Sox notes: Dice-K on a roll since changing routine

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Sox notes: Dice-K on a roll since changing routine

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Make of this what you will, but ever since the Red Sox spoke to Daisuke Matsuzaka about changing his between-start throwing routine, Matsuzaka has been quite efficient.

In three outings since, Matsuszka has thrown 16 23 innings and given up just three earned runs. Saturday night, in the second-to-last game the Sox will play at City of Palms Park, he limited the Minnesota Twins to a single run over six innings.

"His stuff was crisp,'' said Terry Francona. "His fastball had some real good finish to it.''

Matsuzaka walked just one and generally stayed ahead of hitters and has been more aggressive this spring.

"Curt (Young) has been pouding that -- throw strikes and work ahead,'' said Francona.

"It's good to show good results,'' said Matsuzaka, "to make Tito and Curt more comfortable.''

In perhaps their most soul-crushing loss since Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, the Red Sox surrendered six runs in the ninth inning last night, turning a certain Mayor's Cup clinching win into a cruel defeat, 9-8 to their cross-town rivals, the Minnesota Twins.

The Sox had won the last four Mayor's Cup titles, awarded annually for spring supremacy in Fort Myers.

The Sox have won every Mayor's Cup since 2004.

"I'm waiting for my phone call from President Obama,'' joked Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

The Sox had an 8-1 lead after seven, built on a bases-loaded triple from Darnell McDonald and a homer -- his first of the spring -- from Adrian Gonzalez. Dustin Pedroia also had a run-scoring double and Kevin Youkilis contribute a sacrifice fly.

But the Twins chipped away with two runs in the eighth and six off Bobby Jenks in the ninth. Jenks wasn't helped by some sloppy plays behind him, but added to the problem with a walk.

"Maybe the pressure of the Mayor's Cup got to him,'' said Francona jokingly. "I think tonight was just a bad night.''

By losing Saturday night, the Red Sox now have a nine-game losing streak, their longest spring streak ever.

The Sox have 32 players in camp, though that number is somewhat deceiving.

That total includes Junichi Tazawa, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and was Saturday placed on the 60-day disabled list.

It also includes Drew Sutton and Nate Spears, who have been told they will not make the roster, but will be brought to Houston to give the Red Sox extra bodies for the final exhibition game.

Also on that list: catcher Paul Hoover, who won't make the team. The Sox have been impressed with Hoover's baseball intelligence and are believed to have spoken to him about a job as an instructor.

While the Sox travel to Sarasota to face Baltimore Sunday in their next-to-last Florida road game, Jon Lester will stay back and pitch in a camp game at the team's Player Development Complex.

That outing will represent Lester's final tuneup before his first Opening Day assignment.

Brandon Duckworth and Matt Albers are among the pitchers set to throw in Sarasota.

Outfielder Josh Reddick, who had been battling some soreness in his right side, got into last night's game and was optioned to Pawtucket after the game.

Reddick hadn't played since last weekend.

"Regardless of whether it's a guy making 100 million,'' said Francona, "or some kid who might be going to Triple-A, we have an obligation to do him right. We want to get him in a game and just make sure (he's okay before optioning him out)."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

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Quotes, notes and stars: Wright "today was tough"

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 10-3 loss to the Rangers:

 

QUOTES

* “On a night when he didn’t have the consistency to the knuckleball that we’ve seen from many of his starts, he went to his fastball a little bit more. [Against] a good fastball hitting team . . . He’s typically made good adjustments staying over the rubber to get his release point out front -- that wasn’t the case [tonight].” John Farrell said about Steven Wright struggling with his knuckleball in his 4.2 inning outing.

* “The ball was spinning a lot out of my hand. It was a little bit hard to grip the ball because the humidity. But it was the opposite -- it was real sticky. That’s the first time I’ve had that ever. But I still felt like I should have figured that out. It was one of those things where I think I started trying to hard . . . I was trying to the throw the kitchen sink at them but it wasn’t working.” Steven Wright said about struggling to find his knuckleball in the 10-3 loss.

* “It’s hard for me because you want to go out there and try and go as deep as you can to try to help the bullpen, but, you know, today was tough, a tough day for me.” Wright said on his disappointment with only going 4.2 innings.

 

 

NOTES

 

* Hanley Ramirez laced his fourth homerun in his last 11 games. In his nine career games at Texas, Ramirez has six homeruns.

* David Ortiz went hitless for the first time since June 12th. Boston’s designated hitter also hasn’t hit a home run since June 17th -- his third longest homerless spell of 2016.

* Xander Bogaerts scored his 57th run of the season, putting him one run behind Ian Kinsler -- the fourth highest total in the majors.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Adrian Beltre

The ex-Red Sox third baseman finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk -- scoring the team high three runs.

 

2) Ian Desmond

Desmond laced his 13th homer of the season in his second at-bat of the game, sparking Texas’ offense with its first run of the game.

 

3) Elvis Andrus

Andrus ended Steven Wright’s day quickly with a three-run triple in the fifth inning, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

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First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 loss to Texas

First impressions of the Red Sox 10-3 loss to Texas:

 

Steven Wright can’t be stellar every night.

Although it’s seemed like it lately, it’s just not possible -- especially with a knuckleball.

He wasn’t even that bad Saturday night. He just didn’t get any help from his defense in the fifth frame.

But there’s no denying he didn’t have his best stuff. But whatever the reason, he couldn’t find consistent command or movement from his knuckler and he gave up some hard hits as a result.

Did he receive a fate worse than he pitched? Yes. But what Boston saw from Wright in his Saturday start is there will be times his go-to pitch is off -- and there’s really no way to work around that.

 

Hanley Ramirez’s “timing issue” seems to be coming around.

Although he hasn’t necessarily caught fire, Ramirez hit another home run -- once again to right field.

He’s shown more patience at the plate, and not trying to pull every ball out of the yard.

Ramirez doesn’t have everything completely figured out, but his homeruns have been plenty valuable at this point.

 

Ian Desmond is no joke.

The newly converted centerfielder is 5-for-10 against Boston pitching this series with a run and two RBI.

The ex-Nationals shortstop has good pop and good speed still. He seems to be a lot more comfortable in his new home after hitting .233 for Washington last year with 19 homeruns -- hitting his 13th Saturday night.

 

For all the criticisms Boston’s bullpen has received, the Rangers’ is definitely worse.

Although there wasn’t the same miraculous comeback witnessed Friday night -- and Boston’s pen wasn’t particularly stellar in the loss -- the Ranger relievers did not look good in the second game of the series.

They put themselves into deep counts right away -- and was lucky Boston’s offense was off.

Boston’s bullpen has its faults -- no question -- but it’s not nearly as bad as the one in Texas.

 

The Red Sox unfortunately have to rely on Clay Buchholz Sunday.

The bullpen is beaten down once again. The righty is still fighting for his job, so this would be the best time for him to pitch competitively into the sixth inning -- and maybe even longer.

Saturday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Wright tries to stay on roll

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Saturday's Red Sox-Rangers lineups: Wright tries to stay on roll

Knuckleballer Steven Wright will try to stay on a roll, as will the Red Sox, as they continue their three-game series tonight (9:20) against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

Wright (8-4, American League-leading 2.01 ERA) faces Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.94), in his first start since coming off the 15-day disabled list.

The Red Sox rallied to win the series opener 8-7 with a four-run ninth inning.

The lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Bryce Brentz LF
Christian Vazquez C
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Steven Wright RHP

RANGERS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ian Desmond CF
Nomar Mazara LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Prince Fielder DH
Roughned Odor 2B
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Robinson Chirinos C
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A.J. Griffin RHP