10/12/2008 - 10:18am
Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay have batted in the same inning six times this series. The Red Sox have scored in all six innings, amassing nine runs in that time. In the other 14 innings of the series, they have scored just once.
Particularly since David Ortiz is 0-for-6 with four walks and no runs batted in this series, the significance of that pattern is fairly plain. The team right now depends almost entirely on Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay to start and sustain rallies.
10/11/2008 - 10:18am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— While much has been made of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s almost unprecedented 2008 season, it has been easy to ignore what might have been the most critical part. A trip to the disabled list may have been the pivotal event in allowing the Red Sox starter to claim victory in last night’s opener of the American League Championship Series.
10/10/2008 - 10:18am
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The similarities between the Rays and Red Sox squads that will face off in the American League Championship Series are far-reaching. Both teams feature deep pitching staffs and lineups that emphasize grinding at-bats.
Yet one of the most important shared traits is among the least discussed and, in some ways, most unlikely. In recent years, both Tampa Bay and Boston were accused of far-reaching defensive shortcomings. Now, the two have emerged among the best fielding teams in baseball.
10/09/2008 - 10:18am
The transition has been nearly seamless. Justin Masterson, after flying through the Red Sox system in less than two years as a starter, has made the move to the bullpen seem effortless.
The right-hander needed just two weeks of fine-tuning in the minors to prepare for a move to the bullpen in July. It took exactly one outing after Masterson was called back up to the majors to demonstrate the success of the experiment.
10/07/2008 - 10:18am
In some ways, it was less important that Jed Lowrie delivered a walk-off hit than that he had the opportunity to do so.
Last night, Lowrie secured a place in Red Sox history. The rookie shortstop’s game-winning, two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 3-2 win over the Angels punched his team’s ticket to the American League Championship Series.
10/06/2008 - 10:18am
There was a time when baseball lifers would have scoffed at the notion that the Red Sox would view Jon Lester as the best option to win Game 4 of the Division Series against the Angels on Monday night. A left-handed pitcher, some theorized, could never succeed with a left-field wall beckoning right-handers from just 310 feet away.
10/04/2008 - 10:18am
The Red Sox closer fired a 95 m.p.h. fastball up in the zone, and Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick could not hold back on a checked swing. The game-ending strikeout registered as the sixth-straight out recorded by Jonathan Papelbon.
The adrenaline-charged pitcher punctuated his team’s 7-5 win by shouting and beating his chest. The demonstration served as the pronouncement of the alpha closer.
10/03/2008 - 10:18am
The July 31 trade deadline was fraught with vulnerability. The Red Sox badly wanted to part ways with Manny Ramirez and knew that their options to replace him while maintaining a playoff-caliber club were limited.
The Sox faced a Bay-or-bust proposition. Two-time All-Star Jason Bay of Pittsburgh loomed as the lone outfielder on the trade market whose production could sustain Boston’s title aspirations.
10/02/2008 - 10:18am
ANAHEIM—For years, the Angels and Red Sox have been presented as a study in contrasts. The teams seemed to represent stark philosophical differences in the Division Series in 2004 and again in 2007.
In both seasons, the prevailing assumption was that Boston would try to bash its way into the Championship Series, and the Angels would rely on fundamentals and traditional offense (bunts, hit and runs, etc.) to advance.
09/30/2008 - 10:18am
At the time, it seemed a large but reasonable price to pay for someone who arguably deserved the title of Best Pitcher on the Planet. When a pitcher of Johan Santana’s elite pedigree becomes available, a team could not help but be tempted to offer the farm in order to acquire him.
The proposals between the Twins and Red Sox took many shapes. Several times, Jon Lester heard his name mentioned as the headline of a package that would also feature Coco Crisp, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie.
09/29/2008 - 10:18am
One year ago, Jon Lester was merely hoping to be a part of the postseason roster. At the conclusion of the season, he had no idea whether he would enjoy that honor.
That being the case, the news he received just prior to the start of the 2007 Division Series between the Red Sox and Angels represented a bit of a mixed bag. He would be on the team, but his role was that of the long reliever. In many ways, Lester’s postseason role was that of pitcher of last resort.
09/27/2008 - 10:18am
The batting title has lost some cachet in recent years. On-base percentage is now understood as a far more significant offensive factor. On-base-plus-slugging percentage has become a window into the diversity of a hitter’s skills.
Still, no one remembers the league leader in on-base percentage. Few, if any, Red Sox fans approached on the street will recall that David Ortiz led the American League with a .445 OBP in 2007, or that Manny Ramirez paced the junior circuit with a .439 mark in 2006.
09/25/2008 - 10:18am
The emergence of Jon Lester as an elite starter has caught nearly everyone off guard. Few expected that the 24-year-old, less than two years removed from chemotherapy, could possibly look so strong despite a workload that has shattered all previous career highs.
Yet the Red Sox are not entirely surprised at the development. And for that, the team can thank Indians minor-league coach Scott Radinsky.
09/24/2008 - 10:18am
What can a walk say about a lineup as it readies for the postseason? Everything.
The Red Sox punched their ticket to the postseason with a 5-4 win over the Indians and ace Cliff Lee last night. Though Cleveland’s likely Cy Young winner tossed zeroes on the scoreboard in five of his seven innings, the two innings in which he was touched for runs spoke volumes about Boston’s key hitter in October.
09/20/2008 - 10:18am
Jonathan Papelbon’s success has been so constant that any poor outing leads to the creation of a government commission to determine the cause. Such seemed the case last week, when the Red Sox closer had an unusual stumble.
In a three-appearance span from September 9-14, Papelbon blew one save and nearly hacked up another, permitting two earned runs in a three-game span after doing so in just eight of his first 191 relief appearances. The natural instinct was to wonder whether the pitcher’s workload had caught up with him.
09/12/2008 - 10:18am
Baseball has had its share of improbable team success stories in recent years, but little can rival what is occurring this season in Tampa Bay.
The Rays entered the season with a payroll of just under $44 million. That number represented pocket change in a division that would be described fairly, in the terminology of soccer’s World Cup, as the “Group of Death.”
09/10/2008 - 10:18am
News of the blockbuster quickly swept across baseball just after 2 p.m. on July 31. After discussions with several teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates had unloaded Jason Bay. The talented left fielder would be a crucial part of the pennant drive by the upstart Tampa Bay Rays.
09/09/2008 - 10:18am
In spring training, the goals were modest. If Jon Lester could manage, say, 170 or 180 innings, the Red Sox would have every reason to consider his first full season in the rotation a success.
Now, with three weeks left in the season, Lester has already cleared that bar, and may exceed such standards as a pole vaulter in a high jump contest. Despite crashing through his career innings high, he remains armed with a pitching arsenal that is as good as it has been at any time this season.
09/08/2008 - 10:18am
With first place in the American League East at stake in the series that starts today between the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, there is no question that Fenway Park will be a packed house. Of course, the same has been true in past years when games with Tampa were all but irrelevant in the standing.
For the better part of six seasons, the Red Sox have played their home games in front of sold-out crowds. The streak reaches record proportions today, when Fenway Park will be sold out for the 456th straight game.
09/06/2008 - 10:18am
Jason Varitek has offered the same unwavering message since he reached the big leagues with the Red Sox in 1997. By his own account, offensive numbers have always been secondary to his work with the pitching staff.
Yet in 2008, the Sox captain’s observation seemed hollow at times. Mired in the worst rut of his baseball life, a player who distinguished himself as one of the best all-around catchers of the past decade faced giant questions about his future as a productive regular.
09/04/2008 - 10:18am
During John Farrell’s playing career, there was every reason to believe that he would emerge as
a rotation workhorse. Blessed with a sturdy frame, the current pitching coach of the Red Sox
averaged 211 professional innings from 1987-89.
09/04/2008 - 10:18am
A year ago, Jacoby Ellsbury’s raw defensive skills were obvious. Yet they just as obviously required refinement.
The outfielder’s blazing speed permitted him to get to balls that might elude others, but the Red Sox still felt that he was learning how to react to the strength of major-league hitters. His routes to the ball were, at times, indirect, and the Sox viewed him as a player who would benefit from further familiarity with the league.
09/03/2008 - 10:18am
For months, the Red Sox lineup had a giant dead spot. The bottom third of the batting order seemed like the place where rallies withered.
Through much of the first four months of this season, the heavy lifting was left to the top of the batting order. Thanks to the lengthy struggles of catcher Jason Varitek, centerfielder Coco Crisp and shortstop Julio Lugo, a group that was joined in the summer by outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston’s offense seemed to sag with a lengthy list of non-contributors.
09/03/2008 - 10:18am
Jon Lester’s performance was unremarkable. Jon Lester’s power was unbelievable.
There is no question that 2008 has been a revelation for the 24-year-old. Though he struggled with his command yesterday, Lester allowed one run in five innings in yesterday’s 14-2 win over the Orioles. He now owns a 13-5 record and 3.37 ERA. He has been among the top handful of starters in the American League this year.
09/02/2008 - 10:18am
The fear is now a thing of the past. Red Sox ace Josh Beckett unleashed a 58-pitch bullpen session and declared himself “clear of mind” as he prepared for his start against the Rangers in Texas on Friday.