Sunday, April 29, 2012

Series Preview #7: A's (11-12) @ Red Sox (10-11)

After winning six of their last seven ballgames, the Red Sox will look to stay hot against the Oakland. Many signs point in their favor to win the series-- they are at home and their offense (third in the league) will go against the A's (second-to-last in the league). However, will their offense be enough to offset the meager pitching matchups in this series. In the first game of the series, for instance, Clay Buchholz (right)(2-1/8.87/11) will go against rookie Tommy Milone (3-1/2.00/13). This is a matchup the Red Sox should win, but Buchholz has struggled this year-- I'm predicting a win, but I wouldn't count on it. The second game of the series is equally perplexing with Felix Doubront (1-0/4.09/22) will go against another rookie in Jarrod Parker (0-0/1.42/5). Again, this is a matchup the Red Sox should win but I wouldn't count on it. The next game is a slightly easier prediction for me with Daniel Bard (2-2/3.72/19) squaring off against A's ace Brandon McCarthy (1-3/3.23/22). I think the A's will win this final game of the series. This is a weird series as the A's have pitching advantages in every game (based on this season alone), but the Red Sox offense is so superior to theirs; this series could just as easily be a sweep for either team depending on how the Red Sox' bats perform. Bold Prediction: Red Sox win series 2-1. 

Weekly News

Just after a dreadful week where the Sox went 0-5, they completely turned it around with a great 6-1 week. They reached .500 but in the loss today fell back to 10-11 on the season. David Ortiz, for the third time this season, is our Player of the Week after batting .320/2/6 to keep his torrid start to the season going at .400/4/18. However, the Pitcher of the Week Award has been less consistent with a different pitcher winning every week and that has kept up this week with Daniel Bard-- who was 2-0/3.83/6 and now is 2-2/3.72/19 on the season. In a week of offense for Boston, the Performance of the Week was tough to pick, but I had to go with Mike Aviles on Tuesday's 11-2 win over Minnesota. Aviles went 4-5 with three runs, two RBIs, two doubles, and a home run. Finally, the Game of the Week was Monday's 6-5 win over the Twins. The Sox took an early lead before giving it up and coming back to win, due in no small part to a pair of homers by Cody Ross. Next week's schedule looks fairly tame for the Red Sox with a three game series against Oakland and a three game series against Baltimore-- both at home.

Floyd Stymies Sox In Series Finale (10-11)

Beckett had a shaky first
The Red Sox were looking pretty good entering this game; they were on a six game winning streak and had just hit the .500 mark, but things didn't go quite as planned in today's game. After a 1-2-3 inning to begin the ballgame, Josh Beckett and the Sox got into a spot of trouble in the bottom of the first. Alejandro De Aza singled to left to start the game and, after being bunted to second by Brent Lillibridge, scored on a single by Alex Rios. Adam Dunn came up after Rios, and worked a nice, long at bat off of Beckett before Beckett left a fastball up and Dunn crushed a two-run homer to give the White Sox a 3-0 lead early. Both teams essentially flew along after that, Beckett tossed 1-2-3 innings in three of the next four-- the only baserunner being Brent Lillibridge, who reached base on a third inning single. However, the man being called to attention at the time was not Josh Beckett, but Gavin Floyd of the White Sox.

But overall he pitched well
When the fifth inning dawned, Floyd had not even allowed a baserunner. Cody Ross would walk with one out in the fifth, but the no hit bid was still intact for Floyd. A 1-2-3 sixth inning kept those hopes alive but a one-out single in the seventh by Dustin Pedroia snapped it. Adrian Gonzalez struck out after Pedroia but David Ortiz doubled on a hard liner into right to put two in scoring position with two outs. Cody Ross cashed in on the opportunity, sending a low line drive into left field to score Pedroia and make it a 3-1 ballgame. In the bottom of the seventh, Josh Beckett would allow the bases to load on a single by Eduardo Escobar and walks to Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge. He would be lifted (with a line of 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 8 K) in favor of Scott Atchison, who quickly disposed of Alex Rios on a first pitch flyout. The White Sox would score in the eighth, however, on an RBI single into left for Dayan Viciedo-- the last run of a 4-1 win for Chicago.

Bright Spots:
Josh Beckett- 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 8 K, L (2-3)
Cody Ross- 1-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Dull Spots:
Ryan Sweeney- 0-3, 2 K
Adrian Gonzalez- 0-4, 3 K
Nick Punto- 0-3, 2 K, 3 LOB
Marlon Byrd- 0-2, 1 K
Kelly Shoppach- 0-2

Player of the Game:
Josh Beckett- Beckett pitched well after a shaky first inning, allowing no runs after a three-run first inning in a tough loss.

Red Sox Edge White Sox To Reach .500 (10-10)

Lester spun a gem last night
This was quite a game, as Red Sox fans and White Sox fans got to see some pretty good pitching on both sides in this one. However, it didn't always look like that. In the very first inning, Jon Lester experienced a rough patch-- throwing around 30 pitches while walking Adam Dunn and allowing a double to Paul Konerko. Alex Rios would harmlessly fly out to end the inning and get Lester out of a jam. The Red Sox finally got going in the fourth inning, when Ryan Sweeney doubled on a blooper into right to lead off the inning. Dustin Pedroia appeared to have driven him in, but Brent Morel made a nice snag at third base to keep Sweeney at second. However, his efforts were for naught as Adrian Gonzalez drove a high fastball right back up the middle for an RBI single to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. The score stayed taught right there, and was still at 1-0 when Jon Lester got into a jam in the seventh. The White Sox had put runners at first and third with two outs, but he survived.

Aceves pitched a shut
down ninth inning
Lester would be taken out after that inning, as he really pitched well last night: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K in his first win of the young season. Franklin Morales came in to pitch and recorded two outs to go with a single to Alexei Ramirez. After striking out Adam Dunn, he was lifted in favor of the righty Vicente Padilla to face Paul Konerko. Padilla would walk Konerko, getting the Sox into a little men on first and second, two out jam. However, once again, Alex Rios was the rally killer as Rios would ground out to second base to end the threat. Alfredo Aceves-- the closer-- came on to pitch the ninth, a role he has been anything but sound in, entering play with an ERA over 14.00. However, all of his pitches showed great life as he even reached 98 mph a couple of times with his fastball. He would force Dayan Viciedo and Kosuke Fukudome to harmlessly ground out before A.J. Pierzynski (.333/4/17) stepped up to the plate and promptly struck him out to pick up the save.

Bright Spots:
Jon Lester- 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, W (1-2)
Alfredo Aceves- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, SV (5)
Ryan Sweeney- 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B
Adrian Gonzalez- 1-4, 1 RBI
Marlon Byrd- 1-2, 1 BB

Dull Spots:
Mike Aviles- 0-4, 1 K, 2 LOB
Dustin Pedroia- 0-4, 1 K, 2 LOB
Kevin Youkilis- 0-3, 1 LOB
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 0-3, 2 K
Cody Ross- 0-3

Player of the Game:
Jon Lester- Lester held this game together when the offense wasn't working by tossing seven shutout innings and earning the win-- he is now 1-2/4.65/23 on the season.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Late Rallies Extend Winning Streak To Five (9-10)

Daniel Bard pitched well
in his first win as a starter
Unlike the previous five games, the Red Sox did not start off quite as strong-- but they came on late and that's when it really counts. With runners at first and second, two outs, and two strikes in the first, A.J. Pierzynski doubled off the wall in left to drive in a run. However, the Red Sox got those runs back in the second when David Ortiz crushed a two-run homer (his fourth of the year) on an inside fastball to make it 2-1. The game got all knotted up again in the third when Kelly Shoppach allowed a weird passed ball on a high fastball that he should have definitely caught. The White Sox took another lead in the fifth when Paul Konerko crushed a home run into deep left. But that's just when things got going strong for the Red Sox. The Sox loaded the bases on a pair of walks (Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis) and a single (David Ortiz) with just one out. With two strikes and a low fastball, Cody Ross turned on it and sent a line drive through the infield gap to the left. Gonzalez would score and tie the game up at 3-3, but that wasn't all for the Sox.

Darnell McDonald had 4 RBIs
Kelly Shoppach struck out swinging to make it two outs, but Darnell McDonald would deliver. On a first pitch fastball, he drove a line drive right down the third base line. Two runs scored easily and Ross just made it around on a close play as a three-run double from one of the least likely suspects had given the Red Sox a 6-3 lead. From there they didn't really look back as Marlon Byrd made it 7-3 with a little blooper into left-center. The Red Sox scored two more runs in the seventh inning on RBI singles by Cody Ross and Kelly Shoppach to make it 9-3. The seventh inning was also Daniel Bard's last-- as he really settled down to throw a great ball game with 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K and winning the game to become 2-2/3.72/19 on the year. The Red Sox would take another in the ninth inning when Darnell McDonald homered to make it a 10-3 win for Boston.

Bright Spots:
Daniel Bard- 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, W (2-2)
Matt Albers- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K
Dustin Pedroia- 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB
Adrian Gonzalez- 1-3, 2 R, 2 BB
David Ortiz- 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Cody Ross- 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI
Darnell McDonald- 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Marlon Byrd- 2-5, 1 RBI

Dull Spots:

Player of the Game:
Darnell McDonald- McDonald really turned it on in the late innings with the go ahead three-run double in the sixth and a solo homer in the ninth-- he is now .147/1/6.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Crawford Potentially Out Until July

Many Red Sox fans thought that Carl Crawford was going to bounce back from a rough year in 2011. Unfortunately, while he may rebound, he's only going to have a couple of months to do it. Crawford has sprained his ulnar collateral ligament-- essentially, he screwed up his elbow. To add insult to injury, Crawford's absence is coming right when they need him as the Red Sox currently sit at 8-10 and last place in the AL East. Crawford had even begun his rehab assignment-- playing a bit of left field and DH'ing between the high-A Greenville Drive and AAA Pawtucket Red Sox. The Red Sox are not currently giving Crawford a timetable on his return, but it looks like the worst case scenario could be three months. Crawford is a hard worker and I'm sure he'll try his best to get back on the right track but this is still a huge blow to a scuffling team like the Red Sox.

Winning Streak Extends To Four In Commanding Win (8-10)

Doubront had a decent night
The Red Sox just continued to pound the baseball last night-- as they have scored six or more runs in the past five ballgames. Much as they did every game of the Twins' series, they got going early, putting runners at the corners with one out to start the game. Adrian Gonzalez doubled into left field to drive in one of them and David Ortiz quickly followed him up with an RBI single. However, the White Sox got one back in the bottom of the first when Paul Konerko drove in Adam Dunn with a double. After a scoreless second for both teams, the Red Sox went crazy in the third inning off the White Sox. They loaded the bases with only one out in the inning (off of Phillip Humber, who recently threw a perfect game, mind you) before Kevin Youkilis shot a fastball to the opposite field which carried into the bullpen for a grand slam-- the Red Sox' first of the year. Jarrod Saltalamacchia proceeded to go back-to-back with Youkilis to make it a 7-1 game in the third inning.

Youkilis hit a grand slam
The White Sox would score another pair of runs on an A.J. Pierzynski single in the bottom of the third and a Dayan Viciedo solo shot-- but Felix Doubront held them for the majority of the night. The Red Sox took a couple more runs in the fifth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia crushed a ball to left-center field for his second home run of the game and fourth of the year-- giving the Sox a 9-3 lead. Felix Doubront held the Red Sox through six innings-- going 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K-- he is now 1-0/4.09/22 on the season. Junichi Tazawa continued to firm his role in the Red Sox' bullpen by rolling along for three shutout innings with a stellar line of 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 K.The Red Sox would score another run in the ninth when Ryan Sweeney drove in Mike Aviles with a single-- but for the most part, the game was quiet after the sixth inning. It's still very nice to see the Red Sox moving along at such a pace, heck, one more game and they will have completely evened out that five game losing streak.

Bright Spots:
Felix Doubront- 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K, W (1-0)
Junichi Tazawa- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 K
Ryan Sweeney- 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Kevin Youkilis- 3-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Dull Spots:
Lars Anderson- 0-3, 1 K

Player of the Game:
Kevin Youkilis- Youkilis put the Sox firmly ahead with his third inning grand slam-- but his day was not done as he went 3-4 and is now .241/2/9 on the year.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Series Preview #6: Red Sox (7-10) @ White Sox (10-8)

Just after the Red Sox' first sweep of the season, they'll be facing another team which they can hopefully beat up on. In my opinion, the most critical game of this series is the first game-- tonight. Felix Doubront (right)(0-0/3.94/20) will go against Phil Humber (1-0/0.63/16)-- who recently threw a perfect game. However, Humber has all the pressure, and Doubront has pitched well this year, so I'm predicting a Red Sox win in a close game. Friday's game will be a little tougher with Daniel Bard (1-2/4.38/13) up against White Sox ace John Danks (2-2/5.11/20). I'd predict a solid White Sox win in this game. In the next game, Red Sox ace Jon Lester (0-2/6.00/16)-- who had struggled this year-- will go against Jake Peavy (3-0/1.88/26)-- who's pitched well this season. I would predict a close Red Sox win in this game. In the final game of the series-- Josh Beckett (2-2/4.56/16) will go against a Red Sox trade target in Gavin Floyd (1-3/3.60/22). I predict another close game and another Red Sox win in this game. Bold Prediction: Red Sox win series 3-1.

Red Sox Take Out Brooms To Sweep Twins (7-10)

Buchholz suffered one bad
inning last night
For once, one of my series previews actually went right-- and in a good way! The Red Sox were able to just slide by to beat the Twins last night and record their first sweep of the young season. Much as in the other games of the series-- the Red Sox got going fast last night. They scored one in the second on a bloop single to left by Cody Ross, and then scored three more in the inning when Mike Aviles took an outside slider deep to left field to bring in three runs and make it a 4-0 ballgame. Unfortunately, the Twins would come right back and score a run in the bottom of the second as Alexi Casilla drove in Ben Revere with an RBI single into left field. With a pair of runners in scoring position and two outs in the third inning, Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined a ball into right field before ensuring a second run by getting himself out in a rundown in between first and second. Then in the fourth, the Red Sox would take one more as Adrian Gonzalez drove in Dustin Pedroia-- who had gotten on base with a leadoff triple.

Dustin Pedroia came a
homer short of the cycle
Clay Buchholz had been cruising along after that little rough patch in the second inning-- but he was about to meet his end in the sixth. The Twins put runners on first and second with one out and Alexi Casilla doubled to right to score a run and move two into scoring position. Scott Atchison promptly came on to fill in for Buchholz after this. Later in the inning, the Twins would score two on an RBI single by Joe Mauer to make it 7-4.  And that's when Justin Thomas came into the game-- quickly allowing an RBI double to Justin Morneau to cut the Red Sox' lead to 7-5. Bobby Valentine continued his one and done deal and added Matt Albers to the game. Albers allowed an RBI single to Trevor Plouffe, but worked his way out of the inning-- sticking around for .2 of an inning. Vicente Padilla, Franklin Morales, and Alfredo Aceves each pitched scoreless innings to close out the game-- Aceves picked up his fourth save of the season.

Bright Spots:
Vicente Padilla- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K
Franklin Morales- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K
Alfredo Aceves- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, SV (4)
Mike Aviles- 1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Dustin Pedroia- 3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 3B
Adrian Gonzalez- 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 1-4, 1 R, 2 RBI
Cody Ross- 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI

Dull Spots:
Scott Atchison- 0.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R

Player of the Game:
Dustin Pedroia- Pedroia acted as a catalyst last night-- coming just a homer away from the cycle, going 3-4 with two runs scored on the night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Red Sox Record Commanding Win Over Twins (6-10)

Beckett settled down
after a rough first inning
The Red Sox were in need of a win in the series opener against the Twins, and they just beat one out at 6-5. However, this game wasn't so close as the Sox just flat out crushed the Twins. Much like they did the night before, the Sox got going fast-- scoring a run after a leadoff double by Mike Aviles and RBI single by Ryan Sweeney up the middle. With runners at the corners, David Ortiz dropped a line drive into left to make it 2-0 before a Cody Ross RBI groundout concluded the first inning runs. However, the Twins worked Beckett in the first inning as well. He threw 37 pitches in the inning, loading the bases and walking a run in to make it 3-1. However, Beckett would settle down for the next few innings. Meanwhile, David Ortiz went yard with a bomb to right field to make it 5-1 Red Sox. In the fourth inning, Mike Aviles also would go yard-- him with a shot to left (just staying fair)-- and an RBI single by Ryan Sweeney later would push it to a brutal 7-1 Red Sox lead in just the fourth inning-- a commanding lead against any team.

Mike Aviles had a four
hit game
The Red Sox' scoring just did not stop though, as a trifecta of RBI doubles (Aviles, Pedroia, Gonzalez) would net the Sox three more runs and give them a 10-1 lead in the fifth inning. The Twins also scored in that inning as Josh Willingham drove in Jamey Carroll with an RBI double. Both the Red Sox and Twins went down 1-2-3 in the sixth inning, and that inning concluded Josh Beckett's night. Beckett had settled down after a rough first inning and pitched 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K in a solid outing. The Red Sox pushed another run across the plate in the eighth inning on an RBI groundout for Darnell McDonald which would make it a dominating 11-2 lead. Scott Atchison had thrown a perfect seventh inning, and he would do so again in the eighth. He concluded his night with a very good appearance at 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K as Atchison has been one of Bobby Valentine's most trusted relievers with a 1.54 ERA this year. Matt Albers allowed a hit in a scoreless ninth to close out the game with a dominating 11-2 final score.

Bright Spots:
Josh Beckett- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K
Scott Atchison- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 K
Matt Albers- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R
Mike Aviles- 4-5, 3 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Ryan Sweeney- 2-6, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Dustin Pedroia- 1-6, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Adrian Gonzalez- 3-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB
David Ortiz- 2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI
Kevin Youkilis- 2-4
Marlon Byrd- 2-5, 1 R

Dull Spots:

Player of the Game:
Mike Aviles- Aviles had an excellent game by going 4-5 with both a home run and a pair of doubles, recording three runs scored and two RBIs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Red Sox Squeak Past Twins To End Skid (5-10)

Lester was fine except for
an inning
After a five game losing skid, the Red Sox turned to Jon Lester-- their ace-- expecting him to break them out of the skid. I wouldn't say it's because of Lester that they won, but they did win, and that's what counts. The Sox got going fast-- putting runners on the corners with one out in the first. Adrian Gonzalez took a low and outside sinker to left for a sacrifice fly to put the Sox on top. Then in the second inning, the Sox capitalized on another nice pitch by Jason Marquis; this one was a low and inside slider which Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove to his pull field for a two-run homer (his second of the year) to put the Sox up 3-0. Deuces were wild in the bottom of the fourth as with two outs, two men on, and two strikes, Ryan Doumit lined a double into the left field corner to score two and make it a game at 3-2. The next batter, Danny Valencia shot a high fastball into the seats, also with two strikes, to make it a 4-3 lead for Minnesota. An RBI double play for the Twins in the fifth would advance their lead to 5-3 in the fifth.

Cody Ross hit a pair of
home runs
However, from that point on it was all Red Sox. Lester settled down from his bad inning (outside of that, he was very good) and lasted seven strong; his final line looking like 7 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 4 K (outside of the fourth it was 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K). With a man on first in the top of the seventh, Ross crushed a ball into the second deck-- just staying fair-- to tie the game up at a 5-5 ledger. Entering the eighth inning, the Red Sox turned the ball over to their bullpen-- something that has not often ended well this year. Franklin Morales entered the game to face two batters before being pulled in favor of Daniel Bard, who was recently transferred back to the bullpen. Bard worked two thirds of an inning before the game entered the top of the ninth. Cody Ross came up to bat and further endeared himself to Red Sox fans with an opposite field line drive (his fifth of the year) which just cleared the fence to give the Sox a 6-5 lead. Alfredo Aceves worked a scoreless ninth to give the Sox their fifth win of the year and snapping s five game losing skid.

Bright Spots:
Alfredo Aceves- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, SV (3)
Ryan Sweeney- 2-4, 1 2B
Dustin Pedroia- 2-4
David Ortiz- 2-4
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI
Cody Ross- 2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Dull Spots:
Kevin Youkilis- 0-4, 1 R, 2 LOB

Player of the Game:
Cody Ross- Ross piled on some clutch hitting with both the game-tying and game-winning home runs late in the game. Those were Ross's fourth and fifth home runs of the year and he is now .283/5/13.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Repko To DL, Anderson Up From Pawtucket

On the hundredth anniversary of Fenway Park on Friday afternoon, you may recall Jason Repko's amazing catch. He ran from his home in center all the way to the Green Monster to catch a line drive. Unfortunately, while making this spectacular catch, he suffered a separation of his left shoulder and will be headed down to the DL for a little while. Coming up to the majors to replace Repko will be Lars Anderson. Anderson has gotten off to an average start-- batting .255/1/8. However, the kicker is that Anderson, normally a first baseman, has been learning how to play corner outfield. Recently acquired Marlon Byrd should spend some time in center field until Jacoby Ellsbury is healthy and Anderson can fill in off righties when Cody Ross or Ryan Sweeney needs a break (Darnell McDonald would hit off lefties). It's time for Anderson, who was the Red Sox' top prospect, to finally show his worth at the big league level. He's coming off a good spring in which he batted .343/1/8, but this is the big show.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Series Preview #6: Red Sox (4-10) @ Twins (5-11)

With the Red Sox' coming off back-to-back sweeps at the hands of the Rangers and Yankees, both at home. That makes this next series even more essential for the Red Sox, and they're thankfully facing a team experiencing an equally slow start: The Minnesota Twins at 5-11. In the first game of the series, the Red Sox will slate Jon Lester (0-2/5.82/12), who has been good in all but one start, against Twins' starter Jason Marquis (1-0/7.20/3). The Red Sox should firmly have an upper hand in this matchup and I certainly hope they can win. The next game should be a solid victory for the Red Sox as well as they will send Josh Beckett (1-2/5.03/11) up against Nick Blackburn (0-1/5.56/6)-- who has been no more than average in his career. This should be another strong win for the Red Sox. The next game is the most difficult to call with Clay Buchholz (1-1/9.00/9), who has started off very slow, against Twins rookie Liam Hendricks (0-0/3.86/5), who has impressed in two starts this year. However, I have faith that Buchholz can tough it out and beat a weak team like the Twins. Bold Prediction: Red Sox sweep series 3-0. 

Weekly News

Just coming off a week in which the Sox appeared to have righted a slow start, they had a miserable week, going 0-5 to move to 4-10 on the season. A rare bright spot this week was Mike Aviles, who was slotted into the leadoff role and excelled to the tune of a .300/0/3 week-- he is now .294/2/5 on the season. The Pitcher of the Week is Felix Doubront, who had an excellent outing yesterday before the bullpen blew things up. He went 6 strong innings, allowing one run and striking out seven-- he is now 0-0/3.94/20 as he has impressed since winning the fourth starter role. The Performance of the Week goes to David Ortiz for the third straight week as he went 4-4 with a run and RBI double as he's gotten off to a hot start this year. The Game of the Week would be Monday's 1-0 loss to the Rays in which Daniel Bard was so good in a close game. Next week, the Red Sox will head to Minnesota for a three-game series against the 5-10 Twins before heading to Chicago to take on the White Sox for a four-game series.

Red Sox Acquire Marlon Byrd For Michael Bowden

It's very rare to see a team make a legitimate trade involving major league players so early in the season, but yesterday the Cubs and Red Sox pulled one off. The Red Sox will acquire Marlon Byrd for Michael Bowden and cash. Now I'm no expert, but this trade appears to ridiculously favor the Red Sox. They are getting a serviceable outfielder to replace Jacoby Ellsbury and are only paying $400K of his contract, plus they are only giving up a reliever who is 0-0/3.00/3 this season. Now, Byrd has gotten off to a rough start to the year at just .070/0/2-- yes, you did read that right-- he is batting .070 (3 for 43) so far this year. However, I have no doubts that he can turn it around to become, as I said earlier, a serviceable outfielder. Last season he batted .276/9/35 in 119 games and the year before was .293/12/66 in 152 games. If Byrd can do that in the month or so before Jacoby Ellsbury returns, this was a great trade, and if not... well, they didn't give up much.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Bullpen Blows Huge Lead In Loss To Yankees (4-10)

Doubront pitched well but was
The Red Sox' bullpen struck again in today's loss as they went down to the Yankees despite putting up a huge lead early on. The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead early in the first inning on RBI doubles by both Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. They would take three more in the second inning on an RBI single up the middle for Mike Aviles, a sac fly for Ryan Sweeney, and an RBI single for Dustin Pedroia. This knocked out Freddy Garcia after just 1.2 shaky innings of work. However, the Red Sox continued to beat up on newcomer Clay Rapada-- scoring two in the third to take a 7-0 lead early on. In the fifth inning, the game was seemingly put away when Cody Ross crushed a two-run homer to center to help the Sox take a 9-0 lead. Then from there, everything was downhill.

Ross hit a home run
Mark Teixeira put the Yankees on the board in the sixth with a homer to left. The sixth was Felix Doubront's last inning, concluding a great day where his line was an impressive 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K. Vicente Padilla came into the game for Boston and promptly allowed a grand slam to Nick Swisher to cut their lead to 9-5. Later in the inning, off Matt Albers, Mark Teixeira went deep for three more runs to cut it to a 9-8 lead for the Sox. The meltdown continued in the eighth inning when they scored seven more runs off a variety a Red Sox pitchers, including Alfredo Aceves, Justin Thomas, and Junichi Tazawa. That inning's scoring was highlighted by three two-run doubles for Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Russell Martin. This concluded the scoring in a miserable 15-9 loss.

Bright Spots:
Felix Doubront- 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K
Junichi Tazawa- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R
Mike Aviles- 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI
Dustin Pedroia- 2-5, 1 RBI
David Ortiz- 4-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 4-5, 1 RBI, 2 2B
Darnell McDonald- 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B

Dull Spots:
The Red Sox Bullpen- 3 IP, 12 H, 14 R, 5 BB, 2 K

Player of the Game:
Felix Doubront- Doubront pitched well with six strong innings, departing with an eight run lead and what looked to be a sure victory.

Could The Red Sox Acquire Marlon Byrd?

According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Red Sox are close to a trade with the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Marlon Byrd. The Red Sox have had some trouble in the outfield ever since Jacoby Ellsbury went down with a dislocated shoulder. Byrd would provide an adequate replacement for Ellsbury in the month or so until he returns, then could serve as a backup outfielder for the remainder of the time. Byrd is off to a slow start this year-- batting at just .070/0/2 in 43 at bats to start the year. However, in his career, he's been a solid player. In 119 games last season, Byrd hit .276/9/35 and the year before that was even better at .293/12/66 in 152 games with the Cubs. Byrd is not outrageously expensive at just $6.5 million for this year-- the last on his three year deal. Apparently the Cubs have been actively trying to trade Byrd for a while and the Red Sox have finally come as a suitor. If the Sox got Byrd, hopefully he could keep center field warm for Jacoby.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yankees Spoil Party In Fenway's 100th Birthday (4-9)

Clay Buchholz wasn't good 
With all the festivities entering the one hundredth anniversary of Fenway Park, one would think the Red Sox were practically geared to beat the Yankees. However, things got off to a slow start for the Sox when Dustin Pedroia lost a popup in the sun on the very first play of the game. Derek Jeter, who reached on that play, would come around later in the inning on a single by Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees would take two more runs in the second inning on an opposite field homer for Nick Swisher and a ball pulled into the bullpen by Eric Chavez to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead. The Red Sox would get onto the board in the bottom of the second when David Ortiz led off the inning with a home run just over the monster in left-center field. However, the Yankees would make up for that run in the fourth inning when Eric Chavez crushed his second home run of the game to dead center. The Yankees' home run party continued in the fifth inning when Alex Rodriguez knocked one to left.

Ortiz's homer was a rare bright spot
in today's loss
Cody Ross appeared to have gotten something started when he doubled to lead off the fifth. Mike Aviles kept the rally going, driving Ross in when Nick Swisher lost a fly ball in the sun, resulting in a double to make it 5-2. However, the Sox squandered their opportunity and didn't score again. To make matters worse-- Russell Martin made up that run in the sixth when he homered to left to make it a 6-2 game. Clay Buchholz was called from the game after that inning, and his day was not impressive-- 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 5 HR. Scott Atchison worked a nice seventh inning before allowing a double to lead off the eighth. He was removed in favor of Justin Thomas-- who worked a scoreless third of an inning before handing the ball off to Junichi Tazawa. Tazawa pitched well in relief, going 1.2 perfect innings to close out the 6-2 loss.

Bright Spots:
Scott Atchison- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 K
Junichi Tazawa- 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R
Mike Aviles- 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 2B
David Ortiz- 2-4, 1 HR

Dull Spots:
Clay Buchholz- 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 5 HR

Player of the Game:
David Ortiz- Even in games where the offense is quiet as many have this year, David Ortiz has continued to rake and his 2-4 mark with a home run continued his early season surge.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Series Preview #5: Yankees (6-6) @ Red Sox (4-8)

Tomorrow is the 100 year anniversary of the first ever game played at Fenway-- and they will be welcoming back the team they played that day: The New York Highlanders, or, as you know them, the New York Yankees. Tomorrow will be the century mark on Fenway Park and I expect it to be a close one-- much as the game 100 years ago was-- with Clay Buchholz (1-0/9.82/7) against Ivan Nova (2-0/4.15/15). However, I do not expect this one to go quite as it did 100 years ago with the Yankees taking a close one against Buchholz and the Sox. The next matchup is slightly more favorable for the Sox with Felix Doubront (0-0/5.40/13), who has pitched better than his stats show, going against Freddy Garcia (0-1/6.97/8). I expect the Sox to edge a win in another close one in this game. The final game of the series is the only one of this series that is fairly easy to call with converted starter Daniel Bard (0-2/4.63/13) going against Yankees' ace C.C. Sabathia (1-0/5.59/22). Bold Prediction: Yankees win series 2-1. 

Rangers' Late Rallies Propel Them Over Red Sox (4-8)

Josh Beckett pitched well
It's happened again-- the Red Sox bullpen has blown another game and I'm believing it's really time for the Sox to make a change of some sort. Much like last night, this game is really ironic because the Red Sox actually took a lead in it. In the second inning, David Ortiz led off with a double and Kevin Youkilis promptly drove him in with a two-run shot into the monster seats for Youk's first home run of the year-- this gave the Sox a 2-0 lead early. However, the Rangers just came creeping back in the third. Ian Kinsler walked with one out and then Elvis Andrus came up and strangeness ensued. Andrus doubled hard off the monster, but Darnell McDonald came up firing and nailed him at second base in a close play (he was actually safe), so a definite lucky break for Beckett. It appeared Beckett would have another lucky break with the next batter, as Josh Hamilton hit a grounder up the middle. But Dustin Pedroia sucked it up on a dive, but couldn't get Hamilton on the throw.

Kevin Youkilis had his first
home run last night
The Rangers were now on the board, but it was about to get worse for the Sox. David Murphy softly singled into right-center to lead off the fourth and then Beckett made one of his few mistakes of the day. He left a high fastball for Mike Napoli, who, in character, deposited it into the monster seats to make it 3-2 Rangers. Beckett stuck around for a while-- he was taken out after the seventh and he turned in a pretty good day-- 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Unfortunately, it was in the eighth when the Red Sox' bullpen struck again-- this time, the culprit was Franklin Morales. Morales allowed the Rangers to load the bases with one out in the eighth. He hit Craig Gentry on the foot to allow a run in and then he allowed Mike Napoli to do damage again-- this time it was a double into the gap to score two runs and make it 6-2. The Red Sox picked up another run in the ninth on an RBI single by Ryan Sweeney but it wasn't enough in a 6-3 loss.

Bright Spots:
Josh Beckett- 7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K
Matt Albers- 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Mike Aviles- 1-2, 2 BB
Kevin Youkilis- 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
Kelly Shoppach- 1-2, 1 2B, 1 BB

Dull Spots:
Franklin Morales- 0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 BB
Dustin Pedroia- 0-4, 3 LOB
Adrian Gonzalez- 0-4, 2 K
Darnell McDonald- 0-3, 2 LOB
Jason Repko- 0-2, 1 LOB

Player of the Game:
Josh Beckett- This wasn't much of a game for the Red Sox' offense but Beckett held them in the game (and may have won it if not for the mistake to Napoli) in a solid outing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rangers Fire On All Cylinders In Rout Of Red Sox (4-7)

Lester was shellacked
Perhaps the most ironic and strange part of this rout was that the Red Sox actually took the lead. After Mike Aviles' leadoff single in the first inning, Dustin Pedroia slammed a homer over the monster and that was pretty much it for the Red Sox' glory in this game. After a one-out double by Nelson Cruz in the second inning, Mike Napoli quickly tied the game by crushing a homer to left. They'd score two more in the inning with a bases loaded single for Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton's short fly ball to left which Cody Ross botched and allowed a run to score and make it 4-2 Rangers. The Rangers continued to make productive outs and manufacture runs in the third inning with an RBI groundout, sacrifice fly, and an RBI single by Josh Hamilton to make it 7-2. Before that third inning was even through, the Rangers had gotten to Jon Lester enough to convince Bobby Valentine to take him out after a miserable day. Scott Atchison was actually fairly impressive, with two shutout innings before Michael Young got to him for a homer. His final line was a fairly impressive 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K.

Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run homer
One might actually believe that the Red Sox pitching was settling down and this game might not be so bad. Matt Albers threw a scoreless seventh inning to keep the score at 8-2 and not an excessive rout. However, that was before Mark Melancon came into the game. The Rangers put two on base to begin the inning, and they were quickly taken off the basepaths when Josh Hamilton went yard and Adrian Beltre accompanied him to make it a 12-2 ballgame. Nelson Cruz would hit a two-run shot and the Rangers would score a pair more in the inning to make it 16-2. Adrian Gonzalez hit his second home run of the season on a shot to right in the bottom half but the Rangers would more than make that up in the ninth when they scored two off Vicente Padilla. This was not a good game.

Bright Spots:
Scott Atchison- 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Matt Albers- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R
Dustin Pedroia- 1-3, 2 RBIs, 1 HR
Adrian Gonzalez- 2-4, 1 HR
Ryan Sweeney- 3-4, 2 2B

Dull Spots:
Jon Lester- 2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 2 K
Mark Melancon- 0 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 2 BB
Justin Thomas- 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Vicente Padilla- 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 K
Kevin Youkilis- 0-4, 4 K, 2 LOB
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 0-4, 2 LOB

Player of the Game:
Scott Atchison- Atchison did a great job of holding this game together and giving some of us hope by allowing just a run in four strong innings of relief.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Series Preview #4: Rangers (8-2) @ Red Sox (4-6)

Coming off a series in which the Red Sox completely overrode my predictions and won 3-1 against the Rays, the Sox will play the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park. The Rangers are off to a hot start this year-- they lead the AL West and American League with an 8-2 record. This should be a good series with the Red Sox' two best starters (Jon Lester and Josh Beckett) going against the Rangers' two best (Colby Lewis and Derek Holland). In the first game (tonight), the matchup will be Jon Lester (0-1/2.40/10) against Colby Lewis (1-0/1.42/15). I would say the Sox take this game in a close one-- however, the fact that they have momentum and are at home plus Lewis' 5.01 ERA against the Sox will win a tight game. Tomorrow night's game should also be good with Josh Beckett (1-1/5.68/4) and Derek Holland (1-0/3.38/13) squaring off. However, Holland has owned the Sox to the tune of a 2.95 ERA so I'd say the Rangers take this one. Bold Prediction: Red Sox and Rangers tie series 1-1. 

Red Sox Can't Back Bard In Series Finale (4-6)

Daniel Bard impressed today
Even if the Red Sox could not get the sweep today, I will take a 3-1 series against the Rays anytime of the year. Plus, there was a lot to like about yesterday's game. It was Daniel Bard's second career start and for the most part, he impressed. One could even say that he was spectacular until the seventh inning where things got a bit rough for Bard and the Red Sox. He loaded the bases for the Rays with two walks and a single before walking a run over the plate-- his final pitch. His final line was 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 7 BB, 7 K. The obvious problem here is those seven walks in just six and a third innings-- however, it's not to worry. In his last start (where he was much worse, mind you), he only walked one in five innings so hopefully this was a one time occurrence. However, it was not Bard's fault that the Red Sox lost this game. The Red Sox picked up no runs and only four hits in the 1-0 loss to Tampa.

Bright Spots:
Daniel Bard- 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 7 BB, 7 K
Cody Ross- 2-4

Dull Spots:
Mike Aviles- 0-4, 1 K
Ryan Sweeney- 0-3, 1 K, 2 LOB
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 0-3, 1 LOB
Darnell McDonald- 0-3

Player of the Game:
Daniel Bard- Even though Bard had some obvious control problems in the later innings which seem to dominate his line, he really pitched well against the Rays today.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly News

Just on the heels of a tough opening series against the Tigers, the Red Sox really turned it around this week and put together a really solid week. They lost a series in Toronto 1-2 before coming home to Fenway and rattling off three victories in the first three games of this four game series. For the second consecutive week, David Ortiz has been on fire and he continued with a fantastic week-- he went .458/1/8 and is now an excellent .444/1/10 on the season. The Pitcher of the Week will be Josh Beckett, who turned in an excellent performance against the Rays on Friday-- he allowed just a run in eight innings in the win. He is now 1-1/5.68/4 on the season. The Performance of the Week was delivered by David Ortiz in yesterday's ballgame-- he went 4-5 with a game-tying two-run homer and a three-run double to help the Sox in a 13-5 win. Finally, the Game of the Week was Monday's game against the Blue Jays. Jays starter Henderson Alvarez had held the Sox taut for six innings and the Sox entered the ninth in a 2-1 deficit. However, they scored three times off Jays closer Sergio Santos and picked up their first win of the season in comeback fashion. Tomorrow, the Sox will round out the Rays series with an 11:05 game on Patriots Day. After that, they will stay in Fenway to face the Rangers before heading to the Bronx to take on the Yankees.

Red Sox Ride Late Rallies To Third Straight Win (4-5)

Felix Doubront had a solid outing
Today's game was not quite as much of a rout as the games preceding it-- but the Red Sox still racked up a solid win to give them a 4-5 record and move them out of sole possession of last place. The Red Sox got the ball rolling in the second inning when Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz each got into scoring position with no outs. Cody Ross promptly delivered with a no doubt homer over the Green Monster to give the Sox a 3-0 lead. The Red Sox got another run in the fourth inning when Kelly Shoppach knocked an RBI double into left field. However, more scoring opportunities were squandered when Cody Ross made a bad baserunning error and got caught in a rundown between third and home. When the fifth inning came around, Felix Doubront had been rolling so far but he encountered his first trouble in the fifth. Chris Giminez and Desmond Jennings led off the inning with singles before a Carlos Pena drove them both in and Evan Longoria proceeded to drive in Pena with a double to make it 4-3 Red Sox. 

Cody Ross hit a three-run
home run in the second 
The Red Sox and Doubront would escape that jam but it turned nasty in the sixth when Luke Scott homered to lead off the inning and suddenly the Red Sox' lead had evaporated. Doubront was removed from the game after Scott's hit and his early work was all for naught as a couple of bad innings turned his line into a mediocre 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Scott Atchison and Vicente Padilla combined to work out of a first and second, no out scenario in the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, Kevin Youkilis walked with one out and David Ortiz drove him in with a double into right-center. In the seventh, they got an extra insurance run when Mike Aviles homered to dead center to give the Sox a 6-4 lead. That would be all the Sox would need with Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves closing the game with a pair of scoreless innings (Aceves got his second save) and the Sox had their third consecutive win. 

Bright Spots:
Vicente Padilla- 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 K, W (1-0)
Alfredo Aceves- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, SV (2)
Mike Aviles- 1-4, 1 HR
Kevin Youkilis- 1-3, 1 BB, 2 R
David Ortiz- 3-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B
Cody Ross- 1-2, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB
Kelly Shoppach- 1-3, 1 BB, 1 2B, 1 RBI

Dull Spots:
Dustin Pedroia- 0-4
Darnell McDonald- 0-4, 1 K, 4 LOB
Jason Repko- 0-3, 1 K, 3 LOB

Player of the Game:
Cody Ross- Ross' three-run homer in the second inning was the key hit in the game as it gave the Sox an early lead and they probably wouldn't have won without it. 

Red Sox Promote Repko, Spears

This morning, the Red Sox made moves which would promote Jason Repko and Nate Spears to the major leagues. To add them to the 40-man roster, they had to designate Michael Bowden and Luis Exposito for assignment. Repko had gotten off to a hot start at AAA Pawtucket this season-- he was batting at a .538/1/2 clip in four games and thirteen at bats before his promotion. Repko played in 67 games last season with the Twins-- he batted .226/2/11 in 133 at bats. These two moves were obviously made to give the Red Sox outfield depth after Jacoby Ellsbury's injury-- thus, Jason Repko will be batting ninth and playing center field in today's game against the Rays. Nate Spears hasn't gotten off to quite as hot a start as Repko-- he currently stands at .231/0/2 in eight games and twenty six at bats with Pawtucket. However, the thing about Spears is that he can play anywhere: outfield, infield, you name it. Hopefully Repko and Spears will pan out for now but they are only temporary additions to the 25-man roster.

Red Sox Knock Five Home Runs In Comeback Victory (3-5)

Buchholz settled down nicely
Once again, the Red Sox have illustrated just how dominating they can be at home with a convincing win over the Rays. This game actually started off entirely in Tampa's favor-- however, as they scored four runs in a first inning highlighted by a three-run homer for Luke Scott. I kept telling myself that if the Red Sox could just score two runs, then this was a game again, and in the second inning, Jarrod Saltalamacchia delivered by crushing a two-run homer to center field with two outs. The Rays got one of those runs back in the third when Luke Scott hit an RBI double off the monster to make it a 5-2 Rays lead. And from that point on, everything went in the Red Sox' favor. In the bottom of the third, Dustin Pedroia crushed an inside fastball over the green monster to make it 5-3. After a scoreless fourth, a two-out single for Kevin Youkilis kept the Red Sox' hopes alive before David Ortiz crushed a homer into right-center to tie the game. After that inning, Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson would be chased from the game with an unimpressive line of 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 1 K.

Cody Ross hit a two-run
homer and two-run double
The first runs of the comeback effort came in the seventh inning when Mike Aviles led off the inning by pulling a curveball over the monster to give the Sox a 6-5 lead. The Red Sox would proceed to load the bases with one out when Cody Ross doubled to left to give the Sox an 8-5 lead. The previous inning had been Clay Buchholz' last and he left the game with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 5 K, settling down nicely to earn his first win of the season. Franklin Morales held the Rays scoreless in the eighth before the Red Sox went nuts in the bottom half. The Red Sox very quickly loaded the bases to lead off the inning-- however, a 4-2-3 double play for Adrian Gonzalez would wipe that out and put two in scoring position with two outs. Kevin Youkilis walked to load the bases back up and David Ortiz doubled past a diving Elliot Johnson in left field to drive in three runs and take an 11-5 lead. Cody Ross then put away the game for good by crushing a homer over the monster to give the Sox a 13-5 lead and a win.

Bright Spots:
Franklin Morales- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K
Alfredo Aceves- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K
Mike Aviles- 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR
Dustin Pedroia- 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR
Kevin Youkilis- 1-3, 3 R, 2 BB
David Ortiz- 4-5, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 HR, 1 2B
Cody Ross- 2-5, 4 RBI, 1 HR, 1 2B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI

Dull Spots:

Player of the Game:
David Ortiz- Ortiz had a ridiculously good game today, leading the Sox to victory by going 4-5 with a game-tying two-run homer as well as a three-run double in the eighth.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ellsbury Out 6-8 Weeks With Dislocated Shoulder

Ellsbury hurt his shoulder sliding into
second base yesterday
When Jacoby Ellsbury left the ballgame in the fourth inning, I wasn't quite sure what it was. After sliding into second base in an attempt to thwart a double play, Ellsbury lay on the ground in agony for a few minutes before leaving the ballgame clutching his shoulder. As soon as I was done watching the game (which I had recorded), I immediately checked my computer to see what was wrong with Ellsbury. It took until this morning for me to find some real news about Jacoby, and it ain't good. It appears Ellsbury dislocated his shoulder on that slide and will miss at least six weeks with the injury. The immediate question is: who will play center? Well, Cody Ross filled in for Ellsbury yesterday after he was removed from the game and did a fairly good job-- I remember one where he ran to the warning track in deep right-center to track one down. The Red Sox' current outfielders have all played center field in their career-- however, it appears Ross will play for now as he has the most experience. Heading up from Pawtucket to replace Ellsbury on the 25-man roster is Che-Hsuan Lin. Lin is off to a slow start in Pawtucket at .150/1/1 right now-- replacing Ellsbury's slow start at .192/0/3. This will really hurt the Red Sox and now is a time where they really need Carl Crawford to get healthy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Red Sox Show There's No Place Like Home (2-5)

Josh Beckett threw eight
strong innings in the win
For essentially the first time in 2012, the Red Sox put together a truly dominant performance today, running over the Rays in their home opener. The most ironic part of this game is that the Rays scored first; in the second inning, Ben Zobrist came all the way around from first on a double into left by Jeff Keppinger. However, the Red Sox very quickly made a plea to overturn the run by the Rays by loading the bases to lead off the third. Adrian Gonzalez went opposite field with a single to left, Kevin Youkilis drove a sacrifice fly into right, and David Ortiz drove a run in on a little tapper to third-- before you knew it, the Red Sox were up on the Rays by a score of 3-1. The score stayed at that until the bottom of the fourth when Jacoby Ellsbury drove in Kelly Shoppach with a single. However, later in that inning, while running to second base-- Ellsbury hurt himself sliding and left the game with an injury to his right shoulder. Che-Hsuan Lin was scratched from Pawtucket's game so it appears Ellsbury may be headed to the DL with Lin coming up from the minors.

Kelly Shoppach went 3-4
with 3 runs and 2 RBIs
The score stayed at 4-1 as Josh Beckett continued to dominate the Rays' lineup. His day was finally done after eight innings and his final line was a very strong 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K mark-- his season statistics stand at 1-1/5.68/4 this season. The bottom of the eighth, however, was when this game turned from a close duel into a bloodbath at the hands of the Red Sox. They quickly loaded the bases with no outs before a two-run double for Kelly Shoppach and an two-run single for Ryan Sweeney-- both to left field-- would make it an 8-1 lead for Boston. Another two-run single later in the inning-- this one for Kevin Youkilis-- would make it 10-1 Red Sox. The scoring finally ended on an RBI double for David Ortiz and finally a sacrifice fly for Cody Ross to end the scoring at 12-1. The Rays picked up another run in the ninth off Mark Melancon but it was far too little in a 12-2 win for the Red Sox.

Bright Spots:
Josh Beckett- 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Jacoby Ellsbury- 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI
Ryan Sweeney- 1-3, 1 R, 2 RBIs
Dustin Pedroia- 1-4, 2 R, 1 BB
Adrian Gonzalez- 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI
Kevin Youkilis- 2-4, 1 R, 3 RBIs, 1 SF
David Ortiz- 2-4, 2 RBIs, 1 2B
Darnell McDonald- 1-3, 1 R, 2 BB
Kelly Shoppach- 3-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B

Dull Spots:
Mark Melancon- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 K

Player of the Game:
Josh Beckett- I was very impressed by the offense coming to life but Josh Beckett's eight strong innings were too impressive to pass up as Player of the Game.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Series Preview #3: Rays (4-2) @ Red Sox (1-5)

It's finally here! 100 years of the beautiful ballpark of Fenway Park-- built in 1912 and tomorrow at 2:05, the first pitch of the 100th anniversary of Fenway will start. Throwing that first pitch will be Josh Beckett (0-1/13.50/3) looking to rebound from a shellacking at the hands of the Tigers against Rays starter David Price (1-0/2.84/5). Price and Beckett have both been good against their opposition but with the Sox bats not quite picking up yet, I'd give the advantage to Tampa Bay. In Saturday's game, Clay Buchholz (0-0/15.75/2) and Jeremy Hellickson (1-0/0.00/4) will square off. In this one, Buchholz's domination of the Rays (4-2/1.81/48) leads me to predict a win in this matchup. In the next game, two rookie starters will get the ball in Felix Doubront (0-0/3.60/6) and Matt Moore (0-0/2.70/4). Now the general consensus is that Moore is going to become a star and I'm not going to disagree with that in my projected loss for the Red Sox. In the final game of this four game set, Daniel Bard (0-0/9.00/6) and James Shields (1-0/5.54/8) will square off in the Patriots' Day matchup. Bold Prediction: Rays win series 3-1.

Romero Outduels Lester As Jays Win Series (1-5)

Lester pitched well
We Red Sox fans have to be as optimistic as possible right about now and think about how the Sox were 0-6 heading into their home opener last year-- this year they're 1-5. The Red Sox actually took their first early lead of the year when they put themselves in a good position to score with Cody Ross and Mike Aviles leading off the third inning with singles. Jacoby Ellsbury went opposite field with a single to left but that would be pretty much all that they would get in that inning as Dustin Pedroia struck out and Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to end the inning. However, the Blue Jays got those runs right back in the third inning when Eric Thames led off the inning with a single and Rajai Davis brought him in with a triple before Davis was driven in by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Yunel Escobar to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead in the third inning. The next few innings went very quickly for each team as Jon Lester and Ricky Romero were each dominant in their second starts of the season.

However, he couldn't get the win
However, finally in the eighth inning, the Blue Jays got another little something going when Rajai Davis walked and stole second with two outs in the inning. Yunel Escobar would hit a blooper into center field where Davis would easily score with his speed to give the Blue Jays an additional cushion heading into the ninth. This concluded Jon Lester's night, as he threw a complete game-- 8 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K-- in his first loss of the year. In perfect Red Sox fashion, the Sox didn't go down easily. They put Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia on base with walks to lead off the inning-- chasing Ricky Romero from the game and entering Sergio Santos-- who blew the game two nights ago. However, Santos pitched well this time around and before you knew it the Sox were done.

Bright Spots:
Jon Lester- 8 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K
Jacoby Ellsbury- 1-3, 1 RBI
Mike Aviles- 1-3, 1 R

Dull Spots:
Adrian Gonzalez- 0-4, 4 LOB
Kevin Youkilis- 0-4, 1 K, 2 LOB
David Ortiz- 0-4, 2 LOB
Darnell McDonald- 0-3, 1 K
Kelly Shoppach- 0-3, 1 K, 2 BB

Player of the Game:
Jon Lester- Lester pitched very well despite the loss, he allowed just three runs in eight innings and usually with the Red Sox offense that's enough-- however, he now sits at 0-1/2.40/10 in 15 innings.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bard Gets Unlucky In First Major League Start (1-4)

Bard made his first start
The Red Sox are currently one rotation through the season and five games in-- yet things are not quite picking up for them. Daniel Bard was making his first major league start after acting as the setup man for the Red Sox for three seasons. He got off to a slow start, allowing one run in the first on three ground ball hits for the Jays. After a bloop single and a ground ball single to lead off the inning, Adam Lind drove in a run with one of very few solid hits for the Blue Jays-- a liner up the middle. Later in the inning, they scored another run on... you guessed it... another ground ball hit to make it 3-0 Blue Jays. Bard pitched pretty well for the rest of his night-- he retired seven straight from the third to the fifth innings. In the top of the sixth, the Red Sox finally got on the board off Kyle Drabek-- 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K-- with a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez. However, they stranded a good scoring opportunity when Kevin Youkilis grounded into a double play to end the inning.

He was not too impressive
Daniel Bard stayed on the mound for the sixth inning and promptly allowed runners onto first and third with nobody out. Bobby Valentine made the call to the 'pen and Justin Thomas entered the ballgame. He was a disaster, walking Eric Thames to load the bases and allowing a two-run single to J.P. Arencibia and a sacrifice fly for Colby Rasmus to give the Jays a 6-1 lead. However, he did pitch a scoreless sixth to somewhat salvage himself. Michael Bowden entered the game in the seventh and allowed a homer to Edwin Encarnacion to make the lead 7-1. An optimistic fan might have thought the Red Sox had a chance when they loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth. However, an Adrian Gonzalez ground-rule double on a line down the right field line to score two would be all the Sox got in a 7-3 loss to Toronto.

Bright Spots:
Dustin Pedroia- 3-5
Adrian Gonzalez- 1-4, 3 RBIs, 1 sacrifice fly
Kevin Youkilis- 2-4, 1 double

Dull Spots:
Justin Thomas- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, also allowed two inherited runners to score
David Ortiz- 0-4, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 LOB
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 LOB

Player of the Game:
Adrian Gonzalez- In a bleak day for the Red Sox, he knocked in all of the runs in key situations with three RBIs in the game.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Late Rally Leads Sox To First Win (1-3)

Felix Doubront impressed
in his first start
When I went to bed last night, things looked bleak for the Red Sox. However, in my absence they put together one heck of a night, rallying late against the Blue Jays' strong bullpen. One thing I did see was Felix Doubront's outing last night, and I was impressed. His pitch count was a bit high (101 pitches in five innings) but otherwise he showed poise and his good stuff. Other than a pair of runs in the third on a bad call at the plate and an RBI single for Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays were held pretty quiet by Doubront-- he allowed just those two runs while striking out six in five innings. The Red Sox finally got on the board in the sixth inning when Dustin Pedroia knocked a homer to left field off Henderson Alvarez-- who pitched very well (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K). For two innings, the Sox were shut out by Darren Oliver and Francisco Cordero (one inning each). However, they finally got going in the ninth inning.

Pedroia acted as the catalyst
Dustin Pedroia led off the inning with a double and after a passed ball got him to third base, he was driven in on a deep sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez which tied the game at two. After a strikeout by Kevin Youkilis, the Sox put a couple more runners on base through walks to both David Ortiz and Cody Ross. Ryan Sweeney further endeared himself to Red Sox fans by, once again, coming through with a ground ball through the right field of the infield which barely scored Darnell McDonald (pinch running for Ortiz) to give the Sox a 3-2 lead. They would make it 4-2 when a passed ball allowed Cody Ross to score. All the while, Scott Atchison had pitched very well in relief of Doubront-- he allowed just a hit in three shutout innings of relief. And finally, the bullpen did not blow this lead as Alfredo Aceves shut the door with a good outing as the closer-- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K.

Bright Spots:
Felix Doubront- 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K
Scott Atchison- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K
Alfredo Aceves- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K
Dustin Pedroia- 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR
David Ortiz- 2-3, 1 BB
Cody Ross- 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB
Ryan Sweeney- 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI

Dull Spots:
Jacoby Ellsbury- 0-4
Kevin Youkilis- 0-4, 1 K, 1 LOB
Jarrod Saltalamacchia- 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 LOB
Mike Aviles- 0-4, 1 K, 4 LOB

Player of the Game:
Dustin Pedroia- He homered in the sixth inning which played a huge part in simply keeping the Red Sox in the game, and he also acted as the catalyst with the leadoff double in the ninth.