Boston Red Sox

Lackey's beanball highlights tense game

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Lackey's beanball highlights tense game

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen

BOSTON John Lackey entered Tuesdays series opener with the Yankees at Fenway Park undefeated in his two starts, despite a 7.36 ERA, against New York this season. The third time was not a charm for the Red Sox right-hander. Lackey took the loss as the Sox fell to the Yankees, 5-2. The loss snapped Lackeys three-start winning streak.

Lackey went seven innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts. His record fell to 12-10, with a 5.94 ERA.

I felt pretty good, Lackey said. I kind of got a little unlucky on the first run. They put a little something together against me for the two runs, then solo homer. And the last one they kind of manufactured one on the sac bunt that turned into a hit.

The Yankees make you work for everything, said manager Terry Francona. If you leave the strike zone, they dont swing. I think he had four walks. I thought his stuff was really good. He started to gain life on his fastball, actually threw his fastball, got some misses with that. Just if you make a mistake, that lineup really makes you pay.

The solo homer Lackey gave up was to New Yorks No. 9 hitter, Francisco Cervelli, on a 3-1, 88-mph fastball leading off the fifth inning, putting the Yankees ahead by two runs. It was Cervellis second home run of the season, and third of his career. Cervellis clap as he crossed the plate did not go unnoticed by his opponents. So, when Cervelli became Lackeys major-league leading 17th hit batter of the season, in his next plate appearance, eyebrows were raised.

Thats a 3-1 pitch to the nine-hole hitter, said Lackey. I didnt want to walk him, and its probably the only time I gave in all night. It didnt work out . . . I was definitely not trying to hit him. I was trying to knock him down, for sure. You can go look to see where he stands in the box. You got to get him off the plate a little bit. I threw a 3-1 pitch that he hit out. I was definitely not trying to hit him, but I was definitely trying to move him back. You dont want to put a baserunner on in a two-run ballgame.

Still, Lackey thought Cervellis display could have been curtailed.

I thought it was a little excessive honestly, he said. But thats not a spot you handle something like that.

Nobody likes to get hit. But I was trying to move him off the plate. Ive been fined twice this year for hitting guys and Ive paid because they were right. But this one, Im not afraid to tell you if I was trying to hit somebody. I would have told him to his face.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had the closest view of Cervellis display.

That's the kind of guy he is, Saltalamacchia said. He's real emotional. When he gets on base, after every strikeout ends an inning, he'll pump his fist. That's the kind of player he is and I've got no problem with that whatsoever.

As far as I'm concerned, he's excited to win. He's excited for his guys to do well. But at the same time, you have to respect the pitcher on the mound. So certain things I think, you go too far.

The clap at home plate. He was excited. He hit a home run. Second of the year. Good for him.

I totally understand how it could look that way. Guy hit a home run. Next at-bat, first pitch you hit him. That was not our intention.

We had no intent on hitting him. It just happened that way. I understand how it can look bad.

It was suggested to Saltalamacchia that other players such as David Ortiz and Barry Bonds have admired their home runs at times. But perhaps by their stature they have earned the right to do so.

The games changing, Saltalamacchia said. A lot of Latin players, thats how they play. Its OK to an extent. But sometimes youve got to step back.

Saltalamacchia, who cited Elvis Andrus as an example of a flashy player, later offered a clarification of his comments.

I basically wanted to clarify and say I wasn't trying to say Latin' players or any of that stuff, Saltalamacchia said. I was just saying he was an emotional guy and a lot of the younger guys coming up were emotional players and they're young guys coming up, wanting to make a name, and stick around. The game's changed a little bit from when the older guys were coming up and veterans were a key in their development. So, basically, I was saying he's a real emotional guy and I have no issues with him, doing what he does, because that's the player he is.

Matt Albers also hit Jorge Posada with a pitch in the eighth inning.

In the ninth inning, Saltalamacchia was hit by a pitch from Mariano Rivera. It appeared Saltalamacchia swung at the pitch, but when he was awarded first base, Yankees manager Joe Girardi came out to argue the call. Girardi was almost immediately ejected by third base umpire Mark Wegner.

Whether any of that carries over to Wednesdays game remains to be seen.

Honestly, I think the hype that the media build up can spill over on to the field sometimes, honestly, Lackey said. The way things are covered sometimes can raise things that arent really there.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Rangers' Darvish has Red Sox on no-trade list

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Rangers' Darvish has Red Sox on no-trade list

Not that they need him -- they have other, far more pressing needs than starting pitching -- but the Red Sox couldn't get Yu Darvish, the subject of trade rumors with the deadline approaching, even if they wanted to.

Per Ken Rosenthal:

Interesting that last year's two World Series participants, the Cubs and Indians, are with the Red Sox on Darvish's no-trade list, which indicates he made these decisions based on factors other than chasing a ring.

The Sox' biggest worry, of course, is that the Rangers will trade Darvish to the Yankees, who are short of starting pitching. But the talk more and more is that Texas -- light years behind Houston in the A.L. West race but only 4 1/2 games back of Kansas City for the second wild-card spot -- will hold onto its ace right-hander at least until the end of the season.

Drellich: Strikeout records or rest for Chris Sale?

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Drellich: Strikeout records or rest for Chris Sale?

BOSTON -- Savor Sale. And maybe save him, too.

Down the stretch, the Red Sox could have some tough choices to make with Chris Sale, who’s on his way to having a great all-time season, particularly for a starting pitcher this century. 

Should the Red Sox let the lefty loose on Pedro Martinez’s club record of 313 strikeouts and 13.20 Ks per nine innings, both set in 1999? Or, if at all possible, should the Sox hold Sale back some nights, with an eye on preservation and the postseason?

If Sale keeps up his present pace, he’s taking down Pedro in total Ks.

After Tuesday’s 4-0 win over the Mariners, Sale is 21 starts into the year and has 211 strikeouts. He leads the majors in strikeouts per nine innings, at 12.80, and is averaging seven innings per start. A projected schedule for the rest of his season, one that’s just a guess and works in several turns on five days rest, has a dozen starts remaining for Sale. That would give him 33 on the season. 

If each one lasts seven innings, he’d finish with about 232 1/3 innings in the regular season and 330 strikeouts (based on his performance so far).

Those whiffs come at a cost, though. Sale is averaging a major league-high 110 pitches per game after 115 tosses Wednesday. Justin Verlander is the next closest, at 107 1/3 pitches per outing.

If the American League East stays tightly packed, there may be no way the Sox can reasonably afford Sale breaks. They’re already making an effort to get him five days rest rather than the normal four. 

But if there are nights when the Sox can comfortably keep Sale’s pitch count closer to 100, or pull him after six innings rather than seven, should they?

Most players and teams would say the postseason is what everyone plays for. Sale all year has avoided talking about the Ks.

“I have a job to do,” Sale told reporters in Seattle on Wednesday after fanning 11. “I’m not here for strikeouts. I’m here to get wins. That’s all that really matters at the end of the day, honestly.”

It’s not all that matters, though. People want to see history made. Red Sox fans might even tune in for it. (Secretly, Sale might even like the idea.)

Sale, the modern-day Randy Johnson, has not allowed a run in 20 2/3 scoreless innings since the All-Star Break, a span of three starts. He has a 1.04 ERA in July with 56 strikeouts. Every one of his road outings this year has included at least nine strikeouts, and 14 of his 21 starts overall have featured 10 or more.

Unsurprisingly, the only Sox pitcher with more double-digit strikeout games in a season is Martinez, who had 19 in 1999 and 15 the next year. The last time any pitcher had 14 double-digit K games was 2002, when Curt Schilling had 14 and the Big Unit had 15.

Records may fall, but there's a balancing act waiting to unfold.