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Evaluating the trade deadline moves

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 10:15 PM

CHICAGO — We won't know how well the Red Sox did at the trade deadine until the season is over and the impact made by Erik Bedard and Mike Aviles can be fully examined.

But sitting here about six hours after the trade deadline, the Sox appear to have done well for themselves.

Let's look at the last two days in totality.

The Sox obtained Bedard and Aviles, a starting pitcher and an experienced infielder. They gave up infielder Yamaico Navarro and five minor league prospects: outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang, catcher Tim Federowicz, righthander Stephen Fife, righthander Juan Rodriguez and righthander Kendal Volz.

None of those six players are projected to be major league standouts. Navarro and Federowicz could make the majors as backups. The rest are, at best, second-level prospects.

You'd take Ryan Lavarnway over Federowicz. Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish instead of Chiang. Alex Wilson is better than Fife and Rodriguez and Volz are Class A relievers. The Sox have a dozen similar arms.

Now let's look at the potential impact of Bedard and Aviles.

Bedard, once he shakes off the rustiness still left from his DL stint, should be a more effective starter than Andrew Miller. Given that Miller has a 5.36 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP, that is not exactly a monumental task. Bedard has experience in the AL East and when he was healthy in the spring, he was one of the best lefties in the league. If he's 75 percent that good, that's better than Miller.

Aviles is clearly a better utility player than Navarro was. He has more experience and better speed. If a injury were to occur, he would be a much safer everyday starter than Navarro.

So two spots on the 25-man roster are better today than they were yesterday. That's not an insignificant amount. The Red Sox are already the best team in the American League based on their record. Getting a little better is fine. They didn't need to get a lot better.

Greedy fans will complain that the Red Sox didn't land Hunter Pence and/or Ubaldo Jimenez. But the Red Sox have an aging roster and stripping three or four quality prospects away would have made little sense seven months after giving up three blue chippers for Adrian Gonzalez.

The goal is not to contend for the title in 2011, it's to contend for the title every year.

The market was not replete with great options this season but Epstein found a way to improve the team without giving up a lot. It's hard to argue with that.

There is 'concern' for Buchholz

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 08:56 PM

CHICAGO — Theo Epstein would not provide details. But he did admit that “there is some concern” about the condition of Clay Buchholz, who will have his lower back examined by Dr. Robert Watkins tomorrow in Los Angeles.

“It’s been almost a couple of months now, which is longer than we expected it to be,” Epstein said. “We’re still awaiting some more feedback and another opinion. I think we have a feel for what might be going on. But Clay is seeing another expert to get his opinion and then we’re all going to put our heads together early this week.

“I’ll refrain from answering in too much detail until I have a chance to talk with Clay and we all have a chance to talk things through.”

Epstein said the fact that Buchholz threw in the bullpen last Monday and would not repeat that on Wednesday was a problem.

“We think we’re in the process of getting to the bottom of it,” Epstein said. “We’ll have more to say after we talk to Clay.”

Until now, the Red Sox have said Buchholz has a muscle strain. But there are increasing indications that he has a structural issue that will keep him out for the remainder of the season.

Epstein: A starter was the priority

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 07:12 PM

CHICAGO — Theo Epstein just conducted a conference call with the Red Sox beat writers to talk about the trade deadline.

He said the Sox would not have been satisfied to come away without a starting pitcher. They felt that was a priority, if only to add some depth. Their scouts saw during spring training and early in the season that Erik Bedard's stuff was back. And that while he looked rusty on Friday, he showed he was healthy.

The Sox feel that Bedard, if right, can handle any lineup in the game.

Epstein would not go into detail about Clay Buchholz but admitted their concerns about his back injury and that they hope to get a definitive answer this week.

Epstein did not say who was coming out of the rotation other than to say they could use six starters for one turn through.

More on this later. Have some newspaper work to do.

Red Sox officially announce trade

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 06:23 PM

Here is the Red Sox release on the trade:

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox today acquired left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard and right-hander Josh Fields from the Seattle Mariners.

The club first sent minor league right-handers Stephen Fife and Juan Rodriguez and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for outfielder Trayvon Robinson and then traded Robinson to Seattle with minor league outfielder Chih-Hsien Chiang in exchange for Bedard and Fields. To make room for Bedard on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox transferred right-handed pitcher Clay Buchholz to the 60-day disabled list.

Bedard, 32, is 4-7 with 3.45 ERA (35 ER/91.1 IP) and 87 strikeouts compared to 30 walks in 16 starts for the Mariners this season after missing the entire 2010 campaign due to a shoulder injury. The left-hander entered today with a 2.35 ERA (19 ER/72.2 IP) in his last 12 starts dating back to April 27, fourth among American Leaguers with at least 70.0 innings in that time. Since 2006, Bedard leads all American League hurlers (minimum 600.0 innings) with both a .231 opponent batting average (549-for-2,376) and a ratio of 9.10 strikeouts per 9.0 innings (641 K’s/633.2 IP) while ranking seventh among that group with a 3.41 ERA (240 ER). A native of Ontario, Canada, he owns a 3.69 ERA (374 ER/913.1 IP) in 160 career Major League games (157 starts) with the Orioles (2002-07) and Mariners (2008-11).

Fields, 25, was the Mariners first-round selection (20th overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Georgia. The right-hander has combined to go 1-2 with three saves, a 3.92 ERA (17 ER/39.0 IP) and 39 strikeouts in 29 relief appearances between Seattle’s Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma clubs in 2011, holding opponents to a .200 average (28-for-140) between the two stops. In 81 games, all in relief, over his first three professional seasons, Fields is 4-5 with 10 saves and a 4.54 ERA (51 ER/101.0 IP) with 103 strikeouts.

The 24-year-old Fife leads the Eastern League with 11 wins (11-4) and owns a 3.66 ERA (42 ER/103.1 IP) with 70 strikeouts in 19 appearances (18 starts) for the Sea Dogs this season. Boston’s third-round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, the right-hander owns a 23-16 record with two saves, a 3.94 ERA (160 ER/365.2 IP) and 279 strikeouts over 77 career minor league games, including 62 starts.

Rodriguez is 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA (34 ER/59.0 IP) and 88 strikeouts in 32 appearances this season, all in relief for Single-A Greenville. The 22-year-old ranks second among qualifying South Atlantic League relievers in strikeouts per 9.0 innings (13.42) in 2011 and went 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA (19 ER/48.2 IP) and 51 strikeouts in 12 outings (nine starts) for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in 2010, his first season in the United States. He also previously spent the 2008 and 2009 campaigns in the Dominican Summer League after signing with the Red Sox as an international free agent on February 27, 2008.

Federowicz, 23, has hit .275 (92-for-335) with 20 doubles, seven home runs, 44 runs and 50 RBI in 89 games for Portland this season, including 63 games at catcher. He has thrown out 36.3 percent of attempted base stealers (29 of 80), third best among qualifying Eastern League backstops. Selected by the Red Sox in the seventh round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, Federowicz is a career .275 hitter (352-for-1,282) with 92 doubles, one triple, 26 home runs and 184 RBI in 340 minor league games in the Red Sox system.

Chiang leads the Eastern League in batting average (.340, 109-for-321), RBI (76), doubles (37), extra-base hits (59), runs scored (68) and slugging percentage (.648) and has tallied four triples and 18 home runs in 88 games on the year with Double-A Portland. Signed by Boston as an international free agent on October 20, 2005, he has hit .284 (537-for-1,891) with 147 doubles, 17 triples, 51 homers and 299 RBI in 516 career minor league games since 2006.

Final: Red Sox 5, White Sox 3

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 02:07 PM

Game over: Red Sox 5, White Sox 3

Nice weekend in Chicago for the Red Sox. They take two of three games from the White Sox and return home with a new starting pitcher (Erik Bedard) and a new utility infiielder (Mike Aviles).

The Sox are now 66-40 and have won eight of 11. Aceves (7-1) was the winner with Papelbon notching his 24th save. He struck out the side.

The Sox are 33-21 on the road. They start a four-game series with the Indians tomorrow before the Yankees come to town on Friday.

Middle of the 9th: Red Sox 5, White Sox 3

Gonzalez had an RBI double to add to the lead. Papelbon in now.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 4, White Sox 3

The Sox went down in order. Bard got two groundouts to start the botton of the eighth inning. Alexei Ramirez then hit a soft line drive to right field. Josh Reddick tried to make a diving catch and the ball deflected away, allowing Ramirez to take second.

Bard finished the inning by getting Juan Pierre on a grounder to third base. Bard has not allowed a run in 26.1 innings dating back to May 23. What a run he is on.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 4, White Sox 3

Aceves got two outs before walking Flowers. Bard came in and struck out Beckham. Six out to get now. Meanwhile, the Red Sox have obtained Erik Bedard. See details below.

Middle of the 7th: Red Sox 4, White Sox 3

The Sox struck against reliever Jesse Crain. Scutaro singled with one out, Ellsbury followed with a single before a passed ball moved them up. Pedroia then cracked a two-run single to center.

Top of the 7th: White Sox 3, Red Sox 2

Miller allowed a two-out single to Pierre. Aceves came in and got the final out. The line on Miller: 5.2 IP 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HB. Not bad. As usual, good and bad parts.

Middle of the 6th: White Sox 3, Red Sox 2

Ortiz singled with one out. Crawford grounded into a force then McDonald flied to right. The trade deadline has passed and no news of any Red Sox moves.

Top of the 6th: White Sox 3, Red Sox 2

Miller got the first two outs. He nearly had a 1-2-3 inning as Beckham grounded to short. But a stunned Marco Scutaro bobbled the ball for an error. Morel then grounded to third.

Middle of the 5th: White Sox 3, Red Sox 2

Buehrle got Ellsbury and Pedroia on grounders back to the mound and Gonzalez on a pop to left.

Top of the 5th: White Sox 3, Red Sox 2

Miller allowed singles by Beckham and Morel before Lillibridge bunted them over. Ramirez then delivered an RBI single. Miller hit Konerko to load the bases but then struck out Quentin and got Dunn on a soft liner to first.

Miller's line: 4 IP, 9 H, 3 R 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. He's a trick-or-treater.

Konerko had to leave the game.

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 2, White Sox 2

Crawford and McDonald drew one-out walks but Varitek flied to center and Scutaro grounded into a force.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 2, White 2

Milelr got two outs. Then he allowed three straight singles to score a run. He has put seven men on base in three innings.

Miller is making his 7th start. He has one (1) 1-2-3 innings. One. How is that possible?

Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 2, White Sox 1

Pedroia bunted for a single. Gonzalez then grounded into a double play before Youkilis grounded to shortstop.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 2, White Sox 1

It's never easy with Andrew Miller. Flowers singled with one out and scored on a two-out double by Morel. Then Lillibridge fanned to end the inning. Miller has thrown 36 pitches so far. Betcha Alfredo Aceves has his spikes on.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 2, White Sox 0

McDonald walked with two outs. Varitek then launched a fastball over the fence in left center for his seventh homer.

Tek now has 507 extra-base hits as a member of the Red Sox, tying Nomar for ninth place in team history. Of course he had a few more at-bats. But still.

Meanwhile, SaltyTek is hitting .253 with 16 homers and 54 RBIs.

Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0

Miller got two quick outs. Then, because that's what he does, he walked Konerko and allowed a single by Quentin. But he came back to strike out Dunn.

Dunn signed a four-year, $56 million deal with Chicago in the winter. He's hitting .164 with 10 homers.

Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0

Gonzalez doubled with two outs. He has a 10-game hitting streak during which he is 22 of 39 (.564). Youkilis popped to short to end the inning.

It was 94 degrees at first pitch. The White Sox unveiled a statue of Frank Thomas today. As Terry Francona noted, the Big Hurt had some "silly numbers" during his career.

Pre-game: Good afternoon, everybody. It's a beautiful day in Chicago as the Red Sox get ready to face the White Sox.

It'll be Andrew Miller against Mark Buehrle. Hang out here for updates. Nick Cafardo will have a trade deadline blog, too.

As always, we welcome your comments.

Trade deadline updates

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 01:57 PM

Welcome everyone. We'll update you leading up to the 4 p.m deadline....

4:54 PM

Think Tim Federowicz and Chih-Hsien Chiang are going to be pretty good players. Federowicz was certainly the Sox' most complete catcher. Chiang's taken a while to get going, but now a pretty good player.

At least Sox didn't have to give up third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who didn't play for Portland today giving rise to speculation he might have been involved in a deal.

Still unclear as to why Erik Bedard cost them this much.

4:47 PM

We think the Erik Bedard deal is the last one the Sox made at the deadline. In acquiring Bedard and righty Josh Field, they gave up catching prospect Tim Federowicz, Stephen Fife, Juan Rodriguez and Chih-Hsien Chaing in the three-way deal in which the Dodgers dealt Trayvon Robinson to the Mariners.

Fields was a No. 1 pick (20th overall) of the M's but never really made it. He's become a relief pitcher.

4:36 PM.

Sox get Erik Bedard and Josh Fields in the deal. Fields is a pitcher, a former high draft pick of the Mariners, not the former White Sox infielder..

4:17 PM

Red Sox official just confirmed Bedard coming to Sox. Looks like three-way with M's, Dodgers and Sox.

Hope it's not pending a physical or review of medical records.

4:15 PM.

Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik addressing Seattle media shortly. Seems like a lot of players involved In Bedard to Sox.

4:11 PM

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com is reporting a three-team deal involving Bedard and Red Sox.

4:03 PM.

SI's Jon Heyman reporting Erik Bedard has been traded. Sox catcher Tim Federowicz was removed from game in Portland, Me. Let's see what happens.

4 PM.

We are here folks - the deadline. Doesn't mean something hasn't happened, but there's absolutely no buzz out there. Sometimes things are announced after 4 p.m. We'll bring it to you if it happens.

3:49 PM

Sox did inquire about Wandy Rodriguez according to an Astros source, but nothing is expected to come of it.


3:30 PM

In the last half hour. This is where information gets tougher to come by as teams hunker down for the last minute flurry, if there is one. Not hearing too much activity with the Red Sox, but again, that could be because they're trying to make something happen.

3:12 PM

Astros tellling me Indians are NOT in the Wandy Rodriguez hunt.

3:01 PM

Yankees really tried on Wandy Rodriguez, according to one ML talent evaluator, but doesn't look like it's going to happen. Astros really asking a lot.

2:49 PM

Padres get lefty Robbie Erlin and righty Joe Wieland from the Rangers for Mike Adams. Weiland recently pitched a no-hitter.

2:45 PM

Pesky Tribe trying to get another hitter. Going all out for Ryan Ludwick. Sox like him too.

2:34 PM

Told there's a flurry of calls coming into Houston for Wandy Rodriguez. Red Sox not yet in it, but that could change rapidly.

2:28 p.m.

Mike Adams goes to the Rangers. Big time acquisition. They got Koji Uehara yesterday. Some scouts don't like Uehara for the Rangers feeling he throws a straight fast ball. Not great in that ballpark where the ball flies.


2:22 PM

Cardinals very much in the Erik Bedard talks. We'll see if Boston strikes here.


2 PM

We're about two hours away from the trade deadline and this is where there's frantic activity and where sellers discount the price and buyers at times have to give a little more to get their man.

The Red Sox are currently exploring where they go from here after they were unable to land Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez and Rich Harden. Will they stay in the running for Erik Bedard? They seem to be keeping close tabs with the Cardinals also interested in the lefty.

The Cubs continue to say that they will not deal Matt Garza, but everyone has a price, right?

On the Harden deal: He's had more than one injection in his shoulder since he returned to the active roster in July? Why did the deal get this far before the Red Sox decided to pull the plug on Harden's medicals?

Everyone knows Harden's medicals aren't good. The fact that Sox team doctors didn't review medicals and only the trainer did is also not usual procedure for the Red Sox. The sides did try to work it out with the Red Sox asking the player-to-be-named to be removed or the quality of player reduced. But the A's wouldn't go for it. The Sox really weren't giving up much. Lars Anderson is a redundant player.

Checked with the Astros and so far the Red Sox have not asked about Wandy Rodriguez. The Yankees have but are unwilling at the moment to pay the price.

There's some speculation out there the Sox may try again on Kuroda and see if he would have a change of heart. The Sox got into trade talks pretty deep with the Dodgers, who for a while had Kuroda's blessing to go to New York, Boston or Philadelphia.

How about starting Aceves?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 12:46 PM

CHICAGO — Tick, tock. Tick tock.

The trade deadline arrives in three hours and 14 minutes and there are no indications of the Red Sox making a move.

The Rich Harden deal died last night when the Red Sox questioned his medical report and tried to pull back the player to be named later. Oakland refused to deal Harden straight up for Lars Anderson.

Obviously the teams could still come to a different agreement. There are assorted other guys out there (Erik Bedard, Wandy Rodriguez) but nobody that looks like a difference maker.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post Tweeted that the Red Sox could boost their bullpen and start Alfredo Aceves. Nobody asked me, but that idea is more appealing than trading any significant prospects for Wandy Rodriguez.

Aceves is not a perfect choice by any means and he's immensely valuable in the bullpen. But he's probably a better option than what is out there.

The best line of the day came from Marco Scutaro. Heidi Watney joked that she and Marco had been traded to the Angels. Somebody asked Marco what the Sox got in return.

"The Rally Monkey," he said.

Game 106: Red Sox at White Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 10:33 AM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (65-40)
Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Gonzalez, 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz, DH
Crawford, LF
McDonald, RF
Varitek, C
Scutaro, SS

Pitching: LHP Andrew Miller (4-1, 5.45)

WHITE SOX (52-53)
Lillibridge LF
Ramirez SS
Konerko 1B
Quentin RF
Dunn DH
Rios CF
Flowers C
Beckham 2B
Morel 3B

Pitching: LHP Mark Buehrle (8-5, 3.22)

Game time: 2:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, TBS / WEEI

Notes: Miller has allowed 15 earned runs on 17 hits and 17 walks in his last 17 innings. He is 0-1, 9.58 in three career appearances against Chicago. Today is not necessarily a final chance to stay in the rotation. But how long can the Sox keeping running him out there with poor results? ... Buehrle is a modest 6-6, 4.57 in six career appearances against the Sox. He faced them twice last season and allowed eight runs on 21 hits over 13 innings. ... Gonzalez has hit in nine straight at 21 of 38. ... The Sox are 1-4 against Chicago this season. The teams will not meet again unless it's the postseason.

Stat of the Day: The Sox are 19-6 in July. They last 20 games in a month in May of 2007 when they won 20.

Song of the Day: "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.

Who made the call on Harden's medicals?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 10:22 AM

CHICAGO - The Red Sox backed off the Rich Harden move because of concerns over his medicals, but who reviewed the medicals?

According to a team source, Sox doctors weren't the ones who saw the records. It was more the Sox front office and the trainer.

It appears the deal is dead, but it could also be a case of the Red Sox trying to lower the price for a player with a long history of shoulder issues. The Sox didn't feel Harden could give them legitmate and consistent starts down the stretch,

Currently, Erik Bedard may be one of the only viable starters left to obtain unless something pops up in the next few hours.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 10:08 AM

Jon Lester was the man as the Red Sox beat the White Sox, 10-2..

Nick Cafardo looks at a frustrating day on the trade market for the Red Sox.

The notebook has Mike Aviles happy with his trade to the Red Sox.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick looks at some players who have been busts this season.

In the Globe Magazine, Adrian Gonzalez was worth the wait. Charlie Pierce has the story.

Deal for Harden has been called off

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 31, 2011 01:02 AM

CHICAGO — Turns out the Red Sox are not getting Rich Harden after all. At least they haven't yet.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting via Twitter that Oakland GM Billy Beane told Harden that he is pitching on Tuesday for the A's.

"I'm here and staying here," Harden told reporters in Oakland tonight. "I'm happy to be part of this organization. I'm looking forward to starting Tuesday."

The AP is reporting that the trade was called off.

More updates on this as it becomes available. Obviously the teams have until tomorrow to work something out, if there is something to be worked out. There is no word on why the deal was called off.

If the Harden deal is indeed dead, the Sox could turn to Erik Bedard, Jason Vargas or perhaps Wandy Rodriguez.

UPDATE, 2:02 a.m.: The deal was killed by Harden's medical history. According to an MLB source, the Red Sox pulled the plug after reviewing Harden's records and coming to the conclusion he would not be able to get through the season.

Aviles 'excited' to join Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 11:50 PM

CHICAGO — On Friday, Mike Aviles complained about being in a backup role with the last-place Kansas City Royals, saying it wasn’t justified given his past accomplishments with the team.

A day later, he was traded to the Red Sox. But now he’s just fine with being a backup. Thrilled, actually.

“Definitely a good thing. I thank Kansas City for the opportunity and I’m excited to be here,” he said tonight the Red Sox beat the White Sox, 10-2.

Aviles, who was in Cleveland with the Royals, arrived in the third inning, pulled his new uniform with No. 3 on the back and played the bottom of the ninth inning at third base.

The 30-year-old has played second, third and shortstop. The righthanded hitting Aviles is hitting .222 this season but is at .309 with a .944 OPS in 59 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers. He is career .296 hitter against lefties.

Playing off the bench for the Red Sox, Aviles said, is not a problem.

“The situation here is completely different,” he said. “We’re in first place and we have an opportunity to win a world championship. It’s going to take more than 25 guys to do that. I’m more than happy to be one of those guys."

Sox manager Terry Francona said Aviles would be tried in the outfield. He has not played there since his days at Division II Concordia College in Bronxville, N.Y.

“I know I’m pretty athletic,” said Aviles, a native of Middletown, N.Y. “I think I can pick it up pretty quick.”

Red Sox vice president of player personnel and professional scouting Allard Baird was the general manager of the Royals when Aviles was drafted in 2003. Francona said the Red Sox have liked Aviles for some time because of his versatility, which includes a little speed and power.

With Jed Lowrie scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Pawtucket on Monday, the Red Sox would not seem to have a pressing need for a utility infielder. Francona claimed the trade does not reflect any uncertainty with Lowrie coming back.

“No," he said. "Jed's probably coming a little quicker than we thought. ... I just think this is a guy we've liked for a long time."

Aviles also has options remaining, surely another thing the Red Sox value as they want their roster to remain flexible.

Red Sox obtain Harden from Oakland

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 09:26 PM

CHICAGO — The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Red Sox are close to completing a trade for Oakland RHP Rich Harden, a talented starter with a long history of injury issues.

Lars Anderson, who was pulled from the Pawtucket game tonight, may be part of the deal.

More on this as it becomes available.

UPDATE, 9:47 p.m.: Nick Cafardo has confirmed that the Sox acquired Harden for Anderson and a player to be named later pending physicals. Harden is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in five starts since returning from a lat injury. He will be a free agent after the season.

More on this later on.

UPDATE, 10:47 p.m.: Terry Francona would not comment on the deal because it is not yet official. He was the bench coach in Oakland in 2003 and is familiar with Harden. Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young also worked when Harden when both were in Oakland.

It's a no-risk move for the Red Sox. Anderson is a middling prospect whose path to the majors was blocked by Adrian Gonzalez. Harden is far from a lock to help the team, but he should be an upgrade over the likes of Andrew Miller.

It would not be a surprise if the Red Sox continued to make moves tomorrow. They could use a lefthanded reliever and certainly a rotation upgrade would be welcomed.

Final: Red Sox 10, White Sox 2

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 07:18 PM

Game over: Red Sox 10, White Sox 2

The Sox snap an eight-game losing streak against the Sox behind Lester (11-4) and an offense that scored four in the fifth inning and five in the ninth. Gonzalez was 3 for 4 with a home run. Scutaro had three RBIs.

The Sox are two games up on the Yankees, who swept a doubleheader from Baltimore.

Top 9th: Red Sox 10, White Sox 2

Adrian Gonzalez (two-run homer) and Kevin Youkilis went back-to-back and Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in the fourth run as the Sox extend their lead.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 5, White Sox 2

Gordon Beckham homered to reduce the lead to three off Lester.

Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 5, White Sox 1

Reddick walked and scored from first on a single by Scutaro. He was running when the ball was hit and kept on going. Nice call by Tim Bogar.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 4, White Sox 1

Konerko homered off Lester in the seventh inning. He then walked Dunn with one out but slammed the door on the inning. Bard is stretching.

Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 4, White Sox 0

Status quo here as Lester works on a two-hitter. He is mystifying the White Sox.

Top 5th: Red Sox 4, White Sox 0

Carl Crawford used his legs to make things happen.. He singled, stole second and advanced to third on an overthrow by A.J. Pierzynski. He scored on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's double to right.

Josh Reddick reached on a bunt single and Marco Scutaro's sacrifice fly to right field scored Salty with the second run. Jacoby Ellsbury continued the rally with a single and stolen base. With runners at second and third, Dustin Pedroia lined to right scoring the third Sox run.

The White Sox walked Adrian Gonzalez intentionally with a runner at third and two outs, but Kevin Youkilis made them pay for that decision when he lined a single off shortstop Alexei Ramirez' glove knocking in the fourth run.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0

The Red Sox may have just lost out on another possible trade choice with the Denver Post reporting that Ubaldo Jimenez has been dealt to the Indians. Dodgers righty Hiroki Kuroda will not waive his no-trade clause.

Phil Humber is really dealing so far. He's retired six of the first seven batters he's faced. Only Marco Scutaro has reached with a walk. The White Sox have really pitched well in this series with Gavin Floyd pitching a beauty last night.

We're all keeping close tabs of the trade market.

Mike Aviles, just acquired from the Royals, had just made his way to the ballpark and should be available to Terry Francona. He'll wear No. 3.

Top 1st: Red Sox 1, White Sox 0

We're underway on a beautiful night in Chicago. The Sox went down in order in the first inning against WS starter Phillip Humber. Jon lester has taken the hill for the Sox.

Kuroda may stay out

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 06:51 PM

The Los Angeels Dodgers have tweeted that pitcher Hiroki Kuroda has told them he will likely not waive his no-trade clause and is expected to remain with the team.

Bad news for the Red Sox, who has Kuroda high on their list of possible pitchers to pursue.

Red Sox acquire Mike Aviles from Royals

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 03:14 PM

CHICAGO — According to the Royals, they have traded infielder Mike Aviles to the Red Sox for Yamaico Navarro and RHP Kendal Volz.

Aviles, 30, is a righthanded hitter who can play second, short and third. He is having a poor season offensively (.222 /.261/.395) but was decent last year (.304/.335/.413).

Aviles is hitting .309/.344/.600 in 55 at-bats against lefthanders this season. He is a career .296/.343/.464 hitter against lefties.

Navarro hit .216/.275/.351 in 16 games for the Sox. The 23-year-old is an athletic player the Sox seemed to be grooming as a backup. Volz, 23, has a 3.33 ERA in 30 games as a reliever for Class A Salem. He was their 9th round pick in the 2009 draft.

Aviles is a capable backup infielder who has a little speed. He will be active for tonight's game and wear No. 3. For the 2011 team, this is an upgrade on the bench.

UPDATE, 5:47 p.m.: Terry Francona spoke about the trade a little while ago.

"Kind of a guy I think our organization has kind of liked from afar for a while," the manager said. "When he came up, he was that guy that can really hit lefthanders. The ability to play second, short and third.

"Then he had the arm surgery that kind of slowed him down and derailed him for a while. But he can run, he can hit the ball out of he ballpark. How we would use him, I don't know. Again, some of it will depend on Jed (Lowrie) because Jed is not to far away. But he see,s excited to be here. We're happy to have him. At some point we'd like to get him in the outfield."

Aviles had Tommy John surgery on July 7, 2009, unusual for a position player. He missed the rest of the 2009 season but bounced back in 2010 and ws KC's regular second baseman. He was a backup this season and not as productive in that role.

Aviles is from Middletown, N.Y., and attended Division II Concordia College in Bronxville. As a senior in 2003, he hit .500 with 48 extra-base hits and 65 RBIs in 45 games and was named the Division II Player of the Year.

Francona said this trade does not reflect any uncertainty with Lowrie coming back.

"No," he said. "Jed's probably coming a little quicker than we thought. ... I just think this is a guy we've liked for a long time."

These stats from the Red Sox press release on the trade:

Aviles, 30, has played in 53 games with the Royals this season, with appearances at second base (20 games, 19 starts), third base (24 games, 22 starts) and shortstop (six games, two starts). The right-handed batter is hitting .357 (5-for-14) over his last four games and is 41-for-185 (.222) with 11 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 31 RBI, 14 runs, nine walks and 10 stolen bases overall with Kansas City in 2011, including posting a .309 clip (17-for-55) vs. left-handed pitchers. Aviles has also appeared in 35 games with the Royals Triple-A Omaha club this year, batting .307 (43-for-140) with eight doubles, two triples, nine home runs, 25 RBI and 21 runs, playing 34 of those contests at shortstop and one at second base. Selected by Kansas City in the seventh round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Aviles has a .286 career average (328-for-1,148) with 57 doubles, 11 triples, 24 home runs, 122 RBI, 155 runs, 51 walks and 33 stolen bases in 301 Major League games with the Royals over parts of the last four seasons (2008-11). He earned Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year honors and was named to the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star team in 2008 after leading all Major League rookies with a .325 average (136-for-419).

The 23-year-old Navarro has played in 16 games with the Red Sox since he was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on June 30, appearing at third base (11 games four starts), shortstop (three games, 2 starts) and left field (3 starts). He has gone 8-for-37 (.216) at the plate with two doubles, one home run, three RBI, six runs and three walks. The right-handed batter also hit .258 (33-for-128) with eight doubles, two triples, five home runs, 13 RBI, 25 runs and 17 walks in 34 games with the PawSox this year while appearing at six different positions, including nine games at third base, seven at shortstop, five at second base, eight in right field, three in left field and one in center field. Signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent on September 25, 2005, Navarro made his big league debut with Boston last August and has hit .177 (14-for-79) in 36 career Major League games.

Volz, 23, is 2-3 with two saves and a 3.33 ERA (19 ER/51.1 IP) with 56 strikeouts and 12 walks in 31 appearances this season, all in relief for High-A Salem. He ranks third among Carolina League relievers with a ratio of 9.82 strikeouts per 9.0 innings and fourth with 21 games finished. Selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Volz is 8-8 with two saves and a 3.60 ERA (67 ER/167.2 IP) with 150 strikeouts compared to 26 walks in 57 career minor league appearances, including 24 starts.

Game 105: Red Sox at White Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 02:54 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (64-40)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Crawford LF
Saltalamacchia C
Reddick RF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (10-4, 3.23)

WHITE SOX (52-52)
Pierre LF
Ramirez SS
Konerko 1B
Dunn DH
Quentin RF
Pierzynski C
Rios CF
Beckham 2B
Morel 3B

Pitching: RHP Philip Humber (8-6, 3.27)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Red Sox have lost seven straight against the White Sox, their longest streak since losing eight straight against them in 1964. They have dropped 13 of 15 against their Chicago cousins. ... Lester is 2-3, 5.94 in six career starts against Chicago. He had a poor game against them on May 30, allowing seven runs on eight hits and four walks over 5.2 innings. ... Humber has faced the Red Sox once in his career, that coming on May 31. He allowed four runs on nine hits over 7.2 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. ... Saltalamacchia has a career-best seven-game hit streak going. He is 10 for 29 with three homers and eight RBIs in the streak. ... Reddick is 7 of his last 31 (.226) with three RBIs.

Stat of the Day: Gonzalez may have led the American League to the Home Run Derby title. But he hasn't hit one for the Red Sox since July 7. He has gone 69 at-bats without a homer, the longest drought on the team.

Song of the Day: "Chicago Seemed Tired Last Night" by The Hold Steady.

Harden, Bedard, Kuroda still atop Boston's list

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 02:13 PM

CHICAGO - Oakland righty Rich Harden is very much available in a deal according to a major league source, but the A's don't consider Harden a "cheap fix" for someone.

The Red Sox have a lot of interest in Harden and have engaged in talks with the A's for oft-injured righty. This is a situation to keep an eye on because Harden seems to fit what the Red sox want. The A's want a fair return.

White Sox lefty Matt Thornton could be a bullpen piece the Red Sox may have some interest in. Their lefty relief situation currently isn't the best with an erratic Franklin Morales and Randy Williams. Thornton makes $5.5 million per for the next two years and he's 34.

It seems unlikely now that White Sox rightfielder Carlos Quentin is moving especially now with the White Sox in the race. The Red Sox had interest in Quentin, but the price tag is huge and the Red Sox know they need to devote their resources toward pitching.

The Red Sox like Oakland outfielder Josh Willingham's bat, but don't think he can play right field at Fenway.

As we reported earlier, the Red Sox are still involved in the Erik Bedard talks. The Yankees are in it as well.

Yes, the Yankees and Red Sox are competing for the same players - Ubaldo Jimenez, Hiroki Kuroda, Thornton, and Bedard.

Trade Talk: The latest Red Sox rumors

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 12:36 PM

CHICAGO — Here are the latest rumors:

• Bob Nightengale of USA Today has the Red Sox "pushing hard" for White RF Carlos Quentin and LHP Matt Thornton.

Quentin is entering his last year of arbitration eligibility and is making $5.05 million this year. Thornton is on the books for $5.5 million in 2012, $5.5 million in 2013 and $6 million (or a $1 million buyout) in 2014.

The White Sox knew what they were doing when they dumped Bobby Jenks. Why are they suddenly so hot to deal Thornton? Red flag, there.

• Buster Olney has the Red Sox discussing a deal with Oakland for RHP Rich Harden and OF Josh Willingham. The Sox have liked Willingham for a while.

• Now that Seattle has traded Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Tigers for a package of prospects that includes Maine native Charlie Furbush, will the Mariners empty out the rest of the roster and deal Erik Bedard or Jason Vargas, too?

Red Sox juggling trade options

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 11:45 AM

CHICAGO - The Red Sox have not closed the door on Erik Bedard. They still covet Dodgers righty Hiroki Kuroda and are in the hunt for Ubaldo Jiminez.

Anyone else? Probably. Jeremy Guthrie has to appeal them as well.

The Sox were weighing those options and likely others this morning. Bedard didn't pitch well, but one small snapshot is usually not the way teams do business. Bedard's bad return to the mound in which he lasted only 1.1 innings probably helps teams like the Red Sox and Yankees acquire him for a reasonable price.

"He had command issues," said one scout. "Whether that's due to rustiness, his knee, who knows? What you have to decide is can this guy improve the next time out and help you. I've seen him three times this year and he's pitched well for me every time. Last night he didn't."

Bedard threw at 94 mph and broke off some sharp curves, a good sign. He just didn't have his location. His knee didn't seem to be a problem. He may be the cheapest guy there is to acquire.

Kuroda remains a top priority. The Sox would have to give up a major prospect and mabye a secondary one to obtain him. And then there's the issue of whether Kuroda would come to Boston. His family is very comfortable in LA.

The Sox are competing with the Yankees and Blue Jays at least for Jiminez. Toronto wants him as their No. 1 starter.

The White Sox continue to try to get lefty reliever Matt Thornton together with the Red Sox. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that the White Sox have discussed a Thornton-Carlos Quentin deal with Boston but would have to get major prospects back.

The Red Sox do need a steady lefty reliever and Thornton may appeal to them.

But it seems they want their resources to be earmarked toward a starting pitcher.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 10:00 AM

The White Sox beat the Red Sox again as Tim Wakefield made one mistake but it was a costly one.

Nick Cafardo has the Red Sox juggling their rotation with option internal and external to consider.

The notebook has Clay Buchholz seeing another specialist for his troublesome back injury.

The Cape Cod League All-Star Game was at Fenway Park last night and Medford's Ben Waldrip is one slugger on the rise. Nicole Auerbach has that story.

At least it was quick

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 30, 2011 12:10 AM

CHICAGO — The Sox played their quickest game of the year tonight, losing 3-1 to the White Sox in two hours and 10 minutes.

It might have been a memorable night for Tim Wakefield, but one of his knuckeballs was a little high in the seventh inning and A.J. Pierzynski crushed it for a two-run homer. Instead of winning his 200th game, Wakefield suffered his 176th loss.

"That was the best knuckleball I've seen him throw since I've watched him. And I've faced him a bunch," Pierzynski said.

The Red Sox played without first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was scratched from the lineup an hour before the game because of a stiff neck. He played through the problem on Thursday, going 2 for 4. But he could not turn his head without pain today.

“I can’t turn my neck. I had to hit open and adjust my stance,” Gonzalez said. “I had it last year. It’s just something that I have to find out what causes it. … I wake up one day and I can’t move it. It might just be wear, stress from swinging or throwing.”

Gonzalez received treatment during the game and was on deck as a pinch hitter when the game ended. He hopes to play tomorrow night.

Gonzalez missed a game on July 6 against Toronto. The Red Sox said it was for a stiff neck. Turns out that was not the case.

“It wasn’t the neck. I don’t know why they said it was the neck," he said.

Dustin Pedroia was 0 for 4, his hit streak ending at 25 games.

“It’s tough. The pitchers we face have great stuff, so day in and day out, that’s difficult to do," he said of the streak. "It was cool. It was good that I was that consistent."

The one bit of good news? The Yankees lost, so the Sox remain 2.5 games up.

So much for Erik Bedard?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 10:54 PM

If the Red Sox trade for Erik Bedard, it'll be a leap of faith.

The Seattle lefty returned from the disabled list tonight and was rocked by Tampa Bay, giving up five runs on three hits and four walks in 1.1 innings. He threw 57 pitches, only 26 for strikes.

Bedard had been out with a strained left knee.

Hiroki Kuroda, come on down? The clock is ticking.

Final: White Sox 3, Red Sox 1

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 08:09 PM

Game over

Sergio Santos retired the Sox in the ninth as Tim Wakefield was denied his 200th win despite pitching a solid game. Both Sox teams managed only three hits, but the White Sox made there's count. A two-run homer by A.J. Pierzynski against Wakefield in the 7th inning broke a 1-1 tied.

The Sox could not muster anything against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd.

The game was played in an efficient 2:10 before 27,513 at U.S. Cellular.

Top of the 8th: White Sox 3, Red Sox 1

A.J. Pierzynski slugged a two-run homer in the seventh inning off Wakefield, who is done for the night. No 200th win tonight. Aceves now pitching for the Sox.

Floyd allowed one run over seven innings before Matt Thornton went the seventh and set down the Sox in order.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 1, White Sox 1

Paul Konerko's sacrifice fly tied it in the bottom of the inning. Juan Pierre, who had struck out twice against Tim Wakefield, bunted his way on. After Omar Vizquel sacrificed him to second, a wild pitch advanced the runner to third from where Konerko drove in the run.

Top 6th: Red Sox 1, White Sox 0

The Red Sox had an excellent chance to add to their lead, but Kevin Youkilis struck out with the bases loaded. After one out, Marco Scutaro reached on an infield single, stole second. After Jacoby Ellsbury walked and Pedroia forced Ellsbury at second, Ortiz walked to load them up.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 1, White Sox 0

Wakefield retired eight straight before hitting Gordon Beckham with a pitch. But he struck out Juan Pierre for the final out.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 1, White Sox 0

Jarrod Saltalamacchia stroked his ninth homer to right field on a 3-2 count from Gavin Floyd. The ball went 400 feet. Drew Sutton reached on a basehit when shortstop Alexei Ramirez and CF Alejandro De Aza converged and neither caught it in short.

Omar Vizquel started a nice double play at third when he fielded Scutaro's short hope. Vizquel can still play. Would be a good pickup for the Red Sox.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0

Gavin Floyd has set down the first six batters he's faced.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0

Tim Wakefield, going after win 200, retired the side in the first. His .368 winning percentage vs. the White Sox is the second lowest against any major league team. Wakefield is 7-12 with a 4.97 ERA vs. the White Sox and 4-7 with a 4.83 ERA here in Chicago.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0

Gavin Floyd sets the Red Sox down in order in revamped Sox lineup minus Adrian Gonzalez (stiff neck). Ortiz, batting third, popped out.

Gonzalez (stiff neck) scratched from lineup

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 07:12 PM

CHICAGO — Adrian Gonzalez is out of the lineup because of a stiff neck. The new lineup:

Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 1B
Reddick RF
Crawford LF
Saltalamacchia C
Sutton 3B
Scutaro SS

Pre-game notes: Buchholz to see specialist; Lowrie ready for rehab

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 05:19 PM

CHICAGO — Terry Francona just met with the media. Here are the highlights:

• Clay Buchholz, who is not with the team this weekend, will be examined by back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles Monday. Globe colleague Nick Cafardo broke that news earlier today.

Francona said the team is hoping that Watkins will be able to reassure Buchholz that his injury is not structural. But given the way this has been proceeding, that seems unlikely. Watkins, one of the nation's best doctors at treating herniated discs, was Randy Johnson's surgeon.

• Jed Lowrie will start a rehab assignment with Triple A Pawtucket Monday. Right now, he is scheduled to play at least four games there.

• Bobby Jenks had a cortisone shot in his back yesterday and is feeling much better. He did not accompany the team here. The Chicago media must be disappointed.

Game 104: Red Sox at White Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 04:00 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (64-39)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Crawford LF
Reddick RF
Saltalamacchia C
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP Tim Wakefield (6-3, 5.15)

WHITE SOX (51-52)
Pierre LF
Vizquel 3B
Konerko 1B
Dunn DH
Quentin RF
Pierzynski C
Ramirez SS
De Aza CF
Beckham 2B

Pitching: RHP Gavin Floyd (8-9, 4.11)

Game time: 8:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI

Notes: The Sox are like businessmen this weekend, making a quick trip here for three days before returning home ... Wakefield will be seeking his 200th career win against a team he has not done well against. Wakefield is 7-12, 4.97 in 33 career appearances against Chicago and 4-7. 4.83 in 18 games in the Windy City. He allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings against the White Sox in Boston June 1 ... Floyd is 5-0, 3.83 in seven career appearances against the Sox. He beat them June 1, allowing four runs over 6 2/3 innings ... Pedroia takes a 25-game hit streak into the game ... Ellsbury has a 10-game hit streak ... The White Sox are 23-26 at home.

Stat of the Day: The Sox are 5-13 against the White Sox the last three seasons and have lost six straight games in the series dating to last season. Chicago swept a three-game series at Fenway Park earlier this season.

Song of the Day: "Sweet Home Chicago" by The Blues Brothers.

Red Sox need quick evaluation of Bedard

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 02:24 PM

CHICAGO - The Red Sox will have to make a quick evaluation of Seattle lefthander Erik Bedard based on one start tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays.

This will be Bedard's first start since coming off the disabled list with a knee problem. How will they know if Bedard is healthy?

"If he's throwing that electric curveball, we'll know he's all right," said one Red Sox official.

The Red Sox are very much in on Hiroki Kuroda and are monitoring Ubaldo Jimenez, but the price there might be prohibitive.

Starting pitching has probably become Boston's No. 1 priority now that Clay Buchholz had a setback. Buchholz is scheduled to get checked out Monday in Los Angeles by back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins.


Trade Talk: Kuroda wants to stay in LA

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 02:14 PM

CHICAGO — Hiroki Kuroda would be a nice fit for a number of American League teams seeking a a starting pitcher, the Red Sox and Yankees among them.

But according to sources familiar with his thinking, Kuroda has little desire to leave the Dodgers and would invoke his no-trade clause to block deals to the East Coast. There have been similar reports by other media outlets.

Quite often, these issues vanish when the proper financial incentive is applied. But in this case, Kuroda is not using his leverage to get a few more dollars. He legitimately does not want to leave southern California.

Kuroda, 36, is "set in his ways" according to a source and is leery about playing somewhere else even for only three months.

Could the Red Sox talk him off that stance? The team has several Japanese-speaking employees including a trainer and a massage therapist who travel with the team. Kuroda would have a comfortable environment and a chance to pitch in the postseason again before becoming a free agent.

Pitching matchups for the White Sox series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 10:00 AM

Tonight: RHP Tim Wakefield (6-3, 5.15) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (8-9, 4.11), 8:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Saturday: LHP Jon Lester (10-4, 3.23) vs. RHP Philip Humber (8-6, 3.27), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Sunday: LHP Andrew Miller (4-1, 5.45) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (8-5, 3.22), 2:10 p.m., NESN, TBS

Red Sox extend Tickets for Troops for two games

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 09:45 AM

This release from the Red Sox:

The Boston Red Sox announced that the Tickets for Troops program, which gives fans the opportunity to donate their tickets to members of the United States Armed Forces for a select game, will be extended to the 1:05 p.m. August 16 make-up game against the Tampa Bay Rays and the 1:05 p.m. September 19 make-up game against the Baltimore Orioles. Both games were rescheduled because of rain.

For the Tickets for Troops initiative, the Club works with entities within the Department of Defense to distribute tickets to members of the United States Armed Forces covering all branches serving in military installations throughout New England, as well as the Red Sox Foundation/MGH Home Base Program, to distribute tickets to veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan with brain injuries and combat stress disorders, and their families.

Fans with tickets to the two make-up games on August 16 and September 19 who are interested in donating their tickets can do so by contacting the Red Sox ticket office at (877) RED-SOX9, or at the Fenway Park box office.

Abraham on Thursday's loss

Posted by Ed Giuliotti July 29, 2011 07:38 AM

The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham breaks down the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Royals on Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park.

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Greetings from Gate B-35

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 07:10 AM

Good morning from Logan, where we are waiting on a flight to Chicago. Love the free wi-fi here. All you have to do is watch a video advertising a car you could never afford.

By the time Sunday rolls around and the Red Sox leave Chicago, they could look like a different team. It seems unlikely that Theo Epstein will let the trade deadline pass without doing something to improve the team. His history suggests at least a trade or two.

The Sox have an offense that is on pace to score 900 runs this season. If the pitching staff can be improved, even just a little, the Sox will be a bear come October.

The question now is whether we will see a little change or a lot. In theory, the Sox could use a starter, a lefty reliever and a right-handed hitting outfielder. In practice, they could stand pat with a terrific team and see what upgrades can be made in August. That process is a little more tricky because players just clear waivers first, however.

For baseball writers, these are hectic times because you want to stay on top of the story. Folks are always asking what we know. All I can say is that if we knew anything for sure, we would write it.

Check back later for the lineups and any news on the trade front. Oh, and make sure you check out the paper or the site for all the Patriots news today. My pals Shalise Manza Young, Greg Bedard and Monique Walker have it covered.

OK, the flight is boarding. Catch you later.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 29, 2011 07:02 AM

Carl Crawford came close, but not close enough as the Red Sox fell to the Royals, 4-3.

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak with a home run that delighted the crowd. Michael Vega has the story.

The notebook has the Sox seeking a starter as Clay Buchholz remains in limbo.

The minor league notebook has the interesting tale of Chris Martin, a Class A pitcher who took an unusual route to pro ball. No, he's not the guy from Coldplay.

Red Sox all over the map seeking trades

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 10:47 PM

According to a couple of opposing general managers the Red Sox have been been "all over the map" concerning what they're trying to obtain before Sunday's trade deadline.

"We've heard they're trying to to get a lefty reliever, a righthanded hitter or a fourth or fifth starter," said one American League executive. "The Red Sox will get someone. They always do."

On the lefty reliever front, we've reported for the last week about the saturation of White Sox scouts watching the Red Sox' major league team and farm system. The White Sox would love to get the Red Sox interested in lefty reliever Matt Thornton, who has two more years reaming on his contract at $5.5 million per year.

The Red sox will be scouting Seattle lefty Erik Bedard tomorrow night, as he returns from the disabled list from a knee injury. The Mariners are also offering Jason Vargas as a possible fifth starter solution to the Red Sox.

The Red Sox and the Yankees remain in the hunt for Hiroki Kuroda. The Japanese righty would have to waive a no-trade clause to leave the Dodgers. Oakland's Rich Harden also remains on Boston's radar.

The Braves would move veteran Derek Lowe for a hitter, but it's not anticipated that the Red Sox would want Lowe back. Nor do the Red Sox seem inclined to take a shot with Chicago's Carlos Zambrano. San Diego righty Aaron Harang is also a possibility as is Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie.

Veteran Kevin Millwood remains in Pawtucket, but the Red Sox don't seem to view him as a solution.

Wrapping it up from Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 07:21 PM

Weird game today for Josh Beckett. He was brilliant outside of the fourth inning, giving up two hits and one walk while striking out eight. But that fourth inning was a disaster. He threw 38 pitches, gave up four runs on four hits and walked two.

With the Sox up 2-0, Beckett walked Alex Gordon and Mitch Maier before Billy Butler crushed a home run to center field. Mike Moustakas added an RBI double later in the inning.

“It’s pretty [expletive] frustrating when your team scores two runs and you walk the first two guys,” he said. “I was kind of all over the place," Beckett said. "It’s bad to walk those two guys. It’s horrible.”

The end of the game was compelling. Carl Crawford came up with a runner on and one out and hit a ball to deep right field that looked sure to go out. The Red Sox came out of their dugout ready to celebrate, but Jeff Francoeur tracked the ball down in the deepest part of the ballpark.

Manager Terry Francona was among those convinced Crawford had won the game.

“I was getting up to celebrate. I thought he got it plenty and the wind knocked it down,” he said. “He took a good swing, went down and got it. I was all ready to be excited. It kind of hurts.”

Said Crawford: “Normally when I hit it like that … off the bat I felt I hit it good enough,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if it died or I didn’t hit as hard as I thought I did or what. I thought I hit it good.

"You always hope something good is going to happen and try and stay positive. You hope for the best.”

The Sox are off to Chicago now and a brief three-game road trip. My flight is tomorrow morning and I'll catch you from there.

Thanks to everybody for reading today.

Francona salutes fans at Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 05:50 PM

There was a neat moment at Fenway Park today in the eighth inning.

Dustin Pedroia was 0 for 2 with a walk as he came to the plate and the fans knew this would likely be his last chance to extend a hitting streak that had reached 24 games.

As Pedroia stepped in, the crowd of 37,822 cheered and only got louder as the at-bat against Greg Holland went on. They were rewarded when Pedroia slugged a 3-2 pitch into the Monster Seats.

Francona was focused on the game. But he appreciated what went on.

"I do think our fans are pretty special. They do react to things like that. It's part of what makes Fenway so great," he said. "We don't need to have President races or mustard racing ketchup. Our fans like our baseball. I actually really think that's cool. Nothing against mustard."

Final: Royals 4, Red Sox 3

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 01:27 PM
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Game over: Royals 4, Red Sox 3

Reddick grounded out. Sutton then reached on a broken-bat infield single. Crawford pinch hit for Varitek and flied out deep to left, the ball caught on the warning track by Francoeur. The Sox were out of their dugout hoping for a walk-off home run. It just missed.

Navarro had the last chance and struck out.

The Sox finish their homestand 5-2 and now head to Chicago for a three-game road trip. They are 2.5 games up on the Yankees.

The game was played before 37,822 at Fenway Park in 2:51. Hochevar (7-8) was the winner and Beckett (9-4) the loser. Soria has 19 saves.

Middle of the 9th: Royals 4, Red Sox 3

Albers, who has thrown 13.1 consecutive scoreless innings, worked around singles by Getz and Escobar. He also walked Gordon.

The Sox have Reddick, Sutton and Varitek set to face Soria. This is it.

Top of the 9th: Royals 4, Red Sox 3

The crowd stopped singing "Sweet Caroline" when Pedroia walked to the plate to cheer him. One can only imagine how confused the Pink Hats were. He worked the count full and drove a neck-high 3-2 fastball into the Monster Seats.

His streak is at 25 games and Pedroia has 19 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs during it. The Sox did nothing else in the inning, however. Closer Joakin Soria warming up for KC.

Middle of the 8th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Morales walked Francoeur but that was it. Hochevar is done after seven strong innings. Greg Holland pitching for Kansas City. Pedroia will lead off with his streak on the line.

Meanwhile, news has come out that former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu is dead at the age of 42. Reports suggest he may have taken his own life.

Top of the 8th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Sutton had a leadoff single. But that was it. Varitek struck out, Navarro flied to left and Ellsbury grounded into a force. Six outs left to do something. Beckett is done as Morales takes the mound.

Middle of the 7th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Gets singled, took second on a passed ball and was bunted to third by Escobar. But Beckett struck out Gordon and Maier to keep the deficit at two runs.

Top of the 7th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

1-2-3 inning for Hochevar, who has retired 11 of the last 12 hitters he has faced and not allowed a hit since the third inning. Great job by the righthander so far.

Middle of the 6th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Beckett walked Moustakas with two outs then struck out Treanor. He has retired eight of the last nine batters he has faced. Sox have Youk, Papi and Reddick coming up.

Top of the 6th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Hochevar walked Pedroia with two outs. That extended his steak of reaching base safely to 37 games. Pedroia then stole second but was stranded as Gonzalez grounded out.

Middle of the 5th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

1-2-3 inning for Beckett, who was aided by Youkilis making a nice play on a hot shot by Butler. Beckett has thrown 80 pitches so far.

Top of the 5th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

1-2-3 inning for Hochevar.

Middle of the 4th: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

So much for Beckett cruising along. He walked Gordon and Maier after getting ahead of both of them. Butler then clobbered a fastball into the blacked-out seats in center.

With one out, Francoeur lined to left. Drew Sutton had the ball in is glove and dropped it. It was ruled a double by the official scorer. Moustakas followed with an RBI double to right. Treanor then singled before Beckett got the final two outs, leaving two runners stranded.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 2, Royals 0

Hey, run support for Josh Beckett. What a concept. Varitek singled and went to third on a double by Navarro (who, by the way, has a lot of physical ability). Ellsbury dropped a two-run single into right field to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.

Pedroia popped up but Gonzalez singled to right, sending Ellsbury to third. Francoeur's strong throw hit him, otherwise he was out. The Sox had two chances with runners on first and third and the right guys up. But Hochever struck out Youkilis and Ortiz.

Middle of the 3rd: Royals 0, Red Sox 0

Beckett is being Beckett. He struck out Treanor looking, got Getz on a grounder back to the mound and Escobar swinging at a curveball.

Josh's last 18 innings: 9 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 17 strikeouts. Doesn't get much better than that. At the moment, his ERA is 2.02.

Top of the 3rd: Royals 0, Red Sox 0

Quick inning for Hochevar. Ortiz grounded to first, Reddick flied to enter and Sutton grounded to second.

Middle of the 2nd: Royals 0, Red Sox 0

Hosmer (8 of 16 in this series) singled. What a sweet swing that kid has. Then Francoeur grounded into a double play (Navarro was sort of near the bag) and Moustakas struck out swinging at a curveball in the dirt.

When you hear a pitcher talking about "burying" a pitch, that's what they mean. Beckett was 2-and-2 and threw a pitch that Moustakas had no chance of hitting well.

Top of the 2nd: Royals 0, Red Sox 0

Ellsbury and Pedroia grounded to second. Gonzo singled to right before Youkilis flied out to center.

Middle of the 1st: Royals 0, Red Sox 0

Beckett retired the side in order. The Royals have a solid offense, don't they? They're seventh in the AL in OPS at .722, above the league average of .720. As players like Hosmer (21), Moustakas (22), Butler (25) and Escobar (24) get older and their other prospects develop the Royal will be dangerous. They really need pitching, however.

Pedroia up second as he looks to continue his streak.

Pre-game: Good afternoon from sun-splashed Fenway Park. It'll be Josh Beckett against Luke Hochevar as the Sox finish up their homestand with a game against the Royals.

If you're at work or can't catch the game on NESN, hang out here and we'll have updates and hopefully a little insight.

Of course, we welcome your comments.

Drew reveals extent of shoulder injury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 12:04 PM

Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew revealed this morning that the left shoulder injury that landed him on the disabled list earlier this week has been plaguing him for much of the season and required a series of injections. It's irritation in his rotator cuff.

The latest shot came a week ago.

"I'm trying to let that take effect. In the meantime I'm doing some strengthening work," Drew said.

Drew said the injury first bothered him in spring training and grew progressively worse.

"I've felt it for a while. It's one of those things that slowly, gradually taking strength out of that shoulder which has caused some bad habits," he said.

Drew has hit .219/.317/.305 this season, a slump that led to the Red Sox replacing him with Josh Reddick.

"Josh has played great, man. He's probably one of the most improved young players that I have seen," Drew said. "He went from one extreme to another. It's been fun to watch."

Drew is confident that he can return this season.

"Oh, yeah. I think so. I want to get to a point, strength-wise, when I go back out and start swinging the bat, I can kind of control that irritation hopefully and not have too much of an impact," he said. "Like I said, it created some bad habits at the plate."

Drew said he had no set timetable.

As concern grows for Buchholz, Red Sox explore the market for starters

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 11:23 AM

WEEI.com, citing a "source familiar with the matter", reported earlier this morning that the Red Sox are very concerned that Clay Buchholz's sore lower back is the result of a more serious injury than a muscle strain.

Terry Francona did not directly confirm that. But his words clearly indicate that Buchholz is is dealing with an injury that could could knock him out for the rest of the season.

"Oh, boy. The best way I think I can answer that is that it’s not been the simplest muscle strain. That’s pretty obvious," Francona said. "I meant what I said [Wednesday]. I don’t know if I meant what I said [Tuesday]."

Buchholz threw off a mound on Monday and looked good according to all observers. But instead of repeating that step on Wednesday, he was shut down. The Sox have said Buchholz will see another specialist later this week but have provided no details beyond that.

“It’s not been the simplest muscle strain I’ve ever seen. We are serious. We want to have everything answered before we turn him loose. Because if we turn him loose, we don’t want to turn back," Francona said. "At the same time, we want to take care of him. I still feel that and I think our medical people do, too."

Is Francona concerned that Buchholz will not pitch again this season?

“Not right now,” he said. “I think we want to get him looked at. What I said is what I said.”

Buchholz has not pitched since June 16. In recent weeks, he has said repeatedly that he does not want to pitch in a game until he is 100-percent pain free.

With the trade deadline approaching, the Red Sox may be compelled to obtain a starter given the state of their rotation. Buchholz is in limbo, Andrew Miller has so far been unreliable against American League teams and Tim Wakefield has a 7.06 ERA in his last five starts.

The Red Sox will closely monitor Seattle lefthander Erik Bedard when he makes his start on Friday. The Mariners have been scouting Red Sox prospects in Portland and Pawtucket in preparation for a possible trade.

The team also has been in contact with the Dodgers regarding Hiroki Kuroda. The big prize would be Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, but that would likely require a significant price in terms of prospects.

Other starters reportedly available include Rich Harden, Jeremy Guthrie and Aaron Harang.

Crawford out with elbow strain

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 11:10 AM

Carl Crawford said this morning that he has a strained left elbow and had a cortisone injection on Tuesday night. He hopes to return to the lineup tomorrow night in Chicago.

"It has been bothering me for a little while, more when I throw than with my swing. But a little there, too," he said. "Hopefully this will clear it up."

Crawford was on the disabled list from June 17 to July 18 with a strained left hamstring. He is hitting .248 with six home runs and 36 RBIs in his first season with the Red Sox,

Game 103: Royals at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 10:00 AM

It's the final game of the homestand and here are the lineups:

RED SOX (64-38)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Reddick RF
Sutton LF
Varitek C
Navarro SS

Pitching: RHP Josh Beckett (9-3, 2.07)

ROYALS (43-61)
Gordon LF
Maier CF
Butler DH
Hosmer 1B
Francoeur RF
Moustakas 3B
Treanor C
Getz 2B
Escobar SS

Pitching: RHP Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.29)

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: Beckett has allowed one run on eight hits over 15 innings in his last two starts with one walk and 13 strikeouts. He is 6-0, 2.26 in eight career starts against the Royals. ... Hochevar is 1-3, 7.94 in four career starts against the Sox. ... The Sox have won 6 of 7, 15 of 18 and are 18-4 in July. ... The Sox scored 48 runs in the first six games of the homestand. ... Pedroia carries a 24-game hit streak into the game.He is hitting .406 (43 of 106) in the streak with 18 extra-base hits, 19 RBIs, 26 runs scores amd 11 walks. ... Ellsbury has a nine-game streak. ... Ellsbury's 60 RBIs match his previous career high. ... Ortiz has nine RBIs in the last two games.

Stat of the Day: Ellsbury has eight home runs this month. Since 1946, only one Red Sox center fielder has had more in one month. That came in May 2000 when Carl Everett had nine. However Ellsbury believes that there once were dinosaurs and that man did land on the moon.

Song of the Day: "Wrecking Ball" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 09:00 AM

David Ortiz's historic grand slam helped the Red Sox pound the Royals.

John Lackey, helped by the run support, won again. Nicole Auerbach has the story/

The notebook has Clay Buchholz's return being delayed again.

Ortiz gets hot, makes some history

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 28, 2011 12:28 AM

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That David Ortiz has been in a slump for several weeks wasn't too noticeable because the Red Sox have been scoring runs in bunches and piling up victories.

But starting on June 21, Ortiz had gone about seven weeks hitting just over .200 with two home runs and only an occasional RBI. It didn't help that he lost at-bats during that nine-game interleague road trip. Then came the All-Star break and his three-game suspension.

“We have a lot of ups and down during the season,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been having, especially this past month, a lot of issues with playing time. … To tell you the truth, I’m not ready for that. I’m ready to play every day but there’s not too much you can do about that. I just try to use my head.”

With consistent at-bats come results. Ortiz had three doubles and five RBIs on Tuesday and tonight hit a grand slam as the Sox pounded the Royals 12-5

The slam was a majestic shot to right field in the fourth inning. Bruce Chen left a 3-1 slider over the plate and Ortiz destroyed it.

The four RBIs gave him 1,000 as a member of the Red Sox. The only other members of that select group are Carl Yastrzemski (1,844), Ted Williams (1,839), Jim Rice (1,451), Dwight Evans (1,346) and Bobby Doerr (1,247). All but Evans are Hall of Famers and have had their numbers retired.

“It’s a compliment,” Ortiz said. “It’s something you don’t think about right now when you’re playing. But when you’re done, you kind of sit down and say, ‘Well, I did OK.’ ”

He’s done better than that. Ortiz has 369 home runs in his career, tying Ralph Kiner for 70th place in history. He also has hit at least 20 runs for 10 years in a row.

“It’s unbelievable what he has done,” Adrian Gonzalez said.

As to other stuff:

• Ignore his bad start if you are able and know that John Lackey is 4-0, 2.52 in his last four starts. It's not always pretty, but he has been effective. Right now, he's the third-best starter in the rotation.

Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in 24 straight games, which is a great accomplishment. More impressive, perhaps, is that Pedroia has reached base safely in 36 consecutive games with a hit in 35 of those contests. He is hitting .391 during that stretch.

The longest streak in the majors this season is 30 games by Andre Ethier of the Dodgers. He's one of Pedroia's best friends and a former college teammate. One can only imagine the verbal abuse poor Ethier will take if Pedroia gets to 31 games.

Jacoby Ellsbury has eight of his 17 home runs sine July 6. Has there been a better hitter in the game this month?

• The Sox have won 6 of 7 and 15 of 18 and now lead the Yankees by three games. It's amazing to think they are 62-28 in their last 90 games.

Come back tomorrow for the day game. Thanks to Nicole for her hard work on the blog today. She has been a huge assistance with the Sox coverage this summer.

Final: Red Sox 12, Royals 5

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 27, 2011 07:05 PM

End of game: Red Sox 12, Royals 5

Wheeler finished it off. Moustakas popped out to third. Pena flied out to center. Then Getz and Escobar made it interesting with a pair of singles. Gordon struck out to end the game.

And that's it from this one. Ortiz got RBI No. 1000 as a member of the Red Sox, and Pedroia extended his hit streak to 24 games. Other than that, not a bad outing from Lackey, who picked up his ninth win of the season. Don't need to be perfect with an offense like this.

End of 8th: Red Sox 12, Royals 5

Ellsbury led off with a single, and advanced to second on an errant throw. He moved to third on Pedroia's groundout to second and scored on Gonzalez's single. Gonzalez was thrown out trying to stretch that into a double. Reddick struck out for the third out.

Middle of 8th: Red Sox 11, Royals 5

Gordon doubled, and Cabrera struck out. The Red Sox pulled Williams and put in Dan Wheeler to face Butler. Butler struck out. Hosmer then singled, which scored Gordon. Jeff Francoeur flied out to Reddick in right for the final out.

End of 7th: Red Sox 11, Royals 4

Saltalamacchia singled to right to lead off the inning but that was it. Scutaro popped out, McDonald flied out to left, and Navarro struck out.

Middle of 7th: Red Sox 11, Royals 4

Sox defensive changes: Josh Reddick to play right field, McDonald to move to left, and Navarro to play third.

Francouer doubled off the Monster, and Moustakas walked. But Williams escaped without any damage after getting Pena to pop out to second and Getz and Escobar to fly out to left.

End of 6th: Red Sox 11, Royals 4

Ellsbury led off with a double. He moved to third on Pedroia's single and scored on Gonzalez's subsequent single. Youkilis hit into a 5-4 double play, as Pedroia was doubled off second. Ortiz grounded out to end the inning.

Middle of 6th: Red Sox 10, Royals 4

Escobar flied out to right. Gordon flied out to center. After Cabrera doubled and Butler singled, Lackey was pulled. Randy Williams entered the game and got Hosmer to ground out to end the inning.

End of 5th: Red Sox 10, Royals 4

Nathan Adcock in to pitch for the Royals. He got the bottom of the lineup to go down 1-2-3. Scutaro and Navarro grounded out, and McDonald flied out to right.

Middle of 5th: Red Sox 10, Royals 4

Cabrera flied out to right. Butler hit a solo shot over the Monster. Hosmer struck out. Francouer doubled to left. Moustakas walked, and Pena singled to load the bases. Getz popped out to Salty behind the plate for the third out.

End of 4th: Red Sox 10, Royals 3

McDonald led off with a double down the left field line, and Navarro drove him in with a single to left. Ellsbury grounded into a fielder's choice, erasing Navarro from the bases. Pedroia singled off the Monster, and Ellsbury rounded third on the play. He was thrown out at third after considering trying to score.

Gonzalez singled, and Youkilis singled. Bases loaded, two outs for Ortiz. He blasted a 3-1 pitch over the right field wall for a grand slam. Salty struck out to end the inning.

Middle of 4th: Red Sox 5, Royals 3

Scutaro made a spectacular play to throw out Getz for out No.1. Escobar struck out. Gordon flied out.

End of 3rd: Red Sox 5, Royals 3

1-2-3 inning for Chen. The game has calmed down somewhat.

Middle of 3rd: Red Sox 5, Royals 3

1-2-3 inning for Lackey. Two fly outs and a groundout.

End of 2nd: Red Sox 5, Royals 3

Scutaro walked to lead off the inning. Darnell McDonald then singled to center. Yamaico Navarro singled on a fly ball that landed in between three Royals. Bases loaded, no outs for the top of the order.

Royals starter Bruce Chen walked Ellsbury, which scored Scutaro. Pedroia followed with a sacrifice fly to right that brought McDonald home. During Gonzalez's at-bat, Ellsbury swiped second. Navarro scored on Gonzalez's groundout to second. Youkilis lined out to right to end the inning.

Middle of 2nd: Royals 3, Red Sox 2

Alcides Escobar grounded out to short. Gordon then hit a ground rule double. Cabrera hit into a fielder's choice, and Lackey threw to third, which caught Gordon in a rundown. Gordon was tagged out by shorstop Marco Scutaro. Butler singled, which advanced Cabrera to third. Hosmer flied out to Ellsbury in left center for the third out. No damage.

End of 1st: Royals 3, Red Sox 2

Jacoby Ellsbury responded to the Royals as best he could - with a solo homer that hit Pesky's pole. His 17th of the year, and his fourth leadoff home run of the year. Dustin Pedroia followed with a solo shot over the Monster, extending his hit streak to 24 games.

Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to second. Kevin Youkilis walked. David Ortiz struck out swinging, and Youkilis stole second on strike three. Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out to end the inning.

Middle of 1st: Royals 3, Red Sox 0

Alex Gordon led off with a double off the Green Monster, and Melky Cabrera reached on a fielding error by third baseman Kevin Youkilis. After Red Sox starter John Lackey struck out Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer blasted a three-run homer over the Monster to put the Royals on the board.

Jeff Francoeur popped out to short for out No. 2. Mike Moustakas singled to left, and Brayan Pena followed with a double down the right field line. Lackey got Chris Getz to ground out to first to end the inning. Finally.

Pregame notes on Buchholz and the lineup change

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 27, 2011 04:40 PM

Another day, another Clay Buchholz setback.

"We want Buch to see one more specialist Friday-Monday-ish before we completely turn him loose," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "With everything that's gone on in there, we just want to make sure this kid's OK."

Francona wasn't sure who the specialist would be or if it was a doctor Buchholz has already seen.

"There have been a lot of communications," Francona said.

Buchholz didn't throw today, and Francona said he'd hold off on having Buchholz throw a side session until he meets with the specialist.

Buchholz was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 17 with a lower back strain. He threw off a mound for the first time Monday.

"Two days ago, he looked like he was in midseason form," Francona said. "It was very encouraging to us. At the same time, we have an obligation to do the right thing."

Quick note on the lineup change (that inserted Kevin Youkilis, moved Yamaico Navarro to the outfield, and took Josh Reddick out):

"[Youkilis] came in and he said, 'There's really no reason for me not to play, I feel good,' " Francona said. "We weren't planning on playing him, but when he said it was fine, all it does is take an eraser.

"Red's done great, but we kind of liked the idea of seeing Navarro out there, especially against a lefty."

Said Reddick: "Just a day off, I guess."

Game 102: Royals at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 27, 2011 03:08 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (63-38)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Saltalamacchia C
Scutaro SS
McDonald RF
Navarro LF

Pitching: RHP John Lackey (8-8, 6.28).

ROYALS (43-59)
Gordon LF
Cabrera CF
Butler DH
Hosmer 1B
Francoeur RF
Moustakas 3B
Pena C
Getz 2B
Escobar SS

Pitching: LHP Bruce Chen (5-3, 3.30)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: Lackey is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA in his last three starts. He is 2-2, 3.21 in eight career starts against Kansas City. ... The Sox are 17-4 in July. They have won five of their last six and 14 of 17. ... The Sox are 4-1 on a homestand that ends tomorrow. ... Pedroia has hit safely in 23 straight games at 40 of 102 (.392) with 17 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and 24 runs scored. He has reached base safely in 35 straight games. ... Ellsbury has hit safely in eight straight games. ... Matt Albers has a scoreless streak of 12.1 innings. ... Bard's scoreless streak is at 25 innings over 24 outings.

Stat of the Day: Ortiz needs four RBIs to become the sixth player to have 1,000 with the Red Sox. The other were Carl Yastrzemski (1,844), Ted Williams (1,839), Jim Rice (1,451), Dewey Evans (1,346) and Bobby Doerr (1,247).

Song of the Day: "Alive" by Pearl Jam.

Thank Reddick for no Beltran

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 27, 2011 02:03 PM

Josh Reddick's successful debut in the Sox starting lineup has enabled the Red Sox to back off a deal for Carlos Beltran.

The Red Sox remained very interested in Beltran for a few weeks right up until the last 48 hours, but when the sample size on Reddick was measurable it enabled the Sox to back off and now they appear to be exploring a more cost-effective righthanded bat.

In the end the San Francisco Giants will give up either outfield prospect Gary Brown or pitching prospect Zach Wheeler in a package for Beltran.

There's no way the Red Sox wanted to go that far for a rent-a-player with balky knees. The Red Sox never looked into Beltran's medical issues, a sign they were never that close.

Beltran probably was the best hitter available and one the Giants need badly.

The Red Sox, Phillies and Rangers all monitored Beltran closely, but they weren't willing to go as far as the Giants.

Trade Talk: Giants close to obtaining Beltran

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 27, 2011 01:22 PM

The Giants are close to obtaining Carlos Beltran from the Mets according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.

Minor details remain to be worked out. No set word yet on who the Mets will get in return.

You knew something was up with Bruce Bochy hit Beltran second in the NL lineup at the All-Star Game. Beltran has a 24-hour window to approve a trade, so another (the Phillies) could try and sneak in.

Now that Beltran and Colby Rasmus have been traded (or soon will be), look for lesser outfielders to get snapped up quickly. If the Red Sox are going to make a move for one of them, it could be soon.

Trade Talk: Blue Jays making moves

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 27, 2011 12:35 PM

Toronto has obtained RHP Edwin Jackson and 3B Mark Teahen from the cost-cutting White Sox for pitchers Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart.

It appears Jackson will be flipped to the Cardinals as part of a deal for OF Colby Rasmus.

Meanwhile, if you're hoping Carlos Beltran will land in Boston, find another hope. While the Red Sox are involved in those discussions, Beltran and agent Scott Boras are pulling the strings and San Francisco is where they want to go.

UPDATE, 12:50 p.m.: Toronto has reportedly traded Jackson, Octavio Dotel, and Marc Rzepczynski for Rasmus.

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos turned a decent starter and two bullpen arms into a 24-year-old outfielder with a career 111 OPS+ and good power. That's a nice deal.

Trade Talk: Spilborghs and Slowey

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 27, 2011 09:30 AM

You can tie the Red Sox to Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs. The 31-year-old righthanded hitter would be a low-cost bench upgrade.

He is hitting a modest .223/.303/.324 and isn't much better against lefties (.232/.299/.377) this season. But he had a solid 2010 season and has a career .811 OPS against lefties. Given a choice, Ty Wigginton would be a better fit.

The Twins also are listening for offers for Kevin Slowey, a righthander who has appeared in only six games this season because of injury but has been an effective starter in his career.

Seattle will start Erik Bedard on Friday in what will essentially be a trade audition. He is lefthanded, has an active pulse and a career ERA of 3.64, so somebody will want him. But Bedard has made only 45 starts over the last four seasons because of various injuries.

The Sox may not do much. But their 25-man roster presently includes Darnell McDonald, Randy Williams, Drew Sutton, Yamaico Navarro and Franklin Morales. That's five places where an upgrade would not seem particularly hard to accomplish.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 27, 2011 08:06 AM

Dustin Pedroia stood tall hitting cleanup as the Red Sox kept swinging and finally beat the Royals last night, 13-9.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox may be thinking small at the trade deadline.

The notebook has the Sox staying up late the night before.

Red Sox win with offense, but there's no hiding the bigger issue

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 27, 2011 12:56 AM

The Red Sox played a fun game tonight. Unlikely cleanup hitter Dustin Pedroia was 4 for 5 and a few feet away from hitting for the cycle. David Ortiz cracked three doubles and drove in five runs.

Everybody in the lineup did something to help an offense that is on pace to score just under 900 runs this season.

But Theo Epstein must have walked away from this game wondering to what degree he has to push to obtain a starter before Sunday's trade deadline. That's the story of this game.

It would be premature to say the Andrew Miller experiment has failed. But it certainly seems counter-productive to keep sending him out there every five days.

Miller has a 5.45 earned run average in seven starts since being called up from Class AAA Pawtucket. The tall lefthander pitched well in three starts against National League lineups after his arrival. But in four starts against American League teams since, he has a 7.94 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP with just four strikeouts in 17 innings.

Terry Francona had a blunt assessment, saying Miller didn’t locate his fastball very well or throw to the spots where catcher Jason Varitek set up. It's hard to win, he said, when your starter keep giving away the lead.

Miller admitted he needed to pitch better, lamented falling behind so many hitters and vowed to work with pitching coach Curt Young to figure it out. It's a familiar refrain and I suspect fans in Florida and Detroit heard it, too.

He's 27 and tonight was his 61st career start. At some point, you are what your stats say you are and right now, Miller is a guy with a career ERA of 5.80. The stuff he showcased in the minors — the big fastball and knee-buckling curveball — has vanished.

The Red Sox probably aren't willing to give up on Miller after seven starts. But almost anybody else would be an upgrade at this point.

The Red Sox offense is so devastating that it erases mistakes. But you can't count on 13 runs in September pennant race games. Given how well the Yankees and Rangers play at home, home field advantage is important in the American League.

The issue with Miller goes beyond his not pitching well. It's more that every five days, you tax your bullpen.

Agendas can change overnight at this time of the season. Come Sunday, it will be interesting to see whether Miller's start tonight changed what the Red Sox hope to do.

His next start, by the way, is scheduled for Sunday. Emphasis on "scheduled."

As for other stuff:

• Pedroia has hit cleanup seven times in his career. He is 17 of 31 (.548) with seven extra-base hits and nine RBIs. “If I’m Tito, I’d let him hit cleanup the whole year,” Ortiz said. “Make it easy for us. It’s crazy but the little guy’s numbers are ridiculous the way he hits. Might as well take advantage of it, right?”

Pedroia’s 23-game hit streak is the longest streak for a Red Sox second baseman since Del Pratt had a 23-game streak in 1922. Dom DiMaggio has the team record with 34 consecutives games in 1949.

Alfredo Aceves is 5-0 with a 2.50 earned run average in 25 relief appearances. He is the first pitcher to go 20-2 in his career since Howie Krist of St. Louis from 1937-42.

• Varitek joined Elston Howard as the only Red Sox catchers to hit home runs after the age of 39. Tonight was Tek's righthanded home run of the season.

• Tonight was Ortiz's first five-RBI game since Aug. 12, 2008.

• Francona indicated that Kevin Youkilis would be out again tomorrow. Expect Pedroia back at cleanup.

Final: Red Sox 13, Royals 9

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 07:14 PM

Game over

The Red Sox pounded 16 hits and got big offensive nights from David Ortiz (four hits, five RBI), Dustin Pedroia (home run short of the cycle), to lead the thrashing against the Royals.

The Yankees also won (beat Seattle of course) and so the Sox remained two games ahead of the Yanks.

Great work by Alfredo Aceves, who went 3-1/3 innings and allowed no runs and three hits and bailed out Andrew Miller, who pitched poorly for 3-2/3 innings.

Franklin Morales gave up two runs in the ninth, but managed to finish it off for Boston.

Time of game was 3:52 before 37,460.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 13, Royals 7

OF Mitch Maier is on to pitch.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 13, Royals 7

Looked like Jason Varitek cleared the Monsters with his sixth homer. Ellsbury doubled to the leftcenter gap and went to third on a throwing error by shortstop Alcides Escobar. Just a thought: Ellsbury could easily have stolen home against lefty Tim Collins. Suppose that would running up the score?

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 12, Royals 7

Both benches were warned after Blake wood plunked Adrian Gonzalez with a pitch after Alfredo Acves had hit Billy Butler in the sixth. Butler had homered, doubled and singled before Aceves hit him.

The Sox loaded the bases on walks to Scutaro and Pedroia and the Gonzalez HBP, but the Sox couldn't add to their lead.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 12, Royals 7

Last night Marco Scutaro missed a sign for a suicide squeeze and tonight a sacrifice bunt by Drew Sutton created major chaos in their favor and lead to a 6-run inning.

After Reddick and pinch-hitter Jacoby Ellsbury reached on singles, pinch-hitter Drew Sutton laid down a nice bunt that the pitcher fielded and threw to second baseman Mike Aviles covering first base.

The second baseman missed the throw for an error allowing both runs to come across. He then overthrew third but no error was charged.

After a Scutaro walk, Gonzalez knocked in the ninth Sox run with a single. Pedroia followed with a single to load the bases when David Ortiz continued a fine night with a single scoring two more runs. Ortiz has driven in five runs.

It didn't end there.

Crawford followed with an infield hit on a nubber between third and the pitchers mound to reload the bases.

After Jason Varitek struck out, Reddick hit a long sac fly to center.

Ellsbury finally ended things but sent a long drive to the triangle in center where Melky Cabrera made a nice running catch.

Bottom 4th: Royals 7, Red Sox 6

A bases loaded walk by Carl Crawford got the Sox to within one run. Jason Varitek lined to center with the bases loaded to end to end the inning. Crawford had been on a terrible run with six strikeouts in the last two games. He had struck out twice tonight after striking out four times last night.

Top 4th: Royals 7, Red Sox 5

Andrew Miller just gave the lead back - a two-run bomb to center by Alex Gordon with Alcides Escobar aboard. Billy Butler hit a solo homer. Miller recorded the second out and was yanked in favor of Alfredo Aceves.

Miller's line: 3-2/3 innings, nine hits, seven runs (5 earned), two walks, one strike out.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 5, Royals 4

Didn't take the Sox long to overturn the Royals lead. A nice rally produced three runs. Dustin Pedroia's double knocked in Marco Scutaro (double) and David Ortiz knocked in both Pedoria and Adrian Gonzalez, who had walked.

Top 2nd: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Billy Butler knocked in a pair of runs with a groundrule double to right. Mike Aviles led off with a single and Matt Treanor walked. The runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Alcides Escobar on a play where Andrew Miller was charged with a throwing error. MIller got the next two outs before Butler struck.

Bottom 1st: Royals 2, Red Sox 2

Darnell McDonald led off with a walk and a stolen base. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Adrian Gonzalez' sacrifice fly. After Dustin Pedroia tripled off the centerfield wall and scored on David Ortiz. Carl Crawford struck out to end the inning.

Top 1st: Royals 2, Red Sox 0

The skies cleared and this game got off on time. Andrew Miller is on the hill for the Red Sox and after retiring Alex Gordon with a pop up he allowed a single to left to Melky Cabrera. Billy Butler followed with a single and Eric Hosmer got the first run in with a double to left center over Darnell McDonald's head.

McDonald is playing center while Jacoby Ellsbury rests. Could ellsbury have caught that ball? Might have been close. Jeff Francouer lined out to left scoring the second run as Crawford threw weakly back to the infield.

Francona: 'I like our team'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 06:27 PM

Terry Francona was asked a question about the trade deadline. His response was interesting.

"I like our team. Again, I’ve been around here long enough to know that Theo [Epstein] is on the phone doing his due diligence, which he’s supposed to," the manager said. "I don’t need to sit up here and say what we need. I think my job is to get the most out of these guys and I like them a lot. But I also know Theo is going to try and make us better if he can.

"I do feel pretty strongly, just because I get to hear the conversations, that I like our young players in our system. I’m not voting or I’m not saying, ‘Go do this.’ Because I like our young guys, too. I really like the idea of our young guys coming up and helping us. I don’t think that hamstrings us one bit. We draft them good and our player development people do a great job. Young guys come up and help and it’s fun."

Tarp on the field at Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 06:12 PM

The tarp is down at Fenway Park and it's raining. It does not appear the game will start on time.

We will keep you posted.

UPDATE, 6:31 p.m.: But wait! The sun has emerged and the tarp is coming off the field.

UPDATE, 6:55 p.m.:
Field is being readied. The game will start on time.

Fenway Park weather update

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 05:06 PM

This from the Red Sox:

The current weather forecast in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for showers and thunderstorms during the early evening hours. Conditions are expected to improve as the evening progresses. All Fenway Park gates will open as regularly scheduled at 5:40 p.m. with a limited opening on Yawkey Way at 5:10 p.m.. The Red Sox are hopeful that tonight’s game against the Kansas City Royals, which is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m., will be played. However, the Red Sox want to alert our fans to the possibility of a delay. This forecast is of course subject to change as the evening progresses. Additional updates will be provided as necessary.

Pre-game notes from Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 04:22 PM

Panic not, good people. Jacoby Ellsbury is just getting a day off after a long night of baseball. Terry Francona said he planned to give several of his regulars time off in the coming days with Carl Crawford probably getting tomorrow off.

Be it Dustin Pedroia in June or Kevin Youkilis earlier this month, days off have usually coincided with players getting really hot.

Given the humid weather of late and the busy schedule (the Sox are in the middle of playing 20 games in 20 days), giving your regular players occasional days off just makes sense.

As to other matters:

• Kevin Youkilis will get today off to rest his sore hamstring (the result of a base-running mishap in the sixth inning last night) and could play tomorrow.

• J.D. Drew is officially going in the disabled list today with what is being termed a shoulder impingement. Drew Sutton is here from Pawtucket.

• John Lackey volunteered to pitch last night if the game went longer. But it was Randy Williams do or die. The Sox were not going to use Alfredo Aceves after he had gone 2.2 innings the day before.

• Francona on the trade deadline: "I like our team." But he also acknowledged that Theo Epstein will be looking for upgrades. Here's how you know Francona has job security: He endorsed the idea of holding onto the best prospects and protecting the future. Most managers live for the present.

• Clay Buchholz could throw off the mound again tomorrow. He will talk things over with the medical people today before starting what Francona termed "an aggressive" approach to his return.

• Bobby Jenks is not making any progress.

• Jed Lowrie is making "slow but steady" progress and is taking soft toss.

• The Sox are skipping BP today after the late night.

• ESPN's Dick Vitale Tweeted that he will be at Fenway tonight. Awesome, baby.

Whether you like Dickie V's on-air style is up to you. But his enthusiasm for the sport he covers is legit and the man is tireless in raising money for cancer research. He's a good man.

Game 101: Royals at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 03:24 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (62-38)
McDonald, CF
Scutaro, SS
Gonzalez, 1B
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Crawford, LF
Varitek, C
Reddick, RF
Navarro, 3B

Pitching: LHP Andrew Miller (4-1, 4.65).

ROYALS (43-59)
Gordon LF
Cabrera CF
Butler DH
Hosmer 1B
Francoeur RF
Moustakas 3B
Aviles 2B
Treanor C
Escobar SS

Pitching: LHP Danny Duffy (2-4, 4.58)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: As Clay Buchholz starts down the comeback trail, these starts become rotation auditions for Miller. The Sox are 5-1 in the games he has started, but that is thanks largely to good run support and bullpen work. He has a 6.75 ERA and a 2.10 WHIP in his last three starts, lasting only 13.1 innings. ... Miller is 0-2, 10.61 in four career games against the Royals but has not faced them since 2008. ... Duffy, 22, is a former third-round pick (2007) who will be making his 12th start in the majors. He is facing the Sox for the first time. ... Ellsbury has hit in seven straight at 13 of 31 (.419) with three homers and seven RBIs. ... Ellsbury has not stolen a base since July 6 (or attempted one, either). ... Reddick is hitting .364/.414/.659 in 28 games since being called up. ... Jonathan Papelbon has not allowed a run in his last five outings. ... Unsung hero Matt Albers has not allowed a run in his last 11.1 innings. ... Daniel Bard is riding a streak of 24 outings and 25 innings without allowing an earned run.

Stat of the Day: Pedroia's 22-game hit streak is the longest for a Red Sox second baseman since Del Pratt hit in 23 straight during the 1922 season. Pratt played only two seasons for the Red Sox (1921-22) and hit .312.

Song of the Day: "Up The Junction" by Squeeze.

Mayor Menino wants eight more years of David Ortiz in Boston

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff July 26, 2011 03:22 PM
Eight more years of David Ortiz in a Red Sox uniform?

If Boston mayor Tom Menino gets his way, we'll be seeing a lot more of Big Papi in the years to come at Fenway Park.

"I'd like to see an eight year deal myself," Menino said when asked about the possibility of Ortiz playing in Boston for at least several more years. "He's not just a ballplayer, he's a person, he's a personality. He's with the kids today, he's with the kids all the time in our city. He makes a difference in young people's lives, that's why I'd like to see him [stay]. Now some ballplayers just do it on the field, he does it off the field too, which means so much as mayor of the city."

Menino indicated he would hit the Red Sox brass where it hurts if they don't move to lock up Ortiz in a multi-year deal.

"If they don't give us a good contract, I have the power to raise their taxes," Menino said jokingly. "So let's negotiate now with David."

Ortiz and Menino were in Boston for the "Live Positively, Get the Ball Rolling" baseball clinic at Boston Common Fields this morning. Over 250 kids from local area camps and six other area community groups were introduced to baseball and taught the importance of exercise and eating a balanced, healthy diet as part of the day's scheduled events by Coca-Cola and the Red Sox.

Podcast: Ellsbury, Pedroia & Wakefield

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 26, 2011 02:28 PM

Hit play to listen to the latest installment of the Globe's Red Sox podcast.

Get Adobe Flash player

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes. Find its archive here.

Trade Talk: What if the Sox do nothing?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 10:54 AM

About 10 days ago, during two phone calls 10 minutes apart, a major league executive and an agent both predicted that the days leading up to the trade deadline would be wild ones.

"You're going to see a lot of players move that week," the exec said.

Here we are on Tuesday and it's quiet. Is that the quiet before an approaching storm or the kind of quiet that will have everybody on Sunday afternoon wondering what the big deal was?

For the 62-38 Red Sox, it could be the latter. Despite last night's loss, the Sox are 60-28 (.682) since their 2-10 start and lead the division by two games. It also seems fairly evident that the wild card will come from the East. The Yankees (60-40) are way ahead of the Angels (55-48).

The Sox have the best offense in the game and, at worse, an adequate pitching staff. Now that Clay Buchholz is on the way back, they can have a playoff rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Buchholz and John Lackey. In a seven-game series, you'll take your chances with that, especially with the bullpen being solid.

Let's assume for a second that Ubaldo Jimenez is not being traded and the Rockies are just fishing. Would Hiroki Kuroda be that much of an upgrade over Lackey? Kuroda has pitched in three postseason games and has a 5.37 ERA. Lackey has a 3.12 ERA over postseason games. A team like the Yankees or Rangers would work over Kuroda. There's a much better chance Lackey keeps you in the game.

The glaring need is not right field. They got zippo from right field in the first half and still had a great offense. Josh Reddick could hit .250 the rest of the way and that would be an upgrade. Carlos Beltran is a nice player and would be motivated. But other teams need him more and figure to give up more to the Mets.

The need comes in the bullpen, specifically a lefthanded specialist. The Red Sox have tried Dennys Reyes, Hideki Okajima Rich Hill, Tommy Hottovy and now Randy Williams with little success. Hill was the only one of the bunch who pitched well and then he blew out an elbow ligament.

The Sox would benefit from going out and getting somebody like Craig Breslow or Randy Choate.

In theory, Andrew Miller could pitch out of the bullpen at some point. But in a big spot, he's more likely to walk somebody than strike them out. And Felix Doubront can't stay healthy.

It's not particularly sexy, dealing a few B-level prospects for a lefty specialist. But come Sunday, that could be what the Red Sox end up doing.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 10:02 AM

The Red Sox fell, 3-1, to the Royals in a late-night 14-inning affair. Michael Vega has the story.

Jon Lester looked sharp in his return from the disabled list. Nicole Auerbach has that story.

The notebook has Clay Buchholz throwing off the mound as his comeback from a back injury gets in gear.

Postgame wrapup: Royals 3, Red Sox 1

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff July 26, 2011 02:53 AM

607scutaro.jpg

The start of last night's game was delayed more than two hours by rain. Marco Scutaro struck out in the bottom of the 14th to end it. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

The clock struck 2 a.m. Tuesday morning when Marco Scutaro took a called third strike from Joakim Soria to bring a gut-wrenching conclusion to a 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals in 14 innings before a Fenway Park crowd of 37,727 that was pared to a few hundred hardy souls by the end of this 4 hour 28 minute extra-inning affair.

The shortstop felt personally responsible for, perhaps, the worst loss of the 38 the Red Sox had suffered in their first 100 games this season when he missed the sign on a 12th-inning attempt at a squeeze play, the first the Sox had attempted all season.

"I didn't see the sign. It was my fault. I just missed the sign," said Scutaro as he stood in front of his locker in the Sox clubhouse swarmed by media. "I really can't say nothing else. It was just my fault."

With one out and Josh Reddick at third after he singled to center and advanced on a two-base throwing error by Royals reliever Louis Coleman, Scutaro came to the plate but missed the squeeze sign from third base coach Tim Bogar.

"I made sure I double-checked with Bogey out there, and he said, 'Green light, go ahead.' '' Reddick said. "I actually double-checked with him again to make sure I wasn't missing the sign and looking foolish out there. I wanted to make sure 100 percent."

Scutaro took an inside fastball from Coleman instead of squaring up for the bunt, leaving Reddick, who went 3 for 6 with two doubles and an RBI that drove in Boston's only run way back in the second inning, caught in a rundown in no-man's land between third base and home plate.

"We just missed the sign," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, whose team went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranded men at third three times in the last six innings. "I thought it was a good opportunity. We got half of it right. We didn't get the whole thing right. Red got it and Scoot didn't. We had some other opportunities, too. We kind of let them off the hook it felt like.

"I know there's not much sleep anyway, but that will be a tough one tonight."

Asked what he thought when he saw Reddick charging toward the plate, Scutaro replied, bluntly, "I [messed] it up. After the pitch inside, I took a look and I was like 'Oh.' I really would've loved to come through for the team, but I just didn't.''

That costly miscue was compounded when Scutaro singled to left, but ended the inning when he got thrown out at second by Royals' left fielder Alex Gordon as he attempted to stretch the hit into a double.

"It feels bad," the shortstop said. "It feels like all your teammates, manager, fans, they just want to kill you. It's a bad feeling. Just come back tomorrow and win the game.''

When he got caught looking at a game-ending called third strike -- after missing a squeeze sign in the 12th and then getting thrown out stretching a single into a double to end the inning -- Scutaro had hit an ignominious trifecta.

"It's my fault,'' Scutaro repeated. "Tito's trying to get something going. It's late, we haven't scored runs. We've been kind of struggling, bringing guys in from third base. Like said, it was my fault."

Postgame notes

  • The loss, which snapped a nine-game winning streak at Fenway Park, put damper on Jon Lester's return to the mound Monday night after a 15-day stint on the disabled list for a strained left latissimus. Lester took a no-decision after going 5.1 innings and allowing 1 run on 7 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 6 and the only run he gave up enabled the Royals' to tie it on Billy Butler's RBI double to left in the sixth. "It stinks,'' Lester said of the protracted affair that was rain-delayed 2 hours 21 minutes at the start and took 4 hours 28 minutes to play 14 innings. "We waited around for two and a half hours to play a five-hour baseball game. It [stinks]. You want o come out on top of these ones. These one's aren't fun.''
  • Kevin Youkilis will likely sit out Tuesday's game vs. the Royals after departed Monday's game after the seventh with right hamstring tightness after tweaking it trying to beat out a groundball to short. Youkilis came up limping after getting thrown out, but returned to the game to play the top of the seventh. Yamaico Navarro replaced him in the eighth. "The exam was really good,'' Francona said afterward. "He hit the bag, and I think his heel sort of gave way a little bit. I think we'll stay away from him tomorrow, but hopefully, it won't be anything more than that. Who knows."
  • Dustin Pedroia extended his hittting streak to 22 games after he singled to right in the third inning the only base hit of his 1-for-6 night . . . Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless ninth to extend his streak of scoreless innings to 25 innings over his last 24, which, according to Elias Sports Bureau, ranked as an all-time club record . . . Jarrod Saltalamacchia twice caught Melky Cabrera stealing, matching his career high for the fourth time . . . Cabrera went 4-for-6, matching his career high for the fifth time overall and second this season. It was his 41st multi-hit game of the year, ranking second in the American League behind Adrian Gonzalez (43), who went 2-for-6 with 3 strikeouts . . The Royals, who entered the game leading the majors with 37 sacrifices, pushed across the go-ahead runs in the 14th on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Aviles to break a 1-1 stalemate and a sacrifice fly to center by Jeff Francoeur that tacked on an insurance run, giving the Royals 39 sacrifice hits this season. . . Randy Williams (0-1) took the loss for the Red Sox after allowing the winning runs in the 14th ... The Red Sox outhit the Royals, 13-12, marking the ninth game in a row the team has reached double-digit hits. It was, however, just the second time since 1964 the Red Sox had been limited to one run or less while recording 13 hits . . . The Sox fell to 4-3 in extra inning games. It was also the third time this season the Sox have played at least 14 innings this season, including 14 innings vs. the Oakland A's June 4 and 16 innings at Tampa.

Postgame notes and quotes

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 26, 2011 02:19 AM

Jon Lester put the 14-inning loss in basic terms.

"It stinks," he said. "We waited around for two and a half hours to play a five-hour baseball game. It sucks. You want to come out on top of these ones.

"These ones aren't fun."

Couple of notes from manager Terry Francona's press conference:

** Marco Scutaro missed the sign on the suicide squeeze attempt in the 12th inning. "We got half of it right," Francona said. "[Josh Reddick] got it, and Scut didn't."

** Kevin Youkilis injury update:

"The exam was really good," Francona said. "He hit the bag, and I think his heel sort of gave way a little bit.

"I think we'll stay away from him tomorrow, but hopefully, it won't be anything more than that. Who knows."

Kevin Youkilis leaves game after seventh inning

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 26, 2011 12:09 AM

Kevin Youkilis left after the seventh inning because of a tight right hamstring. The injury occurred in the bottom of the sixth when Youkilis tried to beat out an infield grounder. He played third base in the top of the seventh before leaving the game.

We'll have more updates after the game.

Final: Royals 3, Red Sox 1 (14)

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 09:30 PM

End of game: Royals 3, Red Sox 1

It's over. Finally. And it certainly wasn't pretty. We'll have more coverage in tomorrow's Globe about the apparent missed suicide squeeze, a base-running blunder or two, and the depleted bullpen. Oh, and Jon Lester returned from the disabled list, too!

The loss snapped the Red Sox' season-high nine-game winning streak at Fenway Park.

End of 14th: Royals 3, Red Sox 1

Joakim Soria in to close this out. He struck Crawford out for the first out. Reddick hit a ground-rule double that bounced into the Sox' bullpen. Saltalamacchia struck out and Scutaro struck out looking to end the game. Only 4 hours and 28 minutes later...

Middle of 14th: Royals 3, Red Sox 1

Hosmer led off with a double down the left-field line. Francoeur singled to center, moving Hosmer to third. Aviles then popped a bunt over the head of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, which scored Hosmer. Pena singled to left, moving Francoeur to third.

Escobar hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Francoeur. The inning ended with Getz grounding into a fielder's choice.

End of 13th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Ellsbury worked a full-count walk to lead off the inning. Pedroia flied out to right. Gonzalez singled to right, but Francoeur bobbled the ball just enough so Ellsbury went all the way to third on the play. Navarro popped out, and Ortiz grounded out to second. Wasted opportunity there.

Middle of 13th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Randy Williams in to pitch. [Hmm ... optioning Kyle Weiland before this game is sort of backfiring, eh?]

Getz struck out. Gordon walked. Cabrera grounded into a fielder's choice. Butler did the same.

End of 12th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Louis Coleman in to pitch. Reddick led off with a single up the middle. Saltalamacchia flied out to left. Coleman's pickoff attempt was wild, and Reddick advanced to third.

Someone must have missed a sign on the next play -- Reddick took off on the pitch as if expecting a suicide squeeze, but Scutaro didn't even square. Reddick was tagged out. Scutaro then singled and got thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Not pretty.

Middle of 12th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Francoeur walked, and he advanced to second on an Aviles sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Pena struck out, and Escobar grounded out to end the inning.

End of 11th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Pedroia grounded out. Gonzalez doubled off the Green Monster. Navarro then struck out. Gonzalez advanced to second on a wild pitch during Ortiz's at-bat. Ortiz was intentionally walked.

With two on, two out, and a full count, Crawford struck out to end the inning.

Middle of 11th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Cabrera singled to lead off the inning. After Morales got Butler and Hosmer both to fly out to left, he was taken out in favor of righthander Dan Wheeler.

End of 10th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

1-2-3 inning for new Royals pitcher Greg Holland. Yawn.

Middle of 10th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Franklin Morales came in to pitch, and he got a 1-2-3 inning.

End of 9th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Gonzalez struck out. Yamaico Navarro (who replaced Youkilis after the seventh inning) then singled to right. Ortiz singled up the middle, and Navarro advanced to third on the play. Crawford struck out. Reddick flied out. Extras!

Update: Youkilis left the game with right hamstring tightness.

Middle of 9th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Jonathan Papelbon in for the Sox. 1-2-3 inning for him.

End of 8th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Aaron Crow in to pitch. Scutaro popped out to the catcher. Ellsbury singled to left. Pedroia then hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.

Middle of 8th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Daniel Bard in to pitch for the Sox. Cabrera singled, but not much else happened. Bard's scoreless streak is up to 25 consecutive innings.

End of 7th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Tim Collins in for the Royals. He got Crawford to ground out to second and Reddick to fly out to left center. Saltalamacchia grounded out to third to end the inning.

Middle of 7th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

1-2-3 inning for Albers.

End of 6th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

1-2-3 inning for the Royals. The Red Sox' 3-4-5 hitters went down in order.

Middle of 6th: Red Sox 1, Royals 1

Cabrera singled to left, then scored on Butler's double. Butler tried to advance to third on the throw to the plate, but he got thrown out sliding into third.

After Lester walked Hosmer, Red Sox manager Terry Francona pulled Lester (pitch count was at 89). Matt Albers entered the game. He struck out Francoeur and got Aviles to pop out to end the inning.

End of 5th: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

Reddick struck out swinging to start the inning. Saltalamacchia then singled to right, and Scutaro followed with a single of his own.

Ellsbury and Pedroia both flied out to right for the final outs of the inning.

Middle of 5th: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

Escobar walked. Getz flied out to center. Lester caught Escobar trying to steal for the second out. Lester struck out Gordon (for a third time) to end the inning.

End of 4th: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

Youkilis flied out to center. Ortiz singled, but got thrown out in a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play. (Crawford struck out.)

Middle of 4th: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

Butler singled to left to lead off the inning. Hosmer then singled up the middle. Aviles popped out to Saltalamacchia. Lester got Pena to ground out to third to escape the inning without any runners crossing the plate.

End of 3rd: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

Scutaro grounded out to short. Ellsbury struck out. Pedroia then singled to right, extending his career-high hit streak to 22 games. Gonzalez flied out to center for the third out.

Middle of 3rd: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

Chris Getz grounded out to second. Gordon struck out (his second K of the night). Cabrera struck out, too. Nice 1-2-3 inning for Lester.

End of 2nd: Red Sox 1, Royals 0

Kevin Youkilis flied out to right. David Ortiz walked. Carl Crawford then hit into a fielder's choice, which wiped Ortiz out at second. During Josh Reddick's at-bat, Crawford stole second base. On the next pitch, Reddick doubled to right-center, scoring Crawford. Salty struck out to end the inning.

Middle of 2nd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0

Hosmer led off with a single to right. Jeff Francoeur flied out to shallow right field. During Mike Aviles's at-bat, Hosmer stole second. Aviles struck out. Brayan Pena reached on an infield single -- really a spectacular stop by Marco Scutaro at short that saved a run.

Alcides Escobar grounded out to second to end the inning.

End of 1st: Red Sox 0, Royals 0

1-2-3 inning for Royals starter Kyle Davies. Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to short, Dustin Pedroia grounded out to Davies, and Adrian Gonzalez struck out swinging.

Middle of 1st: Red Sox 0, Royals 0

After a 2-hour-and-21-minute rain delay, Red Sox starter Jon Lester took the mound. He struck out Alex Gordon to start the game. Melky Cabrera singled to right.

Lester struck out Billy Butler, and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw out Cabrera trying to steal second during Eric Hosmer's at-bat. Not a bad start for Lester.

Scheduled start time: 9:30 p.m.

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 08:45 PM

The rain has lightened, and the Red Sox hope to start the game at 9:30 p.m.

Scratch that: Red Sox to option Weiland, call Sutton up tomorrow

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 08:08 PM

Manager Terry Francona said this afternoon that the Red Sox planned to put J.D. Drew on the disabled list prior to tonight's game, which would have cleared a roster spot for starting pitcher Jon Lester.

That plan has changed since the clubhouse closed at 6 p.m. Instead, Kyle Weiland was to be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket before Monday night's game and that Drew will be put on the disabled list Tuesday, with Drew Sutton taking his place on the roster. The Red Sox announced these moves prior to tonight's first pitch.

Sutton is hitting .299 with 5 home runs and 27 RBIs in 41 games for Pawtucket. In 26 games with the Red Sox this season, Sutton batted.298 with 7 doubles and 7 home runs.

Tonight's game is delayed

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 06:39 PM

We don't have a time frame yet, but the Red Sox just announced tonight's game against the Royals will not start at 7:10 p.m.

We'll keep you posted as we know more. It's raining pretty hard right now.

Fenway weather update

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff July 25, 2011 06:16 PM

The Red Sox have issued the following weather update for the Fenway area as of 5:30 p.m. for tonight's game against the Kansas City Royals:

The current weather forecast (provided by the Red Sox private weather service, Telvent DTN) in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for rain showers during the early evening hours. Conditions are expected to improve as the evening progresses. All Fenway Park gates opened as regularly scheduled. The Red Sox are hopeful that tonight’s game against the Kansas City Royals, which is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m., will be played. However, the Red Sox want to alert our fans to the possibility of a delay. This forecast is of course subject to change as the evening progresses. Additional updates will be provided as necessary.

Buchholz: This is the biggest step in the right direction so far

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 04:55 PM

Clay Buchholz threw 30 pitches during his bullpen session this afternoon. He was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 17 with a lower back strain. Buchholz has had a few setbacks over the last month, but today wasn't one of them.

"I think this is the biggest step in the right direction so far in this process," Buchholz said. "I don't feel like there was any hitch in the delivery. It was what I wanted to go out there and do.

"I've pitched with pain before. If it's not overbearing, that's what I'm going to do."

Buchholz estimated that he felt 75-80 percent healthy. He also said he threw all of his pitches -- "mostly fastballs, spun a few curveballs, changeups, and a couple of cutters."

"There's still a little soreness coming off after I threw," Buchholz said. "I sat down for about 10 minutes, did a couple of stretches, and it felt better."

Buchholz said he'd take Tuesday off, throw lightly Wednesday, and maybe throw another bullpen session Thursday. He doesn't have a timetable for a possible return yet.

"I want to do it as quick as possible," he said. "I think it's going to take a couple of starts to get back in it, facing live hitters."

"I want to be ready to go. If it's the middle of August, that's good. If it's September, that's good, too. I want to try to come back and help this team get to the postseason and work our way from there."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona was encouraged by Buchholz's session today.

"If you watched him throw, you would never believe he's missed time," Francona said.

Drew placed on the disabled list, Weiland to the bullpen

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 04:08 PM

Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew is headed to the disabled list with a left shoulder impingement. Tonight's starting pitcher, Jon Lester, will fill Drew's roster spot.

"We didn't DL him right away because we didn't have a move we wanted to make and he could have pinch-run, something like that," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

"Hopefully, the couple [of] weeks down will really do him some good and get him some strength back in that shoulder. Maybe we have a better chance of seeing the J.D. that we're hoping for."

Francona said that Drew had an MRI Saturday and that no specific incident caused the injury.

"I don't know how long it's been bothering him," Francona said. "He's been getting treatment on it for a while, a couple of weeks.

This season, Drew is batting .219 with four home runs and 21 RBIs, and he'd been the Red Sox' everyday right fielder until Friday -- when Josh Reddick got the start. Reddick played the rest of the weekend in right.

This move allows the Red Sox to keep pitcher Kyle Weiland on their big-league roster. (Many thought he'd be sent down to Pawtucket once Lester returned.) For now, the Sox will keep Weiland in the bullpen.

"The one thing we don't want him to do is not pitch," Francona said. "He's got good stuff. I know he was a reliever in college. It's just hard not to have guys start if they have good enough stuff.

"All of us can certainly envision him helping us out in the bullpen, too."

In his two starts for the Red Sox, Weiland went 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA.

Game 100: Royals at Red Sox

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 03:20 PM

Here are today's lineups:

RED SOX (62-37)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Crawford LF
Reddick RF
Saltalamacchia C
Scutaro SS

Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (10-4, 3.31)

ROYALS (42-59)
Gordon LF
Cabrera CF
Butler DH
Hosmer 1B
Francoeur RF
Aviles 3B
Pena C
Escobar SS
Getz 2B

Pitching: RHP Kyle Davies (1-9, 7.32)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: Another day, another series against an AL basement-dweller. Tonight's game opens a four-game series against the Royals, who are last in the AL Central, 12 games behind the division-leading Tigers. ... The Red Sox have won four straight games, and they have a season-high nine consecutive wins at Fenway Park. ... Dustin Pedroia's career-high hit streak stands at 21 games. ... Tonight will be Jon Lester's first start since July 5. He's been on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle. ... Adrian Gonzalez had three hits Sunday, which makes him the Major League leader in games with three hits. He's done it 18 times this season. ... Carl Crawford is 9 for 24 (.375) since returning from the disabled list a week ago.

Stat of the day: Yesterday, the Red Sox batted around in both the first and fifth innings (scoring five runs in each inning). The Sox have batted around 22 times this season.

Song of the day: "That Was A Crazy Game Of Poker" by O.A.R. Just because it's a great song and my current ringtone.

Buchholz throws bullpen

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff July 25, 2011 03:04 PM

Greetings from Fenway Park, where the Red Sox (62-37) will host the Kansas City Royals (42-59) tonight.

LHP Jon Lester will be coming off the disabled list to make his first start since July 5, which is good news.

Even better news, we presume, was the sight of Clay Buchholz, on the DL since June 17 because of a lower back strain, throwing a bullpen session under the watchful eyes of manager Terry Francona, pitching coach Curt Young and head athletic trainer Mike Reinold.

Buchholz warmed up with some flat-ground long tosses before moving into the bullpen, where he worked for about 10 minutes, throwing 30 pitches before wrapping up the session.

Buchholz said he felt "80 percent" and went through his complete repretoire of pitches, focusing mostly on his fastballs.

"He did really well,'' Francona said. "He said it was like night and day from his last side session, which was good news. The ball was coming out of his hand great. If you watched him thrown, you would never believe that he's missed time.

``He felt a little stretching, which I think is a lot better than feeling pain.''

Pitching matchups for the Royals series

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 01:10 PM

Probable pitching matchups:

Tonight, July 25 (7:10 p.m.): LHP Jon Lester (10-4, 3.31) vs. RHP Kyle Davies (1-9, 7.32)

Tomorrow, July 26 (7:10 p.m.): LHP Andrew Miller (4-1, 4.65) vs. LHP Danny Duffy (2-4, 4.58)

Wednesday, July 27 (7:10 p.m.): RHP John Lackey (8-8, 6.28) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (5-3, 3.30)

Thursday, July 28 (1:35 p.m.): RHP Josh Beckett (9-3, 2.07) vs. RHP Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.29)

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 25, 2011 08:46 AM

Tim Wakefield struck out his 2,000th batter as a member of the Red Sox pitching staff. Michael Vega has the story.

Mike's notebook has updates on Jon Lester's start tonight, Terry Francona's 1,000th managerial win, and more.

Carl Crawford is hitting .375 since returning from the disabled list a week ago. My story on Crawford.

Just how good is Jacoby Ellsbury's season going? Chad Finn finds some comparisons.

Bob Ryan discusses steroids and the Hall of Fame. Color-coded plaques? Why not?

Video: Vega recaps Red Sox' weekend

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 25, 2011 07:48 AM
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Michael Vega recaps the Red Sox sweep of the Mariners, which included two milestones -- Terry Francona's 1,000th career win as a manager and Tim Wakefield struck out his 2,000th batter. Video includes excerpts from Wakefield's postgame press conference.

Video: Francona postgame comments

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 25, 2011 07:30 AM
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Here are excerpts of Red Sox manager Terry Francona's postgame comments -- on Carl Crawford, facinf Mariners starter Michael Pineda, and Tim Wakefield's performance -- after Boston defeated Seattle 12-8 and finished off a three-game sweep.

Tim Wakefield gets strikeout No. 2000 with the Red Sox

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 24, 2011 06:59 PM

Tim Wakefield struck out Mike Carp to end the sixth inning of today's game against the Mariners, and that was his 2,000th strikeout as a member of the Red Sox.

The only other pitcher to tally 2,000 strikeouts with the Sox was Roger Clemens, who struck out 2,590.

Wakefield had no idea he reached the milestone at the time.

"I walked over to him," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "I knew it was the 2000th. I gave him the ball and gave him a hug to congratulate him.

"Not that guys watch their stats, but that’s a pretty big number so I assumed he knew he was getting close. When I told him, he was like, ‘Congratulations for what?’ I was like, ‘Crap, did I get this wrong?’

Saltalamacchia laughed.

"I wanted to make sure," he said. "I looked at the [video] board and it said 2,000. He looked up and saw it and just started smiling."

Next up? Win No. 200. Wakefield got No. 199 today.

Final: Red Sox 12, Mariners 8

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 24, 2011 01:30 PM

End of game: Red Sox 12, Mariners 8

Well, the Mariners just set a franchise record - 15 straight losses. And the Red Sox are red-hot, winners of nine straight home games. During today's game, Dustin Pedroia extended his career-best hit streak to 21 games. Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia each had three hits on the day. Salty had four RBI. Tim Wakefield got his 2,000th strikeout as a member of the Red Sox. Pretty good day all around for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox host the Royals next, and the Sox will be seeking their seventh consecutive series win. Tomorrow's game is at 7:10 p.m.

Middle of 9th: Red Sox 12, Mariners 8

Gutierrez singled, and Ackley drove him in with a two-out double.

End of 8th: Red Sox 12, Mariners 7

Brandon League in to pitch. Yamaico Navarro, who replaced Youkilis at third an inning ago, struck out to start the inning. Ortiz grounded out. After a Crawford walk, Reddick lined out to end the inning.

Middle of 8th: Red Sox 12, Mariners 7

A single for Carp, but nothing really threatening.

End of 7th: Red Sox 12, Mariners 7

Josh Lueke in to pitch for the Mariners. Reddick singled to lead off, and Salty followed with a single of his own, which moved Reddick to third. Scutaro -- the only Sox starter without a hit today -- popped out to shallow right field.

Ellsbury poked a single over the head of Ryan at short, which scored Reddick. After Pedroia hit into a fielder's choice, Gonzalez grounded out to first to end the inning.

Middle of 7th: Red Sox 11, Mariners 7

With one out, Cust singled. Then Gutierrez singled. Then Ichiro singled. With the bases loaded, Ryan smashed a grand slam over the Green Monster. Wakefield got pulled afterwards, and Alfredo Aceves entered the game.

Aceves got Ackley to fly out and Olivo to pop out to end the inning.

End of 6th: Red Sox 11, Mariners 3

Pedroia led off with a double, extending his career-high hit streak to 21 games. Gonzalez drove him in with a single to right.

Youkilis struck out. Ortiz flied out to right. Crawford struck out swinging.

Middle of 6th: Red Sox 10, Mariners 3

1-2-3 inning yet again. Wakefield struck out Carp to end the inning. The strikeout was Wakefield's 2000th as a member of the Red Sox. The crowd gave him a nice standing ovation. He came out of the dugout and tipped his hat.

End of 5th: Red Sox 10, Mariners 3

Pedroia grounded out to third. Gonzalez then singled up the middle. After Youkilis walked, the Mariners pulled Pineda and brought in lefty Aaron Laffey.

Ortiz hit a squibbler between third base and the pitcher's mound, and all three baserunners were safe. The bases were loaded for Crawford, who singled in two runs. Reddick followed that up with a double off the Monster, which scored Ortiz.

Salty then singled to right center, driving in Crawford and Reddick for his third and fourth RBIs of the day. New pitcher entered the game: Jamey Wright. Wright got Scutaro to fly out to center and Ellsbury to ground out to second to end the inning.

Middle of 5th: Red Sox 5, Mariners 3

Cust struck out to start the inning. Franklin Gutierrez then walked and moved to third on an Ichiro single to right field. Wakefield picked off Ichiro trying to steal during Ryan's at-bat. Ryan then doubled off the Green Monster, scoring Gutierrez.

Ackley flied out to left to end the inning.

End of 4th: Red Sox 5, Mariners 2

The Red Sox went down in order for the first time today. Three groundouts.

Middle of 4th: Red Sox 5, Mariners 2

Another 1-2-3 inning for Wake. Two flyouts and a groundout.

End of 3rd: Red Sox 5, Mariners 2

With two outs, Crawford singled to left. He advanced to second when he attempted a steal and shortstop Brendan Ryan dropped the ball. Reddick struck out again to end the inning.

Middle of 3rd: Red Sox 5, Mariners 2

Ichiro flied out. Ryan lined out to first. After a Dustin Ackley double, Olivo grounded out to third to end the inning.

End of 2nd: Red Sox 5, Mariners 2

Ellsbury struck out swinging. Pedroia and Gonzalez both grounded out. Mariners starter Michael Pineda has seemingly settled down.

Middle of 2nd: Red Sox 5, Mariners 2

1-2-3 inning for Wakefield, including two strikeouts.

End of 1st: Red Sox 5, Mariners 2

Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a double to right field. He advanced to third on a wild pitch during Dustin Pedroia's at-bat. Pedroia flied out to shallow center field. Adrian Gonzalez drove Ellsbury home on a single up the middle.

Kevin Youkilis then hit a two-run shot over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox the lead. David Ortiz followed with a single to left. Carl Crawford kept the rally going with a double that advanced Ortiz to third. After Josh Reddick struck out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to right, which scored Ortiz and Crawford. Marco Scutaro grounded out to second for the third out.

Whew. What an inning.

Middle of 1st: Mariners 2, Red Sox 0

Not a great start for Wake. After Brendan Ryan was hit by a pitch, Tim Wakefield served up a two-out, two-run homer to Miguel Olivo. Justin Smoak followed with a double, and Mike Carp singled. Smoak tried to score from second, but Josh Reddick threw him out at the plate easily to limit the damage.

Pregame notes from Fenway Park

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 24, 2011 11:25 AM

Red Sox manager Terry Francona will stop getting questions about win No. 1,000 soon enough -- but the topic is still fresh today. More on that and other notes from Francona's pregame press conference:

** On the response Francona has received after his 1000th managerial win:

"The prevailing thought seems to be people are surprised I'm still here," Francona said, laughing. "I got some nice messages from people that mean a lot to me, so that was nice."

** How his milestone compares to others:

"There are some guys with some pretty big numbers who are still managing," Francona said. "It's actually kind of humbling. It makes you realize how long they've been doing it and how hard it is to win."

** Clay Buchholz is still on track to throw off a mound tomorrow.

** On his team's success in the seventh inning this year (Red Sox are outscoring opponents 93-33):

"I saw the stat, and I don't have an answer," Francona said. "There can't be just one answer. When we've gotten rallies going, we've prolonged them pretty well.

"Maybe you get to a point in the game when they're changing pitchers and you have a lead, so they're not going to their top-tier guys. Maybe. I don't know. I really don't know. Maybe it's just coincidence."

** On Marco Scutaro's ground-rule double last night (fan appeared to grab the ball before it bounced over the wall):

"There's a good point for it being interference," said Francona.

** Francona was asked what his history was with the three men who will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame today: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, and Pat Gillick.

He said Gillick interviewed him in Seattle. Francona said he played winter ball with Alomar when he was young and got to know him pretty well.

"Saw Bert pitch in 1970," Francona said. "I was 11 years old. I went on a road trip with my dad. He threw like a two-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. That's when I think my dad knew I was paying attention.

"After the game, I came into the clubhouse and said, 'Dad, you got no chance hitting that curveball.' He was looking at me like, OK, you're watching. Then I faced [Blyleven] in the big leagues a little bit."

Game 99: Mariners at Red Sox

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 24, 2011 10:05 AM

Here are today's lineups:

RED SOX (61-37)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Crawford LF
Reddick RF
Saltalamacchia C
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP Tim Wakefield (5-3, 4.80)

MARINERS (43-57)
Ichiro RF
Ryan SS
Ackley 2B
Olivo C
Smoak 1B
Carp LF
Kennedy 3B
Cust DH
Gutierrez CF

Pitching: RHP Michael Pineda (8-6, 3.24)

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, TBS // WEEI

Notes: These two teams couldn't be heading in more opposite directions. The Red Sox have won four straight games and have gone 16-3 since June 30. During that span, the Sox have outscored opponents 119 to 75. The Red Sox have won six consecutive series. Yesterday's win gave the Sox a season-high eight-game winning streak at Fenway Park. ... The Mariners have lost their last 14 games, which matches a franchise record. ... Dustin Pedroia will enter today's game with a 20-game hitting streak. ... Daniel Bard's scoreless streak has reached 24 innings.

Stat of the day: Since June 30, Jacoby Ellsbury has had 11 multi-hit games and has batted .413 with four doubles, three triples, seven home runs, and 18 RBI.

Song of the day: Anything and everything on Spotify, the new digital music service. It's easy to get a free download, and the program is awesome. You can pick your own song of the day.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 24, 2011 07:40 AM

For a while, it didn't look like Terry Francona was going to get his 1000th managerial win. Then came Jacoby Ellsbury in the seventh inning. Michael Vega has the story.

Mike also has a notebook on Francona's milestone, Clay Buchholz, and Dustin Pedroia's hitting streak.

Josh Beckett finally got some run support. My story on Beckett's outing last night.

Francona gets win No. 1000 as a manager

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 23, 2011 11:55 PM
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Tonight's 3-1 win was Red Sox manager Terry Francona's 1000th managerial win.

"I'm just glad to win any way," Francona said. "But yeah, I guess it felt good."

Starting pitcher Josh Beckett was then asked what he thought about Francona's milestone.

"If he was a pitcher, it'd be more impressive," Beckett joked. "It's nice to win any time, but yeah, it's nice to pitch in games like that -- when they mean something to someone else."

Final: Red Sox 3, Mariners 1

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 23, 2011 07:00 PM

End of game: Red Sox 3, Mariners 1

Make that 14 straight losses for the Mariners. And yet another seventh-inning rally and win for the Red Sox. Daniel Bard's scoreless streak is in tact; Dustin Pedroia's hit streak is, too. Jonathan Papelbon got his 23rd save of the season.

End of 8th: Red Sox 3, Mariners 1

1-2-3 inning for Laffey.

Middle of 8th: Red Sox 3, Mariners 1

Daniel Bard came in for the Sox. He walked Ackley and Smoak. (Chone Figgins pinch ran for Smoak.) Kennedy reached on a sacrifice bunt/fielder's choice.

With the bases loaded and no out, Bard got Carp to fly out, Cust to strike out, and Gutierrez to ground out to third. Bard's scoreless streak extends to 24 innings.

End of 7th: Red Sox 3, Mariners 1

Crawford struck out. Reddick flied out to left. Varitek singled to center. Scutaro followed with a ground-rule double, giving the Sox runners on second and third and two outs.

Ellsbury came through in the clutch with a single up the middle, scoring both Varitek and Scutaro. He knocked Beavan out of the game. David Pauley came on in relief.

Pedroia smashed a single up the middle, moving Ellsbury to third. Aaron Laffey relieved Pauley.

Pedroia stole second, and Ellsbury scored on a wild pitch by Laffey. Pedroia then advanced to third. Gonzalez walked. Youkilis grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Whew. That was all with two outs. The Sox are now outscoring opponents 93-33 in the seventh inning this season.


Middle of 7th: Mariners 1, Red Sox 0

Carp led off with a solo home run to right centerfield on a 3-2 pitch.

Cust struck out looking. Gutierrez then singled to shallow right center. He stole second during Bard's at-bat. Bard grounded out to second. A beautiful defensive play by Youkilis got Ryan out at first and prevented a second Mariners run from scoring.

Beckett has thrown 118 pitches.

End of 6th: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Pedroia struck out swinging. Gonzalez then hit a ground-rule double that bounced over the right field wall. Youkilis hit a ground ball to Mariners third baseman Adam Kennedy, who tagged Gonzalez running toward third. Ortiz flied out to left to end the inning.

Middle of 6th: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Ichiro led off with a single up the middle. Ryan followed with a single to center. An Ackley groundout moved the runners up to second and third. Beckett then struck out Smoak and got Kennedy to pop out, stranding the runners and ending the inning.

End of 5th: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Scutaro got a two-out single. That's about it. Not much going on for either offense so far...

Middle of 5th: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

1-2-3. Cust struck out swinging. Gutierrez popped out to catcher Jason Varitek. Bard down on strikes, too. Beckett has five strikeouts through five.

End of 4th: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

1-2-3 inning for Mariners starter Blake Beavan.

Middle of 4th: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Ackley led off with a single to left. Smoak hit into a fielder's choice that erased Ackley from the bases. During Kennedy's at-bat, a wild pitch allowed Smoak to reach second. Kennedy grounded out to first, and Smoak moved to third on the play.

Beckett got Carp to ground out to second to end the inning. Beckett has now thrown 61 pitches through four innings.

End of 3rd: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Marco Scutaro flied out to start the inning. Then Ellsbury singled to left. He advanced to second on a fielding error by Mariners left fielder Mike Carp. Pedroia grounded out to short. Gonzalez flied out to left to end the inning.

Middle of 3rd: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

1-2-3 inning for Beckett.

End of 2nd: Red Sox 0, Mariners

David Ortiz led off with a double off the Green Monster. Carl Crawford followed with a single to right, moving Ortiz to third. Josh Reddick then popped out to second. Jason Varitek flied out to center, and Ortiz got thrown out at the plate trying to score after tagging up.

Middle of 2nd: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Adam Kennedy popped up to shallow center. Mike Carp struck out. Jack Cust hit a ground-rule double down the right field line.

Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett won an 11-pitch battle with Franklin Gutierrez, striking out Gutierrez for the third out.

End of 1st: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to third. Dustin Pedroia then doubled down the left field line, which extends his career-high hit streak to 20 games. Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis both struck out to end the inning.

Middle of 1st: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0

Ichiro Suzuki grounded out to third, and Brendan Ryan struck out. Dustin Ackley then singled up the middle. Justin Smoak popped up to shallow center for the final out of the inning.

Pregame notes from Fenway Park

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 23, 2011 04:40 PM

Quieter day at the park today. And a little bit cooler -- my iPhone weather app says it's 92 degrees.

A few notes fom Red Sox manager Terry Francona's pregame press conference:

** on Clay Buchholz, who had a "light catch" today and is working on returning from a lower back strain:

"The plan is Monday [he'll] throw a side," Francona said. "He may feel [the strain], but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll hurt himself. That's the kind of fine line we're walking right now.

"He's not ready to pitch. I don't think anybody thinks he is. We have a progression here, and it's going to have to be a consistent one. If you watch him throw, he looks great.

"There's some concern on his part, and I don't blame him. We're just taking it a step at a time and do it the right way."

** on Francona approaching win No. 1000 as a manager:

"I haven't thought about it very much," Francona said. "I got really lucky. I caught a huge break in being able to be the manager here because we have a great organization. We have great players. I just feel pretty fortunate."

** on Kevin Youkilis getting hit while fielding a ground ball last night:

"Hit him right in the hand," Francona said. "Got a bruise. Obviously, he's OK. He came back and waffled one to left. It hit more hand than glove."

** on Josh Reddick's head-first slide into first base last night:

"It shows how bad a guy wants a hit," Francona said. "I don't think that's a bad thing. It's not faster to get there -- we know that.

"It's hard for me to say something when a guy wants it that bad. I'd rather [Reddick] do that than jog down to first."

Game 98: Mariners at Red Sox

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 23, 2011 03:09 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (60-37)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Crawford LF
Reddick RF
Varitek C
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP Josh Beckett (8-3, 2.12)

MARINERS (43-56)
Ichiro RF
Ryan SS
Ackley 2B
Smoak 1B
Kennedy 3B
Carp LF
Cust DH
Gutierrez CF
Bard C

Pitching: RHP Blake Beavan (1-1, 2.70)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Red Sox won their 60th game last night (in the 97th game of the season). It's the club's fastest to 60 wins since 1979 (the 95th game). The Sox have now won seven consecutive games at Fenway Park, which ties their season-best home win streak. ... The Mariners have now lost 13 straight games, dating back to July 6. This is the club's longest losing streak since September 1992. ... Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to a career-high 19 games last night. During the stretch, Pedroia has had nine multi-hit games. ... David Ortiz returned from his suspension last night. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.

Stat of the day: The Red Sox have outscored opponents 90-32 in the seventh inning this season.

Song of the day: anything Amy Winehouse. Rest in peace.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe: Lackey stays cool

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 23, 2011 10:09 AM

John Lackey said last night's 96-degree heat was nothing -- he grew up in Texas. That and more on Lackey's eighth win from Michael Vega.

Here's a notebook from Mike that focuses on Clay Buchholz, who was supposed to throw off a mound yesterday. He didn't.

Jacoby Ellsbury's bat won't cool off. My story on Ellsbury.

In case you missed it on Extra Bases, some notes and quotes on Josh Reddick getting the start in right field yesterday.

Final: Red Sox 7, Mariners 4

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 22, 2011 07:00 PM

End of game: Red Sox 7, Mariners 4

Talk about two teams heading in opposite directions. The Red Sox have now won 11 of 13. The Mariners have now lost 13 straight.

Lackey picked up his eighth win tonight, and Pedroia extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.

Middle of 9th: Red Sox 7, Mariners 4

Jonathan Papelbon came in for the save -- his 22nd. 1-2-3 inning.

End of 8th: Red Sox 7, Mariners 4

1-2-3 inning for new Mariners pitcher Josh Lueke.

Middle of 8th: Red Sox 7, Mariners 4

Franklin Morales entered the game in relief of Lackey, who allowed just one run over seven innings.

Ackley flied out to left. Olivo doubled down the right field line. Kennedy struck out. After Smoak walked, Carp hit a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall. That's Carp's first homer of the season.

After Cust doubled to center, Francona pulled Morales and put in setup man Daniel Bard. Halman flied out to right to end the inning -- but it certainly was an interesting inning.

End of 7th: Red Sox 7, Mariners 1

Saltalamacchia led off with a single up the middle. Scutaro flied out. Ellsbury singled to right center, and on the hit, Salty reached third. Pedroia walked to load the bases. Gonzalez bounced a single up the middle, and Saltalamacchia and Ellsbury scored.

Hernandez left the game, and Jeff Gray came on in relief. He gave up a double to the first batter he faced -- Youkilis -- which scored Pedroia. On an error by left fielder Carp, Gonzalez scored. Ortiz followed that with a single of his own, which drove in Youkilis.

Crawford and Reddick both hit into fielder's choices. Whew, quite the inning. The Red Sox have now outscored opponents 90-32 in the seventh innings of games this season.

Middle of 7th: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Lackey struck out both Cust and Halman swinging. Ichiro then hit a ground-rule double that bounced into the stands by the third base line.

Ryan grounded out to third to end the inning.

End of 6th: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Ortiz walked to start the inning. Crawford hit into a double play (the Red Sox' fourth of the night). Reddick grounded out to second for the third out.

Middle of 6th: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Olivo reached base on an infield single. Kennedy and Smoak both flied out to left. Carp popped up to the catcher to end the inning.

End of 5th: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Scutaro reached on an infield single. After Ellsbury flied out, Pedroia singled up the middle. Gonzalez walked to load the bases for Youkilis.

Youkilis then grounded into an inning-ending double play. That could have been a lot worse for King Felix.

Middle of 5th: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Cust singled. Greg Halman and Ichiro flied out. Ryan singled. Ackley grounded out to end the inning.

End of 4th: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Mariners starter Felix Hernandez got his first 1-2-3 inning of the night. Saltalamacchia's ball gave him a little scare, though. Almost got out of the park.

Middle of 4th: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Olivo and Kennedy both grounded out. Smoak singled up the middle. Mike Carp flied out to deep center to end the inning.

End of 3rd: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1

Ellsbury led off with a solo home run over the right field wall -- his 16th homer of the season. Pedroia followed with an infield single, then stole second. Gonzalez struck out swinging for the first out.

Kevin Youkilis walked. Then Ortiz grounded into a double play to end the inning. Not the best night for Papi -- a groundout and a GIDP -- on his return from his suspension.

Middle of 3rd: Red Sox 1, Mariners 1

Another 1-2-3 inning for Lackey. Two groundouts and a soft line drive.

End of 2nd: Red Sox 1, Mariners 1

Carl Crawford led off with a single to left. Reddick then beat out a ground ball to second with a head-first slide into first base.

With two runners on and no out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out and Marco Scutaro hit into an inning-ending double play.

Middle of 2nd: Red Sox 1, Mariners 1

1-2-3 inning for Lackey. He handled the bottom of the Mariners' order just like he should have. Only item of note: Josh Reddick caught Jack Cust's fly ball in right field. Reddick got the start over a struggling J.D. Drew. Time for the RF debate. Who do you think should be out there?

End of 1st: Red Sox 1, Mariners 1

Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to short. Dustin Pedroia singled to left, extending his career-high hitting streak to 19 games. Pedroia advanced to second on a groundout and took third on a passed ball. Kevin Youkilis then singled to left, which scored Pedroia and tied the game.

David Ortiz grounded out for the third out.


Middle of 1st: Mariners 1, Red Sox 0

Ichiro Suzuki led off the inning with a single. He stole second and third during Brendan Ryan's at-bat, then scored on a single to left by Dustin Ackley. After both Miguel Olivo and Adam Kennedy reached base, Red Sox starter John Lackey struck out Justin Smoak to end the inning.

Mike Lowell: "I'm still at peace with my decision"

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 22, 2011 06:39 PM

Former Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell is in Boston with his family. He's visiting his ex-teammates and, of course, his old stomping grounds -- Fenway Park. After the Red Sox took batting practice this afternoon, the recently retired Lowell chatted with the media.

"Had a nice dinner with [Dustin] Pedroia last night -- he caught me up to speed," said Lowell, who currently resides in Miami. "The kids are good. We're enjoying it."

Lowell was asked if he considered himself an ex-Red Sox or an ex-Marlin, a valid question considering he won a World Series title with each team. He said neither -- an "ex-player." Lowell said he thinks fans remember him more as a Red Sox player, though.

"The memories are much fresher and the constant support -- you can't even compare Boston and Miami," It's really cool to come back here and see almost an abnormal passion for the sport."

Lowell's return to Fenway sparked questions about his future in baseball. He's midway through his first season as a retired ballplayer. Could he make a comeback as a player? Does he want to manage? How about television?

"My hip feels so good right now," said Lowell, referencing an injury that plagued him throughout the last three years of his career. "If I had to, I could [play]. ... I miss coming to a challenge every day. It's kind of what I've known for the better part of the last 17 years. I miss my friends.

"I'm still at peace with my decision, so I think I made the right one."

Lowell said he's not ready to consider a minor league or big league coaching career at this stage in his life. He said he enjoys working with the MLB Network because he gets to follow games and talk baseball.

Other than that, Lowell said he doesn't really watch full games. He watches innings or at-bats that interest him.

And Lowell has begun his coaching career -- by coaching his son's T-ball team.

"The T-ball 6-and-under Texas Rangers went undefeated," Lowell said. "I was the assistant coach. ... We don't keep score, so I tell the kids they win every game, which is perfect. I think they were worried about, 'Where's the pizza and juice?' more than who's up at bat."

Pregame updates on Buchholz and Lester

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 22, 2011 04:53 PM

Red Sox manager Terry Francona provided a couple of updates about two of his pitchers during his pregame news conference.

** On Clay Buchholz, who was placed on the disabled list retroactive to June 17 for a lower back strain:

"He did the long toss again [today]," Francona said. "We just felt -- Buch included -- one more time doing the long toss, then if all goes well, then he'll maybe go to a bullpen Sunday or Monday. We'll see."

This is a setback; Buccholz was supposed to throw off the mound today.

** On Jon Lester, who last pitched for the Sox on July 5 and suffered a strained lat muscle:

"Lester's all on pace for Monday," Francona said.

Monday night's game kicks off a four-game series against the Royals.

Pregame notes on Reddick's start in right field

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 22, 2011 04:40 PM

Josh Reddick will get the start in right field today, replacing the struggling J.D. Drew, who is batting .219 on the year. Since his May call-up, Reddick has hit .378 with four home runs and 18 RBI in 29 games.

"It's a great feeling, being a part of a lineup like this," Reddick said before today's game.

Since Carl Crawford returned to left field and Reddick has been so productive lately, Red Sox manager Terry Francona felt he had to figure out a way to keep Reddick in the lineup. The answer (at least for tonight)? Right field.

Francona said he called Drew last night to tell him about the lineup change.

"[Reddick is] swinging the bat awfully well," Francona said. "It's kind of hard not to play him. ... Josh deserves to play. He's given us such a lift in our lineup.

"We want to win games. At the moment, Red gives us a better chance."

Yesterday, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein appeared on WEEI and he, too, had nothing but praise for Reddick. "You can't deny what Josh Reddick is doing," Epstein said.

The flipside of playing well is that you become a possible trading chip. Reddick was asked about the trade rumors swirling around as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

"You need to keep your mind focused on winning the ballgame," Reddick said. "I just push that talk aside and hopefully let my actions do the talking, keep my mouth shut on that kind of thing.

"I'm here to help the ball club whenever I can to win ball games."

Game 97: Mariners at Red Sox

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 22, 2011 03:05 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (59-37)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Crawford LF
Reddick RF
Saltalamacchia C
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP John Lackey (6-7, 7.60)

MARINERS
Suzuki RF
Ryan SS
Ackley 2B
Olivo C
Kennedy 3B
Smoak 1B
Carp LF
Cust DH
Halman CF

Pitching: RHP Felix Hernandez (8-8, 3.26)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: Fresh off their day off, the Red Sox open a seven-game homestand with a game against the Mariners. Seattle has lost 12 straight, going from a respectable 43-43 record (and 2.5 games out of first) to their season being in shambles because the Rangers were winning 11 in a row at the same time. Now they're 12.5 games out. ... The Mariners have scored just 27 runs in those 12 games while hitting .208/.252/.280. This is a historically bad offensive team. Seattle is last in the AL in runs, hits and OPS (.618). They average 3.2 runs per game, a pace that would generate just 528 runs for the season. The Red Sox are on a pace to score 876. ... Hernandez is 4-1, 2.87 in nine career starts against the Sox, 3-0, 1.49 in five starts at Fenway. He faced the Sox at Fenway on May 1 and allowed two runs over seven innings with one walk and 10 strikeouts, But the Sox won the game 3-2. ... Lackey has pitched fairly well of late, giving up three earned runs on 13 hits in his last 13.1 innings with two walks and 14 strikeouts. He faced Seattle on April 30 and allowed two runs over six innings in a 3-2 loss. ... Lackey is 13-10, 3.62 in 28 career starts against Seattle. ... Pedroia enters the game riding an 18-game hit streak. He has reached base safely in 30 straight games. ... The Sox have won 10 of their last 12.

Stat of the Day: Thanks to interleague play, the All-Star break and the suspension he just served, David Ortiz has had just 48 at-bats since June 24. He has hit .148 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in that stretch.

Song of the Day: "(Love is) Like A Heat Wave" by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas.

Trade Talk: The dearth of starters

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 22, 2011 01:15 PM

Jon Lester pitches on Monday and Clay Buchholz has started down a path that should have him back in the rotation by mid August or so. As the pennant race heats up, the Sox should have a rotation of Josh Beckett, Lester, Buchholz and John Lackey with Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland and others as candidates for the No. 5 job.

That sounds like enough and it might have to be. The odds of landing a competent starter via trade would seem remote.

The Rockies are not really interested in trading Ubaldo Jimenez and threw his name out there just to see if they would get overwhelmed. The second-best starter on the market right now is Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers, who has a full no-trade clause and no desire to leave the West Coast according to reports.

That brings us to Wandy Rodriguez of the Astros. He has decent-enough statistics (3.67 ERA, 1.37 WHIP) but has a 5.25 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 22 starts against American League teams in his career. That would seem like a red flag.

There is talk the Rays will pack it in and trade James Shields. If so, they would want a knock-your-socks-off package to trade him within the division. Beyond that, there's not much.

The question will be whether a player becomes available who is better than Wakefield, Miller, etc. For the moment, that seems unlikely.

--------------

Just a programming note. I'm off this weekend and will return to work on Tuesday after a foray into the wilds of New Hampshire. Mike Vega, Nicole Auerbach and a cast of thousands from the Globe will handle the blog duties this weekend.

Enjoy the games, play nice in the comments section and I'll catch you in a few days.

New this summer at Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 22, 2011 01:02 PM

The Red Sox just sent out a press release on some new items at Fenway Park this summer. Here are the highlights:

The Boston Red Sox today launched a series of initiatives for the second half of the season intended to enhance the fan experience at Fenway Park and provide more options for fans to enjoy new concession facilities as well as a special opportunity for fans to share their ideas and stories for the upcoming 100th anniversary of America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.

Expanded Fenway Park Concessions
Fans will have the opportunity to enjoy several new food and beverage offerings during the second half of the season.The Taste of Fenway concession stand on Yawkey Way by Gate D will now feature a unique raw bar with fresh shellfish sold by the piece including clams on the half shell, shucked oysters and shrimp. Cooked seafood will also be available at the stand with favorites such as lobster rolls, crab cake sandwiches, fish and chips, fried clams and New England clam chowder. Cooked seafood items like the fried clams and fish and chips are freshly battered and cooked to order.

A new, thinly sliced Italian beef sandwich with fresh homemade mozzarella, topped with au jus gravy and served on a French baguette, will be available at three deli stands throughout the ballpark, and sno-cones will also be added to Wally’s favorites on Yawkey Way.

Those looking for lighter fare will find expanded healthy selections such as fresh cut fruits like watermelon and other seasonal melon, yogurts, jello, salads and wraps. These items will be available at various concession stands and through premium in-seat services.

Fans taking a tour of Fenway Park, and others who might just be in the Fenway neighborhood, can now stop by Gate B for a Fenway Frank or to purchase a souvenir during the second half of the season. The Gate B Picnic Area and Right Field Team Store located in the Big Concourse will now be open to the public during the season from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on non-game days and will have select concession offerings and Red Sox merchandise available throughout the day.

Fan Engagement
In an effort to include Red Sox Nation in the upcoming 100th anniversary planning and celebration of Fenway Park, a new initiative called Tell Your Tale will begin during the second half of the season and will give fans an opportunity to record their favorite moment or memory at Fenway Park. Each game day, members of the Red Sox Productions team will conduct interviews beginning two hours before the game on Yawkey Way and then during the game in the Big Concourse (2nd inning), Cumberland Farms Terrace (3rd inning), Coca-Cola Deck (4th inning), and Steiner Deck (5th inning).

Additionally, the Red Sox will be hosting a focus group with members of the Red Sox executive team called Tell it to the Sox to solicit ideas from fans about the ballpark’s upcoming 100th anniversary celebration and other ideas to improve the fan experience at Fenway Park. More information on when the focus group will be held and how interested fans can take part will be announced in the coming months.

Ongoing Favorites
Other initiatives that have been Fenway Park traditions and will continue throughout the second half of the season include Player Photo Days, where immediately following batting practice, a current player will take photos with fans for thirty minutes, and Autograph Alley, which makes Red Sox legends from past teams available at the Red Sox Team Store on Yawkey Way to fans for approximately an hour to sign autographs.

Pitching matchups for the Mariners series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 22, 2011 09:45 AM

Tonight: RHP Felix Hernandez (8-8, 3.26) vs. RHP John Lackey (7-8, 6.70), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Saturday: RHP Blake Beavan (1-1, 2.70) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (8-3, 2.12), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Sunday: RHP Michael Pineda (8-6, 3.24) vs. RHP Tim Wakefield (5-3, 4.80), 1:35 p.m., NESN, TBS

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 22, 2011 09:00 AM

Daniel Bard is setting a new standard with a scoreless streak going on two months.

The notebook has Theo Epstein wanting to lock up Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term contract.

The minor league notebook has Ryan Lavarnway mashing for Pawtucket. Michael Vega has the story.

Theo Epstein: Red Sox would like to lock up Jacoby Ellsbury with a long-term deal

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 21, 2011 01:18 PM

Theo Epstein did an interview on WEEI this morning. There were three notable answers.

On signing Jacoby Ellsbury long term: "Yeah, I think with all of our young players that we see as core members of our organization that is something we are interested in. We certainly see Jacoby as that. This certainly isn’t the right forum to talk about it as conversations are always between closed doors, but it is not a secret that we have sat down and tried in the past and tried to lock Jacoby up in the past, and we will sit down in the future and try and do it again at the appropriate time. He is somebody that we have believed in as a core, young member in the organization that we look to keep around.

We have certain organizational standards that have to be met, and we have worked hard to keep those standards with Pedroia and Youkilis and Lesters of the world, so we’d love to one day announce that Jacoby will be with this organization for a long time and this is where he should be and we see him as a core guy."

Translation: The Red Sox would need to buy back at least one year of free agency and have an option for another to make a deal with Ellsbury. Basically a contract for 2012, '13 and '14 (his first free agent year) with an team option for '15 and maybe '16, too.

Given that Ellsbury is represented by Scott Boras, good luck with that.

On Josh Reddick: "You can’t deny what Josh Reddick is doing and you can’t deny that he’s a different player than he’s been. Josh Reddick has always had a world of talent. From the day we drafted him, the ball jumped off his bat as well as just about any player in our system. Always really athletic, always a really good outfielder, always a playmaker in the outfield, always a pretty dynamic baserunner. It was simply of question of Josh — and it always has been — improving his plate discipline. His swing mechanics, going up there with a plan, working the count, putting himself in a position where he could let that explosiveness of his bat play and let his natural instincts play out there in the batters box.

"We’ve probably talked to Josh about it thousands of times over the years and it looks like a light has gone on for him. He’s a different guy and a really exciting piece, not for just this year but also the future. Tito makes out the lineup and I’m sure he’s going to have decisions to make on a nightly basis. I don’t want to speak for him, certainly Josh is someone who has helped us win games and you want to put him in a position to continue to do that."

On who plays right field, Reddick or J.D. Drew: "I don’t think you have to cast your lot on one player and completely bury another. As I said, Tito’s job is to put the best team on the field on a given night to help us win. When you have one player performing so well, or so hot, maybe demonstrating that a light has gone on for him and another player who has struggled all year it’s something you have to really massage as a manager.

"But we’ve always been an organization that has given the best players a chance to impact the game for our team on that given night. I know there’s been a lot of discussion on these airways, ‘Do this 100 percent. The other guy plays zero percent.’ That’s probably not how it’s going to be, but of course the players who are playing the best at the time get the chance to win a game for the Boston Red Sox."

Translation: Starting in right field, for now anyway, Josh Reddick.

Your guide to the trade deadline

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 21, 2011 01:14 PM

The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31, only 10 days away. Here's a brief guide to all the action:

The deadline is not really the deadline: Teams can still make trades after July 31 and often do. It's just that the players have to clear waivers. That complicates matters, but significant deals can still be made.

The real deadline is Aug. 31, the date that players must be on the roster to be eligible for the postseason.

GMs talk, that is what they do: It's not really news that Theo Epstein called a team to ask about its players. It would be news if he did not. Part of a GM's job is having a pretty good idea what the other 29 teams want to do. So don't get too excited by somebody's breathless report that GM X called Team Y.

Love the one you're with: The Red Sox need a right fielder, that's no secret. But even with right field giving them little production, the Sox still have the best offense in baseball. Would Carlos Beltran really make them that much better? Or would Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald suffice?

Teams send scouts to games. That's what scouts do: That a team has a scout at a major league game and those two teams could match up for a trade is often coincidental. Teams employ dozens of scouts who attend games all season, not just in July. GMs have many ways to evaluate a player, a scout's take is just one piece of the puzzle.

Your team's prospects are not as valuable as you think: The prospects of large-market teams often get over-hyped simply because there is more media coverage of their players. That you've heard a lot about a certain player doesn't mean other teams think he's worth obtaining.

Think long term: A good GM doesn't look only at his team's need right now. He looks at how a trade would change the organization going forward. The Red Sox used three prime prospects to obtain Adrian Gonzalez in December knowing that would impact their ability to make a trade six months later. Nothing changed because J.D. Drew stopped hitting.

Every great player was once a prospect: It's easy to say "Trade anybody to get this star player! We need him." But Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Clay Buchholz were once prospects, too. Pillaging a good farm system can be a quick trip to mediocrity.

Pitching, pitching, pitching: The Red Sox have plenty of offense.Their catchers have the fourth-best OPS in the AL and nobody saw that coming. A reliable No. 5 starter and a lefthanded reliever would benefit this team so much more.

Consider the other side: Picture yourself as the GM of the other team at a press conference in his city announcing the trade. "Thanks for coming everybody. We sent Hunter Pence to the Red Sox today. We got back their third-best pitching prospect, a right fielder they don't need now that they have Hunter and a few other guys who could be decent. Any questions?" In other words, you have to give up something to get something.

Old news: Many of the "rumors" that are reported were based on talks that happened days ago. A smart GM works on the down low anyway.

As to the Red Sox: I think they'll trade for a reliever and and see if a right fielder falls into their laps at a decent price. Josh Reddick looks terrific now. But how will be look in two weeks once the scouting reports catch up to him?

As for Extra Bases, we'll keep you advised on the news. Whatever Nick and I hear that seems legit, we'll pass on.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 21, 2011 10:48 AM

Jacoby Ellsbury hit two home runs as the Red Sox beat the Orioles, 4-0

Nick Cafardo writes that Andrew Miller did his job, even if it wasn't pretty.

The notebook has Adrian Gonzalez getting four hits to snap his brief slump.

Trade Talk: Hunter Pence

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 08:22 PM

Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the Astros are willing to trade outfielder Hunter Pence.

Count the Red Sox as a team sure to inquire.

A two-time All-Star, Pence is under team control though 2013 and would provide a long-term replacement in right field for J.D. Drew at a relatively known cost. Pence, 28, is a player in his prime as well, meaning the Sox would pay for future production, not for what he did in the past as would be the case for somebody like Carlos Beltran.

The price would surely be high for Pence, perhaps prohibitively so for the Sox after giving up three blue-chippers for Adrian Gonzalez. But the Sox do have a fairly decent inventory of prospects.

Start with Ryan Lavarnway, Will Middlebrooks or Ryan Kalish. Toss in any pitcher not named Anthony Ranaudo (meaning Kyle Weiland, Felix Doubront, Alex Wilson or Stephen Fife) and then whatever else it takes. Josh Reddick, Che-Hsuan Lin, Bryce Brentz, etc.

No Ranaudo, no Jose Iglesias. Other than that, it's a good move.

The Astros could well be playing the same game the Rockies are playing with Ubaldo Jimenez by putting a star on the market to see if somebody will overpay for him. It would be worth finding out.

The power of Jacoby Ellsbury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 07:08 PM

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AP Photo/Nick Wass

BALTIMORE — Jacoby Ellsbury hit two more home runs today and now has 15 on the season. To put that in some perspective, among the Red Sox only David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez have more. Ellsbury also has more that A-Rod, Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth and Adam Dunn.

“He kind of put us on his shoulders today,” manager Terry Francona said after a 4-0 victory against Baltimore. “He’s had a way of doing that from time to time. He took some really good swings.”

So what is it, Jacoby?

“No reason,” he said. “Just staying balanced, keeping my weight back and driving the ball. It’s being ready to hit and keeping my hands back. It’s pretty simple. I haven’t really changed anything.”

Ellsbury didn’t hit a single home run last year, his season limited to 18 games because of fractured ribs. He has not gotten any stronger since, either.

“Not really,” he said. “I was just trying to come back from last year. I didn’t really have time to work on that aspect.”

Francona believes the home runs are a product of Ellsbury becoming a more disciplined hitter, not necessarily a stronger one.

“It’s knowing the strike zone and knowing the league. He’s probably turning into a better hitter,” the manager said. “Confident.”

Whatever it is, it's working.

A few notes for you . . .

Jon Lester threw 45 pitches over three simulated innings. John Lackey stood in as a hitter. "Tremendous," Francona said.

"Good," said Lester, a reserved kind of guy.

He's clear for Monday.

Andrew Miller's six walks were a career high but he didn't allow a run in 5.2 innings. He was actually pretty good for his final 3.2 innings and even hit 95. But trying to guess what he'll do next time is impossible.

The Sox are 5-1 when he starts. That's enough for now.

• Ellsbury has a 29-game hit streak against the Orioles dating back to 2009. It’s the longest streak against the Orioles since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Daniel Bard set a franchise record with his 21st consecutive scoreless appearance. He also has not allowed a run in 22.2 innings going back to May 23. That’s the longest streak for a Red Sox pitcher since Bob Stanley threw 27 consecutive scoreless innings from July 27-Aug. 31, 1980.

"He's a machine," Francona said.

• Adrian Gonzalez was 4 for 5. Crisis over. "You people panic too much," Gonzo said, laughing. Not all people. Adrian. But blind, stupid panic is a Boston standard in some quarters.

• A report by Fox Sports listed the Red Sox as one of the “most aggressive suitors” for Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran. But several major league sources refuted that, saying that while the Sox have inquired about Beltran, they are not among those in hot pursuit. They would make a deal only if it made sense.

The Red Sox, for now, are evaluating to what degree they can rely on Josh Reddick in right field with Darnell McDonald available to play against lefthanders.

Final: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 12:30 PM

Final: Red Sox 4, Showalters 0

That's a solid 4-2 road trip for the Sox, who have won 10 of 12 overall and have a day off tomorrow. Andrew Miller (4-1) was effectively wild and Jacoby Ellsbury had two home runs before a crowd of 35,174.

The Sox are 8-3 against the Orioles this season, outscoring them, 72-47. But Theo Epstein isn't so smart, right Buck?

Back in a bit with a report from the clubhouse.

Middle of the 9th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Gonzalez (4 for 5) had a two-out single and was thrown out going to second. Veteran move, shortens up the game. Nice work.

Papelbon in.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

1-2-3 inning for Bard. That extends his streak to 22.2 consecutive scoreless innings. He has made 21 straight scoreless appearances, a club record.

Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Gonzalez (3 for 4) singled and Youkilis had a ground rule double before Reddick and Crawford drew walks to force in a run against Mark Hendrickson. Mark Worrell came in and with his unorthodox delivery got through the inning without allowing a run.

Worrell is kind of a submariner with footwork that twists him up a little. But it seems to deceive the hitters, at least at first.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 0

1-2-3 inning for Albers. He has thrown 4.1 scoreless and hitless innings against his old club this season.

Middle of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 0

Ellsbury went deep again, again to right field. It was his second career multiple home run game. The first was April 22, 2008.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0

Miller is done. He got two outs before Lee singled and Reynolds walked. That was as far as Terry Francona cared to walk the tightrope. Matt Albers came in and got a quick force at second.

Miller's odd line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 6 BB, 3 K. He threw 103 pitches, 60 strikes.

Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0

Reddick (2 for 3) singled. Crawford was called for interfering with the catcher, which resulted in a double play. As he struck out, Crawford stepped across the plate while Craig Tatum was throwing to second to try to get Reddick. Scutaro then grounded to short.

Top of the 6th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0

Quite a day for Miller. With one out and the bases empty, he threw a pitch to Tatum that was about five feet outside and hit the backstop. Then Tatum singled up the middle for the first Baltimore hit. Hardy and Markakis then lined out to the outfield.

Can five shutout innings be ugly?

Middle of the 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0

Pedroia had an infield single to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games. But that was it. The Sox have seven hits in five innings but have left five runners on base.

Top of the 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0

Strong inning for Miller, who struck out Lee and Reynolds before getting Reimold to pop to left. He is at 69 pitches.

His line: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 3 K

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0

Reddick started the inning with a single and took third when Crawford doubled down the line in right. Scutaro struck out but a run scored when Varitek grounded to second. Navarro then struck out.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0

Miller walked Jones but was otherwise unscathed. He has the A.J. Burnett no-hitter going: 3 IP, 0H, 0 R, 5 BB.

Middle of the 3d: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0

Ellsbury homered to right, a blast deep into the seats. He has 14 on the season. Among the Red Sox, only Ortiz (19) and Gonzo (17) have more.

Gonzalez (2 for 2, crisis over) singled with two outs before Youk grounded out. Last night, when we asked Adrian about his "slump" he said we'd be asking him next week about getting three hits in a game. That could be today.

Top of the 3d: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Hold on tight with Andrew Miller. He got an out then walked Reynolds, Reimold, and Andino in a row. Craig Tatum inexplicably swung at the first pitch then proceeded to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play. Scutaro made a nice hop over Andino on the turn.

Miller has thrown 45 pitches.

Middle of the 2d: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Crawford singled with one out and stole second. He has two steals since coming off the DL, a sign perhaps that he plans to be more aggressive on the bases. Crawford was stranded when Scutaro and Varitek grounded out.

Top of the 2d: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Miller struck out his first AL batter in 45 tries when he fanned the estimable Markakis looking. Then he walked Jones before getting Wieters to pop to right.

His fastball hit 95, that's a good sign.

Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Gonzalez emerged from his career-threatening slump (you should see my e-mail) with a sharp single up the middle with two outs. Then Youkilis struck out looking and didn't agree with the assessment of Mike Winters.

Pre-game: Good afternoon from a steamy Camden Yards, where the Red Sox will take on the Orioles in a few minutes. There are a ton of Red Sox fans here as the Sox end their road trip.

We'll have updates here all game and try to have some fun at the same time. So if you're at work or watching from home, please add your thoughts in the comments section.


Q&A with former Red Sox pitcher Bill 'Spaceman' Lee

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff July 20, 2011 12:25 PM

grossfeldlee.jpg

Former Red Sox lefthander Bill 'Spaceman' Lee stopped by to discuss his playing days, life after baseball, a movie project he's working on, and today's Red Sox team. See what questions he took and answered below.

For more information on Lee's movie project, "Have Glove, Will Travel", you can visit the project's website and watch a clip explaining more about it.

Varitek charity putt-putt event tomorrow

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 11:35 AM

The Jason Varitek Celebrity Putt-Putt tournament will be tomorrow evening at Athletic Evolution in Woburn.

The event benefits Journey Forward, an organization that aids people with spinal cord injuries.

Go to Journey-Forward.org for information and to purchase tickets.

Tickets are $50 and include a photograph with Jason. Many of his teammates and other Boston celebrities will be in attendance. When the Captain calls, they show up.

Lester getting his work in

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 10:58 AM

BALTIMORE — Jon Lester is throwing in the bullpen now, the longer-than-normal side session designed to test the soundness of his body after the lat strain he suffered earlier this month.

Pitching coach Curt Young is running the operation with head athletic trainer Mike Reinold watching closely along with vice president of baseball operation Brian O'Halloran.

Based on watching from the press box, Lester seems to be doing fine. He is scheduled to start on Monday.

Game 96: Red Sox at Orioles

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 09:00 AM

Here are the lineups as the Red Sox try to win the series:

RED SOX (58-37)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez DH
Youkilis 1B
Reddick RF
Crawford LF
Scutaro SS
Varitek C
Navarro 3B

Pitching: LHP Andrew Miller (3-1, 5.68)

ORIOLES (39-55)
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Wieters DH
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Reimold LF
Andino 2B
Tatum C

Pitching: RHP Jake Arrieta (9-6, 5.10)

Game time: 12:35 p.m.

TV/ Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox are 3-2 on a road trip that ends today. ... Miller is 2-0, 3.06 in three starts against National League teams. He is 1-1, 11.74 in two starts against American League teams. He has faced 43 AL hitters and does not have a strikeout. ... The Sox are 7-3 against the Orioles, outscoring them, 68-47. ... Pedroia has matched his career high with a 17-game hitting streak. He has hit safely in 28 of the last 29 games at 44 of 119 (.370). ... Arrieta is 1-1, 6.75 in two career starts against the Sox. ... These starters faced each other July 7 at Fenway. The Sox won the game, 10-4. Miller went five innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Arrieta went 4.1 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits.

Stat of the Day: Ellsbury is five steals away from passing Carl Yastrzemski for third place in team history. Yaz had 168.

Song of the Day: "Wild Age" by Warren Zevon.

Early morning, Camden Yards

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 08:40 AM

cyaopphoto-1.jpg

Here's Camden Yards, quiet as a library for now. If you've never taken in a game here, you should make plans to come down. Baltimore is an easy place to get to, there are plenty of hotels within walking distance and the ballpark is just beautiful. Can't recommend it enough.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 08:38 AM

The Red Sox were beaten by the Orioles last night as Adrian Gonzalez continued to slump.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox are set to make a deal when the time comes.

Dan Shaughnessy has some baseball items including an interview with Scott Boras.

The notebook has Darnell McDonald showing some staying power.

These things happen

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 20, 2011 12:14 AM

BALTIMORE — Today was a page off the calendar. The Red Sox lost, the Yankees lost and see you tomorrow.

It's easy to to think that the Red Sox should have beat the Orioles and punching bag starter Jeremy Guthrie, the man with the most losses in baseball. But there's a reason winning 100 games is so unusual.

It's not worth analyzing. They lost.

But a few things stood out in this game:

• Rookie Kyle Weiland looked like a starter worthy of more opportunities. He kept his fastball down, threw his breaking pitches for strikes and maintained his poise after falling behind 3-0. It's hard to get excited about his recording a quality start against the Orioles, but for the 24-year-old, it was a nice accomplishment.

Jon Lester is lined up to pitch on Monday, Weiland's spot in the rotation. It would not be a shock if the Red Sox optioned him down soon and added a spare reliever to their bullpen.

But when next a need arises, Weiland has proven he's capable.

Adrian Gonzalez is 2 for 24 since the All-Star break with one RBI and seven strikeouts. This obviously is the curse of the Home Run Derby.

Except it's really not. Gonzalez was hitting .354 with a 1.006 OPS before the All-Star Game. Prior to this season, he was a career .284 hitter and had an .875 OPS. There was bound to be some regression in the second half of the season.

Yes, Gonzalez has benefited from playing in a better lineup and in smaller parks. But not to the point where he as going to hit 70 points above his career average and 131 points over his career OPS.

"I just don’t think you can do that all year,” Terry Francona said. “Not very many guys [do]. Sometimes you go through periods when you’re not seeing [the ball] as good as you were. That’ll get back. He was at such a pace, a torrid pace. I don’t think you keep that up.”

Gonzalez seemed amused at questions about his five-game "slump."

“Stop thinking about,” Gonzalez said when asked what he would do. “Nothing changes. The worst thing to do is panic and that’s not something I’ll ever do. I’ve been through too many of these 2-for-whatever it is to know it’s a long season.”

He did admit he's not comfortable at the plate, which has led to his not recognizing certain pitches and taking either bad or hesitant swings. He said similar things in April when he was hitting .244 after 12 games. Then he flipped the switch. Give it time. he'll do it again.

By my count, there have been four balls he hit during the five games that could very easily have been hits. If they fall, we're not having this discussion.

Josh Reddick was 3 for 4 with a double and is making it almost impossible for the Sox not to play him in right field on Friday night once David Ortiz is back. Reddick is 23 of 63 (.365) with 10 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in 22 games since being called up.

At some point, it's a mistake not to ride that wave as long as you can and the Sox have reached that point. J.D. Drew has 11 extra-base hits and 22 RBIs all season.

Nobody can say this is Josh Reddick. But this is Josh Reddick right now.

Final: Orioles 6, Red Sox 2

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 19, 2011 07:13 PM

Game over: Orioles 6, Red Sox 2

The Red Sox have been defeated here at Camden Yards as the bats were silenced by Jeremy Guthrie and Jim Johnson. The Sox got both runs on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's eighth home run.

The game was played in 2:37 before 32,314.

Bottom 8th: Orioles 6, Red Sox 2

Very uncharacteristic of Alfredo Aceves who surrendered a two-run homer to Derrek Lee and then a solo shot to Mark Reynolds. Too bad, Aceves had continued to give the Red Sox fantatsic relief, but he walked Matt Wieters and left a pitch up over the plate.

The Sox were hoping Aceves could nurse Boston's one-run lead, but it wasn't meant to be. All of this happened with two outs.

Kyle Weiland did OK. The rookie gave the Sox a quality start for six innings, three runs, That's exactly what they were hoping for.

The Sox offense couldn't do much against Jeremy Guthrie who pitched seven scoreless innings. Josh Reddick, with three hits tonight, continues to make a case for himself to be the starting right fielder when David Ortiz returns to the DH spot.

Top 5th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2

Jarrod Saltalamacchia roped a two-run homer to right field with Josh Reddick aboard to close the gap. Reddick hit a leadoff double and was moved to third by Carl Crawford's ground out. The Sox rallied a bit after the homer as Marco Scutaro walked and Ellsbury singled, but Pedroia grounded out to end the inning.

Top 4th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 0

WBZ's Jon Miller points out that Adrian Gonzalez has gone 2 for 22 since the Home Run derby (though he did hit a home run in the All-Star Game). Could it be his swing was messed up?

Bottom 3rd: Orioles 3, Red Sox 0

Kyle Weiland may not be ready for prime time. He's allowed three runs on five hits so far. Matt Wieters knocked in the third run.

Bottom 2nd: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

The Orioles rallied against Weiland with Adam Jones and Matt Wieters reaching base with singles. With one out, Mark Reynolds doubled to left field, scoring the first run. Nolan Reimold grounded out, scoring the second run.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Josh Reddick singled to right against Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie with one out, but Carl Crawford forced him at second base and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Kyle Weiland had a strange first major league debut against the Orioles on July 10 when he was ejected for hitting Vlad Guerrero with a pitch in the fifth inning. He allowed eight hits and six runs in that start.

He started well tonight, a 1-2-3 inning in the first.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield hit to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, tying his career high. Adrian Gonzalez knocked into a double play, however, to end the inning.

Pregame notes from Baltimore

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 19, 2011 05:19 PM

BALTIMORE - Bobby Jenks had a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection in his lower back today in hopes he may respond to the treatment and heal quicker.

Jenks is on the disabled list for the third time and hasn't been of much help to the Red Sox this season.

Sox manager Terry Francona said that doctors have found no structural damage in Jenks' back and are treating it as such.

"The (shot) makes you sore for a few days and then see what type of gains he starts making," Francona said.

• Clay Buchholz will repeat throwing long toss from 120 feet tomorrow and if all goes well could be throwing off a mound by the weekend.

That seems to be the biggest test.

"When he gets to the mound ... that's been the sticking point," said Francona of Buchholz' attempted return from his sore back. "Yesterday was such a good day (throwing from 120 feet) and everyone was pleased. He did really well. It looked like a normal day of long toss for a guy who feels good about himself, so that was good."

• Jed Lowrie continues to swing off a tee from both sides of the plate. Lowrie is trying to return from shoulder inflammation and will likely start picking up his activity soon.

• As long as Darnell McDonald gets fastballs to hit, he'll be able to get out of his early season slump. Scouts who have been watching him throughout his career don't understand why the opposition would ever throw him a hittable fastball because McDonald has always had trouble hitting the offspeed stuff, which is why he stayed in the minor leagues for so long. McDonald is definitely coming off his early season struggles as witnessed by his bases-clearing double last night.

"He's going to have fight looking up at the scoreboard and seeing his batting average so low. We would have made a mistake if we had stopped playing him," Francona said. How McDonald responds the next weeks or so could very determine whether the Red Sox rev up the search for a righthanded hitting outfielder.

• Francona said that he may give Kevin Youkilis a shot to DH tomorrow afternoon while David Ortiz serves the final game of his suspension. Carl Crawford gets the nod today. Jacoby Ellsbury DH'd on Monday. Francona felt Ellsbury had done a lot of roaming in the 16-inning game and wanted to give him a rest. Francona said Crawford did a lot of running in last night's game and wanted to give him a chance to rest his legs.

• Francona is happier with Dan Wheeler's performance of late. He's been the reliever with no role to speak of, but that could change as he continues to pitch well. He kept the Red Sox in the game last night.

New podcast: The right stuff

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff July 19, 2011 04:47 PM

Pete Abraham and Chad Finn discuss whether Josh Reddick should be the everyday right fielder, the depth of the pitching staff, and the dominance of Daniel Bard.

Get Adobe Flash player

Duration: 24:09

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes. Find its archive here.

Game 95: Red Sox at Orioles

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 19, 2011 03:05 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (58-36)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Reddick LF
Crawford DH
Saltalamacchia C
Drew RF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP Kyle Weiland (0-0, 13.50)

ORIOLES (38-55)
Angle LF
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Wieters C
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Reimold DH
Davis 2B

Pitching: RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3-13, 4.45)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox have won three straight, 9 of 10 and 13 of 15. ... Weiland is making his second career start and it's against the Orioles again. He allowed six runs on eight hits over four innings the first time. ... Pedroia has hit safely in 16 straight, one off his carer high. He has reached base safely in 28 straight games with hits in 27 of those games. ... Youkilis has reached base safely in 26 straight games, hitting 33 of 96 in that span. ... Franklin Morales has thrown 6.1 scoreless innings in his last eight appearances and allowed one hit. ... Francona has 997 career wins.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have won seven straight against Baltimore, scoring 61 runs in those games.

Song of the Day: "Rise to Power" by Tom Morello.

Pedroia or Cano? It's clear at the moment

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 19, 2011 12:25 PM

BALTIMORE — Who would you rather have, Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano? For Red Sox and Yankees fans, it's a great question to debate. It's not quite Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio, but it's a fun topic.

Cano was the American League All-Star at second base. But Pedroia is the best second baseman in the league at the moment.

Check out their stats for the season:

Pedroia
.295/.401/.468
36 extra-base hits
50 RBIs
17 steals
137 OPS+
5.1 WAR

Cano
.294/.339/.506
41 extra-base hits
59 RBIs
6 steals
129 OPS+
2.7 WAR

Their defense is excellent, too. You could not go wrong with either player. But right now, Pedroia is the clear choice given his 1.177 OPS in the last 35 games.

Hell yeah, Red Sox pitchers like beer

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 19, 2011 11:17 AM



A loyal reader on Twitter (thanks, Erin!) sent me this link. It's a video from Kevin Fowler and his new song "Hell Yeah, I Like Beer."

Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey make cameo appearances in the video and maybe all y'all might get a kick out of it.

If you're at work, kill the volume on your computer. Or go home. It's July. Nobody will notice.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 19, 2011 10:13 AM

The Red Sox were tired but found a way to beat the Orioles last night.

Nick Cafardo writes that Dustin Pedroia is carrying the team.

Bob Ryan is happy he stayed up for all 16 innings on Sunday night.

Kevin Cullen also stayed up.

The notebook recaps what a wild game that was.


Red Sox beat Orioles — and the schedule

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 19, 2011 12:00 AM

BALTIMORE — There are times when the schedule beats even the best of teams. It is inevitable, especially in professional sports.

The Orioles played a day game on Sunday at home, the last out getting made at 4:35 p.m. The Red Sox were just arriving at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to prepare for a game that night against the Rays.

You know what happened next, the game went 16 innings before the Sox came away with a 1-0 victory. The last out was made at 1:54 a.m.

Only 17 hours and 13 minutes later, the Sox started their game against the Orioles. During that time, they showered and changed in Florida, rode a bus to the airport, flew to Baltimore, boarded another bus to their hotel and then fell into bed.

It was 6:15 a.m. by the time the players got to their rooms.

It's not unfair. It's just the way it is. When 30 teams are playing 15 games in different cities and in different time zones, there are bound to be times when one gets more rest than the other. There were a handful of times this season the Sox were on the other end of that equation.

Terry Francona batted away questions about his team being tired like he was swatting flies. If the manager complains, it sends a bad message to the players.

“Whatever time you get in, it doesn’t matter. We’re fine,” Francona said before the game. “It’s not like we all need that much beauty sleep anyway.”

Good teams find a way to win and the Sox did that, relying on their offense in a 15-10 victory. It was not exactly a memorable game, but it spoke to their determination.

“It’s tough. I was tired and I’m sure everyone else was,” said Dustin Pedroia, who drove in the go-ahead runs with a double in the eighth inning. “We’re just all trying to win the game. That’s what we get paid to do. We’re trying to go play the game right and whatever situation comes up in the game, we have to respond to it."

Of course, playing Baltimore helped. The Sox have scored 61 runs in their last seven games against the O's. The Buck Showalter Pitching Change Carnival is not working out so well.

As to other stuff . . .

Carl Crawford was 2 for 5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Based on his scoring from first on a double, his left hamstring is just fine.

• Big effort by Dan Wheeler, who tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Tim Wakefield to get the win. He had not pitched on Sunday and came to the park yesterday expecting he would be needed.

“There was no question. There were a couple of guys that weren’t available,” he said. “There was a pretty good chance no matter what the score was that I was going to be out there. I was preparing for that all day.”

• If you look at his last five games, you can see why the Red Sox showed great patience with Darnell McDonald. He is 4 for 11 with seven RBIs and three walks.

• Whither J.D. Drew? He was 0 for 3 and is down to .222. It's interesting to note that when the Orioles went to a lefty reliever, Francona used McDonald to pinch hit for Drew and not for Josh Reddick.

It will be intriguing to see what happens with David Ortiz returns from suspension. Reddick has not done enough to merit anything radical like releasing Drew. But he certainly deserves to play ahead of him.

There you go. That's it for tonight. Thanks to everybody for reading today.

Final: Red Sox 15, Orioles 10

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 07:09 PM

Game over

The good news, no overtime tonight. The Red Sox won this one decisively in regulation thanks to an eight-run eighth inning, highlighted by Dustin Pedroia's go-ahead double to break a 7-7 tie.

Gutsy game for a very tired Red Sox team which endured a 1-0, 16-inning win the night before against Tampa Bay and a 6 a.m. arrival in Baltimore. On a night when you thought there might not be a lot of energy, it was quite the opposite as the Red Sox had staying power late in this one.

Lefty Franklin Morales struck out the side in the ninth.

Time of game was 3:37 before 27,924 at Camden Yards. If you had to estimate, almost half were Red Sox fans.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 15, Orioles 10

A wise scout told me earlier today that when Randy Williams fails to throw a first pitch strike, it usually backfires on him. Felix Pie (walk), Robert Andini (walk) and JJ Hardy (RBI single), each started with first-pitch balls.

Nick Markakis (ball one) singled in two more runs. Williams also committed a wild pitch and Jarrod Saltalamacchia was charged with a passed ball in an ugly inning.

Top 8th: Red Sox 15, Orioles 7

The Sox loaded bases against this awful Orioles bullpen with a pair of walks to ellsbury and McDonald and a single by Marco Scutaro.

Guess who broke the tie?

The Player.

Dustin Pedroia stroked a two-run double to right scoring two. After Buck Showalter played the percentages and walked Adrian Gonzalez intentionally, Kevin Youkilis cleaned up on the decision - another two-run single to widen the gap to a more comfortable four-run margin.

Carl Crawford returned to the lineup by stroking his second hit , an RBI single scoring Boston's 12th run.

The topper?

Darnell McDonald's bases-clearing double. Maybe the Red Sox won't need to get that righthanded hitting outfielder after all.

Bottom 7th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 7

Red Sox have to love what Dan Wheeler has given them tonight. Really the forgotten man in the Sox pen, Wheeler is starting to find himself. He struck out the side, but did walk Derrek Lee.

Top 7th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 7

The Red Sox might have gotten in at 6 a.m., but they're showing no signs of fatigue with a fighting spirit that keeps them in this game. Kevin Youkilis tied with a single that eluded third baseman Mark Reynold's dive scoring Jacoby Ellsbury, who singled and moved to second on Pedroia's walk.

Showalter had righty Jason Berken pitch to Youkilis to no avail. He yanked Berken after one batter to briong on lefty Mike Gonzalez to face Josh Reddick, who had homered in his last at-bat in the fifth. Reddick made the second out and Crawford nearly beat out a grounder to second base, but Robert Andino made a nice play to nail Crawford by a half-step.

Bottom 5th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 6

JJ Hardy, fresh off signing a three-year, $22.5 million deal, banged a two-run homer to left field to close the gap. Two batters later, Adam Jones took Wakefield deep. Trouble chased Wakefield at every turn.

Finally, Nolan Reinold's bases-loaded double scored two more runs and that was it for Wakefield. On came Dan Wheeler, one of the few available pitchers tonight, who inherited runners in scoring position and induced a ground out from Felix Pie to end the inning.


Top 5th: Red Sox 6, Orioles 2

Josh Reddick's solo homer down the right field line has extended Boston's lead.

Top 4th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 2

Another 2-run inning for Sox vs. Bergeson. Carl Crawford led off the inning with a single followed by Salty's bloop hit to left. After Drew struck out, Scutaro's grounder went through Derrek Lee's legs scoring a run. Ellsbury hit a sacrifice fly scoring the second run.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 3, Orioles 2

Jarrod Saltalamacchia flashed some power with a home run to lead off the inning. With one out, the Sox strung together three consecutive singles by Marco Scutaro, Jacoby Ellsbury and the run-producer by Dustin Pedroia. Adrian Gonzalez followed with another RBI single giving Boston the lead.

Top 2nd: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

Carl Crawford returned to the Red Sox lineup for the first time since June 18th and grounded out to second base in his first at-bat. Brad Bergseon has retired the first six batters.

Bottom 1st: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

Derrek Lee tripled over Josh Reddick's head in center scoring two runs to give the Orioles an early lead. Reddick, playing center in place of Jacoby Ellsbury, didn't play this one very well and seemed to lose track of where the ball was.

The rally occured against Tim Wakefield with two outs. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters reached base with singles ahead of Lee.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

We're underway here at Camden Yards on a warm, but not so horribly hot night. The Sox went down in order against Orioles starter Brad Bergeson. Jacoby Ellsbury, DHing and leading off tonight with David Ortiz serving a three-game suspension, grounded out.

Dustin Pedroia, Sunday night's hero, grounded out to second base and Adrian Gonzalez continued his skid by striking out. Gonzalez was 1-for-15 in the Tampa Bay series.

Pre-game notes from Camden Yards

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 05:01 PM

BALTIMORE — The Red Sox arrived at their hotel at 6 a.m. today. They still haven't fully recovered from last night's marathon game.

"I woke up at 12:45 and it felt like it was still 6," Josh Beckett said. "That was a rough one."

And he doesn't have to play today. It'll be interesting to see how much energy the position players have. Tim Wakefield really needs to set a tone.

In terms of the news:

Jon Lester is pitching a week from today, not a week from tomorrow as Terry Francona told us. He messed up the dates.

David Ortiz started his suspension today. He can work out and take BP but can't be in "team areas" for the game. He could watch from the stands or a suite. More likely, he goes back to the hotel. I invited him to the press box but he passed.

Carl Crawford is back and said he hopes this will be the start of a new season for him. He feels completely healthy.

Drew Sutton was optioned to make room for Crawford on the roster.

• Outside of Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard, the Sox have all their relievers tonight. Bard threw 27 pitches in his inning.

• Aceves, by the way, is now 19-2 in his career and 5-1 this year. Wins do not necessarily reflect how well somebody pitched. But 19-2 is still pretty impressive.

Clay Buchholz will throw from 120 feet today as his throwing program ramps up.

Will the Orioles forget?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 04:27 PM

The Orioles never thought the punishment fit the crime, or rather, they always thought David Ortiz and the Red Sox should have received more punishment than Kevin Gregg for their on-field altercation (though neither player connected on a punch) at Fenway before the All-Star break.

But both combatants will start serving a reduced three-game suspension starting tonight. The league really wanted it this way. They wanted to keep Ortiz and Gregg away from each other. It's obviously a tough tradeoff for the Red Sox - losing a power hitting DH over a reliever. But the Orioles feel they've lost a key piece of their bullpen for three days.

Asked about the fairness of the penalties, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said "I'm a little biased on the fair side of it. There's a lot of thought process that goes into it that I'm not aware of, so it is what it is and we'll deal with it."

The Orioles lost Vladimir Guerrero with a broken hand as a result of being hit with a pitch by rookie Kyle Weiland, who was not suspended or fined.

Showalter didn't seem interested in getting into any retaliation, but who knows?

"We're going to play a game and they're a very good team. We'll deal with things as they come. The most immediate thing is the competitive part of it and hoping that Vladdy gets back into it. Tim Wakefield and the Boston Red Sox are enough of a challenge without creating something like that. You deal with situations as they come."

Asked whether it creates pride to "stand up" to an organization like the Red Sox or the Yankees, Showalter said, "How you stand up, is you win. They're real good (referring to the Yankees and Red Sox) and so is Tampa., Tampa has won this division two of the last three years. A lot of stuff plays short term but long term you have to play better. Play better. Practice harder.

"It's not something to handicap before hand. Nobody really cares. Those are things that sound good on the surface, but play better. They're very good for a long period of time. They have good players regardless of how and why and what-have-you. Play better.

"Nobody cares about injuries. Nobody cares about what time you got in in the morning. It's the big leagues. Everybody has 10 hard tales about traveling, or injuries or what ever. It's part of the job description. Suck it up," Showalter said.

Showalter said he was going to have Gregg do a side session tomorrow and said, "I think that's permissible."

Game 94: Red Sox at Orioles

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 03:03 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (57-36)
Ellsbury DH
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Reddick CF
Crawford LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew RF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP Tim Wakefield (5-3, 4.74)

ORIOLES (38-54)
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Wieters C
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Reimold DH
Pie LF
Andino 2B

Pitching: RHP Brad Bergesen (1-6, 5.65)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN

Notes: The Sox have won eight of their last nine and 12 of their last 14. ... The Sox are 6-2 against Baltimore this season, outscoring them by 20 runs in the eight games. ... Wakefield has 198 career wins. He has faced the Orioles only once this season, pitching an inning of relief in April. ... Pedroia has hit safely in 15 straight and reached base safely in 27 straight. ... Drew Sutton was optioned to make room for Crawford, who is coming off the disabled list.

Stat of the day: Adrian Gonzalez was 1 for 15 in the three-game series against the Rays and is 1 for his last 17. His batting average has dropped to .342.

Song of the Day: "I'm Only Sleeping" by The Beatles.

Pitching matchups for the Orioles series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 09:50 AM

Tonight: RHP Tim Wakefield (5-3, 4.74) vs. RHP Brad Bergesen (1-6, 5.65), 7:05 p.m., NESN

Tuesday: RHP Kyle Weiland (0-0, 13.50) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3-13, 4.45), 7:05 p.m., NESN

Wednesday: LHP Andrew Miller (3-1, 5.68) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (9-6, 5.10), 12:35 p.m., NESN

A few thoughts....

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 08:44 AM

Thoughts while flying from Tampa Bay to Baltimore:

1. Curious about whether Terry Francona will DH Carl Crawford tonight if David Ortiz starts serving a reduced three-game suspension. Word about Ortiz' appeal comes down this afternoon. I'm told the league really doesn't want Ortiz and Kevin Gregg facing one another in that Sox-Orioles series. Read more about Crawford in my On Baseball column today.

2. Johnny Damon gave his proper kudos to Josh Beckett after last night's 16-inning marathon.
"He was absolutely as good as I've ever seen him. We couldn't do anything against him, but we couldn't do much against their bullpen either. We had our chances. It was a great game, but unfortunately we needed it and we didn't get it. Our guys pitched great, but it's a shame we didn't get a couple of runs across the plate. I know we hit some balls pretty hard, but we couldn't get one to drop when we needed it," Damon said.

3. Don't think I'd ever seen a high pop up shatter one of the lights on the ceiling at The Trop until last night. The grounds crew had to clean up the glass pieces. Hope they got it all.

4. Joe Maddon told me before the game that he believes his team belongs in the same realm as the Red Sox and Yankees. And he's right, they do. But now the Rays are seven back as they start a four-game series against the Yankees and they know they can't fall too far back. Maddon isn't certain whether the Rays can add a bat, but if they could it would be in the outfield.

5. Some Rays fans got a little indignant toward me on Twitter when I referred to the crowd of 21,000-plus as "pathetic" for a Sunday night Red Sox-Rays game at Tropicana Field. Some people just can't stand the truth. And as it turned out, what a game Rays fans missed. It was only the third Sunday night nationally televised Rays game.

6. How about the dope who ran on the field late in the game? He was absolutely crushed by one of the security guards. Hope the 15 minutes of shame was worth it.

7. It's been a hot trip. About 105 in Phoenix, high 90s with high humidity in Tampa/St. Pete and now to the humidity capital of the world - Baltimore.

8. Still thinking back to the All-Star game when players were going on and on about how seriously they take the game, yet they were leaving to catch flights as early as the fifth inning.

9. Really do have some excellent talent around broadcasters covering the Red Sox in Boston. Dave O'Brien is as good as there is. Joe Castiglione is a legend with great passion for baseball. Don Orsillo calls a terrific game and Jerry Remy is so insightful and entertaining. Tom Caron does a great job of tying things all together pre game and post game on NESN. And Heidi Watney is very smooth on air.

10. Speaking of Damon, wonder if the Rays will re-sign him? They have very little power in their lineup and it may be hard to carry a DH who doesn't hit home runs. Then again, Damon has made such a positive impression, they really don't want to lose him.

11. A former major league official pointed out to me prior to last night's game that there was a young umpiring crew on the field for this series and that they might be a little overwhelmed at some point. Sure enough, there were some questionable balls and strikes which got Maddon run and how they missed Marco Scutaro slamming the bat on the turf while Kelly Shoppach was trying to catch his foul pop up, is beyond me. When acting manager Dave Martinez tried protesting, he got tossed. Scutaro should have been tossed for such a dangerous act.

12. Maddon was really impressed with the manner in which Jarrod Saltalamacchia fired the ball to second base the first two games of the series. "He's got a strong arm,." Maddon said.

13. Wouldn't you hate to be Jason Varitek's knees today?

14. While watching last night's game, I thought of Dan Barry's fine book, "Bottom of the 33rd" about the Longest Game in Pawtucket (vs. Rochester) on April 18th, 1981. Terrific read. Reminded of it even more as I'm walking out of the Trop last night with Texas scout Tom Giordano, who was the Orioles' farm director at the time.

15. Sticking to my guns on Jose Reyes. Would give up most anything on the farm to get him. Sox need to get stable at shortstop. Mets fans want Sandy Alderson to sign him, but they'd better be really sure they can get that done before Reyes hits the market. If they don't, imagine the wrath of Mets fans? Therefore, they have to consider a strong package for him at the trading deadline.

16. If I were J.D. Drew, I'd get hot in a hurry. With Carl Crawford back and Josh Reddick continuing to do good things at the plate and in the field, it sure sounds like Terry Francona is going to play him.

17. Ben Zobrist resembles Roy Halladay facially.

18. Things didn't turn out so great for the Orioles, did they?

19. A belated Happy Birthday to Sox bench coach Demarlo Hale, who turned 50 over the weekend.

20. How about nine innings tonight?

Greetings from Gate A-17

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 05:58 AM

TAMPA, Fla. — Greetings from the Lee Roy Selmon International Airport and Waffle House. We're waiting for a flight to Baltimore.

For only the third time since starting this curious business, I've gone from an evening event to the airport the next morning without sleeping.

It happened last year when the Sox played a Sunday night game against the Yankees at Fenway and then had a day game in Detroit the next day. I got out of Fenway at 2 a.m. and had a 6 a.m. flight to Detroit. Rather than go home, I read the paper in an all-night diner and went to Logan.

The first time was much more fun. I covered a fight in Vegas and played blackjack until my fight the next day.

Airports are interesting places, even this early in the morning. There are was a guy in front of me in the security line in green surgical scrubs who was carrying a small dog. I assume he's some sort of flying veterinarian.

Then there was an old lady who put her cup of coffee through the x-ray machine. This greatly annoyed the TSA people and in turn befuddled the old lady. She couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Had her coffee spilled on my MacBook, she would have seen what all the fuss was about and then some.

Not much else to tell you except that sleeping in my window seat sounds pretty good right about now. Oh, and never put drinks through the x-ray machine. That apparently is on Page 1 of the TSA manual.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 05:45 AM

Thanks to their pitching and an RBI single from Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox beat the Rays, 1-0, early this morning.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Sox need Carl Crawford to be up to speed when he comes off the disabled list tonight.

The notebook has Jon Lester lined up for his return and David Ortiz set to face his suspension.

The Muddy Chicken to the rescue

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 18, 2011 03:02 AM

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AP Photo/Brian Blanco

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After a game that lasted 5 hours and 44 minutes and ended just shy of 2 a.m., you should not be surprised to learn that the Red Sox clubhouse had some interesting comments being thrown around.

Dustin Pedroia had an RBI single in the 16th inning to beat the Rays, 1-0, in a tremendous game. For one night at least, his new nickname is "Muddy Chicken."

“We don’t even know his name any more. He’s now the Muddy Chicken,” an unusually jovial Josh Beckett said. “The Muddy Chicken was definitely the player of the game. He got it done when we absolutely needed it.”

Said Pedroia: “That sounds awesome, doesn’t it? … But I don’t make up my own nicknames.”

The origin of the nickname could not be determined. But be assured the Globe will assign its best investigators to find out.

Then we have Alfredo Aceves, who went three innings for the win. He went right off the field to the clubhouse kitchen in his uniform for some chicken and shrimp.

“I was actually starving,” he said. “I was dying of hunger.”

Jason Varitek, who at 39 caught all 16 innings and 210 pitches, laughed and said he wasn't sure he would be able to sit down on the team plane to Baltimore tonight.

"We may have to carry him out there," Terry Francona said.

These games can be brutal when you lose. The Sox lost 5-3 in 13 innings against the Angels on May (the game with all the rain delays) and then dropped two more games after that. But when you win, it eases the pain.

It was the 12th victory in the last 14 games for the Sox, who will be a tired bunch when they face the Orioles tonight.

Red Sox pitching allowed three hits over 16 innings with one walk and 13 strikeouts. Beckett was immense, retiring 22 in a row after an infield single in the first inning that deflected off his foot.

The bullpen went 8 innings, giving up two hits. The Red Sox had a team ERA of 3.98 before the game. It's 3.90 now.

The Rays are now seven games out of first and have four games against the Yankees coming up. If they fade, this could be the game that did them in.

That Muddy Chicken was just too tough.

Final: Red Sox 1, Rays 0, 16 innings

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 17, 2011 08:17 PM

Game over

Clean save by Jonathan Papelbon in the 16th. Alfredo Aceves gets the win in this marathon game which lasted 5:44 before 21, 504. Tough loss for the Rays who now have to face the Yankees for four games. Sox move on to Baltimore for three games starting tonight.

Thanks for hanging in. See you tomorrow from Camden Yards.

Top 16th: Red Sox 1, Rays 0

Dustin Pedroia stroked a two-out RBI single to right scoring Josh Reddick with the go-ahead run off Adam Russell. Reddick led off by walking and was sacrificed to second base by Jason Varitek. Marco Scutaro then reached on an infield hit on a slow chopper on which shortstop Reid Brignac could not make the play.

With runners at the corners, Ellsbury popped to short left and couldn't get the run home. He's now 0-for-8. Pedroia then struck for his third hit of the night, the biggest hit to this point.

Bottom 15th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Alfredo Aceves had his little wild streak that he's prone to on occasion. He hit Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman with back-to- back pitches. He recovered, however, and got B.J. Upton to pop out in another poor at-bat while Justin Ruggiano grounded out to Marco Scutaro for the final out.

Top15th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Sox get two on and guess what? No score. Jason Varitek still has some bounce in his step and he comes out to catch the 15th.

Bottom 14th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Alfredo Aceves has a 1-2-3 inning, stroked out Damon on a high fastball.

Adam Russell is the last Rays reliever. And he's warming up.

Top 14th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

They're doing the 14th-inning stretch here. Take me out to the ballgame is being played and sung.

Jacoby Ellsbury struck out to end the inning. He's now 0-for-7. Jason Varitek also struck out and he's 0-for-6 and about to catch his 14th inning.

Bottom 12th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Evan Logoria and Casey Kotchman crushed a couple of Franklin Morales offerings, but they went for outs in center and left respectively. Morales pitched a a loud 1-2-3 inning which also included a strikeout of Ben Zobrist. Longoria has crushed three balls tonight, all for outs.

Top 12th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Sox top of the order goes down in order. Adrian Gonzalez is now 1-for-his last 16.

Bottom 11th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Runner at second and Johnny Damon couldn't get him in with two outs, grounding out to second base against Franklin Morales. On and on it goes.

Top 11th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

The Great Houdini couldn't have escaped this one, but the Rays did . Rays lefties J.P. Howell and /Jake McGee walked Youkilis, Ortiz and Darnell McDonald to load the bases. McGee struck out Reddick on a 3-2 pitch. Maddon came out to get him and in came righthander Juan Cruz, who inherited a bases-loaded, one-out situation.

Jason Varitek struck out.

Marco Scutaro then fouled out and slammed his bat even before Kelly Shoppach made the catch.

Scutaro should have been ejected. Interim manager Dave Martinez, who replaced Joe Maddon, who was also tossed that inning for protesting some close balls and strikes, protested but homeplate umpire Chad Fairchild tossed Martinez for arguing.

This is a very inexperienced umpiring crew tonight. They missed it on Scutaro.

Bottom 10th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

A tremendous leaping catch by Josh Reddick against the wall to rob Justin Ruggiano of extra bases. Ball wouldn't have gone out, but close.

Top 10th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Adrian Gonzalez missed a three-run homer by a few inches down the left field line. Scutaro and Pedroia walked to set the stage for Gonzalez, who had the count 2-0 against lefty J.P. Howell. Gonzalez grounded out into the shift to end the threat.

Bottom 9th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Daniel Bard is on for Josh Beckett. Too bad Beckett can't get the win. He retired the last 22 batters he faced. Allowed one infield hit in eight innings, six strikeouts, no walks. Yes, near perfect. The only hit was a Longoria infield hit off of Beckett's right foot. Beckett threw 106 pitches.

Rays rally with two outs. Johnny Damon singled, stole second base and then Ben Zobrist walked bringing up Evan Longoria. The Rays third baseman sent a deep drive to right, but J.D. Drew hauled it in near the wall.

Top 9th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

With Niemann out of the game, closer Kyle Farnsworth came on and created a wonderful opportunity for the Red Sox. Pedroia led off with a double to rightcenter. After a one-out walk to Kevin Youkilis, Farnsworth struck out David Ortiz.

He then went 3-2 to J.,D. Drew and walked him to load the bases.

Big moment for Josh Reddick,

Reddick took a ball before flying out centerfield ending Boston's best threat of the game.

Top 8th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Excellent performance by Niemann who is likely done after 118 pitches and a career-high 10 strikeouts. With two outs he walked Marco Scutaro and then battled Ellsbury to 3-2 before striking him out.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Rays hit the ball hard that inning. Zobrist and Kotchman hit it far to center, but Ellsbury tracked them down. Longoria lined out hard to Ellsbury, but Beckett has not allowed a hit since the first inning.

Top 7th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

David Ortiz was asking baseball writers before the game how he can beat the shift. The popular answers were: bunt, and hit a home run. The shift cost him a basehit in this inning when the deep man in short left threw him out. Ditto J.D. Drew.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Beckett struck out two that inning including Johnny Damon on a check swing. That's 16 straight. He's dealing tonight, but the Sox can't seem to muster any offense vs. Niemann.

Top 6th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Sox can't do much vs. Niemann. Ellsbury, Pedroia and Gonzo all ground out. Reid Brignac made a great play at short to rob Pedroia.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Beckett has retired 13 straight batters. His only blemish was Longoria's infield single in the first inning.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Johnny Damon sent a long fly ball to deep right, but it was caught at the wall by J.D. Drew. Damon battled Beckett to 3-2. Reid Brignac also battled Beckett for 10 pitches before being retired. Beckett isn't showing effects of the knee injury and has retired seven straight.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Varitek, Scutaro and Ellsbury go down against Niemann, who has good movement on slider and changeup tonight.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Beckett retired the side.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Ortiz, Drew and Reddick go down to Niemann, who has 4 K's.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Evan Longoria reached on an infield hit off Josh Beckett's foot, but no harm as Beckett retired the side.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Big Jeff Niemann had the Red Sox fishing for his slider and changeup. He struck out Jacoby ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis and surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez.

Not a great crowd here. Looks 27 thousand-ish.

Ortiz suspension expected to start tomorrow

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 17, 2011 07:53 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Based on a conversation with his agents and representatives of the MLB Players Association, David Ortiz is under the impression that a decision from Major League Baseball on his appeal of a four-game suspension could be announced soon.

“I’ll probably hear something later on tonight or tomorrow morning,” he said.

In Baltimore, Orioles.com reported that Ortiz and Orioles pitcher Kevin Gregg would have their suspensions reduced to three games starting tomorrow. The two came to blows on July 8 after Gregg threw inside on Ortiz three times.

The Red Sox and Orioles start a three-game series at Camden Yards tomorrow Suspending Ortiz and Gregg now could help head off another confrontation.

UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Globe colleague Nick Cafardo has confirmed the above details via a source.

Rays scratch Joyce from lineup

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 17, 2011 06:58 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Rays scratched right fielder Matt Joyce from the lineup because of a sore right knee, the result of a foul tip on Saturday.

The new Tampa lineup:

Damon DH
Zobrist RF
Longoria 3B
Kotchman 1B
Upton CF
Lobaton C
Rodriguez 2B
Fuld LF
Brignac SS

Jon Lester to return from DL July 26

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 17, 2011 06:04 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jon Lester will return to the Red Sox rotation on July 26 against Kansas City.

The lefty, who is out with a lat strain, wanted to pitch this Friday against Seattle. But the Red Sox want to make sure he is at full capacity.

So Lester will throw a side session in Baltimore tomorrow, a longer side on Wednesday and another on Friday. That will allow him to regain arm strength and make sure he's healthy.

In other news:

Carl Crawford will be back in left field tomorrow. Terry Francona heaped praise on Josh Reddick and said he has earned playing time. Right field?

Tim Wakefield went ahead to Baltimore. This game probably won't end until 11:30 or so and the team won't arrive in the Charm City until 4 a.m. or so.

• The Rays are giving out a Johnny Damon mini-bobblehead tonight and Jonathan Papelbon picked one up. Johnny signed it for him.

• The Red Sox, from Terry Francona on down, were avidly watching the Women's World Cup.

Game 93: Red Sox at Rays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 17, 2011 03:30 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (56-36)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Drew RF
Reddick LF
Varitek C
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP Josh Beckett (8-3, 2.27)

RAYS (50-42)
Damon DH
Zobrist 2B
Kotchman 1B
Longoria 3B
Joyce RF
Upton CF
Lobaton C
Fuld LF
Brignac SS

Pitching: RHP Jeff Niemann (4-4, 4.53)

Game time: 8:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox have won seven of eight and 11 of their last 13 and will try and win the series with Beckett on the mound. ... Beckett is 8-4, 3.15 in 17 career starts against the Rays. He threw a one-hit shutout at the Trop on June 15. He struck out six without a walk. ... Niemann is 2-2, 6.62 in four starts against the Sox. He is 3-0, 2.82 in his last four starts this season. ... Pedroia is riding a 14-game hit streak and a 26-game on-base streak. ... Youkilis is 13 of his last 28 with seven extra-base hits and eight RBIs. ... Ellsbury has eight extra-base hits in the last seven games, four of them home runs.

Stat of the Day: Because of illness and the All-Star break, Beckett has made only four starts (and thrown 28 innings) in the last 37 days

Song of the Day: "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" by Steely Dan.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 17, 2011 11:41 AM

John Lackey was effective (and emotional) again as the Red Sox beat the Rays.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox should go out and get Jose Reyes.

The notebook has Clay Buchholz waiting to be healthy.

Carl Crawford finished up his rehab stint with Pawtucket last night. Mike Scandura has the story.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick looks at the trade market with Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin.

John Lackey is on, yes, a bit of a roll

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 16, 2011 09:48 PM

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's two games. Just two games. But let's give John Lackey credit for this:

12.1 innings
13 hits
3 earned runs
2 walks
14 strikeouts

Lackey wasn't great today but he was effective enough and overcame a first inning that saw his infield play like they were blindfolded.

He has pitched well in three of his last four starts. With Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz on the disabled list, a continued return to form by Lackey would help stabilize the rotation.

“We’d love for him to get hot. That would be one of the best things ever that could happen to us,” Terry Francona said.

Lackey is not an easy player to like. He flings his arms up when plays aren't made behind him and today even shouted a few choice words in the direction of Francona when he came out to get him in the sixth inning.

But most people would rather have a player who lets his emotions bubble over than a guy who treats the game like a day at the beach.

Lackey made no apologies. For him, every start is worth fighting for.

“You only get, if you’re healthy all year, 33 times to help the team. You have to take them pretty damn seriously,” he said.

With Jon Lester and Cay Buchholz on the DL, Andrew Miller teetering and Kyle Weiland getting rocked in his first start, the Red Sox need Lackey. Who knows, in three months you might even like him.

As to other stuff:

Daniel Bard, as the kids say, is stupid good right now. He has not allowed a run in 20.2 innings going back to May 23. And keep in mind he pitches with the game on the line almost every time.

Josh Reddick saluted his dad, brother and high school coach after he homered. Josh and his dad Ken drove down from Georgia after the break and were joined by the others yesterday. Until today, Ken Reddick had never seen his son homer in a big league game in person before."

“That was a big accomplishment,” said Reddick, who is from Guyton, Ga., about six hours away. “For them to actually see one live was a big feeling. Had to give them a little love after I hit it.”

And what a homer. The ball nearly hit the back wall of the dome. Josh is not a standard-issue "grind out every at-bat" Red Sox prospect. But when he connects, the ball has some oomph behind it.

Dustin Pedroia, who homered and singled, has hit safely in 14 consecutive games and reached base safely in 26 straight, the longest active streak in the majors. He has hit seven home runs during the hit streak and this is the first time he has homered in three straight games in the same season.

“I’m not a home run hitter by any means,” Pedroia said. “I’m not trying to hit home runs at all. It might look like it, but trust me, I’m not.”

Pedroia has the highest OPS in baseball since he got his right knee checked out on June 9. Dr. Tom Gill takes a lot of guff from the amateur medical experts in Boston. But whatever he did with Dustin sure worked.

Jacoby Ellsbury has 13 home runs. So does Alex Rodriguez. What were the odds of that on July 16?

Josh Beckett returns tomorrow. Come back for more. Thanks for reading.

Final: Red Sox 9, Rays 5

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 16, 2011 04:00 PM

Game over: Red Sox 9, Rays 5

The Rays scored a run off Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth, but the closer kept things from getting too far out of hand. The Sox have now split the series before 32,487 at The Trop. The final game is tomorrow night.

Top 9th: Red Sox 9, Rays 4

The Sox score two more against the Rays pen. Two infield hits and a catcher interference with Jacoby Ellsbury up, loaded the bases and Youkilis walked to force the first in and Big Papi's sharp grounder back to the pitcher scored the second.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 7, Rays 4

Sam Fuld doubled and stole third but the Rays couldn't get him in as Daniel Bard got out of the jam. The Sox got good work from lefty Randy Williams.

Top 7th: Red Sox 7, Rays 4

Dustin Pedroia hit an opposite field homer to right field to spread Boston's lead to three runs again.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 6, Rays 4

A very animated, unhappy John Lackey gave up the ball when Terry Francona came out of the dugout. Lackey was not pleased about being taken out after he retired the first two batters and was then victimized by Adrian Gonzalez' booting of Johnny Damon's grounder. He hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch and after Francona knew that lefty Randy Williams was ready, he jumped out of the dugout to set up a Williams vs. Casey Kotchman matchup.

Williams, who had been called up to replace the injured Bobby Jenks, retired Kotchman on a nice ranging play by Dustin Pedroia.

Lackey gave up 10 hits, four runs (three earned), one walk and struck out seven in 5.2 innings. He threw 107 pitches.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 6, Rays 4

John Lackey looked as if he'd really settled down after getting out of a bases loaded jam in the second inning. He struck out five over the next two innings before there was a slight setback.

Evan Longoria hit a long fly ball out in the fifth, but the next batter, Matt Joyce, hit a home run to right field. Upton followed with a single, but Lackey struck out Sam Fuld to end the inning with his seventh strikeout.

Top 4th: Red Sox 6, Rays 3

Jacoby Ellsbury's 13th homer, a nice stroke into the rightfield bleachers.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 5, Rays 3

Lackey struck out the side. He allowed a one-out single to Matt Joyce, who stole second base with two outs, but Lackey threw Sam Fuld a nice backdoor curveball on a 3-2 pitch for a called third strike.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 5, Rays 3

David Ortiz smacked a two-run double to right center scoring Adrian Gonzalez (walk) and Kevin Youkilis (single to left) as James Shields is really struggling in this one. J.D. Drew followed with a double down the first base line, scoring Ortiz.

Shields limited the damage by striking out two of the next three Sox hitters.

Bottom 2nd: Rays 3, Red Sox 2

John Lackey loaded the bases with one out on a pair of hits by Reid Brignac and Johnny Damon (great at-bat) and a walk to Ben Zobrist before Casey Kotchman bailed him out with an inning-ending double-play.

Top 2nd: Rays 3, Red Sox 2

Josh Reddick crushed a 3-2 fastball deep into the right field bleachers with Jarrod Saltalamacchia aboard. Reddick is making a strong case to stay in the Sox lineup (J.D. Drew sits?) when Carl Crawford returns to the team Monday in Baltimore.

Bottom 1st: Rays 3, Red Sox 0

Who had the worst inning - Marco Scutaro or John Lackey? Plenty of blame to go around.

Johnny Damon started the game with a routine ground ball to short but Scutaro's throw pulled Adrian Gonzalez off the bag for an error. After Ben Zobrist singled to center, Casey Kotchman reached on an infield single on a ball where Scutaro ranged to behind the bag in an attempt to make a sliding stop of the ball. But it eluded him and it was ruled a hit, scoring Damon with the first run.

After Evan Longoria grounded out to Scutaro, who nearly threw wide of the second base bag, Matt Joyce singled in the second run. That was followed by B.J. Upton's RBI single to left.

Lackey finally caught a break when Sam Fuld knocked into an inning-ending double play.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Not the smoothest of beginnings for James Shields, who allowed two Red Sox baserunners in the first, but the Sox let him off the hook. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with an infield hit to shortstop. After two outs, Kevin Youkilis was hit with a pitch before Ortiz grounded out to shortstop in the shift on a force at second base.

The game started at 4:12 p.m. The inside temp at Tropicana Field was 72 degrees and outside 82 and heavy rain.

Buchholz will not return any time soon

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 16, 2011 02:55 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, how the Red Sox proceed could be influenced by the growing evidence that Clay Buchholz will not be ready to pitch any time soon.

The righthander, out since June 17 with a muscle strain in his lower back, didn’t even respond positively when asked whether he would return this season.

“I mean, I think we’re doing everything we can to get to that point,” he said. “It’s tough on me. Just for that fact that I thought it was going to be 15-day stint [on the disabled list] and it would be over and done with and it hasn’t been that."

Buchholz traveled to North Carolina on July 6 to examined by a specialist, Dr. Craig Brigham. He received an injection of anti-inflammatory drugs that day. At the time, he said he hoped to start throwing off a mound within a week.

Ten days later, he’s not close to that. Buchholz played catch at 50-percent effort on Thursday and Friday and today had a large bag of ice wrapped around his back.

“I’m kind of sore,” he said. “But it’s not bad.”

Buchholz is making progress, saying his back feels better now than it did a week ago. But there are no plans for him to take the mound.

"I don’t think there’s really a timeline. Just from the doctors that I’ve seen, it’s basically going to be a feel thing,” he said. “When it feels all right to go, that’s when I’ll do it. It’s something I don’t think I can rush into or try to do more than I can.

"It’s a muscle in my back and until it feels better I don’t think I’ll be able to really get off the mound.”

Buchholz pitched well when he was healthy, going 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA.

“I want to be pitching. I want to help the team any way I can. Me going out there not 100 percent and not 80 percent, I don’t think it’s going to help the team. If I rush back into it, it’ll be something that’ll be here for the rest of the season and I don’t want that,” he said.

“I’d rather be ready to pitch at 100 percent. I feel like that’s the way I can help this team.”

Said Francona: “I don’t know if that has to be the case. I just think he has to be able to go out and be able to pitch every five days and have it not get in the way. Again, just try and use good judgment. I don’t know that anybody is 100 percent at this time of the year.”

Once Buchholz does return to the mound, it could take as long as three weeks before he is ready to pitch in a major league game. He will need a throwing program to regain arm strength followed by a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

So if he got on the mound in a week, the earliest he would return is mid-August.

Jenks back on DL; Williams called up

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 16, 2011 12:57 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bobby Jenks is back on the disabled list with a bad back. LHP Randy Williams has been called up.

LHP Tommy Hottovy was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.

Jenks has pain his left mid-back area, the same injury that put him on the disabled list on June 8. He traveled back to Boston yesterday and will be examined today.

Jenks has appeared in just 19 games and has a 6.32 earned run average since being signed to a two-year, $12 million contract in December.

The Red Sox envisioned Jenks as a reliever who would lock down the seventh or eighth inning. But he has rarely pitched and pitched poorly when he has.

“That’s an important part of our bullpen, that complement to [Daniel] Bard,” Terry Francona said. “That other arm is a huge arm. He’s not just a thrower. He can manipulate the ball; he can spin it. He’s got a good feel for the game. We just haven’t had him out there healthy and we miss that.”

Williams, 35, has been with seven organizations since being drafted by the Cubs in 1997. The Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract over the winter.

Williams had a 1.29 ERA in 19 appearances for Pawtucket, striking out 26 in 21 innings. Lefthanded hitters were hitting .136 against him.

“He’s been dominating lefthand hitters. Velocity has been tremendous,” Francona said. “It gives us that second lefty where we can match up.”

History for Pedroia and Scutaro

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 16, 2011 12:25 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Great stat courtesy of the Red Sox media relations department:

Dustin Pedroia and Marco Scutaro have each hit home runs in Boston’s last two games, the first time the Sox have had a second baseman and shortstop each homer in consecutive contests since Bobby Doerr and Joe Cronin did it on April 15-16, 1941, the first two games of that season.

Game 92: Red Sox at Rays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 16, 2011 12:05 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (55-36)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Drew RF
Saltalamacchia C
Reddick LF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP John Lackey (6-8, 6.84)

RAYS (50-41)
Damon DH
Zobrist 2B
Kotchman 1B
Longoria 3B
Joyce RF
Upton CF
Fuld LF
Shoppach C
Brignac SS

Pitching: RHP James Shields (8-7, 2.33)

Game time: 4:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: FOX / WEEI

Notes: Lackey takes the mound trying to build on a strong start against the Orioles on July 9. He threw 6.2 shutout innings in that game and struck out seven with one walk. ... Lackey has not faced the Rays since Aug. 29, 2010. He was 2-2, 6.26 against them last season but is 11-4, 3.75 in 16 career starts. ... Shield has lost his last three starts despite a 2.57 ERA. He threw a five-hit shutout against the Sox at Fenway Park on June 14. Shields is 6-9, 4.71 in 17 career starts against the Sox. ... Pedroia has hit safely in 13 straight (20 of 53) and reached base safely in 25 straight, the longest streak in the majors. ... Sam Fuld, a New Hampshire native, is 8 of 16 against the Sox this season with six RBIs. ... The Sox are 2-4 against the Rays this season.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have lost 22 of their last 32 games at Tropicana Field including seven of the last 10.

Song of the Day: "Redemption Song" by Johnny Cash with Joe Strummer.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 16, 2011 10:53 AM

Andrew Miller was roughed up as the Rays beat the Red Sox,

Nick Cafardo writes that the fans in Tampa Bay are missing a good show.

The notebook has David Ortiz appealing his suspension.

Carl Crawford started his rehab with Class AAA Pawtucket. Mike Scandura has the story.

A step back for Andrew Miller

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 11:56 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Andrew Miller was 1-5 with an 8.54 earned run average for the Marlins last season. The Red Sox did not sprinkle him with Magic Pitching Dust and make all his issues vanish.

“It’s still a work in progress. I think Andrew feels the same way," Terry Francona said tonight after watching the lefty allow seven runs on five hits and five walks over 2.2 innings.

It wasn't quite the worst start of Miller's career. But it was the first time he allowed that many runs and walks. Miller became the first Red Sox starter to walk at least five without a strikeout since Julian Tavares in 2006.

Miller has walked nine without a strikeout over 7.2 innings in his last two starts, giving up 10 runs.

“I’m not doing it on purpose,” he said. “But it seems like I’m just missing off the plate or hitting the corner. I think what got me back [to the majors] was being aggressive in the strike zone and I’m not doing that right now. I’ve got to do a better job.”

Miller looks like a guy afraid to challenge big league hitters. And his big fastball is gone, too. He averaged 91.8 mph tonight. That's workable if you locate. If you don't, you lose.

Miller has a 5.68 earned run average and 1.82 WHIP since being called up. That he is 3-1 is meaningless. He was the beneficiary of poor competition and bountiful run support. Now he's facing the varsity.

Miller is out of minor-league options and cannot be returned to Pawtucket without clearing waivers. It’s not like the Sox have better in-house options anyway, unless you want Kevin Millwood. And from what scouts say, you don't.

“He’s here,” pitching coach Curt Young said of Miller. “He knows he’s going to get more shots.”

Every day that passes is a day closer to the Red Sox getting Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz back. But on a night when the Yankees lost and they scored six runs, the Sox lost a chance because Miller was either unable or unwilling to throw strikes.

“You don’t like to have one like this. You’ve got to make some adjustments and do some stuff better," he said.

Successful return for Crawford in AAA

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 11:53 PM

Carl Crawford played five innings for Class AAA Pawtucket tonight, going 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI.

“The most important thing was being able to break out of the box like I normally can … to be able to move quickly without worrying about my hamstring. I had a few moments tonight where I was able to test it," he said to reporters, including Globe correspondent Mike Scandura. "I had to do some stopping and starting. When you stop real quick and nothing happens that’s a good sign.”

Crawford has one more game left, tomorrow afternoon. Then he will join the team in Baltimore on Monday.

“I want to try and do everything two days in a row to make sure there isn’t any pain or anything like that. After that happens, I’ll be ready to go," he said.

Final: Rays 9, Red Sox 6

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 07:03 PM

Game over

Kyle Farnsworth recorded his 18th save as the Rays hold off the Red Sox in the first of a three-game series here after the All-Star break. The Rays got a big four-run inning thanks to a Ben Zobrist grand slam in the second inning and never looked back.

There were 25,729 cowbell ringing fans on hand. Time of the game was 3:35.

Top 8th: Rays 9, Red Sox 6

Kevin Youkilis lined a single to right field off Casey Kotchman's glove scoring Dustin Pedroia, who doubled to right center to lead off the inning. J.P. Howell came on to strike out David Ortiz.. With Darnell McDonald due up, J.D. Drew came on to pinch-hit against Kyle Farnsworth and popped out to shortstop to end the threat.

Top 7th: Rays 9, Red Sox 5

If it wasn't for Wheeler allowing a couple of runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Sox would be right smack in this. Marco Scutaro stroked a two-run homer with Yamaico Navarro aboard to pull this one within four.

Bottom 6th: Rays 9, Red Sox 3

Casey Kotchman drilled a two-run homer with B.J., Upton aboard against Dan Wheeler.

Top 6th: Rays 7, Red Sox 3

Dustin Pedroia stroked his 12th homer to left field on a 3-1 pitch by David Price. The Sox are hoping Alfredo Aceves continue to hold things close while the Sox chip away. Price left the inning with 120 pitches.

Top 4th: Rays 7, Red Sox 2

Kevin Youkilis reached on an infield hit to lead off the inning, but didn't advance. Darnell McDonald pieced together a 12-pitch at-bat including seven straight foul balls bnut popped out. Price's pitch count is up to 84 after four innings.

From The Maniacal One, Chuck Waseleski: The last Red Sox starting pitcher to walk at least five batters without a strikeout was Julian Tavares who on Sept. 26, 2006, walked five. The last Sox pitcher with more than five walks and no strikeouts was Matt Clement, who walked six on June 14, 2006

Bottom 3rd: Rays 7, Red Sox 2

After Miller walked Damon to load the bases with his 85th pitch in 2-2/3 innings, Terry Francona had seen enough. Miller was awful tonight with five walks and looked much like the guy who couldn't make it in Florida and Detroit because of control issues.

With one out, Kotchman singled and moved to second on Shoppach's walk. After Johnson lined out to center, Fuld singled to right. McDonald fielded the single and threw toward the plate. Dustin Pedroia cut off the throw and threw to the plate, but too late to nail Kotchman.

Alfredo Aceves came into relieve following the Damon walk, inheriting the bases loaded and two outs. Aceves walked Zobrist to force in the second run of the inning. He finally got out of it when Longoria grounded out to second base.

Top 3rd: Rays 5, Red Sox 2

Jacoby Ellsbury stroked his 12th homer on a 3-2 pitch off Price, a well-hit ball into the rightfield bleachers.

Bottom 2nd: Rays 5, Red Sox 1

Ben Zobrist struck for a grand slam on first-pitch fastball right down the middle of the plate from Andrew Miller. It was his 11th homer. Miller got in trouble when Kelly Shoppach led off with a single to right that just eluded Adrian Gonzalez' reach. He walked Elliot Johnson. Sam Fuld then reached on a fielder's choice on a bunt attempt when Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a curious choice to throw to second base and not to first where he had Fuld. The runner at second was safe.

After Damon grounded to second, forcing Shoppach at home, Zobrist got all of Miller's fastball which he has thrown in the 92-93 mph range.

Top 2nd: Rays 1, Red Sox 1

Sox tied it on Darnell McDonald's homer on a 2-2 pitch from Price. Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked with two outs, but Yamaico Navarro, playing left field, took a called third strike.

Bottom 1st: Rays 1, Red Sox 0

Andrew Miller walked Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria with one out, which set the stage for B.J. Upton's single to center scoring Zobrist. After Sean Rodriguez popped out, Miller, who threw 35 pitches, got Casey Kotchman to ground out hard to Pedroia, who got the force at second base.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0

Dustin Pedroia made a poor decision to stretch a single into a double, thrown out at second base by Sam Fuld. The Sox were retired after that by David Price.

Pregame:

Welcome to the second half. The Sox and Rays are about to go at it at Tropicana Field. Another smallish crowd here. Doesn't look like a Rays-Red Sox game has inspired the locals to come out.

Carl Crawford ready to get going

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 06:53 PM

Via Globe correspondent Mike Scandura in Pawtucket, here is the latest on Carl Crawford.

He is batting third tonight and will play six innings. He'll play again tomorrow and then join the team in Baltimore on Monday.

Crawford was asked what it’s been like for him because it’s taken him longer than expected to get back on the field after straining his left hamstring.

“It’s been a little disappointing because, obviously, I didn’t want to be out this long. But I’m doing everything the right way and making sure when I do get back on the field it doesn’t happen again," he said.

On his limitations: “None, right now. I’m just going to go out there and try to play the way I always play. I’m going to test it a lot and try to be aggressive and see how it feels after the game."

On how he's swinging: “Everything’s felt fine … felt normal. I’ve been swinging the bat the way I want to swing. It’s felt good. I take as many swings as I can (in order) to stay sharp.”

Josh Beckett all set for Sunday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 04:55 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Josh Beckett played some catch today and pronounced himself ready to start on Sunday. He said he would have pitched on Tuesday had it been an actual game.

Jon Lester threw 45 times from 90 feet today. Here is his schedule:

Saturday: Throwing from 120 feet

Sunday: Day off

Monday: Bullpen session

Terry Francona said Lester felt nothing in his strained left lat. Lester thinks he could be ready to go July 22 against Seattle, the first day he would be eligible. But Francona indicated the team would be cautious.

Clay Buchholz played catch for the second straight day. But there seem to be no immediate plans for him to start a more structured throwing program.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is visiting the team. He has been down in Fort Myers rehabbing after Tommy John surgery.

David Ortiz obviously appealed his suspension given that he is in lineup. He has no idea when the appeal would be heard.

Game 91: Red Sox at Rays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 02:45 PM

Hey, the Red Sox are playing again. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (55-35)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
McDonald RF
Saltalamacchia C
Navarro LF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: LHP Andrew Miller (3-0, 3.57)

RAYS (49-41)
Damon DH
Zobrist RF
Longoria 3B
Upton CF
Rodriguez 2B
Kotchman 1B
Shoppach C
Johnson SS
Fuld RF

Pitching: LHP David Price (8-7, 3.70)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox have won six straight and 10 of 11. They start the day 1.5 games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. ... The Sox are 2-3 against the Rays this season. ... Miller has faced the Rays once in his career, that coming in 2009. He allowed five runs over 6.1 innings. ... The Sox are 27-18 on the road. ... The Sox have hit .309/.391/.567 in the last 11 games and averaged 6.5 runs. ... Price is 4-3, 3.43 in seven career starts against the Sox, 1-1, 3.55 in two starts this season. ... Price is 1-2, 4.54 in his last six starts. ... Pedroia has hit safely in 11 straight and is hitting .360/.463/.658 since getting his right knee checked out on June 9. ... Daniel Bard has not allowed a run in his last 19.1 innings going back to May 23. Opponents are 6 of 62 (.097) in that stretch. ... Youkilis is 10 of his last 21 with seven extra-base hits and six RBis.

Stat of the Day: Red Sox relievers have thrown 11.1 scoreless innings in the last three games, allowing two hits with two walks and 16 strikeouts.

Song of the Day: "Back In The Saddle" by Aerosmith.

Looking back at the first 55.5 percent of the Red Sox season

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 10:45 AM

The All-Star break is traditionally a good time to look back at the first half of the season. But the Red Sox have played 90 games and that is 55.55 percent of the season. That's more than half based on what they taught us at New Bedford High.

So, let's look back at the first 55.5 percent of the season:

Most Valuable Player
1. Adrian Gonzalez. There were ridiculous expectations for Gonzalez. He has met every one of them, offensively and defensively. Do you realize that he is hitting 70 points over his career average?

2. Jacoby Ellsbury. He has hit for power and average, stolen 28 bases and played a solid center field. Ellsbury is now the versatile All-Star the Sox hoped he would become.

3. Josh Beckett. It's hard to believe this is the same guy the Sox didn't trust to pitch in the first series of the year. Now he's the rock of their rotation.

Biggest surprises

1. The catchers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek have a .766 OPS, second in the American League to the Tigers. SaltyTek even throws out runners.

2. Matt Albers. A bust in Baltimore, he has been one of the best relievers all season and emerged as a reliable late-inning choice.

3. Josh Reddick. His career stalled last year. But when the Sox needed an outfielder to help replace Carl Crawford, he delivered. Reddick has hit .396 in 18 games since being called up a second time.

Spring training story lines that proved untrue

1. The Sox will have trouble with lefthanders. The Sox are 21-11 against lefthanded starters and are hitting .281/.357/.442 against lefties. It's pretty much the same (.277/.352/.463) as they hit against righties.

2. Jonathan Papelbon is an endangered closer. Not so much. Papelbon is 20 for 21 in save situations with a 2.95 ERA.

3. Mike Cameron will be productive off the bench. He hit .149, was designated for assignment and then traded to the Marlins.

Biggest disappointments

1. Carl Crawford. It's going to get better (it has to right?) but you expect a heck of a lot more than .243/.275/.384 from a guy you invested $142 million in.

2. Bobby Jenks. The former White Sox closer has a 6.32 ERA and been on the disabled list twice. He's far out of the Terry Francona Circle of Trust.

John Lackey: There are extenuating circumstances, to be certain. But a 6.84 ERA is a 6.84 ERA.

Questions remaining to be answered

1. What will the trade deadline bring? The Sox need a right fielder. They could try to go big (like Carlos Beltran) or find somebody to use in a platoon (like Jeff Baker). The next few weeks will determine to what degree they seek pitching.

2. Who's the shortstop? It was Marco Scutaro Then it was Jed Lowrie. Now it's Marco Scutaro. If Lowrie gets healthy, can he take it back?

3. Who's in the rotation for the pennant race? Let's assume that by Aug. 15, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are all reasonably healthy. Who will be the other two starters? Your choices are John Lackey, Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland and assorted Mystery Guests.

Minor leaguers who could play a role in the remaining 44.4 percent of the season

1. Felix Doubront. He has been erratic all season but is lefthanded, has big league experience and throws strikes. He's going to get his shot eventually.

2. Ryan Lavarnway. It's somewhat of a miracle that the Sox have gone 90 games with Saltalamacchia and Varitek staying healthy. If a need arises, Lavarnway is mashing (.350/.417/.641) since being promoted to Pawtucket.

3.Tommy Hottovy: He came out of nowhere and got a shot and is still on the 40-man roster.

Three unfolding dramas

1. The Drew dilemma. Since the 2010 All-Star break, he is hitting .230/.324/.369 over 133 games with 16 home runs. Francona hopes a hot streak is coming. There is no sign of it. How long can they keep playing him?

2. Closing acts. David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon will be free agents after the season. Ortiz has said he is content to wait to after the season to talk about a new deal while Papelbon is clearly bent on free agency. Are the coming weeks their final ones for the Red Sox?

3. Put up your dukes: Sox pitchers have hit a lot of batters, 12 more than any other team. That stuff does not go unnoticed. The Orioles were peeved and threw at Ortiz last weekend. Other teams may retaliate, too.

Prediction

The Sox are on a pace to win 99 games, which seems a little high. But a favorable schedule certainly makes 95 or 96 wins and a division title right in their wheelhouse.

Pitching matchups for the Rays series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 10:00 AM

Tonight: LHP Andrew Miller (3-0, 3.57) vs. LHP David Price (8-7, 3.70), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Saturday: RHP John Lackey (6-8, 6.84) vs. RHP James Shields (8-7, 2.33), 4:10 p.m., FOX

Sunday: RHP Josh Beckett (8-3, 2.27) vs. RHP Jeff Niemann (4-4, 4.53), 8:05 p.m., ESPN

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 15, 2011 09:45 AM

Lots of baseball coverage in the paper today. Here are the links ...

David Ortiz was suspended for four games but the Orioles think the Red Sox should have been punished more.

Australian brothers Boss and Moko Moanaroa are trying to make their way through the Red Sox system. Nicole Auerbach has a feature on two unique prospects.

Roger Clemens is a free man thanks to a mistrial. Shira Springer has the news from Washington.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that the Feds blew this one and its a game-changer for Clemens.

The notebook has Josh Beckett ready to start on Sunday.

The minor league notebook has Stephen Fife making some necessary adjustments. Monique Walker has the story.

Josh Beckett set for Sunday; Carl Crawford to start rehab on Friday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 14, 2011 06:23 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Terry Francona said that Josh Beckett is on track to make his start against the Rays on Sunday. His not pitching in the All-Star Game was a precaution.

Carl Crawford worked out at Fenway today and will play for Pawtucket on Friday and Saurday then join the team in Baltimore on Monday.

None of the All-Stars were required to show up at tonight's workout. But Jacoby Ellsbury did.

In terms of other news:

• For the first time since he strained the lat muscle on his left side on July 5, Jon Lester threw a baseball. His workout at Fenway consisted of throwing in the outfield from 60 feet away. “All went really well,” Francona said. “As long as it doesn’t hurt, I think it will come quick.” The Red Sox figure to be cautious with Lester. But earlier this week, the lefthander expressed confidence in the idea of being ready to go on or around July 22.

• Clay Buchholz, out with a bad back, also is ready to start a throwing program. Buchholz has not pitched since June 16 and will need more time to get ready, a process that will include a rehab assignment.

• Shortstop Jed Lowrie has not yet been cleared to start swinging a bat. He has been out since June 16 because of a sore left shoulder.

MLB suspends Ortiz, Gregg, Gonzalez and Showalter

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 14, 2011 03:38 PM

Major League Baseball has suspended David Ortiz and Baltimore pitcher Kevin Gregg for four games in the wake of the brawl last Friday.

Baltimore pitcher Mike Gonzalez was suspended three games for throwing at Ortiz on Sunday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter also received a one-game suspension for that incident.

No word yet on if those players have appealed. Showalter does not have the right to appeal.

There also were fines levied on Jarrod Saltalamacchia and John Lackey for their actions. Saltalamacchia was disciplined for "aggressive actions" during the brawl and Lackey for intentionally throwing at Derrek Lee on Saturday.

MLB also fined Orioles pitcher Jim Johnson for his actions during the brawl.

Here is the release from MLB:

Major League Baseball has issued the following discipline as a result of the incidents that took place during the July 8th-10th series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Joe Garagiola, Jr., Senior Vice President of Standards and On-Field Operations for Major League Baseball, made the announcement.

Designated hitter David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and pitcher Kevin Gregg of the Baltimore Orioles each have received four-game suspensions and undisclosed fines for their actions in the Friday, July 8th game, which included inciting the benches to clear on two occasions during the bottom of the eighth inning and fighting during the second bench-clearing incident. Unless appealed, Gregg is scheduled to begin serving his suspension tonight, when the Orioles host the Cleveland Indians, and Ortiz is scheduled to begin serving his suspension tomorrow, when the Red Sox play the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.

Orioles pitcher Mike Gonzalez also has received a three-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for intentionally throwing at Ortiz during the bottom of the sixth inning of the Sunday, July 10th contest after warnings had already been issued earlier in the game. Unless appealed, Gonzalez’s suspension is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 18th, when the Orioles are to host the Red Sox. Orioles manager Buck Showalter has received a one-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for the intentional actions of Gonzalez during Sunday’s game. Showalter will serve his one-game suspension during tonight’s game against the Indians.

If any player chooses to appeal, then his discipline will be held in abeyance until the process is complete.

In addition, three players have been fined undisclosed amounts for their actions during the series. Pitcher Jim Johnson of the Orioles and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Red Sox have been disciplined for their aggressive actions during the second bench-clearing incident in the eighth inning of Friday’s game. Pitcher John Lackey of the Red Sox has been disciplined for intentionally throwing at Derrek Lee of the Orioles during the top of the seventh inning of the Saturday, July 9th game.

UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: A team source says Ortiz will appeal the suspension. That makes sense given that he would not want to go eight days without playing. Plus history suggests they'll knock a game off.

Baseball's disciplinary system, which is collectively bargained, is so flawed. Players should not be able to manipulate the process so they can pick the games they want to miss. The appeal should be instant.

Big Papi enjoys the AL Derby title

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 14, 2011 03:25 PM

David Ortiz had some fun with his Home Run Derby teammates on Tuesday and Comcast was there to capture it.

Big Papi gave Derby champ Robbie Cano a Happy Meal and second-place finisher Adrian Gonzalez the Strawberry Shortcake toy from the Happy Meal.

Judge declares mistrial in Clemens case

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 14, 2011 01:55 PM
WASHINGTON -- Judge Reggie B. Walton declared a mistrial in the Roger Clemens perjury trial today.

"He's entitled to a fair trial," said Walton. "He now cannot get it."

Lead defense attorney Rusty Hardin had asked for a mistrial because the prosecution revealed a statement to the jury that violated a pre-trial order. The prosecution also violated pre-trial orders when Assistant U.S. attorney Steven Durham talked about the Yankees' drug use during his opening statement.

Walton scheduled a Sept. 2 hearing to determine whether to hold a new trial for the former baseball star who pitched for four teams, including the Red Sox, during his 24-year career. Walton told jurors he was sorry to have wasted their time and spent so much taxpayer money, only to call off the case.

"There are rules that we play by and those rules are designed to make sure both sides receive a fair trial," Walton told the jury, saying such ground rules are critically important when a person's liberty is at stake.

He said that because prosecutors broke his rules, "the ability with Mr. Clemens with this jury to get a fair trial with this jury would be very difficult if not impossible."

In angry comments directed toward the prosecution, Walton said, “Government counsel doesn’t do just what government counsel can get away with doing …I’m very troubled by this. A lot of government money has been used to reach this point. The government should have been more cautious. I don’t see how I can un-ring the bell.”

By that, Walton meant that he could not figure out how the jury’s exposure to statements by Laura Pettitte, wife of former Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, can be erased from their memory so it does not later influence decision-making. Laura Pettitte is someone designed to bolster the credibility of her husband, a former teammate of Clemens who was expected to be a key witness in the trial. Under dispute in the case is whether Clemens mentioned using human growth hormone to Andy Pettitte.

“He is a serious witness,” said Walton. “Mr. Pettitte’s testimony is critical as to whether this man [Clemens] goes to prison. The government should have taken steps to make sure this didn’t happen.”

Prosecutors suggested the problem could be fixed with an instruction to the jury to disregard the evidence, but Walton seemed skeptical. He said he could never know what impact the evidence would have during the jury's deliberations "when we've got a man's liberty at interest."

Defense attorney Rusty Hardin patted an unsmiling Clemens on the back as the judge announced his decision. Clemens did not speak to reporters as he left the courtroom and made a telephone call in a private corner of the hallway. Clemens and his lawyers remain under a court gag order, so they are unlikely to comment on the development.

An Associated Press report is included in this story.

Red Sox sign second-round pick

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 14, 2011 01:48 PM

The Red Sox issued this release today:

The Boston Red Sox announced that they have signed outfielder Williams Jerez, the club’s second-round selection (81st overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Jerez has been assigned to Boston’s Rookie-level Gulf Coast League club.

Jerez was selected out of Grand Street Campus High School in Brooklyn, NY. A native of the Dominican Republic, he led New York City’s Public School Athletic League with a .692 batting average, 36 hits, .758 on-base percentage and 1.385 slugging percentage this year. The 6-4, 190-pound left-handed hitter also tallied five homers and 32 RBI, and stole 26 bases.

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Jerez is the young man whose age has been questioned. He claims to be 19 but high school coaches in New York City believed he was older. As far as the Sox are concerned, that's not a major issue.

Jerez, according to reports by WEEI.com, signed a deal at the recommended slot price for a second-round pick.

The Red Sox have deals with only 17 of their 50 draft picks. But that is not unusual. Many of the players wait until close to the Aug. 15 deadline to sign.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 14, 2011 10:30 AM

Nick Cafrdo takes a look at what the second half holds for the Red Sox.

As the Sox return from the break, they could need their offense to carry the pitching.

There are different views of Roger Clemens as his trial gets underway. Shira Springer has the story from Washington.

Greetings from Gate C-17

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 13, 2011 01:02 PM

PHOENIX — Greetings from the Steve Nash International Airport, where we're waiting for a flight to Tampa via Atlanta.

The Red Sox have a mandatory workout at Tropicana Field tomorrow night. So it made more sense to right to Tampa today instead of heading back home for a day.

The airport is a madhouse this morning as people flee Phoenix after the All-Star Game. But they're pretty efficient here with security.

The All-Star Game is always fun to cover. You get to see a lot of friends in the media business and catch up with players you know. For me, it was great to see Heath Bell come sprinting out of the National League bullpen like a madman in the eighth inning and slide when he reached the mound.

"I wanted the fans to have fun with this. The fans are really what matters. They're the ones that show up. They're the ones who pay our salary," Heath told the Los Angeles Times. "I didn't hurt myself. I wanted to have a blast. And I accomplished that goal."

Heath was signed as an amateur free agent after not being drafted in 1998 and spent parts of seven seasons on the minors with the Mets before he made his debut in 2002. I always found him interesting to talk to because he spoke his opinion.

The Mets gave up on him after three seasons, sending him to the Padres. Bell was a chunky righthander with decent stuff but didn't look anything like a future All-Star. But he blossomed with the Padres in 2009, becoming a closer. Now he has made the All-Star team three years in a row.

It's a little goofy to come running out of the bullpen and slide into the mound. But baseball could use more goofy. Guys like Heath and Brian Wilson are good for the game.

OK, off to Florida. Thanks for reading the All-Star coverage the last few days. We'll have a report from the workout tomorrow.

This game counts?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 13, 2011 10:00 AM
PHOENIX — This game counts. That's the slogan for the All-Star Game. The game determines home field for the World Series and Bud Selig loves it. The owners and players, who pocket plenty of money via Fox, love it, too.

That an exhibition game will determine how the championship series of a sport is conducted is one of the most irrational decisions of all time. But it's not changing.

So since the game counts, let's play it right.

There were 60 players who got on the field last night. That's about 30 more than a high school JV game. In the seventh inning, with his team down 4-1, Ron Washington let Carlos Quentin and Matt Joyce bat instead of Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton. It was more important to him not to offend Quentin and Joyce than to have better players in the game.

The AL started Jered Weaver. Then he was followed by Dave Robertson, Michael Pineda, C.J. Wilson, Jordan Walden, Chris Perez, Brandon League and Alexi Ogando. Not one of the relievers had ever been in an All-Star Game before.

That is not to say they are scrubs. But as the AL gave away home-field advantage, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, David Price, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were not available.

Some of them were injured or sort-of injured. The rest had pitched Sunday and therefore were ineligible.

Here's now the satirical website The Onion put it:

Baseball fans across the country have registered their excitement for Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star game, saying they can’t wait to watch the league’s annual showcase of its best players who aren’t injured, aren’t afraid of potentially getting injured, aren’t too tired, are free the night of July 12, didn’t pitch recently, aren’t scheduled to pitch next week, don’t mind making the trip to Arizona, and are actually willing to play two and a half innings of baseball.

They were trying to be funny. But they're right.

Something has to give. MLB can't say the game counts and then play it like a company picnic softball game.

For starters, play the game on Wednesday so the Sunday starters can pitch an inning. Play the Futures Game on Monday, the HR Derby on Tuesday, the All-Star Game on Wednesday and then give everybody a day off on Thursday. It's not perfect, but it's more perfect than having a Some Stars Game.

Inform the subs that playing time is not a right. Their union signed off on the "this game counts" silliness. The price you pay is not everybody gets to play. If it counts, Jose Bautista and Adrian Gonzalez need to get more than two at-bats.

Get the GMs involved. Why are the teams picked by fans, players, managers and MLB executives? I'd rather have Theo Epstein, Brian Cashman and Andrew Friedman figure it out. Or at least play a role.

So let me get this straight, I can sit at home, drink myself blind and vote 25 times for the players of my choice and actual people who build teams for a living have nothing to do with it? That makes sense.

Oh, and if you're picked, you play. Again, your union approved this. If you're not on the disabled list, you're playing. If this game counts, your behind better be in uniform and not in a bathing suit on a beach somewhere.

There's too much at stake for baseball to let the All-Star Game be played like this. We get it, this game counts. How about acting like it?

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What about you? What would be your idea to help fix the All-Star Game? Leave a comment below.

Video: Eckersley, Fisk share All-Star memories

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 13, 2011 07:39 AM
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CineSport's Noah Coslov talked to a pair of Red Sox greats, Dennis Eckersley and Carlton Fisk, as well as Hall of Fame pitcher Rollie Fingers, on their memories of the All-Star Game.

Video: Nick Cafardo's state of the Red Sox

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 13, 2011 07:27 AM
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Globe baseball reporter Nick Cafardo provides his opinions on where things stand for the Red Sox -- and where they're headed -- at the All-Star break.

Baseball coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 13, 2011 05:10 AM

The National League won the All-Star Game last night although Adrian Gonzalez hit a home run.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that old school Bud Selig talked a good game.

Nick Cafardo writes that realignment is coming to baseball.

Josh Beckett did not pitch because of a sore left knee.

The notebook has discipline coming soon for David Ortiz from Major League Baseball.

In Washington, a jury has been picked to hear the Roger Clemens perjury case. Shira Springer has the story.

Beckett took a cautious approach

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 13, 2011 12:14 AM

PHOENIX — Josh Beckett who did not pitch in the All-Star Game after his left knee became sore while warming up, does not believe the condition is serious.

The Red Sox righthander was scheduled to start the second inning. But his knee, which he hyperextended during his last start, did not feel quite right as he threw in the bullpen.

Because Beckett had promised manager Terry Francona he would not take any chances, he stopped throwing with about 10 pitches remaining in his warm-up.

“It’s not something I was comfortable with. I don't think I re-injured it but it still definitely has inflammation,” he told reporters. “I could have pitched. I'm just not comfortable going out there and getting hurt in an All-Star Game and costing myself starts in the second half. I think that's how everybody should be.

“This game does mean a lot with home field advantage [in the World Series], and everything. But at the same time there are some things things that are ahead that are a little more important.

“If it was a regular game I could have pitched through it but if something happened, I would have made a lot of people not look good.”

Beckett said his knee became stiff during the flight here from Boston on Sunday but he did some jogging on Monday and felt fine.

Beckett (8-3) is not scheduled to pitch until Sunday night against Tampa Bay.

“I think it's really a strong possibility. At worst, we might push it back a day or two,” he said.

Beckett spoke to Francona and Red Sox head athletic trainer Mike Reinold, said neither was overly concerned.

“It was a precaution more than anything else,” he said.

Update on Josh Beckett

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 10:09 PM

PHOENIX — Josh Beckett spoke to some reporters earlier tonight. According to MLB officials, he said he stopped warming up as a precaution because he felt some soreness, it was not a new injury.

He had promised Terry Francona he would be careful, so he shut it down just to be safe. Beckett said that had it been a real game, he would have pitched.

We should get a further update later on.

Final: NL 5, AL 1

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 07:57 PM

Game over

Prince Fielder's three-run homer in the fourth inning off Texas Starter C.J. Wilson held up as the deciding hit. Fielder was likely to be named the All-Star MVP in what was a pretty non-eventful game.

Adrian Gonzalez accounted for the AL's only run with a fourth-inning homer off Cliff Lee.

Sox players in the game: Gonzalez 1-for-2 (HR), Kevin Youkilis 1-for-1 (single), David Ortiz 0-2, Jacoby Ellsbury 0-2. Josh Becket (DNP) due to sore knee.

There were 47,994 at Chase Field. Time of game was 2:50. Tyler Clippard got the win and CJ Wilson took the loss. Brian Wilson was credited with the save.


Bottom of the 8th: NL 5, AL 1

This is Nick Cafardo taking over for Pete Abraham. Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz just left the building. They spoke before leaving, but were in a hurry to catch flights.

Gonzalez said he hit a cutter from Cliff Lee for a home run while Ortiz said that manager Ron Washington told the team "let's have fun, but this game means a lot. Try not to get hurt and go back to your team healthy, but play the game hard."

Top of the 8th: NL 5, AL 1

Pablo Sandoval had an RBI double off Brandon League. Youkilis is out of the game. Only Ellsbury is left among the Red Sox.

Middle of the 7th: NL 4, AL 1

The AL put two runners on but Craig Kimbrel got Howie Kendrick to ground to second to end the inning. It's not looking good for the American League. Might they lose two in a row?

Top of the 7th: NL 4, AL 1

Chris Perez worked around a double by Yadier Molina.

Middle of the 6th: NL 4, AL 1

Ellsbury struck out in his first at-bat. The AL has been held to four hits.

Top of the 6th: NL 4, AL 1

Jordan Walden of the Angels gave up a run on two hits. Ethier had an RBI single.

Middle of the 5th: NL 3, AL 1

1-2-3 inning for Clayton Kershaw. Ortiz struck out.

Youkilis came in at third last inning. Ellsbury in center now. Gonzo is out at first.

Top of the 5th: NL 3, AL 1

C.J. Wilson of the Rangers was rocked. Beltran and Kemp singled before Fielder crushed a home run to center field, just over the 413-foot sign.

Middle of the 4th: AL 1, NL 0

Bautista and Hamiton followed Gonzo's blast with singles. Beltre then singled off Tyler Clippard but Hunter Pence gunned down Baustista at the plate.

Top of the 4th: AL 1, NL 0

Adrian Gonzalez broke up the perfect game for the NL with a home run to right center. Gonzo hits them when it counts.

Top of the 4th: AL 0, NL 0

Impressive inning for Michael Pineda, the Seattle rookie. He was hitting 95 and retired the side in order with strikeouts of Rolen and Weeks. Three innings and one hit in this game.

Middle of the 3rd: AL 0, NL 0

1-2-3 inning for Cliff Lee. The NL pitchers have been perfect so far.

Top of the 3rd: AL 0, NL 0

Keep in mind, those of you who are panic stricken over this Beckett thing, he hyperextended his knee on Friday and there was a question of whether he would pitch in the All-Star Game. He threw a side on Sunday and today had trouble warming up because of some soreness. He's not dead and not scheduled to start until Sunday.

It just sounds like he was being cautious. We'll have more after the game.

Meanwhile. Robertson allowed a single by Berkman but got a strike 'em out / throw 'em out double play to end the inning.

Middle of the 2nd: AL 0, NL 0

Six up and six down for Halladay. If he pitched the whole game, this would be over in a hurry.

Josh Beckett is not pitching the second inning. He tried to warm up and shut it down when his left knee got sore.

Top of the 2nd: AL 0, NL 0

Weaver walked Kemp with two outs then got Fielder to hit a soft liner to left. Josh Beckett is warming up for the AL.

Middle of the 1st: AL 0, NL 0

Typical Halladay. Granderson grounded out, Cabrera struck out and Gonzalez grounded out.

asg2011photo.jpgUpdate: The sellout crowd at Chase Field is an angry one. All of the Red Sox and Yankees were booed when introduced along with any players from the Dodgers, Padres and Rockies.

The parents and brother of Christina Taylor-Green presented the lineup cards to the umpires. Christina, 9 was one of six victims of a gunman who tried to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., in January. Christina was the daughter of Dodgers scout John Green and the granddaughter of long-time manager Dallas Green.

Update: Brad Pitt is narrating a highlight video. In related news, Pitt is the star of the "Moneyball movie coming out in September.

Pre-game: Good afternoon from Chase Field, where thankfully there is a roof because it's 101 outside.

They're about to get started with the introductions here. That was my favorite part when I was a kid.

With assistance from Nick Cafardo, I'll have update here throughout the game. The focus will be on the Red Sox players. Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz are starters. Josh Beckett is expected to pitch the second inning. Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury will probably get in later on.

So hang out here with us while you watch the game and, please, toss in your comments.

Podcast: Looking back, looking forward

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 12, 2011 06:30 PM

Click play to hear this week's edition of the Globe Red Sox podcast.

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Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes. Find its archive here.

82nd All-Star Game: AL at NL

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 06:28 PM

Here are the lineups:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Curtis Granderson (Yankees) CF
Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians) SS
Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox) 1B
Jose Bautista (Blue Jays) RF
Josh Hamilton(Rangers) LF
Adrian Beltre (Rangers) 3B
David Ortiz (Red Sox) DH
Robinson Cano (Yankees) 2B
Alex Avila (Tigers) C

Pitching: RHP Jered Weaver (Angels), 11-4, 1.86

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Rickie Weeks (Brewers) 2B
Carlos Beltran (Mets) DH
Matt Kemp (Dodgers) CF
Prince Fielder (Brewers) 1B
Brian McCann (Braves) C
Lance Berkman (Cardinals) RF
Matt Holliday (Cardinals) LF
Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) SS
Scott Rolen (Cardinals) 3B

Pitching: RHP Roy Halladay (Phillies), 11-3, 2.45

Game time: 8:05 p.m.

TV: FOX

Notes: The NL leads the series 41-38 with two ties. ... The AL had won 13 straight before losing last year. ... This is the first All-Star Game in Arizona. The game has been in 52 parks in 27 cities. ... Gonzalez is an All-Star for the fourth time, Ortiz for the seventh time, Youkilis and Beckett for the third time, Lester for the second time and Ellsbury for the first time. ... There are a record 35 first-time All-Stars in the game.

Stat of the Day: There has not been a home run hit in the All-Star Game since 2008. It was by J.D. Drew at old Yankee Stadium off Edinson Volquez.

Song of the Day: "Farther Stars" by John Hiatt.

Beckett set for one inning tonight

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 04:34 PM

PHOENIX — American League manager Ron Washington said this afternoon that Josh Beckett will throw an inning. In speaking to Beckett, it sounds like it will be the second inning.

Clemens family upsets judge with social media use

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 12, 2011 03:33 PM
WASHINGTON -- Members of Roger Clemens’ family have upset Judge Reggie B. Walton with recent social medial use.

At the end of the morning session of Clemens' perjury trial, Walton raised concerns about a report that some Clemens’ relatives are “disseminating information that’s disparaging to people who are going to testify in the case.” Walton previously instituted a gag order prohibiting participants from public comment. Walton hoped that no one associated with the case was responsible for or connected to a recent blog entry and tweets critical of some witnesses for the prosecution. Clearly, it would not look good if Clemens was somehow behind the disparaging information.

A report in the New York Daily News mentioned tweets from Clemens’ sister, Janet Johnson, and blog entries from Johnson’s daughter, Kirbie Johnson. Janet Johnson took to Twitter, disparaging Brian McNamee as a liar and attacking Andy Pettitte and his father for their involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Kirbie Johnson also took a shot at McNamee, albeit without mentioning the name of the trainer, who has said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.

Instead, she wrote “if a drug dealer gets in the media and makes claims against another person, people listen to this person as if they were reading the gospel, when the fact is that the person is a DRUG DEALER!”

Because they are not involved in the proceedings, the statements made by the Johnsons don’t violate the gag order. But they did anger the judge.

“I guess I don’t have authority over anybody who’s not before this court,” said Walton. “I commend counsel for complying with the gag order. But it doesn’t help the process if that information is being disseminated.”

Walton later added the he found “the shot taken at Mr. Pettitte’s father most disturbing.”

When it was mentioned that Clemens’ sister and son might be behind some of the information, lead defense attorney Rusty Hardin addressed the court.

“I have not seen it,” said Hardin. “I’m still not aware of it. I’d be surprised if it was his son … It’s been extremely difficult for Mr. Clemens to put up with what some of the bloggers are saying. My guess is it’s in response to that. In my 37 years, I’ve never had a client talked about –Twitter, social media, everything--the way they have [Clemens].”

Joe Torre: MLB will rule on Orioles-Red Sox brawl later this week

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 03:10 PM

PHOENIX — Major League Baseball vice president Joe Torre said a few minutes ago that a ruling on the Orioles-Red Sox brawl will come down later this week, probably on Thursday.

The teams had a bench-clearing brawl on Friday night after David Ortiz charged the mound following a confrontation with Kevin Gregg.

Torre did not discuss specifics but it's safe to say that Ortiz and Gregg will be suspended.

Selig takes questions from the BBWAA

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 03:00 PM

PHOENIX — Commissioner Bud Selig just address a group of BBWAA members at a luncheon and took on all questions. Here's a brief summation on his comments:

• Selig said the the idea that MLB is disappointed Derek Jeter skipped the All-Star Game is "just false."

• The 2013 All-Star game "looks pretty good" for Citi Field in New York. The game will be in Kansas City next year.

• Do not expect "significant realignment" next season. Selig said he likes interleague play the way is and acknowledges that having 15 teams in each league would create year-long interleague play.

• Selig is not in favor of more replay but said replay could be used to decide balls hit down the line.

• He expressed concern for Tampa Bay and it's poor attendance.

• Selig danced around the question about Oakland's future other than to say a committee is working on it.

• Selig said he likes the idea of using a DH in National League parks during interleague games and letting the pitchers hit in AL parks.

• Selig would like to ban smokesless tobacco.

• The commissioner said he "remains firm" on the idea of retirement after 2012.

MLBPA director Michael Weiner is talking to the BBWAA now. His message is that the sides are having "healthy dialogue" on a new labor agreement.

Coming up today in Phoenix

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 12:08 PM

PHOENIX — Commissioner Bud Selig will speak to reporters this morning here and we'll have a report on that later on.

The teams get to the ballpark around 1 p.m. local time for workouts, batting practice and then the game. We'll have a live blog on the game tonight and reports on how all the Red Sox players fare.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 12, 2011 10:54 AM

Josh Beckett's All-Star season started last fall with his accepting responsibility.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that Adrian Gonzalez is the best player in the game right now.

Nick Cafardo writes that these are interesting times for David Ortiz.

The notebook has Robinson Cano edging Gonzalez in the Home Run Derby and an update on Jon Lester.

Video: David Ortiz on Home Run Derby

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 12, 2011 07:30 AM
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz spoke about his choices for the American League Home Run Derby last night, as well as his own participation.

Gonzalez had a blast in Derby

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 11:46 PM

06af1b128842b20ff20e6a706700d1d1.jpg

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

PHOENIX — Adrian Gonzalez hit two home runs the last time he was in the Home Run Derby, in 2009. So crushing 31 and coming in second to Robinson Cano tonight didn't bother him too much.

"That was fun," he said. "That's how you have to look at these things."

Gonzalez had never hit against Cleveland manager Manny Acta before. But it worked out just fine.

"Pitch selection is the key," Gonzalez said. "You just have to wait and get something you can get to. Manny did a great job. I was trying to somebody this afternoon and he volunteered."

Gonzalez admitted he was tired by the end of the final round, which led to his making outs in his final four swings. "It takes a toll," he said.

David Ortiz was thrilled with the American League winning the team event 76-19.

"I guess I made the right choices," he said, before joking that he was coming after Terry Francona's job next.

By winning the team event, Ortiz landed $150,000 for the David Ortiz Children's Fund and $100,000 in his name to the Boys and Girls Club.

In terms of the stats, Cano averaged 447 feet in the first round, 430 feet in the second round and 427 feet in the final. Gonzalez averaged 422 feet, 422 feet and 416 feet.

Obviously this is a meaningless event. But even Red Sox fans would have to admit it was kind of neat that Cano had his father, 49-year-old Jose Cano, pitching to him. The elder Cano spent eight seasons in pro ball, appearing in six games for the Houston Astros in 1989. Father and son embraced after his victory.

Gonzalez also had his dad, David, at the event. David Gonzalez is a former Mexican League standout and he was clearly enjoying himself all day, spending time with his son at the press conference.

Cano tops Gonzalez in Home Run Derby

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 08:16 PM

It's over: Cano hit 12 to win his first title. Nice moment for him and his dad. Great showing by Gonzo, too.

Gonzo ties record: Adrian hit 11, tying the final round record. Now we'll see what Cano can do.

Final round: It'll be Gonzo vs. Cano. They each had 20. Ortiz, the defending champion, finished with nine as did Fielder.

The nine homers did give Ortiz a career event record of 77, breaking the record of 74 held by Ken Griffey Jr.

Robbie Cano: That was impressive. Cano drilled 12 in that round, a bunch of majestic shots, too. He has 20 overall. The AL now leads the NL 42-15.

Papi again: David hit four and now has nine total. He's not going to win.

Second round: It'll be Papi, Gonzo, Prince and Cano in the second round. Prince hit five in the "swing-off" and Papi 4. Holliday hit 2.

In the team competition, the AL leads 27-15. Clearly Ortiz is a smart man.

Prince Fielder: He hit five, too. Now Fielder, Ortiz and Holliday will have a "swing-off" of five swings each to determine which two advance along with Gonzo and Cano.

Just what this event needs, to be longer.

David Ortiz: Big Papi with five homers. He drilled a bunch of grounders into right field. It was 2009 all over again. But Ortiz could still advance.

Gonzo is still the leader with nine. There have been only 36 HRs so far. Only a few real memorable ones, mostly by Cano.

Matt Kemp: So much for my prediction, he hit two. Now comes Big Papi.

Jose Bautista: The Toronto slugger hit just four. Kind of disappointing.

Rickie Weels: That was painful. The crowd booed as he hit only three homers. They also were chanting "Justin Upton." Prince Fielder picked his teammate. But shouldn't the home team have had somebody in the competition?

Robinson Cano: The Yankees second baseman had his dad, Jose, pitch to him. Jose pitched six games for the Astros in 1989.

Cano hit some impressive homers, one that soared 472 feet. But he had just eight. Gonzo remains the leader.

Matt Holliday: He had five homers off teammate Yadier Molina. Meanwhile Reggie Jackson and Hank Aaron are in the house.

First up: Adrian Gonzalez

He made two weak outs facing Indians manager Manny Acta then connected for two bombs, one that landed in the pool area. Once he started started pulling the ball down the line, he drilled a few in a row.

Gonzo ended up with nine homers. Considering he had 2 in 2009, he must be happy.

Pre-Derby: Not sure if anybody has ever tried to live blog the Home Run Derby before. But we here at Extra Bases are nothing if not ambitious.

It'll be David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Robbie Cano and Jose Bautista against Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Matt Holliday and Matt Kemp. It's a little like West Side Story.

My prediction: Kemp wins it. I have no idea why. Anybody who dated Rihanna must have something going for them.

Beltran open to Red Sox deal

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 07:27 PM

PHOENIX — As the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline creeps closer, right field is a glaring need for the Red Sox. Thy are getting an OPS of .638 from that position, the second-lowest in baseball.

Carlos Beltran of the Mets would fill that need nicely. The switch hitter is hitting .285 with 12 home runs. 28 doubles and 58 RBIs.

But there are obstacles. Beltran, who will be a free agent after the season, presently has $8.1 million remaining on his contract and has a full no-trade clause.

“Having the no-trade clause gives me a little bit of control. Now basically, I would choose whether to get traded,” Beltran said. “At this point, all I want is to win and have the opportunity to be in the playoffs. You work hard in the offseason and spring training to be in situations like those.”

Beltran indicated that the Red Sox would be a team he would be open to joining. "That's an easy one," he said. The Sox also had interest in Beltran last winter before they acquired Carl Crawford.

Landing Beltran would seem like a long shot. The Mets are sure to want a good prospect or two in return and the money could be prohibitive.

Video: Ellsbury honored to be All-Star

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 11, 2011 07:15 PM
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Watch excerpts of Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury's media interview today at the All-Star festivities in Phoenix.

Lester optimistic about quick recovery

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 07:14 PM
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PHOENIX — Jon Lester can't pitch, but he came out for the game anyway. His wife, Farrah, and 1-year-old son Hudson are along for the ride. Farrah missed the game last year as she was about to give birth.

“This year is more for her,” he said. “He’ll never remember it, just pictures. It’ll be fun to share it with them, this whole debacle of the next two days.”

As for his strained lat, Lester was very optimistic.

“Everything is good. We’re on track. Its one those deals where right now we’re waiting,” he said. “We’re no-throw for a couple of more days and everything should be fine after that.”

Lester, who was injured on July 5, is feeling better in recent days.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Everyday has been getting better. The day after it felt better than it did the day before and so forth.”

Lester had an examination on Sunday and checked out well. He will join the team in Tampa on Thursday and hopes to start playing catch then. He has already returned to some weight lifting exercises.

“We want to make sure that when I throw, there aren’t any setbacks,” he said.

Lester is eligible to come off the disabled list on July 22. He hopes to return on or close to that day. The key, he said, would being healthy enough to pitch in the bullpen a few times leading up to that.

“That’s the way it feels as of now. But I haven’t picked up a ball,” he said. “If it hurts when I throw, we’re not getting anywhere. … I can’t give you a timetable. I think once I pick up a ball and throw, we’ll have a better idea.”

Ethier on Pedroia: 'Relax and Laser Show'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 06:26 PM

PHOENIX — Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier is expecting big things down the stretch from Dustin Pedroia, one of his best friends and a teammate at Arizona State.

Pedroia is hitting a solid .284 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs, but that is well below his usual production.

“Relax and Laser Show. He’s a great player,” Ethier said. “I think he’s a good year even up to this point. He’s coming back from a tough injury. I saw first-hand all winter, the steps and stuff he had to do just to get back to the point he’s at right now.

“I kept telling him to slow down and take a month or two later than he actually did. He, of course, wanted to come back right away and be there from Day 1. He’s done more than enough to help that team. Once he gets that rhythm and feeling like himself again. He’s definitely going to take off.”

Ethier is not being too boastful of making the All-Stat team while Pedroia stays home.

“He has a couple under his belt. He has a lot more awards in his trophy case than I do,” Ethier said. “All he’s concerned about is winning.”

What about the idea of Ethier playing with Pedroia again?

“Maybe one day. Maybe when we’re 38 years old we’ll end up playing on the Diamondbacks together for the last year or two,” he said. “Maybe one day. It would be fun. But he has his thing in Boston and we’re trying to do what we’re doing in L.A. If the paths meet somehow, they’ll line up perfect for us.”

Red Sox fans would prefer that comes sooner than later, like tomorrow. Ethier is hitting .311 /.383/.463 for the Dodgers.

A few Red Sox notes . . .

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 04:15 PM

PHOENIX — Jon Lester said his strained lat is feeling better and he hopes to start playing catch on Thursday.

Lester has started lifting weights again and said he has not felt the injury the last two days.

"I'm hopeful I'm only going to miss a couple of starts," he said. "The way I feel now, I'd say that's possible."

In terms of other stuff:

• The Sox will start Andrew Miller, John Lackey and Josh Beckett after the break.

• Adrian Gonzalez said he planned to pull everything in the Derby tonight and was looking forward to seeing how he does. "It'll be fun," he said. "I usually don't try to hit home runs."

Gonzo joked that Dustin Pedroia wasn't selected because of the height requirement.

• Beckett said he is available to pitch tomorrow and that his left knee is fine.

More to come from these guys later on.

Ortiz not worried about future

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 03:57 PM

PHOENIX - As the second half approaches David Ortiz is one of two (Jonathan Papelbon) significant Red Sox players without a contract heading into free-agency.

"What can I tell you?" Ortiz said. "I haven't heard anything about my future. I'm not worried about it. You worry about it when things aren't going the way you want them to go. In that case that's not my problem right now. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. So, we'll see."

Discussions at the end of the year?

"I hope."

On wanting to play more than one year.

"Oh yeah, I have more in the tank. I have more than that," he said.

"I'm gonna turn 36. That's the worst thing that could happen to me (age) now and the next two or three years," he said.

Does he want to retire a Red Sox?

"Ah..probably. You know what I'm saying? That doesn't depend on me," he said.

Asked if he's now opened the organization's eyes, he said, "I've been in this organization for nine years. My numbers ain't that bad. I don't think I need to open any more eyes than what I have already. "

HR Derby mashers meet the press

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 03:02 PM

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PHOENIX — David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez and the other participants in tonight's Home Run Derby are are taking questions now.

Ortiz is wearing sunglasses inside, which is a good menacing look. He looks like the villain in ever Miami Vice episode.

Wilson predicts a Red Sox-Giants series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 02:37 PM

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PHOENIX — San Francisco closer Brian Wilson, the pride of Londonderry, N.H., is predicting the Giants will face the Red Sox in the World Series.

“I already called it earlier this year. So look for it. It’s going to happen,” he said. “It would be a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to go into Fenway as a baseball player. ... It would be epic."

Wilson has never pitched at Fenway in his career and would love the opportunity.

"I was there to see the Junior Pan-American Games when I was 13 and a few Red Sox-Yankees matchups." he said. "I've never been there as a baseball player. It would be fun to go there for the Series."

Debate: Should Derek Jeter attend the All-Star game?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 02:18 PM

PHOENIX - The big topic of discussion here is whether Derek Jeter should come to the All-Star game even though he's decided not to play.

The "yes he should come" side of it is that Jeter has a great opportunity to represent what is good with baseball as a goodwill ambassador for the game. Other "injured" players have elected to attend including his New York counterpart Jose Reyes.

Jeter stroked his 3,000th hit Saturday.

Predictably, the All-Stars have bailed Jeter out.

"Derek Jeter has been the ultimate ambassador for the game of baseball for years and years. He's represented the game the right way on and off the field. Does he need to do this? I think he's done more for the game than anyone," said Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun.

"It's been a crazy week for him. I'm sure he wants to rest his body and prepare himself for the second half of the season. His team is the most important thing. Derek has been to a lot of All-Star games and he's achieved things very few people in the game have achieved. With (Jose) Reyes, he's been to three or four All-Star games and he probably wanted to come and just have a good time," Matt Kemp said.

What do you think? Should Jeter be here?


All-Star Game lineups named

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 01:18 PM

PHOENIX — Here are the lineups for the All-Star game tomorrow:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Curtis Granderson CF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Jose Bautista RF
Josh Hamilton LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
David Ortiz DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Avila C
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Jered Weaver RHP

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Beltran DH
Matt Kemp CF
Prince Fielder 1B
Brian McCann C
Lance Berkman RF
Matt Holliday LF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Scott Rolen 3B
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Roy Halladay RHP

A few notes: The managers (Ron Washington and Bruce Bochy) just did a press conference with the starters. Washington indicated that he would use Jose Valverde to close, which is an interesting choice. With Mariano Rivera out, he has to come up with something. ... Bochy said he wanted a third catcher, which is why Miguel Montero of Arizona was a late addition instead of another first baseman such as Ryan Howard or Albert Pujols. ... The teams will be having press availability next, the NL followed by the AL. We'll have updates all day.

The Globe's Michael Vega on the Red Sox' sweep of the Orioles

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff July 11, 2011 07:47 AM
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The Globe's Michael Vega takes a look at how the Red Sox rallied to complete a four-game sweep of the Orioles Sunday and has some updates regarding Boston All-Stars.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 11, 2011 05:46 AM

The Red Sox went into the All-Star break with another win. Michael Vega has the story.

In Phoenix, Nick Cafado writes that Will Middlebrooks has a bright future with the Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury bounced back from a tough 2010 and became an All-Star. Amalie Benjamin has that story.

Kyle Weiland has an eventful first day in the majors Nicole Auerbach has the story.

The notebook has Jon Lester making the All-Star team, too.

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There will be a variety of All-Star Game events here in Phoenix today. We'll update the blog throughout the day and night with what is going on.

Shaughnessy: Sox-Yanks collision course?

Posted by jduffy July 11, 2011 03:54 AM
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Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and Cinesport's Noah Coslov discuss the state of the Red Sox at the All-Star break, and look ahead to the second half of the season and the playoffs.

Middlebrooks 1 for 2 in Futures Game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 10, 2011 10:03 PM

PHOENIX — Will Middlebrooks was 1 for 2 for the United States team in the annual Futures Game today. Class AA Portland teammate Chih-Hsien Chiang was 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored for the World Team.

The US prospects scored three runs in the eighth inning to win 6-4 at Chase Field.

Middlebrooks started at third base for the US while Chiang was the starting left fielder for the World team.

Nick Cafardo will have more on the game tomorrow in the Globe.

Mets prospect Matt Harvey, the pride of Groton, Conn., and Fitch High, got the save.

Jon Lester named to the AL All-Star team

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 10, 2011 08:21 PM

Jon Lester became an American League All-Star today in one of the strangest ways possible.

Because Mariners' pitcher Felix Hernandez started today's game against the Indians, he will be inactive for Tuesday's All-Star Game in Phoenix. Hernandez had been voted to the All-Star team by player voting, so his replacement had to come from the player ballots, too. Lester was the next highest ranked pitcher who wasn't already an All-Star.

Because Lester is currently on the disabled list, Blue Jays' pitcher Ricky Romero has been named to the All-Star squad and will be active on Tuesday.

Lester will attend the game with full honors and will be introduced before the game's first pitch. This marks the second All-Star selection of Lester's career. He is 10-4 with a 3.31 ERA.

Final: Red Sox 8, Orioles 6

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 10, 2011 05:10 PM
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End of game: Red Sox 8, Orioles 6

Jonathan Papelbon closed out the game and the first half of the season for the AL East-leading Sox. It's the Red Sox' sixth win in a row. And with that, it's time for the All-Star break.

End of the 8th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 6

Gonzalez grounded out, Youkilis struck out, and Ortiz flied to right-center.

Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 6

1-2-3 inning for Daniel Bard, including a strikeout of Lee.

End of the 7th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 6

With one out, Varitek doubled to left. He advanced to third on a J.D. Drew infield single. Scutaro hit into a fielder's choice, and Varitek was tagged out in a rundown between third and home.

Ellsbury singled to right, scoring Drew from second. Pedroia struck out to end the inning.

Middle of the 7th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6

Markakis and Jones both grounded out. Felix Pie pinch hit for Guerrero and struck out.

Update: Guerrero left the game with a right hand contusion.

End of the 6th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6

Lefthander Michael Gonzalez entered the game for the Orioles. He struck out Gonzalez and Youkilis. Then, Gonzalez threw a pitch behind Oritz, and he was ejected. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was tossed, too.

Jason Berken came in to pitch. He finished Ortiz's at-bat and struck him out.

Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6

1-2-3 inning for Aceves. Nice and quick.

End of the 5th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6

Drew and Scutaro grounded out. Ellsbury walked. Pedroia struck out to end the inning.

Middle of the 5th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6

Jones led off with a triple. Weiland hit Guerrero with a pitch, and home plate umpire Marty Foster ejected him (after warnings had been issued to both teams previously). Red Sox manager Terry Francona was also ejected.

Alfredo Aceves came in, striking out Weiters and Lee. Blake Davis flied out. No runs for the Orioles.

End of the 4th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 6

With one out, Pedroia doubled down the left-field line. Gonzalez followed with a single to shallow left, sending Pedroia to third. Youkilis was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Ortiz, who walked, forcing in Pedroia with the go-ahead run.

Reddick flied out, and Varitek struck out to end the inning.

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 6, Orioles 6

Robert Andino walked, but Varitek threw him out trying to steal second. Hardy flied to right. Markakis grounded to short to end the inning

Update: Mark Reynolds left the game with a right hand contusion.

End of the 3rd: Red Sox 6, Orioles 6

The end of a much quieter inning. Just a ground-rule double for Jason Varitek. Reddick and Scutaro struck out.

Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 6, Orioles 6

Weiland struck out Derrek Lee looking and then hit Mark Reynolds with a pitch. Nolan Reimold hit into an inning-ending double play.

End of the 2nd: Red Sox 6, Orioles 6

And just like that, the Sox are back in it. Solo shots from Marco Scutaro and Pedroia were followed by a two-run blast from Kevin Youkilis that tied the game.

Orioles starter Mitch Atkins was yanked after Youkilis's home run. Jeremy Guthrie, who replaced Atkins, got Ortiz to fly out to end the inning.

Middle of the 2nd: Orioles 6, Red Sox 2

The Orioles batted around, and Weiland got his "welcome to the big leagues" moment -- a two-run homer by Derrek Lee. It was followed by four more runs. Seven Orioles had hits in that inning.

End of the 1st: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0

Does Jacoby Ellsbury ever not get a hit in the first inning? He singled up the middle to get things started (he's now hitting .386 in the first inning this season). Dustin Pedroia then hit into a fielder's choice, which wiped Ellsbury out at second. Adrian Gonzalez followed up with a walk. Kevin Youkilis's infield single loaded the bases for David Ortiz, who drove in Pedroia with a single up the middle.

Josh Reddick hit a sacrifice fly to left, which scored Gonzalez. Jason Varitek grounded out to first to end the inning.

Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0

Can't start much better than that. A 1-2-3 inning for Kyle Weiland, who is making his major league debut this afternoon. J.J. Hardy popped to first, Nick Markakis struck out looking, and Adam Jones grounded to second.

Pregame notes: Beckett cleared to pitch in All-Star Game

Posted by Nicole Auerbach July 10, 2011 12:17 PM

Right-hander Josh Beckett threw a side session this morning, and since then, he's been cleared to pitch in the All-Star Game in Phoenix on Tuesday.

The Red Sox have been keeping an eye on Beckett ever since he left Friday's game after five innings due to a mildly hyperextended left knee.

In other injured pitcher news, Clay Buchholz did not throw a side today, but he wasn't scheduled to. Buchholz is dealing with a lower back strain, and he's been on the disabled list retroactive to June 17.

Some notes from manager Terry Francona's pregame press conference:

** To make room on the roster for today's starting pitcher Kyle Weiland (who will make his big-league debut), the Sox have sent Scott Atchinson down to Pawtucket.

** Francona met with Weiland earlier, and he said likes when called-up players are a little nervous before their debuts.

"Guys who maybe try not to act [nervous], that's when you get a little worried," Francona said.

** Today's game is a little odd because it's the last one before the All-Star break, and after its conclusion, players will be leaving to go all over the country -- some will go home to hang out with their families, and others will be heading to Phoenix for the game. There's definitely a weird vibe around the ballpark.

"The first half doesn't wind down -- it comes to a crashing halt," Francona said. "We've got a game to play today, try to win it to the best of your ability. Then, guys will disperse in a hurry. Good for them.

"We want them to get away for a few days. We talk all the time, if the first game back, if ... the legs are a little slow, a little lethargic ... if that's the worst thing that happens, we're OK. They need to get away because it's a long second half."

** Francona was asked what he's been surprised about most during the first half of the season. He listed three things he's been pleased with:

- Matt Albers' performance out of the bullpen (3-3, 2.55 ERA, 35.1 IP)
- Jacoby Ellsbury's productivity as a leadoff batter (In the first inning alone, he's hitting .377 with five doubles and three home runs.)
- Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Gonzalez have all stayed healthy so far.

"We haven't clicked on all cylinders yet, which is kind of exciting to me," Francona said.

** Francona said he might not watch the All-Star game on Tuesday.

"I may turn the game on to see how our guys are doing, but that's about it," Francona said. "I need a break."

Game 90: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 10, 2011 10:05 AM

It's the final game before the All-Star break. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (54-35)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Reddick LF
Varitek C
Drew RF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP Kyle Weiland (season debut)

ORIOLES (36-51)
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Guerrero DH
Wieters C
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Reimold LF
Andino 2B

Pitching: RHP Mitch Atkins (0-0, 1.50)

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox have won five straight and nine of their last 10. ... The Orioles have dropped six straight and 11 of their last 12. ... Weiland is a 2008 draft pick out of Notre Dame, where he was a closer. He was 8-6, 3.00 in 17 starts at Class AAA Pawtucket. Over 93 innings, he allowed 69 hits, 31 earned runs, 37 walks and 99 strikeouts. Lefties hit only .175 against Weiland in Pawtucket. ... Atkins is a 25-year-old who has pitched in eight big league games, starting one. He held Texas to one run over six innings on July 5. ... The Orioles are 14-29 on the road. ... Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in 11 straight games. ... Jacoby Ellsbury is 18 of his last 39 with nine RBIs.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have outscored the Orioles 24-7 in the series and 30-9 in the last four games between the teams.

Song of the Day: "Vacation" by The Go-Go's.

Skin cancer screenings at Fenway today

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 10, 2011 09:30 AM

This release from the Red Sox:

As part of Major League Baseball’s Play Sun Smart campaign, the Red Sox will offer free skin cancer screenings to all fans attending the game today. The screenings will take place in the Players Club (located in the Big Concourse) from 11:35 a.m. until the 7th inning.

Dermatologists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the American Academy of Dermatology will be on site for the screenings and fans will receive free sun screen for participating.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 10, 2011 08:18 AM

John Lackey has a strong start as the Red Sox beat the Orioles again. Michael Vega has the story.

Daniel Bard continued a dominant run to help preserve the shutout. Monique Walker has that story.

David Ortiz regretted his role on the fight on Friday night. Mike also has that story.

The notebook has Kevin Youkilis thrilled with his All-Star opportunity

Here's an interesting story about the radio battle between the Red Sox and Yankees. Tim Wallace breaks it down.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick Cafardo looks at some players who need to have a big second half.

Final: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff July 9, 2011 07:09 PM
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John Lackey pitched an impressive game as he picked up his first win in four starts to lead the Red Sox to a 4-0 victory tonight at Fenway Park.

It was the second shutout of the year for Lackey, who allowed three hits and struck out 7 in 6 2/3 innings. The last time, Lackey didn't give up a run was April 24 in a 7-0 victory against the Angels.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the final inning. Guerrero flew out to right. Wieters flew out to left. Lee struck out.

End of the 8th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

RHP Jim Johnson starts the inning, replacing Hendrickson. Saltalamacchia lines out to short. Drew grounds out to first. Scutaro lined out to short.

Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Andino struck out. Hardy flew out to right. Markakis beat out an infield single to deep short. He later stole second (his 8th SB). Jones struck out looking.

End of the 7th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0

Pedroia doubles to left to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Gonzalez grounds out to first, which moves Pedroia to third. Youkilis doubles to right to drive in Pedroia. Youkilis is 3 for 4 with two doubles. Ortiz singled to left, and Youkilis advanced to third. Reddick hit into a 4-6-3 double play.

Middle of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 0

Guerrero hits a line drive to right and Drew runs in to make a sliding catch. Wieters flies out to left. Lee is hit by a pitch. It's the second HBP of the night for Lackey. Both benches are warned. Reynolds strikes out swinging but reaches first on a wild pitch.

RHP Daniel Bard enters the game in relief of Lackey. He inherits runners on first and second with two outs. Reimold flew out to short.

The line for Lackey: 6 2/3IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7K , 2WP, 2 HBP, 106 pitches, 69 K. If the score holds up, Lackey will snap a 3-game losing streak.

End of the 6th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 0

Drew strikes out. Scutaro grounded out to second. Ellsbury grounded out to first.

Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 0:

Hardy flied out to first. Markakis was hit by a pitch. Jones hit a grounder right to Gonzalez at first, which started a 3-6-3-4 double play.

End of the 5th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 0

Ellsbury extends his hot night with a triple to right. He is 3-for-3 with a single, double and a triple. Pedroia smacked a grounder that bounced to Simon who made a nice play on the mound. He caught Ellsbury halfway down the line at third and tagged him out before he could get to the plate. Pedroia ended up at second on the fielder's choice. Gonzalez was intentionally walked. Youkilis made the Orioles pay as he drilled the ball off the wall in left. Pedroia scored. Gonzalez ended up at third and Youkilis at second. Ortiz was intentionally walked. Reddick drives in two runs with a double to right (Gonzalez, Youkilis score). Ortiz ends up at third. Red Sox have done all of their damage with two outs.

Mark Hendrickson enters the game in relief for the Orioles. Saltalamacchia grounds out to second. Simon's line: 4 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 1 strike out, 87 pitches (46 strikes)

Middle of the 5th: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Lee singled to center. Reynolds flew out to left. Reimold struck out. Andino grounded out to short. Lackey continues his strong outing. He has thrown 83 pitches, 53 for strikes.

End of the 4th: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Ortiz drove a fly ball deep to center, but Jones chased it down and made a leaping catch against the wall. Reddick reached first after Lee misplayed a hard hit grounder to first. Saltalamacchia beat out a potential double play on a slow grounder to second. The Orioles got Reddick at second, but Saltalamacchia beat the throw at first. Drew struck out to end the inning.

Middle of the 4th: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Jones walked. Guerrero struck out swinging. Weiters struck out. With Lee at the plate, Jones attempted to steal second but was easily thrown out by Saltalamacchia to end the inning.

End of the 3rd: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Ellsbury legs out a double on a hard hit to left. Pedroia lines out to left. Gonzalez drives a high fly ball to the warning track in left, but it's caught for an out. Youkilis grounded out to short.

Middle of the 3rd: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Robert Andino flies out to right. Hardy strikes out. Markakis grounds out to second. The night is moving along nicely for Lackey, who has pitched three scoreless innings, allowed two hits and struck out three.

End of the 2nd: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Josh Reddick singled to right. While Jarrod Saltalamacchia was at the plate, Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon was called for a balk, moving Reddick to second. Saltalamacchia flew out to right. J.D. Drew flew out to left. Marco Scutaro thrown out at first on a grounder to second.

Middle of the 2nd: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Matt Wieters lined a single off the wall in left. Derrek Lee struck out. Mark Reynolds struck out. Nolan Reimold flew out to right.

End of the 1st: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

Jacoby Ellsbury beats out a high chopper in the infield for a single. Dustin Pedroia walked. Adrian Gonzalez lined out to third. Kevin Youkilis singled to center. David Ortiz (fans chanted "Ortiz, Ortiz" in his first at bat of the night.) hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Middle of the 1st: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

J.D. Hardy led off with a single off of the left field wall. Nick Markakis flies out to center. While Adam Jones was at the plate, a wild pitch allowed Hardy to take second. Jones hit a grounder to second and was thrown out. Hardy advanced to third. Vladimir Guerrero grounded out to first, leaving Hardy stranded.

We'll see how it goes for John Lackey tonight. He has taken the mound as the Red Sox prepare to face the Baltimore Orioles. It's a perfect 81 degrees here with winds registering 13 mph.

A few notes before tonight's game

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff July 9, 2011 05:10 PM

A few notes to pass along from Fenway Park as the Red Sox prepare for the Baltimore Orioles tonight.

Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis has been added to the All-Star roster after Alex Rodriguez was forced to drop out due to a knee injury. It will be the third All-Star nod for Youkilis, who is hitting .275 with 12 HRs and has 59 RBI this season.

Youkilis said he found out about the selection after last night's game.

""It was definitely a surprise yesterday, but it's a great thing," he said. "I'm excited to represent the American League and the Boston Red Sox. Hopefully we can come out on top in that game because that might mean a really big thing for us down the road. It will be fun to go out there and enjoy it with my teammates."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the team will watch pitcher Josh Beckett over the next couple of days and track his progress.

"Josh will go out and play catch today, which he would normally do. And then tomorrow morning he'll throw a side and we'll kind of reevaluate him from there obviously not just for his start going forward with us but with all-star ramifications, we don't want to don't want to hold up the league," Francona said. "So he'll go out early tomorrow morning and throw side and if he's OK, he's OK. If he needs to hold off, we'll do that also. We certainly respect the all-star stuff, but we also have an obligation to our team. And he understands that. He'll be honest about it."

Game 89: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 9, 2011 03:10 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (53-35)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Reddick LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew RF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP John Lackey (5-8, 7.47)

ORIOLES (36-50)
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Guerrero DH
Wieters C
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Reimold LF
Andino 2B

Pitching: RHP Alfredo Simon (1-1, 4.64)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI

Notes: The Sox have won four straight and eight of nine and start the day a game ahead of the Yankees. ... The Orioles have lost five straight and 10 of 11. They have been outscored 83-36 in those 11 games. ... Simon is making his first start of the season and only the fourth in his career. He has yet to throw more than 4.2 innings in a game this season. The Orioles have worn out their bullpen the last two nights and are calling up lefty Mark Hendrickson. Tomorrow's starter, Mitch Atkins, has one career start under his bet. ... Lackey had a 2.80 ERA in 35.1 innings against Baltimore last season. Given all the injuries in the rotation, he probably isn't pitching for his spot but it has to be getting close to that. ... Pedroia has homered in three of the last four games and has a 10-game hit streak going (14 of 41). ... The O's are 14-28 on the road. ... Daniel Bard has thrown 17 consecutive scoreless innings. Dan Wheeler has allowed three runs in his last 18 innings and Matt Albers two in his last 18. ... Drew (3 for 11, 3 RBIs, 3 BBs) is showing some life over the last four games. ... Since getting a day off, Gonzalez is 5 of 7 with a home runs and two RBIs. His 126 hits lead the majors.

Stat of the Day: Since the end of interleague play, David Ortiz is 6 of 17 (.353) with four extra-base hits and four RBIs in five games.

Song of the Day: "Street Fighting Man" by The Rolling Stones.

News from NYC: A-Rod needs knee surgery

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 9, 2011 10:52 AM

Yankees manager Joe Giardi said this morning that Alex Rodriguez has a meniscus tear in his right knee and will need surgery.

The question is whether he gets it now and misses a month or tries to play through the end of the season and gets the surgery later. Given that the Yankees expect to be playing in October, asking a position player to go three months or so on a bad knee is a lot.

It sure looks like injuries could decide the AL East. The Sox are trying to come up with healthy starters and now the Yankees are dealing with the possible loss of their cleanup hitter for a month.

Red Sox drop $2.3M on Dominican prospects

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 9, 2011 10:17 AM

According to Baseball America and other media outlets, the Red Sox have signed two more 16-year-old prospects from the Dominican Republic.

Righthander Dioscar Romero was signed for $600,000 and shortstop Raimel Flores for $900,000. Earlier in the international signing period, the Sox signed outfielder Manuel Marcos for $800,000.

Flores is a switch-hitter who reportedly has "advanced" defensive skills for his age. He's not very big (5-9, 155 pounds) but is only 16. Romero already throws a fastball in the low 90s and has been playing in the Dominican Prospect League.

These players typically work out at the team academy in the Dominican and play in the Dominican Summer League before starting the process of working their way through the minors. Obviously it's a long process when you're starting at 16.

Updated pitching matchups

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 9, 2011 10:11 AM

Today: RHP Alfredo Simon (1-1, 4.64) vs. RHP John Lackey (5-8, 7.47), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network

Sunday: RHP Mitch Atkins (0-0, 1.50) vs. RHP Kyle Weiland (season debut), 1:35 p.m., NESN

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 9, 2011 09:59 AM

The Red Sox knocked out the Orioles with a big first inning and then tempers flared late in the game. Michael Vega has the story.

Josh Beckett tweaked his left knee but seems OK. Michael Whitmer has that story.

The notebook has Kyle Weiland coming up from the minors to start tomorrow.

Red Sox post-game reaction

Posted by Staff July 9, 2011 12:43 AM

Fenway Park is quiet now, but the ballyard was buzzing tonight, with the Sox winning their fourth straight game and scoring 10 runs for the second night in a row. Most of those won't be on the highlight shows, though. The eighth-inning fight between David Ortiz and Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg, which emptied the benches and bullpens and featured a few mighty swings and misses, is what most people will remember from this game.

Ortiz didn't make himself available to the media following the game. Gregg did, though, and offered no apologies. He came inside twice on Ortiz with the Sox leading, 10-3, in the eighth inning, the second tight pitch prompting Papi to take a few steps toward the Orioles' reliever and pointing the bat at him. What incited Gregg, though, was what Ortiz did when he hit the next pitch, a fly ball he lofted toward short right-center. Or, according to Gregg, what Ortiz didn't do.

"I think there are some ethics to this game, guidelines that you got to stay within," Gregg said. "You know, run. You hit a lazy fly, you've got to run the bases. Apparently he didn't like me telling him that stuff and he came out there. That's part of the game, he has the right to come out there, and I'm going to defend myself if he comes out."

More from Gregg:

"They're going to whine and complain about it because they think they're better than everybody else, but no, we have just as much right to pitch inside as they do.

"I think we showed them we're not backing down. We're not scared of them, them and their $180 million payroll, we don't care. We're here to play the game, we have just as much right to play the game here, and we're going to do everything we can to win."

In other postgame news, Kevin Youkilis has been added to the AL All-Star team, taking the roster spot of Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who has been bothered by some right knee soreness and is electing not to play. It's Youkilis's third All-Star trip; he also played in 2008-09.

Josh Beckett, who was taken out of the game after pitching five innings (he earned the victory), said after the game that he mildly hyperextended his left knee, with his removal from the game strictly precautionary. He doesn't expect it to affect his throwing session, or his availability for Tuesday's All-Star Game.

Beckett tweaks knee, taken out

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 09:19 PM

Josh Beckett was removed from tonight's game against the Orioles with what the Sox are describing as a mildly hyperextended left knee. The press box announcement said the righthander was taken out for precautionary reasons.

Beckett pitched five innings, his shortest outing since a rain delay limited him to 4 1/3 innings May 4 against the Angels. He breezed through the first four innings tonight, then gave up a three hits and two walks in the Orioles' three-run fifth.

He appeared to land awkwardly on his left foot while sending an 0-and-1 pitch to Robert Andino with one out in the fifth. Rain has been falling off and on during the game, with the Fenway grounds crew applying additional dirt to high-traffic areas. After Beckett's pitch to Andino, home plate umpire Mike Estabrook, Sox manager Terry Francona, and assistant trainer Greg Barajas came out to see if Beckett was injured or the mound needed some repairs. After a quick inspection, Estabrook summoned some grounds crew members, and after some work was done to the mound, Beckett remained in the game, walking Andino, then giving up back-to-back run-scoring singles.

Beckett threw just 68 pitches, which matches his low for the season. He also threw 68 in the May 4 game. Matt Albers relieved him, and pitched a perfect sixth.

Final: Red Sox 10, Orioles 3

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 07:05 PM

Game over: Red Sox 10, Orioles 3

Friday Night at the Fights goes to the Red Sox, with Boston beating Baltimore for the second straight night. The Sox scored 10 more runs on 11 more hits, but all anyone will be talking about following the game is the David Ortiz-Kevin Gregg fight in the bottom of the eighth inning, which emptied both benches.

We're heading to the locker rooms now. Stay tuned for postgame reaction. Should be fun.

End of 8th: Red Sox 10, Orioles 3

Pedroia leads off with a walk, and after Drew Sutton -- pinch-hitting for Gonzalez -- strikes out, Josh Reddick triples Pedroia in, and then the fireworks begin. Ortiz, facing Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg, doesn't take kindly to a second straight inside pitch, and points in Gregg's direction, bringing both benches and bullpens streaming onto the field. No pushes or punches thrown. That comes on the next pitch, which Ortiz sends to center field in what ultimately is ruled a double play. But halfway to first, Ortiz stops when Gregg starts barking at him, then charges the pitcher, with both players trying to land big punches. Both benches and bullpens empty again. Ortiz and Gregg are ejected. Also thrown out: Orioles reliever Jim Johnson and Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Middle of 8th: Red Sox 9, Orioles 3

Dan Wheeler in for the Sox. He continues a strong night for the bullpen, striking out Markakis (looking) and Jones (swinging), then getting Guerrero on a groundout to Gonzalez. Sox relievers have retired nine straight batters, striking out six.

End of 7th: Red Sox 9, Orioles 3

New Orioles pitcher Koji Uehara gets the Sox in order: McDonald strikes out, Navarro grounds out to third, and Ellsbury pops to second.

Middle of 7th: Red Sox 9, Orioles 3

In his second inning of work, Albers again retires the Orioles in order. Pie flies to left, Andino takes a called third strike, and Hardy goes down swinging. Albers has pitched two perfect innings, getting four of the six outs by strikeout.

End of 6th: Red Sox 9, Orioles 3

Pedroia's average keeps climbing. He crushes a 3-and-1 pitch from Jakubauskas over the Monster for a solo home run, his 10th. Gonzalez singles again (he's been on base all four trips), but Youkilis strikes out. A walk to Ortiz puts Gonzalez at second, then two flyouts end the inning: Varitek to center, Scutaro to right.

Middle of 6th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 3

Matt Albers is in for Beckett, who goes five innings, his shortest outing since May 4, when a rain delay allowed him to go just 4 1/3 innings. He gives up three runs on seven hits, with two costly walks. Easy inning for Albers, who gets Wieters to pop to Pedroia, then strikes out Lee and Reynolds, both swinging.

End of 5th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 3

Scutaro strikes out looking. McDonald grounds to Reynolds. Navarro reaches on a walk, but is left there when Ellsbury flies to the Wall in left.

Middle of 5th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 3

Beckett loses his shutout when Lee launches a deep homer off the Volvo sign above the Monster, his eighth of the season. Reynolds strikes out on a foul tip, then Pie walks. On an 0-1 pitch to Andino, Beckett's left plant foot slips slightly on his follow-through, bringing home plate umpire Mike Estabrook, Sox manager Terry Francona, and Sox assistant trainer Greg Barajas out to the mound. After a quick observation, Estabrook summons a few grounds crew members to patch up the spot where Beckett slipped. Following the repair, Andino walks, moving Pie to second. Hardy flies to Navarro in left, but Markakis singles past a diving Pedroia and into right-center, scoring Pie. Jones follows with a single into center, which scores Andino and brings pitching coach Curt Young to the mound for a visit. Guerrero sends a bullet down the line in right, but just foul. Would have scored two more runs. Guerrero eventually strikes out swinging, leaving two runners on and limiting the damage to three runs on three hits. Both walks in the inning came around to score.

End of 4th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

Pedroia grounds out to Hardy, then Gonzalez works a walk to reach base for the third time tonight. Youkilis fouls out to Lee. Ortiz drives a ball right back at Bergesen, who tries to get his glove up in time to catch or deflect it. But the ball hits off Bergesen's pitching shoulder and caroms across the line into foul territory between home plate and third base, drawing a concerned gasp from the Fenway crowd. Bergesen chased after the ball, retrieved it, and once time was called, flipped it on the ground toward the Orioles' dugout. He's been taken out of the game, hopefully for precautionary reasons. Chris Jakubauskas will be the new Orioles pitcher, and since he's coming in for an injured player, he'll have all the time he needs to warm up. After a delay of some 10 or 12 minutes, Varitek steps in against Jakubauskas and hits into a force play to end the inning.
Update: The Orioles say Bergesen was taken out of the game with a right forearm contusion.

Middle of 4th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

It's been misting, but it's not affecting the gamel. Jones flies to Ellsbury in right-center, and Guerrero lofts a single over Scutaro's head. But for the second straight inning, Beckett induces a double-play, with Wieters grounding to Scutaro, who flips to Pedroia to start the twin killing. Aside from the 30-minute bottom of the first, the pace has been good, just the kind of game you want when there's a threat of storms (and so many Red Sox already have big offensive numbers).

End of 3rd: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

McDonald takes a called third strike, Navarro grounds hard to Reynolds at third, and Ellsbury sends one to the deepest part of the park, with Jones grabbing it on the run near the 420 sign in center.

Middle of 3rd: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

Andino singles, then gets cut down when Hardy grounds into a double play, Scutaro to Pedroia to Gonzalez. Markakis flies out to Ellsbury in short left-center. Beckett looks solid.

Trivia question on the scoreboard tonight: Name the two Red Sox who have had four hits in an All-Star game. Answer: Ted Williams (1946, when the game was at Fenway), and Yaz (1970).

End of 2nd: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

Ortiz strikes out on a foul tip that Wieters holds on to. Varitek also strikes out, and Scutaro cracks his bat on a weak grounder to second.

Middle of 2nd: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

Staked to a huge lead, Beckett gets Matt Wieters to fly to center, then gives up a double down the left-field line to Derrek Lee. Reynolds strikes out, and Pie grounds out to Pedroia, who makes a nice play ranging to his right.

End of 1st: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0

Jacoby Ellsbury sends a deep drive to center, but Jones runs it down. Pedroia wastes no time reaching base in his 22d straight game, singling sharply up the middle. Gonzalez walks, and Kevin Youkilis scores Pedroia with a hard-hit ball that Hardy can't come up with at short. It's ruled a hit. David Ortiz quickly makes it 4-0, sending Zach Britton's second pitch of the at-bat over the wall in right, just beyond the Orioles' bullpen. It's Papi's 19th home run of the season, and second in as many nights. A walk to Jason Varitek brings out Orioles pitching coach Rich Adair. Marco Scutaro's bouncer up the middle gets past Robert Andino -- who gets his glove on it -- for another hit. Darnell McDonald hits another laser, this one on a line to left that Felix Pie dives for but misses, scoring Varitek and Scutaro to make it 6-0. It's Scutaro's 500th career run scored. Yamaico Navarro strikes out swinging, and Ellsbury, making his second plate appearance of the inning, flares one over shortstop to make it 7-0. That's it for Britton, who didn't get any help from his defense, but was hit hard by six of the 10 batters he faced. It's the first time in 18 starts that the Orioles' rookie fails to pitch into the sixth inning. Tonight, he doesn't even make it to the second. Brad Bergesen is on in relief. Pedroia tags another one right at Hardy, who misplays it for an error. It's the first one officially called, but could have been the fourth error of the inning. What a nightmare frame for Baltimore. It's not over yet. Gonzalez goes the other way to score Ellsbury with a single, and Pedroia advances to third. Youkilis grounds out to Mark Reynolds at third, and 30 minutes after starting the inning, it's finally over. The final count: 8 runs, 7 hits, 1 Orioles error. The Sox send 13 to the plate.

Middle of 1st: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0

J.J. Hardy led off the game by grounding out to Dustin Pedroia, whose low throw was scooped nicely by Adrian Gonzalez. Nick Markakis also grounded to short. Adam Jones singled sharply to left, but was left at first when Vladimir Guerrero flew out to Darnell McDonald in right.

Pregame: Under the threat of evening scattered thunderstorms, we're here at Fenway Park for another night of Red Sox baseball. Josh Beckett has just taken the mound for the Sox, hoping to improve on what's already been a solid season: 7-3, 2.12 ERA. He's given the Sox at least six innings in his past 10 starts.

Zach Britton (6-6, 3.47 ERA) is on the bump for the Birds, making his second start of the season against the Sox. On April 26 in Baltimore, he earned the win, holding the Sox to one run on five hits through six innings. The rookie has pitched at least five innings in all 17 of his starts.

Pregame notes: Weiland to start Sunday

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 04:47 PM

Red Sox manager Terry Francona reported this afternoon that Kyle Weiland will be called up from Triple A Pawtucket to pitch in Sunday's game against the Orioles.

Weiland, 24, of Albuquerque, N.M., will draw his first career major league start for the Sox. He was selected in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Notre Dame, where he ranked as the Irish's all-time saves leader with 25.

"It's his day and he's lined up for it and he's really been doing well,'' Francona said.

Weiland was 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA in 17 starts with the Pawsox this season. He's allowed 34 runs on 69 hits and 99 strikeouts compared to 37 walks.

"He's got a live arm, throws hard and he always has,'' Francona said. "He's got command and he's competing and he's starting to mature as a pitcher. That happens sometimes at different rates, but he's always had a good arm.''

The righthanded Weiland will take Jon Lester's turn in the rotation after the lefthander was placed on the 15-day disabled list July 6 with a left latissimus strain.

''As much as has gone wrong with some health, this is the flip side where it's really exciting,'' Francona said. "I'm kinda looking forward to it."

Francona said there was some consideration given to starting Alfredo Aceves, who threw two innings of scoreless relief in Thursday night's 10-4 victory over the Orioles, but the manager indicated it would have been counterproductive to remove Aceves from the bullpen.

"The way our bullpen is situated, he gives us such a luxury of pitching short and pitching long,'' Francona said. "He may start again sometime, but this kid's lined up and he's been pretty hot and I'd like to send him out there and see how he does.''

The club did not announce any corresponding roster move, but it seemed reliever Scott Atchison, who has options remaining, would be the likely candidate to be sent down to Pawtucket.
*****

Francona shared Clay Buchholz's hope that the righthander, who was placed on the DL retroactive to June 17 with a lower back strain, will begin throwing Sunday.

"We'll send him home [for the All-Star break], because we don't want him throwing on his own too much, without supervision,'' Francona said. "When we get him back, hopefully, we can kind of start getting him on that throwing program and ramp him up a little bit, but it's all going to be according to how he feels.''

*****

Yamaico Navarro, who was called up from Pawtucket June 30 when outfielder Mike Cameron was designated for assignment (and later traded to the Florida Marlins), was penciled in at left field for tonight's game. It marked Navarro's fourth start this season and first in the outfield.

"We saw him run balls down this spring in BP, but it seemed like as an organization we said, `Maybe we ought to think about doing this,' '' Francona said. "We wanted him to get his feet on the ground in Triple A first and he started out hitting real well and then he got hurt [strained oblique].

"He's got a good clock, defensively, when the ball is hit to him at short or at third,'' Francona noted. "Again, it helps to have an arm like that, but you never see him rush, he's got a real good idea and a good awareness of where the runner is and it seems like it's translated to the outfield also."

While Francona expressed some concern about Navarro having to handle the Wall, he felt his athleticism would take over.

"It's his first time,'' Francona said. ``But you know what? He's a really good athlete, so no more than anybody else.''

Red Sox: Gates opening on time

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 03:19 PM

Here's what the Red Sox just released in terms of the weather:

The current weather forecast (provided by the Red Sox private weather service, Telvent DTN) in the vicinity of Fenway Park calls for showers and thunderstorms during the late afternoon and evening hours.

All Fenway Park gates will open as regularly scheduled at 5:40 p.m. with a limited opening on Yawkey Way at 5:10 p.m. The Red Sox hope that tonight’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, which is scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m., will be played. However, the Red Sox want to alert our fans to the possibility of a delay.

Additional updates will be provided as necessary.

Game 88: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 03:02 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (52-35)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Varitek C
Scutaro SS
McDonald RF
Navarro LF

Pitching: RHP Josh Beckett (7-3, 2.12)

ORIOLES (36-49)
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Guerrero DH
Wieters C
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Pie LF
Andino SS

Pitching: LHP Zach Britton (6-6, 3.47)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox have won seven of eight and have three games left before the break. They lead the New York Jeters by a half-game in the standings ... Beckett allowed one run in eight innings against Houston Sunday. He is 6-3, 3.68 against Baltimore in 15 career starts. Beckett faced the Orioles on April 27 and allowed four runs in six innings ... Britton,a 23-year-old rookie, allowed one run in six innings against the Sox April 26. He is 1-4, 5.35 in his last seven starts ... The O's have lost four straight and nine of 10 ... Before you start complaining about the lineup, be advised that lefties are hitting .213/.269/.306 against Britton and righties .270/.334/.372. It's also worth noting that the Sox have a team OPS of .802 and the next highest in baseball is the Yankees at .786. Complaining about the lineup is really, really silly at this point.

Stat of the Day: Ellsbury has 5 of his 31 career home runs against Baltimore, his most against one team.

Song of the Day: "Bird on a Wire" by Johnny Cash.

MLB unleashes star power for softball game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 02:01 PM

Major League Baseball is conducting something called the Taco Bell Legends & Celebrity Softball Game Sunday in Phoenix.

Here are the 20 celebrities in the game:

Erin Andrews
Dave Annable
Jason Aldean
Jake T. Austin
Carlos Bocanegra
AJ Calloway
Tim DeKay
James Denton
Paul Dimeo
Jennie Finch
Larry Fitzgerald
Greg Grunberg
Nick Jonas
Amaury Nolasco
Chord Overstreet
Tom Papa
Chris Pratt,
Jordin Sparks
Kate Upton
Jesse Williams

I consider myself fairly knowledgeable when it comes to pop culture. I watch television, read newspapers and look at web sites that aren't just about baseball. One of my best friends is an editor at Entertainment Weekly. There are many leather-bound books in my apartment.

But I have no idea who eight of those celebrities are and I feel stupid. So much for catching on at Grantland.

Andrews is on ESPN and wears a lot of nice clothes. Aldean is a country singer and Josh Beckett's buddy. Austin is an actor on the Disney Channel and is unavoidable if you babysit kids. Bocanegra plays soccer. Denton is the guy on "Desperate Housewives." Finch played softball and married a baseball player. Fitzgerald is a great NFL player. Jonas is one of several Jonas Brothers, I think three. Nolasco has been on several TV shows I never watched but I remember seeing his name and wondering if he was related to Ricky Nolasco. Sparks is an American Idol person and is the daughter of one of the NFL Giants. Upton is a hot babe and Williams is an actor.

As for the rest, no idea. I assume they're actors or singers or appeal to some demographic that MLB has no hope of ever actually reaching. I mean no offense, Tom Papa and Co. Here's hoping you get a few hits and free burritos or whatever.

If MLB had a sense of humor, they would have invited Charlie Sheen, the Octomom, one of the lesser Kardashians and a few Howard Stern Wack Packers to make the game more interesting.

The game will be televised on Monday right after the Home Run Derby and I'm sure it will be fun to watch. Maybe Erin Andrews and Kate Upton will get into a brawl.

It all started with Dick Williams

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 12:24 PM

It must seem like science fiction to those fans who have loved the Red Sox since way back in 2004. But there was a time when the Sox were one of the worst teams in baseball and getting a ticket at Fenway Park involved showing up just before the game started and deciding where you wanted to sit.

The Sox had had suffered through eight straight losing seasons going into 1967. Opening Day that season drew 8,324 fans. There were probably more pigeons around for the second game when 3,607 fans showed up.

The Sox had not been in the World Series since 1946. The Yankees had dominated the 1950s and early 60s and teams like the Orioles, Tigers and Twins were coming up.

But it all changed that summer. A hard-as-nails rookie manager named Dick Williams had control of the team and led it to the World Series. The Sox lost in seven games to the heavily favored Cardinals, but baseball again took hold of New England and never let go.

Williams died yesterday. His obituary has the details of his life. Dan Shaughnessy wrote the definitive column on Williams and his place in Red Sox history.

The 1967 Sox helped lead to the 1975 team making the World Series and the dawn of stars like Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Pudge Fisk. Not so long after that, there was Roger Clemens and the team that should have won in 1986. As baseball grew in popularity, the Sox used their financial might to secure other standouts like Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. You know the rest.

What we see now — Red Sox Nation, sold-out games, NESN, "Sweet Caroline" and all the rest — started in '67. John Henry and his staff ultimately made it happen, but it was Dick Williams who kicked the sleeping giant to life.

It seemed kind of fitting that on the day he died, the Sox edged into first place.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 10:00 AM

The Red Sox slugged six home runs and crushed the Orioles yesterday. Michael Vega has the story.

Dan Shaughnessy reflects on the passing of Dick Williams and his place in Red Sox history.

Mr. Williams died at the age of 82. His obituary details a life in baseball.

Bob Ryan writes that John Lackey shouldn't take a step back.

The Red Sox were in seventh heaven last night. Michael Whitmer has the story.

The notebook has Clay Buchholz getting good news on his back.

The minor league notebook has Will Middlebrooks making progress at Portland.

The battle between NESN and CSNNE is heating up and Chad Finn has the details.

A tragedy in Texas

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 8, 2011 09:45 AM

There was an awful incident in Texas last night. A fan fell out of the stands and died while trying to catch a ball thrown toward him by Josh Hamilton.

It's surprising there haven't been more accidents like this. At Fenway Park, you often see fans in the roof boxes learning over to try and grab foul balls. It wouldn't take much to tumble over a railing.

Hopefully last night's tragedy reminds fans to be careful and not lose sight of your safety to try and catch a baseball.

You can be sure MLB will issue some kind of edict to players to be careful with what seems like an innocent thing, throwing a ball to somebody. Hamilton must be anguished.

Buchholz had 'good news' on back

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 11:48 PM

Clay Buchholz shed some light on his back condition tonight.

The righthander was examined by a specialist in Charlotte on Wednesday and received a cortisone injection in his lower back. Dr. Craig Brigham also told Buchholz that his condition was muscle-related and should subside.

"They said there was nothing on the nerve, just a stress reaction on the vertebrae and it was causing the muscle in the side of my back to fire a little bit," Buchholz said. "They said it was definitely just a muscular thing as far as the hurting was and that's basically all I got out of it."

Buchholz will do some strengthening exercises and hopes to play catch as early as Sunday.

"As soon as I can't feel it he said I can go form there. He said there was not case of me hurting myself long-term if I had to pitch through it. It's just going to take until I'm comfortable throwing," he said. "I don't know when that's going to be but hopefully it's sooner than later."

Buchholz has not pitched since June 16. Once he is healthy, he is looking at at least two weeks to get his arm back in shape and surely will need a minor league start or two. The odds of his returning this month would seem long. But the good news is he should emerge from this episode without any long-term effects.

Buchholz said he might work out in Fort Myers during the break then join up with the team in Tampa Bay for its workout on July 14.

Trying to get a handle on Andrew Miller

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 11:00 PM

Andrew Miller is 3-0 with a 3.57 earned run average in his four starts for the Red Sox since coming up from Class AAA Pawtucket. The latest win came tonight when the Sox hammered the Orioles 10-4.

It's hard to complain about any of that.

But it's also hard to figure out exactly what the Red Sox have in the tall lefty.

Miller has faced the Padres, Pirates, Astros and Orioles. The Red Sox also have averaged 9.5 runs in the games he has pitched. Miller has averaged only 5.2 innings per start despite the run support and has a WHIP of 1.59. To put that in perspective, Daisuke Matsuzaka had a WHIP of 1.47 before he went on the disabled list.

Miller has averaged just 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings, too. Given his stuff and the quality of the competition, that number should be higher.

"I think there's more in there," Terry Francona said tonight after Miller have up three runs on six hits and four walks over five innings. "I think he thinks so, too."

Given that he was essentially a castoff invited to spring training, Miller has done very well for himself. The question now is whether he can compete against teams like the Yankees and Rays over the final weeks of the season. Right now, the answer is ... maybe.

"We've won the games I've pitched. I'm certainly satisfied with that," Miller said. "Ultimately, efficiency and throwing strikes, I certainly have work to do and we'll put that work in."

As for other stuff:

• The six home runs by the Sox tonight were the most since they slugged six against the Orioles on Sept. 8, 2009 at Fenway Park.

• The back-to-back-back jobs by David Ortiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Josh "I'm Telling You, I Can Hit Lefties" Reddick were a first since Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew turned the trick last Aug. 13 at Texas.

Jacoby Ellsbury is 14 of 30 (.467) with two homers and 8 RBIs in his last seven games.

• Salty has reached base in 12 straight games, his career high.

• At 52-35, the Sox are 17 games over .500 for the first time and back in first place.

• No word on the starter for Sunday. It's not going to be Alfredo Aceves, who went two perfect innings tonight. They could go with Tim Wakefield on short rest or call up Kyle Weiland. Kevin Millwood had not pitched well of late for Pawtucket, so it's probably not him.

Josh Beckett throws tomorrow against Zach Britton.

Be sure to check out the Globe tomorrow. Dan Shaughnessy has a column on Dick Williams and we'll have complete coverage of the game.

Final: Red Sox 10, Orioles 4

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 07:12 PM

Game over: Red Sox 10, Orioles 4

Bobby Jenks pitches a scoreless ninth, allowing a hit to Andino. Sox relievers allow just two hits over the final four innings, but the offense will deservedly grab tomorrow's headlines. Six homers, a season-high and the most in a game for the Sox since 2009. The win also moves the Sox back into first place in the AL East. Coupled with Tampa Bay's 5-1 win over New York, the Sox are a half-game ahead of the Yankees.

End of 8th: Red Sox 10, Orioles 4

The Sox go scoreless in what they hope will be their last trip to the dish. Pedroia and Gonzalez open with singles, but Youkilis hits into a force play, and Ortiz grounds into a double play.

Middle of 8th: Red Sox 10, Orioles 4

Scott Atchison relieves Aceves, who threw just 15 pitches (12 strikes) in his two perfect innings. Guerrero opens with a double over the first-base bag, Two groundouts bring him home, and Atchison ends the inning by striking out Reynolds.

End of 7th: Red Sox 10, Orioles 3

Youkilis flies to Markakis in right, who makes a nice running catch toward the line. That's it for Berken, with Pedro Viola coming on in relief. Ortiz greets him rudely, sending a shot to straightaway center for a solo home run, his 18th of the season. Reddick follows with another solo shot to right, then Saltalamacchia sends one deep into the Monster seats for back-to-back-to-back homers. Six of the top seven hitters in the Sox lineup -- Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Reddick, and Saltalamacchia -- have gone yard. Quite a power display. Poor Viola. He walks Drew, then mercifully gets taken out by Buck Showalter. Chris Jakubauskas is the new pitcher. He can't do much worse than Viola, can he? Scutaro flies out, Ellsbury lines out to short.

Middle of 7th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 3

Aceves looks strong. He breezes again, needing just eight more pitches to retire the side in order for the second straight inning. Hardy fouls out to Gonzalez, Markakis flies out to Ellsbury, and Jones grounds out to Scutaro.

End of 6th: Red Sox 7, Orioles 3

Against the shift, Drew grounds out to Hardy at short, who was playing right behind second base. Scutaro sends one on a similar line, but without the shift, his grounder scoots into center for a single. Ellsbury then curls one over the Pesky Pole for a two-run home run, his 11th of the season, already a career-best. Pedroia flies out to right, Gonzalez grounds out to first, but the Sox double their lead and create some breathing room.

Middle of 6th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3

Miller's night is over, but he's in line for the win. Alfredo Aceves comes in and records the first 1-2-3 inning of the game, on just seven pitches. Reynolds and Reimold ground out, Andino flies out to left.

End of 5th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3

Pedroia flies out to center. Gonzalez also hits it to center, but this one carries the fence for a solo homer, just to the right of the yellow line. It's his 17th of the season. Youkilis doubles to the corner in left, and an intentional walk to Ortiz ends Arrieta's night. Jason Berken now on the bump for the Birds. He gets Reddick to pop out to Wieters, and strikes out Saltalamacchia.

Middle of 5th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3

Guerrero lined hard to Ellsbury, who caught it on a dead sprint to his right. Solid defensive play by the All-Star center fielder. Wieters walked (for the third time tonight), but Miller ends the inning by getting Lee to hit into a double play.

End of 4th: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3

Controversial play to start the inning, with Reddick reaching first on an error by Arrieta. Reddick's rope was snagged by Lee, who underhanded to Arrieta. But first-base umpire Mike Estabrook ruled that Arrieta missed the bag. Replays were inconclusive. Very close. Saltalamacchia singled, with Reddick taking third. Drew drove in Reddick on a hard groundout to Lee. Scutaro struck out, Ellsbury bounced out to second. The error makes the go-ahead run unearned.

Middle of 4th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 3

Nice tribute to former Sox manager Dick Williams -- who passed away today at 82 -- shown on the scoreboard after the third inning. Once play resumes, Reynolds and Reimold lead off with singles, Andino sacrifices them over, and Hardy's sacrifice fly to right brings in Reynolds to tie the game. Markakis walks, but Miller ends the inning by getting a forceout from Jones.

End of 3rd: Red Sox 3, Orioles 2

Six straight balls by Arrieta (walk to Scutaro, 2-0 count to Ellsbury) brings out pitching coach Rich Adair. Doesn't work. Ellsbury walks, then Pedroia crushes a 3-1 pitch over the Monster seats for a three-run home run. Two groundouts (Gonzalez to second, Youkilis to third) and a flyout by Ortiz ends the inning, but the Sox have staked Miller to a lead.

Middle of 3rd: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

The Fenway scoreboard says Markakis is batting an MLB-best .412 (47 for 114) since June 8. Miller retires him this time, on a groundout to Pedroia. Miller hurts his cause against Jones, fielding a high chopper between the plate and the mound, but throwing wildly to first. Jones easily took second on Miller's error. Guerrero broke his bat on a groundout to Pedroia, with Jones moving to third. After a second straight walk to Wieters, Miller ended the threat by getting Lee on a groundout to Scutaro.

End of 2nd: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

David Ortiz sent Arrieta's second pitch to the wall in left, and barely beat the throw from Reimold for a lead-off double. Ortiz advanced to third on a groundout to first by Josh Reddick, but couldn't score. Jarrod Saltalamacchia lined out to Reimold, and J.D. Drew flew out to Markakis near the Pesky Pole.

Middle of 2nd: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

Smoother inning for Miller: Mark Reynolds hit a weak flare that Pedroia caught a few steps into the grass in right-center, and Nolan Reimold flew out to Ellsbury in right-center. Robert Andino singled past Scutaro, but was stranded at first when Hardy popped out to Gonzalez.

End of 1st: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

Right-hander Jake Arrieta (9-5, 4.74 ERA) picthing for the Orioles. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk. After a flyout to left by Pedroia, Ellsbury was thrown out on a single by Gonzalez when he tried to advance to third. Gonzalez hit a one-bounce rope to Jones in center, who came up firing and nailed Ellsbury, who was trying to steal on a 3-1 pitch. Youkilis flew out to center to end the inning.

Middle of 1st: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0

Andrew Miller on the mound for the Sox, looking to improve to 3-0. Back-to-back singles by J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis to start the game, followed by a one-bouncer up the middle off the bat of Adam Jones that hit off Miller's glove and caromed into right field, scoring Hardy and sending Markakis to third. Vladimir Guerrero hit into a double play (Marco Scutaro to Dustin Pedroia to Adrian Gonzalez) that scored Markakis, making it 2-0. No RBI for Guerrero, though. After a walk to Matt Wieters (who then stole second), Miller got Derrek Lee on a groundout to second. It's the second straight start that Miller has given up three hits and at least one earned run in the first inning.

Pregame notes from Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 04:34 PM

Not much news here at Fenway beyond the sad news about Dick Williams.

Adrian Gonzalez is feeling better after missing last night's game with a stiff neck. Terry Francona hasn't named his starter for Sunday and Jed Lowrie's left shoulder is still not strong enough for him to swing a bat.

And ... and that's about it. We'll keep you posted if anything else comes up.

Dick Williams, manager of the 'Impossible Dream' Red Sox, passes away

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 04:21 PM

Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams, who led the 1967 Red Sox to the American League pennant, passed away today at the age of 82 at his home in Las Vegas of a brain aneurysm.

Williams was 1,571-1,451 in 21 seasons as a manager. The 1967 Red Sox were the first team he managed. He later led the Oakland Athletics to a pair of World Series titles.

Williams was the first major league manager of current Red Sox manager Terry Francona, with the Montreal Expos in 1981.

"He was rough, to say the least. He was a brilliant manager, also, and everybody knew it," Francona said. "He was ahead of the game. You knew when you were going to hit, why you were going to hit, who you were going to hit off of. ... He was good."

Williams started his playing career as an 18-year-old in 1947 and went on to play parts of 13 seasons with five teams. He hit .260 with 70 home runs as an outfielder, first baseman, third baseman and second baseman.

Williams ended his playing career with the Red Sox in 1964 and accepted a position as a player-coach with the organization’s Class AAA team in Seattle.

But what that team moved to Toronto, manager Edo Vanni resigned and Williams was named manager despite his lack of experience. Williams led the team to two consecutive International League championships and earned a one-year contract to manage the Red Sox.

The Red Sox were a moribund franchise in the 1960s, regularly finishing near the bottom of the American League. The 1966 team was 72-90 and averaged just over 10,000 fans for games at Fenway Park.

Williams famously predicted, “We will win more ballgames than we lose” during spring training. That seemed like a fanciful notion given the state of the team. But the Sox won 92 games before losing in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Williams managed only two more seasons in Boston, getting fired by owner Tom Yawkey with nine games remaining in the 1969 season.

Game 87: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 03:02 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (51-35)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Reddick LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew RF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: LHP Andrew Miller (2-0, 3.06).

ORIOLES (36-48)
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Guerrero DH
Wieters C
Lee 1B
Reynolds 3B
Reimold LF
Andino 2B

Pitching: RHP Jake Arrieta (9-5, 4.74).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI

Notes: The Sox have won six of seven. They are 16 games over .500, matching their high for the season. ... Miller has pitched pretty well in three starts, although his 1.47 WHIP is nothing to write home about. This will be his first start against an American League team since June 28, 2009. ... Miller started against the Orioles in June 23, 2009 while pitching for Florida. He allowed a leadoff double to Brian Roberts then not another hit for seven innings. ... Arrieta faced the Sox on Sept. 1, 2010 and allowed three runs on six hits over five innings. ... Dustin Pedroia has reached base safely in 20 straight games.

Stat of the Day: The Orioles have a run differential of -80. Only Houston (-92) is worse.

Song of the Day: "Stand Tall" by The Dirty Heads.

Once again, Clemens is in the spotlight

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 10:42 AM
Just curious, but how do you feel about the Roger Clemens perjury trial that started yesterday?

Here are two thoughts I had:

1. People should not lie before Congress and if that is what Clemens did, he should be punished. But shouldn't Congress and the federal government have better things to do than investigating baseball and chasing down old ballplayers who may have lied to them?

I guess I'm naive. But I'd rather my tax dollars help a homeless guy outside a baseball stadium than figure out what Clemens did inside the park.

2. Then comes Roger. If you followed the Red Sox from 1984-96, you know how big the Rocket was. In what was often a frustrating and fruitless era of baseball in Boston, Clemens was a superstar. It was the same in Toronto, New York and Houston.

Clemens started with the Yankees in 1999, the same year I started working in New York and covering baseball. Looking back at my old scorebooks, I covered 50 or so of his starts. As somebody who enjoys baseball history, it was fun to be there watching a player who was clearly headed to the Hall of Fame.

At the old Yankee Stadium, the players and the writers used the same parking lot and Roger had a Hummer in burnt orange. It was such a silly vehicle to drive around Manhattan, but that was Roger. He was a character.

Looking back, however, I feel like a fool. Like so many other writers, I believed the narrative that Clemens was successful because he worked so hard. Like a sheep, I followed along and wrote about what a big hero he was. You suspected certain guys were using PEDS. But Roger? Roger was out there doing sit-ups at 7 a.m. He just worked hard.

Now this whole sordid drama has played out and we've found out that Roger was apparently not much different than the other players who were caught up in that era. It doesn't make him a bad guy. It sort of feels like the day you figured out there was no Santa Claus. Christmas is still fun, but some of the wonder is gone.

There's no rooting interest in this trial for me. If Roger wins, what does he win? His reputation is already ruined. If the feds win, it's not like they're taking a dangerous criminal off the streets. Heck, Roger would probably like prison. Three squares, a cot and all the weights you can lift. He'll organize the softball team.

Many of you probably cheered for Clemens at some point then booed him once he went to New York. Any thoughts on what is happening now?

Pitching matchups for the Orioles series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 09:27 AM

Tonight: RHP Jake Arrieta (9-5, 4.74) vs. LHP Andrew Miller (2-0, 3.06), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network

Friday: LHP Zach Britton (6-6, 3.47) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (7-3, 2.12), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Saturday: TBA vs. RHP John Lackey (5-8, 7.47), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network

Sunday: TBA vs. TBA, 1:35 p.m., NESN

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 09:10 AM

Tim Wakefield delivered again as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, 6-4.

Nick Cafardo also delivers, providing a look at the state of the Red Sox rotation. It's not pretty at the moment.

Dan Shaughnesy provides a history lesson with a look back at the career of Don Buddin.

The notebook has updates on Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Adrian Gonzalez.

The trial of Roger Clemens got started in Washington.

Video: Pete Abraham on Red Sox-Blue Jays finale

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff July 7, 2011 07:09 AM
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Globe Red Sox beat writer Pete Abraham provides his thoughts after Tim Wakefield earned his 198th career victory in the Red Sox' 6-4 win over the Blue Jays to wrap up their midweek set at Fenway Park.

Video includes postgame comments from manager Terry Francona and Wakefield.

Wakefield continues to impress

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 7, 2011 12:22 AM

47473683112c370ff20e6a706700d5f7.jpg

AP Photo/Steven Senne

The Red Sox started the season with Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka in their rotation. Tim Wakefield was the other guy.

Dice-K is done for the season. Buchholz and Lester have joined him on the disabled list. Lackey ... well, there's no reason to rehash his season.

Beckett went from No. 4 starter to All-Star. Wakefield's rise has been perhaps even more impressive.

The 44-year-old is 5-3 with a 4.47 earned run average after beating the Blue Jays tonight. Since joining the rotation on May 22, Wakefield is 5-2, 4.47 with the Sox winning six of his nine starts.

“I’m getting an opportunity to try to help us win, whatever capacity that might be in,” he said after holding the Jays to three runs in seven innings. “I’m very proud of the job that I’ve done so far.”

Wakefield said he prepared himself to throw 175-plus innings this season and that may be what the Sox need given all their injuries.

Tonight was his 198th win. See the Globe tomorrow for more on Tim.

The other interesting aspect of tonight's game was how the Sox again hammered Ricky Romero.

Romero lasted only 4.1 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits. In 11 career starts against the Red Sox, Romero has an 8.08 earned run average, giving up 79 hits over 52.1 innings. He has a 3.06 ERA in 68 starts against other teams. The Red Sox are hitting .357 against him.

Romero wondered after the game whether he was tipping his pitches and the Red Sox had figured it out.

None of the hits he allowed were cheapies, either. The way Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis were swinging the bat, clearly the Sox are locked in on what Romero is doing.

The Sox have won six of their last seven games and closed to within a half-game of the first-place Yankees in the American League East. The last-place Baltimore Orioles arrive at Fenway tonight to start a four-game series that will lead into the All-Star break.

Thanks to everybody for reading today.

By the way, as soon I get named Supreme Ruler of All Thing Baseball, I'm outlawing the save statistic. Jonathan Papelbon has allowed three runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batter the last two night and has two saves. That's a useless stat.

All kidding aside, Papelbon has a 6.75 ERA since June 1. It hasn't cost the Red Sox a game yet. But the tightrope is going to snap one of these days.

Oh, and if I do get named Supreme Ruler of All Thing Baseball, you can all have free beer.

The latest on Buchholz and Lester

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 11:12 PM

Here's the press release the Red Sox released after the game:

Red Sox Medical Director Dr. Tom Gill issued the following statements today in regards to Red Sox right-handed pitcher Clay Buchholz and left-handed pitcher Jon Lester:

“Clay Buchholz was seen in consultation by Dr. Craig Brigham today in Charlotte. Dr. Brigham agreed with the team's assessment that the back symptoms can be treated with rehabilitation. Clay will be advanced in his activities as his symptoms allow.”

“Jon Lester had an MRI today which confirmed the diagnosis of a latissimus strain. He will be treated with a period of rest from throwing, followed by progressive strengthening program.There is no specific time frame for his return at this time. His status will be better defined following the All-Star break.”

Beyond saying it was good news, Terry Francona referred back to the statement when answering questions. Buchholz and Lester were not made available to reporters before or after the game.

As to what that means in terms of what they pitch again, your guess is as good as anybody's.

Final: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 07:34 PM
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Game over: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4

Jonathan Papelbon saved his 19th game. Not a 1-2-3 inning as usual after his J.P. Arancebia in the hand with a pitch and allowed an RBI single to Yunel Escobar.

The Sox broke this open with a four-run fourth inning. Tim Wakefield got the win with seven strong innings, allowing nine hits and three runs, walking one and striking out seven. It was his 198th win and 184th as a Red Sox.

Time of game was 2:39 with a 40-minute rain delay, before 37,404.

Top 8th: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3

Play has resumed following a 40-minute delay. Dan Wheeler replaced Bard. Wheeler retired the final batter of the inning.

Update on the delay

The game will start at 10:05 p.m.

Top 8th: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3

We're in a rain delay here. Play was called at 9:24 p.m. There are two outs, both record by Daniel Bard.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3

With one out, Ortiz walked and Youkilis stroked a double to left, his third extra base hit of the night. The Jays went to lefty Luis Perez, who has held lefties to a .204 average. He retired Dew on a soft grounder to second on which Ortiz did not break for the plate. Reddick struck out to end the inning.

Top 7th: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3

No scoring since the fourth inning. Ellsbury doubled with two outs in the sixth, his third hit. Youkilis has homered and doubled. Wakefield has given them exactly what they needed.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3

Quite a two-out rally against Romero. It started with J.D. Drew's double to center. he rode home on Darnell McDonald's single. After Salty singled, Navarro stroked a double off the wall scoring McDonald. Ellsbury followed with a double to the center fied wall, scoring two more.

Bottom 3rd: Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 2

A Scutaro walk was the highlight of that inning for Boston.

Top 3rd: Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 2

Rough inning for Wake. Back-to-back hits by Davis and Escobar, who were advanced by Thames grounder to first. Bautista's sacrifice fly got the first run in. Lind singled in the second run.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1

Kevin Youkilis smacks a 1-0 pitch into the Monster seats. Youk is playing first base tonight in place of Adrian Gonzalez (stiff neck).

Bottom 1st: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 1

Nick here. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a homer off talented lefty Ricky Romero.

Middle of the 1st: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0

Escobar doubled off the wall, moved up on a groundout and scored on Bautista's single to center. The Toronto slugger had been 0 for 9 against Wakefield.

Wakefield has allowed 11 earned runs on 20 hits in his last 12.1 innings. The Sox need him to give them some innings tonight, too.

Pre-game: Good evening from Fenway Park. Nick Cafardo will have your updates once the game gets going.

It's a sticky night at the ballpark as Tim Wakefield faces Ricky Romero. Hang out here for updates and feel free to add your comments.

Enjoy the game.

Pregame news: Lester to DL

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 04:16 PM

Jon Lester was scheduled to have an MRI this afternoon, but regardless of what the test shows, he's heading to the disabled list, Sox manager Terry Francona said at his press conference moments ago.

Lester is being replaced on the roster by Scott Atchison who will be used out of the bullpen. The Globe's Pete Abraham reported the Sox will start Alfredo Aceves on Sunday in Lester's turn. Francona said that had yet to be determined.

Francona said that the hope is still that Lester, who left last night's game after four innings, has a lower lat strain and nothing more significant. He indicated the team had thought about having him skip his Sunday start anyway and then come back at the back end of the rotation after the All-Star break so he can have optimal rest.

The Sox rotation has taken a beating. Clay Buchholz was examined in North Carolina and the results of that examination is being discussed with Red Sox doctors and an update on Buchholz' back condition could come later today.

Francona said the team would be cautious with Carl Crawford's return, but for now the projection is that Crawford will rejoin the team in Baltimore after the All-Star break. Francona said that Crawford would likely go out and play minor league rehab games after the All-Star break and skip the Tampa Bay series.

Francona said he and the medical people concurred it didn't make sense for Crawford to play on the Tropicana Field artificial grass even though Crawford played on it for nine seasons and never had a hamstring injury.

Kevin Youkilis is playing first base. Francona said he asked Youkilis if he would feel comfortable going back there because he hasn't worked out there all year including in spring training. Gonzalez, who is also slumping, has a stiff neck and is being held out tonight.

Game 86: Blue Jays at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 03:01 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (50-35)
Ellsbury CF
Scutaro SS
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 1B
Drew RF
McDonald LF
Saltalamacchia C
Navarro 3B

Pitching: RHP Tim Wakefield (4-3, 4.82)

BLUE JAYS (42-45)
Escobar SS
Thames LF
Bautista 3B
Lind 1B
Encarnacion DH
Hill 2B
Snider RF
Arencibia C
Davis CF

Pitching: LHP Ricky Romero (7-7, 2.82)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: Wakefield is starting against Toronto for the first time this season. He is 17-14, 3.87 in 56 career appearances against Toronto. He is 4-2, 4.56 in eight starts since joining the rotation on May 22 but has allowed 10 runs on 18 hits over 11.1 innings in his last two starts. ... The Red Sox are kryptonite for Romero. He is 2-5, 7.69 in 10 career starts against Boston, his worst ERA against any team. ... The Sox are 6-6 in their last 12 games but 5-1 in the last six. ... The Sox are 7-4 against Toronto this season, outscoring the Jays 81-43. ... The Sox are 19-11 against lefty starters this season.

Red Sox vs. Romero: Pedroia 7-13; Drew 11-22, Ortiz 10-23, Youkilis 5-13, Ellsbury 5-14, Scutaro 4-12, McDonald 2-7, Saltalamcchia 1-5, Gonzalez 1-6.

Blue Jays vs. Wakefield: Snider 2-6, Escobar 3-7, Hill 10-35, Encarncion 1-4, Molina 4-17, McDonald 6-30, Patterson 3-18, David 1-6, Lind 2-13, Bautista 0-9, Arencibia 0-1.

Stat of the Day: The Red Sox are 44-0 when leading after eight innings.

Song of the Day: "Every Little Bit Hurts" by The Clash.

Francona: Lester to miss Sunday's start; Gonzalez getting a day off

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 02:44 PM

Terry Francona, appearing on WEEI, confirmed the report here last night that Jon Lester would miss his start on Sunday and be replaced by Alfredo Aceves.

Lester was scheduled for an MRI at 2:30 today. It sounds like he's headed for the disabled list.

Also, Adrian Gonzalez is getting a day off. He is 1 for 6 against Ricky Romero. Gonzalez also is 7 of his last 32 (.219) and has a bit of a stiff neck apparently.

Kevin Youkilis will play first and Yamaico Navarro will be at third.

More to come later on.

Varitek to raffle off July 4 equipment

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 11:28 AM
Jason Varitek used special red, white and blue catchers gear on July 5, and is now giving it away via a raffle to benefit the Journey Forward charity.

The prize includes an autographed mask, chest protector and shin guards, The winner and three guests also will receive VIP tickets to the Jason Varitek Celebrity Putt Putt Tournament on July 21. They'll get to meet Jason there and get a photo with him.

Go here for details on the raffle. Tickets are $2 each with a minimum of five. The raffle closed July 19 at 11 a.m. EDT.

For details on the Celebrity Putt Putt Tournament, go to journey-forward.org

A few thoughts on selecting All-Stars

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 11:05 AM

It's silly that the All-Star Game determines home field advantage in the World Series. But Major League Baseball caved in to Fox and that's the way it is.

That being the case, something needs to be done with how the All-Star teams are selected. If the game counts, let's pick some real rosters.

As it stands now, the starters are picked by the fans. Then the players have a vote on some reserves and then the managers get to pick some players. Finally there's a cockamamie Final Vote that basically rewards two players whose teams come up with a creative marketing plan to get people to vote on line.

So what we could get is Jose Valverde pitching in a critical spot that could determine whether the Red Sox get four games at home in the Series or three. How would you like to see Game 6 and Game 7 without David Ortiz in the lineup?

Here's one proposal:

1. Eliminate the requirement that every team gets at least one representative. Bad teams full of bad players should not play a role in determining home field in the Series.

2. Let the fans continue to vote for the starters. For the most part, Derek Jeter aside, the fans usually get it right.

3. The players vote is a bit of a farce. This year, for instance, the players voted Brandon League and Chris Perez as AL relief pitchers ahead of Daniel Bard. League has a 1.069 WHIP and is averaging 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Bard has an 0.82 WHIP and is averaging 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

Or this: 228 players didn't vote for Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Somehow 335 players voted for Troy Tulowitzki as the NL shortstop instead of Jose Reyes. Tulowitzki has a 115 OPS+ this season. Reyes has a 158.

If the MLBPA insists on a role, form a committee of players to vote on a certain percentage of the team.

4. The rule excluding any starters who work on Sunday for a game played on Tuesday also is ridiculous. So the game counts, but out of pure coincidence some of the best pitchers can't participate?

That MLB is willing to risk injury for the World Baseball Classic but not for the All-Star Game that could determine how the championship of the sport is conducted makes little sense. Somebody who pitches on Sunday can face a few batters on Tuesday.

5. Managers should not be allowed to select players. If the game counts, then there's no room to make your own guys happy. Reserves should be selected based solely on merit and building the strongest team. Make the process transparent.

Once the fans and players have voted, any gaps can be filled by a panel of team executives and managers. Make the manager of the game part of that process, but not the sole decision maker.

I'd rather have a smart GM or two picking players than somebody who wants his No. 4 starter to get a little reward because he's a great guy.

6. Tell the players that winning is the goal and not getting everybody in the game. The MLBPA supported the decision to have the game count, so the price you pay is that everybody may not play. Ron Washington shouldn't cost the AL home field because, shucks, he wants to get Matt Wieters an at-bat.

If the game counts, and it does, then the rest of the process has to reflect that.

Keeping the fans informed at Fenway

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 09:58 AM

The best customers any baseball team has are the people who attend their games. They get in their cars, make their way to the stadium and spend three or four hours there.

It's an expensive day when it's all said and done. Tickets, gas, parking, food, souvenirs, etc.

So why not keep these valuable customers well-informed?

I left Fenway Park last night wondering why the Red Sox did not use their scoreboard or the public address system to tell the fans what had happened with Jon Lester.

The big lefty had a no-hitter going after four innings and then left the game. It turned out to be a strained lat muscle. The Sox told the writers, the radio team and NESN but not the 37,745 folks in the seats.

It's that way at every stadium and in every sport. The people in the seats are often left in the dark. It doesn't make any sense.

What possible damage could it do the team to post "Jon Lester left the game with a strained lat muscle. He will be examined tomorrow" on the scoreboard? Nothing is compromised.

I'm sure some people in the stands found out via their phones. But I'm sure plenty of people left Fenway wondering what happened to Lester.

The Red Sox have been industry leaders on a lot of fronts. It just seems logical that any information you're giving the press during the game is worth passing on to the fans. Baseball fans are pretty smart, they understand that injuries are part of the game.

Heck, you might even sell a few more beers.

Just an idea.

UPDATE, 11:03 a.m.: According the Red Sox, they posted "Jon Lester left the game with a strained left latissimus" for three pitches on one of the secondary scoreboards last night. I missed it.

That's good and it's certainly more than you see in most parks. Whether you think that's enough is up to you. My thought would be to throw something up on the main scoreboard.

The reason for this post in the first place is that several fans stopped me on my way to the clubhouse to ask about Lester and a few more e-mailed this morning.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 6, 2011 09:13 AM

The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays but came away concerned about the condition of Jon Lester.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that Roger Clemens is in a jam before his trial starts.

Darnell McDonald's throw gave the Red Sox a dramatic ending. Monique Walker has the story.

The notebook has the Sox trading Mike Cameron and a slew of medical updates.

Wrapping up a wild game at Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 11:49 PM

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AP Photo/Steven Senne

It's not too often you see a game end with a play at the plate. Jonathan Papelbon, he of the 4.01 ERA, allowed a towering two-run homer by Jose Bautista before putting two more runners on base.

Papelbon got ahead of John McDonald 0-2 and threw a fastball over the plate. McDonald slapped it into left field.

Darnell McDonald missed the cutoff man, but hit Jason Varitek on the fly. Tek stuck his left leg in front of the plate like an oak tree and Edwin Encarnacion sort of wrapped around it.

Replays showed that Encarnacion was probably safe. But umpire Brian Knight called him out.

“We should still be playing right now,” Jays manager John Farrell said. “That play is right in front of Brian Knight. It was clear that Edwin did a good job sliding around the plant leg of Tek, but his swipe tag missed him by no less than a foot.”

Beyond Papelbon, the bullpen was excellent as Matt Albers, Franklin Morales and Daniel Bard combined on four scoreless innings. Bard has gone 15.1 innings without allowing a run, his career best.

The throw was big for McDonald, who is fighting to stay on the team. He was 1 for 4 today, but is only 5 for 43 since coming off the disabled list. The Sox are obviously giving him every chance to prove he belongs, even hitting him sixth tonight.

McDonald wore a Celtics No. 20 jersey with "Shuttlesworth" on the back, a cool nod to Ray Allen's character in the 1998 film "He Got Game."

Tek's got game, too. He is 16 of 50 (.320) in his last 15 games with eight extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. The Sox are 24-12 in games he has started the season. The man is putting on a clinic in how to transition to a new role and do so gracefully.

Tim Wakefield against Ricky Romero tomorrow night. Come back for more.

Update on Jon Lester

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 10:33 PM

Jon Lester has a strained lower left latissimus, a large muscle that runs beneath the shoulder. Terry Francona said the lefthander will be examined tomorrow.

“We’ll certainly get him checked out extensively tomorrow," he said. "The good sign of it, I think, is that he didn’t do it on one pitch. Between innings, it felt like it was cramping on him. There’s now way we’re going to let him pitch.”

Lester said he was not concerned and did not see the injury as a long-term issue. But obviously more will be learned tomorrow. Lat strains can last as quick as two weeks (that was the case for Matt Albers earlier this season) or as long as several months.

This much we do know: Alfredo Aceves has been told he will start in Lester's place Sunday against Baltimore. The Sox also need relief help after using the bullpen 11.2 innings the last two days.

It's reasonable to expect that Lester will be placed on the disabled list tomorrow and a reliever recalled from Pawtucket.

If Lester went on the DL tomorrow, he could pitch July 22, the sixth game after the break.

Lester said he wanted to go back to the mound in the fifth inning but head athletic trainer Mike Reinold ruled against it.

“There’s no point in going out there and pushing it right now,” Lester said. “I think if I would have gone out there in the fifth, I could have really possibly done some more worse damage.”

Lester said he felt “sore [and] hurt” and that the discomfort did not subside once he came out of the game.

“Now we have to take action and try and get it better,” he said.

But he claimed not to be worried about the injury being something that could wreck his summer.

“It should be fine, hopefully for the rest of the season. I don’t think it’s a long-term issue," he said.

Keep in mind that virtually every injury this season has lasted longer than the Red Sox initially expected.

Clay Buchholz's bad back, which he said was "no big deal" is now advancing into a third week on the DL and a visit to a specialist tomorrow. Bobby Jenks said he would be a out "a day or two" when he strained a back muscle. He landed on the DL. Terry Francona swore that Daisuke Matsuzaka didn't need Tommy John surgery right up until he did.

The Red Sox will surely announce some sort of news tomorrow. Add two weeks and hope for the best.

Final: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 09:10 PM

Game over: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2

The Red Sox wrapped up the second game of this series with a 3-2 victory despite losing starting pitcher Jon Lester to a strained lat muscle after four no-hit innings.

The Red Sox (50-35) have won five of their last six games and will wrap up this series Wednesday night.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Papelbon entered the game.

Patterson led off with a single. Jose Bautista cranked a 2-and-1 pitch over the Wall for a two-run homer. Papelbon came back to strike out Lind. Encarnacion singled to center. Snider drove the ball to deep left field but McDonald was there for the catch. Arencibia walked to give the Blue Jays runners on first and second with two outs.

McDonald hit a single to left field but McDonald charged and launched the perfect throw to Varitek, who was waiting at the plate. Varitek blocked the plate and made the tag to end the game.

Bottom of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Hill stayed in the game for the Blue Jays at second base. Thames also stayed in the game and played right field. Snider moved from right to center.

Pedroia flew out to right. Ortiz struck out swinging on a 3-and-2 pitch. McDonald reached on a single to center. Varitek flied to right to end the inning.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Daniel Bard enters the game. Morales didn't give up a run or a hit in his one inning of work.

Arencibia struck out. McDonald singled to right. Hill pinch hit for McCoy and flew out to left. Eric Thames pinch hit for Davis and also lined out to left as McDonald made two nice grabs back to back.

Bottom of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Cecil has settled down since the Red Sox scored in the second and third. He worked his way out of a couple of jams and in the seventh got Ellsbury and Scutaro to ground out and struck out Gonzalez.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

UPDATE: The Red Sox announce Lester has a left lat strain.

Franklin Morales enters the game. Albers pitched two innings, allowing one hit. He struck out two and walked two and didn't give up a run.

Lind flew out to left. Encarnacion popped out. Snider flew out to center.

Bottom of the 6th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Ortiz walked to start the inning. McDonald flied out to right. Varitek flied out to center. Drew walked. Navarro's grounder to short gave Toronto an easy force out at second to end the inning.

Top of the 6th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

McCoy was thrown out on a dribbler to short. Davis attempted to catch the Red Sox off guard with a bunt, but Varitek scooped it up and threw him out at first. Patterson walked. Bautista picked up the first hit of the night for Toronto with a single to left.

With Lind at the plate, Albers caught Patterson attempting to steal third to end the inning.

Bottom of the 5th: Blue Jays 0, Red Sox 3:

Navarro grounded out. Ellsbury struck out on a check swing. Scutaro singled to left on a 2-and-2 pitch. Gonzalez singled to center for his first hit of the night, giving the Red Sox runners at first and second with two outs. Pedroia flied out to end the inning.

Top of the 5th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

RHP Matt Albers relieves Lester to start the inning. Lester struck out five, walked one, and didn't allow a hit or a run in four innings. He threw 50 pitches and 35 were strikes. There is no word of an injury just yet.

Encarnacion and Snider both struck out swinging. Arencibia walked. McDonald grounded to short.

Bottom of the 4th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

SCORING UPDATE: Upon further review, Drew's hit in the second was changed from an error to a single and he was credited with an RBI.

In the fourth, McDonald grounded out. Varitek struck out. Drew grounded out to end the inning.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Patterson hit a grounder back to Lester, who knocked it down and threw him out at first. Bautista flew out to deep center field. Lind struck out looking to end the inning.

Bottom of the 3rd: Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 0

Scutaro flew out to center. Gonzalez struck out swinging.

Pedroia pulled a 1-and-2 pitch into the Monster seats for his eighth homer of the season. Ortiz flies to left to end the inning.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 0

The Blue Jays led off with a base runner as Arencibia walked. But the Blue Jays couldn't take advantage. McDonald popped out. McCoy grounded out, and Davis flied out to end the inning.

Bottom of the 2nd: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 0:

David Ortiz led off the inning with a double to right and moved to third as Darnell McDonald grounded out. Jason Varitek doubled off of the top of the Green Monster to drive in Ortiz for the first run of the game.

Varitek scored when Blue Jays 2B Mike McCoy booted J.D. Drew's grounder. McCoy was charged with an error and the run was unearned. Yamaico Navarro popped out to short and Ellsbury flied out to end the inning.

Top of the 2nd: Blue Jays 0, Red Sox 0

Adam Lind lined out to third. Edwin Encarnacion strikes out. Lester uses a 95-m.p.h. fastball to strike out Travis Snider to end the inning. Lester has struck out four of the first six batters.

Bottom of the 1st: Blue Jays 0, Red Sox 0

Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to start the inning. Marco Scutaro flied out to shallow right field. Adrian Gonzalez reached base after Brett Cecil's pitch plunked him on the arm. The pitch didn't seem to harm Gonzalez. Dustin Pedroia struck out to end the inning.

Top of the 1st: Blue Jays 0, Red Sox 0

Jon Lester strikes out Rajai Davis to begin the game. Corey Patterson grounds out to first. Jose Bautista strikes out on foul tip to end the inning.

We are here at Fenway Park for the 85th game of the season for the Red Sox. A little busy around here with the news of Mike Cameron being traded to Florida. But we're underway on a comfortable night.

Jon Lester leaves game with strained lat muscle

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 09:02 PM

Jon Lester pitched four no-hit innings tonight against the Blue Jays, but was hampered by a strained lat muscle and had to leave the game, the Red Sox announced.

The muscle is located behind the shoulder and could pose problems for the left-handed pitcher. He tossed 50 pitches (35 strikes) before the Red Sox opted to bring in Matt Albers in relief.

Lester is 10-4 in 17 starts this season and has a 3.43 ERA. The injury could be significant enough that he could end up on the DL. The severity of the injury has not been revealed.

Red Sox trade Mike Cameron to Marlins

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 06:46 PM

Veteran outfielder Mike Cameron will get another chance to continue his career.

Cameron, who was designated for assignment June 30 by the Red Sox, has been sent to the Florida Marlins along with cash in exchange for a player to be named or cash, the Red Sox announced.

Cameron struggled in his 33 games with the Red Sox, hitting .149 with nine RBIs and three home runs. Cameron signed as a free agent with the Red Sox in December 2009 but was unable to contribute much consistently because of injuries.

Cameron, 38, played in 48 games last season and hit .259 with four home runs and 14 RBI but injuries prevented him from finishing the season.

Cameron is in his 17th season.

Blue Jays scratch Escobar from lineup

Posted by Monique Walker, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 05:53 PM

The Blue Jays made a late change to the lineup moments ago, choosing to sit shortstop Yunel Escobar because of an injured wrist. Escobar was hit by a pitch on his left hand last Friday against the Phillies and has missed the last three games.

Escobar was in the midst of a hot offensive stretch, going 10 for 20 in his last five games. The Blue Jays moved John McDonald from second base to shortstop. Mike McCoy will step in at second.

Here is the updated lineup for the Blue Jays:

CF Rajai Davis
LF Corey Patterson
3B Jose Bautista
1B Adam Lind
DH Edwin Encarnacion
RF Travis Snider
C J.P. Arencibia
SS John McDonald
2B Mike McCoy

Pitcher: Brett Cecil (1-3, 7.24 ERA)

Adrian Gonzalez named AL player of the month

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 04:48 PM

The news probably comes as little surprise to Red Sox fans who enjoyed his sizzling offensive performance, but first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has been named the American League Player of the Month for June.

Gonzalez batted .404, best in the majors in June, with 16 extra-base hits (including six home runs) among his 40 hits.

He drove in 25 runs in 25 games, tying Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira for the AL lead in June. He was second in the league in hits, runs scored, on-base percentage (.478) and slugging percentage (.707).

Gonzalez, who will be appearing in his fourth career All-Star Game and his first as an American Leaguer July 12 in Phoenix, leads all major leaguers with 28 doubles, 75 RBIs and 202 total bases this season. He is tops in AL with a .348 batting average and 120 hits.

He is the first Red Sox player to win the monthly honor since David Ortiz in May 2010.

Youkilis gets a day off

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 04:18 PM

Kevin Youkilis has swelling and soreness behind his left shoulder after being hit by a pitch yesterday.

He will get today off and expects to play tomorrow.

"Part of the game," he said. "I'm lucky it wasn't a little higher."

Clay Buchholz will travel to North Carolina tomorrow to get his back checked out by Dr. Craig Bingham.

Carl Crawford took batting practice and ran the bases. He seems to be only a few days away.

The question becomes whether it's worth a game or two as opposed to waiting until after the break.

Game 85: Blue Jays at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 03:00 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (49-35)
Ellsbury CF
Scutaro SS
Gonzalez 1B
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
McDonald LF
Varitek C
Drew RF
Navarro 3B

Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (10-4, 3.43)

BLUE JAYS (42-44)
Davis CF
Patterson LF
Bautista 3B
Lind 1B
Escobar SS
Encarnacion DH
Snider RF
Arencibia C
McDonald 2B

Pitching: LHP Brett Cecil (1-3, 7.24)

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox are 5-6 in their last 11 games. ... Lester is 9-4, 3.40 in 16 career starts against Toronto. In two starts this season, he has allowed 7 earned runs in 19.1 innings. ... Lester has a 1.86 ERA in his last four starts. His line: 29 IP, 19 H, 6 ER, 7 BB, 26 K. ... Cecil is 3-3, 6.15 in six career starts against the Red Sox, 3-1, 6.94 in four starts at Fenway. Cecil faced the Sox on April 15 and allowed three runs on two hits over six innings. The hits were home runs by Pedroia and Youkilis. ... Cecil is making his second start since returning from Class AAA Las Vegas. ... Ellsbury is 10 for 14 in his last four games.

Stat of the Day: Gonzalez is in, for him, a bit of a slump. He is 11 of his last 41 (.268) with a shocking six RBIs in the last 10 games.

Song of the Day: "Less Than Zero" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

The blinking heart of the city

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 11:46 AM

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Essdras M Suarez, Globe Staff

Sebastian Smee, the Globe's art critic, won a Pulitzer Prize in April. This is a smart guy and today he wrote about the Citgo sign and rates it as art.

It's an interesting piece. Broaden your horizons and check it out.

When I was a kid, my dad told me the Citgo sign meant "See It Go" because that was the direction where so many home runs went at Fenway Park. I figured out he was fibbin' but every time a ball flies over the wall, I remember that.

A trade proposal: Lackey for Zito

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 10:00 AM

John Lackey is 32 and has approximately $53.38 million remaining on the final 3.5 years of his contract.

Barry Zito is 33 and has $55.25 million remaining on the final 3.5 years of his deal.

You see where I'm going with this?

Trade Lackey for Zito straight up. Trade one problem pitcher for another.

Lackey returns to California and the forgiving embrace of the National League, Zito returns to the American League and pitching coach Curt Young, who had him in Oakland from 2004-06.

Each team assumes some risk. Lackey obviously has some sort of elbow problem. Zito has never played outside the Bay Area and Boston isn't exactly the mellow capital of the Western Hemisphere.

Zito has a full no-trade clause but might waive it for the chance to matter again.

It's probably crazy and the Giants might even prefer to keep Zito given Lackey's elbow. But it's not totally crazy, is it?

What do you think?

UPDATE, 12:01 p.m.: Dozens of readers took this post in the spirit it was intended, just a way to spark some baseball discussion. Thanks to everybody who is chiming in.

I realize this is crazy talk but part of loving baseball is contemplating such things. As legend has it, the owners of the Sox and Yankees once discussed swapping Ted Williams for Joe DiMaggio over a few stiff drinks.

Lackey and Zito are no Ted and Joe. But it's at least something to consider. The way I figure it, talking about baseball beats talking about most other things.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 5, 2011 08:34 AM

John Lackey put the Red Sox in a hole and there was no getting out against Toronto as they lost, 9-7

Bob Ryan writes that Lackey's season is mystifying given his prior accomplishments.

The Red Sox bullpen gave them a chance to come back. Nicole Auerbach has the story.

The notebook has Clay Buchholz being sent to see a back specialist and other injury updates

Wrapping it up from Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 4, 2011 08:38 PM

When the Red Sox placed Clay Buchholz on the disabled list on June 19, the story at the time was that he had a muscle strain and two weeks off should solve the problem.

Now, two weeks later, Buchholz is being sent to a specialist in North Carolina to try and determine the extent of his injury.

Team medical director Dr. Thomas Gill examined Buchholz today and recommended that he see Dr. Craig Brigham in Charlotte later this week

“It’s kind of interesting,” manager Terry Francona said. “It just hurts when he does certain things pitching. He’s moving around so well other than that. When we send him out there, we want him to know, even if it hurts, he’s not hurting himself.”

This is almost exactly what happened with Buchholz's hamstring injury last season. What looked like a minor issue turned into him missing nearly a month. That will be the case again as Buchholz will not pitch until after the break.

In terms of other injury news:

Carl Crawford (left hamstring) had a full workout before the game and picked up the intensity from his earlier work. He will try running the bases tomorrow. “I was running pretty well,” Crawford sad. “It’s getting there.”

Kevin Youkilis left today's game in the fourth inning after being hit on the upper back by Toronto starter Brandon Morrow. Youkilis fell to the dirt and was attended to by Francona and head athletic trainer Mike Reinold before leaving the game. It was the ninth time Youkilis has been hit this season, tying him for fourth-most in the majors.

“We got him out for precautionary reasons. He’s got a headache,” Francona said. “We’ll re-evaluate him and see how he’s doing tomorrow.”

As for the game, it's to their credit that the Red Sox made it interesting after falling behind 7-0 in the third inning.

A few facts and figures on John Lackey:

• It was the fourth time in 13 starts this season that Lackey has allowed at least seven earned runs. Only Fausto Carmona of Cleveland can match that dubious achievement and he has made 18 starts.

• Among major league pitchers with at least 70 innings this season, Lackey has the highest earned run average by more than a run at 7.47.

• His ERA in seven starts at Fenway is 9.17.

• Lackey is 19-19 with a 5.16 ERA since signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal. The Sox are 21-25 in the games he has started

• Lackey also has lost three consecutive starts for the second time this season, a first in his 10-year career.

• Today was his shortest outing with the Sox.

As to what happens now, it's anybody's guess. There are four options:

1. Keep him in the rotation.

2. Put him in the bullpen.

3. Put him on the disabled list.

4. Release him.

“Just continue to work hard. I’ve made a lot of adjustments, kind of on the fly,” Lackey said. “Some of those will hopefully turn into some results here soon."

Releasing him makes no sense. Lackey is 32 and has $53.38 million left on his deal. He has pitched once out of the bullpen in 373 professional games since he signed with the Angels. Who knows how that would work?

The options are rotation or DL. Stay tuned.

Lackey seemed a bit resigned today in his postgame press conference. There was none of the anger we've seen in the past (of course, that could have as much to do with his not being asked the same question three times today) and more of a sense of his not being sure what to say.

While his Boston tenure has been a disaster, this is still the same guy who was 102-71, 3.81 with the Angels, made the All-Star team and led the league in ERA. He has a World Series ring and a 3.12 ERA in 14 playoff games.

Baseball is full of stories about struggling pitchers who came back to be valuable contributors. At this point, the Sox have to hope Lackey can join that list.

Two more notes:

Jacoby Ellsbury matched his career high with four hits. He also reached 500 career hits in the first inning with a single. Ellsbury hit that milestone in 432 games. Only two Red Sox outfielders reached 500 hits quicker. Ted Williams needed 385 games and Dom DiMaggio 428 games.

• The Sox are 49-35 after 84 games for the second straight season.

Can't believe we had nearly 450 comments on a holiday today. Thanks so much for reading,

Back at it tomorrow.

Final: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 4, 2011 01:19 PM

Game over: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7

Ellsbury singled to right but Francisco struck out Pedroia, Gonzalez and Navarro to end it. The Sox open their homestand with a loss before a crowd of 38,072.

Back later with a report from the clubhouse.

Bottom of the 9th: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7

Hmm, Ellsbury singled but Pedroia whiffed after being ahead 3-and-1. Now comes Gonzo.

Middle of the 9th: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7

If the Sox are to win this, they'll need some walk-off magic. How about Elsbury singles, Pedroia walks and Gonzo drills one into the Monster Seats? Seem easy enough.

Frank Francisco in to pitch for Toronto.

Top of the 9th: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7

More life from the Sox. Navarro singled ahead of a double by Ortiz that snapped an 0-for-23 skid. The ball was mis-hit and hopped into the stands in left. But Papi will take it.

McDonald (.117) struck out. But Salty followed with a triple off the wall. It was his second-three bagger of the season. Drew had a sac fly to left before Scutaro struck out.

Albers now pitching. At least the folks here saw some offense.

Middle of the 8th: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 4

The only fireworks left in Boston will be on the Esplanade, it seems. McDonald singled and scored on a double by Davis to sink the Sox further into a hole.

Johnny Mac, the pride of East Lyme, Conn., and Providence College, is 5 of 14 with four RBIs against the Sox this season. I once picked McDonald for the Norwich Bulletin American Legion All-Star team. It was 1992, I think. He's about as good a guy as you'd ever want to meet.

John lives in Massachusetts in the offseason.

Top of the 8th: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 4

Ellsbury and Pedroia singled with one out. Gonzalez then grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.

Middle of the 7th: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 4

The comeback was blunted a bit there as Lind walked with two outs and scored on an error by Navarro at third base as a hot shot went right between his legs and rolled into the left field corner.

Here in the press box with Globe colleagues Bob Ryan and Nicole Auerbach, our summer intern. Don't tell Bob, but when I was a junior at UMass, he came to Amherst to cover a basketball game and I begged the sports information director (the estimable Howie Davis) to let me sit next to him.

I asked Bob a series of questions about journalism that he patiently answered. Some kids grow up wanting to be ballplayers. I grew up reading Bob, Dan Shaughnessy, Will McDonough, Ray Fitzgerald, Ernie Robers and Leigh Montville and wanted to do what they did. It's still a little hard to believe every time I walk into Fenway.

Top of the 7th: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 4

Ortiz drew a leadoff walk. Morrow was then replaced by lefty Luis Perez. Pinch hitter Darnell McDonald struck out, Salty grounded out to third on a close call and Drew struck out.

If it's me, I'd rather hit for Drew than Reddick.

Middle of the 6th: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 4

Aceves worked around a leadoff double. Morrow takes the mound having thrown 94 pitches on a hot day. The Sox would make a move here, perhaps.

Top of the 6th: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 4

The Sox spring to life. It started innocently enough when Drew singled with two outs. Scutaro then walked before Ellsbury tripled to center. Elsbury scored on a passed ball as Pedroia walked. Gonzo then lined an RBI double off the wall.

Navarro grounded to second to end the inning. Aceves now pitching after 2.2 perfect innings by Wheeler.

Middle of the 5th: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 0

Wheeler has retired eight straight.

Top of the 5th: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 0

Kevin Youkilis was hit in the upper back by a pitch from Morrow and left the game. Navarro replaced him.

The Red Sox are as dead as anybody who signed the Declaration of Independence. They have two hits, both singles.

Middle of the 4th: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 0

Wheeler has retired five straight. That makes him the Red Sox Pitcher of the Day. Oh, wait. That's not really so great.

Top of the 4th: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 0

Marco Scutaro has a two-out single. Then Ellsbury flied to right and the fans were reduced to hoping Snider would lose it in the sun. He didn't.

Top of the 3rd: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 0

Good news for all you Tim Wakefield fans, John Lackey was brutal. He is out after giving up four runs on five hits here in the third inning and was booed off the field.

In innings against Toronto this season, he has allowed 20 runs on 24 hits. Here's an idea, don't pitch him against Toronto.

Top of the 3rd: Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0

The Red Sox are giving off the distinct impression they'd rather be at the beach. After Youkilis popped out and Ortiz struck out, Reddick struck out but reached on a wild pitch, Jose Molina then picked him off first base.

They don't make enough Red Bull to wake this team up the way it looks so far.

Middle of the 2nd: Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0

Aaron Hill drove a Lackey pitch into the Monster Seats for his fourth home run. Snider doubled and scored on a two-out single by McDonald. In 14.2 innings against Toronto this season, Lackey has allowed 16 runs on 19 hits.

This game has the "Well, we got in pretty late from Houston" excuse written all over it.

Top of the 2nd: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0

Ellsbury singled then was forced at second when Pedroia grounded to short. As Gonzalez struck out, Pedroia was thrown out stealing to end the inning.

Middle of the 1st: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0

That was embarrassing, Davis doubled to start the game. Then, with one out, he was deked back to second by Pedroia. But when Pedroia backed off, Davis stole third. Salty made an accurate throw to third that Youkilis let get away and Davis scored.

The Jays are 16 of 20 on steals against the Sox this season.

Pre-game: Good afternoon and Happy Fourth of July from Fenway Park. It'll be the Red Sox defending the pride of the United States against those interlopers from Canada, the Blue Jays.

The pre-game ceremonies includes a military chorus doing the national anthems, a giant flag on the Green Monster and a four-jet flyover.

The Sox also held an emotional reunion on the field with Bridget Lyon and her family. She has been on duty since October with the Navy. Nice scene as she surprised them with her appearance from left field.

Bridget also threw out the first pitch.

We welcome your comments during the game.

Is anybody not at the beach today? Check in and let us know where you're watching the game from. We'll keep you updated every inning.

Red Sox sign Dominican center fielder

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 4, 2011 01:06 PM

According to Baseball America, the Red Sox have signed 16-year-old Dominican center fielder Manuel Marcos for $800,000.

He is a 6-foot, 175-pound athletic player with a good glove.

Here's the Baseball America scouting report:

Marcos is one of the best athletes in Latin America, a tooled-up 16-year-old center fielder who trains with former scout Fred Ferreira. He has a wiry, athletic body with a lot of life and projection. With plus-plus speed, an arm that earns 60 to 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale and good instincts in the field, Marcos has the potential to be a premium defensive center fielder. He reads fly balls well off the bat and can make the flashy catch. At the plate, he'll show occasional power, though he's more of a line-drive hitter who works gap to gap. He has a tendency to drop his hands when he hits, but he has the hand speed to make up for it and has hit in game situations.

A few injury updates

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 4, 2011 11:25 AM

Clay Buchholz (lower back) and Carl Crawford (left hamstring) will be checked out by Dr. Thomas Gill today.

Buchholz, Terry Francona said, is definitely out until after the All-Star break. Crawford is progressing but still needs to show he can run the bases at full speed.

It sounds like there's a chance he plays in this homestand. But just a chance.

Game 84: Blue Jays at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 4, 2011 09:45 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (49-34)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz DH
Reddick LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew RF
Scutaro SS

Pitching: RHP John Lackey (5-7, 6.81)

BLUE JAYS (41-44)
Davis CF
Thames LF
Bautista 3B
Lind 1B
Encarnacion DH
Hill 2B
Snider RF
Molina C
McDonald SS

Pitching: RHP Brandon Morrow (4-4, 4.56)

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI

Notes: The Red Sox return home from a 5-4 road trip to start a seven-game homestand before the All-Star break. They start the day 1.5 games behind the Yankees, who are in Cleveland tonight. ... The Sox have won four straight. ... The Sox are 6-3 against the Jays this season, outscoring them 71-32. ... Lackey is 3-2 in five starts since coming off the disabled list with a 5.28 ERA. He has allowed 13 runs in 12.3 innings against Toronto this season. ... Morrow is 0-2, 9.00 in 12 career appearances against the Red Sox. He allowed nine runs on 10 hits and three walks against the Sox over 4.1 innings on June 11. ... Ortiz returns to DH looking to snap an 0-for-21 skid that has dropped his batting average from .323 to .301. ... Gonzalez was 10 for 36 (.278) on the trip with five RBIs. ... Jonathan Papelbon has not allowed a run in his last 6.2 innings, Daniel Bard in his last 15.1. ... The team ERA of 3.92 is the lowest it has been all season. ... Drew has gone 46 at-bats without an extra-base hit. ... Ellsbury is 6 of his last 13. ... The Sox were 49-35 after 84 games last season.

Red Sox vs. Morrow: Ellsbury 2-7, Pedroia 6-10, Gonzalez 4-7, Youkilis 1-9, Ortiz 5-9, Drew 1-8, Saltalamacchia 0-3, Scutaro 4-8, Varitek 3-10.

Blue Jays vs. Lackey: Lind 12-21, Escobar 5-11, David 9-24, Encarnacion 3-12, McDonald 5-23, 2 HR; Bautista 3-17, 2 HR; Hill 4-25, Patterson 3-21, Arencibia 0-3.

Stat of the Day: The Red Sox play 43 of their remaining 79 games at home. The Yankees play 45 of their remaining 80 games on the road.

Song of the Day: "4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 4, 2011 09:26 AM

Josh Beckett celebrated his All-Star selection by beating the Astros. Michael Vega has the story.

Nick Cafardo writes that the All-Star selection process is flawed.

Four Red Sox made the All-Star team.

The notebook has David Ortiz filling out his Home Run Derby team.

Pitching matchups for the Blue Jays series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 09:23 PM

Monday: RHP Brandon Morrow (4-4, 4.56) vs. RHP John Lackey (5-7, 6.81), 1:35 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Tuesday: LHP Brett Cecil (1-3, 7.24) vs. LHP Jon Lester (10-4, 3.43), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Wednesday: LHP Ricky Romero (7-7, 2.82) vs. RHP Tim Wakefield (4-3, 4.82), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Final: Red Sox 2, Astros 1

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 02:11 PM

Game over

Jonathan Papelbon protected a one-run lead by striking out the side (and a single by Brett Wallace) to record his 17th save. The win went to Josh Beckett (7-3) who allowed one run over eight innings with no walks and 11 strikeouts. He allowed five hits.

The Sox finish the road trip 5-4.

Top 9th: Red Sox 2, Astros 1

Brad Mills made the interesting decision to walk Adrian Gonzalez with runners at the corners with Kevin Youkilis up and righty Mark Melancon on the mound. Mills knows Youkilis grinds out at-bats yet still trusted Melancon.

So what does Youkilis do? Takes balls 1,2,3. Takes a strike. And then takes ball four to force in the go-ahead run.

Mills said after the game: "There's no doubt that's not an easy decision, but you're looking at these guys and put everything together and if we are going to get beat there, that's who we want to get beat by in that situation. Just look at the season that Gonzalez is having and if we're going to get beat then I don't want to get beat with him in that situation."

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

Astros had a chance to get the go-ahead on board. Jeff Keppinger led off with a pinch-hit single and moved to second on Micahel Bourn's bunt, but Beckett got the next two outs. Looks like he'll be pinch-hit for in the top of the 9th.

Top 8th: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

David Ortiz pinch-hit in the eighth and knocked into a double-play. He's on an 0-for-21 stretch, the second worst of his career.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

All-Star Beckett has 11 strikeouts through seven after striking out Brett Wallace, a season-high. He hit Chris Johnson with a pitch, but got out of the inning.

Brett Myers Bobblehead Day here at Minute Maid.

Top 7th: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

Dustin Pedroia singled but was doubled up by Adrian Gonzalez.

Top 6th: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

Jason Varitek lined a two-out opposite-field double to left off the wall with two outs, but Beckett came up and ran the count to 2-2 before striking out.

And no, don't think Francona should have pinch-hit for him. He's pitching well and it's only the sixth in a tie game with two outs.


Bottom 5th: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

'Stros tie it. Brett Wallace led off with a double to rightcenter and eventually scored on a two-out pinch-hit single by former Red Sox Angel Sanchez.

Top 5th: Red Sox 1, Astros 0

The Sox had two on nobody out, but Youkilis struck out and Drew knocked into a double-play.

Top 4th: Red Sox 1, Astros 0

Sox loaded the bases and scored when Brett Wallace fielded Jason Varitek's grounder and threw high to first base, allowing Kevin Youkilis to score. Youkilis gave everyone a scare when his right leg got caught underneath him and the catcher stepped on his foot. The third baseman seems to be OK.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Astros 0

Sox go down in order again vs. Jordan Lyles, who may be one of the few untouchables on this team going forward.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Astros 0

The Astros showed a little kick in the inning as Clint Barmes and All-Star Hunter Pence singled with one out. Carlos Lee lined out to third and Matt Downs popped out to end the threat.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Astros 0

The series finale is underway. The Sox went down in order in the first inning.

Josh Beckett, named to the All-Star team today, takes the mound.

Four Sox selected to All-Star team

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 12:14 PM

HOUSTON - Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and starting pitcher Josh Beckett were named All-Stars by the players vote joining David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez, elected by the fans, for the AL All-Star team.

Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard and Dustin Pedroia did not make it. Lester shouldn't feel too bad. CC Sabathia wasn't elected either.

"It's disappointing," said Lester, who is 10-4 with a 3.43 ERA. "But if CC didn't make it I don't think there are too many pitchers who should make it."

Lester was thrilled for Beckett.

"This isn't a surprise for anyone in the clubhouse," Lester said of Beckett's selection.

"Lester not making it is ridiculous," Pedroia said. Youkilis seconded the opinion.

Pedroia was clearly the other Sox snub. Youkilis also had an outside shot.

"I haven't played up to my standards. It's an honor to be named but I could also use the three days of rest. It would have been fun," said Pedroia, hitting .277 with a .391 OBP.

The players were happy for Ellsbury.

"We always thought he was an All-Star," Pedroia said. "He's just doing what he did two years ago. You can't play baseball with broken ribs. It's not like football or basketball. He took a lot of unfair criticism and the players in here stuck by him. He's getting the last laugh."

Gonzalez was pleased about the selection.

"Yeah, it's always good. I've always said that it's great to make an All-Star game, but you still got another half to play so you have to continue to play hard. But it's nice to be able to represent the Red Sox and everybody else.

It'll be fun. You get to get a few extra at-bats and enjoy the rest of the guys finishing out the game," he said.

On agreeing to be part of Ortiz's HR Derby team: "That'll be fun. Hopefully I can do better the second time around (only two homers in St. Louis in 2009). But I'm going to enjoy it like it was the first time and do my best."

Asked whether it might throw his swing off, Gonzalez said, 'There's always times in BP when I try to hit home runs anyway. Trying to hit home runs in BP is part of being a ballplayer, I guess. I can see why people might think it would affect your swing, but I don't see it affecting my swing."

In general concerning those who made the All-Star team and those who didn't, Gonzalez said, "We're a team full of talent and we got a few guys in it and a few guys who deserved to. You experience this with any team; guys who should've made it and didn't. A team like this, where you have not just a few, but plenty of guys who should be in it, it's just the way the game is."

Ortiz has a big role as DH and HR Derby captain for the AL

"It's an honor for me, and it's a great time. It's fun, it's something the fans really enjoy. It's just a few days, but you get really worn out. The fans put a lot of enthusiasm into it, and it's pretty much time to hang out with your family, and get to know some of the guys, you would like to know how they are, besides being a good baseball player. It's a good time," he said.

Ortiz was pleased about Ellsbury making the team:

"Ellsbury is the kind of guy, I always get on him because sometimes, he's got the skills to play the game, sometimes, you just don't know it. Sometimes, you don't get to show them. Since day one, I always get on him, push him so he goes about his business. I tell him, 'Hey, you've got no idea what you've got in your hands.' Last year, he went through what he went through, and I always tried to get his back and tell him, 'Hey, go and get it.' Watching him make the All-Star team, it made me feel proud of him.

"This year, he became hungry. He came to show people, 'Hey, I'm going to be there as much as I can.' He's a guy who cares about doing good, about helping the ballclub. He's a good kid. Watching him go to his first All-Star game, it's something that made me proud of him. Hopefully, we can see another 10, 12 more come out of him.

Surprised that the Sox didn't have more selections?

"Yeah, we have guys who are having a great year. But you know how the All-Star game goes. It's not even the players, it's pretty much what the fans want to see out there. That's when you get a little tricky, you know what I'm saying? You see some guys that aren't having a great season, or a good first half of the season, but they're still going to get voted in by the fans, because they have done it (before), and fans would like to see them again."

Ortiz said of Gonzalez, "Gonzo and me, we're having a good time. He's a great kid. We hit in the same group, and we kind of start pushing each other, when we're hitting in batting practice. If I hit one out, he'll come out and hit two. And then I go and hit three, and he'll come and hit four. We're kind of always going back and forth.

"When we started talking about the Home Run Derby, they told me, 'Hey, you can pick three guys.' The first name that came into my mind was Gonzo. He's ridiculous, when he's hitting in batting practice. He told me things in batting practice, where he wanted to hit the ball, and then he'd hit it. That's how he easy he makes it look like. It's like, 'Wait a minute, that's my guy. I've got to bring him to the Home Run Derby.'

"One day, I'm going to hide a camera for you guys to see what I'm talking about. That guy, I mean, he knows how to use a damn bat."

Ellsbury said that Francona came in to tell him the news.

"When I came in, he informed me. I'm very excited. It's an honor to be elected by your peers. I'm really excited," he said.

A sense of accomplishment, redemption?

"Obviously, I'm excited, just to be elected by your peers, someone you see every single day, going out playing. To be elected by them, it's an honor, and I'm just excited to be going to Arizona," he said.

Francona said earlier that it meant Ellsbury had arrived.

"It feels good. I'm not really sure (about that). I'm just excited to step on the field in a week or two. I can't even put it into words, except that I'm definitely excited. I was going into the offseason trying to be a complete player, try to do a little bit of everything to help the team win. Fortunately, like I said, it's an honor to be elected by your peers, to get rewarded for your accomplishments on the field. To have them see that, it's an honor."

Captain Papi makes HR Derby selections

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 12:09 PM

David Ortiz, who is captain of the Home Run Derby for the American league, has chosen Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista to be on the team.

Ortiz said he has also invited Mark Teixeira, but is awaiting word from the Yankee slugger pending his selection to the All-Star team.

Ortiz also said he has asked Robinson Cano to take Teixeira's place if he can't do it, and also has Josh Hamilton as a backup plan.

Ortiz, Gonzalez will start for AL Stars; Beckett and Ellsbury also selected

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 12:02 PM

David Ortiz is the American League designated hitter and Adrian Gonzalez the first baseman.

Jacoby Ellsbury missed out in the outfield as Josh Hamilton was voted in. But Ellsbury was selected as a reserve.

AL starters
David Ortiz: DH
Alex Avila: C
Adrian Gonzalez: 1B
Robinson Cano: 2B
Derek Jeter: SS
Alex Rodriguez: 3B
Jose Bautista: OF
Curtis Granderson: OF
Josh Hamilton: OF

American League pitchers: Josh Beckett, Jose Valverde, Chris Perez, Aaron Crow, Mariano Rivera, Gio Gonzalez, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Brandon League, David Price, James Shields, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson.

American League reserves: Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Wieters, Carlos Quentin, Asdrubal Cabrera, Miguel Cabrera, Howie Kendrick, Michael Cuddyer, Russel Martin, Matt Joyce, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young.

NL starters
Brian McCann: C
Prince Fielder: 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Jose Reyes: SS
Placido Polanco: 3B
Lance Berkman: OF
Ryan Braun: OF
Matt Kemp: OF

National League pitchers: Jonny Venters, Clayon Kershaw, Cole Hamels, Jair Jurrjens, Joel Hanrahan, Heath Bell, Matt Cain, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Ryan Vogelsong, Cliff Lee, Tyler Clippard.

National League reserves: Justin Upton, Chipper Jones, Starlin Castro, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, Gaby Sanchez, Hunter Pence, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina.

Final vote candidate for AL: Alex Gordon, Adam Jonez, Paul Konerko, Victor Martinez, Ben Zobrist.

Final vote candidates for NL: Michael Morse, Shane Victorino, Andre Ethier, Todd Helton, Ian Kennedy.

Nick Cafardo will have more from Houston.

All-Star rosters revealed at noon

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 11:23 AM

The All-Star rosters will be announced at noon on TBS. Keep in mind these will be the initial rosters and that usually a bunch of players are added due to injury or pitchers being unavailable.

Based on the most recent vote totals, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz are likely fan choices. Jacoby Ellsbury had a shot in the outfield. Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia could make the team along with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon depending on what breaks.

Texas manager Ron Washington is running the AL team. But given the fan voting, the player voting and the necessity of having a player from every team, the manager usually gets one or two picks at best.

Game 83: Red Sox at Astros

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 10:30 AM

It's the end of the road trip. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (48-34)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Drew RF
Reddick LF
Navarro SS
Varitek C
Beckett RHP (6-3, 2.20)

ASTROS (29-55)
Bourn CF
Barmes SS
Pence RF
Lee LF
Downs 2B
Wallace 1B
Johnson 3B
Corporan C
Lyles RHP (0-3, 4.75)

Game time: 2:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: The Sox are 4-4 on a road trip that ends today. After a 1-4 start, they have won three straight. ... The Sox are 9-8 in interleague play with one game left. ... Beckett, who grew up in the Houston area, is 2-2, 2.20 in six career starts against the Astros, 1-1, 2.79 in three starts in Houston. He last pitched in Houston in 2008. ... Varitek is hitting .326 with six extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in his last 13 games. ... David Ortiz is hitless in his last 20 at-bats. ... Reddick is 14 of 29 since being recalled with six extra-base hits and six RBIs over 11 games. ... Bard has not allowed a run in his last 15.1 innings. ... The Sox are 10 for 22 with runners in scoring position in the series. ... Lyles is a 20-year-old rookie who has started six games. He was a supplemental first-round pick in 2008.

Stat of the Day: Since getting his sore right knee checked out on June 9, Pedroia is hitting .367/.474/.608 over 20 games with 12 extra-base hits, 17 runs scored and 15 RBIs. His batting average has climbed from .247 to .277.

Song of the Day: "Come Home To You" by John Hiatt.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 3, 2011 09:30 AM

The Red Sox got another strong start from Andrew Miller and beat the Astros last night. Michael Vega has the story.

Nick Cafardo writes that Darnell McDonald really needed that home run he hit.

Bob Ryan, in pondering the DH question, wonders where all the hard-hitting outfielders have gone.

The notebook has Yamaico Navarro hitting his first home run and an update on Carl Crawford.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick looks at the upcoming trial of Roger Clemens.

Young cancer patients caught the Red Sox on the road and it was trip of a lifetime. Joseph P. Kahn has the heart-warming story.

Final: Red Sox 10, Astros 4

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 2, 2011 07:19 PM

Game over: Red Sox 10, Astros 4

The Red Sox unleashed a 13-hit attack against Astros pitching to take their second game of the series. Andrew Miller (2-0) pitched his third strong game, lasting six innings. Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis hwd three hits apiece, while Darnell McDonald belted a three-run homer.

Yamaico Navarro also hit his first major league homer as a pinch-hitter.

Dan Wheeler allowed a run in the ninth when Matt Downs singled in Michael Bourn (4 hits).

Time of game was 3:05 before 39,021 at Minute Maid Park.

Top 9th: Red Sox 10, Astros 3

Gonzalez doubled to right, his third hit and rode home on Kevin Youkilis' RBI single, his third hit. The 2-3-4 batters: 9-for-15, 4 RBI. Let's see if Dan Wheeler can finish it out.

Top 8th: Red Sox 9, Astros 3

The Sox scored four runs. Three straight singles by Gonzalez, Youkilis and Reddick and a sac fly by Salty accounted for the first run. McDonald then struck for a three-run homer, a long, towering shot to left field.

Boy did McDonald need that.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 5, Astros 3

Alfredo Aceves came on to pitch. Heretired the first two batters, but then allowed back-to-back hits to pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger and Michael Bourn. Matt Downs, pinch-hitting for Angel Sanchez, walked on a 3-2 count.

That brought out a Pence-ive Terry Francona. He replaced Aceves in favor of Daniel Bard.

Pence walked to force in Keppinger. Bard then retired Lee on a grounder for the final out.

Top 7th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2

Miller was pinch-hit for by Yamaico Navarro, who homered in his first at-bat since being recalled from Pawtucket. It was his first major league homer.

Miller went 6 innings, allowed seven hits, two runs and two walks. He struck out three. He threw 85 pitches.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 4, Astros 2

Hunter Pence homered to left. His third hit vs. Miller. Red Sox people really like him. Why not? High-energy, rightfielder with a good arm and righthanded.

Sox made defensive changes. Ortiz out at first. Gonzales moved from right to first. Josh Reddick went to left. Darnell McDonald moved to right.

Top 6th: Red Sox 4, Astros 1

Darnell McDonald 6-4-3 doubleplay. Getting tough to watch.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 4, Astros 1

Andrew Miller has thrown 77 pitches through five. Michael Bourn singled off his shoulder, but Miller seemed OK as he retired Sanchez for the final out.

Top 5th: Red Sox 4, Astros 1

Dustin Pedroia stroked an RBI double to left scoring Jacoby Ellsbury (double to right) with his third hit. Top of Sox order - Ellsbury and Pedroia - 4-for-5 with a walk. With two outs and Pedroia at third, Youkilis grounded out to end the inning.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 3, Astros 1

Sox get a 6-3 double-play courtesy of Clint Barmes to end the inning.

Top 4th: Red Sox 3, Astros 1

Terry Francona commented before the game he'd like to get Darnell McDonald going, but the extra outfielder is now 4-for-35 (.114) vs. lefties.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 3, Astros 1

Hunter Pence has his number with two hits, but otherwise Andrew Miller has been effective, though certainly not overpowering.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 3, Astros 1

It's always hard to tell with slow runners whether they're really, really slow or they're not busting it down the first baseline. Adrian Gonzalez hit a grounder that Angel Sanchez clanged. The ball bounced a couple of feet away, but he still managed to pick it up and retire Gonzalez by more than a step.

The misplay avoided a double-play as Dustin Pedroia, who led off the with a single, advanced to second base. But Happ was able to retire Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 3, Astros 1

Miller doesn't seem to have his usual zip, throwing his fastball at 91 mph. This is a guy who can rear back and give you 96 and 97. He walked J.R. Towles, but got the pitcher Happ for the third out.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 3, Astros 1

The Sox go down in order. Marco Scutaro (4-3), Andrew Miller (strikeout) and Jacoby Ellsbury (ground out) settled Happ down.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 3, Astros 1

Andrew Miller has drawn rave reviews in his first two starts with the Red Sox, but third time wasn't a charm. At least at the outset. Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn tripled to leftcenter and scored on Angel Sanchez' single to center.

Hunter Pence ripped a single up the middle and Carlos Lee lined out hard to left.

Miller wasn't fooling anyone.

Jason Michaels bailed Miller out by knocking into an inning-ending double play.

Top 1st: Red Sox 3, Astros 0

J.A. Happ (less) allowed three runs in the top of the first inning. Things didn't go so well right off the bat when Jacoby Ellsbury, returning from a one-day absence with the flu, walked. After Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield hit with Ellsbury streaking to third on Carlos Lee's dropped throw at first base, he scored on Adrian Gonzalez' single to right field.

Kevin Youkilis followed with a single to left field scoring the second run. After David Ortiz, playing first base (with Gonzalez in right), walked, Jarrod Saltalamacchia knocked into a double play allowing the third Boston run to score.

Game 82: Red Sox at Astros

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 2, 2011 02:51 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (47-34)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez RF
Youkilis 3B
Ortiz 1B
Saltalamacchia C
McDonald LF
Scutaro SS
Miller LHP (1-0, 3.09)

ASTROS (29-54)
Bourn CF
Sanchez 2B
Pence RF
Lee 1B
Michaels LF
Johnson 3B
Barmes SS
Towles C
Happ (3-9, 5.54)

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes: Miller will be making his third start since coming up from Pawtucket. He has allowed 4 earned runs in 11.2 innings with 10 strikeouts and 5 walks. Miller is 0-1 in two career starts against Houston. He faced them last Aug. 22 while with Florida and allowed 1 run in 5 innings. ... The Sox have won two straight and have two games left the road trip. ... Happ, a former Phillie, is 0-5, 5.71 in his last eight starts. He started against the Sox in 2009, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits over 5.2 innings. Three Red Sox took him deep that day, but none will be in the lineup today. The homers were by Nick Green, Rocco Baldelli and Josh Beckett.

Stat of the Day: Dan Wheeler has appeared in 13 games since coming off the disabled list. He has allowed 2 earned runs over 13 innings and struck out 11 with 3 walks

Song of the Day: "Carolina In My Mind" by James Taylor.

Grading the 1st half of the Red Sox season

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 2, 2011 02:30 PM

The season is half over. Let's hand out some grades.

A+
Adrian Gonzalez: It seemed impossible that he could meet the lofty expectations that greeted his arrival from San Diego. But he somehow has. Gonzalez has hit for average and power and leads the majors in RBIs. He also has played Gold Glove-caliber first base.
A
Josh Beckett: He started the season the No. 4 starter but so far has been the best pitcher on the staff. Beckett has more judiciously used his cutter and regained his power fastball. It's not reasonable to expect him to pitch to a 2.20 ERA in the second half. But if he does, he could win his first Cy Young.

David Ortiz: He's having his best season since 2007, hitting for power and getting on base at a .383 clip. And to think, there was a notion in spring training that they might have to platoon him.

A-
Daniel Bard: He has been nearly perfect since May 27. Take out his first game of the season (4 ER in 0.2 innings) and he has a 1.42 ERA.

Jacoby Ellsbury: A year after playing 18 games, he deserve to make the All-Star team. Beyond his batting average, he has the best OBP of his career and has matched his career high in home runs.

B+
Jonathan Papelbon: He has blown only one save and the Sox came back to win that game. His strikeouts are up and his walks are down. But it's hard to ignore a 3.69 ERA.

Jon Lester: He has been solid, going 10-4 with a 3.43 ERA. But he has not yet taken that step to the upper level of the league and established himself as a no-doubt ace. Walks remain an issue and he allows himself to get too concerned with the umpire at times.

B
Kevin Youkilis: He has rebounded well from the thumb surgery last year, posting his usual high OBP. His batting average is down and he has not hit as well with runners in scoring position as he usually does. His defensive transition to third base was smooth.

Clay Buchholz: He experienced the expected regression from last season and how is out with a back injury. Now that he has established himself a reliable starter, he needs to show he can throw 200 innings in a season. It won't be this year.

Matt Albers: Nobody believed he would be third on the team in appearances halfway through and have an ERA under 3.00. A bust in Baltimore, he's been a steady presence for the Sox.

B-
Dustin Pedroia: Injuries have held him back, although the last few weeks have been encouraging. A .272 /.388 /.400 first half is below his usual level of play, which suggests a big second half is coming.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: He is at .279/.360/.514 since May 3. These days, that's well more than you expect from a catcher. After a rocky start, he has settled down defensively, too. Only 26, this could be his job for a while.

Alfredo Aceves: He was signed off the scrap heap just before spring training and started the year in the minors. All he has done since is appear in 20 games, starting four of them, and post a respectable 3.62 ERA. He's a little kooky, but that's OK.

Jason Varitek: Grade him on what the expectations were, not what he was five years ago. He's a backup catcher hitting .248 and has personally guided Beckett back to stardom. It's hard to ask for much more than that.

C+
Carl Crawford: He hasn't had a good season by any measure, something the Sox need to change in the second half. But if you don't think he's valuable, consider how thin the lineup has looked without him the last two weeks.

Tim Wakefield: There have been some high moments but a few low ones, too. He has a 4.82 ERA, which is a run higher than the league average. He has proven to a valuable guy to have around, as always.

Marco Scutaro: He had the job out of spring training, lost and now he has it again. There are 15 shortstops in the American League with at least 150 plate appearances. Scutaro is eighth with a .716 OPS. He is an average shortstop. It's not perfect but it sure could be worse.

C
Jed Lowrie: His hot start had the Sox dreaming big dreams. But Lowrie cooled off considerably (.183 in his last 19 games) and now it out indefinitely. If there comes a time he can stay on the field, Lowrie could be a huge factor. But that time has yet to come.

Dan Wheeler: A brutal start led to two weeks on the DL. He has been terrific since, allowing two runs over 13 innings. His track record suggests he'll be a valuable piece of the bullpen in the second half.

C-
John Lackey: The easy thing to do is rip him. But he has gone six innings seven times in 12 starts and has four quality starts. It's not all bad. Outside of one game, he has looked decent since coming off he DL.

J.D. Drew: He has not had a double since early May and has rarely hit the ball with his usual authority. The ability to get on base, once his forte, has disappeared, too. Terry Francona is sticking with him, believing a hot streak is coming.

D
Daisuke Matsuzaka: He pitched erratically and got hurt. That sums up his season and his Red Sox career. Good luck with the Mariners in 2013.

Bobby Jenks: It's hard to get excited about two stints on the disabled list and a 7.24 ERA. Presumably better times are coming.

D-
Mike Cameron: He didn't get much of a chance (105 plate appearances) and didn't do much with the chances he had, hitting .149. That led to his release.

Darnell McDonald: He's getting a chance lately to show he belongs. But a .115 batting average is getting hard to ignore.

Incomplete

Scott Atchison, Michael Bowden, Felix Doubront, Rich Hill, Tommy Hottovy, Jose Iglesias, Andrew Miller, Franklin Morales, Hideki Okajima, Drew Sutton, Josh Reddick, Dennys Reyes.

We haven't seen too much of these guys to fairly grade them. Hill was certainly headed for good things and the same could be true of Miller and Reddick and maybe even Morales.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 2, 2011 10:50 AM

The Sox used a big seventh inning to beat the Astros. Michael Vega has the story.

Nick Cafardo writes that the first half of the season was a success for the Sox.

The notebook has Red Sox coach Ron Johnson trying not to root too much for his son Chris, who plays for the Astros.

The New York Times sold off a piece of the Red Sox that it owned.


Final: Red Sox 7, Astros 5

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 1, 2011 08:11 PM

Game over: Red Sox 7, Astros 5

Jonathan Papelbon retired the first two batters at the top of the Astros order in the ninth before Hunter Pence stroked a single to right to break Papelbon's momentum. But the closer hung in to retire the powerful Carlos Lee on a grounder to record his 16th save.

The game was played in 3:14 before 36,277 at Minute Maid Park.

Top 8th: Red Sox 7, Astros 5

Sox put the first two runners on base on a Salty walk and a single by Reddick, his second hit and third time he was on base. But Big Papi came up to pinch-hit and struck out. After Darnell McDonald walked to load the bases, Scutaro knocked into an inning-ending double play.

Top 7th: Red Sox 7, Astros 5

They haven't had one of these innings in a long time, but the Sox put up six runs to overtake the Astros and erase a 5-1 deficit.

Dustin Pedroia knocked in the tying runs with a single down the first base line with the bases loaded, while Adrian Gonzalez followed with a two-run double to left center.

Three straight hits (a J.D. Drew single, a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single and a Josh Reddick double to left) to begin the inning produced the first Boston run of the inning. Bud Norris, who had been nasty all night, also called it a night.

Drew Sutton beat out an infield hit on a hard grounder to short that bounced off Barmes, scoring Salty. After pinch-hitter Darnell McDonald was hit with a pitch to load the bases, Houston manager Brad Mills made another pitching change to Wilton Lopez.

Marco Scutaro, who had led off the game with a homer, worked the count to 3-2 before striking out for the first out. Pedroia and Gonzalez then both came through in a big way.

Bottom 6th: Astros 5, Red Sox 1

Tim Wakefield was yanked with one out after allowing an RBI single to pitcher Bud Norris, who knocked in Clint Barmes, who led off the inning with a double to left field. Dan Wheeler came on to pitch and got the final two outs.

Top 6th: Astros 4, Red Sox 1

Rough night for Adrian Gonzalez - two strikeouts and a grounded-into-double-play. Now on a 1-for-14 spell. That's 10 Ks for Norris after striking out Youkilis to end the inning. Youkilis has the hat trick - three Ks.

Bottom 5th: Astros 4, Red Sox 1

Carlos Lee doubled to left scoring Angel Sanchez with the fourth run. Sanchez singled to right and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Wakefield. More woe was salvaged by Marco Scutaro's extended grab of Brett Wallace's liner which had eyes for center field.

Top 5th: Astros 3, Red Sox 1

Good example of where AL pitchers don't help themselves. The NL pitchers can lay down sac bunts to move runners over. Tim Wakefield fouled a bunt on strike two for a strikeout. Instead of two outs runner at second, it's two outs runner holds at first.

Bottom 4th: Astros 3, Red Sox 1

Wakefield strings together two consecutive 1-2-3 innings.

Top 4th: Astros 3, Red Sox 1

Norris has been very impressive since allowing Scutaro's leadoff homer. He's struck out the last four, and six and six out of the last seven batters.

Bottom 2nd: Astros 3, Red Sox 1

Clint Barmes doubled to deep left center to start the inning, but got himself hung up between second and third when Tim Wakefield, quick as a cat, fielded Carlos Corporan's tapper back to the mound and the rundown was executed nicely 1-5-4-2.

After Norris dropped a sacrifice bunt, Bourn singled to center. With Reddick playing center and with the twice the arm of Jacoby Ellsbury, Houston third base coach Dave Clark held Corporan up.

It didn't matter as Sanchez made a nice decision, bunting for a base hit, scoring the catcher with the go-ahead run.

Pence then pounced on a Wake wobblyball and hit a ground-rule double, scoring the third Astros run.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

Josh Reddick walked with two outs, but Drew Sutton, playing left field tonight, flew out to left.

Back to Pence, what would you give up to pry him from the Astros?

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 1, Astros 1

Just a thought: how good would Hunter Pence look in right field in Boston? Pretty good, intense, dirt-dog player. Pence's sacrifice fly scored Michael Bourn with the tying run. Bourn had singled and stole second base and advanced to third on Angel Sanchez's ground ball out to short. Sanchez is a former Red Sox, who went to Houston in the Kevin Cash trade.

It was a busy inning for Wakefield who also allowed back-to-back singles to Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson. With runners at the corners and two outs, first baseman Brett Wallace who grounded to second base where Dustin Pedroia threw to Scutaro covering second base for the force on Johnson.

Top 1st: Red Sox 1, Astros 0

Marco Scutaro, who inserted in the leadoff spot after Jacoby Ellsbury went down with the flu that's been making its way through the team, homered to lead off the game on a 2-2 rising fastball by Bud Norris.

It's 73 degrees in the climate controlled Minute Maid Park, while it's 91 outside. Temperatures are expected to get to 104 tomorrow. Great visiting with Astros president Tal Smith before the game. Smith is a Framingham native who has survived four ownership groups in Houston while remaining the most respected arbitration litigator in baseball.

A lot of scouts here. The Astros will be sellers at the trading deadline with a few players in play including lefy Wandy Rodriguez, righty Brett Myers and the possibility that with the right deal centerfielder and rightfielder Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence could be had. Pence is the unlikeliest and would require a major outlay of talent in return.

Pregame notes from Minute Maid Park

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff July 1, 2011 05:46 PM

Jacoby Ellsbury has been scratched from today's lineup with an undisclosed sickness. Josh Reddick goes to center and Drew Sutton will play left field.

Kevin Youkilis is back in the lineup after missing a game when he hit a foul ball of his left foot. X-rays were negative and Youkilis rebounded nicely.

Lots of Astros-Red Sox crossover.

Brad Mills spent the afternoon with buddy Terry Francona.

First base coach Ron Johnson has the pride of seeing son Chris in person tonight playing third base for the Astros.

Both Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford, Houston-area natives, did a ton of interviews with the local affiliates. Crawford is eligible to come off the DL Sunday, but won't.

Francona said he hopes to get Yamaico Navarro in a game or two. He may spell Marco Scutaro at shortstop or he may play one of the corner outfield spots.

Francona may go with the David Ortiz at first/Adrian Gonzalez right again as soon as tomorrow night's game. That's under consideration anyway.

Ortiz has been sworn to secrecy about who he'll chose in home run derby as the Derby captain for the AL. We can probably start with Jose Bautista and maybe got to Mark Teixeira.

New Sox lineup:

SS Marco Scutaro
2B Dustin Pedroia
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Kevin Youkilis
RF J.D. Drew
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
CF Josh Reddick
LF Drew Sutton
P Tim Wakefield.

Game 81: Red Sox at Astros

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 1, 2011 03:09 PM

The regular season reaches its midway point at Minute Maid Park. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (46-34)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Youkilis 3B
Drew RF
Saltalamacchia C
Reddick LF
Scutaro SS,
Wakefield RHP (4-3, 4.54)

ASTROS (29-53)
Bourn CF
Sanchez 2B
Pence RF
Lee LF
Johnson 3B
Wallace 1B
Barmes SS
Corporan C
Norris RHP (4-6, 3.36)

Game time: 8:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Notes:The Sox are 2-4 on a road trip that has three games left. ... The Sox are 4-2 against the Astros, 1-2 in Houston. The teams last met in 2008. ... Wakefield is seeking his 198th career win. He has faced Houston once in his career, that coming on July 7, 1993 in the Astrodome when he allowed 2 runs in 3.2 innings pitching for Pittsburgh. Among the batters Wakefield faced that day: Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Luis Gonzalez and Steve Finley. ... Since being added to the rotation on May 22, Wakefield is 4-3, 4.11 in seven starts. ... Only Carlos Lee (9 for 24) and Jason Michaels (1-3) have faced Wakefield before. ... Norris has a 3.55 ERA in his last 10 starts but only three victories. He is facing the Sox for the first time in his career. Only Gonzalez (0 for 3) has faced him before.

Stat of the Day: Drew hasn't had an extra-base hit since June 8 when he homered off Lance Pendleton of the Yankees in the ninth inning. He has gone 39 at-bats since. He has one extra-base hit in his last 80 at-bats and hasn't had a double since May 9.

Song of the Day: "Bright Side Of The Road" by Van Morrison.

Pitching matchups for the Astros series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 1, 2011 09:30 AM

Tonight: RHP Tim Wakefield (4-3, 4.54) vs. RHP Bud Norris (4-6, 3.36), 8:05 p.m., NESN

Saturday: LHP Andrew Miller (1-0, 3.09) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (3-9, 5.54), 7:05 p.m., NESN

Sunday: RHP Josh Beckett (6-3, 2.20) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (0-3, 4.75), 2:05 p.m., NESN

Red Sox release their 'It Gets Better' video

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 1, 2011 09:28 AM

The Red Sox today released a public service announcement in support of the It Gets Better Project, which helps prevent bullying of LGBT youth and teen suicide by providing support through encouraging video messages.

The 60-second video, produced by Red Sox Productions, features Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek and Terry Francona.

Also included are Eric Maitland, a Red Sox greeter and Wheelock College counselor; TJ Connelly, Fenway Park’s DJ and member of the Red Sox Fan Services & Entertainment department; Kristen Rosa, Smith College student and Red Sox fan; and Alison Tippett, a student at Lexington High School and daughter of Red Sox Director of Baseball Information Services Tom Tippett.

“Bullying is something that has touched many of our lives either personally or through someone we love,” said Red Sox senior vice president of public affairs/marketing Susan Goodenow. “We are proud of dedicated Red Sox fans like 12-year-old Sam Maden who took the courageous step recently to publicly stand up against bullying of LGBT youth, and we are honored to join Sam and others throughout Red Sox Nation in support of the It Gets Better Project.”

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff July 1, 2011 08:20 AM

Jon Lester and Jason Varitek led the Red Sox past the Phillies yesterday.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox are focusing on their need in right field.

The Red Sox are in Houston tonight and that's where former Red Sox coach Brad Mills is making his way as a manager. Michael Vega has that story.

The notebook has Mike Cameron being designated for assignment.

The minor league notebook focuses on Matty Johnson, a undersized independent league player who has impressed so far at Lowell. Nicole Auerbach has the story.

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