BOSTON Bobby Jenks has struggled in his brief time with the Red Sox. Butafter his outing on Sunday against the Mariners, his second blown saveof the season, Jenks said he watched video and found hisflaws.
And manager Terry Francona says he won't be shy about using theright-hander.
No. We need him to pitch thosesituations, Francona said. For us to be the type of team we want tobe, he needs to pitch in those situations. Weve run into some problemsearlier in the season where we couldnt do that just because we lost alot games. But for us to get where we want we need him to get on aroll.
Josh Beckett won't be on a pitch limit Wednesday night against the Orioles, even though he's been given a few extra days' rest after throwing 217 pitches in his last two starts.
We always look at the pitchers' workload," said Francona, "and try not todo it just for one game but for down the road, too."
After his win over the Angels Monday night, Clay Buchholz acknowledgedthe decrease in his strikeout totals this season. So far in2011, he has a strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio of 4.5, which is well below his careeraverage of 6.8. Thenumber has fallen in each of major league seasons since2007, when he struck out 8.7 per nine innings.
If you pitch to contact, you get some ballshit at guys first or second pitch of the at-bat rather than having tothrow six pitches to get a strikeout, Buchholz said. Obviously whenyou get to two strikes you want to try to strike somebody out, to notlet them put the ball in play. But you cant strike anybody on thefirst or second pitch of an at-bat. Thats my thought process on it.Got to two strikes a couple of times and left some balls on the plateand they hit it in his Monday night start. So got to do a little better executingthat.
At the same time, though, his walk totalshave been increasing. This season he has a 4.8 walks-per-nineratio, above his career number of 3.9. His strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 0.94 is below his careernumber of 1.74.
His velocitys good. The ballscoming out of his hand good, Francona said. Walks, I think, are up,which we certainly dont want. I think were actually kind of happywhen he pitches to contact. I think as he gets into games and worksahead in the count youll see his strikeouts go up. But I think weactually like the contact. He got into some situations Monday night,fastball counts and threw fastballs and induced some outs. I think wereally like that.
Right-hander Dan Wheeler has a 9.90 ERA aftergiving up three runs on four hits in 1 13 inningsMonday.
He actuallys been better lately, Francosaid. Its a little bit like Scott Atchison the cutterguy. Its a great pitch until you leave it out over the middle. Then itgets whacked. And thats kind of what Wheels is. Its not overpowering.Its crisp and hes got that nice cutter and when you leave it out overthe middle its a pitch that can be hit.
Franconasaid he doesn't want to shy away from usingWheeler.
When guys start out slow . . . we dontwant to run from them, Francona said. Its a bad mistake. Youcertainly want to pick your spots with them a little bit until they geton a run, but the idea is to get them feeling comfortable as opposed tonot pitching them.
We love the fact that guys throwstrikes. When they pound the strike zone thats great. But you got tostay out of the middle,too.
Maureen Mullen ison Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen