June 30, 2012

G78: Mariners 3, Red Sox 2 (11)

Red Sox  - 000 000 200 00 - 2 11  0
Mariners - 000 002 000 01 - 3  9  0
Singles by Dustin Ackley and Miguel Olivo put runners at first and third with one out in the eleventh inning, and Chone Figgins's line drive sac fly to right brought in the winning run. For the second time in three games, Jarrod Saltalamacchia could not handle Cody Ross's throw to the plate, and the winning run scored easily both times.

John Jaso's two-run double off Beckett (6-4-2-3-4, 85) gave Seattle a 2-0 lead. Beckett did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, but seemed to hit a wall with one out in the sixth, allowing a single, walk, single, and double.

Boston tied the game immediately as Adrian Gonzalez, Will Middlebrooks and Cody Ross all singled to load the bases with no one out in the seventh. One run scored on Ryan Kalish's fielder's choice and a second run scored on a passed ball.

The Red Sox had chances to score in both the ninth and tenth innings. Ross and Kalish singled with one down in the ninth, but could not advance. And in the tenth, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz singled with no one out. However, a strikeout and two fielder's choices ended that possible rally.

Boston is 0-5 in extra-inning games this year.
Example
Josh Beckett / Erasmo Ramirez
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, RF
Kalish, CF
Aviles, SS
Beckett comes off the disabled list (shoulder inflammation) to make his first start since June 11.

Down in Florida today, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford both played the outfield for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox.

Schadenfreude 132 (A Continuing Series)

June 29

Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
Just when you thought the Yankees' rotation was going to be their biggest problem, the bullpen decided to enter the conversation.

With Rafael Soriano unavailable to pitch thanks to his recent heavy workload, the Yankees watched three pitchers combine to blow a two-run lead in the ninth inning, suffering a stunning 4-3 loss to the White Sox.
Dan Martin, Post:
David Robertson wanted to be on the mound to start the ninth inning.

Instead, he came in with runners on first and third and no outs and promptly gave up a go-ahead, three-run homer to Dayan Viciedo as the Yankees saw a five-game winning streak snapped with a 4-3 loss to the White Sox in The Bronx.

"If it's up to me, if it's my choice, I'd prefer it," Robertson said after blowing the save. "But I've been in situations before just like that and gotten out of them."

Not this time.
Filip Bondy, Daily News:
Sometimes it's not about the starting pitching, and all the injuries to the rotation. It's about the bullpen aching, or tired, or out of joint, or the manager getting too cute with mixing and matching relievers in the ninth.

Joe Girardi has to be awfully careful these days not to fritter away decent starts, because they will not necessarily be coming down the pipeline every night ...
Kevin Kernan, Post:
A.J. Burnett is dealing. What a great deal this was for the Pirates.

Burnett has become the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they signed him to that five-year, $82.5 million deal.

The day after the Yankees lost two huge pieces of their rotation — CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte — Burnett upped his record to 9-2 yesterday with Pittsburgh's 5-4 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The victory was Burnett's eighth straight, something no Pirates pitcher had done since Dock Ellis won eight straight in 1974. ...

Burnett turned the page on the Yankees — who are paying $20 million of the $33 million Burnett is owed this season and next ... He loves his new pitching life with Pittsburgh.
June 30
Peter Botte, Daily News:
The Yankees did their best to welcome Adam Warren to their powerhouse team Friday night, providing him with four quick runs in the bottom of the first inning.

But the rookie righty gave all of that back and more in his major-league debut. Warren didn't last through the third inning, and the Yankees went on to drop an ugly 14-7 slugfest to the White Sox at the Stadium that embarrassingly included outfielder Dewayne Wise pitching in the ninth.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
Young Adam Warren was trotted out to make his major-league debut last night at Yankee Stadium and the White Sox put on a pre-4th of July fireworks show, lighting up the Yankees, even though Warren was staked to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Chicago beat up manager Joe Girardi’s club 14-7 before 44,265 overheated fans.

The pathetic pitching night ended for the Yankees with outfielder Dewayne Wise on the mound. ...

Yes, the summer heat is just beginning. ...

June 29, 2012

G77: Red Sox 5, Mariners 0

Red Sox  - 000 032 000 - 5  9  1
Mariners - 000 000 000 - 0  2  0
Aaron Cook (9-2-0-0-2, 81) pitched a two-hit shutout and the Red Sox slugged four home runs. Cook faced only 28 batters. It was the third shutout of Cook's 11-year career.

Cook's sinker resulted in 15 outs on the ground. And he was extremely economical, throwing only 31 pitches through the first four innings and finishing with a Madduxian 81 (6-8-12 5-11-10 12-9-8). It was the fewest pitches thrown in a complete game this season.

The last pitchers to throw a nine-inning complete game with fewer pitches? Luke Hochevar with 80, on June 12, 2009, and Aaron Cook with 79, on July 1, 2008.

Hector Noesi (5-7-5-1-0, 87) kept Boston in check for four innings until Will Middlebrooks and Cody Ross hit back-to-back home runs to deep left to start the fifth. Ross's shot went into the second deck. Two outs later, Daniel Nava crushed a solo dong to right.

David Ortiz opened the sixth with a double to right-center and Jarrod Saltalamacchia clubbed a first-pitch, opposite-field homer to left. ... Boston left the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

Cook retired the first nine Mariners before Ichiro Suzuki reached on an infield hit that Dustin Pedroia fielded in front of second base; Ichiro was quickly erased on a double play. Dustin Ackley reached first on an fielding error by Mike Aviles to start the sixth, but did not advance. John Jaso singled to right field in the eighth. Those were Seattle's only baserunners.

The Yankees lost to the White Sox 14-7, while all of the other East teams won. Boston remains tied for third, 5.5 games out of first.
Example
Aaron Cook/ Hector Noesi
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, RF
Kalish, CF
Aviles, SS

June 28, 2012

G76: Mariners 1, Red Sox 0

Red Sox  - 000 000 000 - 0  5  1
Mariners - 000 000 001 - 1  5  0
Pinch-hitter John Jaso singled home Casper Wells, who had doubled to the left-center gap off Scott Atchison with one out. Cody Ross's throw from right field on Jaso's liner was on the money, if slightly up the third base line, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia could not hold onto the ball, and Wells scored the night's only run.

Felix Hernandez (9-5-0-1-13, 128) tied a career-high in strikeouts, getting the upper hand over a spectacular effort from Franklin Morales (7-3-0-2-7, 109), in his third start of the season. Morales did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and did not allow a Seattle runner to second base until the seventh.

Boston's best opportunities to score:

3rd inning: With two outs, Mike Aviles and Daniel Nava both singled. Dustin Pedroia flied out to left-center, as Franklin Gutierrez made a nice running catch. (An inning later, Gutierrez was hit in the right side of the face with a throw to first base and left the game.)

7th inning: Adrian Gonzalez singled and took second on a wild pitch with one out. Felix struck out both Will Middlebrooks and Ross.

9th inning: David Ortiz singled with one out and Salty walked. Brent Lillibridge pinch-ran for Flo. Mike Saunders, who took over for Gutierrez in center, made a running catch on the warning track in left-center of Gonzalez's deep drive. WMB popped the first pitch up to second.

All five AL East teams lost tonight.
Example
Franklin Morales / Felix Hernandez
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, LF
Kalish, CF
Aviles, SS
            W   L   GB   RS   RA  DIFF  EXP W-L
Yankees    46  28  ---  355  292  + 63   44-30
Orioles    41  32  4.5  310  310     0   37-36
Red Sox    40  35  6.5  397  344  + 53   42-33
Rays       40  35  6.5  317  311  +  6   38-37
Blue Jays  38  37  8.5  367  343  + 24   40-35
Since May 12, the Red Sox are 27-16 (.628, 102-win pace). However, they have gained only one game in the standings because the Yankees have gone 28-14 (.667, 108-win pace) in that same time period. It's a bit disheartening, until you realize we've been playing .630 ball for six weeks with half a lineup and more players on the disabled list than any team in MLB.

After this seven-game west coast trip to Seattle and Oakland, the Red Sox return to Fenway Park on Friday, July 6 for four games against the Yankees that will take us into the All-Star break. ... It's possible that both Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford will be ready to return for the second half.

Schadenfreude 131 (A Continuing Series)

Mark Hale and Dan Martin, Post:
The Yankees rotation took a big hit on Wednesday with Andy Petitte set to miss at least six weeks after breaking his fibula in his start against the Indians, and CC Sabathia going on the disabled list with a strained left abductor.

Hours after manager Joe Girardi announced that Sabathia went on the 15-day DL , Pettitte took a Casey Kotchman one-hopper off his left leg to lead off the fifth inning. The ball hit Pettitte squarely, sending the lefty to the ground. ...

Pettitte, who will be put on a boot, now figures to be out until at least mid-August. ... For now, Freddy Garcia will take Pettitte's spot in the rotation [and] ... Adam Warren will be called up from the minors to start for Sabathia on Friday.
Sean Brennan, Daily News:
The Yankees placed a reluctant CC Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday after the lefty revealed he had been pitching in pain since his last start vs. the Mets last Sunday night.

Sabathia's injury was officially diagnosed as a Grade 1 strain of the adductor muscle, a muscle on the inside of his left (pushoff) leg. ...

Girardi said he wasn't upset his lefty ace hid his injury until Tuesday ...

Girardi said the Yankees expect Sabathia two miss just two starts – Friday vs. Chicago and July 4 in Tampa Bay.
Mark Feinsand, Daily News:
If it weren't for bad luck, the Yankees wouldn't have any luck at all.

Hours after the Yankees placed CC Sabathia on the disabled list, Andy Pettitte was forced from his start in the fifth inning Wednesday with a fractured left ankle.

Pettitte, who was struck on the ankle by Casey Kotchman's line drive, was diagnosed with the fracture, which is expected to keep him out of action for at least six weeks. The Yankees said no surgery will be required ...
Bill Madden, Daily News:
Just when it appeared as if the Yankees were about to make a shambles of the American League East and embark on possibly one of their greatest seasons ever, cruel fate intervened Wednesday, striking down both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte in a span of a couple of hours. ...

Now the Yankees must hope that Adam Warren, the 24-year-old righty they have never considered a top prospect, and the old war horse, Freddy Garcia, can get them through ...

Sabathia's injury, while fairly minor compared to Pettitte's, is troubling just the same, if only because he's a big guy who has always pitched with a lot of girth and he will be 32 next month.

June 27, 2012

Ellsbury Begins Rehab On Friday; Buchholz Out Of Hospital; Beckett Returns Saturday

Jacoby Ellsbury is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment on Friday in the Gulf Coast league. Meanwhile, Carl Crawford appeared in his second GCL game on Wednesday, playing left field for the first time and going 1-for-3 with a double. Both players could return to the big club after the All-Star break, on July 13.

Clay Buchholz was released from the hospital and was in the Red Sox clubhouse on Wednesday "after a bout of esophagitis that led to a gastrointestinal bleed".
It was really scary. I've never felt the urge to pass out every time you stand up and I really didn't know what was going on. When the doctor said, "Come to my office and we'll check you out" and I said, "I can't get there. I can't walk." ... I think they tried to downplay it, but when you're laying in ICU, where I'm from that means stuff's not going really well. ... They still haven't put a finger on what happened or what caused it.
Buchholz said he did not know when he'd return to the rotation, but one source said it would be after the All-Star break.
It depends how my body's gonna feel getting out and starting to throw and move around. I need to get my legs back underneath me right now, so it's going to take as long as it has to take, I guess. I'm not going to push myself to get back in any earlier than I feel like I need to. ... I feel good but obviously have to start slow.
Gordon Edes asked David Ortiz, 36, if the big fellow had discovered the Fountain of Youth this season? Ortiz said he had heard of Ponce de Leon - "that [expletive] from Spain" - and he laughed when he admitted, "I don't feel any younger, to be honest with you." After hitting his 21st home run of the season Wednesday afternoon, Ortiz is on pace to hit 45 taters this season.

Josh Beckett is expected to pitch Saturday night in Seattle. ... The Red Sox are 3-25 when scoring three or fewer runs. By comparison, the Yankees are 5-20 and the Rangers are 7-19.

Joe Posnanski on Kevin Youkilis: The Art of Not Making Outs.

G75: Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 4

Blue Jays - 100 102 000 -  4  7  1
Red Sox   - 610 210 00x - 10 10  1
The Red Sox sent 10 men to the plate in the first inning, forcing Romero (3-7-9-6-1, 90) to throw 43 pitches. From there it was smooth sailing, as Boston finished its homestand with a 7-2 record, and went five games over .500 (40-35) for the first time this season. With the Rays' loss to Kansas City, Boston is tied for third place; until now, the Sox have been in either fourth or fifth since the beginning of the season.

David Ortiz hit his 399th career home run in the fifth inning. Before that tater, he had walked three times and scored three times. With #400 on everyone's mind, Ortiz struck out swinging in the eighth.

Romero started the first inning by walking Daniel Nava on four pitches and giving up an RBI double to Dustin Pedroia (1-1). Ortiz walked on four pitches and Ross singled, loading the bases. Two runs scored on a two-base error by Edward Encarnacion at first (3-1), and another run scored when Will Middlebrooks grounded out to third (4-1). Then Mike Aviles and Darnell McDonald both hit RBI singles (6-1).

After walks to Ortiz and Ross in the second, Romero gave up a run-scoring single to Gonzalez. Evil Bert also drove in another run with a hit in the fourth, and Aviles added a double to give the Sox a 9-2 lead.

Lester (7-7-4-0-4, 100) gave up a run in the first on a double and single. After a fielder's choice, Lester sent down 16 of the next 17 batters. He allowed two home runs, a solo shot to Jose Bautista in the fourth and a two-run shot to Encarnacion. Mark Melancon and Clay Mortensen finished up on the mound.
Example
Ricky Romero / Jon Lester
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ross, RF
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Aviles, SS
McDonald, CF
Shoppach, C

June 26, 2012

G74: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 1

Blue Jays - 100 000 000 - 1  7  0
Red Sox   - 000 000 32x - 5  9  1
The Red Sox had to wait until Aaron Laffey (6-3-0-2-2, 82) and his sinker (10 ground ball outs) were out of the game to get their bats going. When they did, eight consecutive Sox reached base, and five scored.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered to left-center off Jason Frasor, tying the game at 1-1. Luis Perez relieved Frasor and surrendered a double to pinch-hitter Ryan Kalish. David Pauley was the next man out of the visitors' bullpen and he loaded the bases by hitting pinch-hitter Daniel Nava and walking Mike Aviles. Dustin Pedroia then grounded a single up the middle into center for two runs.

In the eighth, still facing Pauley, David Ortiz doubled and Cody Ross singled. Adrian Gonzalez doubled high off the Wall, scoring Ortiz. Will Middlebrooks added a sac fly off Scott Richmond, making the score 5-1.

Toronto took an early 1-0 lead when Brett Lawrie doubled to start the game and scored on Edward Encarnacion's single. Dice then settled down, and did not allow a Blue Jays runner past first base until there were two outs in the sixth.

Laffey allowed a single to Aviles to begin the bottom of the first, then retired the next 12 batters. Gonzalez doubled to start the fifth, but did not advance. With one out in the sixth, Pedroia walked and was thrown out at home trying to score on Ortiz's double. Papi took third on the throw, but Ross grounded out for the third out.

The Boston pen was stellar. Andrew Miller struck out Colby Rasmus to strand a man at third in the seventh. Vicente Padilla pitched a perfect eighth, striking out Jose Bautista and Encarnacion, and Alfredo Aceves retired the side in order in the ninth.

Although Boston stayed 6.5 GB New York, the Red Sox are now one game behind the third-place Rays.
Example
Aaron Laffey / Daisuke Matsuzaka
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Ross, RF
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
McDonald, LF
Lillibridge, CF
The various Blue Jays hitters are 13-for-92 against Matsuzaka (.141/.168/.217), with only three walks in 95 plate appearances!

Schur: "Requiem For A Hardass"

Michael Schur, aka Ken Tremendous, says good-bye to Kevin Youkilis as only an obsessive Red Sox fan can:
A lot of winning baseball teams have one guy on their team who's kind of a dick. (On the field only, I'm talking — I don't know these people.) They run hard, and play hard, and curse a lot, and get a lot of standing ovations for their "old school" manner of play. They get into fights, sometimes with their own teammates, but that's because they're "passionate." When something bad happens, they make a huge show out of destroying water coolers, because they are super-intense and everyone needs to realize that. There has never been a correctly called third strike on these men, and when the home-plate ump deigns to call that fucking pitch a strike, are you kidding me?, the gentlemen in question don't just get hot and pop off. They act as though their very honor as human beings has been called into question. ...
You wanna know why I love Michael Schur?

One, there was the old blog he ran with a couple of friends, Fire Joe Morgan. (in this Yook piece, he refers to Moneyball as Billy Beane's autobiography, without further explanation). Two, his wife has forbidden him to talk about Infinite Jest in public because once he starts, he will talk about it (and only it) for hours. And three, when he mentions Paul O'Neill, who ably filled the role of the Yankees' raging, immature dick, he adds this footnote:
4 My wife, who does not care about baseball, was once introduced to Paul O'Neill at a restaurant, came home, reported that she thought he was "very handsome," and we got into one of the biggest fights of our entire relationship. I am very mature. (This was pre-2004, though, so that totally explains it.)

June 25, 2012

G73: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 6

Blue Jays - 410 002 200 - 9 13  3
Red Sox   - 202 100 010 - 6  9  1
The Red Sox battled back to tie the game at 5-5 after Felix Doubront (6-11-7-1-2, 83) was tagged for four runs (two unearned) in the first inning, but the Blue Jays got back on top against Doubront and Mark Melancon Matt Albers shortly before a lengthy rain delay.

In the bottom of the first, David Ortiz crunched a two-run dong over the Sox bullpen to cut the Jays' lead in half. With two outs in the third, the Red Sox scored twice, thanks to hits from Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez, and two Toronto infield errors. Boston tied the game in the fourth when Cody Ross doubled into the left field corner and scored on Ryan Kalish's single.

Doubront settled down after his ugly first and kept the team in the game until the sixth, when he allowed a two-out double to Ben Francisco and a two-run dong to J.P. Arencibia. Melancon took over in the seventh and Cody Rasmus greeted him with a single. Jose Bautista then lined a shot into the Monster seats for a 9-5 Jays lead.

After the 1:56 delay, Ortiz hit his second home run of the night, #20 for the year and #398 for his career. It was Flo's 37th multi-HR game for the Red Sox, tying Ted Williams's team record. Later in that inning, Will Middlebrooks doubled with two down, but Ross struck out.

Casey Janssen struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth, fanning Kalish, Nick Punto, and Daniel Nava.
Example
Henderson Alvarez / Felix Doubront
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, RF
Kalish, CF
Punto, SS
With a good showing this week in the three games against the last-place Blue Jays, the Red Sox can solidify their hold on fourth place in the AL East and maybe even make a serious move towards (gasp!) third. They are two games behind the third-place Rays, who are playing the Royals.

Goodbye To The Sultan Of Sweat

A standing ovation before his first at-bat - and a rousing send-off after hitting a triple in the seventh.







Savin Hillbilly, SoSH:
I liked Kevin Youkilis. I liked him for calling out Manny, I liked him for getting annoyed with the umpires (though yeah, he did overdo it at times). I liked the fact that he was a sarcastic, against-the-grain type, because in a baseball clubhouse I would probably be like that too. ... I liked the fact that he succeeded with a bad body and a bad attitude.

Beyond personality, Youk was, in his 2008-2010 prime, an absolute beast at the plate. Over that three-year stretch he topped the AL in OPS, wOBA and wRC+, was 2nd in OBP and SLG, 4th in WAR, 5th in WPA, 6th in BABIP, and tied for 5th in ISO. His peak lasted such a relatively short time that it's easy to forget, in the light of the past two seasons, what an elite hitter he was.

And then there was his defense. He was a solid 3B when healthy, but he was an outstanding 1B. He had a 3B's quick reactions, soft hands, and great instincts - up there with the best I've seen - about how to handle the tricky 1B plays like balls hit between him and the 2B or between him and the pitcher.

Beyond all that, his competitiveness. I would put him up there with Dwight Evans on the list of Sox players in my lifetime who excelled at making the most of average speed. Dewey was a little faster than Youk, but Youk was, I think, just as good at the mental part of baserunning - balancing hustle with good judgment to make the most out of each situation.

The rise of Middlebrooks, combined with Youk's injury-fueled decline, made this deal inevitable. But Youk deserves huge love and gratitude from Sox fans. He has been a great player for us and a key contributor to the best era of Sox baseball since the 1910's.
Sprowl, SoSH:
Youkilis was always one of my favorite Red Sox, for 2007, his batting eye and Greek divinity, his unexpected power development, 2004, It gets better, and his irascibility, roughly in that order.
NJ Fan, SoSH:
My favorite Youks moment of many was the silent treatment that he received from his '04 teammates, upon returning to the dugout when he hit his first career HR. He caught on immediately and did phantom high fives as a smile broke out on his face. He belonged.

I first saw Kevin Youkilis play baseball in the summer of 2001, in his first minor league season. He was with Lowell, playing the Brooklyn Cyclones out near Coney Island. I had no idea who he was, beyond a guy with a bizarre batting stance (and a .512 OBP in the NYPL that year!). Now he is one of the eight men on Earth who can say they won two World Series championships with the Boston Red Sox. This deal was inevitable, yet bittersweet.

Best of luck in Chicago, Yook!

June 24, 2012

Kevin Youkilis Traded To White Sox

Updated Below!
(In happier times ....)

Globe, 5:20 PM:
The Red Sox have traded infielder Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox, major league sources told the Globe.

The Red Sox received 25-year-old righthander Zach Stewart and utility player Brent Lillibridge.

The Red Sox also will be picking up $5.5 million of the $6.6 million Youkilis has remaining on his contract for this season. ...

Stewart, 25, is a former third-round pick from Texas Tech who was once considered a hot prospect. But this is the third time he has been traded in a span of four years, going from the Reds to Blue Jays and then to the White Sox and now to the Red Sox. ...

Lillibridge will be reporting to the Red Sox with Stewart being assigned to Triple A Pawtucket.
Example
Nick Punto, on his on-field hug of Youkilis:
I think it was just instincts. When they call you off the field like that it's usually something. We've been friends a long time, probably 10 years. I know how much blood, sweat and tears he has thrown into this organization. I think for me it's kind of a goodbye. We haven't been teammates, but we've been friends for a long time. I think for the sake of baseball, it's always sad to see someone go like that. After he got that ovation in the first inning we were sitting next to each other and he goes, "Man, it was hard to hit after that. That felt pretty good." He hasn't been feeling too great about himself this season. But not too many Boston Red Sox players have two world championships. He was a heck of a player for this organization.
David Ortiz:
It was emotional. He's my boy. I've been playing with Youk forever. To see him go like that is not easy. It's part of the game. It's like I told him, go out and do your thing. ... That was the talk in the dugout, that he was coming in and that he just got traded. Everybody was expecting that. How long was he here for, nine years? It doesn't happen every day. He was kind of mad and upset. I don't blame him. He knew it was coming, but it's still tough.
Example
Kevin Youkilis has been traded to the Chicago White Sox, according to WEEI's Rob Bradford:
Clubhouse source says Youkilis traded to White Sox. Nameplate is gone
Tom Caron reports that 25-year-old pitcher "Zach Stewart appears to be part of deal coming back".

Gordon Edes: "Youkilis to White Sox for Zach Stewart, who can start or relieve. Not sure if any other pieces. Don't believe so."

Jon Heyman hears that Stewart and Brent Lillibridge are coming to Boston.

Ken Rosenthal: "Lillibridge to #RedSox. RHP Stewart thought to be other piece. Significant cash to #WhiteSox."

Rosenthal also says the Red Sox are sending $5.5 million to Chicago.

The White Sox will make an official announcement after their game, which ended at 5:25 PM.

G72: Red Sox 9, Atlanta 4

Atlanta - 000 031 000 - 4 11  1
Red Sox - 000 431 10x - 9 11  1
Kevin Youkilis went 2-for-4 in what might have been his final game in a Red Sox uniform. After Yook tripled in the seventh, Nick Punto was sent in to run for him. Youkilis hugged Punto, and acknowledged the crowd's ovation by tipping his helmet as he left the field. He then came out for a curtain call. (Yook also received a standing ovation for his first at-bat, in the second inning.)

Cody Ross homered over the Wall in both the third and fourth innings, driving in five runs. Ross and Adrian Gonzalez hit back-to-back dongs in the third.

Boston is 38-34 -- four games over .500 for the first time this season.

Cook (5-6-3-0-0, 79) pitched four scoreless innings, but fell into some trouble in the fifth, allowing two singles, a two-run triple to Eric Hinske. He also committed a throwing error.
Example
Update: Clay Buchholz is the latest Sock to be placed on the disabled list. The Globe reports that he has "a gastrointestinal illness". ... Josh Beckett is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday.

Mike Minor / Aaron Cook
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Middlebrooks, DH
Ross, RF
Gonzalez, 1B
Youkilis, 3B
Aviles, SS
McDonald, CF
Shoppach, C
On May 5, Cook pitched 2.2 innings against the Orioles before suffering a deep cut below his left knee on a collision at home plate. The injury required 11 stitches. Cook has a 2.14 ERA in six starts with Pawtucket. This is his second appearance for the Red Sox this season.

No corresponding roster move has been announced.

June 23, 2012

G71: Red Sox 8, Atlanta 4

Atlanta - 100 011 100 - 4 10  0
Red Sox - 221 010 20x - 8 14  1
Will Middlebrooks continues to scorch opposing pitchers. Tonight, he singled, doubled, and homered - giving him 10 hits in his last 14 at-bats. Dustin Pedroia broke out of his slump (9-for-62, .145) with three hits, and Daniel Nava's seventh inning single brought in two runs that gave Boston a bit of (unneeded, as it turned out) insurance.

Morales (6-7-3-1-8, 86) allowed a first inning run, but Boston struck back with two. Pedroia singled with one out and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled with two down. Adrian Gonzalez's single tied the game and Middlebrooks's double gave the Sox a 2-1 lead.

Pedroia's double scored Mike Aviles and Nava in the second and Middlebrooks donged to left (#9) in the third. In the fifth, Gonzalez singled, went to second on Middlebrooks's base hit, and scored on Cody Ross's double.

Atlanta whittled the lead down to two runs, trailing 6-4 at the stretch. In the home half of the seventh, Ross doubled with one out and Ryan Kalish walked. They moved up to second and third on a wild pitch and both scored on Nava's hard single to right.

Atlanta did not threaten in the last two innings. They managed only a one-out single against Vicente Padilla in the eighth (on a 49-mph eephus pitch!), and went down in order against Alfredo Aceves in the ninth.

Boston is 8-2 since June 12. They are tied for fourth place with the Blue Jays, 5.5 GB New York.
Example
Randall Delgado / Franklin Morales
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Gonzalez, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, RF
Kalish, CF
Aviles, SS
Morales had a great outing against the Cubs last Sunday (5-4-2-0-9, 80). Delgado's game log is here.

Yet Another Call For Electronic Umpiring For Balls And Strikes

I believe every umpire should take an examination in which his ball-and-strike decisions are compared to some sort of photographic record of just where the pitches really were. They use radar and electronics for everything else. I don't know why it can't be done in baseball. ...

Some of the balls and strikes these fellows call are amazing. ...

These umpires are too inconsistent. Nobody knows just where the strike zone is.

Everybody else in baseball has to meet some sort of competition or have a tryout to make a ball club. Why shouldn't that be the case with the umpires?
Casey Stengel, Chicago Sun-Times
(reprinted in Baseball Digest, October 1960)

[Seen at Old Time Family Baseball, in A Brief History of Robotic Umpires]

Sources: Youkilis Trade Could Be Soon

ESPN reports that Kevin Youkilis could be traded "at any time". The Red Sox have talked to the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Atlanta and Cleveland, but the White Sox are perceived as the frontrunners.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he talked with Youkilis on Friday about decreased playing time. ... For the first time since coming off the disabled list on May 22, Youkilis is out of the starting lineup for two consecutive games [Thursday and Friday]. ...

[Will Middlebrooks] has 31 [RBI] in just 38 games since being promoted to Boston. That represents the most RBIs by a Red Sox player in 38 games since Walt Dropo in 1949-50.

Meanwhile, Youkilis is hitting only .174 (8-for-46) with no home runs and 10 strikeouts in June ...
Following on the heels of David Ortiz's complaints about the Boston media's constant carping (also here), Youkilis added his three cents:
I just stopped talking [to the media] because enough's enough. You get tired of it. You're just like, This is the same question and I have no answer for you. I'm done. If they're just going to keep asking it over and over again I just have to stop. ...

I tell the guys just don't talk. [If] you don't feel like talking that day [then] just don't talk. There's nothing in your contract that says you have to talk. Guys can use Twitter. They're in the method now where you can voice your [grievances] out to the public. I don't condone it but [it's an option]. ...

The thing that the athletes don't understand is [the media is] not on your side. They're not your friends. ... They're not there to make you look better.

Bard: The Bullpen Is "Where I Belong"

When he returns from Pawtucket, Daniel Bard will be back in the Red Sox bullpen.
It just kind of hit me, felt like that's where I belong. That's the role I belong in. Even in a game in AAA, it doesn't have the same implications as one up in Boston, it's still that feeling of coming out of the bullpen, pitching with that extra adrenaline and stuff. It just felt right. It felt like that’s where I'm supposed to be. I knew then that it's something that I wanted to do moving forward. ...

I still think I could be a good starter [in the future]. I think I can be a great reliever. I'm already a good reliever. It just seemed like there's more conviction for me to do that. There's a lot of conviction in that decision for me. And it started with me. That's what I like about it. I do feel like a big part was my decision.
Ben Cherington:
We essentially reached the conclusions independently and came together and talked about it. We reached the same conclusion. The primary factors were that for 2012 we need as many guys to impact the big league team as we can. We felt as we get toward the end of June the best chance to do that would be in the bullpen for this year.
Does Bard expect to be the closer when he returns?
I'm not really focused on that right now. I'm kind of over trying to be sexy. Just find my role, get comfortable again. Feel like I'm getting close. Whatever role I pitch in, that's essentially up to the team, up to the manager.
The bullpen - already a strong part of the team - could be devastating in a couple of weeks with Bard and Andrew Bailey added to the mix:
Bard
Bailey
Padilla
Morales
Melancon
Aceves
Atchison

Derek Lowe Talks About 2004 ALCS Game 7

Don't miss this little Q&A Derek Lowe did with David Laurila of Fangraphs!
Did pitching on two days of rest help your sinker?

Lowe: I don't believe in that. I would much rather pitch at full strength. You still need your legs under you, and you still need your arm in the right arm slot. If you get too tired, your ball doesn't move anymore. I promise you. They should do that on the show Myth Busters, because it's not true.

June 22, 2012

G70: Atlanta 4, Red Sox 1

Atlanta - 000 201 001 - 4 13  0
Red Sox - 000 000 010 - 1  3  0
Jurrjens (7.2-3-1-1-4, 103) allowed only one hit through seven innings - Adrian Gonzalez's single in the first inning. The bottom of Atlanta's order put three runs on the board in the middle innings and that was more than enough. Jurrjens began the game with a 9.37 ERA.

Freddie Freeman singled to start the fourth off Lester (7-10-3-1-5, 118) and went to third on Jason Heyward's double off the Wall. Matt Diaz's grounder to shortstop scored Freeman and Heyward came home on Andrelton Simmons's double into the left field corner.

In the sixth, Heyward doubled again, went to third on Diaz's line out to right, and scored on Simmons's fly out to right. Freeman's two-out single off Mark Melancon scored Michael Bourn in the ninth.

Boston's baserunners:
1st - Gonzalez's two-out single
3rd - Daniel Nava two-out walk
5th - Will Middlebrooks HBP with one out
8th - Middlebrooks leadoff double to CF, Nava RBI double off Wall with two outs
Example
Jair Jurrjens / Jon Lester
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Ross, RF
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Kalish, CF
Aviles, SS

In Boston

Our few days in Boston were just about perfect (except for the extreme, near-100 degree heat on Wednesday).

Two Red Sox games (& two wins, including a 15-5 laugher!), some research at the Boston Public Library, seeing Amy, Jere (and Kim), and Joe Grav (and his girlfriend Amy, who provided the tickets on Tuesday!), meeting Matthew Kory (who writes at Over the Monster and Baseball Prospectus and happened to be visiting from Portland), and spending many hours catching up with our niece Cassie.

Plus we had a view of the back of the Monster Seats from our window at the Hotel Buckminster (where at least some of the 1919 World Series fix was discussed/planned by the White Sox players during a mid-September series with the Red Sox).

June 21, 2012

G69: Red Sox 6, Marlins 5

Marlins - 300 002 000 - 5  7  0
Red Sox - 000 210 03x - 6  9  0
Will Middlebrooks went 3-for-4, with four RBI, including a two-run, game-tying home run in the eighth inning. Daniel Nava's second single of the night (and sixth hit in the last two games) drove in Ryan Kalish a few minutes later with the go-ahead run as the Red Sox swept the Marlins.

Again, Matsuzaka (5.1-4-4-1-4, 101) had a rough first inning, allowing three hits, one walk, and three runs; the Marlins also stole three bases. After Miami took a 3-0 lead, Dice then retired the next 14 batters.

Scott Atchison threw two scoreless innings (seventh and eighth) in relief, and Alfredo Aceves pitched the ninth, needing only seven pitches to notch the save.
Example

Carlos Zambrano / Daisuke Matsuzaka
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Ross, RF
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Kalish, CF
Aviles, SS

June 20, 2012

G68: Red Sox 15, Marlins 5

Marlins - 110 200 100 -  5 12  0
Red Sox - 033 610 02x - 15 16  0
Example
Ricky Nolasco / Felix Doubront
Nava, LF
Kalish, CF
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Ross, RF
Saltalamacchia, C
Youkilis, 3B
Aviles, SS
Punto, 2B

June 19, 2012

G67: Red Sox 7, Marlins 5

Marlins - 201 020 000 - 5 10  1
Red Sox - 220 111 00x - 7 10  1
Example
Mark Buehrle / Clay Buchholz

June 18, 2012

At Fenway

We are driving to Boston today and will see the Red Sox on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

If you are at either game and want to say Hello, you will find us at:
Tuesday: Section 30, Row 15, Seats 14-17
Wednesday: Section 19, Row 14, Seats 1-4
And because I know them off the top of my head, here are my last five games at Fenway:
September 22, 2003 - After a 1918 reading at the Kenmore Square Barnes & Noble, it's off to watch the Red Sox beat the Orioles 7-5. (The really fun game was the next night.)

May 8, 2004 - Curt Schilling pitches a complete game over the Royals and Pokey Reese hits two home runs, one of them an inside-the-parker. Red Sox 9-1.

July 20, 2005 - Laura and I celebrate the 20th anniversary of the day we met by watching the Red Sox score six runs in the first and cruise to a 9-4 victory over the Devil Rays on a perfect summer afternoon.

July 28, 2009 - JoSapalooza I! Jonathan Papelbon cannot hold a three-run lead in the ninth and the Red Sox lose 9-8 to the A's in 11 innings.

July 29, 2009 - We return the following evening to see Brad Penny give up five runs to the A's in the top of the first. The Red Sox chip away, but lose 8-6.
I'm not so greedy as to demand two victories, but I do expect one win.

June 17, 2012

G66: Red Sox 7, Cubs 4

Red Sox - 200 100 310 - 7 12  2
Cubs    - 101 001 001 - 4  8  2
Franklin Morales (5-4-2-0-9, 80) struck out a career-high nine batters in his first start since April 2009. Of his 80 pitches, 65 were strikes. He went to one or no balls to 14 of his 19 batters.

In the first, Scott Podsednik singled and Dustin Pedroia doubled him in. One out later, David Ortiz singled and the Red Sox led 2-0. Ortiz hit his 16th tater of the season in the fourth.

With the score tied 3-3 in the seventh, the Red Sox jumped on Shawn Camp, the first man out of the Chicago bullpen. Darnell McDonald doubled and pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled. Camp left and James Russell took over. Ryan Kalish singled in one run and pinch-hitter Will Middlebrooks's fly ball to deep center brought in another. Then Daniel Nava laid down a squeeze bunt, and Boston led 6-3.

Alfredo Aceves allowed three singles to start the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases and bringing the potential tying run to the plate for the Cubs. One run scored on a sac fly to center, but then Aceves struck out Reed Johnson and got Darwin Barney to pop out to third. It was a piece o' cake.
Example
Franklin Morales / Paul Maholm
Podsednik, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 3B
Ortiz, 1B
Aviles, SS
McDonald, RF
Shoppach, C
Kalish, CF
Morales, P
UPDATE: Ryan Sweeney was placed on the disabled list ("a toe issue" sayeth the Globe) and Ryan Kalish was called up to take his place. Sweeney is the 372nd Boston player to go on the DL this season. (Gordon Edes tweets that Sweeney has "a sesamoid bone issue in the big toe on his left foot Can't push off at plate. Been bothering him for three weeks". It's a condition that goes back to 2005.)


Since coming back from his thumb injury on June 5, Dustin Pedroia is hitting .133/.216/.156 in 51 PA. ... The bullpen has allowed only two runs in its last 21 innings. ...

Cody Ross played in his first rehab game on Saturday, going 1-for-3 as Pawtucket's DH. ... Mark Prior's pitching line in five games with the PawSox: 6.2-3-0-4-15.

June 16, 2012

Beckett To Disabled List With Inflamed Right Shoulder

Josh Beckett was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

Bobby Valentine:
He's got some inflammation that's got to calm down and take the time, whatever time it takes to do it. We thought in between starts was enough, and he could have gotten an extra day or two [of rest] I guess, but we're going to take the conservative route. ...

Plan 1 [was to have Clay Buchholz start on Sunday on normal rest], but Clay felt he needed the extra days. Well, you know, he pitched the complete game [two starts ago] where he had the 120 [pitches], and then he pitched the 100-pitch game where he was in it the entire game. It's that time of the season where guys can get a blow if they can work it in, and I totally understand that.
Beckett also has an ongoing issue with his right thumb, an injury that first bothered him in spring training.

Franklin Morales will start tomorrow night. Buchholz will start on Tuesday at Fenway against Miami.

Reliever Clayton Mortensen was recalled from Pawtucket to take Beckett's spot on the roster.

G65: Red Sox 4, Cubs 3

Red Sox - 000 201 100 - 4  8  1
Cubs    - 000 000 300 - 3  8  1
Lester (6.2-7-3-1-8, 102) pitched extremely well - striking out six Cubs in his second time through the lineup - for six innings, but was hit for a three-run bomb from Luis Valbuena with one out in the seventh.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia - in his first career start as a cleanup hitter - hit a two-run dong (#12) in the fourth, after David Ortiz had doubled. Salty also doubled and walked. And Ortiz walked twice in addition to his two-bagger.

After a walks to Flo and Salty in the sixth, Will Middlebrooks greeted reliever Randy Wells with an RBI single. In the seventh, Mike Aviles doubled and scored on Scott Podsednik's second single of the night.

Scott Atchison recorded the final out of the seventh. Vicente Padilla breezed through the eighth (L7, K, K) and Alfredo Aceves slammed the door in the ninth (1B, K, 543DP).
Example
Jon Lester / Jeff Samardzija
Podsednik, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Gonzalez, RF
Sweeney, CF
Aviles, SS
Lester, P
Happy Bloomsday!

June 15, 2012

Beckett Scratched With Shoulder Inflammation; Morales Will Get Sunday Start

Josh Beckett has right shoulder inflammation and will miss his start on Sunday night against the Cubs. Franklin Morales will get the start.

Bobby Valentine:
Training room thinks that it's best that he rests it a little. He may get some tests. I think they want to do a baseline [test] and figure out where we are with that whole situation.
Beckett missed a start earlier this season because of a strained lat muscle.

Morales last started a major league game in April 2009. This season, he pitched 4.1 innings of relief on June 3, throwing 52 pitches.

G64: Cubs 3, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  5  0
Cubs    - 210 000 00x - 3  4  3
For the first two innings it was our old (un)friend Frustrating Dice - and the three runs he allowed were more than enough for the Cubs and Ryan Dempster.

Daisuke Matsuzaka (6-4-3-3-3, 93) walked the bases loaded in the opening inning and gave up a two-out, two run double to Steve Clevenger. In the second, Dempster tripled and scored on a two-out single by David DeJesus. Dice then found his groove, allowing only one baserunner over the next four innings, but it was too late.

The Red Sox hit a bunch of rockets into both gaps, but every one of them was tracked down by the Cubs' outfielders. Boston had at least one base runner in seven of the nine innings, but could not score off Dempster (7-4-0-2-3, 106).

Scott Podsednik made it to third base in the first, but Kevin Youkilis lined out to right to end the inning. Mike Aviles was caught off second base on Podsednik's grounder in the fifth, possibly short-circuting a rally. There were men at second and third with two outs in the seventh, but Dustin Pedroia lined out to right.

Finally, the Red Sox loaded the bases off Carlos Marmol in the ninth - singles by Ryan Sweeney and Aviles and a walk to Podsednik - but Pedroia grounded into a fielder's choice to third, ending the game.

Over his last three starts (including today), Dempster has pitched 22 scoreless innings, allowing a mere 11 hits and three walks. He dropped his ERA to 2.11. (In addition to his triple, Dempster also singled in the fourth.)

Boston (31-33) is back in the cellar, 7.5 GB the Yankees.
Example
Daisuke Matsuzaka / Ryan Dempster
Podsednik, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, RF
Ortiz, 1B
Youkilis, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Sweeney, CF
Aviles, SS
Matsuzaka, P

June 14, 2012

Fundraiser: Buddha Update

Thanks in part to the generosity of many JoSers, the ChipIn campaign to purchase a service dog for Iraq War veteran Jeremy Brockway has raised nearly $3,000!

An update from Jeremy's wife, Ashlea Brockway:
Buddha is now living with us! Jeremy wakes up early every morning to walk him, and they spend a lot of time playing and working together in the backyard. This means Jeremy spends a lot more time with the family, which is so wonderful! The boys love Buddha.

Buddha himself is still adjusting to living with us. He was very anxious and fearful at first, and we were concerned. But he is coming around. I am hopeful that we will soon see the impact Buddha will have on our lives.

Thank you all SO much for your generosity! In addition to the amount listed here on ChipIn, we have received $880 in cheques! That brings our total raised to $2,945, 36% of our goal!!
Several JoS commenters have contributed and I know that many anonymous readers have also donated money. One very generous contribution came from a group of students at Tinicum Art and Science, a small, Buddhist, alternative high school in eastern Pennsylvania. According to Peter Ryan, who runs the school, the students hold an annual fundraiser and each year they donate a sum of money to a veterans group with progressive politics. This year, they are sending the money to Jeremy.

The Chipin campaign will soon be extended to several U.S. peace groups, including Iraq Veterans Against the War and Courage to Resist.

If you can spare a few bucks to help Jeremy pay the Buddha Balance, it would be most appreciated!

June 13, 2012

G63: Red Sox 10, Marlins 2

Red Sox - 001 102 060 - 10 14  0
Marlins - 000 001 100 -  2  4  1
Felix Doubront followed up his worst outing of the season with the longest start of his career (7-3-2-1-9, 99). He did not allow a hit to the Marlins until the sixth inning. Later, his teammates batted around for the first time in exactly one month, scoring six times in the eighth inning.

Doubront issued a one-out walk in the first inning, then set down the next 16 batters before Jose Reyes homered with two outs in the sixth. By that time, Boston had scored four times. Mike Aviles singled in the third and eventually scored on Scott Podsednik's groundout. David Ortiz lined a solo home run (#15) to left in the fourth.

Podsednik, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Gonzalez began the sixth inning with singles, giving Boston a 3-0 lead. Ortiz followed with a sac fly, making it 4-0.

The Red Sox led 4-2 when pinch-hitter Nick Punto began the eighth with a double to right (the ball hit near the top of the wall, missing a home run by a few inches). Randy Choate came in from the Miami pen. Podsednik singled to right, Pedroia grounded a single to right (5-2), Gonzalez chopped an opposite field single over the drawn-in infield to left (6-2), and Ortiz lined a single to right (7-2). Exit Choate, enter Ryan Webb. Will Middlebrooks was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a sac fly (8-2). Ryan Sweeney lined out to center. Mike Aviles singled. Punto singled (10-2). Podsednik struck out to end the inning.

The Red Sox had last batted around, and scored at least 10 runs, on May 13 against Cleveland.

Gonzalez finished the night with three hits (and two RBI), and five other Sox had two hits: Podsednik, Pedroia, Ortiz, Aviles, and Punto. Ortiz drove in three runs.
Example
Felix Doubront / Ricky Nolasco
Podsednik, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, RF
Ortiz, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Saltalamacchia, C
Sweeney, CF
Aviles, SS
Doubront, P

Youkilis Sounds Ready For A Trade: "It Hasn't Been Fun" This Year

It's a given that the Red Sox will not pick up Kevin Youkilis's $13 million option for 2013. Will Middlebrooks will be the team's third baseman next year and Yook will be sweating profusely in the uniform of another team. There have been plenty of rumours over the last few months that Youkilis (.219/.303/.352 in 2012) is being shopped, and he sounds like he's ready to go.
Am I happy here this year? I mean, did it start out well this year? It hasn't been fun. So what are you going to do? You've got a game, you've got your teammates, you've got to play. That's all you can do. ... Yeah, there's been a couple of things that have happened. ... It hasn't been the easiest road, it hasn't been easier than past years but what are you going to do? ... I don't know the right way to put it — if I get traded, I get traded. Nothing you can do.
Yook also talked about his screaming match with Monday's home plate umpire Ron Kulpa:
Did you see the first pitch that was called on one of my at-bats? That's twice. There was a 1-0 pitch, the ball was inside, he called it a strike — changes the whole at-bat. Called another pitch on me that I thought was horrible. One was a ball at a big part of the game, the other one was a guy showing he doesn't like me at all. ... He's a very vocal guy who goes at you. ... He's an aggressive guy.
Far from keeping quiet about bad calls and risk being called a whiner, I think all players (and managers and coaches) have to start calling out the umpires more often. If more attention is focused on the truly egregious calls -- and there seems to be a couple of those every single game, now -- maybe something positive will be done to make sure the game if officiated in a professional and (as) accurate (as technologically possible) manner.

Rich Hill visited Dr. James Andrews and was told he has a strained flexor muscle in his left elbow. Hill, who underwent TJ surgery last June, will not throw for two weeks and could miss as many as six weeks.

Over his last seven starts, Buchholz has 2.83 ERA. He has issued only six walks in his last four starts (31 innings). Bobby Valentine said Buchholz has been
absolutely fantastic. [He's] just throwing the ball as well as we've seen him throw the ball all year. He's really on a roll and his changeup was outstanding. His curveball was real good. He went to the cutter to complement his fastball in the middle of the game.
With the Red Sox having won just two of their last nine games -- both started by Buchholz, by the way -- the Globe is wondering if the team should take some drastic steps with its roster. (This involves ignoring the fact that the Sox had gone on a 16-6 run before this recent bit of bad ball.) Nick Cafardo says the offense could use some help and Peter Abraham wonders if it's time to blow up the roster. SoSH reacts to the later suggestion.

June 12, 2012

G62: Red Sox 2, Marlins 1

Red Sox - 000 000 200 - 2  6  0
Marlins - 000 000 100 - 1  8  2
Kelly Shoppach's two-out double brought in the first run of the game and Mike Aviles, given new life when Marlins catcher John Buck dropped his foul pop-up near the first base dugout, followed with an RBI single as Buchholz (7-5-1-2-9, 103) outdueled Buehrle (7-5-2-1-4, 96). Boston snapped a four-game losing streak.

Vicente Padilla allowed two singles with two outs in the eighth, but got Giancarlo Stanton looking at strike three. In the ninth, Alfredo Aceves gave up a leadoff single to Logan Morrison, but retired the next three batters, stranding a pinch-runner at first.

Miami's Jose Reyes began the first inning (as he did last night) with a triple. This time, however, the Marlins did not score, as Buchholz struck out the next three batters.

The Marlins had runners at first and second with two outs in the third when Hanley Ramirez beat out an infield hit to shortstop. For some reason, Reyes rounded third and tried to score, and was thrown out easily.

In the seventh, Will Middlebrooks singled with one out. After Adrian Gonzalez flew out to center, Shoppach cracked his second double of the night. WMB scored easily to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Aviles then singled in Shoppach.

Morrison got one run back with a solo home run to start the Miami seventh.

Darnell McDonald had two singles, and was on base three times. ... The top five hitters in Boston's lineup went 1-for-18.
Example
Clay Buchholz / Mark Buehrle
Podsednik, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Gonzalez, RF
Shoppach, C
Aviles, SS
McDonald, LF
Buchholz, P
Buchholz, who pitched a complete game shutout against the Orioles last Thursday, has a 3.10 ERA over his last six starts. His 125 pitches against Baltimore was the second-highest total of his career (127, May 18, 2011).

Valentine On Umpires: "We're Asking Humans To Do A Feat That Humans Can't Do"

In this USAToday article, Bobby Valentine says just about everything that needs to be said about umpiring and the future of baseball:
I want a ball called a ball and a strike called a strike. Figure out how. ... I know you can do it. It's 2012.

***

[A 1980s study found that eye muscles are too slow to track a fastball over the final several feet because it covers that distance in one-twentieth of a second.] Now pitchers are throwing pitches that are moving in those last five feet, cutting and splitting and moving in a zone that your eye can not see what's happening. So, if you can't see it, why are we asking them to call it? They can't see it. They're humans. We're asking humans to do a feat that humans can't do.

***

[Broadcasting Little League World Series games was ] when I got most frustrated. I see a kid called out on a pitch six inches off the plate that he can't even reach. It's criminal that we allow our game to scar a young person. I think in 2012, that should not be part of the process.

***

"Every day of my life, it's my belief our game is not somebody else's strike zone. It's what the rule book says and that's how it should be played from Little League to Cooperstown to make the game fair. The rulebook doesn't say that the game will be arbitrarily ruled. It says that it will be ruled.

***

Look, I don't know how the Internet works. How about a fax, putting a thing in a machine and it shows up in Europe? If they can do that, they can figure out how to call a strike. It's whether or not we want to do it or not.

June 11, 2012

G61: Marlins 4, Red Sox 1

Red Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  5  1
Marlins - 310 000 00x - 4  6  0
Scott Podsednik began the game with a single to center field. He stole second, and Dustin Pedroia walked. That turned out to be the high point of the evening.

Josh Johnson (7-4-1-1-7, 116) retired the next three batters, and watched as Josh Beckett (7-6-4-1-5, 97) allowed four hits and three runs in the bottom half, effectively putting the game out of reach for the Red Sox and their noodle bats. Miami snapped a six-game losing streak with the victory.

Jose Reyes led off the home half of the first with a triple and scored on a sac fly. With two outs, Giancarlo Stanton singled, Logan Morrison doubled (Stanton scored on Adrian Gonzalez's fielding error in right), and Gaby Sanchez singled in the third run. Donovan Solano had an RBI single in the second.

Beckett recovered and found his groove, retiring 14 Marlins in a row at one point (and 16 of 17 and 18 of 20), but the damage had been done. Boston's stagnant offense could do next to nothing with Johnson.

The Red Sox's lone run came in the sixth. Podsednik (who had three of Boston's five hits) singled to center and took third on Dustin Pedroia's double to left. Adrian Gonzalez brought Pod home with a sac fly to left.

What appeared to be a blown call at first base snuffed out a potential rally in the top of the eighth. With two outs and Podsednik on first, Pedroia appeared to beat out a ground ball to third, but first base umpire D.J. Reyburn called him out. A safe call would have brought Gonzalez up as the potential tying run.

This was NESN's only replay. (Man, their production gets worse every night.) The blur of the ball is visible on the far right-hand side, coming into the frame just below the coach's box's chalk line.


The Red Sox have lost seven of their last eight games and are 6.5 GB the Rays in the East.
Example
Josh Beckett / Josh Johnson
Podsednik, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, RF
Ortiz, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Youkilis, 3B
Sweeney, CF
Aviles, SS
Beckett, P
In his last five starts, since his ire-inducing stint against Cleveland one month ago, Beckett has a 2.21 ERA: 36.2 innings, 30 hits, 5 walks, 25 strikeouts, 0 home runs allowed.

Johnson has a 4.56 ERA for the season, but a 2.95 mark in his last six starts.

The Marlins new park features a Red Grooms sculpture that is activated whenever a Miami player hits a home run. This is either the most tacky thing in baseball history or it is a celebration of the game in the finest Veeckian tradition.


Here is Grooms talking about the sculpture.


Finally, the Miami Marlins' theme song. (You have been warned.)

June 10, 2012

G60: Nationals 4, Red Sox 3

Nationals - 100 000 201 - 4  7  0
Red Sox   - 001 100 100 - 3  8  0
Alternate Post Title: Umpire Alan Porter Is A Disgrace

Alfredo Aceves had pretty clearly struck out Roger Bernadina to end the top of the ninth inning (#4). But home plate umpire Alan Porter - who had a very pitcher-friendly strike zone (as opposed to a rules-friendly zone) all afternoon - suddenly had some sort of paralysis in his right arm. On what was an 0-4 count, Bernadina smacked a high fastball to right for a double, scoring Bryce Harper with what turned out to be the winning run.


In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and Mike Aviles on first base, Porter called a strike on Dustin Pedroia that was outside (#3). Indeed, it was clearly further outside than either of the two pitches that Aceves had thrown a few minutes earlier.

Bobby Valentine went nuts in the dugout and was promptly ejected, and then stormed out to scream "motherfucker" in Porter's face for awhile, to the delight of the crowd. (Valentine continued ripping the umpires in his post-game interview.) Pedroia, knowing he had to swing at anything or risk being rung up, fouled off another ball (#4) and swung and missed on a pitch in the dirt (#5) to end the game and give the Nationals, whose pitchers don't need any extra help from the men in blue, a three-game sweep.

Valentine:
The game is simple. Throw over the plate, call it a strike. Don't throw it over the plate, call it a ball. It's simple. That's all anybody asks.
Letting Lester (7-6-3-2-9, 107) begin the seventh (at 92 pitches) was fine, but when he allowed two singles on his first two pitches, it was time to get the pen up in a hurry. Andrew Miller was warming while Lester got the next two Nats. Then Espinsoa doubled off the Wall, just out of the reach of a leaping Darnell McDonald. That turned a 2-1 Boston lead into a 2-3 deficit.

The Red Sox came storming back after the stretch. Ryan Sweeney and Nick Punto both singled. McDonald bunted them over, and Sweeney scored on Scott Podsednik's grounder to shortstop.

David Ortiz lined his 14th home run over the visitors bullpen in the fourth inning. Ortiz also singled and doubled.

Boston dropped to 29-31 (6 GB). They start a three-game set with the Miami Marlins tomorrow night.
Example
Jordan Zimmermann / Jon Lester
Nava, LF Podsednik, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Middlebrooks, 3B
Sweeney, RF
Podsednik, CF Punto, SS
Punto, SS McDonald, LF
Lester has a 6.75 ERA in his last four starts, with a .927 opponents' OPS. He has allowed at least four runs in five of his last six starts.

Zimmermann has pitched at least six innings in all 11 of his starts this season.

June 9, 2012

G59: Nationals 4, Red Sox 2

Nationals - 010 300 000 - 4  5  3
Red Sox   - 000 000 200 - 2  5  0
Matsuzaka (5-5-4-1-8, 80) looked pretty good in his return, despite a rough (and somewhat unlucky) fourth inning. And for the second straight day, the Red Sox got nothing substantial off the Nationals' pitching staff.

Dice retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, attacking the hitters and striking out five; the one exception was a first-pitch home run by Adam LaRoche leading off the second.

Matsuzaka walked Bryce Harper on four pitches to start the fourth and Ryan Zimmerman snuck a ground ball single past Mike Aviles's right side into left field. After LaRoche struck out, Michael Morse doubled into the right field corner for one run, and Ian Desmond singled past Kevin Youkilis at first for two more.

David Ortiz doubled in the second and took third on a wild pitch with one out, but was stranded. Dustin Pedroia was on second with one out in the sixth, but did not advance.

Boston finally broke through with one out in the seventh. Will Middlebrooks walked and Aviles singled. That was the end of Gio Gonzalez's day (6.1-3-2-2-5, 98). Craig Stammen walked pinch-hitter Ryan Sweeney, loading the bases. Mike Gonzalez came in to face another pinch-hitter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Nats' plan was to have Salty bat right-handed (.167 average as a RHB this year). It didn't work. Salty smashed the first pitch off the Wall and two runs scored. But with runners at first and third, Daniel Nava struck out looking and Pedroia fouled out to first.

The Red Sox went in order in the eighth. With two outs in the ninth, Sweeney doubled, giving Salty (as the potential tying run) a chance to be the hero. But he grounded a 1-1 pitch to first and the game was over. Boston dropped back below .500, at 29-30, 5 GB the Rays.
Example
Gio Gonzalez / Daisuke Matsuzaka
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, RF
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 1B
Middlebrooks, 3B
Aviles, SS
McDonald, CF
Shoppach, C
365 days ago, Matsuzaka had Tommy John surgery. Today, he returns to the Fenway mound to face the pesky Nats.

What does Bobby Valentine expect?
It's hard to know. ... I hope he throws strikes and I hope he has two pitches to do it with and I'd be happy if that happened. We're going to go inning by inning and I'm going to check with him after the inning. Hopefully, he'll be able to get in the dugout before I have to make a decision.
Also: Kevin Millwood and five Seattle relievers combined to no-hit the Dodgers 1-0 last night.

June 8, 2012

Byrd DFA'd For Matsuzaka

Marlon Byrd was designated for assignment after Friday's game to make room on the roster for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will start tomorrow afternoon.

Also, Peter Abraham of the Globe goofed when he reported this evening that Dice last started for the Red Sox on June 10, 2011. That day was when Matsuzaka had TJ surgery. His last start (and last appearance on a major league mound) was actually on May 16, 2011.



Fact-checkers? Editors? Reading over your copy before you post it? Not at the Globe.

G58: Nationals 7, Red Sox 4

Nationals - 003 301 000 - 7 12  0
Red Sox   - 020 000 011 - 4  8  0
Strasburg (6-4-2-2-13, 119) dominated the Red Sox and Bryce Harper (age 19) became only the third visiting teenager since 1940 to collect three hits in a game at Fenway Park.

The other two teenagers with three hits were Al Kaline (18, September 16, 1953) and Ken Griffey Jr. (19, May 25, 1989). However, both Kaline and Griffey hit three singles; Harper doubled in the third, homered in the fourth, and singled in the sixth.

Strasburg struck out 13 of the 24 batters he faced, getting Daniel Nava and Kevin Youkilis three times each, and Dustin Pedroia and Jarrod Saltalamacchia twice each. From the start of the third inning, Strasburg struck out seven of eight consecutive batters (and eight of 10). He is the youngest visiting pitcher since at least 1918 to record 13 strikeouts in a Fenway game.

Boston broke on top first as Mike Aviles smacked a two-run double, scoring David Ortiz (walk) and Ryan Sweeney (single), but Washington quickly scored six times off Doubront (4-8-6-2-6, 82).

With one out in the third, Danny Espinosa walked, Harper doubled, and Ryan Zimmerman hit a run-scoring single. After another walk and a strikeout, Ian Desmond doubled in two runs to give the Nats a 3-2 lead. Tyler Moore doubled to start the fourth and scored on Espinosa's double. Then Harper went deep, making the score 6-2. He added an RBI single in the sixth.

The Red Sox had a golden scoring opportunity in the sixth. With one out, Pedroia singled, Adrian Gonzalez doubled and Ortiz walked, loading the bases. Strasburg bore down and struck out both Saltalamacchia and Youkilis to get out of trouble (and end his night at a career-high 119 pitches). Yook thought the full-count pitch was low and was ejected by home plate umpire Doug Eddings. The pitch - a fastball - was far too close to take in that situation and Brooks has it clearly in the strike zone.


In the ninth, Nava singled home Nick Punto who had pinch-hit and walked.

Gonzalez had a solid night at the plate, doubling in the sixth and homering to dead center in the eighth. It was the 200th home run of his career. Gonzalez was robbed of a home run earlier in the game, as Xavier Nady reached over into the visitors bullpen to make the catch in the third inning.
Example
Stephen Strasburg / Felix Doubront
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Saltalamacchia, C
Youkilis, 3B
Sweeney, RF
Aviles, SS
Podsednik, CF
The Red Sox will have their hands full with Strasburg, who has a 2.35 ERA (5th best in MLB) in 11 starts. In eight of those 11 starts, he has allowed three or fewer earned runs. He is striking out an average of 11 batters per 9 innings (2nd best in NL).

The Nationals are 32-23 and lead the NL East by one game over Atlanta. They have a team ERA of 2.99, which is the best in baseball and almost one full run below the MLB average of 3.95. By comparison, Boston is 27th in team ERA at 4.42.

June 7, 2012

G57: Red Sox 7, Orioles 0

Orioles - 000 000 000 - 0  4  2
Red Sox - 222 000 01x - 7  9  1
Buchholz (9-4-0-1-6, 125) pitched his first complete game in a little over two years as the Red Sox salvaged one game from the three-game series against Baltimore. Buchholz's last complete game was also against the Orioles, on June 4, 2010.

Only one Baltimore runner advanced past first base (Chris Davis's second-inning double). Buchholz was aided by three double plays in the first five innings. He did not issue a walk until there was one out in the ninth.

Boston struck early against Matusz (2-4-5-5-0, 67). Two walks and a single loaded the bases in the first inning and Adrian Gonzalez (3-for-4) doubled home two runs. Two walks and a single (again) set the stage in the second for an RBI fielder's choice by Dustin Pedroia; a second run scored on a throwing error.

In the third, Daniel Nava had a two-run single; he also walked twice, and doubled and scored in the eighth. Gonzalez was 3-for-4, and looked in control at the plate. Kevin Youkilis singled, doubled, and walked.
Example
Brian Matusz / Clay Buchholz
Nava, LF
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Gonzalez, RF
Aviles, SS
McDonald, CF
Shoppach, C

June 6, 2012

G56: Orioles 2, Red Sox 1

Orioles - 000 002 000 - 2  5  0
Red Sox - 001 000 000 - 1  7  0
Adrian Gonzalez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both singled to start the bottom of the seventh. With Boston trailing by one run, Bobby Valentine decided to have Darnell McDonald bunt. (Coming into tonight's game, the Red Sox were tied with the Angels with the most sacrifice hits in the American league, with 14.)

Bunt #15 moved the runners to second and third, but it also left the most important at-bat of the inning to Marlon Byrd, who began the night with a .610 OPS (65 OPS+). Byrd promptly struck out on four pitches, lunging outside at strike three. (It wasn't as if there were not other options. Both Ryan Sweeney and switch-hitter Daniel Nava ended up pinch-hitting in the ninth, so they were both available.) With two outs, Mike Aviles popped up an 0-2 pitch to first base.

The Red Sox then had men on first and second with one out in the eighth, but could not do anything. Will Middlebrooks, who had singled in the second and fourth innings, flied to center and Scott Podsednik grounded to first.

In the third inning, McDonald doubled, took third on Byrd's single, and scored on Aviles's line out to right.

Beckett ((8-5-2-0-5, 92) pitched a superb game, but he allowed three consecutive singles to start the sixth inning. The third hit - note that Buck Showalter did not bunt - tied the game at 1-1 and a fielder's choice gave Baltimore the lead. Wilson Betemit and Ryan Flaherty scored the Orioles runs. They were the only two Baltimore runners to advance beyond first base all night.
Example
Wei-Yin Chen / Josh Beckett
Aviles, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Youkilis, 1B
Ortiz, DH
Middlebrooks, 3B
Gonzalez, RF
Saltalamacchia, C
McDonald, LF
Byrd, CF
Chen, a rookie lefty, had a 2.45 ERA through his first seven starts. In two of his last three outings, however, he has been hit hard: 11 runs in 10 innings against the Nationals and Rays. Opponents are hitting .302/.380/.587/.968 over the three most-recent games.

Beckett has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last four starts (2.20 ERA in 28.2 innings, with 20 strikeouts and an opponents' OPS of only .542).