Notes: Varitek looks like Sox' primary catcher


Notes: Varitek looks like Sox' primary catcher

By SeanMcAdam

BALTIMORE -- No official announcement has been forthcoming, and it's likely none is on its way. But it's hard not to come away with the feeling that, for the time being at least, Jason Varitek is the Red Sox primary starting catcher.

Varitek was behind the plate Tuesday night as the Sox opened a series here with the Orioles.

The last two times through the rotation, Varitek has caught each start by Jason Varitek, Dasuke Matsuzaka and Monday's starter, Clay Buccholz.

It seems that Terry Francona will stick with that rotation, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia pairing with Jon Lester and John Lackey.

"Back when the season started,'' said Francona, "you guys asked me, 'How much is Tek going to catch?' I said he would catch more than the average backup catcher and that some it would be based on production and how guys are doing. He's been catching so well. I just think it made some sense.

"We're playing pretty well with both of them (8-1 in the last 9 games heading into Monday). We had a hole to dig ourselves out of and I think sometimes we're just trying to play guys to help us win.''

Varitek has just three hits all season in 30 at-bats (.100), but the presence of lefty Zack Britton played a role in Francona's decision too, since he would prefer to have the switch-hitting Varitek hit righthanded when possible.

But offense aside, it's hard not to look at the two catchers' won-loss record. While the Sox are 3-9 with Saltalamacchia behind the plate, they are 8-3 with Varitek after Tuesday's loss.

"He's pretty good back there,'' said Francona. "And again, that's no knock in Salty. But that's Tek's strength and I think sometimes it's important to go ahead and play him.''

Francona indicated that Varitek would likely catch Wednesday night, too, when Beckett is scheduled to start.

A couple of streaks came to an abrupt end for the Red Sox pitching staff Tuesday night:

-- The team's 20-inning scoreless streak, dating back to the eighth inning of Friday's win in Anaheim, came to an end when the Orioles pushed a run across in the bottom of the second inning.

-- With that run, the Orioles also brought an end to a scoreless streak pieced together by Red Sox starters. That stretch stood at 23 straight scoreless innings -- one from Beckett, six from Lester, and eight each from Matsuzaka and Lackey -- before Buchholz pitched a scoreless first Tuesday, upping the total to 24.

-- Tuesday also marked the first time since April 15 that a Red Sox starter had allowed more than two earned runs in a start. Back on April 15, the starter was also Buchholz.

Carl Crawford, who had multihit efforts in each of his last two games, was held hitless, going 0-for-4 . . . Adrian Gonzalez stroked his seventh double of the season to open the eighth. He leads the Red Sox in that department . . . Jed Lowrie, who had been the Sox' hottest hitter, was 0-for-4, marking just the third time this season that he'd been in the starting lineup and failed to record a base hit . . . David Ortiz was 1-for-2 with a walk off Britton, making him 9-for-25 (.360) against lefthanded pitching this season.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Quotes, notes and stars: Price's struggles 'crushing me right now'


Quotes, notes and stars: Price's struggles 'crushing me right now'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

"I'm so much better than this. I've just got to get better. It's crushing me right now, but I'll get there." -- David Price

"I've just got to pitch better. That's what it is right now. It's not something else. It's not bad luck. It's me, so I've got to get better." -- Price

"We had the big opportunity with David [Ortiz] and Hanley [Ramirez] in the middle of the order and bases loaded, one out. Figure that's the time we can cash in. But that wasn't the case.'' -- John Farrell on a blown opportunity in the sixth inning

"It got a little worse; the best choice was to come out of the game.'' -- Hanley Ramirez, who left in the eighth with a strained back

-- Jackie Bradley Jr., thrown out trying to swipe third base in the fifth, was caught stealing for the first time in his career, having been successful in his first 20 atttempts.

-- David Ortiz has reached base safely in 20 straight games.

-- The shutout suffered by the Red Sox was the first since April 19 -- also against Tampa Bay.

-- The loss marked only the third time this season that the Red Sox didn't collect an extra-base hit.

-- Boston is 2-7 agains the Rays in the last nine meetings between the two.

-- The Sox are now 5-10 against lefty starters this season.

-- David Price dropped to 1-3, 6.52 in five career starts against the Rays.

-- Price has allowed 57 earned runs this season, or three fewer than all of last year.

-- Price has allowed at least one homer in nine straight starts, a career-high streak.

1) Brandon Guyer: Activated earlier Wednesday after a DL stint for a hamstring strain, Guyer made his presence felt with a solo homer to lead off the second, then added a run-scoring double as part of the three-run third.

2) Matt Moore: The lefty entered the game with a bloated 5.04 ERA, but tamed the Red Sox with seven shutout innings. He didn't allow a base hit until the sixth and yielded just three overall.

3) Logan Forsythe: Forsythe smoked a double off Price to lead off the Tampa Bay first inning, signaling that it might be a long afternoon for the Red Sox lefty. He later singled and scored in the third.