Links 5-4-2010: Beckett, Dice-K’s return, Lowell-Ortiz drama, Embree-Schoeneweis, injury train chugs along

It was an eventful week, no? The Sox get swept by the lowly Orioles in Baltimore, the first time that’s happened in a long, long time. Before you panic and sell your season tickets, I’d just point out two things: The Orioles were underperforming all year long, and were due for a bounceback (too bad it happened against us), and the Red Sox team they were playing was not anywhere near the team that was assembled in the offseason. We just need to stay in it until our team gets healthy again, I really believe that. Terry Francona offered his thoughts here.

Josh Beckett was strong in his outing, going back to his four-seam fastball (46 thrown, 43.8%). It wasn’t generating swings and misses (only a 2.2% Whiff rate), so it wasn’t his best heater, but it got the job done. Beckett was able to throw all of his fastballs for strikes, and the cut fastball was better, showing more horizontal break (+2.01 in by PITCHf/x) and zipping in there at 90.1 mph. It was the pitch which generated his best Whiff rate at 22.2%. So it was real; believe it. Beckett is back.

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Links 4-28-2010: Embree called up, Castro down, Sox sign Rosario

Thanks to Clay Buchholz taking advantage of an impatient Blue Jay offense, lefty Fabio Castro was never needed in last night’s game. He was promptly optioned to Pawtucket in order to add Alan Embree. The move gives the Sox three lefties in the pen, but both Hideki Okajima and Embree can be used against RHB as well as PHB, so Terry Francona’s got some options. Embree had to be added to the 40-man roster, so the Sox designated IF Kevin Frandsen this morning as part of the move. Dustin Pedroia goes back to being the shortest player on the roster with Castro’s demotion.

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Links 4-16-2010: OF shortage, Scutaro’s value, Dice-K getting ready, Embree staying

The Sox are back home for a tough series against the Rays, and they will be short at least one outfielder in Mike Cameron. Cameron was a late scratch for yesterday’s game after experiencing abdominal pain. It was severe enough that he had to stay behind as the team traveled home yesterday. So far, the Sox have ruled out appendicitis, and a DL trip may be in the works. With Jacoby Ellsbury nursing bruised ribs, we could run a barebones outfield of Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall and J.D. Drew out there tonight (unless the Sox call up someone). The only other OF on the 40-man roster is Josh Reddick (.138/.167/.172), or the Sox could call up a middle infielder if they choose to play Hall in center; both Tug Hulett and Kevin Frandsen have one minor league option each and could be recalled without having to designate them. But if another regular goes down, we’re in trouble.

Speaking of the Rays, anyone else worried about stolen bases in this series? The Sox will have to get their defensive groove back if they want to win this series. I’ll the put over/under on Tampa steals at 12.

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Links 03-23-2010: Mauer, Crawford, Westmoreland, roster shuffling

In case you’ve been living in a cave the past few days, Joe Mauer signed a prodigious 8-year extension with the Twins. That means Victor Martinez becomes the top free agent catcher after this year. To his credit, he says that the deal doesn’t change anything for him and that the ball in is in the Red Sox’ court.

While we’re on the topic of next offseason, it looks like if we want Carl Crawford, we’re going to have to outbid New York for him after 2010.

Ryan Westmoreland was able to leave the ICU last week after his brain surgery, and the prognosis looks good going forward.

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31-22: Sox swept out of Oakland

Oakland came into this series struggling of late, and Boston came in on a six-game win streak. But it didn’t matter, as the A’s silenced the Boston bats and got enough offense to win all three games. The Sox are really feast or famine this year; in addition to the extreme home/road splits, they have had winning streaks of 4, 5, 6 and 7 games already. They have lost three in a row twice, and had 4 and 5 game losing streaks as well in this still young season. They have been a part of 9 series sweeps in 2008, winning 5 of them and losing 4. Let’s hope the losing doesn’t continue for long this time.

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3-1: Lester, bullpen shutout A’s, 5-0

It’s only April 3rd, but already 2008 has been full of ups and downs for Jon Lester (1-1). Luckily for the Sox, yesterday was a pretty big up for him. Facing the Oakland Athletics for the second time in two starts, Lester tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings en route to his first win. He threw 53 of 94 pitches for strikes, allowing three hits and three walks. That’s great for Lester, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he was economical, as the Sox turned three key double plays in consecutive innings, which helped Lester a lot.

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