Red Sox Live Blog: White Sox Erase Early Deficit, Post Second Straight Series Sweep in Fenway Park


June 1, 2011

Red Sox Live Blog: White Sox Erase Early Deficit, Post Second Straight Series Sweep in Fenway Park

Postgame, White Sox 7-4: It seems rather fitting that storms are threatening as we digest a rather miserable day for the Red Sox.

Not only do they suffer a fourth straight loss for the first time since the 0-6 start, but they could have a major injury on their hands in Rich Hill. Hopefully, that is not the case.

Hill passed a few strength tests they administer for this sort of thing, which is a good sign. He told teammates he heard a pop and felt a burning in the elbow. That sounds awful, but we won’t know much until tomorrow after his MRI results come through.

As for tomorrow, Red Sox players seem to be embracing it with open arms. It is the first open date on the schedule since May 12. There were some rainouts in there, but those still involve coming to the park and getting ready. To a man, the players were eager for some time away from the park.

With that we sign off. I have a function to attend this weekend, but the fellas at the office will be carrying you through the Oakland series Friday to Sunday. Thanks for tagging along tonight. Go B’s!

Final, White Sox 7-4: A 3-0 lead turns into a 7-4 loss, the fourth straight for the Red Sox, who also lose one of their more effective relievers.

We will learn more about Rich Hill in a few minutes and probably in the next few days as he undergoes more tests. Should have the initial report to you in a bit.

Mid 9th, White Sox 7-4: When I referred to White Sox players looking incredibly comfortable at the plate a few innings ago, it was written right after Paul Konerko had a hit.

Konerko has eaten up Red Sox pitching in this series. He just added two huge insurance runs with a two-run homer that cleared everything. Better call 1-800-54-GIANT.

Konerko is 6-for-12 with two homers and six RBIs in the series, which will be over in a matter of moments if Sergio Santos can do his job in the ninth.

End 8th, White Sox 5-4: Without a rally in the ninth, the Red Sox will have lost seven straight games at home to one opponent for the first time since the Yankees did the same in 2006.

You might remember New York’s five-game sweep in Fenway Park on the back end of that run.

Jonathan Papelbon will pitch the ninth. Terry Francona’s bullpen was thrown out of sorts by the Rich Hill injury, so this is what he is left with…playing from behind as if he’s playing with a lead. It’s the only option.

Mid 8th, White Sox 5-4: While admiring Daniel Bard’s five straight outs, let’s revisit this Rich Hill situation.

With Franklin Morales on the DL, Hill is the only lefty in the pen. Hideki Okajima will be on his way to Boston if Hill’s situation requires time off, which it most certainly will.

That is the short-term issue. If it is a serious injury, there will be a lot of people who will feel for Hill, who did everything he could to reinvent himself as a side-arming reliever, and seemed to be settling in here. It would be a major blow to the bullpen, and a brutal one for Hill himself, if the injury is as bad as it looked.

Terry Francona was just lauding Hill’s efforts this morning.

End 7th, White Sox 5-4: Chris Sale does his job again, and will probably get to work into the eighth with David Ortiz and Carl Crawford due up.

Daniel Bard stays out there to work the eighth.

The official word on Rich Hill is that he left with a left forearm injury. Of course, there will be more tests and what not, but that’s the initial diagnosis.

3:49 p.m.: Chris Sale came on to strike out Adrian Gonzalez to finish last night’s game with the tying run on deck.

With the tying run on first base and two outs in the seventh, Ozzie Guillen is calling on his lanky lefty once again.

Mid 7th, White Sox 5-4: Terry Francona hates to have to call on Daniel Bard when trailing in the seventh. However, Bard was getting loose in case he was needed before the White Sox took the lead. When Chicago went ahead, he was a second option to Rich Hill, but was needed in a hurry when Hill got hurt.

Still, not a bad guy to have when you need to get out of a jam. Bard inherited a bases-loaded, one-out situation, but got a strikeout and a soft grounder to second.

That could prove to be the two biggest outs of the game if Boston comes back. Gavin Floyd is still out there for Chicago.

3:37 p.m.: Just as I mention how terrific Rich Hill has been, we see him throw a pitch and immediately grab his left arm. He was in some serious pain, and immediately lifted. Scenes like that almost never end in anything positive, and Hill has had issues in the past, both with the shoulder and elbow.

We will update you after the game.

3:32 p.m.: The normally reliable Matt Albers just got knocked around a bit. Three straight singles with one out have given Chicago the lead again, and prompted Terry Francona to call on Rich Hill.

I’m not trying to advocate anything outlandish, but the White Sox consistently look very comfortable in the box against Boston pitching. It may be too late for this since the series is almost over, but one of those guys might need to be shaken up a bit. They continuously have good at-bats when they play here, and sometimes make it look easy.

Hill has been fantastic. Let’s see if he can escape the mess left by Albers.

End 6th, 4-4: David Ortiz, with his double and home run today, is hitting .407 (22-for-54) over a 14-game stretch. In that run he has 13 extra-base hits (seven doubles, six home runs). The fact that he entered the game the 10th-toughest hitter in the American League to strike out suggest just how dangerous he is right now.

Matt Albers is on in relief of Tim Wakefield, who performed well. That play in the fifth with the missed tag (missed call?) by Pedroia hurt.

3:18 p.m.: It is hard to give you all the David Ortiz superlatives and actually find time to stop typing. He is on one of the finest tears of his Red Sox career, and it continued with a solo shot in the sixth to tie it.

Mid 6th, White Sox 4-3: Jacoby Ellsbury continues to do it all for this team. With a man on second and two outs, he makes a diving catch in shallow center to keep this a one-run game.

Ellsbury got flack in the past for not taking great routes and all that garbage. There are very few guys in baseball who have the speed to make that play. It spares Tim Wakefield any further damage.

There is action in the Boston bullpen. We will see if Wakefield comes back out.

3:06 p.m.: The White Sox have scored the game’s last four runs, the latest a bomb to left by Brent Lillibridge. It’s 4-3 and there is a man on second with one out.

End 5th, 3-3: Gavin Floyd’s run of consecutive outs ends at 10 when he walks Adrian Gonzalez with two outs in the fifth, but he has not allowed a hit since Jacoby Ellsbury’s single with one out in the fifth.

As Tim Wakefield steps to the mound to begin the sixth, click the following link for some quick talk on him and a few other hurlers around the league, our weekly visit with CBS Sports:

Mid 5th, 3-3: I have to be honest, my view of the replays are poor. There are two TVs here, one on either end, and I’m in the middle of the row because people want to be around me. Just too far away for me to see sometimes.

Anyway, it was hard to see if Dustin Pedroia missed on the tag of Juan Pierre in one of the big plays in the fifth. Judging by Pedroia’s reaction to the safe call, he did not.

Here’s how it went down. A walk and a single put two on with no outs. Pierre hit into a fielder’s choice, so we had runners at the corners and one out. The White Sox did a little delayed steal with Pierre (or he started and stopped), who got hung up in a rundown. Pedroia had to keep his eyes on the man at third, Ramon Castro, and was looking that way as he swiped a tag on Pierre’s back. Or so he thought.

The next man grounded to short for what could’ve been the third out. Instead it allowed Castro to score, and with the inning extended Carlos Quentin ripped an RBI double to tie it. If indeed the call was blown, it directly led to two runs.

End 4th, Red Sox 3-1: And just like that, Gavin Floyd has retired eight in a row and his team in only down two. The way the Red Sox were pounding his offerings in the first two innings, it didn’t seem like this was a reality.

Floyd has settled in nicely, however. We will see how Boston handles him the third time through the order.

Literally, the flags are blowing stiff. Someone near me in the press box hasn’t stopped talking since the first inning, so maybe it’s just a bunch of hot air coming from that direction. But me thinks it’s the precursor to some wild weather a little later on.

Mid 4th, Red Sox 3-1: What does Brent Lillibridge have to do to get a home run in this place. The White Sox center fielder missed one by inches last night against Bobby Jenks and just clanged another near the top of the Green Monster.

Had this one been hit a little higher, it would be a tie game. Instead, Lillibridge’s double scored one and left him and another runner in scoring position. Tim Wakefield left them stranded by getting Omar Vizquel to ground to third.

End 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: A nice, easy third inning for Gavin Floyd. It’s the first time the Red Sox have gone in order.

On a side note, you know that Saturday’s game has been moved to 1:10 p.m. to accomodate the Bruins game that night. The Red Sox also want fans to be aware of bridge construction that will reduce I-93 in both directions around Medford to two lanes.

The construction starts Friday night at 8 p.m. and will last into Monday. If you are traveling into the games this weekend from the north, keep this in mind. If you still choose to try it, remember that the middle finger on your dominant hand is always more forceful than the other. Use it well.

Mid 3rd, Red Sox 3-0: When Tim Wakefield is on, it’s great news for those of us who have their sights set on other things today (ahem, hockey).

So far, so good in that pursuit of an early drive home. Wakefield has used up only 35 pitches (26 of them strikes) in three innings of work.

As Gavin Floyd heads back out there, a strong wind has shifted to straightaway center. It has already caused some minor issues, but expect to see some more drama in the outfield with this breeze blowing the way it is.

End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: One has to wonder if the awkward week or so that Gavin Floyd has had is having an impact — the Red Sox are all over him early on.

Floyd had back-to-back starts in which he allowed just one earned run in seven innings, but was forced to throw in relief in a 14-inning affair Saturday in Toronto.

This is his first start in a week because of an extra day he took to get over the relief outing.

David Ortiz remained on fire with a double to start the second. He moved to third on Carl Crawford’s line single to right and scored when Jed Lowrie launched a double into the right-field corner. One out later, Jarrod Saltalamacchia shot a base hit up the middle to score a pair of runs.

When Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a single of his own, it gave Boston seven hits among its first 10 batters. Dustin Pedroia could not make it eight of 11, but he did send Brent Lillibridge to the wall in center for the second out.

Perhaps the hardest hit ball of the inning was the final out. Adrian Gonzalez scorched one off of Floyd. It bounced directly to third baseman Omar Vizquel, who had plenty of time to get Gonzalez.

Mid 2nd, 0-0: Someone said major storms are coming at 2:00. It’s 1:52, the sun is out, and Tim Wakefield is rolling again.

Wakefield has been known to get on rolls throughout his career. It sort of felt like the chance for one more might’ve gone by the wayside, but he is making the most of this latest opportunity.

End 1st, 0-0: The first major downer of the day for Red Sox fans. Consecutive hits by Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez puts runners on the corners with one out, but Kevin Youkilis grounds into a 6-4-3 double play. Groans abound.

It is interesting to note after the phenomenal May he just had, Gonzalez’s best month has traditionally been June. It is the only month in which his career OPS is over .900, with the exception of a few games in October.

The power actually goes down in June, but he seems to find a groove in many other departments.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Two flies and a strikeout gets Tim Wakefield through the first inning in no time.

You all likely loved Rene Rancourt’s national anthem moments ago. What you missed, when I tweeted about it earlier, was him freestyling at around 9:50 a.m., trying different pitches, jumping over certain parts in the song. It was agreat behind-the-scenes glimpse.

One of the rewards of being here on time for once.

1:35 p.m.: Tim Wakefield gets the first two outs on lazy flies. We are under way.

12:35 p.m.: Back from our meeting with Theo Epstein and Amiel Sawdaye, who are getting prepped for what should be a pretty intriguing draft.

The Red Sox have four of the first 40 picks this year, which could give them a great chance to follow up what is already shaping up to be a solid 2010 draft class.

“It’s always a great feeling to have extra picks,” Epstein said. “I think it energizes the scouting staff for the whole year because they know going in and seeing players there’s a much better chance that they can actually get a guy instead of seeing someone they like and realize they’re going to go before we pick.”

Epstein and Sawdaye discussed a pretty talented draft class with plenty of solid college pitching options, as well as a high school pool that consists of a top-heavy crop of hurlers. We will have more on their approach leading up to the June 6-8 draft.

A guy very far removed from those days of being scouted and developed is Tim Wakefield. Here is the lineup he will face in just a few moments at what is currently a sunny Fenway Park:

Juan Pierre, LF
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Carlos Quentin, RF
Paul Konerko, DH
Adam Dunn, 1B
Brent Lillibridge, CF
Omar Vizquel, 3B
Ramon Castro, C
Gordon Beckham, 2B

One guy to watch is Omar Vizquel, who is 20-for-56 (.357) in his career against Wakefield.

11:37 a.m.: Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to be in town today and he will meet with team doctors, Terry Francona, Theo Epstein and others in the coming days as they try to see how to progress with his elbow issue.

Francona insisted that surgery is still not being discussed.

“Diagnostically, everything is the same,” Francona said Wednesday morning. “I think we need to figure out how to best go about this. Certainly, again, the player or the pitcher has to have some opinion, too, but you’re always going to go about it non-operatively first. I just think that makes sense to me.”

Matsuzaka had a checkup with Dr. Lewis Yocum last week. He is about two weeks into his shutdown period, which is when the team said it would re-evaluate. That will take place in earnest in the coming days, but it’s clear that all parties want to exhaust all rehab opportunities before making any decisions to go under the knife.

In other news, Francona was asked about sitting J.D. Drew with a right-hander on the mound.

“He’s just been kinda scuffling a little bit,” Francona said of Drew. “Sometimes, day game after a night game, you’re looking for a little energy. Maybe [Josh Reddick] will bump into one. He’s been playing pretty well. Just maybe give us a little boost.”

Francona said that Drew has had some good swings this year, but they have been few and far between. The team is still waiting for that one big hot streak that Drew has put together in the past.

“J.D. has a track record of kind of grabbing onto that one month and almost putting us on our back, and you always wait for that, and he hasn’t gotten that yet,” Francona added. “You’ve seen him a lot lately taking that cutter, slider away and rolling it over to second probably more than we’re used to. He’s trying to stay back, but he’s getting ahead of it and getting that week groundball or that popup.”

Drew is batting just .228 with 10 RBIs in 44 games. He hit .188 (13-for-69) in May, the month that saw many other hitters on the team get hot. For comparison’s sake, Drew batted .324 with 18 RBIs last May.

Theo Epstein and director of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye are going to meet with reporters in just a few minutes to talk about the team’s preparation for the upcoming draft. We will share some words from them in a story on the site a little later on.

10:15 a.m.: Greetings from Fenway Park, where the storms are threatening, but the severe stuff won’t be until later on. The tarp is off the field and we are good to go, for now.

No shocking developments in the Red Sox lineup, except for the fact that J.D. Drew is not in the lineup with a right-hander on the mound. Either Drew is still bothered by the sore hammy, or Terry Francona just wants to get Josh Reddick some at-bats.

Reddick had another hit and an RBI last night and is 5-for-9 since being recalled.

Here is the full batting order against Gavin Floyd:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
David Ortiz, DH
Carl Crawford, LF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Josh Reddick, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

8 a.m.: June begins with an afternoon affair at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox will look to salvage the finale of a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago has taken 12 of the last 14 meetings between the teams and has won six straight at Fenway Park. One man hoping to put an end to that is Tim Wakefield, who will make his fifth start of the season.

Wakefield got the win his last time out in Detroit, limiting the Tigers to two runs in seven innings. It was the 195th victory of his career and his 181st as a member of the Red Sox. Wakefield is just 7-12 with a 4.93 ERA against the White Sox.

Gavin Floyd, whose last outing came in relief over the weekend in Toronto, will start for Chicago. He is 0-3 with a 5.11 ERA in his last three appearances, but has had great success vs. Boston. Floyd is 4-0 in his career against the Red Sox and owns a 1.93 ERA in three starts at Fenway Park.

First pitch for this one is scheduled for 1:35 p.m.

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