a run on two hits. Starter Jesse Litsch lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and four runs.
Nate Spears had two RBI while Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek each tallied two hits in the loss. Josh Beckett suffered the loss, surrendering seven runs on 11 hits in six frames of work.
If you took the sixth inning out of the equation, the Red Sox put together a solid outing against the Cardinals.
Unfortunately, the game of baseball doesn't work that way, and it was a 10-run sixth inning that doomed Boston, which ultimately lost to St. Louis, 10-3, in a matinée Spring Training contest at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida on Sunday afternoon.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Red Sox starting pitcher, posted his second straight quality outing after struggling through most of the spring. In five an d two thirds innings, Matsuzaka allowed two runs and two walks while striking out four.
Here's how that woeful sixth inning went down, according to MLB.com beat writer Evan Drellich.
After Matsuzaka retired the first two he faced in the sixth, Pujols walked in front of Holliday, who doubled to the gap in right-center. That was all for Matsuzaka, who was charged with two runs on three hits.
In a sign of his effectiveness, or at least the Cardinals' unfamiliarity with him, Matsuzaka struck out one batter looking in each of the first three innings. He finished with four strikeouts and two walks, and he's pitched well in two straight starts.
Andrew Miller came on for Matsuzaka, and he gave up two walks -- including one with the bases loaded -- four hits and six runs. Scott Atchison replaced Miller, issued a walk, and was burnt by Holliday and Pujols again. Both doubled, with Pujols' coming with the bases loaded.
Kyle McClellan gave up three hits and three walks while punching out two in five innings for St. Louis (12-10). Pujols was 1-for-3 with three RBI while Holliday went 2-for-3 at the dish with two RBI for the Cardinals.
Nate Spears (1-for-1) hit a two-run double and Jorge Jiminez had an RBI in the eighth inning for Boston (12-13), which had nine hits in the loss.
Boston returns to the diamond on Monday when it takes on the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Florida at 1:05 p.m. EDT (MLB TV). Jon Lester gets the nod for the Red Sox.
Josh Beckett allowed one earned run on seven hits and one walk, but it wasn’t enough as the Boston Red Sox were defeated by the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-5, in a Spring Training contest in Bradenton, Florida on Saturday afternoon.
Boston (12-12-1) allowed four unearned runs to cross the plate in the fourth inning as a result of an error from Red Sox first baseman Nate Spears. Pittsburgh (9-14) had lost four games in a row and is 2-8 in it last ten contests, but both wins have come against the Red Sox.
The error by Spears, a two-base throwing error, allowed Neil Walker to reach at the top of the inning. Andrew McCutchen walked and Lyle Overbay hit a two-run double to left to bring both Walker and McCutchen around to score. Matt Diaz and Dusty Brown both singled and Pirates starting pitcher Kevin Correia had his second hit, this time driving in both Diaz and Brown home.
"I think if that inning would’ve probably dragged on a little bit longer, I probably would’ve ended up having to finish up in the bullpen," said Beckett, who threw 34 pitches in the fourth. "I don’t think anybody likes to have the pitches extended that much in one inning." (via MLB.com)
The Red Sox answered with three runs in the top of the fifth, as singles by Daniel Nava, Spears and Scutaro plated two runs. Walker then made an error which allowed Boston’s third run to score.
Pittsburgh added two runs in the bottom of the seventh while Boston scored one run in both the seventh and ninth innings.
Correia struck out four and gave up seven hits in five innings for Pittsburgh, which had 10 hits and one error.
Boston faces the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m. EDT on Sunday in Fort Myers, Florida. Daisuke Matsuzaka gets the start for the Red Sox. In addition, Scott Atichison, Andrew Miller, Rich Hill and Dennys Reyes are scheduled to pitch for Boston. Kyle McClellan will start for the Cardinals.
The Red Sox dropped their second game of Friday to the Rays 7-3 as Tim Wakefield allowed four home runs in three innings.
Unfortunately for Wakefield, this performance could not have come at a worse time.
On a day which saw the security of Wake's roster spot come into question, he really didn't do much to help himself. Maybe it was just one of those days for the knuckleball, but for whatever reason it was just home run after home run.
The torrent started with two outs in the second inning with Kelly Shoppach's 2-run homer, and continued two batters later with another 2-run bomb, this time from Ben Zobrist. The two runs that came in the third came on two solo shots, hit back-to-back by Evan Longoria and Manny Ramirez. While Wakefield would escape the inning, the damage had very much been done.
The Red Sox offense was not at all up to the task of mounting a comeback, either. When all was said and done, the Red Sox had managed only five hits, and largely failed to take advantage of the Six walks offered up by Tampa Bay pitching.
Offensively, it was about the same story as in the game against Detroit. The Sox put together one decent inning in the fifth thanks to two singles, two walks, a hit batter, and a wild pitch, but were otherwise held in check.
For more on Friday's game, and to follow the Red Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
The Tigers defeated a split-squad Red Sox team 8-3, with the five deciding runs all being unearned.
Clay Buchholz got the start, and wasn't particularly strong in the early going. A second inning home run let the Tigers tie the game after a Dustin Pedroia homer gave the Sox an early lead, but it wasn't until the fifth inning that things started to spiral out of control.
After a single to leadoff the inning, Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez committed a pair of errors surrounding a sacrifice bunt. With Hideki Okajima having entered the game after the initial error, disaster was not far away--Ryan Raburn took the struggling lefty deep, plating three runs and giving the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
The Sox did mount a comeback in the bottom of the inning as Ryan Kalish, Marco Scutaro, and Dustin Pedroia walked to set up a 2-run single from Kevin Youkilis. But it proved insufficient, as Michael Bowden "gave up" another unearned run on a passed ball with a runner on third, and Brandon Duckworth allowed the Tigers to seal the deal with two more in the ninth.
For more on Friday's game and to follow the Red Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
After more than 15 years with the team, could Tim Wakefield's time on the Red Sox be at risk of coming to an end? It's a possibility that Terry Francona was neither willing to confirm or deny on Friday.
When asked about his two top long relief candidates, Francona admitted that there would be a decision to make:
Their styles aren't similar. But they both can pitch out of the bullpen, both can start. We're going to have some interesting decisions to make here come the last week.
(Via Peter Abraham)
When pressed further on this decision, and whether or not it was possible for both players to make the team, the Red Sox' manager was quick to dodge the question:
"I would never sit here and talk about somebody being on the ... I can't do that. That's so disrespectful of players. I would never do that. That would be awful."
Another reporter asked if Aceves and Wakefield could both make the team.
"I'm not going to do that," he said. "I wouldn't do that to those guys. These guys have a stressful couple of weeks ahead of them. I'm not going to make it worse."
Taken at face value, this seems like a typical non-answer. But digging a little deeper, does this reveal something about the situation?
If Aceves was not battling for a spot, after all, and he realized it, what would it hurt to just say that? Why not simply reaffirm Wakefield's position on the team unless, of course, he couldn't.
For what it's worth, Tim Wakefield has done a better job of earning the spot than Aceves. While both have low ERA's, Wakefield's is noticeably lower, and Aceves only has two strikeouts in ten innings to go with two walks.
Of course, Aceves brings both upside and youth to the table. Given his age, his back problems aren't as likely to keep him off the field as Wakefield's, and he could well improve--be it as a starter or a reliever--in what would be just his second full MLB season.
One major question has to be whether or not Aceves has an opt-out clause in his contract should he not break camp with the big league team. If he does not, then it wouldn't hurt the Sox much to start him in the minor leagues and take a wait-and-see approach, whereas if Tim Wakefield doesn't start out in the big leagues, he's likely going elsewhere or hanging up the cleats once-and-for-all. While Aceves could be destined to take over for Wakefield before too long, from both a strategic and PR viewpoint, an unceremonious cutting just isn't the right way to go about things
On Wednesday, Terry Francona name Jon Lester the pitcher for Opening Day. On Thursday, he announced the rest of the Red Sox starting rotation.
Following Lester will be John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka, in that order. Francona said this will be the rotation for at least "two turns" once the regular season starts. With this rotation, it will be Lackey on the hill in the Sox home opener, against the Yankees.
"Lackey has a way of matching up against whoever he's pitching against,'' Francona said, "whether it's a No. 1 or No. 5, you look up in the seventh inning you have a chance to win, which we really like.
"Buck did so good. I think we feel having Buck come out third just enhances our chance to win a little bit. Buck's numbers would say he could pitch anywhere. I just think Lack's a veteran, he's done it, spacing [Buchholz] and Lester out, there's something to be said for that, too.
While the rotation itself isn't too surprising -- especially Lester at the top -- Beckett getting dropped to the No. 4 spot does present some questions at Over The Monster:
Beckett is the first giant question in the rotation. The Beckett of 2010 was a complete enigma--his peripherals were OK, but significantly worse than usual; his results were just terrible. Hopefully a return to health in 2011 will bring him closer to the Beckett of 2007. If he is as ineffective as he was in 2010, it is going to make life a lot harder for the Red Sox.
Lester has arguably been the team’s ace ever since his breakout 2008, but Terry Francona has opted to give Josh Beckett the nod in 2009 and 2010. After Beckett’s struggles in 2010, though, Lester was the easy pick.
While Lester has typically struggled for the first month of the season, he’s been good in Arglington (1.93 ERA in 14 innings) and against the Texas Rangers in general (2.62 ERA, 44:11 K:BB in 44.2 innings) since 2008.
After being given the good news Wednesday, Lester wasn’t exactly ace-like in his spring training outing. He allowed three runs to the Braves on eight hits and two walks before being knocked out of the game in the fifth inning. He entered the game having thrown six shutout innings to start his spring.
With Boston heading to Lakeland to take on Detroit, the stage was set for a spring reunion between new Tiger Victor Martinez and his old team. And while the slugging catcher would collect a hit and a walk against the Sox, it was Daisuke Matsuzaka who ultimately stole the show.
After a number of poor performances to start the spring, Daisuke Matsuzaka was in serious need of a bounce-back game. Facing off against the hardest competition he’d seen so far in spring—a Major League Detroit lineup—Matsuzaka had just that.
Allowing only a pair of singles to Magglio Ordonez and Victor Martinez, who also added a walk against his old team, Daisuke held the Tigers scoreless through five innings. With six ground outs and five strikeouts, it wasn’t just a matter of luck or defense, either; Matsuzaka was just plain dominant.
The Sox, however, were quiet against Justin Verlander for the most part. In fact, the team would only manage two baserunners off of the Tigers’ ace, but one of them, courtesy of Jacoby Ellsbury, was a big one. Verlander delivered the center fielder a 94 MPH fastball, and he sent it out of the park, picking up his second home run of the spring. With his average still hanging above .400, it’s been a strong return to baseball for Ellsbury.
The Sox’ lead didn’t last for long, however, as the Tigers struck back against Matt Albers, who has otherwise been having a tremendous spring. It’s hard to fault him, really, when you consider that it was Miguel Cabrera doing the dirty work, launching his own solo shot to lead off the seventh inning.
From there, though, the Sox needed only one swing to end it.
With Michael Bowden, Brandon Duckworth, Fu-Te Ni and Al Alburquerque holding the tie, the Sox found themselves in extra innings once again. The tie didn’t survive long after that, though. Leading off the tenth, Darnell McDonald welcomed Brad Thomas to the game with a game winning home run to left field.
For more on Thursday’s game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
The game started off promising, with the Red Sox taking a 3-1 lead in the fourth.
The offense had gotten going in the third inning, with a two run double from Mike Cameron, and stayed strong in the fourth with a Lars Anderson home run. Josh Beckett gave up a run in the second on a long ball to John Bowker, and had actually allowed the pitcher to reach base in the bottom of the third, but otherwise had kept the Pirates quiet.
But then things fell apart. With Josh Beckett scheduled to throw around 75 pitches on the day, he returned to work the fifth inning. It was clear he wasn’t ready to go this deep yet, however.
A leadoff homer to Ronny Cedeno cut the Sox’ lead down to one run, and things just got worse from there. Beckett walked Dusty Brown, allowed a double to Andy Marte, and hit Jose Tabata with a pitch to load the bases with zero outs before being yanked for Scott Atchison.
Unfortunately, he fared no better. The next four batters would reach base, scoring five more runs before the Sox could record an out. The Pirates sent twelve batters to the plate, and left with a 7-3 lead.
Only Daniel Bard and Andrew Miller managed to keep the Pirates off the board for an inning a piece. By the time all was said and done, Pittsburgh had scored nine runs and knocked off the visiting Sox.
Jacoby Ellsbury was 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI as the Boston Red Sox pummeled the Florida Marlins, 9-2, on Saturday afternoon in a Spring Training contest at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida.
Ellsbury’s home run, a solo blast to right field in the fifth inning, was his first of the spring. He also had two doubles.
“I feel comfortable at the plate,” said Ellsbury. “I knew a while ago, coming into spring training, that I was ready to go. It’s no surprise to me. … It’s nice just to come in, ready to go, ready to play, just worry about getting ready for the season.” (via WEEI)
“It felt great,” said Gonzalez, who will have Sunday off before returning to the lineup on Monday night against the Yankees. "It was really good to be out there.
“Everything is coming along and there’s nicks and knacks like everything else, which I would have had even if I was 100 percent. It’s been a great process up until now. I’m still planning to be ready for Opening Day.”
John Lackey was solid in his start for Boston (9-7), tossing four and a third innings and striking out three while allowing six hits and one earned run.
Boston had 16 hits and one error in the victory. The Red Sox used five pitchers in the game and gave up three walks and one earned run while striking out nine.
Johnson struggled in his start for Florida (5-9), allowing five earned runs on nine hits and one walk in three and two thirds innings. John Baker was 1-for-3 with one RBI for the Marlins.
For more on Saturday’s game, visit Over The Monster.
Adrian Gonzalez will make his Spring Training debut on Saturday afternoon when the Boston Red Sox take on the Florida Marlins, according to an ESPN report.
Gonzalez originally stated in December that, as long as he was playing in Spring Training game by March 20th, he would be ready for opening day. Gonzalez hit off a tee on Thursday and took batting practice on Friday, after which he told Red Sox manager Terry Francona that he was ready to play in a game.
"He'll have a couple at-bats today, take tomorrow off, then have a couple more AB's the next day,'' said Francona. That would place Gonzalez in the Sox lineup for Monday night's nationally televised exhibition against the Yankees (ESPN, 7 p.m.).
"It's another step forward for him,'' Francona said. "He's worked hard. The fact that he's already ready is testament to how hard he worked. We'll get him in, get him out.'' (via ESPN Boston)
Gonzalez hit .298 with 31 home runs and 101 RBI in 2010. In his seven year career, Gonzalez has a batting average of .284 with 168 career home runs and 525 RBI.
The Red Sox were hoping from a bounce back start from Daisuke Matsuzaka after a mediocre beginning to spring. Unfortunately, Daisuke provided anything but.
It all started with Daisuke Matsuzaka being what we have sadly come to expect. The first batter of the game, Ben Zobrist? A walk. The second batter of the game, Johnny Damon? A walk. The third, Evan Longoria? An RBI single.
But wait! There’s more!
After a sacrifice fly brought in a second run in the first, Daisuke brought his talents to inning number two. There were no walks this time, and only one hit, but that one, coming off the bat of Jon Jaso, did not come back, making it 3-0 Tampa Bay.
The third inning was a lot like the first, except this time Zobrist and Damon doubled before being brought in by Matt Joyce’s singled. When all was said and done for Daisuke, there were two outs in the fourth inning, and five runs on the board.
The Red Sox offense responded, though, to come within one run by the sixth inning.
A few singles in the fifth inning had brought the first run in before the Sox turned on the power in the sixth. Carl Crawford led off the inning with a single, and moved to third on Kevin Youkilis’ double. Nate Spears kept the pattern going with a two-out triple, scoring both runners before coming home himself on Tim Federowicz’ base hit.
The teams traded scoreless frames in the seventh and eighth to set up a decisive ninth. What followed was one of the more bizarre frames in this year’s spring training.
On a 3-1 count, Brandon Gomes delivered a fastball down the middle. Tejeda took advantage, belting one deep to center field. Desmond Jennings fired back into the infield. The relay throw went to third, where Tejeda was looking for his third triple of the spring…and where no Rays were covering the bag. Hesitating at third as Gomes ran to grab the loose ball, Tejeda turned home, and was just barely caught at the plate.
Except none of that mattered. The second base umpire was pointing out to the stands. The ball was gone, and the score was tied at five-all. Drew Sutton quickly added another to the Sox’ total by blasting a rather more obvious home run of his own.
Entering the bottom of the inning with a 6-5 lead, the Sox just needed three more outs from Alfredo Aceves. They would only get one. Desmond Jennings quickly scored to tie the game after leading off the inning with a single and being doubled home by former Red Sox Casey Kotchman, who then scored the winning run on Robinson Chirinos’ walk-off bomb to left, leaving the final at 8-6, Rays.
For more on Thursday’s game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
Beckett’s first start wasn’t entirely encouraging. Follow that up with getting hit in the head by a ball in the outfield, and it’s just been an all-around bad spring so far for the starting pitcher.
So when things got dicey in the first inning, it was just more of the same. Good thing, then, that he turned it around quickly.
Josh Beckett opened looking awfully shaky with a leadoff walk and a two-out double scoring a run in the first inning, but turned things around quickly. By the end of his 3.2 innings, he had picked up four strikeouts while allowing only two more hits—largely thanks to an unfriendly scorer. One scout told Ken Rosenthal that Beckett “looks like he’s on a mission,” flashing an impressive curveball with well-placed fastballs.
The rest of the pitching was no less impressive, with the Sox getting good innings from some of their most important arms.
Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard both recorded perfect innings to maintain the tie, with Bard picking up two strikeouts along the way. Dennys Reyes added another scoreless inning, albeit with a walk, to bring the Sox into the eighth.
Still, the team’s offense had been anemic all game. Only scoring on a double play and a groundout, the Sox headed into the eighth inning stuck in a 2-2 tie.
After Bubba Bell flew out to start the inning, Paul Hoover smacked a double into left. With two outs, Nate Spears came to the plate with a chance to put the Sox in the lead, and capitalized on it, providing an infield RBI single. Matt Fox provided the exclamation mark in the ninth by striking out the side in order.
For more on Tuesday’s game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
Playing with a split squad and on the road, the Sox did not have the best of odds entering the game. Using a slew of minor league and backup pitchers against the likes of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, after all, is not exactly sound baseball strategy.
The Cardinals did get off to the expected quick start against Stolmy Pimentel, as three straight hits from Pujols, Holliday, and Lance Berkman gave them a 2-0 first inning lead. But the Sox fought back against Jaime Garcia in the top of the second, with Jacoby Ellsbury plating Yamaico Navarro with a double before scoring himself on a Darnell McDonald single. They even took a lead in the third when the Sox manufactured a run after Kevin Youkilis’ leadoff single.
Things finally fell apart in the fifth, though. Jason Rice, arguably the pitcher with the best combination of MLB readiness and overall talent on that list, found himself the victim of a five-run inning. Rice only recorded the first out of the frame after four straight hits, and followed that up with a pair of walks. When all was said and done, the score was 7-3.
The Red Sox were in “never say die” mode today, however, rallying in the eighth.
Entering the eighth still trailing by three, the Sox’ backups made one last push. With the first two batters reaching, the Sox moved them over with a sacrifice bunt—one that may not have been strictly necessary, as Alex Hassan followed it up with a two-run double.
Down just one run, Ryan Lavarnway stepped to the plate, ready to provide the last big hit.
The slugging catcher had already driven in a run back in the sixth inning with a double. This time he did himself one better, cementing his role as the hero of the game with a game winning home run. The Sox held the Cardinals off the board for the last two innings to seal the deal.
For more on Tuesday’s game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
The Red Sox are the kind of team that can hope to win 100 games this year. But that's the regular season. So far in spring training, between split squad games and road trips where the regulars stay at home, they're just three-for-nine, with five losses and a tie. Monday, though, the Sox played at home, with their full squad, and saw the expected results.
The last time John Lackey had been on the mound was in his spring debut--a thoroughly mixed affair which involved a good deal of hard contact and one run in two innings. His performance against the Orioles could not have been more different: four scoreless innings, only one hit, with six ground balls and three popups. That's exactly the sort of performance Lackey can thrive off of in the regular season.
With only Jarrod Saltalamacchia and, of course, Adrian Gonzalez missing from the starting lineup, the offense was ready to get to work too:
First inning singles from Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and J.D. Drew put the Red Sox up 3-0 early on. A fifth inning double from Pedroia gave the Sox a chance to tack on another run--one Carl Crawford capitalized on.
With John Lackey out of the game, however, the Orioles started to even things up:
Dan Wheeler was the first victim, allowing a pair of runs on two doubles and a single. Kyle Weiland was up next, offering up another pair of runs--first walking one in in the sixth, and then allowing a second on a seventh inning double from Nolan Reimold to tie the game. When Randy Williams gave up a leadoff triple in the eighth, it was clear the Sox were going to have to fight back if they didn't want to drop another game.
For once, though, the Sox' starters had carried their weight, meaning the seemingly inevitable production of the prospects and backups was enough to get the job done:
Che-Hsuan Lin, who had so far only been picking up walks this spring, added his first hit to lead off the eighth. An error on an attempted pickoff sent Lin to second before another defensive gaffe on Jose Iglesias' ground ball allowed him to score the tying run.
Darnell McDonald's leadoff [ninth inning] double meant the team had three chances for one hit. The first--a routine ground ball from Oscar Tejeda--almost ended in disaster as McDonald found himself caught in a rundown between second and third. He managed to avoid the defenders long enough for Tejeda to reach second, though, keeping the all-important RISP. With Daniel Nava going down on strikes, only one out remained to get the job done. Yamaico Navarro did just that, stepping in and lacing a walk-off line drive into left field to give the Red Sox the win.
It's good to be back to winning.
For more on Monday's game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
Gonzalez, who is continuing his rehabilitation from offseason shoulder surgery, took a total of 25 swings in five rounds of batting practice. On his final five swings, Gonzalez belted three balls over the fence in right field.
“I was feeling good the whole time, and it felt good to get out there,” said Gonzalez. “It was good, it really was.” (via WEEI)
Gonzalez hit .298 with 31 home runs and 101 RBI with the Padres last season.
The Red Sox fought back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game in the eighth inning, but reliever Alex Wilson could only keep the Mets off the board for one batter, allowing a game winning home run to Lucas Duda in the bottom of the inning.
With Jon Lester missing his start with the flu, it didn’t take long for the Sox to find themselves in a hole on Sunday:
The Mets went to work in the second when Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay led the inning off with a pair of singles. Bowden retired the next two batters, but couldn’t get Daniel Murphy, and cut off a throw from Josh Reddick that could have had the runner at the plate. Instead, Murphy managed to get in a run down long enough that both Beltran and Bay managed to score.
Coming in to try and stop the bleeding, Andrew Miller fared no better:
Still, the Red Sox weren’t going to go out lying down. Starting in the third inning, the Sox went to work with the long ball:
The Red Sox had already started chipping away in the top of the inning, though, with a solo homer from Juan Carlos Linares. They tacked on another when Jed Lowrie came in the back door on a Lars Anderson ground out in the fourth, and yet another or Tim Federowicz’ solo shot in the seventh. Finally, with Hideki Okajima and Rich Hill having held the lead, Josh Reddick got to face a righty, and took John Lujan deep with a runner on to tie the game at five a piece.
In the end, though, it was all for naught. Alex Wilson came in and did the same thing he’s been doing for the last nine months: got hit. It was only through luck that Lucas Duda’s bomb came before the other two hits Wilson would allow instead of after, keeping the final score as close as it was.
For more on Sunday’s game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
Oscar Tejeda was 3-for-5 with three RBI, but it wasn’t enough to power Boston to victory as the Red Sox tied the Baltimore Orioles, 4-4, in ten innings in a split-squad Spring Training game in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday afternoon.
The Red Sox also lost to the Florida Marlins, 11-2, at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida in their other split-squad game.
Scott Atchison relieved Aceves, but struggled in one inning, giving up three hits, two earned runs and two hits. Matt Fox also gave up an earned run for Boston, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two in one inning.
Boston put three runs on the board in the second inning on Iglesias’ RBI-single and Tejeda’s two-run triple. Tejeda also provided Boston’s fourth run on an RBI-single to right in the ninth.
Baltimore (4-1) did its scoring in the third, fifth and ninth innings, scoring two runs in the third, one in the fifth and one in the ninth. Brad Bergesen started the game for the Orioles and gave up three earned runs on six hits while striking out two in three innings.
Boston faces the New York Mets on the road in its next Spring Training game on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. EST (NESN).
Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up five earned runs on six hits in three innings as the Boston Red Sox were defeated by the Florida Marlins, 11-2, in a split-squad Spring Training match-up at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida on Saturday afternoon.
Boston, which had 10 hits and an error, was held to two runs on an RBI-double from Darnell McDonald (2-for-3) in the bottom of the sixth inning and Yamaico Navarro’s solo home run to left in the seventh.
Dustin Pedroia was 1-for-3, David Ortiz was 0-for-2 and Kevin Youkilis went 0-for-3 for the Red Sox (3-4). Marco Scutaro was 1-for-2 with a walk and both Mike Cameron and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were 1-for-3 in the losing effort.
Florida (2-4), which tallied 13 hits, scored three runs in the first and two in the second. The Marlins tacked on two runs in the third, two in sixth and two more in the eighth in route to victory.
Anibal Sanchez earned the victory for Florida, giving up one hit and a walk while striking out three in three innings. Adalberto Mendez gave up two earned runs on three hits in two innings for the Marlins.
Dewayne Wise was 3-for-4 with two RBI and Gaby Sanchez went 2-for-2 with three RBI and two walks for Florida.
Boston faces the New York Mets on the road in its next Spring Training game on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. EST (NESN).
As a result, Lester will reportedly miss his scheduled start against the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon. Drew was also scratched prior to Saturday’s split-squad match-up with the Baltimore Orioles.
Lester was 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA and 225 strikeouts in 2010. Drew struggled at the plate, batting .255, while hitting 22 home runs and driving in 68 runs.
Oscar Tejeda was a perfect 2-for-2 with 3 RBI and Clay Buchholz tossed three scoreless innings as the Boston Red Sox bested the New York Yankees, 5-3, in a Spring Training contest at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa Bay, Florida on Friday night.
Buchholz allowed gave up one hit and two walks while striking out two on 45 pitches for Boston (3-3). Buchholz was relieved by Randy Williams, who struck out two while allowing a hit and a walk in one inning.
Matt Albers earned a hold, pitching two clean innings while fanning two. Tony Pena Jr. gave up two walks and two earned runs in two tenths of an inning in the bottom of the ninth before being relieved by Eammon Portice, who recorded the final out to seal the win.
Cano’s double in the bottom half of the inning tied the game, but Boston erupted for three runs in the seventh inning to take a 4-1 lead. Jose Iglesias (2-for-3, one run) singled with two outs and Darnell McDonald (0-for-3) walked. Juan Carlos Linares (2-for-2) singled home Iglesias and Tejeda smashed a two-run triple to give the Red Sox a three-run cushion.
Boston added another run in the top of the ninth and turned the ball over to Pena Jr., who let the Yankees tack on two runs before in the bottom of the ninth being replaced by Portice.
Bartolo Colon, formerly of the Red Sox, was terrific in his start for New York, fanning five batter while allowing zero runs in three innings for the Yankees. Boone Logan (0-1) was the losing pitcher, giving up three earned runs on two hits in two thirds of an inning.
Boston had ten hits while New York (2-4) had seven, and neither team committed an error. Red Sox’ pitchers recorded nine strikeouts while the Yankees’ hurlers struck out 12 batters.
Bobby Jenks allowed one hit and zero runs in his debut, but it wasn’t enough as the Philadelphia Phillies blanked the Boston Red Sox , 2-0, in a Spring Training affair at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday afternoon.
“I made some really good pitches. I threw the ball for the most part exactly where I wanted to,” Jenks said. “All in all, it was a really good day.” (via WEEI)
Jenks tossed different variations of his fastball and change-up during Thursday’s game and hopes to have eight additional appearances for the Red Sox during Spring Training.
Dan Wheeler and Andrew Miller each pitched clean innings in the third and fourth, respectively, before Jenks entered in the fifth. Jason Rice, Rich Hill, Michael Bowden and Blake Maxwell combined to no-hit the Phillies in the final four innings.
Philadelphia (3-3) scored its two runs in the second inning on a two-run double from Phillies third baseman Jeff Larish (1-for-3). Cole Hamels (1-0) tossed four inning in his start for Philadelphia, giving up a hit and a walk while striking out three.
Boston faces the archrival New York Yankees at 7:05 p.m. EST on Friday afternoon in its first televised spring training game (TV: NESN/MLB Network).
David Ortiz did everything he could: picked up three hits, drove in the team’s only run, and, yes, even stole a base!
The rare Ortiz swipe came in the fourth inning with one out. With Atlanta pitcher Craig Kimbrel paying no attention to him at first, Papi took his lead, and then broke. The attempt was apparently just as stunning to the Braves as to the rest of us, as they didn’t even attempt a throw, allowing Ortiz to go in standing.
Unfortunately, the early lead didn’t last:
Alex Wilson came in, and things fell apart.
Alex Wilson’s career has really hit a bump in the road since he was bumped up to face the harder competition in Portland last year. The Sox’ second round pick of 2008 (a draft which is currently looking quite underwhelming indeed), the closer in starter’s clothing has struggled with control half the time, and the long ball whenever he’s not walking guys. Today, the issue was the former. Wilson allowed a leadoff single, and then three straight walks.By the time the inning was over, three more runs had scored.
The Sox would have one last chance in the bottom of the inning to get back in the game, loading the bases. With Daniel Nava at the plate, the Braves’ announcers started reminding the listeners just exactly how Nava entered the league, with his grand slam against the Phillies. History almost repeated itself, but Nava came up just short, flying out to the warning track to end the threat.
For more on Wednesday’s game and to follow the Sox throughout the year, visit Over The Monster.
The Red Sox have taken a 2-1 lead in the Mayor's Cup after shutting out the Twins en route to a 5-0 win Tuesday.
It was a strong start to the season for Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, and new Red Sox Alfredo Aceves, who took care of the first five scoreless innings:
Jon Lester got things started for the Sox, taking the mound for the first time this spring. While the team's ace wasn't exactly dominant, allowing a walk and a hit in his two innings, he got his outs and passed the ball of to Alfredo Aceves, who matched his performance.
Jonathan Papelbon was the next pitcher in line to debut, mainitaining the 2-0 lead by inducing a pair of groundballs and a pop-up bunt.
Once again, the Sox received runs from all places, as both Major Leaguers and prospects contributed to the team's offense:
The Red Sox did lose backup infielder Brent Dlugach to a dislocated shoulder, but that's really the only blemish on a strong all-around game. The Sox will finally say goodbye to the Twins on Wednesday, as they take on the Braves at home.
To read more on Tuesday's game and follow the Sox throughout spring training, visit Over The Monster.
David Ortiz, who recently announced his intentions to avoid the April swoons that have plagued him in recent years, finished February on a strong note, hitting his first home run of spring and adding a line drive single. Jason Varitek also chipped in two hits.
The three runs Ortiz drove in weren’t enough to undo the damage that had already been done on the mound, however:
The early deficit was provided courtesy of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield, who allowed four runs in the first four innings. Still, it’s hard to really fault either pitcher too much. Matsuzaka was really just hurt by one bad pitch, allowing a homer to Jason Kubel, while Wakefield was the victim of some shoddy defense from shortstop Brent Dlugach.
If there was one pitcher who was truly disappointing, it was Daniel Bard, really. The flamethrowing youngster allowed hard contact to multiple batters and gave up a walk, providing the Twins two more runs in the fifth inning.
Still, the Sox weren’t about to go down so easily:
After David Ortiz’ homer, it was mostly the backups that did the work. Sparked by a one-out single from J.D. Drew in the sixth, the Sox strung together some hits, capping the rally with a two-run single from Drew Sutton.
One inning later, it was Ryan Kalish providing the one-out single, and Josh Reddick quickly taking a 7-6 lead by launching a Jim Hoey offering over the wall in left field. Still, with two men in scoring position in the ninth, it took a leaping grab on a line drive by Jose Iglesias to save the Red Sox from a blown save courtesy of Matt Albers.
To read more on Monday’s game and follow the Sox throughout spring training, visit Over The Monster.
Hideki Okajima gave up four runs in the the fifth inning, including a bases-clearing triple to Joe Benson, and the Boston Red Sox were defeated by the Minnesota Twins, 8-5, in their first official Spring Training game of the 2011 campaign in Lee County, Florida on Sunday night.
Okajima (1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 K) was not credited with the loss, though, as Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett (2 IP, 2 H, 1 R) gave up an unearned run in the first inning and was credited with the loss.
Clay Buchholz relieved Beckett and tossed two scoreless innings, striking out one, before leaving the game in favor of Okajima. Dan Wheeler gave up two hits and one earned run in the sixth inning, Scott Atchison tossed a scoreless seventh inning and Brandon Duckworth allowed three hits and two earned runs in the eighth inning for Boston (0-1).
Twins starter Carl Pavano (1-0) tossed two scoreless innings to earn the win, allowing one hit and striking out two. Pat Neshek, Dusty Hughes and Alex Burnett were all pitched scoreless innings and were credited with holds for Minnesota (1-0).
Minnesota’s Jason Repko tripled off of Beckett in the first inning, plating Chris Parmlee and giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead. Neither team would score again until the fifth inning, when Benson cleared the bases with his triple and Tsuyoshi Nishioka singled to right, allowing Benson to score. Jeff Bailey homered in the sixth inning, building the Twins’ lead to 6-0.
Lars Anderson (1-for-3) hit a solo home run to right center to give Boston its first run in the top of the eighth. With one out in the inning, Oscar Tejeda (1-for-1) singled on a fly ball to center, plating Daniel Nava (1-for-2) and trimming the Red Sox deficit to 6-2. Tejeda advanced to third on the play via shortstop Chase Lambin’s throwing error.
Still with one out in the eighth, pinch hitter Josh Reddick (1-for-1) singled to center, allowing Tejeda to score and bringing Boston within three runs.
Mark Wagner hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth to bring Boston within four, 8-4, but the Red Sox were unable to get any closer.
Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the mound for Boston on Monday afternoon when it hosts the Twins at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida at 1:05 p.m. EST.
Boston defeated Boston College, 6-0, in its first game since October 3rd earlier on Saturday. Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run home run in the win for the Red Sox.
Northeastern jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Ryan Maguire’s (1-for-2) solo home run on the game’s first pitch from Red Sox starter Ryan Weiland (2 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). The Huskies added another run in the top of the fourth inning, but the Red Sox responded with a five-run outburst in the bottom of the inning. Boston added two runs in the fifth inning and six runs in the sixth to secure the victory.
Jacoby Ellsbury was 0-for-1 with a walk and both Mike Cameron and Jed Lowrie went 0-for-2 for the Red Sox. David Mailman (1-for-2, RBI, 1 run), Peter Hissey (1-for-2, 2 RBI), Luis Exposito (1-for-2) and Juan Carlos Linares (1-for-3, 1 run) all had solid outings for Boston.
Rich Hill secured the win for Boston, pitching one inning and giving up a run and a walk while striking out one. Blake Maxwell was credited with a hold after giving up one hit and striking out two in the fifth inning for the Sox.
Kevin Ferguson was the losing pitcher and was also credited with a blown save for Northeastern. In 1/3 of an inning, Ferguson gave up two hits, five runs (three earned runs) and four walks in the fourth. J.T. Ross was the Huskies’ starting pitcher, and he tossed two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and one walk.
Kevin Youkilis (1-for-1) hit a three-run home run in the first inning and the Boston Red Sox defeated the Boston College Eagles, 6-0, in their first tune-up of the 2011 season at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Florida.
This was the first game for the Red Sox since October 3rd when they defeated the New York Yankees, 8-4. in their 2010 regular season finale.
Boston had six hits in the game. Dustin Pedroia was 0-for-1 with a walk, David Ortiz went 0-for-2 and Marco Scutaro walked twice. Shortstop Brent Dlugach was a perfect 2-for-2 and second baseman Nate Spears (1-for-2), third baseman Will Middlebrooks (1-for-2) and outfielder Ryan Kalish (1-for-2) each had one hit for the Red Sox.
Geoff Oxley, who had Tommy John surgery last May, was charged with the loss after giving up three runs, including the home run to Youkilis, in the first inning for Boston College. Oxley walked two batters and had one strikeout.
There's little news of consequence coming out of Fort Myers these days. That's usually a good sign for a team like the Red Sox, though. After all, no news means no bad news, which is all Boston needs for the next 30-odd days.
Still, Spring Training is underway, which means that the media has its opportunity to talk to the players and staff. Inevitably, something will come out of it. This leads us to today's offerings which include the stalking of Carl Crawford, the contract status of a six-year-old, and alligator hunting with J.D. Drew.
Adrian Gonzalez has been medically cleared to swing a bat, and did so Monday for the first time since his shoulder surgery. According to a release from the team (via Peter Abraham), Gonzalez was re-evaluated by the team medical staff on Friday, and after consulting with Gonzalez' surgeon, decided the Red Sox' new first baseman was good to go.
For now, Gonzalez will be limited to hitting off a tee. He took 20 swings today, and felt nothing out of the ordinary. With ordinary being what it is for him, that's great news for the Sox--even better given that this represents an early return for the slugger, who wasn't expected to start swinging for about another week. If all goes well, he could see live batting practice before too long, and shouldn't be too far behind the rest of the team when it comes to playing in exhibitions.
With Kevin Youkilis' thumb long-since healed, Pedroia moving at nearly full speed, and most of the other maladies from last year's team gone with the offseason, Gonzalez getting back into things would be one of the last steps between the Sox and a fully healthy team, which is something they haven't had in nearly a year.
Kevin Youkilis didn't come into the Red Sox' system as a first baseman. But, after a series of circumstances that brought All-Star third basemen Mike Lowell and Adrian Beltre to the team, Youkilis happily deferred to his teammates and left his natural position to go play first base.
After six years with the big team, he's finally getting his chance to go home.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes today that Youkilis is embracing his chance to play third base, where he played for four years at the University of Cincinnati and during his time coming up in the Red Sox' system.
In Youkilis, the Red Sox are getting an upgrade over Beltre offensively -- despite batting .307 to Beltre's .321 last season, Youkilis had higher slugging and on-base percentages and is a .294 career hitter to Beltre's .275. They're also getting a stellar defensive infielder -- in 219 games at third base in his career, Youkilis is a .966 fielder. Beltre is .957.
While Beltre's WAR (42.5) dwarf's Youkilis' 25.4, over the past five years Beltre has only been an 18. In that same time - really, since Youkilis started playing full seasons in Boston - he's a 23.2.
Now, if only Adrian Gonzalez was an improvement upon Lars Anderson ...
Today is a special day. No, it's got nothing to do with cards or chocolates. It's all about the pitchers and catchers, who were required to report to Red Sox training camp on Monday.
If the impact of the day is lessened this year, it's not for lack of excitement for the team, but because, well, there weren't many pitchers and catchers who weren't already there. Those few who hadn't shown up over the previous week-Alfredo Aceves and Jason Varitek, to name a couple-did so today. But it's kind of hard to mark today as the beginning of the year when we already had our first Pedroia quotes and have already seen Adrian Gonzalez working out in Red Sox gear.
Still, even if the Sox got a head start, there was news to be had. And as Jeff Sullivan tells us, that's the whole point.
Overall, there just seems to be a more positive atmosphere surrounding this year's spring training than in recent years. There aren't many doubts about the team's composition, for obvious reasons. We're not seeing embarrassing photos of an overweight Josh Beckett or Daisuke Matsuzaka-quite to the contrary, actually-and all we're hearing about is how guys are looking healthy or ahead of schedule.
Sure, there's always going to be some worry when it comes to the players that suffered injuries recently. But everyone from the most maintstream of the media to the most critical of the "statheads" is feeling good about this year's Red Sox team. The players seem excited, and the fans are hyped up. It's very nearly a perfect storm of positivity.
Let's hope they can keep the good feelings rolling through Opening Day.
The new arrivals to Fort Myers were few, today, but big ones. First was Clay Buchholz, joining the rest of the rotation as he sets out to replicate his incredible season from 2010. But his arrival ended up getting lost, because the next man to show up was Dustin Pedroia. And he did so rather loudly.
When Pedroia went down last year with a broken foot, Red Sox fans lost more than just a former MVP. They also lost the single most quotable member of the team. Now Pedroia is back, and making up for lost time by loosing a torrent of one-liners. Gordon Edes' provides us with the details on Twitter.
Jon Tomase tells us it all started with Terry Francona cracking wise about Pedroia's new hair:
"Where's Giovanni Ribisi?"
Let's get this out of the way. First, Gordon Edes shows us what that looks like.
(It'll look just fine under a hat/helmet, I'm sure.)
And then he captures the opening of the flood gates on Twitter:
"[Tito] was pouring water on himself to pretend he was working out, like he was sweating. I might kick his *** before we start"
"Doesn't matter. Jokes are cool when I'm 20 and im losing my hair, but im a grown-*** man now . I think it looks solid.''
Asked if he needed to see doctors, maybe another MRI: Pedroia joked: "They can come and see me, how about that? I think I've had 50 of em.''
Pedroia said he worked out with Crawford 3, 4 yrs in Arizona. "Whupped" him in Ping Pong, "talked trash."
Perhaps the best quote of all, though, is this one:
"I've taken ground balls, turned double plays, run bases. I've done everything. I'm ready to go."
We're glad to have you back, Dustin.
It's still five days until pitchers and catchers have to report to Fort Myers for Spring Training, but that hasn't stopped some of the Red Sox' top players from getting an early start. Already, the City of Palms Park is playing host to ace Jon Lester, closer Jonathan Papelbon, top offseason pickup Adrian Gonzalez, and top prospect Ryan Kalish.
According to Gordon Edes, even Daisuke Matsuzaka is flying in early, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia has made the short trip from the other side of peninsula, where he had been working with Gary Tuck on his catching.
If the players are excited to get things started, though, it's no surprise. There's plenty of motivation to be had. For some, it's the first chance to wash away the residue of a career-worst year, whether as a team or an individual. For others, it's about playing for the first time in far too long, with old injuries healed and ready to be forgotten. And then, for a select few, it's about new surroundings. A new team that presents a great chance for a first ring, spring training games that draw as many rabid fans as they're used to seeing in the regular season, and even the new media they're going to have to learn to live with for the next seven years.
For the moment, it's relatively calm in Fort Myers. But over the next couple of weeks, things are going to pick up. It's baseball season again, and one of the most exciting Boston teams in recent memory. We'll keep you updated as the players start to filter in, play games, and Opening Day draws closer.
For now, here's the upcoming schedule in brief:
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