Boston Red Sox: Baltimore Orioles

Rapid Reaction: Orioles 4, Red Sox 3

September, 29, 2012
BALTIMORE -- It's official: The Red Sox will have much to do with deciding the winner of the American League East.

Their 4-3 loss to the Orioles on Saturday night left Baltimore tied with the New York Yankees for the division lead. The Sox have four games left: one against the Orioles on Sunday, three against the Yankees in the Bronx over the following three days while the Orioles will be in St. Petersburg for three games against the Tampa Bay Rays, who are still clinging to faint hopes of sneaking in as a wild card.

The Sox will be sending right-hander Zach Stewart, who was lit up for nine runs in three innings against the Angels in his only other start for the Sox this season, against the Orioles on Sunday. They have their two best pitchers going Monday and Tuesday against the Yankees: Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, in that order.

Imagine: The AL pennant could be decided Wednesday in what is likely to be the last start of Daisuke Matsuzaka's Red Sox career.

Sox rookie left-hander Felix Doubront pitched very well Saturday, striking out 10 and walking just one in seven innings. But he gave up a two-run home run to Chris Davis in the fourth, Davis' 30th of the season, and a solo home run to Orioles teenager Manny Machado that broke a 3-all tie in the seventh.

The Sox have now lost 89 games, assuring them of their worst record since 1992, when they went 73-89. They must win out to avoid matching or exceeding the 72-90 record of the 1966 Sox, the worst record for a Boston team in 46 years.

The Orioles, meanwhile, added to their extraordinary record in one-run games. They are now 28-9 in one-run games, 72-0 in games in which they lead after seven innings.

Orioles make short work of Sox

September, 28, 2012

BALTIMORE -- One year to the day the Red Sox were eliminated from the 2011 postseason, losing to the Baltimore Orioles while the Tampa Bay Rays were pulling off miracles, revenge was not on the menu at Camden Yards. Boog's Barbeque was doing its usual brisk business, though.

The Red Sox will have two more shots this weekend at the Orioles, who are trying to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons. Friday night was not the time for any score-settling, as the Orioles scored six times in the first inning, on a two-run home run by Chris Davis and a grand slam by Ryan Flaherty, to make fast work of Aaron Cook and the Red Sox 9-1.

The Sox were held to one hit, a bunt single by leadoff man Scott Podsednik to open the game, in falling to the Orioles for the 11th time in 16 meetings.

Podsednik bunted past the mound for his hit, took second when second baseman Flaherty threw wildly, advanced to third on a sacrifice by Pedro Ciriaco and scored on Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly. That was all the Red Sox would manage against Orioles starter Chris Tillman and reliever Troy Patton.

With five games to play, the Sox are now 69-88, a loss away from matching the '92 Sox for the worst record since 1966, when the Sons of Billy Herman went 72-90.

The Sox are 7-17 in September, with a chance to eclipse the 7-20 mark that got Terry Francona fired a year ago.

The revenge motive didn't exactly burn fiercely in the Sox clubhouse. Only Ryan Lavarnway and Pedroia were in the starting lineup in Game 162 last season, when the Sox lost the only game all season in which they led after eight innings, the dearly departed Carl Crawford unable to make a sliding catch of Robert Andino's sinking liner off Jonathan Papelbon.

Action, reaction: O's streak, Sox skid

September, 22, 2012

BOSTON -- The Baltimore Orioles won their sixth consecutive game with a 9-6 victory in 12 innings over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday at Fenway Park. With the loss, the Red Sox increase their losing skid to four games.

The Orioles have now won 16 consecutive extra-inning games this season, while the Red Sox drop their record to 0-7 in extra-inning games at home this season.

With the game tied at 6-6, Red Sox reliever Alfredo Aceves came in to start the top of the 12th inning. The Orioles' Adam Jones led off with a double and later scored on Jim Thome's ground-rule, RBI double for a 7-6 lead, which proved to be the game-winning run. Baltimore then added an RBI single by Endy Chavez to gain a two-run lead. The Orioles continued to pile it on in the 12th as Manny Machado's RBI single produced the final margin.

"It's kind of like a box of chocolates right now, you never know what you're going to get," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of Aceves. "He's got 94, he's got a breaking ball, he's throwing a cutter; he's just getting hit."

Boston could not respond in the bottom of the inning and suffered the loss. Orioles closer Jim Johnson collected his 47th save.

Red Sox starter Aaron Cook worked 5 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on nine hits with two walks and one strikeout. He tossed a total of 77 pitches (48 for strikes).

Baltimore gained a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning before the Red Sox responded in the home half when Ryan Lavarnway provided an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.

In the top of the second, Machado collected an RBI single to give Baltimore a 2-1 advantage. Mark Reynolds led off the top of the fourth inning with a solo home run as Baltimore went up 3-1.

The Red Sox knotted the game at 3-3 when Danny Valencia crushed a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning.

In fact, Valencia is the 22nd player to homer for the Red Sox this season, tied for third-most in franchise history. Only the 2009 (24) and the 1996 (23) teams had more. Also, Valencia becomes only the fourth player to hit a home run for and against the Red Sox in the same season, joining Kevin Youkilis (2012), Mark Kotsay (2009) and Victor Martinez (2009).

Ryan Flaherty gave Baltimore a 5-3 lead with a two-run triple to deep center field in the top of the sixth inning. Teammate Adam Jones hit a solo homer to lead off the top of the seventh inning to give Baltimore a 6-3 lead.

Boston cut its deficit when it pushed across a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh. After Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow retired the side in order in the top of the eighth, Boston tied the game at 6-6 in the bottom half on Scott Posednik's RBI double.

The game remained in a stalemate until Baltimore scored three runs in the top of the 12th en route to its 16th extra-inning victory of the year.

WEB GEM: Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia turned in the defensive play of the game for Boston in the top of the third inning with Baltimore holding a 2-1 lead. With one out and a runner on first, Boston had the shift on when the Orioles' Jim Thome hit a weak ground ball to the right side of the infield. Shortstop Mike Aviles almost interfered with Pedroia, but the second baseman fielded the ball, ran about 15 feet to record the out at second, spun and made a strong throw to first to complete the unassisted double play.

"That was a spectacular play," Valentine said. "That's just a baseball player making a great baseball play. We had the shift on, slow hit ball that he had to get on a short hop, couldn't feed it to the shortstop coming back so he took it himself and turned it."

UP NEXT: The Red Sox send left-hander Felix Doubront (11-9, 5.08 ERA) to the mound on Sunday to face Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman (8-2, 3.22). For Doubront, this will be his 28th start of the season and has already worked a career-high 147 innings in 2012. This will be his first career start against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

O's beat Lester for 1st time, 1 back in East

September, 21, 2012

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox began their final homestand of the 2012 season with 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night at Fenway Park.

Since both the Orioles and New York Yankees won, Baltimore remains one game back in the AL East.

Red Sox starter Jon Lester entered his 30th start of this season with a remarkable 14-0 career record against the Orioles in 20 starts. The left-hander suffered his first loss against Baltimore. Lester worked seven innings and allowed four runs on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He tossed 112 pitches (70 for strikes).

"It was bound to happen sometime," Lester said of his first loss to the Orioles. "They're playing good this year. They've always had a good offense and now they're putting everything else together. It was bound to happen."

With only 10 games remaining in the regular season, Lester will make at least one more start. He's currently at 194 1/3 innings this season and he prides himself on reaching the 200-inning plateau, which is something he's accomplished three times since becoming a full-time starter in 2008.

Even though he has a 9-13 record, Lester believes he still has time to work on things before the season ends.

"Pitch," Lester said. "Pitch. Every time I go out there I learn something about myself, about the other team and the adjustments we had to make after the All-Star break, just continue to work on those. I'll try to pitch as many innings as I can."

Boston, coming off a 4-3 road trip, has two more games against the Orioles here before hosting the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and Wednesday. That will end the home portion of the Sox's schedule. The club finishes the regular season on the road at Baltimore, then at the Yankees.

On Friday, Red Sox third baseman Pedro Ciriaco gave Boston a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning with an RBI double. Lester cruised through the first three innings, but the Orioles pushed across a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to gain a 2-1 advantage.

The Sox's Dustin Pedroia snapped a 0-for-18 skid with a RBI-single in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie the game at 2-2. In the sixth, Baltimore regained the lead with another two runs off Lester for a 4-2 advantage.

Baltimore closer Jim Johnson collected his 46th save in the ninth inning to set a new single-season record for the Orioles.

SCARY MOMENT: With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon drilled the Orioles' Robert Andino in the back of the helmet with a fastball. Andino was not happy about it and had words with Melancon has he walked towards first base. Red Sox rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway made sure to stay in between Andino and Melancon. After a team trainer and manager Buck Showalter tended to Andino, it was decided to remove him from the game. Again, he was not happy and had words again for Melancon has he walked by the mound. Both teams were issued warnings.

WEB GEM: Red Sox rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias turned in the defensive play of the game for Boston. In the top of the fourth inning, the Orioles pushed across two runs to take a 2-1 lead and still had runners on first and second with one out. Baltimore's Manny Machado hit a chopper back to the mound as Lester snared it, but he made a bad feed to second base. Iglesias recorded the out, jumped out of the way with a perfect tuck and roll on the incoming runner and made the throw to first to complete the 1-6-3 double play.

UP NEXT: Right-hander Aaron Cook (4-10, 4.93 ERA) will start for the Red Sox on Saturday. Baltimore will send left-hander Randy Wolf (2-0, 5.23) to the mound.

Pedroia plays, Ellsbury sits against Orioles

September, 21, 2012
BOSTON -- The Red Sox are 6-13 against the Orioles going back to September 2011, when they dropped two of three in Fenway and then lost two of three in Camden Yards in the last series of the season, the one that eliminated the Sox from postseason play.

The Orioles are the ones competing for a postseason spot now, entering play Friday night just a game behind the Yankees in the AL East and with the Athletics 4 games ahead of the Angels for one of two wild-card spots. With 13 games left to play, it would take a collapse comparable to the one the Sox experienced last season for Baltimore to miss the playoffs.

The Sox held a three-game lead over Tampa Bay last season with 13 games to play, and went 4-9 the rest of the way, which allowed the Rays to sneak in even though they went a rather modest 8-5 over their last 13 games.

The Sox put a crimp on Tampa Bay's hopes of returning to the postseason this year by winning the first two games of their four-game set, the Rays 5 games back with a dozen to go. Now they have a shot at doing the same to the Orioles, though manager Bobby Valentine downplayed that as an incentive this weekend.

"I don't get a lot of glee out of other people's misery," Valentine said, "but I want our team to play as well as they can in front of our fans because this is our last homestand. You know they've given everything they've got every time they've gone out on the field, guys with a lot of pride. We'll try to do our best."

Dustin Pedroia, for one, declined Valentine's offer to take a day off. The Orioles, he told ESPNBoston's Joe McDonald, are "fighting for first place and you need to respect the game."

Jacoby Ellsbury, though, will not be in the lineup with a physical "situation" Valentine declined to disclose, other than to say Ellsbury shouldn't have played Thursday night. It's not believed serious.

"We're making sure it's nothing more than a little situation," Valentine said.

Ellsbury had a 38-game hitting streak against the Orioles that ended Aug. 16, the last time the teams played. That was the longest streak any player has ever had against the Orioles, and is second only to Vlad Guerrero's 44-game hitting streak against Texas as longest streak against one team.

The Orioles have won four of six games on their current trip, including back-to-back extra-inning wins in Seattle. They have yet to beat Jon Lester, who will be looking to extend his 14-0 record against them Friday night, although the Orioles have won each of the last three games started by Lester against them.

A few tidbits:

" The Sox recalled pitchers Zach Stewart and Pedro Beato and third baseman Danny Valencia from Pawtucket, while manager Arnie Beyeler and pitching coach Rich Sauveur of the International League champs have joined Valentine's staff.

"It gets a little crowded in that coaches' room, and I even offered my office if anybody wanted to dress there, but you know what the coaches think of me," Valentine said, with apparent sarcasm.

" Stewart will make a start in place of Daisuke Matsuzaka next week, Valentine said, though the manager added that Matsuzaka will make one final start.

" Valentine, who has been giving extended playing time to Pedro Ciriaco and Jose Iglesias on the left side of the infield, said he's not sure how much Mike Aviles will play the rest of the way. He would have started Aviles at second, Valentine said, if Pedroia had accepted a day off. Aviles has started 12 of 18 games this month.

Friday night's lineup:

Pedro Ciriaco, 3b
Scott Podsednik, cf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
Cody Ross, rf
Ryan Lavarnway, c
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
James Loney, 1b
Daniel Nava, lf
Jose Iglesias, ss
Jon Lester, LHP

Rapid reaction: O's 9, Sox 6 in 17 innings

May, 6, 2012

BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Baltimore Orioles outlasted the Boston Red Sox 9-6 in 17 innings:

OK, he left this one several hours before it ended, but let us start with Clay Buchholz. The rest of it was a maelstrom of errors (five of them), double plays (eight), baserunning miscues and position players trying to pitch (Orioles designated hitter Chris Davis threw two scoreless innings to get the win while Darnell McDonald gave up the go-ahead runs in the 17th for Boston). In other words, it was a mess, as was the Red Sox homestand.

But first, Buchholz. Initially he was just shaking off the rust from his injury-shortened 2011 season. Then, according to his manager, Buchholz had a blister issue. There were positives in each of his starts, they all said, regardless of the numbers. Give him time. He'll work it out.

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesClay Buchholz is serving up an alarming number of long balls.
Perhaps that is the case and Buchholz still has it in him to be an effective pitcher once again. But the Red Sox cannot endure much more of this before getting to the root of Buchholz's issues. That may require time on the disabled list, whether he is hurt or not, or a move to the bullpen. Almost any alternative will do, for Buchholz is up in John Lackey territory. Actually, it's worse -- Lackey's ERA after six starts last year was "only" 7.16. Buchholz's has climbed to 9.05 after he was lit up for five runs in just 3 2/3 innings of Sunday's loss.

The right-hander has surrendered 47 hits (10 of them homers) in only 32 2/3 innings. He has struck out just one more batter (20) than he has walked (19).

Despite all of that, Buchholz was already off the hook by the bottom of the fifth inning, when rookie Will Middlebrooks tied the game with a grand slam. Amazingly, Buchholz has just one loss in six subpar starts.

In keeping with the one-in-six theme, Boston won one of six games on this homestand. They are 1-10 in their Past 11 games at Fenway Park. Hard to believe. Then again, when your starting pitching stinks ...

Back to the bullpen: It was imperative that Buchholz have a lengthy outing Sunday. Between the 13-inning affair on Friday and the abbreviated start by Aaron Cook on Saturday, Red Sox relievers had already thrown 13 1/3 innings in the first two games of the series. That was bumped up to 26 2/3 innings when Buchholz left early and the matinee affair played into the evening.

Seemingly, the highlight of every Red Sox game lately has been the work of the bullpen. With Sunday's effort by Andrew Miller, Matt Albers, Vicente Padilla, Alfredo Aceves, Rich Hill and Scott Atchison, the relief unit has now allowed just six earned runs in the last 53 2/3 innings (1.01 ERA). That does not include the inning by McDonald, but let's be fair here.

Expect another roster move before Boston begins a three-game series in Kansas City on Monday. The crew is severely overworked and Felix Doubront, who has struggled to last deep into games, goes in the opener versus the Royals.

Making his second career pitching appearance, McDonald gave up a tiebreaking three-run homer to Adam Jones in his second career pitching appearance. That was the difference.

Miller time: Let's be honest. Even the Red Sox have almost no idea what to expect from Miller, who was activated from the disabled list Sunday. Not only was he up and down all of last season, but his rehab appearances in Pawtucket produced some of the more awe-inspiring numbers you could imagine, in both good and bad ways.

Miller struck out 23 men in 11 innings for the PawSox. He also walked 14. Obviously there was very little contact made, as evidenced by the paltry total of four hits allowed.

Before the game, Valentine was asked about Miller's control issues and what to expect. He said it depended on many variables -- the skipper even mentioned the wind as one such factor. Apparently the breeze was an agreeable one, for Miller struck out three in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Give me a double. Play, that is: The Red Sox turned six double plays, twice their previous season high. Four of the twin killings were turned in consecutive innings from the 12th through the 15th.

The worst good day imaginable: Although this falls under the header "Red Sox Report," Davis' day (night) has to be recognized. The O's DH struck out in each of his first five at-bats before grounding into a double play in the 13th. He grounded out again in the 14th and 17th. He will probably take that any day he can throw two scoreless innings and get the first, and probably only, win of his major league career.

The worst day imaginable: Adrian Gonzalez was 0-for-8 and struck out against Davis in the 17th with two runners on base.

[+] EnlargeWill Middlebrooks
Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesWill Middlebrooks become the fourth Red Sox player to hit a grand slam for his first career home run.
Man in the middle: In the five days since being recalled from Pawtucket, Middlebrooks has batted eighth, enjoyed an off-day, batted second, been scratched because of a tight hamstring and batted eighth again. Nothing uniform about that opening weekend in the big leagues. One thing that has remained constant is his ability to hit the ball.

Middlebrooks hammered a Tommy Hunter offering over the Green Monster in the fifth for his grand slam. His first career homer is also his third career extra-base hit. He has four hits overall, so the reputation for slugging has not come without merit.

The 23-year-old is the first Red Sox player with an extra-base hit in each of his first three games.

The second coming? Middlebrooks' homer came exactly 97 years after Babe Ruth hit his first. Just sayin'.

He also got a few other firsts out of the way, including his first error and his first rookie mistake when he failed to run hard out of the box on a ball that fell into the left-field corner. He got only a single out of what should have been a double, and that came with two outs in the 11th, a time when you might want a runner in scoring position.

In other news: Kevin Youkilis, who just might get Wally Pipp-ed by Middlebrooks, has begun a "walking program" in his effort to come back from a lower back strain. As one astute member of the media corps was quick to point out, he is the "Greek God of Walking Programs." Or something like that.

It may be a stretch to expect Youkilis back when he is eligible to come off the disabled list early next week. When asked about that, Valentine said only, "It's tough to put a clock on an injury. When Youk's ready, he'll definitely let us know."

Salt in the wound: It hasn't been a very smooth season behind the plate for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, especially of late. He misplayed a foul pop during the loss on Saturday and did the same in this one. Only the second act was ruled an error, and it immediately hurt. Given a second chance, Adam Jones singled. He then went from first to third on a stolen base and throwing error by Saltalamacchia and eventually scored.

Add in the passed ball Saturday that led to Aaron Cook getting spiked and you have a pretty poor couple of days behind the plate for Saltalamacchia.

Wrong field: It was not until the top of the 10th that either right fielder had a putout. Ryan Sweeney caught the elusive fly off the bat of Adam Jones. Baltimore's right fielder, Nick Markakis, did not catch one until the 13th inning.

1. J.J. Hardy, SS
2. Nick Markakis, RF
3. Adam Jones, CF
4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Matt Wieters, C
6. Derrek Lee, 1B
7. Mark Reynolds, 3B
8. Felix Pie, LF
9. Robert Andino, 2B

SP. Zach Britton (RHP)


1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. Jason Varitek, C
7. Marco Scutaro, SS
8. Darnell McDonald, RF
9. Yamaico Navarro, LF

SP. Josh Beckett (RHP)

Flipped bat: Filed for future reference?

April, 27, 2011
BALTIMORE -- Josh Beckett has never been shy about letting it be known when he believes his postgame inquisitors are straying too far afield. This was one of those times.

"What is this, TMZ?'' Beckett said, referring to the gossipy website, after Wednesday night's 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles. "I thought we were talking about a baseball game. You want to know about bat flips and talking to umpires. I think, why don't we just stick to the game.''

The flipped bat, cockily dispatched by Luke Scott in the fourth inning after he hammered a two-run home run onto Eutaw Street, and the heated discussion with plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, which followed the inning in which Beckett gave up back-to-back home runs by Scott and Adam Jones, did not occur in a vacuum, of course.

Neither Scott's flamboyant gesture nor the exchange with Culbreth, who appeared to initiate the discussion as Beckett pointed animatedly into the Orioles dugout, cost the Sox the game, Boston rallying to tie the score at 4 behind an RBI single by Adrian Gonzalez and a three-run home run by Kevin Youkilis. But they were clearly a sore subject for Beckett, who other than that momentary lapse pitched well enough to win his third straight decision.

Beckett's on-field reaction to Scott's flip, which came a long beat after he crushed a Beckett cutter 426 feet?

Well, the Sox pitcher isn't wired for sound, but it appeared he followed Scott's passage around the bases with a monologue worthy of Mamet, who never met an expletive he didn't like.

"I wasn't paying attention,'' Scott told Baltimore reporters. "I was just rounding the bases, enjoying the moment and thanking the Lord at the same time. I respect every pitcher that takes the mound against me. He's a tremendous competitor and I have all the respect in the world for him.''

Before Beckett made it clear he was through discussing the issue, he briefly responded to questions about the bat flip. His reaction?

"It's not my deal,'' he said.

When the followup question noted that his observed response suggested displeasure, he tersely replied: "Those things have a way of working themselves out.''

If Beckett momentarily lost his focus, Jones quickly exploited the opening, jumping on a 2-and-0 sinker that Beckett said he left right down the middle.

Catcher Jason Varitek didn't think it was a focus issue.

"He tried to get the ball down,'' the catcher said. "He threw a decent curveball that could have gone either way early in that count (it was called a ball). I don't think that pulled away from Josh's focus.''

The substance of the conversation with Culbreth was a bit murkier. Beckett had yelled at the umpire to toss him a new ball after Jones dispatched a 2-and-0 pitch into the seats to make it 4-0. As he came off the mound at the end of the inning, Culbreth headed toward him and they met at the third-base line, with Beckett clearly gesturing at the Orioles' dugout. It's possible Culbreth was suggesting he abandon any notion of retaliation.

Regardless, Beckett did not administer any frontier justice, sticking to the business at hand as he retired Scott on a fly ball the next time he faced him.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona, asked about Scott, said: "I don't know, I don't watch that. Our guys do that sometimes, too.''

Beckett's change-up continues to be an impressive addition to his arsenal. His takeaway on the game: "Came up one short. We did a good job of battling back, and that's good to see.''

Lugo still drawing a big check from Sox

September, 2, 2010
BALTIMORE -- Seeing Julio Lugo here in an Orioles uniform served as a reminder that the Red Sox are still paying the salaries of four players not wearing their uniform: Lugo, Billy Wagner, Boof Bonser, and Alex Gonzalez.

The biggest outlay is the $9 million they’re paying Lugo, or almost twice the $5 million they’re paying their own everyday shortstop, Marco Scutaro. Counting last season, they’ve paid out nearly $13 million for him.

Lugo’s performance as a part-timer in 87 games for the Orioles underscores why the Sox gladly paid to dump him: .256 batting average, a .596 OPS (on-base plus slugging) compared with .710 for Scutaro.

The Sox are paying $1 million of Wagner’s salary with the Atlanta Braves, and how good would the left-handed reliever look in the Sox bullpen? The Sox wanted him back, but Wagner wanted one more crack at closing, and he has been splendid for the Braves: 7-2 record, 1.59 ERA, 31 saves, a huge reason why they’re leading the NL East.

The Sox are also paying $650,000 to Oakland for Boof Bonser, who was recently called up by the Athletics and is pitching out of their bullpen. On Tuesday, he threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a relief appearance against the Yankees, striking out five.

Finally, the Sox paid $500,000 to the Jays for shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who has since been traded to the Braves. Gonzalez has had an excellent season offensively, with 21 home runs and a .780 OPS.

So that’s a total outlay of $11.15 million for the four. That hit is mitigated in part by the fact the Sox received $7.15 from the Mariners (via the Brewers) for Bill Hall, which still leaves them with a net loss of $4 million. That, many Sox fans would agree, is a small price to pay for not having Lugo.
BALTIMORE -- In his first game back in a week, Red Sox outfielder Mike Cameron (abdominal tear) made it through 11 grueling innings against the Orioles on Sunday without any setbacks.

In fact, he played well in all aspects of the game.

With the Sox trailing by a run in the top of the ninth, he led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Darnell McDonald before reaching third on a base hit by Marco Scutaro. Cameron then scored the game-tying run on a sacrifice fly by Dustin Pedroia.

On the defensive end, Cameron made a spectacular catch with two outs and the potential winning run on base in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. The Orioles’ Luke Scott crushed a ball to deep center field, but Cameron turned on the jets and made an over-the-shoulder grab on the warning track to end the threat.

“That was a great catch. He looked really healthy,” said manager Terry Francona. “I know he’s feeling it a bit and we kept checking with him as the game went on, but he went and got that ball pretty well.”

Cameron was not affected by his five-game hiatus and that catch proved it.

“Just had to try to make a play on it,” he said. “I knew I was getting close to the wall, but the ball was high enough where I had time to kind of make a decision on what I was going to do. I guess I shouldn’t say that, because it’s all just reaction when you’re out there playing.”

Even though he was happy with his performance, his return was bittersweet.

“We lost,” he said. “It was good to get out there and play. [My performance] helped us in a sense, but at the same time we lost the game.”

Cameron said he doesn’t know whether he’ll be in the lineup Monday in Cleveland.

No no-no, but Buchholz was complete

June, 5, 2010
BALTIMORE -- Clay Buchholz continues to be the model of consistency for the Boston Red Sox.

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz and Victor Martinez
AP Photo/Rob CarrClay Buchholz is congratulated by Victor Martinez after his first complete game since throwing a no-hitter in his second major league start.
The right-hander pitched a complete-game shutout and allowed only five hits with one walk and two strikeouts to lead the Red Sox to an 11-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles Friday night.

Buchholz improved to 8-3 and has earned a victory in each of his last five starts. He’s also won nine consecutive road starts to tie Roger Clemens for the second-longest road winning streak in Red Sox history.

Everything seems to finally be going right for Buchholz, who needed just 101 pitches, and his teammates and manager are taking notice.

“Tremendous,” said Terry Francona. “A lot of first-pitch outs. He commanded his fastball. He threw it for strikes. When we got the lead, he threw it for strikes and stayed out of the middle of the plate. I think he got eight first-pitch outs and that’s huge.

“He’s a maturing pitcher,” added Francona. “We’re seeing it right in front of us. It’s exciting. He’s putting it together and he’s done a tremendous job. He looks confident and he should be.”

Buchholz is confident. But he’s not about to deviate, or take for granted, what he’s been able to accomplish. He’s enjoyed success before and he knows how quickly it can slip away.

“The last seven games out I’ve just been trying to do what I did the start before,” he said. “Throwing first-pitch strikes, not walking as many people and getting some double-play balls in the mix too. My confidence is good. I feel like every time I go out we score a lot of runs. It’s not like I’m throwing a 1-0 ballgame every time out. It’s fun.”

It was Buchholz's first complete game since he tossed a no-hitter in his second major league start on Sept. 1, 2007 against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

“After I came off for the eighth inning [Friday night] I looked out to the bullpen and saw no one warming up. It was neat going back to the whole no-hit thing. It was a little ironic, but cool,” Buchholz said.

Not-so-fun facts

May, 2, 2010
Here are a few depressing notes following Baltimore's 3-2 victory Sunday over Boston:

-- The Orioles swept the Red Sox in a three-game series in Baltimore for the first time since Sept. 2-4, 1974.

-- It was the first sweep of a three-game series or more since the Orioles took all four games of a July 9-12 series in 1998.

-- The Orioles have seven wins on the season with four of them coming against the Red Sox.

Daisuke debuts tonight

May, 1, 2010
BALTIMORE -- Daisuke Matsuzaka hasn’t pitched in a game for the Red Sox since Oct. 2, when he struck out Kelly Shoppach of the Indians at the end of a winning, six-inning stint on the last weekend of the 2009 regular season.

Matsuzaka’s life since then: He spent six weeks of his winter working out in Arizona in response to a Red Sox mandate to report in better shape, sustained what the club called a back injury on the eve of camp that set him back for more than three weeks, complained of a stiff neck, the official reason the Sox gave for placing him on the disabled list at the start of the season (even though he said it was gone within a few days), raised red flags among Sox staff because of his mediocre stuff, became a father for the second time, and made three rehab starts in Pawtucket before being activated, pushing a simmering Tim Wakefield to the bullpen.

Saturday night, Matsuzaka returns to the rotation for a team that completed a disappointing April by losing, 5-4, in 10 innings to the Baltimore Orioles, who have won just 3 of 19 games against the rest of the American League while being outscored, 97-54, but have played the Red Sox even, splitting four games while matching the Sox in runs with 21 apiece.

Camden Yards hardly evokes warm and fuzzy feelings for Matsuzaka. While his hero, Hideo Nomo, threw a no-hitter here in his first start for the Red Sox in 2002, Matsuzaka is 2-1 with a 6.30 ERA in four starts here, giving up a staggering 24 hits and 13 walks in just 20 innings. He won his last start here, 9-3 last Sept. 20, but even that was arduous, as he threw 110 pitches before being dismissed after just 5 1/3 innings.

J.D. Drew’s two home runs and a tie-breaking single by Dustin Pedroia gave the Sox a 4-3 lead in the eighth, but Miguel Tejada tied the game in the bottom of the eighth with a 417-foot home run off Daniel Bard, then won it in the 10th with a base hit off Manny Delcarmen.

Sox relievers have allowed more home runs (13) than Sox starters (11), even though the bullpen crew has thrown just 75 2/3 innings, compared to 137 for the starters.

All seven relief pitchers used by the Sox have given up at least one home run. Bard and Scott Atchison, who is now in Pawtucket, have allowed three apiece, while Ramon Ramirez and Scott Schoeneweis have given up two each.

Bard has held opposing hitters to a .147 average (8 for 47), the lowest among Sox relievers (Hideki Okajima’s line is a frightening .361/.425/.556).

ESPN researcher Jeremy Mills poses an interesting finding, that Bard has run into trouble when he stacks his fastball. Of the eight hits he has allowed, seven have come off fastballs, with six of those preceded by another fastball.

When Bard follows his fastball with an off-speed pitch, hitters are 1 for 10 with 5 strikeouts and a 41.2 miss percentage. Bard has doubled up on his off-speed pitches only seven times this season, with opponents going 0-6 with six strikeouts.

Daniel Bard (Pitch Sequences, 2010)
Sequence -- H/AB -- K
FB-FB -- 6/26-- 7
FB-Non FB -- 1/10 -- 5
Non FB-FB -- 1/5 -- 0
Non FB-Non FB -- 0/6 -- 6

In any event, the bullpen could use a break from Matsuzaka. We’ll be there to give you the rundown on his start.

Quick hits: Sox 7, Orioles 6

April, 24, 2010
BOSTON -- Quick hits on the Red Sox's 7-6 win:

* Sox won on six-run seventh, their biggest inning of the season.

* Orioles are pathetic.

* Sox did not have a three-run home run before Saturday night. They hit two in the seventh inning. Marco Scutaro hit the first off reliever Matt Albers to wipe out 3-1 deficit. Then, after a double by Dustin Pedroia and a walk to Victor Martinez, Kevin Youkilis unloaded off reliever Kam Mickolio.

* Orioles are pathetic.

* John Lackey raised his record to 2-1. He gave up 10 hits and walked two while allowing two earned runs in seven innings. Lackey did not have a 1-2-3 inning and gave up a home run to Ty Wigginton, but after four straight hits in the second, he was tough with men on base.

* Orioles are pathetic.

* Winning rally began when Bill Hall, down 0-and-2 in the count, worked a walk off Orioles rookie left-hander Brian Matusz, who had kept the Sox off balance all night with a terrific changeup. Jeremy Hermida followed with a base hit, Orioles manager Dave Trembley went to his bullpen, and Albers got off to a good start by whiffing pinch hitter David Ortiz on a full count. But then Scutaro hit the next pitch into the first row of the Monster seats, and the comeback was on.

* Orioles are pathetic.

* You have to be pathetic to have a season-high 17 hits, have runners on base in every inning, leave 11 men on, and lose again, falling to 2-16, 1-6 in one-run games.

* The Orioles made a run at the Sox in the ninth, when Adam Jones homered off Ramon Ramirez and Nick Markakis followed with a double. Terry Francona summoned closer Jonathan Papelbon, who didn’t awaken to the possibility of blowing this one until he’d given up three straight singles, drawing the Orioles to within 7-6.

That’s when he blew away Wigginton on a swinging third-strike fastball and got rookie Rhyne Hughes, summoned from Triple-A earlier in the day, to chase a third-strike splitter.

The Sox are now 8-10, just 2 games under .500, with Tim Wakefield scheduled to face the Orioles Sunday afternoon. The Sox are 18-2 in their last 20 games against the Birds.

Quick hits: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3

April, 23, 2010

BOSTON -- Some quick hits on Red Sox 4, Orioles 3:

-- The Red Sox, after losing a 3-0 lead, scored the winning run in the eighth inning on a bases-loaded walk to Adrian Beltre, who walked only 19 times in 477 plate appearances last season but walked twice Friday night.

-- Jonathan Papelbon recorded his fourth save, the game ending on a strikeout of former Sox shortstop Julio Lugo while the crowd derisively chanted his name.

-- David Ortiz, back in the lineup as Red Sox DH after sitting out the last two games, hit his first home run of the season in the second inning off Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie. It came on his 42d at-bat of the season, and landed in the Monster seats in left-center field. Last year, Ortiz did not hit his first home run until May 20. (Read more on Ortiz here)

-- Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, who has never lost to the Orioles (10-0 in 12 career starts prior to Friday night), left in the sixth inning with a 3-0 lead but turned over a bases-loaded situation to Daniel Bard, who retired Garrett Atkins on a fly to center to end the threat. “With the game on the line, we went to Bard,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

An inning later, Adam Jones hit a two-run home run off Bard, and the Orioles tied it in the eighth after a lead-off double by Matt Wieters off Hideki Okajima, a walk and a couple of ground balls off Manny Delcarmen.

-- Lester walked four and struck out seven, and did not get a decision. He had thrown 113 pitches at the time he was pulled. He walked three batters in each of his first three starts; he walked as many as four just once last season.

-- The Red Sox, who had allowed 36 steals in 37 chances, were credited with their second caught stealing when Lester caught Cesar Izturis leaning in the fifth. The Orioles, who came into the game with just three stolen bases, stole successfully once Friday night -- Lou Montanez credited with his first steal of the season in the seventh.

-- The Orioles are now 2-15, the worst record in baseball, and are 27-65 on the road since the start of the 2009 season. The Sox were 16-2 against the Orioles last season.

Baltimore was victimized by a brutal call in the eighth when Beltre’s throw to second on Garrett Atkins’ bunt clearly pulled Dustin Pedroia off the bag, but Nolan Reimold was called out. Instead of having the bases loaded with no outs, the Orioles had runners on the corners with just one out, and only got a run out of it.

-- Bill Hall, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter, made the night’s biggest defensive play when he barehanded a ball off the Monster and threw Nick Markakis out at second as he tried to stretch a single into a double.

-- The night’s most spectacular play was Beltre throwing out Cesar Izturis on a swinging bunt to open the seventh, after his signature barehanded pickup.