Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Red Sox-Yankees series concludes tonight. We will look at interesting match-ups at the end of the blog. Here are the standings:
New York 81-53 (1.5 back)
Tampa Bay 74-61 (9)
New York 81-53
Tampa Bay 73-61 (7.5 back)
LA Angels 73-63 (9)
Boston's magic number to clinch the division: 26. To clinch the wild card: 19.
Left-hander Felix Doubront was the pitcher plucked from Pawtucket on the first day that major league rosters can be expanded. Doubront, 23, has had a season filled with nagging injuries and inconsistent outings (2-5, 4.22 ERA in 70 1/3 innings).
"Pretty frustrating," Doubront said. "But I handled it. I never stopped working. Now I'm in great shape to help the team."
While Doubront was injured in Pawtucket, he watched other pitchers get called up for starts, including teammate Kyle Weiland.
"That was (tough) mentally. But things happen," Doubront said. "I just had to get ready. Now I got my confidence back."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Doubront's season "has been a little bit disjointed … but he's throwing the ball very well. He's another one of our young guys who we have learned to rely on. And we won't hesitate to use him."
The Red Sox also brought in outfielder/corner infielder Conor Jackson, acquired Wednesday from Oakland, in exchange for reliever Jason Rice.
Jackson sounded like the good soldier in the clubhouse Thursday, talking about his place on the team: "Probably a spot of the bench, here and there, playing against left-handers. Whatever my role, I'm going to be ready for it."
Jackson appears to be an insurance policy in case of an injury.
"How extensively he'll be used, we really don't know," Francona said. "Talking to Theo (Epstein), the chance to get a bat, especially against left-handed pitching, and if something happened in September, say to (outfielder Darnell McDonald), and we don't have somebody, that's not good."
Francona said that bringing in a new player this late in the season is no big deal.
"It's not like football where they have to learn the plays," Francona said. "If he gets a fastball over the middle of the plate and he hits it over the Monster - good enough."
In other news, Kevin Youkilis has retured. His DL stint will end Friday, so expect him in the lineup then. Francona said their should be no restrictions because of his back.
J.D. Drew is out with a sprained middle finger. "He could be out a day, two days, a week," Francona said.
Clay Buchholz's slow progression continued with soft toss. He threw 35 times (10 more than Tuesday) from 60 feet … Reliever Bobby Jenks remains shelved. "He's still not ready to throw," Francona said.
Tonight's pitching match-up looks lopsided. New York's A.J. Burnett is 9-11, with a 5.31 ERA. He not only had a 11.91 ERA in August, but teams hit .415 against him last month.
Jon Lester (14-6, 3.09 ERA) has won his last three starts.
Derek Jeter gives Lester the hardest time, batting .333 (15-of-45.
Against Burnett, Jacoby Ellsbury is batting .345 (10-of-29), Carl Crawford .316 (18-of-57), Dustin Pedroia .303 (10-of-33) and David Ortiz .268 with four of his 11 hits being home runs.
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Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
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