Start of a road trip in Cleveland

The Red Sox arrived in Cleveland without Daisuke Matsuzaka. The injured starter is currently in Japan tending to personal business. On his way back, he will stop in Southern California and see the renowned Dr. Lewis Yocum to get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow. At this point, Dice-K and the Red Sox hope surgery can be avoided. There will be more information on that front after the visit with Yocum, which will take place before the end of May. If Dice-K needed to have Tommy John Surgery, it would take him out for all of this season and at least a large portion of 2012. His contract with the Red Sox ends after the 2012 season.

Being back in Cleveland, I can’t help but think of how much things have changed since the last visit here. The Red Sox, lacking in confidence and execution at the time, dropped to 0-6. They left on that hearbreaking loss, when Darnell McDonald fell down rounding second to end the game. It was quite a way to enter the Home Opener the next day.

As it turns out, getting swept by the Indians was not quite as bad as it looked at the time. After all, these are the same Indians who have a 29-15 record, the best in the Majors.

“I was just thinking about getting introduced on that first-base line [for the home opener] and wondering if they were going to shoot us,” quipped Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Obviously they’re playing good and they feel good about themselves and it happens every year to a team. You start out well. Guys get confident. You get a couple of guys that really click.”

The Red Sox are in far better position to go toe to toe with the Indians this time around, because they are clicking, with eight wins in their last nine games going into tonight.

“Well, when we were here, nothing was going right,” Francona said. “The day Lester pitched well, we didn’t get any runs. we got blown out every so often. We would lose a close one. We were inconsistent in all areas. Now, it seems like we’re sort of stringing together maybe that game where we spread it out a little bit and we’ve won a lot of close games. I just think things have settled down a little bit.

“Like Salty, which is such a huge position, things were going kind of quick for him, now I think it’s slowed down for him. Tek’s taken a little bit off his plate, which has helped. Pitching is keeping us in games where if we don’t swing the bat early, like last night, it gives us a chance to get into the game and not have to fight our way back so much. and then there’s been a couple of games where we’ve fought back. Gonzalez has been maybe the best hitter in the game.”

Tonight, the Red Sox see Justin Masterson, who made a great impression during his years in Boston’s farm system, and the parts of two seasons (2008-09) he spent on the Major League roster. Masteron has done a great job, going 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in his first nine starts.

“I know, it’s hard not to love him,” Francona said. “We all do. I hope we beat his brains out. Yeah, he’s everybody’s favorite. How can he not be?”

What has Masterson done to take his game to the next level?

“He’s pitching in very aggressively, especially to lefties, and he always needed to do that,” Francona said. “Because of his arm slot, lefties are always going to get a better look than righties. He’s pitching in aggressively. Because he’s such an easygoing guy, I don’t think people realize how much he competes. But he’s a really good competitor. I just think he’s good. We used him out of the bullpen because we could. It was kind of a luxury. When you go into starting, you need to have that other pitch or locate a little bit to get through the second time through the order. Now he’s got that, and he’s really good.”

As for the Red Sox, they have a pretty good one of their own going in Clay Buchholz, who is coming off a career-high of 127 pitches.

“You won’t see him go that again, I guarantee you that,” Francona said. “He bounced back really well. A pitch count is a tool, and I agree with it. We need to know what it is. But he stayed in his delivery so well, he didn’t really tax himself. If he would’ve, we would’ve taken him out. I think he’ll be okay. But we recognize it and we’ll keep an eye on it. We keep an eye on workload pretty good. “

11 Comments

Dice-K in Japan?? Oh well.. at this point better there than here.
Last night Buchholz pitched really solidly and Brad just blows it!!
(big sigh)…. On to tonight!!
IDOBELIEVE!!!

Against a better team, Bard blows a save appears to be the norm rather than the exception. His velocity is there but the command and control? The Sox missed a golden opportunity to pick up ground on the Rays and the Yanks. Regardless the outcome of this series, Cleveland is for real and is the best team in the ML for a reason.

Beckett got the W and went more than 6 innings. I guess his neck has loosened up. Thus far the offense (AGonz, Youk, Papi. Lowrie) and starting pitching (big front 3) carry the team. I won’t feel comfortable going into the 8th or 9 inning with one lead run.

Really great to see the result of these past two games against the Indians, esp. after the way the series started. Great to see Beckett (finally) get credit for a well-deserved win and a well-pitched game. Today’s result was just plain FUN! Good to see Lester pitch a solid game, even when he had the large lead. Wheeler seems to be getting his bearings after being on the DL– I HOPE that continues! I still am scratching my head over the signing of Morales, and today’s game did nothing to lessen my wariness. I hope Carl Crawford keeps hitting like he did today! Way to go, Carl! GO SOX!

I hope the Sox keep the hitting shoes on. The Sox surely need them for Aceves and Wake.
I don’t see how Morales is better than Oki. You never know Oki cleared waiver and accepted AAA assignment. The Sox can still bring him back. Right? Oki had a horrible outing when the Sox were in the dumpster. His last 2 or so outings weren’t as bad as his ERA shows.

Andy, I agree. I can see why the Sox might not be as high on Oki as they had been, but I can’t see Morales to be an improvement. I would like to see Oki rebound, and build on the better outings he had recently. Morales ain’t it.

Wow another blow out. If the score holds, the Sox will tie for the first place for the first time. Pleasantly surprised by Aceves, 2 spectacular outings in a row.

I know this isn’t related to part of the article you wrote, but it seems hard/disheartening to believe that big market teams in the MLB don’t have enough money to donate towards the victims of the tornadoes in both Joplin and Oklahoma (and also the flooding in Mississippi for that matter). Maybe it’s just me but I haven’t heard of too many big-market baseball organizations donating money to help out with disasters like those. Am I right about that? And if so, why wouldn’t rich, big-market clubs set aside at least a little money to donate towards these horrible tragedies? Is it really too much to ask?

Lucky 14 strikes again. Last year the Sox twice blew 9 run lead and lost the games. I always like Aceves even before he threw a pitch for the Sox. Nice addition to the staff if his back holds up. Everyone has been for Crawford to break out and the time has come. In the Cleveland game, I think even if Choo didn’t bobble the ball, Crawford would have beaten the throw at 3B. Choo’s bobble cost Crawford the cycle. Go Wake! Go Sox!

Way to go, Sox!! Lovin’ all the offense!
WAY TO GO, BRUINS!!! To the FINALS!
GO SOX! GO BRUINS!

The Red Sox have some problems, namely Manager, Manager
Manager. Last year you got him some glasses, I guess in hopes that he might see what was going on, result Zero Zero
He still doesn’t wake up until the later innings, usually to no
avail. I would suggest that you make every effort to feed him
prior to the game as his constant feeding of his face must
detract from what he is there to do. My team The Red Sox
should be doing a lot better, send him on his way!!!!!!

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