July 9, 2006


Red Sox breath sigh of relief, halt Chisox (SEAN McADAM, 7/09/06, Providence Journal)

The situation could not have been more dire. The Chicago White Sox had loaded the bases against starter Josh Beckett, and the middle of the American League's most productive lineup was due -- Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye -- in the home half of the seventh inning with the Red Sox in possession of what seemed like a very tentative three-run lead.

Already, in just six innings, the trio had combined for three homers, a double, a single and five RBI.

Into this predicament from the bullpen stepped first Javier Lopez, then Craig Hansen.

"It's not a deal where you put them in that situation and expect them (to get out of it unscored upon)," acknowledged Beckett.

Boston manager Terry Francona understood the enormity of the task and kept his expectations in check.

"You hope for the best," he said.

Only a few weeks ago, this job might have gone to Rudy Seanez and Julian Tavarez. But having seen enough from the struggling veterans, the Red Sox have lately turned to the less experienced relievers.

Never has their faith been so richly rewarded as yesterday. [...]

"I was battling myself out there," said Beckett, who nevertheless improved to 11-4.

7 7/8ths, thanks.

Acquiring Lopez worth the Riske (Michael Silverman, July 9, 2006, Boston Herald)

The June 15 transaction that sent Red Sox reliever David Riske to the Chicago White Sox for minor league reliever Javier Lopez merited no more than agate type in most newspapers and did not create massive headlines in either city.

Yesterday, the trade caused a huge ripple and the tide was clearly in favor of the Red Sox. Riske took the loss for the White Sox in a 9-6 victory by the Red Sox, thanks to a poor sixth inning in which he gave up the run that put the visitors ahead to stay.

An inning later, the left-handed Lopez came into the game with the Red Sox up by three runs, but with three White Sox on the bases, no outs and the home team’s most feared slugger, Jim Thome, coming to the plate.

Lopez got Thome to strike out swinging and the Red Sox were on their way to victory. [...]

Lopez has a history of success against Thome, including striking out the left-handed hitter last season in Philadelphia, when Lopez was with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Thome was with the Phillies.

Count on Cora contributing (Steve Buckley, 7/09/06, Boston Herald)
It’s not a trade that Red Sox fans will be talking about with glee for generations to come. We’re not talking Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb, or Pedro Martinez for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr.

But in its own way, the Alex Cora-for-Ramon Vazquez deal is one of the great coups in recent Red Sox history. A year ago this past Friday the Sox acquired Cora from the Cleveland Indians for Vazquez, a deal that continues to be huge.

In addition to being a slick defender with infield versatility, Cora has been hitting. And running. And, to use the old line, doing the little things. Playing shortstop in the Red Sox’ 9-6 victory over the White Sox yesterday at U.S. Cellular Field, Cora made a couple of crisp defensive plays, had a couple of hits and stole a couple of bases.

“And he makes a lot more contributions besides what you see,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “When I make a trip to the mound, his questions are always about where we’re playing, what we’re doing. He sees the game very well.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 9, 2006 8:12 AM

Yes. Alex Cora is -- at least so far this season -- a vast improvement on A-Gon, both in the field and at the plate. It's a wonder that the latter even makes the lineup these days. (Tho of course, for his career, Cora is even worse than A-Gon at the plate, and tho he is an improvement over the dreadful A-Gon at ss fielding-wise, he's still been sub-par there over his career, tho he's been good at 2b.)

Btw: I was wondering yesterday what the major league record for homers given up by a pitcher in a season is. Becks is at a major-league best 26 and rising as the air heats up. By August he might be giving up 3 a game even against bad hitting teams. Assuming he actually makes it to 200 ip this season -- yeah I know, that's doubtful given his history -- does he have a shot at the record?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 9, 2006 10:40 AM

A baseball fan like you should know the homme runs allowed records are dominaed by Hall of Famers who preferred the HR to a walk and won games because of it, as Beckett is:


Posted by: oj at July 9, 2006 11:40 AM