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2012 is beginning to look a lot like 2010 for the Boston Red Sox.
In 2010 the team entered the year with reasonably high hopes, but found themselves ruined by injuries. Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis--all lost significant time to the disabled list throughout the season, leaving the Red Sox fielding a team of prospects and replacement players.
It wasn't a great year. For the first time in three years the Sox missed out on October baseball, reaching just 89 wins. Fans had to watch players like Adrian Beltre provide big numbers knowing the team wasn't really going to be able to take advantage of their good find. When the season finally came to an end with the Sox in third place, it was not welcomed with shock or anger, but a shrug. What could the Sox have done, missing so many of their best players?
There is no such resignation this year. Whether it's because they're hoping for a postseason push from the Red Sox or because they're upset about how the team reached this point of struggle (admittedly one much improved from a week ago), there are no shrugs for this season. What is similar, however, is the silver lining--one that shone through Thursday night--found in the performances of the players who have replaced the injured or struggling stars.
In 2010, it was the likes of Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall making surprising contributions when so little was expected out of them to start the year, but this year it's even better, because of what these performances could mean for the team down the line. First and foremost is Will MIddlebrooks, a top prospect who has so far completely lived up to his billing with eight homers and a .903 OPS in his first 136 at bats. With third base finally drying up for the Sox after years of Lowell, Beltre, and Youkilis, the Sox seem to already have their long-term answer lined up. That he's come through in the clutch so often this year is a terrific added bonus.
But beyond the man expected to perform, the Sox have also gotten production out of two of the men who made contributions in 2010: Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish. The latter's contributions have been admittedly minimal with his return coming just a few short days ago, but he showed why he's going to be a fan favorite down the line by going from first-to-third on a ground out Thursday, putting the go-ahead run just 90 feet away with only one out. It's that sort of all-out attitude which has seen him succeed so often in the minors.
But the man who knocked him in is the one who's really gone crazy. We all remember Daniel Nava's first at bat with the Red Sox: a first-pitch grand slam off of Jamie Moyer that suggested big things. Unfortunately, the 2010 season quickly went south for Nava. Now, in 2012, he's fighting to stay for good. While he once again started hot with a 7-game hitting streak, this time he's kept it up. Through 106 at bats, Nava is hitting a remarkable .340/.455/.519--a line good for the third highest OPS amongst American League outfielders with at least 100 at bats. Right now major league pitchers don't know how to get this 5'10" outfielder with an official picture that shows he's ecstatic just to be wearing a uniform out. It's unbelievable.
It's these sort of performances that have not only kept the Red Sox in the chase despite their dismal start, but also give Sox fans something to watch for. Because as difficult as it is to watch Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia chase everything thrown their way for out after out, the moments of magic from these players who weren't necessarily even expected to make an appearance before September call-ups are enough to make up for it.
The Red Sox finished off their sweep of the Marlins with a 6-5 win after a late, youth-lead rally brought the Sox back from a 5-3 deficit.
It was another rough beginning for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who again came out flat in the first inning. While he didn't load the bases with walks like he did against the Cubs, Matsuzaka did manage to put runners on second and third with one out. And while a strikeout of Logan Morrison provided some measure of hope for a scoreless inning, Greg Dobbs would quickly erase that by singling both men home, and then picking up the Marlins' third stolen base of the inning, putting himself in scoring position for an Omar Infante single that made it 3-0.
The Sox nearly responded in the bottom half of the first, but ended up wasting a bases loaded, one out situation with a pop fly and strikeout from Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia respectively. It was the only life they'd show in the first three innings, though Daisuke would manage to keep them in it by retiring fourteen straight batters starting with the last out in the first.
Then came the fourth, and finally Carlos Zambrano was made to pay for the wildness that had afflicted him all night. Hitting both Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to start the inning, Zambrano surrendered a single to Will Middlebrooks, who then broke up a double play at second allowing Mike Aviles to bring in a second run on a sacrifice fly. One inning later, and it was Middlebrooks striking again, dropping a single to right with Adrian Gonzalez at third to tie the game.
Unfortunately, the sixth inning would bring the end of Daisuke's streak courtesy of a Giancarlo Stanton solo shot. Andrew Miller did not fair much better in relief, surrendering a single and double to make it 5-3 Marlins.
There the score would remain until the eighth, when the Sox finally got their spark back. It started with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who chased Randy Choate from the game by hitting a right-handed double off the wall in left-center. Up came will Middlebrooks to the plate, and as before, the Marlins just could not get him out. Despite getting ahead 0-2, Edward Mujica could not put the third baseman away, let the count even up at 2-2, and then gave him a high fastball, which Middlebrooks smashed to dead center for a two-run shot to tie the game at 5-5.
The Sox were not done, however, as it was Ryan Kalish' turn to make his impact on the game. Shooting a single through the right side of the infield, Kalish showed the sort of spirit that's going to make him a fan favorite in years to come, taking off on a hit-and-run, rounding second without a thought, and sliding safely into third on a Mike Aviles ground out. With the winning run just 90 feet away, the Sox turned to Daniel Nava, who did what he's done all year: hit the baseball. A single into center brought Kalish home, and gave the Sox a lead to turn over to their closer Alfredo Aceves, who finished the game quickly and cleanly.
|Final - 6.21.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||0||0||2||1||0||0||3||X||6||9||0|
|WP: Scott Atchison (2 - 0)
SV: Alfredo Aceves (18)
LP: Edward Mujica (0 - 3)
The Red Sox are out for a sweep Thursday night as they take on Carlos Zambrano and the Miami Marlins.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Red Sox 6, Marlins 5, Final -- Alfredo Aceves closes out the ninth in short order, and the Sox have a great win--perhaps the best of the year--thanks to the likes of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Kalish, and Daniel Nava.
Red Sox 6, Marlins 5, End 8th -- A truly exciting rally has the Red Sox back on top, and it's mostly thanks to the call-ups. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the one "veteran" to get in on the act, starting the rally with a leadoff wall ball double to left-center that seemed like it was going to get out. That it was a few feet short becomes inconsequential just a few pitches later, as Will MIddlebrooks continues his excellent night by fighting back from an 0-2 count, getting a high 2-2 fastball, and drilling it to dead center for a two-run shot that ties the game at 5-5.
Ryan Kalish kept the rally going by hitting a single through the right side of the infield, then made the sort of play that's going to make him a fan favorite in a hurry. With the hit-and-run on, Kalish not only stayed out of the double play on the ground ball out from Mike Aviles, but gunned it to third, leaving him just 90 feet away with one out. Up came Daniel Nava, and right now when the Sox need just a hit, there might not be anybody better. A 1-0 splitter tails away from Nava as it reaches the plate, but locked in at the plate as he is, Nava goes out and gets it, lacing a single into center and bringing the go-ahead run home.
Three outs to go.
Marlins 5, Red Sox 3, Mid 8th -- Giancarlo Stanton picks up another hit, but this time it's just a single, and Scott Atchison is able to erase him with a Logan Morrison double play ball to secure another 1-2-3 inning.
Marlins 5, Red Sox 3, End 7th -- The heart of the Red Sox order goes quietly in the bottom of the seventh, with another weak ground ball from Adrian Gonzalez getting things started. It was on June 9, 2009 that David Ortiz, in the midst of a year-and-a-half long slump, was given eyedrops and never looked back. Maybe Adrian needs some?
Marlins 5, Red Sox 3, Mid 7th -- Scott Atchison continues to provide the Red Sox with effective relief pitching, retiring the side in order in the seventh. Since allowing two runs to the Orioles earlier in the month, he's bounced back with 5.2 scoreless.
Marlins 5, Red Sox 3, End 6th -- With Ryan Webb into the game for Carlos Zambrano, the Red Sox go down in rapid fashion, with Mike Aviles, Daniel Nava, and Dustin Pedroia all grounding out in a 1-2-3 sixth.
Marlins 5, Red Sox 3, Mid 6th -- It doesn't take long for the pitching to ruin the offense's good work from the last two innings. After getting through the last four innings without allowing a baserunner, Daisuke ended his night on a bad note, tossing a slider right over the heart of the plate to Giancarlo Stanton, who did not miss the opportunity, launching a high-speed rocket shot into the Monster seats. Andrew Miller, who hadn't given up a hit since May 29, followed up by allowing a two-out single and double to Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante respectively, making it 5-3 before the final out was recorded.
Red Sox 3, Marlins 3, End 5th -- It's getting harder and harder to justify keeping Will Middlebrooks out of the lineup. After another free pass from Carlos Zambrano gave the Sox a leadoff baserunner in Adrian Gonzalez, a single and a ground ball (from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hustled to first to beat out what would have been an inning-ending double play) moved him to third with Middlebrooks up to bat. Making good on the opportunity, the young third baseman looped a single into right field, bringing Gonzalez home to tie the game.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 2, Mid 5th -- If you could just eliminate that one inning, Daisuke would be in the midst of a perfect game after another 1-2-3 frame. Unfortunately, that's what Sox fans have been saying for years now.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 2, End 4th -- Carlos Zambrano's wild ways finally come back to haunt him some. A pair of leadoff hit batsmen in Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are the two runs that eventually score off of Zambrano, as Will Middlebrooks knocks one in, and then breaks up a double play at second to allow Mike Aviles to bring the other home on a sacrifice fly. This one is anyone's ball game right now.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 0, Mid 4th -- Some decent contact for the Marlins results in three fly balls, including one which Nava nearly allows to grab some wall as he ventures back towards the Monster, but all three are outs just the same. And with only 11 pitches thrown in the inning, Matsuzaka has his pitch count if not under control, then at least a lot more reasonable.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 0, End 3rd -- It won't matter what Daisuke Matsuzaka does on the mound from here if the Sox can't put up some runs. One night after plating 15, the Sox have been held in check for the first three innings by Carlos Zambrano. A 1-2-3 third doesn't even come with so much as a fly ball, and Zambrano requires just 10 pitches to get the heart of the Red Sox lineup. Not a good sign.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 0, Mid 3rd -- Daisuke Matsuzaka does manage another 1-2-3 inning, but it does not come without resistance, as the Marlins make him throw plenty of pitches in the process. With his count up over 60 already, Matsuzaka is going to need some quick outs to get that quality start.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 0, End 2nd -- Carlos Zambrano surrenders his third walk of the night, but that sort of wildness is acceptable when it comes with plenty of strikeouts. With Ryan Kalish's free pass sandwiched between whiffs of Will Middlebrooks and Mike Aviles, Zambrano needed only a Daniel Nava ground ball to end the inning uneventfully.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- A quick 1-2-3 inning ending in a strikeout of Jose Reyes begs the question where this Daisuke was in the first. That, however, is how Daisuke works. He pitches badly, and then shows you what he can do just to make all the terrible innings that much worse. The good news is that, at least for his last outing, that pattern ultimately left the Red Sox with a quality start.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- The Red Sox threaten to do to Carlos Zambrano in the bottom half of the inning what the Marlins did to Daisuke in the top half, but they can't quite follow through. After a leadoff walk to Daniel Nava, Dustin Pedroia managed to beat out a double play ball allowing Adrian Gonzalez to move him to third when he sliced a single into left field. David Ortiz walked behind him, loading the bases with one out, but neither Cody Ross nor Jarrod Saltalamacchia could pick up the big hit, leaving the Sox with a pop up, a strikeout, and no runs to end the first.
Marlins 3, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- It's becoming clear that switching replacing Daniel Bard with Daisuke Matsuzaka was nothing more than a horizontal move for the Red Sox. In another awful first, Matsuzaka fell behind 2-0, gave up a leadoff single, and with one out walked Giancarlo Stanton to put men on first and third. While a strikeout of Logan Morrison may have provided some hope for one of his patented Houdini acts, Greg Dobbs erased that hope with a line drive to right field, scampered to second with the third stolen base of the inning, and then scored on a bloop single to center to make it 3-0.
Not what you want from Daisuke, but about what you'd expect.
Boston Red Sox injured closer Andrew Bailey's recovery continues. Bailey is now throwing from the mound in bullpen sessions. According to a report, Bailey threw all of his pitches and 25 total pitches from the mound (via Brian McPherson).
During Spring Training, Bailey injured the ulnar collateral ligament of his right hand. He needed surgery to repair it. When the injury occurred in April, it was not projected to end Bailey's season before it began.
Bailey was acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Oakland Athletics. For Oakland, Bailey posted a 2.07 ERA and converted 75 of 84 career save opportunities. Bailey is 7-10 for his career and has struck out 174 batters in 174 innings while only walking 49 batters.
There was no word from Boston about when Bailey's rehab assignment will take place.
The Red Sox will have Dustin Pedroia, just one day removed from aggravating his thumb injury, back in the lineup as they take on Carlos Zambrano and the Miami Marlins. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN, the MLB Network, and WEEI.
While there were fears that Pedroia's decision to return early from his injury had resulted in the worst case scenario after he was pulled in the middle of Tuesday's game, the second baseman is back in the lineup Thursday night, batting second behind Daniel Nava as the Sox aim for the sweep.
The Red Sox will keep Adrian Gonzalez back at first base for a second straight night now that they've got viable outfield options in Cody Ross, Ryan Kalish, and Daniel Nava. Will Middlebrooks will take the start at third base while Kevin Youkilis will at least begin his night on the bench.
Boston Red Sox (35-33)
Miami Marlins (33-35)
One of the singular pleasures of the Red Sox this season has been watching David Ortiz at the plate.
After the 2007 season, one of if not the best campaign in his career, Ortiz seemed to lose something. 2008 started with a whimper rather than his usual bang, and while he was able to recover somewhat before season's end, a mid-year wrist injury served to keep his totals very low. This of course led to 2009, when Ortiz' career seemed for all intents and purposes to be coming to an end. He still had a big homer run in the second half to make up for a dismal beginning, but even then he still wasn't more than a shadow of his old self.
The Sox, however, kept the faith in their long-time designated hitter, and were rewarded with a bounce-back 2010. It wasn't quite the old Ortiz-there were too many helpless strikeouts against left-handed sliders and curveballs in the dirt for that-but at least it gave Sox fans hope that he could keep producing for another couple of years around that level, giving the Sox a reason to keep around one of the only heroes left from that magical 2004 season.
Then came 2011, and surprisingly things only got better. Gone were the difficulties against left-handed pitching, gone were the prolonged slumps. Citing Adrian Gonzalez' influence, Ortiz became the king of doubles, bouncing hits off the wall in left and into the right field corner in equal numbers and adding 29 homers to boot. It was an impressive display.
It's only this year, however, that Ortiz is actually the monster from 2004-2007 once again. Without giving up the doubles, Ortiz has started belting homers out of the park at a furious pace, and should approach 40 if he keeps the pace up. And these aren't Fenway fly balls to left or line shots that wrap around Pesky's pole. These are the sorts of mammoth shots that can be identified just by the crack of the bat hitting the ball.
They're the sort of homers that demoralize a pitcher, and it's why there's something different about Ortiz this year. Pitchers were never happy to face him last year, or the year before, but this year the fear is back. You could see it in Mark Buehrle, when he looked ready to roll the ball in to home plate before giving him a fastball on a three ball count. You could see it in Chris Hatcher when Ortiz came to the plate with the bases loaded and cleared them by going ten rows deep to right.
Those who campaigned for Jim Rice's election to the Hall-of-Fame, in order to argue against stats that perhaps didn't really stack up against the greats of the time, did so based on reputation. That there were few hitters in the game whose simple presence at the plate carried the impact that his did. When David Ortiz comes to the plate right now, he brings that same impact-the knowledge that the game can be changed, and the pitcher's day ruined, with one violent swing of the bat. For those on his side, it's a beautiful thing to watch.
The Boston Red Sox are looking for a series sweep Thursday night when they go head-to-head with the Miami Marlins. They've already been successful against the team for the most part this week, scoring a total of 24 runs in two days.
Should such performances continue, the Red Sox will have dominated the Marlins in this three-game stretch.
Take a look here at the game schedule:
Date/Time: Thursday, June 21, 7:10 p.m. ET
TV: NESN, Fox Sports Florida
Location: Fenway Park
Online streaming: MLB.tv
Read more on the Boston Red Sox at Over the Monster and head over to Fish Stripes for the Miami Marlins' fan perspective. Baseball Nation is your source for news, updates and analysis around Major League Baseball.
The Red Sox secured their third straight series win and a four-game winning streak Wednesday night as they exploded for 15 runs against Ricky Nolasco and the Miami bullpen.
The game started inauspiciously for Boston, as Felix Doubront was unable to keep runs off the board in either of the first two innings. A pair of leadoff singles in the first allowed a run to come in the back door on a Giancarlo Stanton double play, and more leadoff trouble--this time a double and single--in the second led to another ground ball out leading to a run.
Meanwhile, Ricky Nolasco had retired the first five Red Sox to come to the plate. His sixth out, however, would take a while. With Nolasco having relied primarily on off-speed pitches to that point, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was able to wait on an outside splitter and reach out to hook it into right field for the first Boston baserunner. Kevin Youkilis quickly made it two by hitting a well-placed ground ball to short which forced Jose Reyes to make an ill-fated throw to second, leaving two men on for Mike Aviles. The first pitch Aviles saw was a high slider, and just like that it was 3-2, with the shortstop picking up his first homer of the month on a three-run shot into the Monster seats.
From there it was almost all Red Sox. With the bases loaded in the third, Cody Ross would double home all three baserunners, making it 6-2. The Marlins would get a pair back against a shaky Felix Doubront, but the Sox responded with six in a tremendous fourth, as David Ortiz picked up his eleventh career grand slam and Jarrod Saltalamacchia contributed the third Boston homer of the night shortly thereafter. Nolasco only stayed in to face the first four batters, resulting in three singles before Chris Hatcher came in to give up the big hits.
The game would quiet down from there, with the Sox adding another run in the fifth before John Buck and Will Middlebrooks exchanged homers in the seventh and eighth innings respectively. With Buck's a solo shot and Middlebrooks' coming with Saltalamacchia on first, the Sox built there lead to 15-5, where Mark Melancon would make sure it stayed with a 1-2-3 ninth.
|Final - 6.20.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||3||3||6||1||0||0||2||X||15||16||0|
|WP: Felix Doubront (8 - 3)
LP: Ricky Nolasco (6 - 6)
The Red Sox are going for a four-game winning streak and a series win against the Miami Marlins Wednesday night.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Red Sox 15, Marlins 5, Final -- Mark Melancon hardly needs a 1-2-3 ninth, but he gets it all the same, ending the game in quick, clean fashion for the win.
Red Sox 15, Marlins 5, End 8th -- It was going to be difficult for anyone to provide a significant improvement to this ridiculous night, but Bobby V turned to exactly the right guy to do it: Will Middlebrooks. Catching a rising inside fastball from Steve Cishek, Middlebrooks launched another one of his rocket shots into the Monster seats, making it 15-5 with Jarrod Saltalamacchia on in front of him. That's the first bomb for Middlebrooks since May 30.
Red Sox 13, Marlins 5, Mid 8th -- Another hard hit ball off of Clayton Mortensen leaves him with another runner in scoring position, but since it comes with one out he doesn't have to perform quite the same level of escape act to avoid harm, simply inducing a ground out (from Austin Kearns, who just can't wait for this night to be over) and fly ball to end the top of the eighth.
Red Sox 13, Marlins 5, End 7th -- Daniel Nava picks up his fourth hit of the night before being erased by a Ryan Kalish double play in a 1-2-3 seventh. Nava hasn't missed a step in returning from his hand injury, with six hits now in eight at bats. It's just been an unreal season for a guy it's impossible not to root for.
Red Sox 13, Marlins 5, Mid 7th -- Clayton Mortensen doesn't look nearly so sharp as he did during his first call-up. His second pitch of the night is taken very deep to left, into the back row of the Monster seats for a solo shot. Two pitches later, and Donovan Solano has a double off the top of the scoreboard. Mortensen manages to tighten up, however, cleanly fielding a come-backer to keep Solano at second, then getting a pair of fly balls to end the inning without any further damage.
Red Sox 13, Marlins 4, End 6th -- Kevin Youkilis builds the old trade value with a double in an otherwise clean inning for Hatcher--the first the Marlins have had since the first.
Red Sox 13, Marlins 4, Mid 6th -- Felix Doubront manages to pick up another 1-2-3 inning thanks to a Gaby Sanchez double play, and strikes out Austin Kearns for the third time to boot. It's not a good outing for Doubront, but he's made it passable since the bad start.
Red Sox 13, Marlins 4, End 5th -- Hatcher seems ready to surrender another huge inning, but finally manages to settle down with the bases loaded. While a pitch that bounces behind John Buck manages to bring in a run, this time neither David Ortiz nor Cody Ross can put the bat on the ball, leaving the Sox with just the one to show for their efforts in the fifth.
Red Sox 12, Marlins 4, Mid 5th -- Felix Doubront has a bit of a messy fifth inning, but after giving up a leadoff single and hitting Logan Morrison (with a mid-80s cutter), the southpaw manages to escape unharmed by getting Justin Ruggiano to swing through a changeup for the strikeout.
Red Sox 12, Marlins 4, End 4th -- A delightfully lengthy inning seems to have this one in the bag for the Red Sox.
The inning started inconspicuously enough. A questionable call on an infield single for Mike Aviles, a pop-up for Nick Punto, not much to see here. Even when Daniel Nava hit another hard ground ball to move Aviles to third and reach first himself, it was just a small jam.
But as we know, the floodgates opened in the third, and once they're open, it takes a while for them to close. Ryan Kalish made it 7-4 by hitting a ground ball that pulled Gaby Sanchez away from the bag and made Omar Infante throw to a late-arriving Ricky Nolasco. Ozzie Guillen decided he'd seen enough, and in came Chris Hatcher.
It did not go well for Mr. Hatcher.
After falling behind 1-2, Adrian Gonzalez managed to work the count full and, on the seventh pitch he saw, lace a single into right field to load the bases. Up came David Ortiz and, with nowhere left to put him this time, the Marlins had to pitch to him. So far this year that's rarely ended well for the team in the field, and this time was no different. The 0-1 fastball was inside, or rather in Ortiz' wheelhouse, and he cleaned it out. Another swing showing all the power of the Ortiz of old deposited the ball a good ten rows back in the right field stands, and Papi had his 11th career grand slam.
Cody Ross nearly made it back-to-back long balls, but his loud contact produced too much lift and not enough drive, dying on the track in left field. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, up next, had no such problem. Falling behind 2-0, Hatcher delivered a middle-middle fastball, and Salty drove it into the seats by the batter's eye in dead center, making it 12-4, Sox.
Red Sox 6, Marlins 4, Mid 4th -- So much for that turnaround. Things get bad in a hurry in the fourth, as Logan Morrison launches a 1-0 fastball to right, bouncing it emphatically off the top half of the foul pole to cut the lead to 6-3. Justin Ruggiano is right behind him with a fly ball to dead center that ends up bouncing around the large door on the wall, letting him run to third unopposed. Doubront almost manages to escape the jam with a pop-up and a strikeout (again on Austin Kearns), but a bloop single to center field manages to score the run despite his best efforts, leaving Boston's lead at just two.
Red Sox 6, Marlins 2, End 3rd -- And the floodgates have opened against Ricky Nolasco. The first two batters in Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish both managed to reach on singles, and after Adrian Gonzalez' ground ball out moved them into scoring position, the Marlins elected to intentionally walk David Ortiz to get to Cody Ross.
It's hard to really question anyone intentionally walking Big Papi in a year and situation like this, but for once it certainly didn't help any. Falling behind 2-0 in the count, Ricky Nolasco delivered a fastball down the middle to Cody Ross, who pulled a line drive past a leaping Logan Morrison and off the wall in left. With the carom bouncing well away from Morrison, David Ortiz was able to chug all the way around from first, scoring as the ball got away from John Buck at the plate and Ross pulled into second with a bases clearing double.
Red Sox 3, Marlins 2, Mid 3rd -- Felix Doubront has a nice turn-around inning in the third, earning a 1-2-3 inning against Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, and Giancarlo Stanton with Reyes leading things off with an easy bunt pop-up to Kevin Youkilis.
Red Sox 3, Marlins 2, End 2nd -- And just like that, the Sox are on top. Two-out trouble of the most frustrating variety has Ricky Nolasco's night suddenly looking a lot worse. After sitting down the first five Red Sox he faced, Nolasco was finally punished for his predictability by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who seemed to be sitting off-speed and was able to reach out and put a measured swing on an outside, 82 MPH splitter and hook it through the left side of the infield on a line for the first Boston hit of the night.
The ensuing ground ball from Kevin Youkilis didn't quite manage to find a hole, but managed to get Jose Reyes going far enough in the wrong direction that his throw to second was too late to get a sliding Saltalamacchia. Turning his attention to Mike Aviles at the plate, Ricky Nolasco threw one high slider, and Aviles crushed it into the Monster seats to give Boston the lead.
Marlins 2, Red Sox 0, Mid 2nd -- Second verse, same as the first. Doubront gives up a line drive double to Justin Ruggiano to start the inning, can't get a bunt over to first in time for the out, and while he does manage to get a strikeout off of Austin Kearns, a ground ball is once again enough to get the run in the back door as Kevin Youkilis' only play on Gaby Sanchez' slow roller is to first.
Marlins 1, Red Sox 0, End 1st -- Ricky Nolasco has a strategy: don't throw fastballs. With seven of his ten first-inning offerings coming from his off-speed repertoire, the Sox didn't figure Nolasco out fast enough to make him pay for it in the first, with two ground ball outs to first and a rather pitiful first-pitch pop-up from Adrian Gonzalez suggesting he may have been wise to avoid the hard stuff.
Marlins 1, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- The Sox are forced to simply limit the damage in the first as Felix Doubront comes out looking anything but sharp against the team he held without a hit for more than five innings in his last outing. Falling behind both Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, Doubront quickly found himself with runners on first and third after a pair of singles. Giancarlo Stanton was helpful enough to ground into a double play on the first pitch he saw, but that just let Reyes come in the back door to pick up the first run of the night.
The Red Sox will look to make it three straight series wins Wednesday night as they send Felix Doubront to the mound against Ricky Nolasco and the Florida Marlins. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.
Unfortunately, they'll be without Dustin Pedroia after the second baseman aggravated the thumb injury that had earlier threatened to keep him out for a month in the first game of the series. While currently the injury doesn't seem too serious, the Sox aren't going to be putting him back in the field the day after.
Will Middlebrooks will also sit, as Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez get the starts at the corner infield positions. Daniel Nava is back in the starting lineup for the first time since his hand injury, manning left field with Ryan Kalish and Cody Ross in center and right.
Boston Red Sox (34-33)
Miami Marlins (33-34)
There were two blemishes to the Red Sox' victory over the Miami Marlins Tuesday night. The first was the worrying removal of Dustin Pedroia from the game after being jammed late in the game. Only time will tell how costly that situation proves.
The second was the pitching of Clay Buchholz, who ran into trouble for the first time since May 21st, surrendering five runs in six innings.
What's curious about this particular start is that it was a different brand of Clay Buchholz than the Sox have seen before.
It's tempting to lump this Clay Buchholz in with the one who played so poorly in the first two months of the season. The contribution to his ERA was certainly similar, as was the surrendering of a two-run homer in the first. The difference, however, is that said Clay Buchholz was just an absolute wreck. Unable to spot his fastball with any regularity and throwing off-speed pitches into the dirt, it was almost a shock when he managed to get an out.
Tuesday's Clay Buchholz was not quite so bad at all. Yes, Logan Morrison went insane, but against the rest of the opponents he faced, Buchholz was passing impressive. Three of the runs Morrison drove in were on base via broken bats or ground balls. His fastball had zip and was thrown for strikes most of the time, while his off-speed stuff was deceptive enough to get him some swings-and-misses. He didn't pitch like a monster, but he was better, perhaps, than the line shows at the end of the night.
Kevin Youkilis' future is uncertain, but right now it appears it will not be in Boston. Where will the Sox ship the third baseman, and what can they expect in return?
The Red Sox defeated the
Miami Marlins Logan Morrison 7-5, riding the strength of three homers to take their third straight win and move back above .500.
Clay Buchholz had his streak of four straight excellent starts snapped by almost exclusively Logan Morrison. While in general he did not pitch like he had in his bad April and May, he simply couldn't avoid bad situations with Morrison at the plate, and time after time Morrison made him pay. A ground ball single in the first allowed Morrison to come to the plate with two out an one on, and Morrison took him out of the park. In the fifth, it was a couple of broken bat hits that brought him to the plate for a two-run double off the wall (which could arguably have been caught by Ryan Kalish were he more familiar with the wall).
Only in the third, when Buchholz walked Hanley Ramirez and hit Giancarlo Stanton to set up Morrison for another RBI double, was the right-hander really at fault. All-in-all, however, with six innings and five earned runs, it will look like an ugly night in the box score.
The good news is that the Red Sox were more than up to the task of backing him up. After falling behind 2-0 in the first, Dustin Pedroia doubled and David Ortiz evened the score with a two-run shot to right field. In the second, it was Kelly Shoppach taking Mark Buehrle deep for the fourth time in his career to make it 4-2. While the Marlins got a run back in the top of the third, another homer--this time a solo shot from Cody Ross--made up for it in the bottom of the fourth.
The Sox would add another run in each of the fifth and sixth innings, with a sacrifice bunt from Dustin Pedroia allowing David Ortiz to bring Mike Aviles in from third with a long fly ball that nearly got down for extra bases, and a pair of doubles from Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks giving them their seventh in the sixth. With Matt Albers, Andrew Miller, Vicente Padilla, and Alfredo Aceves combining for three scoreless, the Sox moved to 34-33 on the season--back into winning territory.
|Final - 6.19.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||2||2||0||1||1||1||0||0||X||7||10||1|
|WP: Clay Buchholz (8 - 2)
SV: Alfredo Aceves (17)
LP: Mark Buehrle (5 - 8)
The Red Sox are set to face off against the Miami Marlins in the first of a three-game set Tuesday night.
We'll keep you up-to-date on all the action as it goes down in Fenway Park.
Red Sox 7, Marlins 5, Final -- 1-2-3 go the Marlins with a pair of strikeouts, and the Sox are 34-33.
Red Sox 7, Marlins 5, End 8th -- Daniel Nava picks up a two-out double to give the Sox a runner in scoring position and keep his hot streak going around all the time off, but Cody Ross couldn't bring him in, grounding out to end the threat.
Red Sox 7, Marlins 5, Mid 8th -- Vicente Padilla works around a ground ball single to retire the side in the eighth. The Sox need just three outs to get back above .500.
Red Sox 7, Marlins 5, End 7th -- Two pop-ups and a strikeout end the inning in a hurry for Ryan Webb.
Red Sox 7, Marlins 5, Mid 7th -- The Sox manage to avoid giving up a run despite an error committed by Ryan Kalish on the first at bat of the inning that costs the Red Sox three bases, as he allows a long fly ball to inexplicably bounce off his glove in center field. Albers manages to battle back for a strikeout of Hanley Ramirez, however, and while he gives up a line drive, it goes right to Daniel Nava in short left, keeping Reyes pinned. Albers turns the ball over to Andrew Miller, who gets the fly ball for the out.
Red Sox 7, Marlins 5, End 6th -- A pair of doubles from the corner infielders earn the Sox another run, as Kevin Youkilis goes to deep right for his two-bagger and Will Middlebrooks stretches a line drive single into two, just barely beating a relay throw (more like a toss, really) to second as Youkilis scored the seventh Boston run.
Red Sox 6, Marlins 5, Mid 6th -- Buchholz works around a 1-out double to keep the 6-5 lead intact, grabbing a couple of ground balls to escape the inning. Given the proximity of Logan Morrison, that might be it for him tonight.
Red Sox 6, Marlins 5, End 5th -- And the Sox are right back on top. After a leadoff double from Mike Aviles, the Sox elected to have Dustin Pedroia bunt, sending the shortstop to third from which he was able to score easily on a long fly ball from Adrian Gonzalez that looked likely to go for extra bases before Stanton managed to make a good running grab.
Red Sox 5, Marlins 5, Mid 5th -- Logan Morrison just will not give Clay Buchholz a break. Sadly, this was a situation that could have been avoided entirely with a little bit of luck. Already with two outs, Clay Buchholz managed to break Hanley Ramirez' bat, but had the resulting blooper drop into the outfield for a base hit. A ground ball from Giancarlo Stanton quickly made it two straight hits for the Marlins without much behind them, bringing who else to the plate but Logan Morrison. Already the author of all three Marlins runs, Morrison made it a perfect five by taking a high fastball and doubling off the Monster. While it looked like a catch could have been made, Ryan Kalish' inexperience with the wall may have shown through, as he pulled up to play the carom rather than backing up to the wall.
Red Sox 5, Marlins 3, End 4th -- Cody Ross' return is officially a successful one. An 0-1 fastball was outside to Ross, but the newly-healthy outfielder went out and got it, pulling a high fly ball up and into the first couple rows of Monster seats to make it 5-3.
The Sox would be gifted another baserunner when Ryan Kalish' pop fly had a number of fielders closing on it but still managed to bounce off of Omar Infante's glove, but Kelly Shoppach grounded into a double play to mitigate the mistake.
Red Sox 4, Marlins 3, Mid 4th -- One inning off, one inning on for Clay Buchholz, who retires the side on just eight pitches in the fourth, getting another strikeout--this time of Gaby Sanchez--with a curveball to end the frame.
Red Sox 4, Marlins 3, End 3rd -- David Ortiz does manage his second hit of the night, a low line drive past a diving Hanley Ramirez, but is stranded at first as Kevin Youkilis flies out to right to end the frame.
Red Sox 4, Marlins 3, Mid 3rd -- Logan Morrison continues to kill the Sox. After a walk and a hit batter put two men on with two out, Buchholz gives up a wall-ball double to Logan Morrison which brings a third run home for the Marlins, all three of which have been driven in by Morrison.
After giving up just five total runs over his last four starts, Clay has now given up three for the first time since May 21st. Before that, he had allowed more than three in all but one of his starts.
Red Sox 4, Marlins 2, End 2nd -- The Marlins didn't manage to keep pace in their second inning, but the Sox did. Will Middlebrooks got the inning started with a ground ball to the left of Jose Reyes. While the shortstop was able to get to the ball on the outfield grass, it took him too far away for the throw to beat Middlebrooks to the bad, giving the Sox a leadoff baserunner. They almost didn't cash in, As Cody Ross flew out and Ryan Kalish struck out, but Kelly Shoppach came through once again against a lefty, launching the third two-run shot of the game--and the second for the Sox--well over the Monster.
Red Sox 2, Marlins 2, Mid 2nd -- A much easier second inning for Clay Buchholz does feature a couple of close calls, but neither of his own creation. A leadoff ground ball to Mike Aviles ends up in a close play at the plate for Omar Infante, but the ball gets there in time for the out, and after a fly ball out for Scott Cousins, Gaby Sanchez nearly gets lucky as Will Middlebrooks can't make a clean pick on a ground ball to third. Luckily the ball bounces straight in the air, where Middlebrooks calmly grabs it and fires a bullet to first for the out.
Red Sox 2, Marlins 2, End 1st -- Clay Buchholz is off to a bad start, but so far the Sox have his back at the plate. With one out, Dustin Pedroia showed more signs of life after a good game on Sunday, hitting a double off the wall in left field. While Adrian Gonzalez could do nothing more than move him along to third with a weak ground ball, David Ortiz was up to the task of putting Boston on the board. Like Buchholz before him, Mark Buehrle fell behind Ortiz 3-1, looking as though he'd like nothing more than to roll the ball into the plate. On the fifth pitch, Ortiz showed why, clobbering a rocket shot into the right field stands to even the game at 2-2.
Marlins 2, Red Sox 0, Mid 1st -- Well that's not the start you want to see for Clay Buchholz, who has been so good over the past few weeks. After Ryan Kalish saved him from leadoff trouble by making a tremendous sliding grab on a sinking liner, Buchholz had his next pitch grounded up the middle by Hanley Ramirez for a single. While he would get rid of Giancarlo Stanton with a nasty, sharp breaking curveball that ended up low-and-away, he was not so successful against Logan Morrison. Falling behind 3-1, Clay was forced to offer up a fastball middle-middle. The result : a two-run shot to right-center that leaves Buchholz with as many runs as he's allowed in any of his previous four starts.
The Red Sox will have Cody Ross back with the team and in the lineup as they take on Mark Buehrle and the Miami Marlins Tuesday night in Fenway Park. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. EST with broadcasts by NESN and WEEI.
Cody Ross has been out for a month after breaking a bone in his left foot with a foul ball. And while the Sox haven't exactly missed his production thanks to impressive performances from Scott Podsednik and Daniel Nava, they would welcome his reliability even if Podsednik weren't now headed to the disabled list.
Ross will bat seventh, behind both Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks who are manning the corner infield spots as Adrian Gonzalez remains in the outfield. David Ortiz will return to his role as the DH now that the Sox are back in American League territory.
Boston Red Sox (33-33)
Miami Marlins (33-33)
The 31-year old Ross has not been in the Red Sox lineup since May 18, when he broke a bone in his foot after fouling a ball off of it. In 37 games with Boston this season, he is batting .271 with eight home runs and 28 RBI. He played a two-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket this weekend, managing one hit in seven at-bats over two games.
The Red Sox outfield has been struck by the injury bug all season long.
The Red Sox are out to make it three straight series wins as they take on the Miami Marlins in Fenway Park, but to do so they'll have to do something they've not done very often this year: win at home.
At 14-19, Boston's record in Fenway Park is not what you'd expect from a team that has done so well on the road. While they're hitting better at home then away, that's about what you'd expect from any team playing in Fenway, so the fact that they're not particularly standing out is perhaps cause for concern.
The real issue, however, has been the pitching--in particular that of Clay Buchholz, and Felix Doubront, two of the men set to take the mound in this three game sereis.
Tuesday, June 19, 7:10 p.m. EST
Clay Buchholz (7-2, 5.38 ERA) vs. Mark Buehrle (5-7, 3.41 ERA)
The good news for the Red Sox is that Clay Buchholz' bad home numbers are all from before his recent turnaround. Now, after four terrific starts in a row--two coming at home--the Sox have gotten to the point where they can depend on Buchholz to put up strong starts that should be worthy of a win given any reasonable level of support. It doesn't hurt that he provided them just that against these same Marlins in his last outing, and the team emerged victorious even though they weren't able to provide him decent results against none other than Mark Buehrle, who held the Sox to just two runs over seven innings. It's going to be tough for Buehrle, who has to be wondering if he actually needs to do better in the cozy confines of Fenway just to have a shot.
Wednesday, June 20, 7:10 p.m. EST
Ricky Nolasco (6-5, 4.37 ERA) vs. Felix Doubront (7-3, 4.17 ERA)
Felix Doubront also has a nice start against the Marlins in his pocket, but he's got some greater worries when it comes to pitching at Fenway. With two good starts and two bad ones in the cozy confines, Doubront's overall home ERA of 5.52 is not terribly impressive. This is made all the worse by the fact that he's suffered from a rash of home runs, allowing seven in his last five outings. Hopefully all the strikeouts--he managed to pile up nine in his start against the Marlins--will be enough to keep the fly balls to a minimum.
Ricky Nolasco was decent in his last start against the Red Sox, but could only hold them off for so long before they completely woke up from their slumber (induced by a run of five front-line starters that at no point involved Ricky Nolasco) against the Florida bullpen. Unfortunately for Nolasco, he's been suffering from a bit of a home run problem of late, and that's not likely to get better shifting from Florida to Boston.
Thursday, June 21, 7:10 p.m. EST
NESN/MLB Network, WEEI
Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 5.73 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (4-5, 3.92 ERA)
Daisuke was his old self for the first couple innings of his last game, walking just about every Cub who came to the plate before waking up a bit to actually earn a quality start for his efforts. We've seen two different Daisukes in two starts so far, but unfortunately neither one has been terribly effective. Sox fans can only hope for more, however, since he seems like he'll be in the rotation for a while longer yet.
Carlos Zambrano has been revived some by the move to Miami, but the warm weather boost may be wearing off, as he's been entirely hittable in recent months. He's proven especially ineffective against the Tampa Bay Rays, who he's faced in each of his last two starts, allowing 11 runs without escaping the third either time. While the Sox may be trailing said Rays by four games in the American League East right now, they have far-and-away the better lineup, so hopefully that means more interleague trouble for Zambrano.
Can the Boston Red Sox keep the momentum going and get above .500 on Tuesday night?
Baseball games are decided on the field, but how much blame does ownership deserve for the chaotic state of today's Red Sox?
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