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About Alex Speier

Before he joined WEEI.com, Alex covered the Red Sox for several New England and national publications, including the New Hampshire Union Leader, Boston Metro, Boston Herald and Baseball America. Alex graduated from Harvard, where he served as the captain of the debate team, an experience that has been of surprisingly little use in press boxes across the country.

 
COLUMNS
Alex Speier
06/11/2009 - 5:41am
Suddenly, air seemed in short supply. The Red Sox had enjoyed a comfortable journey through the first six innings of their Wednesday night game against the Yankees. Tim Wakefield had been anything but overpowering. Even so, in his own words, he “was able to spread hits around” to limit the Yankees to just three runs in his six innings. With Chien-Ming Wang imploding in the early innings, the Sox enjoyed a comfortable 6-3 advantage.
Alex Speier
06/10/2009 - 7:38am
Though the offices of the Red Sox’ baseball operations department were entirely full as the clock ticked towards midnight, the mood was a boisterous one. It seemed that everywhere that the Sox turned, signs of promise abounded. On the field at Fenway Park, the Sox were busy handing the Yankees’ lunch to them. The 7-0 win saw the continued dominance of Josh Beckett along with the third home run of the year from a potentially resurgent David Ortiz.
Alex Speier
06/09/2009 - 8:55am
Tuesday and Wednesday are arguably the most significant days of the baseball calendar for the Red Sox, and it has nothing to do with the presence of the Yankees. Today is all about the Major League Baseball Rule 4 draft, when the Sox will begin selecting the next 50 players who they hope will help to improve the team’s long-term fortunes.
Alex Speier
06/08/2009 - 5:22am
Is David Ortiz really 33? The struggles of the Red Sox' designated hitter have been so pronounced that it has not been merely the slugger’s abilities that have been doubted, but instead his very identity. Even with his current six-game hitting streak, Ortiz is now hitting just .197 with two homers, a .288 OBP and .308 slugging percentage. His struggles have been so pronounced that questions about whether the accuracy of his listed age of 33 have become commonplace.
Alex Speier
06/07/2009 - 6:55am
This was not the same Jon Lester who threw a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals last May. This was someone better.  Lester’s fastball exploded into Jason Varitek’s mitt at 98 mph in the first inning on Saturday, a velocity reading that had never been seen on a pitch he’d thrown. For the rest of the night, his four-seam fastball hovered around 94-97 mph with tremendous precision. Yet that was just one of his weapons. Lester was painting with a dazzling array of pitches, and the results were stunning.
Alex Speier
06/06/2009 - 6:57am
Had the Red Sox known what kind of game Brad Penny would have pitched, Julio Lugo would not have been the starting shortstop on Friday. The Sox have been putting Nick Green in the lineup on nights when they feature starters who elicit grounders. Indeed, Green – whose range is currently considered superior to that of Lugo – will be the Sox’ starting shortstop on Saturday against the Rangers, when Jon Lester and his bat-shattering cutter are on the hill.
Alex Speier
06/05/2009 - 11:33am
The footsteps are growing louder. John Smoltz is getting closer to Fenway Park, and with each outing of his rehab assignment in the Red Sox' minor-league system, interest in the future Hall of Famer grows. That will remain the case with the 42-year-old's scheduled start on Friday in Pawtucket, when he will face Triple-A hitters for the first time in his comeback from surgery last June.
Alex Speier
06/05/2009 - 7:28am
At the end of last week, it had the makings of a flop. The Red Sox had lost four of their first six contests during their three-city, 10-game road-trip, in the process moving from a first-place tie to a 1.5 game deficit in the division.
Alex Speier
05/24/2009 - 12:05pm
Brad Penny knows what time of year it is. The Red Sox’ fifth starter has been traded twice before, and his name has been a regular part of the rumor-mill circuit for years. He is also aware that his current club – one that he is enjoying immensely, and that he believes has put his career back on track – is in a position where it can deal from a remarkable wealth of starting pitching.
Alex Speier
05/24/2009 - 2:44am
It was a ninth-inning that featured all manner of crazy. The Red Sox navigated a 2-1 lead into the final frame, a development that suggested near-certain victory. The team was 19-0 when leading after six innings this year, and 20-0 when leading after eight. Jonathan Papelbon owns 124 career saves, and was perfect in his 11 opportunities in 2009. The Sox closer had not allowed a run in nine appearances, dating to April 29.
Alex Speier
05/23/2009 - 3:50am
Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first two outings of the year were so poor that his catcher – a man who is described as having near-photographic recall of pitches – couldn’t even remember them. “Was there only one (start), or was there two? I can’t even remember,” said Jason Varitek.
Alex Speier
05/21/2009 - 2:53am
Nothing seemed particularly striking about the blast. Last Sept. 22, against Zach Jackson of the Indians, David Ortiz jumped on a fastball on the inner half of the plate, sending it into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center for a solo homer. It was his second round-tripper in as many games and his fifth in an eight-day stretch.
Alex Speier
05/20/2009 - 3:08am
In one respect, Tuesday’s game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays was treated merely as the backdrop against which David Ortiz returned to the lineup. The epic slump of Boston’s designated hitter, a man responsible for an incredible 231 homers in his first six years as a Red Sox, has now reached nearly a quarter season. He sat out all three weekend games in Seattle to clear his head, and his return to the No. 3 spot in the Sox lineup against the Blue Jays seemed like a major event.
Alex Speier
05/17/2009 - 2:41am
The stage was set for a familiar refrain. For the third time in a four-game span, the Red Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead against a West Coast opponent. That advantage, achieved with a pair of runs in the first and second, seemed slightly ominous given that the team had blown four-run leads on both Wednesday and Friday.
Alex Speier
05/16/2009 - 4:10am
There is a danger to allowing one-run games to play too substantial a role in coloring the judgment of a team. When the Red Sox were amidst an 11-game winning streak just a few weeks ago – a run that included improbable come-from-behind, one-run wins – the team’s lineup depth was heralded. Now, after back-to-back one-run losses on the West Coast swing, it would be natural to look at the team’s failure with runners on base and to conclude that the lineup is lacking.
Alex Speier
05/10/2009 - 4:05am
Evan Longoria is 23 years old, less than three years removed from college. He has played 152 games in the majors. And yet it is already clear that he is on a unique career trajectory. He spent all of six days in the majors before signing a deal that could keep him with the Tampa Bay Rays through 2016 for a total of $44.5 million. By that point, it was already apparent to the baseball world that, so long as he remains healthy, that deal would be a bargain.
Alex Speier
05/09/2009 - 4:11am
Copy, paste. For the second time in as many nights, the Red Sox entered the sixth inning having done next to nothing offensively. And then: boom. One night after the Sox scored 12 runs in the sixth inning before recording an out, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 13-2 lead, they rallied for five runs in as many batters on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays. In the process, Boston turned a 3-0 hole into a 5-3 advantage in an eventual 7-3 win.
Alex Speier
05/08/2009 - 3:41am
There was no warning. For five innings, the Red Sox lineup produced as one might have expected. The leadoff hitter (Jacoby Ellsbury) was out. So were the third (David Ortiz) and fourth (Kevin Youkilis) hitters. The Sox had touched Indians starter Jeremy Sowers for a run in the first inning, but could do nothing thereafter. Through five innings, Boston had one run on four hits, and when Tim Wakefield walked off the mound at the end of his sixth inning, he was trailing, 2-1, and staring at the likelihood of a hard-luck loss.
Alex Speier
05/06/2009 - 5:40am
The Red Sox have taken all five of their games against the Yankees this year, but it would be a mistake to assume that a sizable gap exists between the two clubs. The Yankees could have - and, in some cases, should have - won each of those five contests. On Tuesday, the Sox claimed a 7-3 win that, like their four prior triumphs against the Yankees, was about the details.
Alex Speier
05/05/2009 - 5:46am
NEW YORK—At Fenway Park on April 24, in the first game between the Red Sox and Yankees this year, the Sox took a 5-4, 11-inning victory that they had no business claiming. Down to their last out with a two-run deficit and Mariano Rivera on the mound, Jason Bay crushed a two-run homer that tied the game, and Kevin Youkilis eventually won the contest with a walkoff homer in extra innings.
Alex Speier
05/04/2009 - 10:07am
It is almost hard to believe that former Red Sox icon Johnny Damon is in the fourth and final year of his $52 million deal with the Yankees. His departure following the 2005 season (which served as a prelude, in many ways, to the Yankees' 11th hour swoop on Mark Teixeira this offseason) sent the Sox front office as well as New England into a state of shock.
Alex Speier
05/03/2009 - 5:29am
Run support is a strange thing. In the past, Tim Wakefield was often betrayed by his offense. Over the past four seasons, the Red Sox had averaged five runs for each of the knuckleballer’s starts – not bad, all things considered, but well below the norm for an offense that has been a juggernaut in recent years.
Alex Speier
05/01/2009 - 3:26am
For the second straight night, Jonathan Van Every was called upon to provide the Red Sox with late-inning heroics. But on Thursday, the task facing the outfielder was very different, and far less thrilling than the game-winning homer that he launched in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game against the Indians. Instead, Van Every was charged Thursday with the rather unsavory job of stopping the bleeding in the waning moments of his team’s 13-0 loss to the Rays.
Alex Speier
04/29/2009 - 4:13am
It was fun while it lasted for the Red Sox. The 11-game run came to a sudden and unexpected halt on Tuesday. Once the Sox put the wood to the Indians to jump out to a 5-1 lead in the second and a 7-3 lead entering the bottom of the third, a 12th straight ‘W’ seemed inevitable. The Sox, after all, had not lost any game all year in which they’d held the lead after three innings. Nor had Boston lost any game in which it had held a lead of four or more runs.
Alex Speier
04/27/2009 - 5:07am
Ultimately, it was a series of three games that embodied why meetings between the Red Sox and Yankees have long been considered must-see events. The weekend was rich with moments that had never been seen before and may never be seen again by most who bore witness to them. The signature moment of Sunday night’s 4-1 Red Sox victory over the Yankees at Fenway was a straight steal of home by Jacoby Ellsbury. A perfect storm of circumstances permitted the event:


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