|Will Middlebrooks on back injury: ‘I had to do something about it’||05.25.13 at 9:37 pm ET|
Will Middlebrooks, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a sore lower back, said Saturday that he is confident he will be ready to return when his DL date is done.
“It’s better today that it was yesterday,” Middlebrooks said. “If I’m already making steps forward then that’s where I want to be.”
The third baseman explained that he first aggravated his back during the Red Sox’ series in Chicago, and then had it worsen during Thursday night’s game against Cleveland.
Middlebrooks was taken out of the series opener after two at-bats. He was hitless in his previous 11 at-bats before exiting Thursday.
“I tried to get it loose, but it was just tight and wouldn’t loosen up,” he said. “I tried to play anyway, which was probably a no-no on my part. I just wanted to get out there and try to play and it just got worse.”
Middlebrooks added regarding his current state, “I’m pretty stiff right now. Pretty sore. It’s been a tough past few days. I was trying to play through it for a couple of days and it just wasn’t happening. I had to do something about it.”
Middlebrooks, who has also been battling sore ribs, has totaled an identical .642 OPS in both April and May. Jose Iglesias started at third base Friday, with Pedro Ciriaco getting the call Saturday.
|Closing Time: Eighth-inning rally leads Red Sox to win over Indians||05.25.13 at 5:03 pm ET|
A couple of unlikely heroes Red Sox kept their team in the game Saturday, and then one likely savior finished things off.
Dustin Pedroia’s two-out double in the eighth inning scored Mike Carp with the eventual game-winning run, handing the Red Sox’ a 7-4 win over the Indians at Fenway Park.
The Pedroia heroics were made possible after Pedro Ciriaco rifled his own double, with one out, off the left field wall earlier in the inning. After a Jacoby Ellsbury strikeout, Mike Carp (pinch-hitting for Jonny Gomes) doubled home Ciriaco with the game-tying score.
For Carp, it was the second straight game he had supplied a key hit, having put the Sox ahead for good Friday night with a three-run blast against Justin Masterson. He is now 6-for-12 against the Indians this season.
“Just looking for a pitch I can put a good swing on,” said Carp, who is now 3-for-10 this year as a pinch-hitter. “I had a runner on second base and left one over the plate and put a good swing and got it off the wall.”
Ciriaco joined Jose Iglesias with a potent one-two punch at the bottom of the lineup, with each players coming away with three-hit performances.
The Sox were able to add two more insurance runs later in the eighth when Daniel Nava’s routine bases-loaded, pop-up to shallow left field fell between three Cleveland fielders. All of the eighth-inning runs came against Indians reliever Vinny Pestano.
“We bunched some hits together,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “[Ciriaco] gets the one-out double and can’t say enough about the day both he and [Iglesias] had in the eight and nine-hole. They made some huge contributions today offensively. Then we started to just chip away. Obviously, [Pedroia] with the 0-2 double was seemingly the big blow, and then we caught a break with the wind-blown base hit off Nava’s bat. Once again, Mike Carp steps up in a key spot. He gets a first-pitch fastball for a double the other way and the go-ahead run. Just a very good, come-from-behind team win today.”
The heroics took Red Sox starter Jon Lester off the hook for what would have been his second loss of the season. The lefty rebounded from a rocky start to turn in a solid performance, allowing four runs on 10 hits, striking out eight and walking one. He threw a season-high 124 pitches, the second-most by any Red Sox pitcher this season.
Between Lester, and relievers Junchi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey, Red Sox pitchers fanned 11 batters and have now struck out 10 or more in a game 25 times in 2013, the most double-digit strikeout games in major league history through a team’s first 50 games.
Lester almost left the game with a tie, but with runners on second and third, Mark Reynolds up and two outs in the seventh, the pitcher unloaded a wild pitch on a 1-2 count to allow the Indians to take their last lead.
“It didn’t even make it to the plate,” said Lester of the wild-pitch. “I didn’t even give Ross a chance to block it. On the same page as him, just trying to bury a curve ball, kind of like his two previous at-bats, I yanked one down and in. for me and right there I was just thinking don’t miss over the plate and give him a chance. I wanted to be down with it. It just ended up being too far down.”
Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Ciriaco – who was playing third base with Stephen Drew getting the day off – notched his first hit since May 12 (and third for the month) in the second inning. The hit plated Iglesias, who had reached via an infield single (his sixth in eight games).
- Jonny Gomes kept the Red Sox within a run in the third, scooping up a Nick Swisher single and firing home in time to nail Asdrubal Cabrera attempting to score. Helping the Sox’ cause was a nice block of home plate by catcher David Ross.
“It was just a base hit. I knew Jonny fielded it cleanly. I knew we were going to have a close play if he got rid of it good. He did,” Ross said. “The one thing I was worried about was the grass and the wet field. It skipped quick, but skipped right up to me and I was able to put the tag on him.”
- Pedroia continued his ownership of Indians’ starter Scott Kazmir. The second baseman, who came into the game hitting .515 (17-for-33) against the lefty, notched a third-inning double. It gave Pedroia hits in 16 of his last 17 games, while still serving as the only Red Sox player to play in every game this season.
- Iglesias’ second hit of the game cleared the infield, skipping down the first-base line and into right field. The one-out double in the fourth allowed Daniel Nava to come in from first after right fielder Ryan Raburn fumbled the ball after it jutted out off the wall. The hit cut the Indians’ lead to a run.
- Lester and the Red Sox supplied the game’s first 1-2-3 inning. Of course, it didn’t come until the lefty struck out the side in the sixth inning.
- Jonny Gomes excelled once again in a situational hitting situation, launching a sacrifice fly to center field with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. The fly ball, which tied the game at 3-3, came immediately after the Indians chose to intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury.
- The Red Sox were able to drive Kazmir from the game after five innings, forcing the lefty’s pitch count up to 107 pitches.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- After getting the first two outs of the first inning, Lester surrendered a single just past Pedroia from Asdrubal Cabrera and then an RBI hit from Nick Swisher down the third-base line for the game’s first score. It was the second straight appearance Lester had surrendered a pair of hits in the first, after having allowed a total of four base-hits in his initial nine starts.
- Cabrera struck again in the third inning, doubling off the top of the scoreboard on the left field wall to score Drew Stubbs.
- Pedro Ciriaco continued his shoddy play at third base, this time allowing a simple, soft-toss throw into third by center fielder Ellsbury to slide through his legs, allowing Mark Reynolds to advance to 90 feet from home. The miscue came on the same play in which the Indians built a two-run lead via Carlos Santana’s two-out, RBI single.
- Ross suffered a five-strikeout afternoon in his first game back from the seven-day concussion disabled list.
“I felt good. No head issues,” Ross said. “I was able to work through the game. No dizziness, nothing like that. Nothing out of the ordinary, other than swinging and missing. We’ve got to figure out a way to fix that.”
|Mike Carp delivers one of the most bizarre high school baseball tournament stories, ever||05.25.13 at 3:39 pm ET|
With the state high school playoffs upon us, and Mike Carp serving as one of the Red Sox’ heroes Friday night, it’s a good time to surface one of the most bizarre state tournament stories you’ll come across …
The year was 2003 and Carp’s Lakewood (CA) High baseball team had rebounded from a 2-3 start to win 23 of its next 25 to claim a No. 1 seed into the postseason. The year before, the Lancers had reached the California state finals at Angels Stadium, only to lose to Delmon Young’s Rio Mesa High club.
Lakewood was slated to take on Valley View High, which boasted a pitcher/shortstop by the name of Steven Wright (who now pitches for Triple-A Pawtucket).
Before the quarterfinal tilt, Carp and his teammates were playing Pepper (one batter hits with a fungo about with soft tosses coming from teammates 10-15 feet away). A few hours later, Lakewood had claimed a 4-2 win and was already thinking about their semifinal game.
Then, upon arriving at school the next day, Carp and the rest of the Lancers discovered their season was over … because of that game of Pepper.
“Before the game we’re playing Pepper like any other game I had in high school,” the Red Sox outfielder/first baseman said. “I guess their coach wasn’t happy about it, came up to our coach and said we weren’t allowed to do that. Our coach told him we had done it forever and we were going to keep doing it.
“We didn’t know, but they played the game under protest. We beat them fair and square, 4-2. We show up to school the next day to find out they disqualified us. We thought they were going to the semifinals. It was a debacle for four days. We were trying to halt the game trying to get back in there, but they wouldn’t overturn it. Season over for us. We were the No. 1 seed and we thought we had a legitimate chance at winning.”
The reason for the disqualification? Evidently, overhand Pepper is not allowed in California high school baseball.
“Because it was overhand,” said Carp when asked for the reasoning behind the elimination. “We were literally standing 10 or 15 away from one another. I guess what they said they had on video guys were throwing normal BP, which I don’t know how you get that from a game of Pepper.”
So, what did Wright say when the two were reunited?
“He said that rules were rules,” Carp lamented.
|Franklin Morales on cusp of returning to Red Sox||05.25.13 at 1:24 pm ET|
Franklin Morales is just about ready to return to the Red Sox.
The lefty, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since the beginning of the season with a lower back strain, appears ready to be reinserted into the Red Sox’ bullpen, or be available for a spot start.
According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, it has yet to be determined if Morales will be activated this weekend or receive one more rehab assignment.
Morales has totaled as many as 80 pitches during his rehab stint, which has seen him make five appearances. In 17 innings he has allowed seven runs (6 earned), while totaling a 3.18 ERA.
As for how much time Morales could spend as a reliever and still be considered for a start, Farrell said, “Usually the general rule of thumb is probably two weeks where you could at least insert him back in with some known ability to get 70 pitches, 65-70 pitches. And that’s not taking into account what kind of work he would have had in the interim.”
Right now there would not seem to be a spot for Morales in the starting rotation, with Ryan Dempster still slated to make his next scheduled start Tuesday. That could change due to any postponements and the need for an extra arm due to a doubleheader.
The Red Sox headed into Saturday carrying 13 pitches, with the move to add an additional position player most likely not coming until they decipher what sort of dynamic the inclement weather dictates.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Time to start thinking about Garin Cecchini in Portland; Allen Webster’s yin and yang; Michael Almanzar’s ride continues; Mookie enters the Matrix||05.25.13 at 12:19 pm ET|
In the same way that Jackie Bradley Jr. forced an expectation and presumption of his mid-year promotion in 2012, Garin Cecchini is starting to do the same this year. The situations aren’t precisely analogous, since a) as an outfielder, Bradley didn’t face the same kind of positional bottlenecks that will confront Cecchini and b) Bradley had the experience of being a top college performer, making it easier to put him on a fast track.
Still, Cecchini has now been a metronome for almost all of two months. He can’t be kept off base. On Friday, he went 1-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. In his last six games, he’s stepped to the plate 26 times and reached in 16 of those. Through 40 games, he’s hitting .376/.485/.638 with 23 extra-base hits. With runners in scoring position, his numbers are a joke: .474/.608/.763.
Cecchini is 22 — so not young for his level. He is, in fact, the same age as Almanzar. Because he was drafted as a 19-year-old, the Sox will have to decide whether or not to add him to the 40-man roster this offseason for the purposes of protecting him from the Rule 5 draft — though, of course, that will be no decision at all, since he now joins Bradley and Bogaerts as the top position prospects in the organization.
In short, barring an injury or what would seem a wildly unlikely prolonged tailspin, the clock will likely start ticking on his time in Salem. Bradley went up after the All-Star break, and if he sustains anything like what he’s done, Cecchini, too, would appear in line for a similar promotion a few weeks down the road.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN AT LOUISVILLE
– Jackie Bradley Jr. continues to offer reminders of why he captivated the Sox during spring training. He went 2-for-4 with a double and walk, and he now has an eight-game hitting streak (three games prior to his stint on the DL for biceps tendinitis and five since coming back), during which he’s 14-for-32 with a line of .438/.526/.688. With Shane Victorino now on the DL and Bradley representing the only healthy Sox minor league outfielder on the 40-man roster, both his roster status and recent performance suggests that he likely will be called up to the big leagues in the coming days, particularly since the Red Sox could use an outfielder capable of playing both right field (where Daniel Nava is currently the only viable option) and center (Jacoby Ellsbury has no real backup right now). Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox lineup: Pedro Ciriaco gets start at third base||05.25.13 at 12:10 pm ET|
The Red Sox will start Pedro Ciriaco at third base Saturday, moving Jose Iglesias over to shortstop against Cleveland left-hander Scott Kazmir.
Getting the day off is Stephen Drew, who is 0-for-17 since returning from a back issue suffered in Minnesota.
“I can’t say it hasn’t,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell when asked if Drew’s back issue was restricting the shortstop at the plate. “Whether it’s the aggressive in which he swung the bat or just in talking with Stephen I can’t say that it’s restricted his swing or the extension to it. It might just be the overall aggressiveness. All things considered that’s why today was a natural down day for him.”
Here is the lineup for the Red Sox, who will be sending Jon Lester to the mound:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Jonny Gomes LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Daniel Nava RF
David Ross C
Jose Iglesias SS
Pedro Ciriaco 3B
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Jon Lester vs. Scott Kazmir||05.25.13 at 9:56 am ET|
Jon Lester will take the hill for the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, looking for his seventh win of 2013. Left-hander Scott Kazmir will get the call for the Indians.
Lester received his first loss his last time out, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out two against the White Sox in the first game of the three-game series. It was first time Lester failed to strike out five or more batters in a contest this season. All six of the runs the White Sox scored came with two outs in the inning. Adam Dunn put Chicago on the board quickly with one swing of the bat, knocking a three-run home run in the bottom of the first.
“Subtract the first, that’s the one that it comes back to. That’s the most frustrating. I didn’t execute the pitches in the first inning, and that changed the whole momentum of the game,” Lester said after the outing.
Lester has fared well against the Indians over the course of his career, going 6-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 12 starts. The lefty picked up a win earlier this season in Cleveland, going seven innings, giving up two runs on four hits and throwing a season-high 115 pitches.
Lester will be matched up against Kazmir, who is making his first start in Boston since August 2010. The career trajectory of Kazmir has been quite interesting. He made his major league debut at the age of 20 for Tampa Bay. The lefty stifled the Red Sox offense for years in a Tampa Bay uniform; from 2004 to 2007, Kazmir started 17 games against the Red Sox, throwing 101 1/3 innings with a 2.66 ERA and 121 strikeouts (equal to fanning about 13.4 batters per nine innings). He was considered one of the best pitchers in the game after his 2007 season, in which he went 13-9 (on a Devil Rays club that won only 64 games) with a 3.48 ERA, leading the league in strikeouts with 239.
Things started to go south in 2009 for Kazmir. He started the year going 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA for the Rays. He was traded to the Angels in September, and while he finished on a strong note in Los Angeles that season, Kazmir struggled in his first full year with the club in 2010. He made only one start in 2011, going an inning and two-thirds, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks. The starter was placed on the DL with lower-back stiffness before being released by the Angels in June of that year.
After being released, Kazmir pitched in winter ball for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican League. In 2012, he played for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, making 14 starts. He also spent time in the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. In December of 2012, the Indians signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. After a good spring training and a brief DL stint to begin the year, Kazmir earned a spot in the Indians rotation.
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