Red Sox pitchers struggle in loss to Rays, Branch returns to New England

After winning the first two games of the series against the Rays, the Red Sox couldn’t win a third in a row as they were beat up by the Rays 13-3 Wednesday night in Tampa. Pitching was a huge issue as six pitchers combined to allow 13 hits and 10 walks. Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up five runs on nine hits over three plus innings, including two home runs in the fourth. Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard followed, but were not much better. Aceves, who hadn’t pitched in six games, gave up four runs in two innings of work. Bard allowed three runs in just 1/3 of an inning. He walked three batters and threw just four strikes in 16 pitches. There really are no words for his season.

You really have to wonder just how different the Red Sox pitching staff will be next season. There is no way Matsuzaka is re-signed, and it is very hard to imagine the team will bring back Aceves after all that he has done the past few months. One of the big things to look for next spring training is how Bard bounces back from an abysmal season. He will certainly be pitching out of the bullpen, so fans and the organization can hope he is back to his normal 2011 self.

Daniel Bard blows up again– Scott Lauber in his notebook has Bard having yet another horrible outing.

Red Sox must decide on manager quickly– Nick Cafardo says the Red Sox need to decide on their 2013 manager almost as soon as the 2012 season ends. He mentions Tim Bogar and even Jason Varitek.

John Lackey could be answer– John Tomase writes John Lackey could play a major role for the Red Sox in 2013 coming off of Tommy John surgery.

Bobby Valentine with the Big Show– (audio) Bobby Valentine hung up after being questioned once again about being late for a game in Oakland. Luckily for Valentine, who is contractually obligated to appear on the station once a week, only has two more appearances left.

Deion Branch rejoined the Patriots Wednesday, but it was like he never even left as his locker was still kept in tact, which is something you very rarely see and him returning was one of the least surprising things the Patriots have done of late. Kellen Winslow also joined the team, but it is very hard to see a scenario where both players play major roles in Sunday’s game at the Ravens. Winslow will only have a few days to get acclimated to the new offense, and Branch comes in as the No. 4 receiver for a team that hasn’t ran a 4 WR set all season. Both players should be active, see limited action, but really shouldn’t be major factors.

Welker situation unfathomable– Christopher Gasper is very confused with the whole Wes Welker situation.

Josh McDaniels under fire– Karen Guregian looks at Josh McDaniels and his play calling Sunday, calling it “un-Patrot-like”.

McDaniels, Patriots need time to get in groove– Tom E. Curran says to be patient with McDaniels and the offense.

Patriots trying to keep options open– Mike Reiss looks at how the Patriots might run their offense without Aaron Hernandez.

Patriots Loss Always Equals Week Of Screaming, Panic

So once again, the screamers are proven to be morons. Losses, rare as they are, are treated with insanity by radio hosts and columnists.

While the usual suspects have been screaming about how the Patriots were being “cheap” and not wanting to pay Brian Waters after his Pro Bowl season in 2011, others were reporting something quite different. Last night and this morning, Shalise Manza Young got the scoop that the Patriots offered Brian Waters $4 million to return this season.

What’s more, this offer was not one made here in recent days as a reaction to the struggles of the offensive line, but was made during training camp.

The screamers *cough*FELGER*cough* will likely somehow dismiss this  (lies fed by the team to their media mouthpieces) and move without breaking stride onto the current great Patriots travesty, the team’s disgraceful treatment of Wes Welker. On Monday, Felger’s yes-man Tony Massarotti wondered when the Patriots would stop screwing around with the line and just “PAY THE GUY.”

The Patriots also continue to offend the sensibilities of the older media around town. Dan Shaughnessy trotted out his tired “Amos Alonzo Kraft” tagline in today’s column, somehow pushing for the Patriots owner to end the referees lockout.

Does anyone think Shaughnessy has an inkling of a clue as to what the NFL/Referee labor dispute is really all about? Most seem to want the NFL to just give the officials whatever they want. It’s about pension plans. For part-time employees. For employees who have full-time jobs elsewhere, many of them very lucrative. But sure, the NFL should just cave and give them whatever they want.

Jackie MacMullan, who only seems to write after losses, had a doozy of a column this week – “We used to be able to count on the Patriots. But now, maybe not.” (That’s the actual slug being used to promote the column.) After ONE loss. Granted, they may well lose this week as well, which might prompt Jackie to trot out her line she used last year about the impending “darkest days of the Brady/Belichick era.”

The recently retired Bob Ryan is on a crusade to prove that Tom Brady is a poor downfield thrower, citing stats on long passes. I really wish Bob would compare Brady’s stats in that area with those of the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning (prior to 2011).

This Wes Welker week has been INSANE. Multiple reporters have said that Edelman had a better camp than Welker, (something those on the outside absolutely cannot fathom) and that for the first two games, the game plan required more from Edelman and his blocking than Welker. Yet, somehow this has been declared just another example of the Patriots screwing over a player.

Even Boomer Esiason is in on the act. Both on WEEI this week, and in his CBS Sports Minute on 98.5 he advanced the theory that the Patriots were screwing Welker (while admitting on WEEI that he didn’t have the facts.) On the CBS bit, his theory was that Belichick was either punishing Welker for a) his foot comments at Rex Ryan (from TWO SEASONS AGO) or b)  for his drop in the Super Bowl, or c) because he wouldn’t take their lowball contract offer. I used to like Boomer, but he lost me there.

How about some good links after all that? Here are your must-reads for today:

Patriots offense couldn’t click on third down –  Greg A Bedard’s post-film session column.

Pats, Ravens switch strengths – Jonathan Comey’s mid-week NFL notes has the Patriots defense and Ravens offense each looking good in the early going.

The scouting adventure that led Red Sox to Junichi Tazawa – Alex Speier looks at how the Red Sox found the player who has turned out to be their most dominating pitcher as of late, but who wasn’t even well-known in his home country of Japan.

Who Is The Blurry Guy In This Photo, And Why Did Manny Ramirez Steal His Pants? The Long Baseball Life Of “The Machete” – I don’t care how many old ladies he pushed down, I miss watching Manny Ramirez.

850 AM To Switch To ESPN Radio on October 5th

In a long-rumored (Chad Finn reported it earlier this summer, it had been rumored well before then) move, Entercom Boston announced this afternoon that programming on 850 AM will switch to all ESPN radio beginning on October 5th. The station will carry the full lineup of ESPN Radio programming.

Also announced was a tighter integration with ESPNBoston.com, the audio stream for WEEI 93.7 FM will be available through ESPNBoston.com and ESPNBoston’s video player will power WEEI’s video player with content from ESPN.

The full release:

Tuesday, Sept. 18

Entercom and ESPN Radio Join Forces to

Launch “ESPN on WEEI” 850 AM

WEEI to provide the best in local and national sports talk and play-by-play

ESPN 850BOSTON, MA – Entercom Boston and ESPN Radio today announced that starting on Friday, October 5, WEEI will split its AM/FM simulcast and begin broadcasting ESPN Radio on 850 AM. “ESPN on WEEI” will air ESPN’s entire national lineup, including the entire upcoming Major League Baseball postseason schedule, the NBA, and college football and college basketball. ESPN Radio on 850 AM will debut with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, of “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” broadcasting live from Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium beginning at 6 a.m. ET on October 5.

WEEI’s legendary local lineup of “Dennis and Callahan,” “Mut and Merloni,” “The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michal Holley,” and “Planet Mikey with Mike Adams” will now be broadcast solely on the 93.7 FM frequency. In addition, 93.7 FM will be the exclusive home of Red Sox baseball, Celtics basketball, Patriots’ Monday and Friday, NFL football and the NFL playoffs.

As part of this expanded partnership, listeners will be able to access 93.7 WEEI’s live audio stream through the popular ESPNBoston.com website. At the same time, ESPNBoston.com’s video channel will now power WEEI.com’s video player with the most up-to-date ESPN video content.

“Since 1991, WEEI has been the gold standard in sports radio. This strategic alliance with ESPN allows WEEI to deliver to the most passionate sports fans in America the very best in local sports talk and play-by-play on WEEI FM and the very best in national sports talk and play-by-play with ESPN on WEEI AM,” said Jeff Brown, Entercom Vice President and Market Manager. “WEEI 850 AM is a proven sports brand. Joining forces with ESPN provides advertisers an additional touch point to connect with a highly valuable and sought after consumer.”

“We’re pleased to team with Boston’s preeminent sports radio outlet and one of the nation’s best radio broadcasting companies in Entercom to bring the number one national network into New England,” said Traug Keller, ESPN Senior Vice President, Production Business Divisions. “This move coupled with the existing presence of ESPNBoston.com provides Boston’s passionate fans the best of ESPN’s national and local coverage and analysis.”

“We are excited to be expanding our partnership with ESPN in such a meaningful way,” said Entercom President and CEO David Field. “Combining Boston’s leading sports station, WEEI-FM, and the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM, together with our ability to cross promote content through our existing mobile and digital platforms, gives passionate Boston sports fans the very best in local and national sports content.”

Beginning Friday, October 5, the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM ESPN lineup will be:

  • 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. “Mike & Mike in the Morning”
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “The Herd with Colin Cowherd”
  • 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. “The Scott Van Pelt Show”
  • 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “ESPN Today”
  • 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. “Hill and Schlereth” / ESPN Play-by-Play
  • 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. “SportsCenter Tonight”
  • 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. “SportsCenter All Night”