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Red Sox Back to .500; Still Trail Yankees by 8 Games Though! – Fenway Park 6/18/12

The Red Sox salvaged the weekend series in Chicago by taking the final 2 games from the Cubs, but at 33-33, they still trail the AL-East-leading Yankees by a whopping 8 games.  Not good.  Throw in the fact that they just placed Josh Beckett on the DL with shoulder issues, this does not bode well for the Red Sox. The only bright spot right now – they are only 4 games out of a wild card playoff spot.  And once you are in the playoffs, anything can happen!

Jon Lester looked great against the worst team in baseball in Saturday’s prime time 4-3 win.  Lester tossed 6+ innings on a sweltering night in Chicago.  He could have gone longer, but Manager Bobby V opted to pull him after he served up Luis Valbuena’s 3-run jack that cut the Red Sox lead to 4-3.  He struck out 8 Cubs hitters and scattered 7 hits while walking only 1.  Alfredo Aceves worked the 9th to pick up his 16th save – not bad for a closer with a 1.26 WHIP and ERA over 4 still.  The Red Sox made the most of their 8 hits – 2 apiece from Scott Posednik, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles.  Saltalamacchia hit his 12th home run and drove in 2 of the Red Sox 4 runs.

On Sunday Night ESPN Baseball, Franklin Morales made the most of his spot start in place of the injured Josh Beckett.  Morales struck out 9 batters in 5 innings and he allowed just 2 ER on 4 hits with no walks.  But he left with the game tied at 2 and did not factor in the decision.  The Red Sox broke things open with 3 runs in the 7th and 1 run in the 8th to give the Red Sox a commanding 7-3 lead.

But the Cubs are just bad – so it wasn’t really a major accomplishment to win the series – the Red Sox should have swept the series if not for Ryan Dempster’s gem on Friday afternoon.

The Red Sox open up a big 9-game homestand with interleague games against the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves this week and then a 3-game set against AL-East rival Toronto next week.  Then it’s off for a 7-game west coast trip through Seattle and Oakland.  It’s definitely set up to be a winnable stretch for the under-achieving Red Sox – now they just have to do it…

Cubs Trip up Sox 3-0 in Opener of Historic Series at Wrigley Field – Fenway Park 6/15/12

The Cubs beat the Red Sox 3-0 in the opener of the much-anticipated series between Theo Epstein’s new team and his old team.  Ryan Dempster outdueled Daisuke Matsuzaka in another solid outing for the worst team in baseball – 7 scoreless innings, 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 K’s.  Maybe we should make a move for him in the next few weeks?!?!

Matsuzaka wasn’t all that bad after the 2nd inning.  The Cubs managed just 2 hits by a non-pitcher in the game.  Bad news for us – both hits drove in the Cubs 3 runs.  Steve Clevenger had a timely 2-out bases loaded double that drove in 2 runs in the 1st inning.  And the next inning David DeJesus single drove in Dempster.  Dempster had reached base earlier that inning on a “triple” to right field that regular 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez misplayed down the line.  So even that 3rd run was a little “lucky”…  Matsuzaka went 6 giving up just the 3 runs and 4 hits.

Dustin Pedroia’s line drive in the 9th with the bases loaded was snagged by Cubs 3rd baseman Luis Valbuena on a nice play.  He beat Mike Aviles to the bag to end the game.

The Red Sox fell to 31-33 with the loss.  The Cubs are 20 games! under .500 at 22-42. Ouch.  Should be a nice match-up on Saturday night at the Friendly Confines – Jon Lester v Jeff Samardzija.


Red Sox Back at .500 – On Good Streak – Fenway Park 5/23/12

The Red Sox took 2 of 3 from the 1st place Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore to move back to .500 and just 5.5 games back of the O’s.  It wasn’t always pretty, but the team has rallied and fought hard and continue to keep themselves in a position to compete until they get fully healthy.

The Red Sox open an important homestand against the Rays and Tigers at Fenway Park on Friday night.  Let’s hope Jon Lester can get them off to a good start in the series opener.

Go Sox!

Give Red Sox Credit For Battling Through 8-6 Win Over O’s in Baltimore – Fenway Park 5/21/12

You have to give the Red Sox credit for battling through an 8-6 win over the 1st place Orioles in Camden Yards in Baltimore on Monday night.  After taking 2 of 3 from the Phillies over the weekend, this was definitely a potential let-down game.  But with a chance to get back to .500 with a win and a chance to pull within 5.5 games of the 1st place Orioles, a lot was riding on this one.

It wasn’t all easy or pretty.  After taking a 2-0 lead in the 3rd, Clay Buchholz gave it right back with 4 runs in the bottom of the inning.  Buchholz had already walked 2 runs in and he faced a no-out bases loaded situation, but he hung tough and got slugger Adam Jones to hit into a run-scoring double play.  That provided just enough breathing room for Buchholz to get out of the inning without more damage other than the 4 runs.  And sure Buchholz allowed the lead to increase to 5-2 with Chris Davis’ solo homer in the 4th, but he gutted it out for 5 1/3 innings and with the Red Sox still in striking distance.

david Ortiz got things going in the 6th inning with a solo home run.  The Red Sox manufactured 2 more runs that tied the game at 5 on a sacrifice fly and a balk.  The Red Sox added 2 runs in the 7th to take a 7-5 lead and an insurance run in the 8th inning.  And the bullpen did the rest.

Andrew Miller pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings.  After Rich Hill got into trouble in the 8th, Vincente Padilla shut the door with 2 straight outs.  And then Alfredo Aceves worked a perfect 9th to pick up his 10th save of the season.  His WHIP (1.38) and ERA (4.43) are finally back into respectable territory – 6 straight scoreless appearances and he has not blown a save since that disastrous Saturday afternoon against the Yankees at Fenway Park back on April 21st.

The Red Sox are 21-21.  They are 5.5 games back of the O’s and Rays.  Look out American League.  They are not great, but they are also not going to go quietly.  Andrew Bailey will be back at some point to help out the bullpen; Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury will provide an immediate jolt to the offense.  And Mark Melancon has been nearly perfect at Triple-A Pawtucket in the closer’s role.  Throw in a few mid-season trades (Matt Garza from the Cubs anyone?) and the Sox will find themselves back in the thick of things very soon…

Red Sox Split 2-Game Series with Rays in Tampa – Fenway Park 5/17/12

The Red Sox split their 2-game set with the Rays in Tampa this week to stay 6.5 games back of the Baltimore Orioles and 5.5 games back if the Rays.

Felix Doubront came up big Thursday night – going 5 2/3 innings allowing just 2 runs only 1 of which was earned.  He allowed 10 base runners – 6 hits and 4 walks – but he limited the damage to pick up his 4th win of the season.

Cody Ross had the big game – he drew a bases loaded walk in the 1st to force in a run; solo home run in the 3rd; and a 2-run single in the 8th inning that increased the Red Sox lead to 5-2.

Marlon Byrd also hit a solo home run for the Red Sox.

Alfredo Aceves pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for his 8th save of the season.

Sox invade Philly for a weekend set against the Phillies and former closer Jonathan Papelbon…

Lester, Beckett Dynamic Duo in Red Sox 2-Game Sweep of Mariners – Fenway Park 5/15/12

At last, the dynamic duo is back, as the Red Sox upped their season high winning streak to 5 games with a 5-0 win over the Mariners at Fenway Park this evening.  The win pushed the Red Sox to 17-19 on the season and things seem to be falling into place for the Red Sox (at least for the time being).

In Monday night’s 6-1 win, Jon Lester through a complete game, scattering 8 hits and allowing just 1 ER.  He did not walk a batter and he struck out 6. Daniel Nava had a 2-run homer in the 4th inning, while Cody Ross and Kelly Shoppach each added 2 hits.

In today’s 5-0 win, Josh Beckett silenced his critics with 7 scoreless innings – 4 hits, 2 walks and 9 K’s. David Ortiz hit his 8th homer of the season, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles each added 2 hits.

It hasn’t been pretty or easy for the Red Sox this season.  But given the injuries to Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield, and then your set-up man and closer, the fact that the Red Sox are 17-19 is pretty impressive.  Throw in the fact that Lester is 2-3 and Beckett is 3-4, you’ve gotta think that if they can just weather the storm, good things are on the horizon.

Guess we’ll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, GO SOX!!!

Red Sox Take 3 of 4 from Indians; Bard’s Back; Middlebrooks on Fire – Fenway Park 5/14/12

The Red Sox took 3 of 4 from the red-hot Indians, helping to salvage what has been a long stretch for the ball club.  Daniel Bard picked up win #3, scattering 6 hits and 4 walks while limiting the damage to just 1 ER.  In the process, he lowered his WHIP to 1.54 and his ERA to 4.30.

The Cubs teed off on 2 former Red Sox pitchers.  Justin Masterson surrendered 6 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk in 6 innings.  Dan Wheeler got shell-shocked for 6 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in just 1 inning of work.

Will Middlebrooks continued his hot hitting – 2 for 3 with a home run, a walk, 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  Daniel Nava had 2 hits, 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia has also remained hot of late – he hit a 2-run home run off of Wheeler in the 7th inning – 3 hits, 5 RBI’s and 1 run scored, while upping his batting average to .250.

The Red Sox ar 14-19 and they trail the Baltimore Orioles by 6.5 games in the AL East race.  They host the Seattle Mariners for a quick 2-game set at Fenway before they kick off an important 8-game road trip against the Rays in Tampa, the Phillies in Philadelphia and the O’s in Baltimore.

Come on Sox – let’s keep it going,

Sox in Funk – Need Buchholz to Step Up Tonite against Tribe – Fenway Park 5/11/12

The Red Sox are in a funk – plain and simple.  Clay Buchholz needs to pick up his teammates tonight with a strong outing against the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians.

While most of the city was rejoicing the Celtics taking out the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1 over at the Garden, there were a few people at Fenway watching Josh Beckett implode on the bump.  Beckett has been rightly criticized all week after his shenanigans at his charity golf outing last week.  Just the day before, he was supposedly “too sore” to make his scheduled start because of a sore lat muscle in his back.  The next day he is fine to play golf?  Something has to give.  Especially after last season’s debacle and the brass/fans questioning the dedication of certain players, a stunt like this is not going to endear Beckett to anyone.  So he gets his week off to rest and then lays an egg against the upstart Indians – a team he has dominated in the past.  Beckeet couldn’t even make it through 3 innings – he surrendered 7 ER on 7 hits (including 2 home runs) and 2 walks. Not good.

The Red Sox are reeling – 3 straight losses – 11 losses in their last 12 home games at Fenway Park – an overall 12-19 record that leaves them trailing the Rays and O’s by 7.5 games already.  Buchholz is 3-1 despite a blistering 9.09 ERA and 2.02 WHIP.  How is that even possible.  In any event, he’ll need to bring his A-game if the Red Sox hope to snap their current losing streak…

Red Sox Hang on for 7-6 Win, Sweep Twins – Fenway Park 4/26/12

It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win, as the Red Sox hung on for a 7-6 win and a sweep of the Twins in Minneapolis.  Clay Buchholz notched win number 2, but he needed some help in the 6th as he ran out of juice.  Buchholz cruised through 5 innings of 1-run ball, but almost gave away the Red Sox whole 7-1 lead heading into the inning.  After giving up a run on a hit by Denard Span, Buchholz walked Jamey Carroll to load the bases.  Bobby V went with Scott Atchison who promptly served up a 2-run single to Joe Mauer.  Justin Thomas immediately relieved Atchison and he quickly gave up a double to Justin Mourneau and plunked C Parmelle.  At that point, Bobby V was about to explode.  Matt Albers kept the trend going by allowing a hit to Trevor Plouffe but he induced the inning-ending double-play to preserve the precarious 1 run lead.

Buchholz’s line looked awful again – 5 1/3 innings, 5 ER on 10 hits and 3 walks.  An atrocious 1.93 WHIP and 8.87 ERA.  Shockingly, he is still 2-1.

The rest of the bullpen actually did its job.  Vincente Padilla, Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves each tossed scoreless inning, although Aceves made it interesting by loading the bases with a hit, walk and HBP.  Nice.  He has 4 saves despite his 2.60 WHIP and 14.40 ERA.

Luckily, the Red Sox bats have been consistently amazing.  10 more hits, 7 more runs.  A 3-run homer from Mike Aviles who keeps showing some pop in that bat and 3 more hits for Dustin Pedroia who is tearing it up.  David Ortiz snapped a 6-game hitting streak with his 0 for 3 night.

Next up is a 4-game trip to the Windy City to take on the White Sox on the south side.  They’ll be the 1st team to face Phil Humber since he became the 21st major league pitcher to throw a perfect game when the White Sox beat the Mariners 4-0 last Saturday.  Felix Doubront goes for the Sox – he has not earned a decision in 3 starts this season.

Beckett Rebounds & Sox Explode for 11-2 Win Over Twins – Fenway Park 4/25/12

It was a much-needed easy 11-2 win for the Red Sox over the Twins on Tuesday night.

Josh Beckett evened his record at 2-2 with 6 effective innings.  He scattered 5 hits and 3 walks, limiting the Twins to just 2 ER.

More importantly, it has been 2 good night’s in a row for the bullpen after the disastrous series against the Yankees.  Scott Atchison pitched 2 perfect innings with 3 K’s.  And Matt Albers pitched a scoreless 9th allowing just 1 hit.

Mike Aviles was the star – 4 for 5 with 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He hit a solo home run in the 4th inning and he is now hitting .33 and sparking rallies at the top of the order.  David Ortiz continued his hot hitting – 2 for 4 with a home run and 3 RBI’s.  Adrian Gonzalez added 3 hits, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Even Kevin Youkilis got into the act – his 2 hits finally got his batting average back up to .200 on the dot.

The Red Sox go for the sweep tonight as Clay Buchholz looks for his 2nd win of the 2012 campaign.