The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Boston Red Sox Wed, 28 Sep 2016 04:29:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hold the champagne: Yankees power past Red Sox, end win streak at 11 Wed, 28 Sep 2016 02:33:44 +0000 NEW YORK — Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin homered off David Price, and the New York Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-4 Tuesday night to end Boston’s 11-game winning streak and delay its AL East title celebration.

David Ortiz, starting his final series in the Bronx, went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and stranded seven runners. He ended the game by fanning with two on against Tyler Clippard.

Having clinched at least a wild-card berth last weekend, Boston is five games ahead of second-place Toronto with five games left, needing just one victory or a Blue Jays loss to ensure the division championship.

Toronto also prevented the Red Sox from wrapping it up Tuesday night by beating Baltimore 5-1.

Price (17-9) again struggled against the Yankees, who have only a remote chance of reaching the postseason. They closed within four games of Baltimore for the second AL wild card with five remaining.

Sanchez hit a two-run homer in the first inning, his 20th since the Yankees brought him up from the minors on Aug. 3. Playing in his 51st big league game, Sanchez matched Wally Berger in 1930 as the fastest to 20 homers.

Gregorius hit a solo drive in the sixth, also his 20th. After the Red Sox rallied, Austin broke a 4-all tie with a drive to right – all four of the rookie’s homers have gone to the opposite field.

Blake Parker (1-0) got two outs for his first big league win in two years, retiring Ortiz on a groundout with two on to end the seventh. Clippard got the save, and the Yankees (81-76) ensured they will not finish with their first losing season since 1992.

Price gave up six runs and 12 hits – matching his season high – in 6 1/3 innings. He is 1-3 with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this year, allowing 26 runs in 29 2/3 innings.

The left-hander had won eight straight decisions overall.

Yankees rookie Luis Cessa allowed two runs and five hits in six innings.

After Sanchez’s homer and Jacoby Ellsbury’s fifth-inning RBI single built a 3-0 lead, Boston closed in the sixth on Dustin Pedroia’s run-scoring single and Mookie Betts’ RBI groundout. Aaron Hill led off the seventh with his first career pinch-hit homer, and Pedroia tied the score with a single against Tommy Layne.


Betts slid and while on his back, caught Chase Headley’s fly ball to short right in the sixth, then got up and doubled up Starlin Castro off first.


Yankees manager Joe Girardi expects pitcher Luis Severino will be disciplined after hitting Toronto’s Justin Smoak with a pitch, sparking the second bench-clearing scuffle of Monday’s game. Toronto’s J.A. Happ had thrown consecutive inside pitches to Headley, hitting him with the second and prompting a warning from plate umpire Todd Tichenor.

“The situation I think was handled very poorly,” Girardi said. “If he’s suspended, there’s no doubt in my mind that J.A. Happ should be suspended.”


Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (sore left forearm) was scratched from Thursday’s start and will be replaced by LHP Henry Owens. The Red Sox hope Pomeranz can throw off a mound this week and assume a bullpen role. … Knuckeballer Steven Wright (right shoulder) threw a bullpen and is to throw another one Friday, probably in Boston.

Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (forearm) was cleared to play catch by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and made 25 throws from 60 feet. Tanaka hopes to start this weekend against Baltimore.


RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-2) is scheduled to start Wednesday night for New York against Boston RHP Clay Buchholz (8-10).

]]> 0, 28 Sep 2016 00:11:46 +0000
Tom Caron: Red Sox barreling down the road and into the playoffs Tue, 27 Sep 2016 00:45:12 +0000 The Boston Red Sox are streaking into the playoffs. They’ve won 11 straight games and are making a mockery of the American League East race, clinching a playoff spot on Saturday night.

The next goal in sight for the Sox is the AL East title. They could clinch it as early as Tuesday night. That’s an important step for a team hoping to play deep into October. Winning the division means you get to avoid the one-game wild-card elimination game that kicks off the playoffs. Win the East and you can map out your plans for a best-of-five American League Division Series, which starts Oct. 6.

Since Major League Baseball added a second wild-card team in 2012, three of the four AL teams that won the wild-card game went on to lose in the division series. That would stand to reason since a wild-card team would undoubtedly use its top pitcher in that game, making him unavailable for the first two games of the ALDS.

This week, the Red Sox also will battle with Texas and Cleveland for the best record in the American League – and home-field advantage throughout the World Series.

Not that they need it. The Sox have won 11 of 12 games on the road, and have the best road record in baseball since the All-Star break at 27-14. That’s a remarkable .650 winning percentage. Boston is 7-0 on its current 10-game trip.

This team has come together on the road. The Sox faced a daunting schedule in the final two months of the season. This week they’ll wrap up a stretch of 29 of 42 games away from home.

The Red Sox have steadfastly refused to talk about the playoffs. Even after clinching their spot – a remarkable achievement, considering they had finished in last place the past two years – the Sox refused to even raise a glass for a toast. They have their sights set firmly on the bigger prizes ahead.

They’ve got a real chance to accomplish their goals. For the past three weeks this team has been as good as any in baseball. The Sox have the lowest bullpen ERA of any team in MLB, their starters have the lowest ERA in the AL since July 9, and the offense has scored the most runs in baseball.

And they are developing the swagger a team needs to succeed in October. During their winning streak they have rallied to win five games when trailing after five innings. They are a confident group. They believe in themselves, believe they can rally from a deficit at any time.

New England believes in them, too. This team has won over the region after two disappointing seasons.

Baseball is back in Boston – and it may be back for a while.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

]]> 0, 26 Sep 2016 23:54:37 +0000
Red Sox push their streak to 11 Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:53:16 +0000 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia turned what looked like a sure out into the go-ahead run.

Pedroia used nifty baserunning to score from first base on David Ortiz’s double in the 10th inning, and the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Sunday for their 11th consecutive win.

Boston’s magic number to clinch the division title dropped to two.

Pedroia singled off Eddie Gamboa (0-1) to start the 10th. The relay throw on Ortiz’s hit to right center beat Pedroia to plate, but he avoided catcher Luke Maile’s first tag.

Pedroia’s momentum carried him past the plate and he went back to touch it. Maile was charged with an error when the ball dropped out his glove on another tag try.

“That was crazy,” Ortiz said. “Seemed like he was dancing at the plate.”

“They made a great relay,” Pedroia added. “I really didn’t have anywhere to go. Just tried to get around him and touch the plate. It worked out for us.”
Maile called it a strange play.

“I don’t really know the timing of when the ball left the mitt,” Maile said. “It’s a play you’ve got to make.”

Pedroia hit a solo homer and Mookie Betts extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single for the Red Sox, who secured at least an AL wild-card spot Saturday night.

“Petey is right in the middle of it again,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

Joe Kelly (4-0) pitched 22/3 scoreless innings for the win.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out a career-high 13 in 51/3 innings. The left-hander and Heath Hembree combined to strike out 11 consecutive batters to establish a major league record. The New York Mets held the previous mark when Tom Seaver struck out 10 in a row against San Diego in 1970.

Boston also set a club record by striking out 21 through nine. Kelly added two more in the 10th.

There was a moment of silence before the game for Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident early Sunday. Fernandez played high school baseball in nearby Tampa after defecting from Cuba.

The Rays planned to honor Ortiz before his final game at Tropicana Field but canceled the ceremony at Ortiz’s request after Fernandez’s death. He had three hits and moved past Frank Thomas for 107th place on the career list with 2,469 hits.

Ortiz has 35 homers and 90 RBI at Tropicana Field, which is the most of any visiting player.

]]> 0, 25 Sep 2016 21:47:50 +0000
On Baseball: Here’s one spin on Boston’s postseason rotation Sun, 25 Sep 2016 16:29:57 +0000 Drew Pomeranz sure looked sharp Friday night, pitching five innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing one run, four hits and zero walks.

Pomeranz should get one more start this week. Then do the Red Sox show Pomeranz the door – the one leading to the bullpen?

With Boston headed toward the postseason, who do the Red Sox go with in the rotation after Rick Porcello and David Price (listed in order of my preference)?

These are the enjoyable questions New Englanders love to wrestle with. Better than the “What in blazes happened to this team?” (See postseason debates, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.)

The playoffs, with the scheduled days off, require that teams carry only a four-man rotation.

Porcello. Check.

Price. Check.

Eduardo Rodriguez … likely.

Clay Buchholz … probably.

Pomeranz … questionable.

Steven Wright … doubtful (very).

In the case of Wright, that three-hit shutout he pitched Aug. 5 seems like last season. Since then he’s been on the disabled list with a sore shoulder (injured while pinch running … we will pause here while you rant about that decision), and then rushed back to make two unsuccessful starts (nine earned runs in 10 innings).

Wright was initially expected to throw a bullpen for the Red Sox before Sunday’s game but now the team is saying he’s not ready.

It appears too little, too late to return him to the rotation. Even the bullpen seems like a remote idea.

Pomeranz has appeared tired recently, which is why Boston limited him to 78 pitches Friday night. He has pitched 1691/3 innings this season, or more than 70 innings beyond his previous high (96 2/3) in 2012, when started 22 games in Colorado, along with pitching another 50 innings in the minors.

Before Friday, Pomeranz’s last two starts featured outings of two innings (five runs) and 32/3 innings (four runs).

He has not pitched into the seventh inning since August.

So if Pomeranz is taken out of the rotation for the playoffs, does he become Felix Doubront or Jeff Suppan?

Doubront, Sea Dogs fans will remember, was the talented left-hander in the Red Sox organization who could just never put it all together (he is currently with Oakland, recovering from Tommy John surgery). In 2013, despite his displeasure, he was jettisoned to the bullpen for the postseason.

Doubront responded with a 1.29 ERA in four playoff games, including a clutch 22/3 innings of one-run ball in Game 4 of the World Series. Doubront followed Buchholz (who was hurting and limited to four innings) and was the winning pitcher.

Jeff Suppan, like Pomeranz, was a pitcher acquired by Boston before the 2003 trading deadline to solidify the playoff run. Suppan was 10-7 with a 3.57 ERA with Pittsburgh, and Boston dealt infielder Freddy Sanchez for him (Sanchez would win the 2006 National League batting title).

With Boston, Suppan was 3-4 with a 5.57 ERA. Boston left him off the postseason roster and he was granted free agency in the offseason. Pomeranz, by the way, is not eligible for free agency until 2019.

Pomeranz would figure to have value in the bullpen. He’s still a good pitcher, can provide long relief and he’s done this before, with 58 career relief appearances.

Buchholz could go to the bullpen. He adapted to the role for part of this season (16 appearances, 3.57 ERA).

Buchholz is similar to Rodriguez in a Jekyll-and-Hyde sort of aggravating way.

After sizzling in San Diego in early September, Buchholz took on the Blue Jays and lasted only three innings (six runs). Since then, Buchholz has pitched two solid starts (13 total innings, three runs).

Rodriguez came close to pitching a no-hitter in Oakland on Sept. 4. Two starts later he couldn’t get out of the third inning (four earned runs). Then he dazzled in his last start.

Unlike Pomeranz and Buchholz, Rodriguez has never relieved before.

So who are your Game 3 and 4 starters in a playoff series? Go with Rodriguez and Buchholz.

They both have shown they can dominate when they are on, and go deep enough into games.

Yes, there is the inconsistency that worries everyone. But in a playoff game, Manager John Farrell would be quick with a hook. If Rodriguez or Buchholz were faltering, Farrell could call on someone to give quality innings: Pomeranz.


]]> 0, 25 Sep 2016 17:20:00 +0000
Red Sox top Rays for 10th straight win, clinch playoff spot Sun, 25 Sep 2016 01:42:15 +0000 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth Saturday night by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5½-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL’s second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season’s final week, meaning only one of them can win match Boston’s 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 61/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe’s solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBI.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook’s grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez’s grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

NOTES: Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright (right shoulder) isn’t ready to throw off a mound, but did throw at 120 feet on level ground for the second straight day. … Tampa Bay designated hitter Nick Franklin (left hamstring) was in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 15. He did pinch-hit twice in between. … Farrell said left-hander David Price will start Tuesday and Sunday, which lines him up for Game 2 of the AL division series. … The Rays will honor Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz in a pregame ceremony Sunday before his final game at Tropicana Field. He will be just the fourth visiting player to be honored, joining Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Cal Ripken Jr. “Whenever somebody takes their time to honor my career I always appreciate it,” Ortiz said.

MANAGER JOHN John Farrell has not ruled out injured third baseman Pablo Sandoval returning this year should an injury replacement be required.

Sandoval was not expected back until 2017 following a left shoulder injury that sent him to the disabled list after just three games in April.

“We’re staying open-minded,” Farrell said. “If something was to happen, does he make himself an option? That door has not been closed.”

Sandoval has been the designated hitter with the Red Sox’s instructional league team in Fort Myers, Florida, and is expected soon to play in the field.

Sandoval worked out with the AL East leaders Saturday, taking batting practice and doing defensive drills.

]]> 2, 24 Sep 2016 23:28:45 +0000
Red Sox keep on rolling, win ninth straight Sat, 24 Sep 2016 02:20:16 +0000 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz hit a two-run homer in the first inning to set the RBI record for a player in his final season, and the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1 on Friday night for their ninth straight win.

Ortiz’s 37th homer came off Chris Archer (8-19) and raised his RBI total to 124, one more than Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1920. The 40-year-old’s 540th homer, his 300th on the road, struck an overhanging catwalk above the right-field seats.

Coming off four-game sweeps of the New York Yankees and Baltimore, the Red Sox remained six games ahead of second-place Toronto in the AL East. They lowered their magic number to two for clinching a playoff berth.

Drew Pomeranz (3-5) allowed one run and four hits in five innings. Brad Ziegler, the fifth Boston reliever, got his fourth save after allowing a leadoff double in the ninth to Evan Longoria.

Archer set a Tampa Bay record for losses in a season, breaking the mark Tanyon Sturtze set in 2002. He has lost 11 straight decisions against Boston since beating the Red Sox in his first career start against them on Sept. 19, 2012.

Ortiz appeared to have his 524th double with the Red Sox, which would have moved him within one of tying Ted Williams for second on the franchise list, but was called out at second base in the seventh after Tampa Bay challenged the original safe call. He was credited with a single.

Mikie Mahtook hit a solo homer in the second for the Rays.

Ortiz has 35 homers at Tropicana Field, the most of any opponent.

]]> 0, 23 Sep 2016 23:40:53 +0000
Red Sox complete sweep of Orioles for eighth straight win Fri, 23 Sep 2016 02:42:25 +0000 BALTIMORE — As the Boston Red Sox steamroll their way toward the AL East crown, the Baltimore Orioles have turned their full attention toward the wild-card race.

David Price won his eighth straight decision, Hanley Ramirez homered and the Red Sox completed a four-game sweep of the sinking Orioles with a 5-3 victory Thursday night.

Boston has won eight straight to open a 51/2-game lead over idle Toronto in the AL East. With 13 victories in their last 16 games, the Red Sox have a magic number of five to clinch the division crown.

“That’s the Red Sox,” Ramirez said. “They know that you can chase something, want something, and we’ll go right after it. The good thing about this team is just everybody’s together, and we’ve got everything.”

Baltimore fell seven games out and dropped below Detroit for the second AL wild card. It was the first time since 2002 that the Orioles were swept at home by Boston in a four-game series.

“I think you’ve got be realistic about where we are at this point after losing four,” closer Zach Britton said. “It’s kind of time to light a fire under our butt because those other teams playing for the wild card are right there.”

Britton pitched the ninth for the Orioles, but never had a save opportunity during the four-game series.

“We should be playing better ball than what we showed,” he said. “But give them credit, too. When they’ve got everything rolling they’re a tough team to beat – just like we are. But right now everything’s not really clicking for us.”

Price (17-8) gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out five. The Red Sox have won each of his last nine starts since Aug. 7.

“That was a big win,” Price said. “We’ve played good baseball, and this is the time of the year when you want your team to get on a roll the way we have, and that’s what we’ve done.”

Koji Uehara worked the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel got three straight outs for his 29th save in 31 chances.

Baltimore trailed 3-0 before Trey Mancini, starting his second major league game, hit a tying three-run homer in the third inning. It was his second home run in six at-bats.

“At the moment, it’s just an unbelievable experience,” Mancini said. “But on the flip side, after a loss like that, you don’t really think about the home run so much. It really doesn’t matter.”

Boston used a walk, a wild pitch and Andrew Benintendi’s two-out RBI single off Vance Worley (2-2) to move back in front in the fifth.

Ramirez hit his 29th homer in the seventh to make it 5-3 and send the Red Sox to their eighth straight win over an AL East foe, their longest such run since 1990.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman gave up three runs, five hits and walked three in 12/3 innings, his shortest outing since June 2015.

Boston got a first-inning RBI single from Ramirez and added two runs in the second, the last on a bases-loaded walk to David Ortiz that ended Tillman’s outing.

A here-we-go-again pall engulfed Orioles fans in the crowd of 26,788, but their spirits were rekindled when Mancini lined a 2-2 pitch into the seats in left field. The standing ovation continued until Price threw his next pitch.

In a ceremony before his final regular-season game in Baltimore, Ortiz was given the phone he smashed inside the visitor’s dugout during a tirade on July 27, 2013.

Wearing a huge grin, Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones handed Ortiz the shattered phone, which was mounted on a wooden frame.

Ortiz also received a $10,000 check, made out to a charity in his name. He took the check to the dugout but left the phone on the field.

NOTES: Steven Wright (shoulder) threw from 60 feet on Thursday and was scheduled to throw from 120 feet on Friday. … LHP Henry Owens threw five innings in the Instructional League to stay sharp and was set to rejoin the Red Sox on Friday.

]]> 0, 23 Sep 2016 08:24:26 +0000
Error helps Red Sox to another win, 5-1 Thu, 22 Sep 2016 02:18:34 +0000 BALTIMORE — It’s tough enough to beat the Boston Red Sox these days. Give them an extra out to work with, and the task becomes even more difficult.

Boston scored five unearned runs in the sixth inning after a throwing error by first baseman Chris Davis and rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run homer for the Red Sox, who will seek to complete a four-game sweep on Thursday. Boston pulled five games ahead of second-place Toronto in the AL East and six in front of Baltimore with 10 games remaining.

The Red Sox trailed 1-0 in the sixth before Davis’ two-out miscue turned the game around.

“We were given a gift,” Boston Manager John Farrell said, “and we did take every advantage of that extra out.”

Clay Buchholz (8-10) allowed one run and three hits over seven innings for the Red Sox. Boston’s seven-game winning streak, which began with a sweep of the Yankees, is its longest since an identical run early in the 2014 season.

The loss kept Baltimore a game behind the Blue Jays for the top AL wild card. The Orioles have lost 5 of 7, all at home, and scored only nine runs in their last five games.

“They’ll get it going here,” Manager Buck Showalter said. “If we can get in, I feel real good about this group.”

Boston rallied against All-Star reliever Brad Brach, who replaced Ubaldo Jimenez (7-12) with two on and one out in the sixth. Aaron Hill hit a dribbler in front of the mound and beat the throw to first base following a miscommunication between Brach and catcher Matt Wieters.

That loaded the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr., who struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Sandy Leon then hit a sharp grounder toward first base at Davis, who rushed an off-balance throw that whisked past Brach, allowing two runs to score.

“Obviously just didn’t make a very good throw on it,” Davis said. “Probably a ball I could’ve stayed back on and just gone to the bag, but I just reacted and when I went to throw, it just kind of stuck in my hand.”

Said Brach: “I was just heading over to the bag, and when I picked up (sight) of the ball it was just coming a little hard to me and a little bit out of my reach.”

Benintendi hit the next pitch over the wall in right field.

“It’s frustrating when they don’t get a ball past first base, 90 feet away, and two runs score,” Brach said. “And obviously I need to make a better pitch on the next batter.”

That all but assured the Red Sox their 12th win in 15 games. They have also won 7 of 8 on the road.

After Boston loaded the bases in the first inning but failed to score, the Orioles capitalized on the same situation in the third when Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly.

The Red Sox again filled the bases in the fourth before Leon bounced into a 3-6-1 double play.

The next time Boston loaded the bases, two innings later, the Red Sox finally came through – albeit with a little help from Davis.

NOTES: Dustin Pedroia was back in the lineup after being held out Tuesday to get treatment on his left knee. . 1B Hanley Ramirez is dealing with a sore left shoulder and got the night off. He is expected to return Thursday. . RHP Steven Wright (shoulder) threw from 120 feet at the team’s minor league facility in Fort Myers, Florida. He could throw a bullpen session this weekend.

]]> 0, 21 Sep 2016 23:23:33 +0000
Kelly’s future may be in relief for the Red Sox Wed, 21 Sep 2016 02:46:52 +0000 BALTIMORE — Joe Kelly has a better chance of raising the next Zach Britton than being the next Zach Britton himself, for one important reason.

“He’s left-handed,” Kelly said. “That’s why I’m trying to make my son left-handed, so he can be better than me.”

Still, Kelly and the Boston Red Sox have at least a little reason to be intrigued by what Britton has done for the Orioles, and what that might mean for Kelly.

A failed starter with a career ERA of 4.77 in more than 250 big-league innings three years ago, Britton will receive Cy Young Award votes thanks to a season in which he has compiled a 0.59 ERA with 45 saves for Baltimore. Since becoming a reliever full-time, Britton has a 1.42 ERA in almost 200 appearances.

As a starter, Britton emphasized a heavy sinker that sat at 93 mph and included with it a moderate dose of change-ups and sliders. As a reliever, Britton throws almost nothing but that heavy sinker, a pitch that moves out of his left hand the way some sliders move out of some right hands. In short stints he can ride it up to 99 mph.

Kelly might still get another shot as a starting pitcher for the Red Sox next season. The team has yet to have a conversation about that either way. That will wait until after the season ends.

Kelly hopes to get another shot at starting. He believes some mechanical adjustments he made in the bullpen, refining his arm slot and the position of his hand on the baseball as he releases it, would translate back to a starting role.

“It’s not a finished product but what I’ve been working on feels a lot better, for sure,” he said.

The Red Sox acknowledge Kelly has had a chance to prove himself as a starter in five different seasons, twice with the Red Sox, and always seems to wind up in the bullpen instead.

Kelly had a 4.82 ERA in 25 starts for the Red Sox last season and an ugly 8.46 ERA in six starts this season before a succession of injuries. A Boston team that will see Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler file for free agency after this season might bring Kelly back as a reliever next season.

As a starter, Kelly offered a four-pitch mix – mid-90s fastball, change-up, curveball and slider. As a reliever, he’s seen his fastball jump from 95-96 on average to 98-99 on average, and the Red Sox appear on the verge of settling on the secondary pitch that works best for him. It might offer the key to it all.

Some relievers can get away with one pitch. Britton throws his sinker almost exclusively as a closer. Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen throws almost nothing but his cutter. Andrew Miller of Cleveland throws his knee-buckling slider more often than his fastball.

“Having one just completely dominant pitch is the hallmark of those guys,” Red Sox pitching analyst Brian Bannister said. “With Miller, it’s leveraging the slider. With Britton, it’s leveraging the sinker. They’re just such outliers and a hitter only gets one shot at them. … Not every pitcher has that outlier pitch.”

Even more than righties, lefties like Britton, Miller and Sean Doolittle of Oakland can get away with relying on a single dominant pitch because hitters see pitches like those from lefties so much less frequently.

Righties tend not to be able to get away with throwing just one pitch, even in relief. Jansen and Mariano Rivera have done it, as have a handful of others. More common for righties is the profile of Dellin Betances of the Yankees and Craig Kimbrel of Boston, who use a fastball-curveball mix to get their outs.

For Kelly, a mid-80s curveball with an off-the-charts spin rate could unlock his potential as a reliever.

In a September that has seen Kelly strike out 11 and walk three without allowing a run in 72/3 innings, he’s almost entirely ditched his slider and change-up in favor of his curveball.

“Kelly spins the ball as well as anybody in baseball,” Bannister said. “Everybody talks about his fastball but he’s got a power curveball. In relief, he can showcase that much more often.”

]]> 0, 20 Sep 2016 22:52:22 +0000
Ortiz strikes the big blow as Red Sox beat Orioles, 5-2 Wed, 21 Sep 2016 02:36:34 +0000 BALTIMORE — David Ortiz broke open a tight game with a three-run homer in the seventh inning, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 Tuesday night for their sixth straight victory.

Jackie Bradley Jr. also homered for the Red Sox, who stretched their lead over Baltimore in the AL East to five games. After sweeping four games from the Yankees, Boston has won the first two of this pivotal four-game series.

The Red Sox are 11-3 in their last 14 games and a major league-best 13-5 in September.

Trey Mancini homered in his major league debut with the Orioles, who began the day tied with Toronto for the two AL wild cards.

The Red Sox led 2-1 in the seventh when Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts singled off Kevin Gausman (8-11). One out later, Ortiz hit a 1-2 pitch far over the center-field wall.

Playing in his final season, Ortiz has 36 home runs and 121 RBIs. Big Papi has hit eight home runs against the Orioles this season and 54 for his career.

Betts also extended his run of success against Baltimore, going 3 for 5 and scoring twice. He is 16 for 31 at Camden Yards and has scored 16 runs in eight games.

Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7) allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings for Boston, his first win in 11 starts since July 16.

Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 28th save.

After giving up four hits in eight scoreless innings last week at Boston, Gausman yielded five runs and 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Boston went up 1-0 in the third when Betts singled and scored on a grounder by Hanley Ramirez. Bradley hit his 26th homer in the fourth.

Rodriguez retired his first 11 batters and held Baltimore without a hit until Mancini connected with two outs in the fifth. The rookie sprinted around the bases, taking about half the time Ortiz did during his home run trot in the seventh.

Manager John Farrell gave second baseman Dustin Pedroia the day off but expected him back in the lineup Wednesday night.

]]> 0, 20 Sep 2016 22:43:52 +0000
Tom Caron: Red Sox poised to make a run in October Tue, 20 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The Boston Red Sox are sprinting toward October.

The finish line of the baseball season is in sight. We often like to point out that the 162-game grind of Major League Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. With 150 games gone, that’s no longer the case. It’s time to break from the pack, and the Red Sox have been doing just that.

They picked up the pace with a four-game sweep of the Yankees at home over the weekend, their longest sweep over New York in 26 years. It was an educational experience that may have taught us a lot about this team.

We learned they can win one-run games. They won by a run on Saturday and Sunday, coming from behind in each game. These are the type of games you need to win when the playoffs roll around, and they were the type of games the Red Sox weren’t winning before.

The Sox are now 18-22 in one-run games, but we’re all feeling a lot better about that stat after the Yankees series.

We learned that Hanley Ramirez might be the American League Player of the Month for September. He went 9 for 16 over the weekend, and had 11 homers in 18 games entering Monday’s game. Not coincidentally, the Sox went 12-6 in that stretch.

Ramirez has never been to the World Series, but he has a .467 career average in eight Division Series games. He has made this offense – which leads the majors in runs scored – even more potent of late.

We learned that the bullpen has suddenly, miraculously, come together when the stakes are highest. The bullpen ERA is 0.94 in September, the best in baseball. That run of success coincides with the return of Koji Uehara, who got the save Sunday night when Craig Kimbrel was unavailable. Uehara threw a scoreless ninth. Five other relievers combined with him to work 52/3 scoreless innings.

The bullpen’s success is very important, because we’ve also learned there are no sure things in the starting rotation after David Price and Rick Porcello. The Sox have to feel good about the two men at the top of the rotation, but Eduardo Rodriguez, Clay Buchholz and Drew Pomeranz were less than stellar in their recent starts. The bullpen bailed them out, but that can’t keep happening.

The good news is that the Red Sox really only need one start from one of those three pitchers in the best-of-five ALDS. Porcello and Price could each start two games on regular rest. And with those two pitchers at the top, this team feels good about its chances in a playoff series. In 2013, Jon Lester and John Lackey combined for seven of Boston’s 11 postseason wins. The Red Sox are hopeful they can once again ride a pair of arms to a deep playoff run.

Most important, we learned that the Sox are undoubtedly going to the playoffs. The Red Sox beat Baltimore 5-2 Monday to reduce their magic number to win the AL East to 9. A split of the four-game set with the Orioles would keep Boston in control. Winning the division means you don’t have to worry about a one-game, wild-card showdown. It means another worst-to-first turnaround.

Autumn is here. And the Sox are pulling away in the toughest division in baseball.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

]]> 0, 20 Sep 2016 00:32:49 +0000
Red Sox open AL East showdown with 5-2 win over Orioles Tue, 20 Sep 2016 01:54:30 +0000 BALTIMORE — Rick Porcello and the Boston Red Sox appear poised to extend their late-season charge deep into October.

Porcello pitched a four-hitter for his major league-high 21st victory, David Ortiz and Mookie Betts hit two-run homers and Boston beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 on Monday night to pad its lead in the AL East.

Coming off a four-game sweep of the Yankees, the Red Sox extended their surge in the opener of an important four-game series for both clubs. Boston has won 10 of 13 and stands atop the division by a season-high four games.

“It’s never over until it’s over, but we’re definitely going to try to increase the gap between us and them,” Porcello said.

Adam Jones homered and Mark Trumbo picked up his 102nd RBI for the second-place Orioles, who started the day with a one-game lead over Toronto for the top AL wild card.

“We’ve got three more here against (the Red Sox),” Baltimore’s Manny Machado said. “We’ll just put it on a track where we need to be.”

Boston’s goal over the next three days will be to put away the Orioles for good.

“We’re going to try,” Ortiz said.

Porcello (21-4) struck out seven and walked none in his third complete game of the year. Five days earlier against Baltimore, the right-hander gave up one run in eight innings but took the loss.

In this one, he threw only 89 pitches – 65 in the strike zone.

“When it’s his day on the mound, he sets the tone for us,” manager John Farrell said. “Did once again.”

Porcello has allowed three runs or fewer in 11 straight starts and is sure to receive strong consideration for the AL Cy Young Award after going 9-15 last year.

“All of us are honored to be mentioned for those awards,” he said. “But I’ve been saying it all year, our focus is winning and what we want to accomplish as a team.”

Playing his final regular-season series in Baltimore, the 40-year-old Ortiz connected against rookie Dylan Bundy (9-6) with a man on in the fifth for a 5-1 lead. It was his 35th home run of the season and the 53rd of his career against the Orioles.

When he finally walks away from the game, Ortiz will certainly miss taking his cuts at Camden Yards.

“Yeah, man, it’s just super nice. I like it,” he said, “especially when it’s warm like it is.”

Betts put Boston up 2-0 with his 31st homer in the third. It was his eighth home run in seven games at Camden Yards – most in a season by a Red Sox in a visiting ballpark since Jimmie Foxx hit eight in St. Louis in 1939.

Porcello retired the first 11 batters before hitting Machado with a pitch in the fourth. Trumbo followed with an RBI double.

The Red Sox responded with a three-run fifth. Dustin Pedroia snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a run-scoring single before Ortiz launched a 1-1 pitch over the 25-foot scoreboard in right field.

Jones homered in the eighth, his 28th.

]]> 0, 20 Sep 2016 01:18:52 +0000
Ramirez, Red Sox sweep Yankees Mon, 19 Sep 2016 04:00:10 +0000 BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez homered twice and drove in four runs to rally the Boston Red Sox over New York on Sunday night, completing a four-game sweep that severely diminished the Yankees’ chances of winning the AL East.

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a tying RBI single for the East-leading Red Sox, who overcame a rough start by Drew Pomeranz to post their ninth win in 12 games. Boston remained three games ahead of second-place Baltimore, which beat Tampa Bay 2-1 on Sunday.

The Red Sox open a 10-game trip at Baltimore with the first of four games on Monday night.

Gary Sanchez belted his 16th homer since Aug. 3 for the Yankees, who dropped eight back in the division and remained four behind Toronto for the second wild-card spot.

The Yankees were without second baseman Starlin Castro and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who were both injured Saturday. Castro strained his right hamstring running out a double and Ellsbury bruised his right knee sliding into a bullpen wall trying to make a catch.

The Red Sox overcame deficits three times in the series, including the opener, when they scored five in the ninth and Ramirez hit a game-ending, three-run homer.

This time, he hit a fly ball that soared over the Green Monster off Tyler Clippard (1-1) for a 5-4 lead in the seventh. It was his 12th homer in 21 games.

Robby Scott (1-0) retired the only two batters he faced for his first major league victory.

Koji Uehara got the final three outs for his seventh save.

New York scored single runs in the first and third before chasing Pomeranz with two in the fourth.

]]> 0, 19 Sep 2016 00:09:16 +0000
On Baseball: This wasn’t vintage Price, but it was good enough Sat, 17 Sep 2016 23:39:35 +0000 BOSTON — Starlin Castro stepped in the batter’s box to lead off the second inning. He took a called strike, on a high fastball over the outside corner.

Next came a cut fastball, also up, and Castro swung and missed.

Then, finally, the change-up, dropping below knee level, as Castro flailed for strike three.

At times, David Price was the artist, delivering an assortment of fastballs, cutters and change-ups to either side of the plate, elevated or down low.

But Price left a couple of change-ups up for extra-base hits, and he also gave up a two-run homer on a low, inside fastball that actually looked like a nasty pitch.

After only 31/3 innings, David Price and the Red Sox were losing 5-2. He had already surrendered seven hits.

But isn’t Price supposed to be coming into form as the Red Sox push toward the postseason?

And here is where we insert the required reference to Price’s pricey contract of $217 million for seven years. The Red Sox did not pay for what Price was delivering on Saturday.

At least, not at first.

But now we know … the rest of the story.

Price had thrown 72 pitches after 31/3 innings. The bullpen was getting busy.

But Price steadied himself, retired eight of the next 10 batters – four by strikeout – and gave the Red Sox six innings, keeping them in the game.

“That was huge,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “His pitch count was getting to the point to where his day was being over. He made big pitches when he needed to.

“Getting through six innings makes a world of difference when you’re going to the bullpen.”

It wasn’t vintage Price, but it was enough. With Price shutting the door, he helped Boston eventually come back for a 6-5 win.

“Once I gave up those runs, I knew if I could just hold it right there, our offense is going to strike at some point,” Price said. “That’s what we’ve done all year.”

Price had not been ace-like all year, leading to teeth-gnashing across New England. After his first seven starts, he had a 6.75 ERA. Since then, he’s had a 3.27 ERA.

Price’s six-inning effort Saturday included no walks and seven strikeouts. It was his first no-decision after winning his last seven starts.

“I had a lot of good things happen to me over my last seven starts,” Price said. “Today wasn’t (like that), but I still threw the ball well.”

Price has a point. He made pitches. In the third inning, Austin Romine singled by reaching out for a sinking change-up. Price did leave a change-up too much in the strike zone for Brett Gardner’s RBI triple.

But when Gary Sanchez came to the mound, Price was commanding his pitches.

He tried to get Sanchez to chase two outside change-ups, falling behind 2-0. It was 2-2 after two fastballs on the corners (outside and then high and inside). After Sanchez fouled off an outside change-up, Price came inside with a low, 95 mph fastball.

“It was a good pitch,” Price said.

But Sanchez is a hot hitter and turned on it, sending it over the monster for his 15th home run and a 3-0 lead.

“The only thing I would change about that is throwing a four-seam instead of a two-seam,” Price said. “But it was still in a good spot. He’s a good player. You tip your cap.”

New York got two more runs in the fourth inning. After giving up two singles, Price left a change-up over too much of the plate, for a two-run Romine double.

In the sixth, after yielding a leadoff single, Price was at 100 pitches. The bullpen had warm arms, but Farrell stayed in the dugout.

“Leaving me out there against guys who have had success against me, I definitely appreciated that,” Price said.

Price got Chase Headley to fly out and struck out both Romine and Rob Refsnyder, looking at backdoor cutters.

That ended his day, and allowed Boston room for a comeback.

Price’s numbers this year have some bright spots, including 217 strikeouts in 2112/3 innings, and 44 walks (none in his last 22 innings).

Price showed something beyond numbers Saturday. He got hit, and scored upon, but he did not break.

“I gave up five, but we found a way to win,” Price said.


]]> 0, 17 Sep 2016 19:45:57 +0000
Red Sox rally for 6-5 win over Yankees Sat, 17 Sep 2016 20:58:33 +0000 BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox found themselves down 5-2 to the Yankees again.

But instead of one dramatic ninth-inning comeback – like on Thursday – the Red Sox came back earlier with a couple runs here and there.

“This was a little more methodical,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

The result was the same. Boston scored two runs in the fifth and two more in the seventh to secure a 6-5 victory over New York on Saturday, before 37,267 at Fenway Park.

Xander Bogaerts paced Boston with a two-run homer and two doubles. Mookie Betts, who singled in the tying run, scored the game-winner by racing home on a wild pitch.

It was Boston’s third straight win over the Yankees, keeping the Red Sox (84-64) at least two games ahead in the American League East, while New York (77-71) dropped seven games back.

“We’re playing a really good brand of baseball right now,” said reliever Matt Barnes. “If we continue doing what we’re doing, we’ll be just fine.”

Barnes (4-3) got the win with 11/3 hitless innings. He gave way to Craig Kimbrel, who recorded his 27th save, striking out all four batters he faced.

The once-maligned Boston bullpen pitched three scoreless innings Saturday and has the major’s best bullpen ERA (1.06) in September.

The bullpen followed David Price, who put Boston into a hole early, allowing five runs through four innings. Brett Gardner’s RBI triple, a Gary Sanchez two-run homer and Austin Romine’s two-run double did the damage.

But the Yankees have seen leads vanish before against Boston.

“This is the best lineup in the game right now,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said of the Red Sox.

Bogaerts played a role in every rally.

In second inning, he doubled in Andrew Benintendi and later scored on David Ortiz’s groundout.

In the fourth, Bogaerts came up with two outs and a runner on. Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell fired in a 95 mph fastball about six inches inside.

“Too much inside. I had no right to be swinging at that pitch,” Bogaerts said.

But Bogaerts did swing, and clubbed it over the left-field wall. It was his 20th home run and cut the lead to 5-4.

Bogaerts came in to Saturday’s game slumping – .255 average since the All-Star break, and 4 for 21 on this homestand.

“It was frustrating but I never doubted myself,” Bogaerts said. “I hopefully have figured it out.”

Bogaerts said the solution is to square up his stance more, and hit more balls to center and right-center.

That is what Bogaerts did to lead off the seventh, sending a fastball to the triangle in right center for a double.

Bogaerts reached third on Ortiz’s fly-out. New York brought its infield in and Mookie’s Betts bounced an RBI single over the reach of shortstop Didi Gregorius, tying the game 5-5.

Hanley Ramirez followed with a single. Both Betts and Ramirez advanced on Travis Shaw’s groundout to first.

With Sandy Leon up, Adam Warren (3-2) bounced a wild pitch that just got past Romine.

“Being the go-ahead run, I want to be aggressive,” Betts said. “I had a good read on the ball.”

Betts scored easily for a 6-5 lead. Ramirez also tried to score and was tagged out.

The Red Sox are a step closer to the playoffs, as New York nears elimination.

“Red Sox-Yankees is always a great rivalry,” Betts said. “Knowing that it’s for the playoffs makes it that much more fun.”

]]> 0, 17 Sep 2016 20:11:28 +0000
Ramirez homers again, Red Sox beat Yankees 7-4 Sat, 17 Sep 2016 02:40:42 +0000 BOSTON — It wasn’t as timely as the one the night before, but don’t ask Hanley Ramirez which home run was better.

“Both of them,” the Red Sox first baseman said with a laugh after he homered for the second straight game – and for the second straight game helped Boston beat the rival New York Yankees.

One night after hitting a three-run shot as the Red Sox rallied in the series opener, Ramirez added a solo drive to help Boston win 7-4 on Friday night and protect its two-game lead in the AL East.

David Ortiz had a pair of hits, including a double that was the 1,187th extra-base hit of his career. That moved him out of a tie with Frank Robinson and into 11th on baseball’s all-time list; Lou Gehrig is next with 1,190.

Ramirez’s homer was his ninth in 16 games.

“The middle of the order has been powerful, and it has been consistent,” Manager John Farrell said of Nos. 3-4-5 hitters Ortiz, Mookie Betts and Ramirez, who had two hits apiece. “(Ramirez) has been on a good run for nearly a month now.”

Jackie Bradley Jr. also homered for Boston, which maintained a two-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-4. The Yankees, who on Thursday night were one out from climbing within three games of the division lead, fell six games back and lost ground in the AL wild-card race behind Baltimore and Toronto.

“Obviously, we would have liked to win a couple games here, but there’s still some time,” third baseman Chase Headley said. “It’s reachable. We’ve just got to go get on another streak and start winning some games.”

Clay Buchholz (7-10) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out two in six innings.

Luis Cessa (4-2) gave up three runs and six hits, striking out one in five innings. In his second game since signing with the Yankees, Billy Butler hit a two-run homer in the ninth to make it 7-4, but Craig Kimbrel got two outs for his 26th save.

Ortiz singled in the first and was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. He did double off the center-field wall in the sixth, giving him a major league-leading 47 for the season and moving him two doubles behind Ted Williams for second place in franchise history.

Cessa allowed the first five batters to reach, but two of them were thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles. Betts was also called for the potential inning-ending out stealing second, but the replay review showed he was safe.

Boston still came away with two runs in the first against Cessa.

“He kind of got through the first inning with good defense,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said.

Buchholz bounced back from his shortest start of the season with six solid innings and his second consecutive win. The Red Sox righty, who has bounced back and forth from the bullpen, pitched out of jams in the second and third but gave up a pair of runs in the fifth.

“He created a couple of jams for himself,” Farrell said. “He’d bend a little bit but still stay away from the big inning.”

Buchholz entered the night with a 5-9 career record and a 6.19 ERA against the Yankees.

]]> 0, 17 Sep 2016 00:50:42 +0000
On baseball: What a swing, what a win for Red Sox Fri, 16 Sep 2016 04:46:09 +0000 BOSTON – Dellin Betances throws his fastball around 99 mph, give or take a click on the radar gun.

Hanley Ramirez waited for one.

“I was sitting on fastball the whole time,” Ramirez said.

Betances’ first pitch was a heater, but so far inside it was a wild pitch.

“Then he threw me breaking ball, breaking ball, breaking ball.”

Ramirez even flailed at one of the outside curveballs but with the count 3-1, waited for the pitch he wanted.

“Just say stay back and let it fly,” Ramirez said.

Indeed. Ramirez swatted a 99 mph offering down the middle for a three-run, walk-off homer to center field on a crisp 63-degree evening at Fenway Park.

The 7-5 improbable victory capped a five-run ninth inning.

“Unbelievable,” Ramirez said. “I’ve been saying the whole year we don’t give up.”

Saying it and doing it are two different matters.

But the Red Sox did it Thursday, pushing their lead in the American League East back to two games.

“For me, that’s my best baseball moment,” said Mookie Betts, who was on base when Ramirez homered. “Some other guys have been in playoffs and the World Series. I’m trying to get there.”

Betts’ single closed the score to 5-4 – a cursed one-run margin that often spells defeat for the Red Sox.

After the wild pitch to Ramirez, Betts stood on second base and pinch-runner Marco Hernandez was on third.

Betances was laboring.

“I mean, it was still 100 (mph),” Betts said, “and his curveball is at 85 mph. His stuff was there. Just (a lack of) command. He fell behind a couple of guys and we took advantage.”

Betts watched the fastball leave Betances’ hand, then saw Ramirez pounce.

“I just watched him,” Betts said. “I turned and there it went.”

Soon the celebration commenced on the Fenway turf.

“Something I can’t explain. So much joy,” Betts said. “Your Adrenalin gets going. You know what you did. Pretty much the best way to win.”

A walk-off to extend the division lead and push the Yankees to five games back.

Ramirez was a key player. So were Ortiz and Betts. And, Betts said, don’t forget the bullpen.

“Our pitchers did a great job holding them to five,” Betts said. “Our guys bore down.”

Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez held the Yankees to two earned runs or less in his first six starts against them. He wouldn’t make it seven, allowing four runs in 21/3 innings. This in the same week that had starts by Clay Buchholz (six runs, three innings) and Drew Pomeranz (five runs, two innings).

Boston won that Buchholz start and stayed close in the Pomeranz game. The bullpen, cursed so often this season, is keeping the Red Sox in games.

And you won’t believe who came up big Thursday:

Robby Scott.

Scott, the former independent league pitcher who became an All-Star for the Portland Sea Dogs last year, pitched three scoreless innings.

It was only Scott’s second major league game. His debut was two weeks ago in Oakland (a shutout inning).

Scott retired the top of the order 1-2-3 in the sixth inning. After another 1-2-3 in the seventh, he escaped the eighth after allowing two singles and a walk.

“First time out at Fenway. Little bit different than pitching in Oakland,” Scott said. “Once I got settled in, just tried to get my team back in the dugout. There are no words to explain (the win). Extremely grateful for the opportunity. This team is something special.”

And maybe Manager John Farrell will trust Scott more.

Farrell walked through the clubhouse a half-hour after the game. Ramirez was toweling off in front of his locker. Farrell approached, shook Ramirez’s hand slapped his shoulder.

A good win but the Red Sox can hardly get comfortable. They are 8-5 in September.

The bottom of the rotation still needs to improve. The bats could be more consistent.

The AL East is waiting for a team to bolt from the pack. This might be the start of something big for Boston.

]]> 0, 16 Sep 2016 08:20:32 +0000
Red Sox rally in 9th to stun Yankees, 7-5 Fri, 16 Sep 2016 03:28:48 +0000 BOSTON — Mookie Betts said it was his greatest moment in baseball. David Price told Hanley Ramirez the same thing.

“It’s an honor,” Ramirez said after hitting a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to finish off a five-run rally that gave the Boston Red Sox a 7-5 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

“Unbelievable comeback,” the Boston first baseman added after helping the Red Sox snap a two-game skid and open a two-game lead in the AL East – knocking their archrivals back in the playoff race at the same time. “This one was a moment I really enjoyed. “

New York took a four-run lead in the third inning and still led 5-1 before David Ortiz hit a solo shot in the eighth. It was the 537th home run of his career, passing Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for 17th on baseball’s all-time list.

Ortiz also had an RBI single off Dellin Betances (3-6) in the ninth to make it 5-3. There were still two on and two outs when Ramirez worked a 3-1 count and then sent the next pitch to straightaway center field.

It was the sixth game-ending hit of Ramirez’s career and his first for Boston, earning him an ice-water drenching in front of the dugout as the crowd celebrated.

“Our games with the Yankees are unbelievable games,” said Ortiz, the only player left on the roster from the team that rallied from a three-game deficit in the 2004 ALCS against New York and went on to win the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years.

“This game was pretty much on their side,” Ortiz added. “It’s huge, man. Hanley is a guy that has been doing some unbelievable things. Look at the year that he’s having. Can’t ask for more than that. He’s coming in every day to do something to make things happen.”

The Red Sox moved two games ahead of Baltimore, which lost 7-6 to Tampa Bay. Instead of improving to three games back in the division, the Yankees face a five-game deficit after losing for the fourth time in five games.

“This one hurts,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve got to bounce back tomorrow. We were in a pretty good position going into the ninth inning and we weren’t able to close the deal.”

Starlin Castro had four hits and new addition Billy Butler drove in a pair of runs in his Yankees debut.

Joe Kelly (3-0) pitched into and out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the ninth, striking out Chase Headley and then getting Mason Williams on a line drive back to the mound.

Ortiz had three RBI and three hits – two for extra bases to give him 1,186 in his career. That tied the slugger with Frank Robinson for 11th on the all-time list for extra-base hits.

]]> 1, 16 Sep 2016 08:18:01 +0000
Orioles beat Porcello and Sox, 1-0 Thu, 15 Sep 2016 02:10:40 +0000 BOSTON — Mark Trumbo gave the Baltimore Orioles another mighty home run, and Kevin Gausman took it from there.

Trumbo hit his major league-leading 42nd home run, Gausman outpitched Rick Porcello over eight innings and the Orioles pulled within a game of AL East-leading Boston with a 1-0 win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Baltimore took 2 of 3 in the series at Fenway Park and pulled a game ahead of slumping Toronto for the top AL wild card. The Blue Jays lost at home to Tampa Bay 8-1 earlier Wednesday.

“The guys have earned the right to play these type of games. It’s a very quiet confidence,” O’s Manager Buck Showalter said. “They’re not guys that toot their own horn. I think they kind of like it when people sell them short.”

Gausman (8-10) and Porcello (20-4) both pitched gems and had nearly identical line scores over eight innings, except Porcello threw a hanging slider that Trumbo drove over the Green Monster on the first pitch of the second inning.

“It was a bad pitch and he jumped all over it,” said Porcello, who lost a home start for the first time this season.

Trumbo’s at-bat in the second was about the only time a hitter prevailed against either starter. Each finished with six strikeouts and limited a powerful offense to four hits before giving way to the bullpen in the ninth.

“This was a classic pitcher’s duel,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “In the second inning, you don’t think there’s only going to be one run on the board for both clubs combined but tip your hat to both guys.”

Zach Britton closed for his 43rd save. Porcello was 13-0 in home starts with one no-decision entering the game. Trumbo belted the first pitch of the second inning out to left, easily clearing the Monster for his career-high 100th RBI. The one run ended up deciding the series, with another to follow next week when the Orioles host the Red Sox for four games.

“We’re just out there competing. You don’t really take into account who’s done what where,” Trumbo said. “Whether it be at this park or another one, we still have a job to do.”

Meanwhile the Yankees are hanging around behind the O’s and Blue Jays in fourth place. New York comes to Boston for a four-game series trailing the Red Sox by four games.

“We don’t anticipate anything different from here all the way out,” Farrell said. “This is going to be a hard-fought division right to the final game of the season. We fully embrace it. We fully expect it and we’re looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

Boston had a scare in the second when J.J. Hardy hit a hard grounder up the middle and the ball bounced off Porcello’s calf to third baseman Travis Shaw. Hardy ran out the single while Porcello limped around the mound, and the game was delayed briefly to allow Porcello a few warm-ups before continuing.

“It got me in a good spot. If it got me in the shin it might have been a little bit tougher,” Porcello said.

NOTES: Baltimore homered three times Tuesday in a 6-3 win to even the series, then clinched its fourth straight series victory with another homer by Trumbo.

“He’s figured some things out. He’s not as susceptible to offspeed pitches as he once was,” Farrell said. “He’s got as much power as anybody in the game and if you don’t make your pitches, you see what he can do with it.”

]]> 0, 15 Sep 2016 00:08:10 +0000
On Baseball: Watching the scoreboard, and welcoming Benintendi’s return Wed, 14 Sep 2016 03:56:40 +0000 BOSTON — While Fenway Park fans were watching the Baltimore Orioles launch balls well over the Green Monster on Tuesday night, they could take some consolation when they looked down.

On the left-field scoreboard, where all the major league scores are updated, there was this score:

Tampa Bay 6, Toronto 2.

The Red Sox lost to Baltimore 6-3, with all of the Orioles’ runs coming from three home runs, but Boston retained its two-game lead in the American League East.

Scoreboard watching is a rite of September.

“We’d be lying to say we don’t look over every night and see how they did,” Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw said. “We control our own destiny.

“We want to win obviously. But when you lose and you see the Blue Jays lose, we’ll be in the same spot (Wednesday).”

But the two-game lead is now not only over the Jays, but also the Orioles.

And just four games back are the Yankees, 3-0 winners over the Dodgers.

“Year after year, this is an extremely difficult division,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “And this year is no different.”

The Red Sox and Orioles play the third game of their series Wednesday and, despite what Shaw said, Boston is not in the same spot. Instead of Drew Pomeranz starting, it will be Rick Porcello, he of the 20-3 record, including an unbeaten mark at Fenway.

On Monday, Boston and David Price beat the Orioles.

You figured the Red Sox had a chance for a sweep if Pomeranz could repeat some of his recent success. In his previous seven starts, he never gave up more than three runs (and three runs only once).

But Tuesday, he gave up a three-run homer to J.J. Hardy on a fastball and a two-run homer to Nolan Reimold on a curveball as Baltimore jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning. It was his worst start since joining Boston in late July – two innings, five earned runs.

“Just the way it goes,” Pomeranz said.

Pomeranz probably wasn’t trying play to down his poor start – but rather turn the page.

At least I hope so.

The Red Sox had some good news to share before the game: They activated left fielder Andrew Benintendi, sooner than expected in his recovery from a sprained knee.

“Thankfully he has youth and quick healing on his side,” Farrell said.

And the organization celebrated the announcement that Yoan Moncada was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, the first time a Red Sox player has received the award.

That last bit of news will make for great trivia (and while we’re at it, Moncada is the second Sea Dogs player to get the honor, after Josh Beckett in 2001).

But the Benintendi news is much bigger for the Red Sox, because he can help Boston right now. It has become apparent that Moncada, after nine straight strikeouts, cannot.

Benintendi was batting .324 with an .850 OPS when he injured his knee Aug. 24 while running the bases.

“We held our collective breath,” Farrell said.

After Benintendi went through a workout Monday and a simulated game Tuesday, the Red Sox activated him. “No restrictions. He’s ready to go,” Farrell said.

The quiet Benintendi was relieved.

“We dodged a bullet and I’m glad to be back,” he said.

The Red Sox will ease Benintendi back into the lineup to shake off rust. But he will eventually be sharing time in left with Chris Young.

Meanwhile, Moncada will sit, watch and learn.

]]> 0, 14 Sep 2016 00:00:54 +0000
Orioles ride early lead to win over Sox Wed, 14 Sep 2016 02:56:40 +0000 BOSTON — J.J. Hardy hit a three-run homer and Nolan Reimold added a two-run shot later in the second as the Baltimore Orioles beat Boston 6-3 Tuesday night and pulled within two games of the AL East-leading Red Sox.

Jonathan Schoop added a leadoff homer in the ninth as the Orioles outslugged the Red Sox one night after getting rocked 12-2 in the series opener. With Toronto’s 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay, the Orioles pulled even with the Blue Jays for second in the division and tied for the two AL wild-card berths.

Orioles rookie Dylan Bundy (9-5) survived a rocky second inning and pitched into the sixth, holding Boston to three runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Xander Bogaerts homered for Boston, which had won five of six and missed a chance to gain a little space in the crowded field of division leaders.

Drew Pomeranz (10-12) gave up five runs and four hits in two-plus innings, his shortest outing of the season. He continued to struggle since a July trade from San Diego, falling to 2-5 with Boston

Zach Britton pitched a scoreless ninth for his 42nd save.

Pomeranz was pulled with nobody out in the third after Manny Machado’s leadoff single to left. After needing just 11 pitches to set down the Orioles in order in the first, Pomeranz labored through 45 pitches in the second.

Mark Trumbo led off the second with a single and Chris Davis walked, then with one out Hardy broke the scoreless tie with a towering homer that bounced off one of the signs above the Green Monster in left field. The Orioles weren’t done yet with Pomeranz, who walked Drew Stubbs after Hardy’s homer and Reimold followed with a line drive homer to left.

Bundy unraveled slightly in the bottom of the second, walking Ryan Hanigan and Dustin Pedroia with the bases loaded for Boston’s first two runs. Despite walking three and allowing two hits during the inning, Bundy limited the damage to just the pair of runs.

Boston didn’t score again until Bogaerts led off the fifth with his 19th homer of the season, pulling the Red Sox within 5-3.

The three-game series wraps up Wednesday. The Red Sox and Orioles meet again next week for four games in Baltimore.


Orioles: OF Steve Pearce was not in the starting lineup will have his right elbow examined for a nagging injury that he aggravated making a throw from left field Monday night.

Red Sox: Activated rookie OF Andrew Benintendi from the 15-day DL. Benintendi had been on the DL since Aug. 25 with a sprained left knee.


Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (7-10, 3.61) starts for the Orioles in the series finale and Baltimore’s last game at Fenway Park this season.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (20-3, 3.21) already leads the majors in victories and is unbeaten in home starts.

]]> 0, 13 Sep 2016 23:07:47 +0000
Portland man catches a bit of baseball history off the bat of David Ortiz Wed, 14 Sep 2016 01:12:40 +0000 The Portland man who caught David Ortiz’s 536th career home run – a shot that tied the Red Sox legend with Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for 17th on the career home run list – says he happily gave it back to Big Papi in exchange for an in-person meeting during Monday night’s game.

“He was great, he was super friendly,” said Rob Jordan, who snatched the ball bare-handed from the edge of a stairwell in the right-field stands after the ball bounced once in the visitors’ bullpen. “We talked about the season a little bit and I kind of fanboy thanked him for all he’s done for the Red Sox over the years.”

Ortiz, 40, has 33 home runs this season, which he says will be his last.

Jordan, an analyst for Hannaford supermarkets, said it was a fluke that he was in that lucky spot.

Rob Jordan holds the ball that David Ortiz hit out of the park Monday night to tie Mickey Mantle for 17th on major league baseball's all-time home run list. He caught the ball after it bounced once in the visitors' bullpen.

Rob Jordan holds the ball that David Ortiz hit out of the park Monday night to tie Mickey Mantle for 17th on major league baseball’s all-time home run list. He caught the ball after it bounced once in the visitors’ bullpen.

A few days earlier, a friend in Boston with extra tickets had told him to come down for the game. The seats weren’t great (“like, 40th row, top of the bleachers”) so Jordan and his three friends went down in the sixth inning to get a few beers.

But they realized they were about to miss Big Papi’s at-bat and ran up a nearby ramp to see the field.

“Just as we get to the top of the ramp we hear the crack of the bat,” Jordan said Tuesday night. “I saw the ball at its peak and I knew it was coming right toward me so I just positioned myself, and after that one hop (it) went right to my chest. I was able to snag it. So we go bananas. We go nuts.”

They were back in their seats when a team representative arrived, asking for the ball in exchange for some signed baseballs.

“We were asking if we can meet (Ortiz) and they said no, so I said, ‘OK, I’ll hold onto the ball,'” said Jordan, who had never caught a ball at a major league game.

The representative left, but returned a few minutes later to escort them to the Red Sox clubhouse entrance.

“We ended up right in the entranceway of the clubhouse, and around the corner here he comes,” Jordan said. “He had this big smile on his face.”

The four fans spent about five minutes with Ortiz, taking pictures, and Jordan got a signed bat from the slugger.

And although he sneaked a peek online Tuesday to see what the baseball might have brought at auction – about $1,000, he figures – Jordan said he has no regrets about giving back the ball for the time he got outside the clubhouse with Ortiz.

“I don’t think I would have sold it anyway,” Jordan said.

“To have that moment? To share it with three of my best friends? It’s a lot better than some money that will go away at some point.”


]]> 6, 14 Sep 2016 08:47:13 +0000
Red Sox Farm Report: How Boston prospects fared in 2016 Tue, 13 Sep 2016 02:53:01 +0000 Looking at the crowded dugout and bullpen for the Boston Red Sox, you know it’s time for roster expansion.

Who figured infielder Marco Hernandez would be suiting up at Fenway in September, or reliever Robby Scott, let alone outfielder Andrew Benintendi and infielder Yoan Moncada?

Pleasant surprises.

But not everyone in Boston is still on the fast track. While Infielder Deven Marrero is in Boston, he is there for his glove. He batted .198 in Pawtucket.

With the Red Sox minor league season officially over – now that Salem and Lowell were eliminated in the playoffs – here is a look at the big jumpers in the system; plus those who made a name for themselves; those who stalled; and the players in reverse.

BIG JUMPERS: Benintendi, Moncada, Hernandez, Scott and Mauricio Dubon.

This is the easy list to comprise. Both Benintendi and Moncada began in advanced Class A Salem and ended up in Boston. Moncada shows he has work to do on his raw edges, while Benintendi became the everyday left fielder before an injury. He could be a factor, once recovered from his sprained knee.

Both Hernandez and Scott were Eastern League All-Stars last year, but no one was talking about their big-league potential. But they put up solid numbers in Pawtucket; Hernandez .309/.787 OPS and Scott 2.54 ERA/0.91 WHIP.

Dubon played in the shadow of Benintendi and Moncada in Portland, but he is looking more and more like he’s close to the big leagues (.339/.909 in Portland).

MAKING A NAME for themselves: starting pitcher Justin Haley, outfielder Aneury Tavarez, catcher Jake Romanski, third baseman Rafael Devers, reliever Jake Cosart and starter Roniel Raudes.

Haley may be the comeback player of the year. After a 5.15 ERA in Portland last season, Haley combined for a 13-10 record and 3.01 ERA in Portland and Pawtucket.

In Portland, Tavarez broke out with .335/.886 numbers, and Romanski was consistent all year (.308/.748). Tavarez could use polish with his defense, and Romanski is working on his receiving.

Devers was already a big name, but he is only 19 and played all year in Salem. He started slow and finished .282/.779 (.326/.906 in the second half).

Cosart, 22, a third-round draft pick in 2014, moved to the bullpen this year and had a combined 1.78 ERA/1.12 WHIP with 104 strikeouts in 702/3 innings at Greenville and Salem. The high 90s fastball works in relief.

Raudes does not have a blistering fastball (88-90 mph) but the kid (age 18) can pitch, with a 3.65 ERA/1.19 WHIP in Greenville and 104 strikeouts in 1131/3 innings.

IN A SMALL sample, these three shined: starting pitchers Michael Kopech and Jason Groome, and third baseman Bobby Dalbec.

Kopech, 20, may be the top pitching prospect for now. Starting the season late because of injury, Kopech made 12 starts for Salem, hitting triple digits on the radar gun. He was 4-1, 2.08 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 561/3 innings.

Groome, 18, was the 2016 first-round draft pick. In only four brief starts in the Gulf Coast League and with Lowell, Groome had a 2.70 ERA, 13 strikeouts and six walks in 10 innings.

Dalbec, 21, another 2016 draft pick, batted .386/1.101 in 34 games with Lowell.

STALLED IN 2016: Starting pitchers Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, Teddy Stankiewicz, Trey Ball and third baseman Sam Travis.

Owens (135 strikeouts/81 walks) had some solid starts in Pawtucket but struggled with command, which really showed in the majors (18 walks in 171/3 innings). Johnson (5-6, 4.09) took time off to deal with anxiety issues. Next season is a do-over.

Stankiewicz was 5-9 with a 4.71 ERA. The silver lining is that Stankiewicz was durable (25 starts) and had 14 quality starts (a least six innings and three or less earned runs).

Ball (8-6, 3.84) stayed in Salem for a second straight season. He showed positive signs, but needs command (1.61 WHIP).

Travis looked on the fast track after a good spring training. But he played only 47 games in Pawtucket (.272/.765) because of a knee injury.

GOING IN REVERSE: Marrero, outfielder Bryce Brentz, reliever Williams Jerez, and infielder Michael Chavis.

Since batting .291 for Portland in 2014, Marrero has not adjusted to Triple-A. He may be taken off the 40-man roster if Boston needs room the offseason. The same can be said for Brentz and Jerez.

Brentz played 25 games for Boston this year (.279/.690) but it is telling that he did not get a September call-up. Jerez, the converted outfielder, has potential but he took a step backward (4.71 ERA/1.54 WHIP).

Chavis, 21, the first-round draft pick in 2014, spent a second season in Greenville (.244/.711). He faded in the second half (.201/.616).

ONE MORE NAME to mention in the Sox system is former Sea Dogs infielder and first-year Lowell manager Iggy Suarez. Lowell won a franchise-record 47 games. Impressive for Suarez, 35, who was Lowell’s hitting coach last year.

“Managing is something I always wanted to do” Suarez said. “I didn’t think it would be this quick.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

]]> 0, 12 Sep 2016 23:14:40 +0000
Ortiz hits 536th home run to tie Mantle as Sox beat Orioles Tue, 13 Sep 2016 02:27:19 +0000 BOSTON —– David Ortiz hit his 536th home run to tie Mickey Mantle for 17th on baseball’s career list, and David Price allowed just a pair of solo homers to lead the Red Sox over the Baltimore Orioles 12-2 on Monday night and protect Boston’s lead in the AL East.

Chris Young homered, doubled twice and singled, and Hanley Ramirez also homered for the Red Sox, who maintained a two-game lead over Toronto.

The Red Sox won for the fifth time in six games, scoring in each of the first seven innings before going down in order in the eighth. Ramirez hit his eighth homer in his last 15 games as Boston, the top-scoring team in the majors, got 11 runs or more for the fifth time in 10 games.

Price (16-8) allowed two runs on two hits and zero walks, striking out nine in eight innings for his seventh straight victory. It’s the longest winning streak in his career for the left-hander, who signed a seven-year, $217 million free agent contract over the offseason.

Former Red Sox starter Wade Miley (8-13) got just four outs, allowing five runs in the first inning before loading the bases in the second.

Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts led off the bottom of the first with singles and then Ortiz lined one to the warning track in left-center. Left fielder Steve Pearce jumped to glove the ball, but it came out as he tried to avoid crashing into the Green Monster.

Bogaerts had already begun retreating to first before Ortiz, rounding the bag, signaled for him to run in the other direction. The Orioles claimed Pearce had possession of the ball before dropping it, but the review upheld the original call and Ortiz had a single.

Mookie Betts then hit a liner that stymied Pearce and went over his head for a double. When Ramirez followed with a single to left, Pearce was nonchalant in getting the ball back in; Betts, having stopped at third, scored to make it 4-0.

Miley finally recorded an out, then got another on Sandy Leon’s sacrifice fly that gave Boston a 5-0 lead. Jackie Bradley Jr. was caught stealing to end the inning.

Boston scored single runs in each of the next five innings, including Ortiz’s 33rd homer of the year into the Baltimore bullpen in the sixth. The Red Sox scored two more in the seventh.

]]> 0, 12 Sep 2016 22:28:50 +0000
Tom Caron: Youthful roster sparks Red Sox – most of the time Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:29:45 +0000 The Boston Red Sox are in one of the tightest playoff races in years. They started a critical seven-game homestand Monday atop the American League East – with three other teams within four games of first place.

Boston has gotten this far with a roster infused with young players. The “Killer B’s” – Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. – have played a major role in bringing this team back to the top of the division after back-to-back last-place finishes.

You can draw a lot of energy from young players. Trouble is, a youthful roster has its pitfalls, too.

The Red Sox were reminded of that on the trip that ended in Toronto on Sunday. Yoan Moncada began the trip as the latest young prospect providing a late-season spark. But by the end of the week he was firmly planted on the bench – and facing the possibility that he won’t be cracking the lineup again this season.

The 21-year old Moncada appeared as a pinch-hitter Monday night and struck out, tying the record for position players by striking out nine straight times. That’s bad enough. On Saturday, he came in as a pinch runner and didn’t know there were two outs in the eighth inning – retreating to first base on an inning-ending flyout.

“This is a great learning experience for Yoan,” Manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto. “I think while he got a boost of confidence by coming to the big leagues, you get challenged a little bit and you have to take a step back to rebuild that. Our primary goal is to win. Development in this situation does not take a front seat.”

Moncada seemed to be a leading candidate to make the playoff roster as a 25th man who could serve as a pinch runner in the playoffs, a role Dave Roberts rode to fame in 2004. Now, it’s unlikely Farrell would trust Moncada in that role.

Andrew Benintendi, 22, could be returning this week, and may become the man most likely to take that role. He’s just a year younger than Betts and Bogaerts, yet those two players are considered veterans.

Betts and Bogaerts have combined to play 277 games this season. Betts has become one of the front-runners for the MVP award, having reached base safely in 29 straight games, including Monday. He leads the majors in total bases and multiple-hit games and is near the top of the charts in most hitting categories.

Bogaerts is among the leaders in runs and hits. While he has cooled off over the past month, Bogaerts was still hitting .299 entering Monday and has been a fixture in the second spot in the lineup.

Three years ago, Bogaerts won the starting job at third base in the playoffs, posting an .893 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage). Only World Series MVP David Ortiz had a higher OPS for the Sox that postseason.

That’s a pretty good reminder what young players can do for a team down the stretch. The Red Sox know they need all hands on deck, but also realize that youthful mistakes can’t be commonplace at this point of the season.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

]]> 0, 12 Sep 2016 22:16:10 +0000
Ortiz homer helps Sox top Jays Sun, 11 Sep 2016 21:03:39 +0000 TORONTO – David Ortiz drilled a three-run homer in the sixth inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Hanley Ramirez also connected, and the Boston Red Sox outslugged Toronto 11-8 on Sunday, reclaiming a two-game lead over the Blue Jays in the AL East.

“Wins are wins no matter what but some wins are different,” Ortiz said. “Some wins can get you some momentum.”

Ortiz put Boston up 10-8 with a drive off Joaquin Benoit. It was his 41st career home run at Rogers Centre, his highest total at any road stadium.

“Toronto is a very nice place to play baseball and a beautiful city,” Ortiz said. “It’s always a pleasure to come here.”

With his 535th career homer, Ortiz moved past Jimmie Foxx into sole possession of 18th place on baseball’s career list. He also increased his RBI total to 110.

“We’re somewhat in awe of what David is doing in his final run,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.

Starter Clay Buchholz said Ortiz, who is retiring after the season, is “having a hell of a going- away party.”

Edwin Encarnacion homered twice and Troy Tulowitzki hit his third career grand slam, but the Blue Jays couldn’t force a tie in the standings. Toronto and Baltimore are tied for the lead in the wild-card race.

“It just didn’t go our way today,” Tulowitzki said. “There’s a lot of time left.”

Toronto finishes the regular season with three games at Fenway Park.

“Obviously we can’t sit back and relax,” Dustin Pedroia of Boston said. “We know our division is good and we’ve got to continue to play well.”

Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts singled against Bo Schultz (0-1) before Benoit came on to face Ortiz, who missed the first pitch but connected on the second.

Ortiz hit a tying grand slam off Benoit, then with Detroit, in Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS at Fenway Park. Boston won, 6-5.

“This might not have been the same stage but where we are, against (Toronto), really no less important,” Farrell said.

Robbie Ross Jr. (3-2) got two outs for the win. Craig Kimbrel, the ninth Boston pitcher, worked the ninth for his 25th save. Toronto also used nine pitchers.

Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons was ejected in the ninth after the umpires ruled Russell Martin’s double into the right- field corner, initially ruled fair, had landed foul. Toronto challenged but the call was confirmed. Martin later struck out.

Encarnacion hit a solo home run off Buchholz in the first, singled and scored in the third, then hit a two-run shot off Heath Hembree in the fourth. It was his fourth multihomer game of the season and 25th of his career. Encarnacion has 39 homers and leads the AL with 115 RBI.

After Martin walked on four pitches with the bases loaded in the fourth, Tulowitzki hammered Buchholz’s first pitch for his 23rd home run.

Boston made it 6-6 and chased Aaron Sanchez on a two-out, two-run single by Bogaerts in the fourth, but Toronto answered with Encarnacion’s second homer in the bottom half.

After Ramirez cut it to 8-7 with a drive to deep center in the fifth, Brock Holt of Boston tried to steal home but was thrown out by reliever Aaron Loup.

“It definitely would have been a lot cooler if I had got in there safe,” Holt said.

]]> 0, 11 Sep 2016 21:18:36 +0000
On Baseball: Red Sox players have claims for individual awards Sun, 11 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The American League East race certainly has our attention.

But the secondary competitions, for American League individual honors, also can be considered in the too-close-to-call category.

Rick Porcello is the winningest pitcher, having notched his 20th victory Friday night.

Cy Young material?

Mookie Betts is among the leaders in most offensive categories.

A possible MVP?

Porcello (20-3) has the better odds of landing postseason honors. He may end up the only 20-game winner, although J.A. Happ of Toronto won his 18th on Saturday.

Three of the other top candidates – Corey Kluber of Cleveland (15-7), Chris Sale of Chicago (15-9) and Justin Verlander of Detroit (14-7) all pitch Sunday. They would all need quite a run to reach 20 wins.

Another contender is Orioles closer Zach Britton (40 saves, 0.65 ERA), but that’s an apples-and-orange pick. For the purposes of assessing Porcello’s chances, we will only consider starters.

Since 2000, five AL pitchers won the Cy Young Award without 20 wins, but in three of those years there were no 20-game winners.

In 2010, CC Sabathia won 21 games but Felix Hernandez (13-12) won the Cy Young, mainly based on his league-leading 2.27 ERA. Also, in the subjective sabermetric statistic WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which measures the total contribution of a player, Hernandez had a 7.4, far above the next-best (Clay Buchholz’s 5.6; Sabathia was at 4.6), according to

In 2007, Josh Beckett posted a 20-7 mark with a 3.27 ERA, with 194 strikeouts in 200 innings and a 6.5 WAR. Sabathia won the Cy Young. He was 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 241 innings, and a 6.3 WAR.

Sabathia had a slightly better ERA and more innings. And while Sabathia had one less win, he had less run support than Beckett (5.6 runs a game to 6.6 for Beckett).

If run support plays a factor in the 2016 voting, it may hurt Porcello. He has the best support in the league (8.0 runs a game). Happ enjoys 6.9 runs.

Kluber receives only 5.5 runs, Sale 5.0 and Verlander 4.4.

In terms of ERA, the contenders are all in the low 3’s – Sale leading at 3.07 (Porcello has 3.21). In terms of walks-hits allowed per inning (WHIP), the contenders are all in the close to 1.0 except Happ (1.18).

Verlander leads the group in strikeouts (209), followed by Kluber (198), Sale (193), then Porcello (161) and Happ (149).

If WAR becomes a factor in the voting, Kluber (5.9) leads AL pitchers, according to Sale and Verlander are at 5.0, Porcello 4.5 and Happ 3.6.

The numbers can be numbing. Everyone leads a category. But if Porcello keeps winning games – reaching 23 or 24 – and no one else gets 20, he may have a case.

In the MVP voting, Betts is second in WAR (8.1), but Mike Trout of the Angels is at 9.3. Other contenders for the title are Jose Altuve of Houston (7.0), and Josh Donaldson (6.9) of Toronto.

In OPS (on-base percentage, plus slugging average), Trout (1.011) leads, followed by Donaldson (.962), Altuve (.945) and Betts (.907).

Trout seems the leading contender, except the Angels are struggling.

Looking for power and production? Donaldson has 34 home runs and 92 RBI, Betts 30 homers and 101 RBI. Altuve leads in batting average (.339).

Trout seems the favorite, but the final weeks may put Donaldson or Betts on top.

If Porcello and Betts could both win, it would be historical. Only 19 previous major league teams have featured separate players winning the Cy Young and MVP. It last happened in 2013 when Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer of Detroit won.

It has happened once in Boston, in 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Lonborg electrified the crowds at Fenway Park. Yastrzemski had a 1.040 OPS while Lonborg was 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA.

And just a reminder, as we dwell on individual awards, the 1967 season ended with a World Series appearance for the Red Sox. Rick Porcello and Mookie Betts are enjoying career-best seasons in 2016. There are three weeks left in the season, a chance for them to boost their numbers and push Boston in the postseason.


]]> 0, 10 Sep 2016 18:54:13 +0000
Blue Jays edge Red Sox, 3-2 Sat, 10 Sep 2016 20:31:59 +0000 TORONTO — When they aren’t piling up double-digit run totals, the Boston Red Sox can’t seem to score much at all.

J.A. Happ got his 18th win, Melvin Upton Jr. hit a two-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays snapped a four-game losing streak Saturday by beating Boston 3-2, closing within one game of the AL East leader.

Boston dropped to 5-3 on a nine-game trip. The Red Sox have scored three runs combined in the three defeats.

Happ (18-4) allowed two runs and four hits in six-plus innings to win for the first time since Aug. 17 at the New York Yankees, ending a three-start winless streak. He didn’t allow a hit until Chris Young’s one-out single to center in the fifth.

“Many, many times we’ve shown the ability to put up a quality offensive game,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “He shut us down today.”

Dustin Pedroia homered leading off the sixth and has a 28-game hitting streak against the Blue Jays.

“He’s tough,” Pedroia said of Happ. “His fastball gets on you, he locates real well, he’s got late movement on his offspeed stuff. It just wasn’t our day.”

The lack of offense proved costly to Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed three runs, two earned, and four hits in six innings. Rodriguez (2-7) is winless in nine starts but has allowed more than three earned runs just once in that stretch.

“He more than did his job against that lineup to give us an opportunity to win,” Farrell said.” Offensively we just couldn’t get anything going.”

Toronto, whose players met behind closed doors for about an hour before the game, avoided matching its longest skid this season.

“It was a big win, no doubt,” Happ said. “We had better energy than we’ve had in a while today. From first pitch to last it seemed like our dugout was really into this one.”

Upton and Devon Travis made costly errors in Friday’s 13-3 loss but followed with good days Saturday. Travis had three hits for the Blue Jays and is 6 for 9 in the first two games of the series. Upton hit his 20th homer, a two-run drive in the second.

“Two guys who took a lot of heat last night came through for us,” Manager John Gibbons said.

Upton has 25 stolen bases and reached the 20-20 mark for the fourth time.

Jose Bautista made it 3-0 in the third with an RBI bloop single just beyond the reach of shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Happ left after back-to-back singles by Hanley Ramirez and Aaron Hill put runners at the corners in the seventh. Joaquin Benoit gave up a sacrifice fly to Jackie Bradley Jr., then struck out pinch-hitter Travis Shaw.

Roberto Osuna finished for his 31st save in 34 chances, striking out Bradley with a man on for the final out.

NOTES: Boston relievers haven’t allowed an earned run over 142/3 innings in September. … Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi (left knee) will try sliding in a simulated game Tuesday, Farrell said. It’s expected to be Benintendi’s final test before coming off the DL.

]]> 0, 10 Sep 2016 20:27:05 +0000
Porcello gets 20th win as Red Sox trounce Blue Jays Sat, 10 Sep 2016 02:43:38 +0000 TORONTO — Rick Porcello pitched seven innings to become the first 20-game winner in the majors, Hanley Ramirez hit a three-run homer and the Boston Red Sox increased their AL East lead to two games by routing the Toronto Blue Jays 13-3 on Friday night.

Xander Bogaerts homered and Dustin Pedroia had three hits and four RBIs as the Red Sox used 18 hits to rough up the sloppy, slumping Blue Jays in the opener of a pivotal three-game series between the division’s top two teams.

Porcello (20-3) allowed two runs and six hits to become Boston’s first 20-game winner since Josh Beckett in 2007. Porcello came in 6-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 15 career games against Toronto but kept the Blue Jays in check.

The Red Sox broke it open by scoring six runs in a 10-batter seventh. Bogaerts hit a leadoff drive off Scott Feldman, his 18th. Three batters later, Ramirez connected off Feldman, his 22nd. Pedroia capped the rally with a two-run single off Ryan Tepera.

Boston (79-61) surpassed its win total from a last-place finish in 2015, when it went 78-84.

Toronto, which was swept in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium earlier this week, fell to 1-6 in September. The Blue Jays had won six of their previous eight against the Red Sox.

Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada (8-8) allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. The last time Estrada failed to finish three innings was June 30, 2015, also a home loss to Boston.

Estrada is 3-5 with a 5.32 ERA in nine starts since being named an All-Star for the first time. He missed the All-Star Game after being placed on the disabled list because of a sore back.

]]> 1, 09 Sep 2016 22:45:28 +0000
Fame, fortune doesn’t mean immediate success at Fenway Fri, 09 Sep 2016 00:30:00 +0000 SAN DIEGO — Rick Porcello spent hours in the video room and on the bullpen mound at Fenway Park last season, analyzing every mistake he made, every home run he allowed, and seeking potential fixes. Nothing he tried worked. Nothing helped him get better. Everything he tried just made it worse.

Only after Porcello spent three weeks on the disabled list with what the team announced as inflammation in his triceps did he find himself again. The seven scoreless innings he threw in Chicago in his first start back marked a turning point. The nearly 250 innings he has pitched in the year-plus since have seen him compile a 3.21 ERA.

It wasn’t a matter of throwing a harder fastball or a sharper curveball. It was a matter of mental peace.

“All I know is when I took the mound in Chicago after I came off the DL, I felt completely relaxed,” said Porcello, who will start Friday night when the Red Sox open a three-game series in Toronto. “That time off, it reset me mentally, and that was really all I needed.”

The pressure to win in Boston requires the Red Sox to spend on the game’s most talented players, as they’ve done year after year. Almost without fail, at least for a time, those players have succumbed to the pressure to live up to those lavish contracts, and not all have come out the other side intact.

How to help those players through what can be overwhelming psychological hurdles remains a challenge.

“What makes teams willing to make an investment in the individual player is they’re high-character, they’re aware of themselves and they’re conscientious,” Manager John Farrell said. “I don’t know that there’s a player with those attributes that would come into a new situation and not want to uphold his end of the bargain. That causes a particular person to try to do a little bit more and, as we know in this game, more is not necessarily better.”

“Instead of being relaxed and staying within your game and being in control, it pushes you to put more pressure on yourself,” Porcello said. “It’s really hard to play when you do that.”

Porcello has pitched himself in contention for the AL Cy Young Award. He’s unrecognizable from the pitcher who carried a 5.81 ERA into late July in his first season in Boston.

A parade of similarly high-priced free agents and trade acquisitions have underperformed upon initial introduction to Boston before and after Porcello.

David Price seemed to need the first six weeks of this season to settle in and “take the chip on my shoulder and use it the right way,” he said recently. Hanley Ramirez endured his worst season a year ago, his first year with the Red Sox. Pablo Sandoval did as well.

Carl Crawford disintegrated as an impact player after signing a $142 million contract in Boston. John Lackey chafed at the scrutiny. Not until his second season in Boston did Josh Beckett blossom into a Cy Young contender, much like Porcello. Of the team’s high-priced acquisitions, perhaps only J.D. Drew, so even-keeled as to be oblivious, never seemed to let outside pressure affect him.

“The psychology of sports is quite subtle,” said Adam Naylor, a professor of sports psychology at Boston University. “It’s not that you’re stressed or you’re not. If you’ve got just a little extra stress, your pitches aren’t going to dance like they should.”

Just getting to the majors requires tremendous mental fortitude. The expectation that comes with a mind-boggling paycheck tests that fortitude further, especially if that paycheck comes from a new team and new fan base.

A player earning $20 million like Porcello, or $30 million like Price, can come to believe any struggle is unacceptable, an impossible standard to meet. Anything less than dominance can create doubts that spiral into disaster.

“All athletes need to know how to struggle well,” Naylor said. “Part of you is like, ‘Why am I struggling when I’m talented?’ No, you’re struggling because you’re a professional athlete and it’s really tough.”

Porcello heard about it. Oh, did he hear about it. Fans made their displeasure known last season in every possible way. The $82.5 million contract he signed on the first day of his first season in Boston only provided more ammunition.

“There wasn’t any holding back on people letting me know how (terrible) I was,” he said.

Boston fans might not be more passionate as those in New York or Chicago, two significantly larger media markets. But Boston offers less competition for the spotlight than those markets, which makes for perhaps the most intense, pressure-packed environment in baseball.

“It’s not just fans showing up to the game,” Porcello said. “They’re into it as part of their daily lives. They know everything that’s going on with the team. You don’t experience that in other places. It’s just not as intense.”

“That was the most aggressive sports market that I’ve ever been part of,” said Tampa Bay Rays Manager Kevin Cash, who won a World Series ring as a catcher with the Red Sox. “I spent some brief time in New York and I still think Boston holds the crown in that regard.”

In hindsight, it only seems obvious that Porcello needed to get away, to get a bit of a fresh start. Three weeks on the disabled list represented that fresh start for Porcello, just as an offseason away from the game represented that deep breath for Beckett and Ramirez after their first seasons in Boston.

“Once you empty, you can see what’s in front of you,” Naylor said. “If you don’t empty, your body can’t join in and your mind can’t see the problem clearly.”

For Porcello and the Red Sox, that deep breath yielded one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Porcello didn’t need to work harder or care more. If anything, he needed to work a little less and care a little less, getting himself into the right frame of mind to let his talent take over.

]]> 0, 08 Sep 2016 20:39:25 +0000
On Baseball: Red Sox hopeful has the time and the talent Thu, 08 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 LOWELL, Mass. — Jason Groome made his professional debut two weeks ago. The next day he turned 18.

At this rate Groome will pitch for the Sea Dogs as a teenager.

And in Boston by … well, that’s getting ahead of ourselves. But there is excitement in the Red Sox organization, which has struggled to develop starting pitchers.

Groome, 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, has that ace-in-the-making label. He’s a first-round draft pick, 12th overall, complete with a $3.65 million signing bonus. But he’s still just a kid.

“He’s young and has a lot to learn,” said catcher Nick Sciortino, a 17th-round draft pick this year out of Boston College, and now Groome’s teammate on the Lowell Spinners.

“But he fits in. And stuff-wise … he’s as good as anybody.”

Sciortino has caught more experienced pitchers – first at BC, then with Lowell, a minor league stop usually for college players right out of the draft, or players from the Gulf Coast League in Florida.

Groome pitched two games in the GCL before joining Lowell last week, becoming the youngest player by two years.

“He was poised out there on the mound,” Sciortino said. “He went out there and looked like he had done it before.

“He threw all his stuff with confidence and all of his stuff is good. His fastball has life. His curveball has a sharp tilt to it. And he backs up with a good change-up. He’s a pitcher.”

The last comment is telling. Groome isn’t some high school kid with a golden arm who has to learn how to pitch. He throws a fastball in the 92-95 mph range and usually commands it.

“I’ve seen Groome pitch twice,” said Ben Crockett, the Red Sox director of player development. “Impressive stuff with a three-pitch mix; minimal effort with a good delivery.”

Groome was once considered the best pitching prospect in the draft. As the day neared, he dropped in some projections to sixth … then as low as 14th.

“It mainly came down to sign-ability. I guess I was asking for too much,” Groome said.

Drafting high school pitchers early is risky. The Red Sox gambled in 2013, drafting high school pitcher Trey Ball seventh overall ($2.75 million bonus). Ball pitched in Class A Greenville in 2014 and has stalled in advanced Class A Salem.

Groome appears more polished. His agent, Jeff Randazzo, saw that and reportedly was asking for at least $4 million.

Plus, Groome gave up his scholarship to Vanderbilt and committed to Chipola Community College in Florida – which would allow him to be eligible for the draft again in 2017 – in case he turned down a team’s offer after the 2016 draft. Suddenly Groome became a risk.

Anytime a player begins to drop in the draft there are also whispers of character issues. And it didn’t help that Groome missed half his senior season at Barnegat, New Jersey, because he was ruled ineligible after transferring in.

Groome pitched for Barnegat as a sophomore, then moved to Florida to attend the IMG Academy for prestigious athletes. He returned for his senior year.

“I missed my buddies and I missed my family a ton,” Groome said.

The Red Sox weren’t scared away. They drafted Groome and signed him for $3.65 million.

“Good makeup, good kid,” said Lowell Manager (and former Sea Dogs infielder) Iggy Suarez.

“He’s a big and strong. Easy delivery. Comes out of his hand pretty good. From the three innings I saw (in his Lowell opener), you see a glimpse of what the hype is all about.”

In three games, Groome has pitched 62/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits, walking four and striking out 10.

He will pitch Thursday for Lowell in the second game of the New York-Penn League playoffs. Then he’ll head to the Red Sox instructional league in Florida and seems likely to start 2017 in Greenville. Then Salem.

Maybe Portland by 2018?

]]> 0, 08 Sep 2016 16:53:54 +0000
Red Sox top Padres 7-2, take over AL East lead Thu, 08 Sep 2016 04:25:20 +0000 SAN DIEGO — Travis Shaw, Hanley Ramirez and Brock Holt homered and David Price threw seven solid innings to lead Boston past the San Diego Padres 7-2 on Wednesday night, moving the Red Sox into first place in the AL East.

Shaw, inserted into the lineup for a slumping Yoan Moncada, hit his 16th homer in the second inning, a two-run shot, and added an RBI single in the fourth.

Ramirez’s homer came in the eighth off Jake Smith’s first major league pitch.

Holt added a pinch-hit homer in the ninth

The Red Sox took a one-game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost 2-0 to the New York Yankees. Boston, which completed interleague play with a 14-6 record, opens a three-game series in Toronto on Friday.

Price (15-8) won his season-high sixth straight start, allowing two runs and six hits. Price, who has won four of his last five road starts, struck out eight.

Three relievers finished off the Padres, with Craig Kimbrel getting the final out.

Jarred Cosart (0-3) left after 31/3 innings after hurting his right leg while covering first base on Jackie Bradley Jr.’s grounder. Cosart landed awkwardly after reaching for Wil Myers’ erratic throw that drew an error and led to the Red Sox rally. Cosart strained his right hamstring and groin.

Boston’s three-run fourth inning was the difference. After Shaw’s RBI, Dustin Pedroia drove in Shaw and Chris Young with a double down the left-field line.

Myers’ sacrifice fly tied the game 2-2 in the third. Cosart came around after opening the inning with a single.

The Red Sox went ahead 2-1 when Shaw crushed Cosart’s 93 mph fastball 425 feet for a two-run homer. Shaw replaced Moncada, a prized Cuban prospect, at third base after Moncada struck out seven straight times.

Yangervis Solarte’s RBI double in the first scored Myers for a 1-0 lead. Myers had reached on a single.

NOTES: RHP Steve Wright (bursitis right shoulder) remains out and Manager John Farrell said he doesn’t know an end date to the injury.

]]> 0, 08 Sep 2016 06:11:28 +0000
Buchholz stifles Padres as Red Sox roll 5-1 Wed, 07 Sep 2016 10:06:52 +0000 SAN DIEGO — The Boston Red Sox finally displayed some offense Tuesday night.

Jackie Bradley Jr. and Chris Young homered and Clay Buchholz pitched 6-plus solid innings as the Red Sox beat the San Diego Padres 5-1 on Tuesday night.

“A great swing by Jackie for the two-run homer and then C.Y., what he’s doing these past two ballgames has given us a boost,” Boston manager John Farrell said.

The Red Sox moved into a tie for first place in the AL East with Toronto. The Blue Jays lost 7-6 to the Yankees on Tuesday.

The Red Sox lead the majors in runs but had scored just once in their past two games, both losses. Previous to that in three straight wins, they had collected 35 runs.

Buchholz (6-10) was making his first start since Aug. 23 as his last three appearances came out of the bullpen. Working exclusively from the stretch, Buchholz allowed a run, eight hits and struck out six in facing the Padres for the first time.

“You can’t give Clay enough credit for the role that he’s been put into, some of it by his own doing early on,” Farrell said. “But again it’s how you finish and he is finishing in a good fashion.”

Added Buchholz: “Good times, bad times, I still feel like I can pitch and I can help this team out. Regardless of the role, it’s part of the game. Whenever my name is called I try to go out and give our team the best chance that I can to win, and I’m feeling good right now.”

Neither team scored in the first three innings or in the last four. But the Red Sox notched five runs in the middle innings for their 16th win in their last 25 games.

The Padres threatened in the seventh, when Oswaldo Arcia and Luis Sardinas singled. But Buchholz struck out pinch-hitter Jon Jay and Travis Jankowski before being relieved by Matt Barnes to face Wil Myers. Barnes got Myers to expand outside the zone for another strikeout to quell the rally.

Joe Kelly, the third Red Sox reliever, pitched the ninth.

Boston chased starter Paul Clemens in the fifth when he wasn’t able to record an out. Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez hit consecutive singles, with Ramirez’s scoring Bogaerts. Young’s RBI grounder made it 5-1.

Clemens (2-5) was charged with five runs and nine hits over four innings. He struck out three and walked three in dropping his third straight start.

“I’ve just got to be more aggressive,” he said. “I feel like I’m right there, about to turn the corner and get into the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. But then I have a hiccup.”

Rookie Ryan Schimpf snapped an 0-for-15 skid when he hit a fourth-inning homer, his 17th, to pull the Padres within 3-1.

“He really puts backspin on the baseball,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “It’s impressive what he has done.”

The Red Sox got to Clemens in the fourth inning, just after pitching coach Darren Balsley paid his starter a visit. On the following pitch Bradley smashed a two-run homer, which scored Sandy Leon who opened the inning with a bunt single. Young extend Boston’s lead to 3-0 when he went back-to-back with Bradley, hitting his eighth homer and second in two games.

Once again Clemens’ velocity dropped off significantly in the middle innings.

“If he’s going to be a starter he has to answer that question,” Green said. “The stuff is there because you see it in the first three innings.”


Red Sox: RHP Steve Wright got a second opinion on his sore right shoulder on Tuesday, which confirmed there was no structural damage and that he is suffering from bursitis. Farrell said there’s no timetable for Wright’s return.

Padres: Activated Jay (fractured right forearm) from the 60-day DL.


Red Sox: LHP David Price (14-8, 3.92) caps the three-game series in San Diego. Price has a five-start winning streak and has allowed but eight runs in 35 innings over that span.

Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-2, 5.14) has allowed one earned run or less in four of his six Padres starts since coming over in a seven-player trade with Miami in July.

]]> 0, 07 Sep 2016 07:53:31 +0000
Suddenly, Red Sox can’t score, losing 2-1 in San Diego Tue, 06 Sep 2016 00:23:55 +0000 SAN DIEGO — Drew Pomeranz found it no big deal to be back at Petco Park. He didn’t find a win, either.

The former Padres ace got outpitched by Edwin Jackson on Monday and the Boston Red Sox fell to San Diego 2-1.

“I had the most adrenaline when I was here the last time for the All-Star Game,” Pomeranz said. “I’m at the point where I’m just trying to get outs and it doesn’t matter where I’m at.”

Padres manager Andy Green saw a Pomeranz he remembered well.

“He looked exactly the same to me,” Green said. “He was good – flipping the curveball wherever he wants to.”

Pomeranz (2-4 for Boston) was an All-Star for the Padres this season and 8-7 in the NL before being traded to the Red Sox in mid-July.

“I think Drew gave us what we kind of anticipated – (105) pitches and six quality innings of work,” Boston manager John Farrell said.

Pomeranz gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five with a walk.

A two-run homer by Adam Rosales was enough for Jackson and San Diego bullpen. Pomeranz said he missed on a fastball to Rosales.

“It just leaked back over the plate,” Pomeranz said. “I was having trouble locating my pitches and he took advantage of one.”

“It definitely wasn’t one of my best days,” he said. “I was struggling with my rhythm and timing and I had a hard time locating some of my pitches. I couldn’t get some big outs when I needed to.”

Jackson (4-5) struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings. He gave up four hits and ended his three-start losing streak.

Brandon Maurer worked the ninth for his eighth save in 13 chances. He gave up a one-out single to Hanley Ramirez, then struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. and got pinch hitter David Ortiz on a flyball.

Chris Young’s pinch-hit homer off reliever Brad Hand to open the eighth cut the Padres’ lead to 2-1.

Aaron Hill followed with a pinch-hit double but was stranded at third when Hand struck out Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts.

Ramirez had three hits for Boston.

Boston’s best chance against Jackson came in the seventh. But with two on and none out, he got Bradley to ground into a double play and fanned Yoan Moncada on a full-count offspeed pitch.

“We got a couple of opportunities with really good hitters at the plate,” Farrell said. “But unfortunately we don’t execute to tie the game up.”

]]> 0, 05 Sep 2016 22:37:22 +0000
Red Sox Farm Report: Future up in the air for many Red Sox prospects Tue, 06 Sep 2016 00:06:02 +0000 MANCHESTER, N.H. — Cody Decker swatted ball after ball off the tee in the indoor batting cage.

After two ground balls, he lofted a ball into the netting.

“Better,” Decker said to himself.

Then a line drive sizzled off the tee.

“That’s what we’re looking for,” Decker said.

Seemed like a lot of work for the final game of the Sea Dogs’ season. But Decker is working for more than that. There is the World Baseball Classic qualifying round later this month (Decker plays for Team Israel), winter ball in Venezuela and then job hunting.

Decker is not alone. He is one of several minor league free agents in the Red Sox organization wondering where they will play next year.

“We’ll see where this offseason takes me,” Decker said. “Who knows? It’s baseball.”

The Red Sox must decide on several minor leaguers at the Double-A and Triple-A level, and not only the free agents. Other players are eligible for the Rule V Draft in December.

In the draft, eligible players not on a team’s 40-man roster can be taken by another team, as long as that player remains on the major-league roster (25-man) all of next season.

Among the 17 Rule V-eligible players in Pawtucket and Portland, at least four stand a chance of being taken by another team, if the Red Sox don’t move them to their 40-man roster:

Pawtucket starter Justin Haley, who began the season in Portland, was strong in Triple-A (8-6, 3.59). He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his final start on Sunday. He allowed two hits in eight shutout innings.

Pawtucket reliever Kyle Martin, who was in Portland last year, commands a 94 mph fastball with solid secondary stuff. He had a 3.38 ERA and 1.19 WHIP

Sea Dogs outfielder Aneury Tavarez came into this season with a career .254 average and broke out with an All-Star year: .335/.886 OPS.

Sea Dogs catcher Jake Romanski led the Eastern League in throwing out runners – 49 percent (53 of 108) – while also batting .308/.748.

Another longshot Rule V candidate is Salem reliever Jamie Callahan, a second-round draft pick in 2012. He spent two years in Greenville before coming to Salem this season with his mid-90s fastball (63 strikeouts in 652/3 innings).

Decker is one of eight free agents in Portland (there are 10 in Pawtucket). Five of them, like Decker, were signed this year to plug holes.

Three others have been in the Red Sox organization since they became pros – pitcher Keith Couch (a 13th-round draft pick in 2010), pitcher Jacob Dahlstrand (10th round, 2010) and oft-injured outfielder Henry Ramos (fifth round, 2010) can sign with other teams after the season.

If Couch’s Red Sox career is over, he leaves with a 52-43 record and 3.96 ERA.

Couch may not have a dominating pitch, but he commands well. His downfall in his development was a 5.90 ERA in 157 Triple-A innings.

Ramos, who has been hurt most of the past two seasons, finally reached Triple-A this year and looked good before cooling off (.246/.685 in 57 games). He came back to Portland and was put on the disabled list again.

Dahlstrand moved slowly through the system and then was shelved in early 2015 with Tommy John surgery. He pitched four games for Portland before going back on the DL.

First-year Sea Dogs include veteran pitcher Mitch Atkins, infielders Nate Freiman, Ryan Court and Decker, and outfielder Rainel Rosario.

Atkins, 30, was 6-7 with a 4.48 ERA and league-leading 145 strikeouts. Decker led the team in home runs (14, in 63 games); Freiman had an .814 OPS; Rosario batted .254; and Court (.277/.752) played every infield position and left field.

While major league free agents may look for a payday, minor leaguers look for an opportunity, including a spot on a Triple-A roster with an invitation to major league spring training camp.

Among the intriguing free agent pitchers in Pawtucket are Sean Sullivan and Williams Cuevas, both of whom pitched for Boston before eventually coming back and being removed from the 40-man roster.

Free-agent reliever Roman Mendez appeared briefly in Boston last year and stayed all 2016 in Pawtucket (3.38 ERA/1.19 WHIP).

Shortstop Jose Vinicio, a bonus baby ($2 million) in 2009, could be done with the Red Sox. After being promoted from Portland, he hit .269/.642 in 48 games with Pawtucket.

Catcher Dan Butler, 29, returned to the Red Sox organization this year, playing only 48 games, but batted .308. Boston may want to keep him for depth, but Butler will get offers from other organizations.

First baseman Chris Marrero, brother of shortstop Deven Marrero, is going to get offers. He batted .284/.838 with 23 home runs.

THE ARIZONA FALL league rosters were announced last week. The Surprise Saguaros, who will be managed by Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles, will have six players from the Red Sox organization – third baseman Yoan Moncada, shortstop Mauricio Dubon, outfielder Danny Mars, and pitchers Jalen Beeks, Trey Ball and Callahan.

Moncada has been called up to the major leagues, but other call-ups have returned to play in the AFL (including Mike Trout).

Dubon is likely to get some playing time in the outfield to increase his versatility.

Beeks was a combined 9-8, 3.87 in Salem and Portland.

Choosing three Salem players was a surprise.

Ball, a former first-round draft pick, is finishing his second season in advanced Class A (8-6, 3.84). Maybe a bullpen move is in order?

Mars batted .293/.754.

IN PAWTUCKET, left-hander Henry Owens finished Pawtucket’s season with a win Sunday, allowing one earned run, four hits and three walks over 62/3 innings.

He finished with a 3.53 ERA in Triple-A and will join Boston this weekend.

IN SALEM, third baseman Rafael Devers, 19 finished his season at .282/.779 (.326/.907 in the second half. Next stop: Portland next April.

IN LOWELL, first-year manager (and former Sea Dogs infielder) Iggy Suarez has the Spinners in the postseason for the first time in seven years. Lowell’s first playoff game is Wednesday. First-round draft pick Jason Groome may get the start.

Groome was promoted last week from the Gulf Coast League.

In his Spinners’ debut, Groome allowed no hits, but one run and four walks in 22/3 innings, while striking out two. He left in the third inning with two outs and a runner on first. The runner then scored on a double.


]]> 0, 05 Sep 2016 22:24:52 +0000
Red Sox lose heartbreaker in ninth, 1-0 Sun, 04 Sep 2016 23:06:27 +0000 OAKLAND, Calif. — Even before the video review, Eduardo Rodriguez realized speedy Marcus Semien was safe at first base.

Rodriguez’s no-hit bid for the Boston Red Sox was broken up after a replay reversal with two outs in the eighth inning, and the Oakland Athletics scored off reliever Craig Kimbrel in the ninth to earn a 1-0 victory Sunday.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz offered Rodriguez a hug after he came off the field, and these words: “You did the best job you could do – buen trabajo in Spanish,” Rodriguez recalled.

Trying to complete Boston’s first no-hitter in eight years, Rodriguez stuck out his right leg to knock down Semien’s grounder. The left-hander had to search for the ball in the dirt on the mound before scooping it up and making a quick throw to first.

Semien initially was ruled out by umpire Laz Diaz. A’s Manager Bob Melvin challenged the call, which was overturned after a brief review.

Replays clearly showed Semien was safe, just as Rodriguez knew they would. And the infield single ended his run at a no-hitter in frustrating fashion.

“You’ve got to ask everybody who’s lost a no-hitter how it feels,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez got the final out of the eighth, keeping the game scoreless. After that, his day was done.

“He was outstanding, and unfortunately he gets a ball off his shoe that he can’t seemingly find, and that’s the end of a potentially history-making day here,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.

In the ninth, Danny Valencia drew a leadoff walk against Kimbrel (2-4), and Brock Holt misplayed Khris Davis’ double in deep left field for an error that allowed Valencia to score from first base.

Oakland snapped a five-game losing streak overall, and a nine-game skid to Boston.

Ryan Madson (5-4) pitched the ninth for the win.

Ortiz, playing his final game in Oakland, received a standing ovation before his initial at-bat, when he struck out swinging to end the first.

He went 0 for 2 with two strikeouts and two walks after going 5 for 6 with five RBI in the first two games of the series.

“It’d be nice if he took a day off,” Melvin joked before the game. “He’s performing as well as he ever has.”

Farrell said he has no plans to use Ortiz at first base during the upcoming three-game series in San Diego, meaning he’ll be relegated to pinch-hitting duties.

After Boston outscored Oakland 27-4 in the previous two games, neither team could capitalize Sunday until the very end.

The Red Sox had scored at least 11 runs in all five previous meetings this season.

A’s starter Kendall Graveman struck out seven in 61/3 sharp innings.

“You know they’re going to put some good swings on you, and today a couple of balls were hit hard right at people, and that helped us,” said Graveman.

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 11 games and has hit in 20 straight against the A’s.


A day after getting his first hit and first RBI, Red Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada committed his first error and was picked off after the first of his two hits Sunday. He did make a nice defensive play in the seventh inning, snagging Billy Butler’s hard liner.


Rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi (left knee sprain) played catch for the first time and has taken some dry swings. … Right-hander Clay Buchholz will start Tuesday at San Diego in place of Steven Wright, who will get a second opinion on his injured pitching shoulder. … Reliever Koji Uehara, on the disabled list since July 20 because of a right pectoral strain, is scheduled to be activated Monday and will be available as soon as Tuesday, Farrell said.


Rick Porcello didn’t allow a baserunner until Jake Smolinski’s one-out double in the sixth on the way to his majors-leading 19th victory, and the Red Sox routed the Athletics, 11-2.

Porcello (19-3) gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings.

David Ortiz hit a two-run double to highlight Boston’s seven-run third.

Yoan Moncada had a run-scoring double in the inning, and Hanley Ramirez added a home run, his fourth in seven games.

]]> 0, 04 Sep 2016 21:59:03 +0000
On Baseball: Moncada needs more time in minors next spring Sun, 04 Sep 2016 08:00:00 +0000 That Red Sox fans gave Yoan Moncada a standing ovation when he walked up for his first major league at-bat Friday night was remarkable.

That these were Red Sox fans attending a game in Oakland, California, shows just how far Red Sox Nation extends – and how closely they follow the franchise and its prospects.

Moncada, 21, could become a popular and productive player for several years. That he was called up to a contending big league team shows the hope his employers have in him.

The Red Sox were wise to beckon Moncada in September.

They would be equally wise to send him back to the minors in April.

For the remaining month, and possibly into the postseason, Moncada could provide a spark. He’s an athletic player who could get on a roll and deepen this already-deep lineup.

But there are holes in his game – nothing to fret over but holes still the same. This is a different player than Andrew Benintendi, the other Sea Dogs player sent directly to the majors this year. Benintendi, 22, is already a polished player – a gifted outfielder and a hitter able to make adjustments to avoid long slumps.

When the Red Sox promoted Benintendi to Boston on Aug. 2, they were quick to say Benintendi and Moncada are different. Even though Moncada is considered the best prospect in baseball, Benintendi was closer to being ready for the majors – which he proved immediately (.324/.850 OPS in 68 at-bats) before spraining his knee.

Moncada is a prized prospect whose talent can be blinding to the truth that he still needs time to develop.

Or haven’t the Red Sox learned their lesson?

Allow me to offer two examples.

In 2011, a third baseman named Will Middlebrooks came to Portland. He had been a touted draft pick out of high school but moved unceremoniously through the system (batting .276/.770 OPS in Salem in 2010). He was hardly being rushed and began 2011 batting sixth in the Sea Dogs’ lineup.

Middlebrooks would break out in Portland (.302/.865 in 95 games), although ending the year quietly in Pawtucket (.161 in 16 games).

In 2012, Middlebrooks played only 24 games for Pawtucket (hitting .333) when he was summoned to Boston to fill in for the injured Kevin Youkilis. Middlebrooks got on a roll, batting .288/.835 with 15 home runs from May 2 to Aug. 10 before his season ended with a broken wrist.

Middlebrooks may have seemed established. But one good minor league season and a three-month hot streak in the majors hid the flaws in his game – maybe even to himself. In 2013, Middlebrooks looked lost at times, batting .227/.686. He hit .160 in the postseason and lost the third-base job to Xander Bogaerts. In 2014, Middlebrooks batted .191/.522. He was eventually demoted to Pawtucket and traded after the season for backup catcher Ryan Hanigan.

The caution the Red Sox had taken with the developing Middlebrooks was abandoned because he got hot for a brief time. He looked ready but wasn’t.

In 2012, a touted outfield prospect named Jackie Bradley Jr. was promoted to Portland on June 21. For five weeks Bradley batted .301/.885, with electrifying play in center field. The hype machine was in full gear. Bradley finished the season batting .210/.671 for the final five weeks. A nagging ankle injury was blamed for the slump.

In 2013 spring training, Bradley was again in the headlines, batting .419/1.120. That sizzling March and some minor injuries to others put Bradley on the major league roster. He was poised and a great fielder. In his major league debut, Bradley walked three times and scored twice.

But by April 17, when he was batting .097, Bradley was sent back to Pawtucket. He had nagging injuries and played only 80 games (.275/.842) with occasional appearances with Boston (batting .139 in 37 games).

In 2014, with Jacoby Ellsbury gone to the Yankees, Boston signed the oft-injured Grady Sizemore to compete with Bradley for the center-field job. Both made the major league roster. Sizemore couldn’t regain his old form and was released in June. Bradley played 127 games for Boston that year. The glove was superb but he batted only .198. It became obvious Bradley needed more development.

In 2015, with Mookie Betts starting in center field, Bradley began the season in Pawtucket. There, Bradley’s approach matured, batting .305/.853. In Boston, Bradley went wild in August (.354/1.163) and cooled in September (.216/.739)

Questions abounded heading into this season but Bradley has developed. He’s still streaky but the lows aren’t so bad, maintaining .273/.852 numbers with superb play in center.

Maybe Bradley needed to go through those struggles in 2013-14 to get where he is – or maybe his development was impeded because he was rushed.

WHERE DOES MONCADA fit into all this? His talent is hardly raw but needs refinement.

On Friday night, Moncada showed plate discipline in his first big league appearance, willing to take a walk instead of chasing bad pitches.

But Moncada can be pitched to, as evidenced by the crafty Chris Smith (a former Sea Dogs right-hander) facing Moncada in the ninth inning on Friday. Smith stayed on the outside half of the plate, with a mix of change-ups and 86 mph fastballs, and got a strikeout.

The switch-hitting Moncada is more susceptible batting right-handed (.167/.691 in Portland). He can swat a fastball or hanging off-speed pitch. But the last two times I saw him bat right-handed in Portland, he took a slider for a called third strike and then struck out, swinging through a change-up.

A small sample, for sure, but evidence that more development is necessary.

In the field, Moncada has moved from second base and should be an exceptional third baseman – quick with a cannon arm. On Friday, he backhanded a bouncer past third base and, from the grass, threw out the runner with a strong, accurate throw.

But on a grounder toward the shortstop, he ranged too far to his left, stopping the ball but unable to glove it.

“That’s a play converted middle infielders try to make because they forget where they (are) at in the infield,” wrote former major league infielder and ESPN analysis Alex Cora in a tweet afterward. “Nothing wrong with that.”

Nothing that time and repetition won’t take care of.

Moncada could have an amazing September run. He has that ability.

But the Red Sox have invested a lot – maybe you’ve heard about the $63 million price tag – and they need to monitor Moncada’s progress.

He’ll gain invaluable experience this month, and in major league spring training next year, but he should begin 2017 in Triple-A.

Yes, there’s a business angle to this. By waiting to promote Moncada next season, they may get an extra year out of his career before he eventually hits free agency.

But there’s also a baseball decision to be made. Let Moncada close the holes in his game while in Pawtucket, then watch him soar.

TRAVIS SHAW may have something to say while the Red Sox wait for Moncada to become entrenched at third base. Shaw’s message Friday had a Simple Minds theme to it: Don’t you forget about me.

While the left-handed hitting Shaw has struggled recently – helping make the decision to bring up Moncada – he broke loose Friday with a home run, two doubles and five RBI.

“If you get hits, it’s going to be hard to keep you out of the lineup down the stretch,” Shaw said after the game.

Shaw seems to be energized when there’s competition. Remember, he beat out Pablo Sandoval for the job in spring training.

With Shaw competing for playing time and Moncada looking to impress, the Red Sox can only benefit.


]]> 1, 04 Sep 2016 00:30:49 +0000
Red Sox roll past Oakland, 11-2 Sun, 04 Sep 2016 04:40:59 +0000 OAKLAND, Calif. — Rick Porcello didn’t allow a baserunner until Jake Smolinski’s one-out double in the sixth inning on the way to his majors-leading 19th victory, and the Boston Red Sox routed the Oakland Athletics again with an 11-2 victory Saturday night.

The Red Sox moved into a tie with Toronto for first place in the AL East.

David Ortiz hit a two-run double to highlight Boston’s seven-run third to chants of “Pa-pi! Pa-pi!” for the retiring slugger in his last visit to Oakland.

Yoan Moncada had a run-scoring double later in the inning for his first career hit and RBI. He made his first start a day after making his major league debut in a 16-2 victory.

Hanley Ramirez added a home run in the third, his fourth in seven games.

Porcello (19-3) gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings, struck out two and didn’t walk a batter. Boston improved to 21-7 in Porcello’s starts and 13-2 in his last 15. The Red Sox scored 11 or more runs against the A’s in their fifth straight game, a night after matching their season high with 16 runs.

Mookie Betts hit a two-run double in the first following Ortiz’s first double that moved Dustin Pedroia to third. Betts joined Ted Williams as the only Red Sox with at least 30 home runs with 100 or more RBI in a season before turning 24.

Ortiz had three more hits and is 5 for 6 with five RBI this series. He moved within one RBI of the AL lead behind Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion (108). Ortiz also needs to drive in one more run to tie Dave Winfield for most RBI by a player 40 or older. A 12-time All-Star and Hall of Famer, Winfield drove in 108 runs for Toronto in 1992.

Right-hander Daniel Mengden (1-6), called up from Triple-A Nashville, allowed seven runs and eight hits in just 22/3 innings.

NOTES: Red Sox right-hander Koji Uehara, on the disabled list since July 20 because of a right pectoral strain, threw 26 pitches and could be activated during the team’s upcoming series in San Diego beginning Monday. “The way he’s advanced the last 10 days has been encouraging,” Manager John Farrell said. …Right-hander Steven Wright will seek a second opinion on his injured throwing shoulder and won’t start Tuesday. Right-hander Clay Buchholz will be called upon to pitch against the Padres in his place.… Outfielder Andrew Benintendi (left knee sprain) was running the bases again but is not ready to take swings. … After the game, the Red Sox announced that pitchers Heath Hembree and Noe Ramirez and catcher Christian Vazquez would join the team Monday in San Diego. … Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (2-6, 5.35 ERA), who will start Sunday, has allowed three or fewer runs in seven of his eight outings since the All-Star break and has a 3.22 ERA with 40 strikeouts to 16 walks. Right-hander Kendall Graveman (10-9, 3.96), who will start for Oakland, seeks his first career decision against the Red Sox in his third appearance. After beginning 1-6 over his initial nine starts, Graveman is 9-3.

]]> 0 Sun, 04 Sep 2016 17:03:35 +0000
Red Sox pummel Oakland A’s, 16-2 Sat, 03 Sep 2016 12:14:05 +0000 OAKLAND, Calif.—The Oakland A’s lost another starting pitcher to an injury, then saw their bullpen battered like a pinata in a 16-2 loss Friday night to open their weekend series against the Boston Red Sox at the Coliseum.

Andrew Triggs pitched the first inning, giving up an unearned run, then had to leave because of a bad back. Zach Neal took over and gave up an unearned run of his own over the course of the next three innings.

In the fifth and sixth innings, however, the Red Sox scored 10 times to put the game well out of reach. David Ortiz, at 40 making his last swing through Oakland before retiring, drove in three runs with a couple of singles and a sacrifice fly.

Ortiz has 105 RBI with a month left in the season. The RBI record for a 40-year-old player is 108, and the last three innings Friday were spent wondering if Ortiz would take Dave Winfield (1992) out of the record books before the evening was over. Nope—he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning.

And it wasn’t just Ortiz punishing A’s pitching. Travis Shaw hit a three-run homer and two doubles while driving in five runs. Hanley Ramirez doubled, singled and drove in three.

It’s a tired story. Oakland’s mound corps has served up nothing but mush against the Red Sox all year. In three games in Boston in mid-May, the Sox scored 14, 13 and 13 runs, so Friday’s total was right about par.

A’s pitching has allowed 1.67 runs per inning to the Red Sox, which is a searing indictment of the differences between the playoff-bound Sox and the last place A’s.

The first two Boston runs were unearned thanks to errors by Marcus Semien and Brett Eibner. That gave Red Sox lefty David Price some wiggle room, but the A’s reached him for three hits and two runs to tie the game at 2-all in the fourth.

The tie had a short shelf life. Five consecutive two-out hits off Neal and Daniel Coulombe produced four runs in the fifth. An inning later, Coulombe and J.B. Wendelken combined to allow six runs, and the game quickly devolved into another typical Boston blowout of Oakland.

Daniel Mengden will be activated Saturday and will start against the Red Sox, his first big league start since July 25. Manager Bob Melvin said Mengden has pitched better than his 1-5 record and 5.73 ERA with Oakland would suggest. “He really got our attention early on, and we felt like when we sent him down he was just a little bit tired,” Melvin said. “(Nashville) cut down on his workload, and he’s been pitching great ever since.”

— Triple-A manager Steve Scarsone was named Pacific Coast League manager of the year. The Sounds are 83-57 and in first place in their division. “For them to finish the way they have and for us to have taken as many players as we have from them is really a feather in his cap,” Melvin said. “That team was in Stockton two years ago, in Midland last year; there is a core group of guys we are really excited about.”

— Sean Doolittle came off the disabled list before the game, later than the A’s had originally hoped, but, Doolittle said, the time is right now. He clocked 93-94 mph on the radar gun his last two times out.

— Matt McBride, who had been up with the club earlier in the season, was the first player promoted from Nashville with the roster limit going from 25 to 40 on Thursday. He’ll serve as the third catcher.

— Starter Sonny Gray played catch before the game, throwing out to 90 feet, and said “I feel pretty good” when he was done. He and the A’s have some hope he will get a chance to pitch again before the season is over.

— Jesse Hahn is off the disabled list, but after giving up 11 hits and seven earned runs in 3.2 innings in his last rehab start, he’ll stay with Nashville and get more work. “It’s been a tough year for him,” Melvin said. “But we still feel like there’s a bright future for him here.”

— Starter Sean Manaea (left back strain) played catch Friday. “He felt better,” Melvin said. “I don’t think we’re in position to forecast when he’s going to start again. But he feels better, and that’s important.”

Melvin said “we have a couple of other guys we’re going to take a look at in the interim,” without naming names. Jharel Cotton, who threw 5.2 innings of scoreless ball for Nashville on Thursday, is one, and Raul Alcantara, who is 5-0 with a 1.18 ERA in eight starts for the Sounds, is the other.

Another injured starter, Henderson Alvarez, is down to go three innings Saturday for Class-A Stockton. Melvin said no decision has been made yet as to what happens after that.


]]> 0, 03 Sep 2016 08:18:00 +0000
Can Yoan Moncada be the next young player to help carry the Red Sox? Fri, 02 Sep 2016 02:23:41 +0000 All week, Boston Red Sox Manager John Farrell talked about the possibility of Yoan Moncada being promoted to the majors.

Even on Wednesday, during his pregame press conference, Farrell gushed about the player considered baseball’s top prospect.

“There is nothing but positive (effects) … if that were to happen,” Farrell said of a Moncada promotion.

Farrell must have known something because Moncada, 21, was called up Wednesday night by Boston from the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.

The Red Sox had an off day Thursday and will begin a trip in Oakland on Friday night. Moncada is likely to be in the lineup against Oakland right-handed starter Andrew Triggs. During his time in the minors, the switch-hitting Moncada has batted much better against right-handers (.305) than lefties (.167).

Farrell said Moncada would be playing third base for the Red Sox – a position he just switched to in early August, from second base.

“For those who have been around (the Red Sox) for a number of years, teams that have had success have always had an injection of young players late in the season that have helped carry the team in the postseason,” Farrell said.

“I think Yoan would be in a similar category for when Pedey (Dustin Pedroia) and Jake (Jacoby Ellsbury) came to the big leagues. When Bogey (Xander Bogaerts) came to the big leagues. And (Andrew) Benintendi is obviously already here. I wouldn’t separate him from that comparison at all. In fact, he’s a direct comparison.”

In mentioning Pedroia, Ellsbury, Bogaerts and Benintendi, Farrell has only added to the hype of Moncada.

Now for some history. Pedroia was a late call-up in 2006 but the team was out of contention and he hardly helped (.191). He sparked the team the next year and was named the AL Rookie of the Year.

Ellsbury made his major league debut on June 30, 2007, but didn’t get serious playing time until his September call-up. He took over as the starting center fielder in the American League Championship Series.

Bogaerts was called up in late August 2013. Although a shortstop, he eventually took over at third base for the slumping Will Middlebrooks in the playoffs.

Benintendi was Moncada’s teammate this year, first in advanced Class A Salem and then Portland. He was called up Aug. 2 and eventually became the full-time left fielder before spraining his knee Aug. 24. The Red Sox hope he’s back for the playoffs.

Moncada is not as refined a hitter as Benintendi (especially when batting right-handed) but can make an impact. In 45 games with Portland, he had six doubles, three triples and 11 home runs. His OPS was .910.

If Moncada keeps hitting as a major leaguer, it will likely mean less playing time for Travis Shaw, Boston’s left-handed hitting corner infielder. Shaw is batting .248 with 30 doubles and 14 home runs. But since May he’s batting .208 with 13 doubles and seven home runs.

]]> 0, 01 Sep 2016 22:51:18 +0000
Red Sox promote top prospect Yoan Moncada from Sea Dogs Thu, 01 Sep 2016 03:16:19 +0000 BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox will add hyped prospect Yoan Moncada to the major league roster prior to a game at Oakland on Friday.

The team announced the move Wednesday night. The Cuban infielder signed with Boston for $31.5 million in February 2015 in a deal that cost the Red Sox $63 million due to a tax penalty on international amateur free agents.

The 21-year-old Moncada will report from Double-A Portland, where he is hitting .285 with 11 homers and nine stolen bases in 44 games. He opened the year with Class A Salem, where he hit .307 with four homers and 36 steals in 61 games.

The switch-hitting second baseman got off to a slow start in 2015, batting .200 with one homer in the first half of the season with Class A Greenville. He’s since become one of the minors’ most productive players and one of baseball’s top prospects behind a varied skill set.

In his last 11 games with the Sea Dogs, Moncada was 9 of 40 (.225) with 18 strikeouts. That dropped his batting average to .277.

INDIANS/ATHLETICS: Cleveland added much-needed outfield depth and postseason experience by acquiring Crisp in a trade with Oakland.

The AL Central leaders sent minor league pitcher Colt Hynes to the A’s for cash and Crisp, who began his career with the Indians in 2002 and returns to a team looking to play deep into October.

Crisp waived his rights as a player with 10 years of experience, five with the same team, for the deal to be approved.

YANKEES: New York acquired speedy minor league outfielder Eric Young Jr. from the Milwaukee Brewers for cash considerations.

The 31-year-old Young has played seven seasons in the majors and has 144 steals with Colorado, the Mets and Atlanta. He’s spent this season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, hitting .263 with 23 stolen bases.

ROYALS: Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang went on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis amid a series of roster moves to shore up a taxed bullpen.

RANGERS: Reliever Jeremy Jeffress will remain on the restricted list while entering an unspecified treatment program following an arrest on a drunken driving charge.

Jeffress, who was arrested last week in Dallas, asked for privacy while in rehab.

MARLINS: Miami put pitcher David Phelps on the 15-day disabled list shortly before his scheduled start.

Phelps was supposed to pitch Wednesday night against the Mets in New York. Instead, he went on the DL because of a strained left oblique.

Jake Esch was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to start in his major league debut. The 26-year-old righty was a combined 12-10 with a 4.31 ERA at Triple-A and Double-A.

Phelps was hurt on his first swing of batting practice Tuesday before Miami’s 7-4 loss to the Mets.

Phelps has been a key member of the Marlins’ pitching staff, appearing in 55 games.

He is 2-1 with a 2.59 in five starts since moving into the rotation on Aug. 5.

TWINS: Center fielder Danny Santana will likely miss the remainder of the season with an injured left shoulder.

Santana got hurt on Sunday in Toronto when he collided with teammate Robbie Grossman while trying to make a catch. The team placed him on the disabled list Monday.

A switch-hitter, Santana batting .240 with two homers, 14 RBI and 12 steals this season.

CUBS: Chicago recalled infielder Tommy La Stella from Triple-A Iowa and optioned reliever Spencer Patton to their top farm club.

La Stella was sent down on July 29, but refused to report to the minors. After weeks of dialogue between the New Jersey native and the team, La Stella joined Double-A Tennessee in mid-August.

The 27-year-old La Stella got the start at second for the series finale against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. He is batting .295 with two homers and eight RBI in 51 games with major league-leading Chicago.

PADRES: San Diego put catcher Christian Bethancourt on the 15-day disabled list with a left intercostal strain.

The Padres recalled catcher Hector Sanchez from Triple-A El Paso.

]]> 0, 01 Sep 2016 19:48:16 +0000
Ramirez grand slam, late rally give Red Sox win over Rays Wed, 31 Aug 2016 21:32:10 +0000 BOSTON — Another tough game for the Red Sox bullpen.

This time followed by a save from the Boston bats.

Aaron Hill sliced an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth after Tampa Bay tied it in the top half of the inning, and the Red Sox held on for an 8-6 victory over the Rays on Wednesday.

“We had to find a way to fight back again,” Manager John Farrell said after the Red Sox finished the homestand with a 3-3 record and headed to the West Coast for the first six in a nine-game trip.

Hanley Ramirez hit a fifth-inning grand slam to erase a 4-1 deficit, and Jackie Bradley Jr. added a solo shot in the sixth to give Boston a 6-4 lead. But one game after the Red Sox blew a two-run lead in the seventh, the Rays loaded the bases against Fernando Abad in the eighth and Logan Forsythe hit a two-run single off Junichi Tazawa (3-2) to tie it.

In the bottom half, Ramirez led off with a walk, Sandy Leon bunted him to second and pinch-hitter Brock Holt singled him to third. Hill followed with a single past the first baseman to score Ramirez, and Bradley hit an RBI double to make it 8-6.

“Difficult loss,” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said. “A walk here and couple of hits, then the big home run by Hanley really killed us.”

Xander Bogaerts also homered for the Red Sox, and Bradley had three hits. Dustin Pedroia had three more hits for Boston, which had lost five of its previous seven games after moving into a tie for first place in the AL East.

Pedroia has 15 hits in his last 20 at-bats and is batting .463 since moving into the leadoff spot on Aug. 10.

Erasmo Ramirez (7-10) gave up Hill’s single and an RBI double by Bradley in the eighth.

Kevin Kiermaier had three hits for the Rays, and Forsythe and Logan Morrison each homered as Tampa Bay opened a 4-1 lead through four innings.

But Boston took the lead in the fifth after Drew Smyly loaded the bases on two hits and a two-out walk. Ramirez hit the next pitch over the Green Monster for his 19th homer of the season.

Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 24th save. Farrell said his closer was not available to get a four-out save a day after throwing 22 pitches in a non-save situation just so he could get his work in. “I was not going to go with a short turnaround,” Farrell said.

Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright lasted only four innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. In two starts since coming back from a right shoulder strain, Wright has allowed nine runs on 14 hits in 19 innings.

“I felt like it was hard for me to get the same life, the same action I had pre-injury,” he said.

NOTES: Red Sox reliever Brad Ziegler was unavailable because of the flu. Farrell said he would fly on his own to the West Coast “to keep him away from others … being so contagious.”

Portland Sea Dogs infielders Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon and Class A pitcher Michael Kopech are among the seven players in the Red Sox organization slated to play for the Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League, according to rosters that were released Wednesday.

Moncada, rated by Baseball America as the top prospect in the minor leagues, and Dubon will be joined by Sea Dogs left-hander Jalen Beeks.

The Saguaros’ pitching staff is headed by Kopech, a hard-throwing right-hander who has a 1.23 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings at Class A Salem. Three other Salem players – pitchers Trey Ball and Jamie Callahan and outfielder Danny Mars – are also on the roster.

]]> 0, 31 Aug 2016 23:25:24 +0000
On baseball: Pomeranz keeping Red Sox in games, but it’s not enough Wed, 31 Aug 2016 03:51:16 +0000 BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox lost 4-3 Tuesday night and most of the talk will be about another reliever (Clay Buchholz) losing a game or how Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria continues to be a Red Sox killer, with another winning homer.

Oh, by the way, Drew Pomeranz deserves a mention. Maybe all you remember is Luke Maile’s improbable two-run homer off Pomeranz that tied the game in the seventh inning, or the run he allowed in the first.

But there is so much more.

After a rocky start when he was acquired from San Diego, Pomeranz has delivered in his last six starts: 362/3 innings, 11 earned runs.

Tuesday’s three earned runs were the most he’s allowed all month. And yet he got another no-decision.

There has not been a lot of offensive support in those last six starts; Pomeranz is 2-1 with three no-decisions.

Red Sox fans can only hope that this “best offense in baseball” shows up on days Pomeranz pitches. He may not have ace-like qualities, but he has bolstered this rotation that carries a 3.16 ERA in August – second best in the American League to Kansas City.

“Drew’s addition has been a boost, particularly the run he is on of late,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.

“There has been a very tangible improvement with how many fastballs he has thrown for strikes – the quality and location.”

In Pomeranz’s first inning, he used mostly his fastball, with a few timely curves, and some bad luck.

With one out, Kevin Kiermaier doubled on a line drive to left field that could have been caught. The ball went off Brock Holt’s glove near the wall.

With Kiermaier on second, Longoria came to bat.

Pomeranz located a 92 mph fastball down for a strike (0-1). He elevated a 92 mph heater for 1-1. Longoria chased a diving curveball (1-2) and took another high fastball. Pomeranz then froze Longoria for a called third strike on a curveball dropping over at the knees.

Brad Miller, however, followed with a ground-ball single, on an 0-2 curveball, that deflected off the glove of a diving Dustin Pedroia.

“After that I settled down pretty good,” Pomeranz said.

Pomeranz got Matt Duffy to ground out, using all fastballs. In the second inning, Pomeranz struck out three batters – all on fastballs.

“He is so well known for his breaking ball,” Farrell said.

“The fact that his fastball plays up a little bit more … when you get the opposition looking for one pitch and he’s in the strike zone with a good fastball with deception ….”

Pomeranz would finish with eight strikeouts, including another one against Longoria, flailing at a curve.

While Pomeranz was dealing Tuesday, he was using a lot of pitches early. He was up to 39 after two innings. He commanded better, but was still at 83 after five innings. He pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning, using eight pitches.

In the seventh, Pomeranz faced Maile with two outs and one runner on. Pomeranz had already struck out Maile twice, using mostly curveballs. In the seventh, Pomeranz was ahead of Maile 1-2, having thrown two curves and a cut fastball.

Pomeranz went to the curve one more time – one time too many.

Maile crushed it over the left-field wall to tie the game 3-3.

“It’s 1-2 and we got two outs. I’m thinking just bounce a curveball and we got this guy,” Pomeranz said. “And it stayed up too much, right into his bat.

“This one’s on me. It’s a tough way to lose. I was pitching so well … I feel like I’ve done pretty well but there are certain points in the game I can improve on.”

Of Pomeranz’s 101 pitches, 55 were fastballs (33 strikes, five swing-and-miss), 31 curveballs (23 strikes, nine swing-and-miss) and 15 cutters (12 strikes, one swing and miss).

The cut fastball is new this year. “Having three pitches, I’m out there being a pitcher and not a thrower. Now I’m out there with a plan.”

The plan is working and is enough to win games. But Boston’s offense sputters at times and then there’s the bullpen …

Boston is 16-18 in one-run games.

Don’t blame the starting pitching.


]]> 0, 31 Aug 2016 09:12:38 +0000
Longoria home run sinks the Red Sox Wed, 31 Aug 2016 02:49:59 +0000 BOSTON — Evan Longoria broke a tie with a solo homer in the eighth inning, clearing Fenway Park’s Green Monster and rallying Tampa Bay to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

Luke Maile of the Rays hit a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh. It was just the second career homer for Maile, who drove a 1-2 pitch from Drew Pomeranz out to left to restore the tie after Boston had taken a 3-1 lead.

Pomeranz and Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi both pitched well but didn’t factor in the decision as both bullpens struggled to hold a lead.

Enny Romero (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts and got the win. Alex Colome survived a hit and a passed ball in the ninth while picking up his 29th save.

Former starter Clay Buchholz (5-10) took the loss, pitching the eighth and allowing Longoria’s solo shot.

Hanley Ramirez hit a homer in the fifth for Boston’s first run and added an RBI single in the sixth when Boston scored twice to take a 3-1 lead.

Boston took its first lead in the sixth after Dustin Pedroia walked with one out and went to third on Xander Bogaerts’ double down the left-field line. Pedroia tagged up and scored on David Ortiz’s sinking fly ball to right, where Steven Souza Jr. prevented another run with a diving catch.

Boston ended up getting the run anyway on an odd single by Ramirez, whose towering popup to shallow right landed safely between Souza and first baseman Brad Miller.

Maile tied it with a two-run homer to left with two outs in the seventh. Maile’s second career homer came on the last pitch from Pomeranz, who was one strike away from cruising into the eighth with a two-run lead.

Pomeranz struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, five hits and two walks. Odorizzi allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, striking out seven and walking two.


Rays: Tampa Bay enjoyed a second straight game without a player on the DL. The Rays got back to full strength Monday by activating RHP Alex Cobb, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and is scheduled to start Friday against Toronto. Before Monday, the Rays had at least one player on the DL every game since beating Minnesota 12-5 on July 6, 2011 – a string of 853 consecutive games.

Red Sox: OF Andrew Benintendi has been fitted for a brace for his sprained left knee. Manager John Farrell it will take about a week to construct the custom brace that will allow the rookie to increase the intensity of his rehab workouts. Benintendi injured the knee last Wednesday in a loss at Tampa Bay.


Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (6-11, 4.80 ERA) starts for the Rays in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. Smyly is 4-0 in his last seven starts with three no-decisions. Smyly has pitched at least six innings during the seven-game span.

Red Sox: RHP Steven Wright (13-6, 3.18) will make his first career start against the Rays. The knuckleballer took the loss Friday against Kansas City, allowing five runs and seven hits in six innings.

]]> 0, 31 Aug 2016 09:27:02 +0000
Tom Caron: Red Sox need to fix their bullpen, but they have a lot of options Tue, 30 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The MLB postseason is just five weeks away. The Red Sox are holding the top wild card spot in the American League, a position they have earned with an offense that has scored more runs than any other team in baseball. Additionally, Boston’s starting rotation has evolved into one of the best in the game since the All-Star break.

That should be enough to give a team a healthy lead in the division, but thanks to a faulty bullpen the Sox will be fighting tooth and nail down the stretch.

How to fix the pen? Glad you asked. Here, completely unsolicited, are the steps I would take to settle things down in the final innings over these final weeks of the season.

1. Give players defined roles. Manager John Farrell has tried to coax the most out of his bullpen by bringing in the pitcher who appears to match up best with the batter or batters due up that inning. It hasn’t worked. The best bullpens have pitchers with clearly defined roles. We know Craig Kimbrel is the closer and will pitch the ninth. Who is pitching the eighth? The bullpen has had a revolving door in that inning for the past month.

2. Make Clay Buchholz the eighth-inning pitcher. Buchholz has walked through the valley of darkness as a Sox pitcher this season. He was brutal as a starter for the first half of the year, and endured the booing of fans and the calling for his release. Then he became a relief pitcher, and suddenly things clicked. The 10-year veteran stopped thinking too much about hitters’ tendencies and more about his own success. I spoke with him last week and he says going to the bullpen completely changed his mindset. He attacks hitters now, and is Farrell’s best option in the eighth.

3. Let Brad Ziegler pitch clean innings. Ziegler, at his best, is a ground-ball pitcher who makes quick work of an inning. The issue is that ground-ball pitchers are pitching to contact. He’s not a strikeout guy, despite the night he struck out three Diamondbacks with the bases loaded at Fenway. He needs a margin for error – not men in scoring position who will come in if one of those ground balls finds a hole between two infielders. Let him come in to start the seventh or, when Buchholz is unavailable, the eighth. He was a closer in Arizona. He can handle late-inning pressure.

4. Keep Robbie Ross Jr. in the late-inning mix. His control issues can be alarming (no reliever has hit more batters than Ross) but he’s their best lefty in the pen. When you’re facing a predominantly left-handed team let Ross come in for the seventh. Lefties see Ziegler’s sidearm offerings too easily. Ross is a better option.

5. Bring Joe Kelly up and give him a meaningful role. He’s been terrific in Pawtucket and throws 100 mph. He’s got swing-and-miss stuff. He’s the guy I want coming in with men in scoring position and a lead. It would have been nice to have him available Sunday night when Eduardo Rodriguez left the game in the sixth with the bases loaded. Instead, Matt Barnes came in and allowed all three runners to score. And five more after that.

6. Use the expanded roster for bullpen depth. This is obvious, but bring up Heath Hembree, Noe Ramirez, and William Cuevas and let them come in to one-sided games. Buchholz and Ziegler pitched with a six-run lead Saturday night. Save them for the tight games.

7. If someone fails, put him in the back of the pack. Barnes’ struggles Sunday night don’t mean he will never be a good reliever. He might be hitting a late-season wall in his first full year as a relief pitcher. Yet this is a playoff race. Let others step up and work when you have a lead late. If they fail, the “next man up” theory applies. For now, Junichi Tarawa and Fernando Abad are at the back of the pack.

It’s going to be a wild ride, and October baseball is a very real possibility for the Red Sox once again. They’re going to need a strong bullpen to get there. Over the next five weeks, roles will have to evolve if the Sox hope to evolve as a true contender.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 23:50:51 +0000
Betts’ 30th home run helps Porcello pick up 18th win for Red Sox Tue, 30 Aug 2016 02:48:04 +0000 BOSTON — Rick Porcello had a simple answer to why he can’t think about his current success.

He knows there are a lot more important things he’s helping the Boston Red Sox chase.

Porcello became the majors’ first 18-game winner and the first Red Sox pitcher in 70 years to open a season 13-0 in Fenway Park, going seven solid innings in Boston’s 9-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

“When you look at the standings we’re still chasing so there’s nothing to be complacent about. You still have to gain ground on Toronto. We’re not in first place right now,” the right-hander said. “That’s how I kind of view it. I don’t look at it as a personal level: ‘I’m doing well so I can relax.’ We’re still fighting so we can get where we have to be.”

Mookie Betts hit his 30th homer, a solo shot, and drove in two runs for the Red Sox, who hold the AL’s first wild-card spot but had lost four of five.

Brock Holt had three hits and drove in two runs, Travis Shaw had three hits and Chris Young added a tiebreaking two-run double for Boston.

The Rays, buried in last in the AL East, have lost three of four.

Porcello (18-3) allowed three runs and six hits, striking out seven without issuing a walk to become the first Boston pitcher since Dave “Boo” Ferriss finished 13-0 at home in 1946 to start a season by winning his initial 13 decisions in Fenway.

“Rick has been a model of consistency,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia missed the game after a death in the family, but he’s expected back Tuesday.

Matt Andriese (6-6) took the loss, giving up a season-high seven runs in four-plus innings. Evan Longoria had two sacrifice flies for the Rays, who split a four-game series against the Red Sox at home last week.

“I just wasn’t at my best, so it’s kind of what happens when you leave some elevated pitches up there,” Andriese said of facing the majors’ top scoring team. “It’s a good hitting lineup and they made me pay.”

The game was tied 2-2 after three innings before Boston took charge with three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth.

“Really impressed with the offense that they came right back and got two quick runs to tie it back up,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But after that Porcello seemed to kick it in gear and they kind of had Matt’s number a little bit.”

Young lined his two-run double past third baseman Longoria, moving the Red Sox ahead 4-2. Longoria seemed to mistime the speed of the liner, raising his glove a bit late. Holt added an RBI double.

After the Rays cut it to 5-3, Betts lined a run-scoring double into the left-field corner. He scored on Shaw’s infield hit.

Betts homered over the Green Monster, hitting a billboard with the ball bouncing onto the field.

Betts, who is 23, joined Ted Williams (1939, 1941) and Tony Conigliaro (1965) as the only Red Sox with 30 homers in a season before turning 24.

“It feels pretty good. It affected the game. That’s what I set out to do,” he said. “It’s pretty cool hitting 30.”

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 23:52:21 +0000
Red Sox Farm Report: Moncada needs more work but Boston may need him now Mon, 29 Aug 2016 23:50:11 +0000 Major league rosters can expand Thursday, the same day the Arizona Fall League rosters will be announced.

Will Yoan Moncada’s name be included on both rosters?

Earlier this month, Red Sox Manager John Farrell hinted that Moncada, now playing third base for the Portland Sea Dogs, would go to the Arizona Fall League to continue to adjust to his new position.

But on Sunday, Farrell wouldn’t rule out Moncada being called up to the majors, saying the decision “has yet to be determined.”

Could Moncada go to the majors and then head to the AFL? Sure. Mike Trout did that in 2011, jumping from Double-A to the Angels, then moving to the AFL after the season. By the way, the AFL’s Scottsdale Scorpions were loaded that year with Trout, Bryce Harper and Will Middlebrooks (and Arnie Beyeler as manager).

Moncada, 21, is Boston’s top prospect but still needs time to develop. But his production in 43 Double-A games is intriguing: a .286 batting average, .941 OPS and 11 home runs.

Boston isn’t getting a lot of production at third base from Travis Shaw (.175/.610 in the second half) and Aaron Hill (.195/.512 since his trade to Boston).

Moncada has been dominant when batting left-handed (.313/1.003), not so much right-handed (.171/.710). He has power right-handed – like his home run on a fastball Sunday. But he also struck out twice in the game, looking at a slider and swinging at a change-up.

Moncada shows a lot of athletic talent at third base but Sunday was only his eighth time at the position. He can steal bases (93 of 108 in his career), but is still learning the nuances of the running game, especially at higher levels.

Here’s one scenario: Moncada is promoted to Boston late Wednesday night. Boston is off Thursday and opens a long trip Friday at Oakland.

The Red Sox like their touted prospects making debuts far away from the glare of Boston. For example, Xander Bogaerts played his first game in San Francisco in 2013 and Andrew Benintendi debuted in Seattle earlier this month.

If Moncada is promoted by Wednesday, he becomes automatically eligible for the postseason roster should Boston make the playoffs.

THE ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE has been called the graduate school for prospects. Running from Oct. 8 to Nov. 19, it’s intended to be a showcase for some of the game’s best prospects, most coming from Double-A, with some from Triple-A and an occasional Class A player. Some of the prospects may not be big names but are promising players who need more work – especially those who missed time because of injury or have moved to a new position.

Each of the six AFL teams contains prospects from five major league teams, with minor league coaches assigned to each team.

Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles will manage the Surprise Saguaros.

The Red Sox players chosen for the Surprise team will be announced Thursday.

AFL CANDIDATES from the Red Sox, besides Moncada, include some other standouts in Portland.

Shortstop Mauricio Dubon would be a good candidate. Not only did Dubon tear up Double-A pitching (.342/.923) but excelled at shortstop. Dubon, 22, is likely to be introduced to other positions soon, maybe in Arizona.

Dubon has played second and third before, and probably could handle the outfield.

With Dubon blocked at so many positions in Boston, the Red Sox may want to find a way to get his quick bat to the majors. Think of him as a right-handed Brock Holt.

Catcher Jake Romanski, 25, is having a breakout year in Portland (.298/.724). He’s superb at throwing out runners but the Red Sox would like to see improvement in his overall defense. He caught 83 games in Portland and could catch a few more in the fall.

Outfielder Aneury Tavarez, 24, came out of nowhere this season, batting .331/.873. In 67 games with Portland last year, he batted .226/.616. It would be good to see Tavarez against better competition.

One pitcher seems an obvious choice. Right-hander Michael Kopech missed the first half of the season with a broken hand. In 10 starts with Salem he’s 4-1 with a 1.23 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 51 innings. Kopech can rely solely on his 100 mph fastball in Class A. Boston needs to see him face more advanced hitters.

Portland could offer several pitchers to the AFL for more work. Ben Taylor and Ty Buttrey converted to the bullpen this year, and starter Kevin McAvoy missed time with injury. Left-handed relievers Luis Ysla and Williams Jerez are other candidates.

IN PAWTUCKET, left-hander Roenis Elias (10-5, 3.78 ERA) allowed three hits in six innings of shutout ball (three walks and six strikeouts) Sunday.

Trouble is, Elias didn’t look nearly as good during his short stint with Boston (three games, 72/3 innings, 11 earned runs).

Rusney Castillo went 3 for 5 on Sunday with a double and triple. In 22 games in August, Castillo is batting .365/.944.

IN SALEM, third baseman Rafael Devers (.335/.944) and outfielder Danny Mars (.331/.844) have been excellent in the second half of the season. They will be in Portland next year, as will first baseman Nick Longhi, who has been consistent all year (.280/.736).

IN GREENVILLE, 18-year-old wonder Raniel Raudes (11-5, 3.63 ERA) pitched only three innings in his start Sunday, allowing one hit. Raudes, in his first full pro season, is already up to 1112/3 innings and the Red Sox are cutting back his workload in the final week of the season.

IN LOWELL, two high draft picks from June are shining. Third baseman Bobby Dalbec (fourth round, Arizona) is batting .374/1.119 in 28 games. Shortstop C.J. Chatham (second round, Florida Atlantic), is batting .275 in the last 10 games, but is also showing his promising power, with three home runs in his last three games.

IN THE GULF Coast League, first-round draft pick Jason Groome made his second start last week: two innings, two hits, one run, no walks and five strikeouts. Groome gave up a leadoff single. The runner stole second, advanced to third on a single and stole home.

A SCOUT WITH another organization visited Hadlock Field last week and the subject of Mookie Betts’ success came up. The scout was not surprised. “I have rated only four prospects (with top marks) – Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts and …

“Andrew Benintendi.”

NOTES: Former Sea Dogs and Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard is pitching for the first time in two years. Signed by the Cardinals, Bard, 31, was activated this month in the advanced Class A Florida State League. In five games (only 11/3 innings), he has allowed eight earned runs on two hits, eight walks and five hit batters, with no strikeouts … Former Sea Dogs outfielder Shannon Wilkerson recently was released by the Twins organization. Wilkerson, 28, was batting .241/.628 in Double-A.


]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 20:06:08 +0000
Royals’ big sixth does in Red Sox Mon, 29 Aug 2016 04:04:54 +0000 BOSTON — Raul Mondesi hit a bases-loaded triple and Eric Hosmer added a two-run single during an eight-run sixth inning, lifting the surging Kansas City Royals to a 10-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night.

Salvador Perez hit his third solo homer in two games for Kansas City, which took two of three at Fenway Park and got its 17th win in 21 games.

David Ortiz hit his 534th career homer, a solo shot, for the Red Sox, tying Jimmie Foxx for 18th on the career list. Boston has lost four of five.

Matt Strahm (2-0) pitched 22/3 innings of hitless relief for the win.

Eduardo Rodriguez (2-6) gave up five runs in 51/3 innings before the bullpen allowed five more in the sixth.

The Royals chased Rodriguez and regained the lead in the sixth after the Red Sox moved ahead in the fifth.

Alcides Escobar had an RBI single before Mondesi rocked his triple to the outfield-wall triangle in center. Cheslor Cuthbert had a run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder before Lorenzo Cain added an RBI single.

Robbie Ross Jr. relieved and gave up Hosmer’s two-run single off the Green Monster before getting the final two outs.

Boston capitalized on center fielder Paulo Orlando’s error to score three times off starter Yordano Ventura in the fifth. Chris Young singled and Orlando dropped Sandy Leon’s fly at the track, putting runners on second and third before a walk.

Brock Holt drove in the first run with a groundout before Xander Bogaerts’ two-run single.

Ventura gave up four runs – three earned – in 41/3 innings.

Ortiz’s 31st homer went into the bleachers behind Boston’s bullpen in the fourth.

Perez homered off a billboard above the Green Monster..

Dustin Pedroia did not play Sunday following a death in the family and is expected back after Monday night’s game.

]]> 0, 29 Aug 2016 00:05:35 +0000
On Baseball: Sox should pencil in Buchholz for the ‘pen Sun, 28 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Funny how a season turns out when the Boston Red Sox find themselves with an abundance of starting pitching, and fans actually want Clay Buchholz to make another start. Those same fans demanded Buchholz be banished at the trade deadline, whether Boston got back anything of value or not.

Now, it appears Buchholz, 32, could become a key part of a pennant push …

But not as a starter.

Oh, Buchholz could win Boston some games starting, as his last two starts show (12 innings, two runs).

But Boston has five starters and they are capable – if you discount Steven Wright’s first-inning oops on Friday, and assume Eduardo Rodriguez believes he’s healthy enough to pitch.

Boston’s No. 1 problem is the bullpen – and it’s No. 1 by a huge margin. Shore up the relief pitching and we’re not only talking playoffs, but making plans for late October.

The reasoning for Buchholz as a reliever is fairly obvious.

Boston desperately needs a bridge to closer Craig Kimbrel. Brad Ziegler seems the natural candidate for the eighth-inning role, given his experience. But there’s a hesitancy to use him against left-handed batters or good low-ball hitters (remember when John Farrell opted for the fatigued Junichi Tazawa over Ziegler against the Tigers last week, resulting in another blown save?).

Matt Barnes appeared ready to be the late-inning option but is inconsistent (six walks, five hits and four runs in his last seven innings).

 Buchholz has proven he can adapt to the bullpen (something Rodriguez has never done). In Buchholz’s last five relief outings he’s gone 61/3 innings, allowing one hit and no runs.

 In the past, Buchholz has come through when needed. Throughout a career filled with injuries and inconsistencies, Buchholz has been smeared with a label of undependability. But I can think of two postseason appearances when he came through.

In 2009, Buchholz began the season in Triple-A. He rejoined the Red Sox roster in late July and was OK (7-4, 4.21). In the first round of the playoffs against the Angels, Buchholz started an elimination game. He pitched five innings and left with a 5-2 lead, only to have relievers Billy Wagner and Jonathan Papelbon give it up.

In 2013, Buchholz was having a Cy Young-type season (9-0, 1.71) when he missed three months with neck and shoulder pain. Buchholz came back in September but obviously wasn’t right in the postseason, the sore shoulder reducing his fastball to 90 mph. In Game 4 of the World Series with Boston down two games to one, Buchholz gutted out four innings (one unearned run) to give the Red Sox a chance to win (which they did).

So believe it or not, he could be clutch again for Boston.

Just when people want to give up on him, Buchholz gives a reason to believe. That’s why Boston should pick up his option for 2017 ($13.5 million), but that’s a topic for another day.

THE BULLPEN should also receive a boost when rosters are expanded Thursday, with Joe Kelly moving up from Triple-A. Since coming off the disabled list, Kelly has made 11 appearances for Pawtucket. With his high-90s fastball, Kelly has struck out 23 in 14 innings, allowing one earned run.

Kelly is an apparent replacement for the ineffective Tazawa, and probably should be called up already, except Tazawa has no minor league options (and the Red Sox seem to think he still might contribute).

Another option in Pawtucket is left-hander Robby Scott. He’s has a 2.29 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, with left-handers batting .144 against him, right-handers .228. But Scott isn’t even on the 40-man roster.

MAURICIO DUBON is on a streak with the Sea Dogs. When his numbers were recently compared with those of Mookie Betts’ 2014 statistics in Portland, I got some grief from readers with accusations of hyperbole.

But after Dubon’s 5-for-5 performance Friday, these are the facts. He’s batting .352 with a .946 OPS through 53 games. Betts, in his 54 games with Portland, batted .355/.994.

Dubon’s five-hit effort came the same night Betts went 5 for 5 with Boston.

THE SEA Dogs’ last home game is at 1 p.m. Sunday. Team awards will be announced before the game. No one’s asked me but here are my picks:

MVP: Outfielder Aneury Tavarez (league-leading .335 average). Runner-up: catcher Jake Romanski (.299 average, 50 percent success in throwing out base-stealers).

Pitcher of the year: Mitch Atkins (28 games, league-high 132 strikeouts). Runner-up: Keith Couch (9-4 in 15 starts).

Tenth man: Tzu-Wei Lin (superb fielder while playing three infield positions and some center field). Runner-up: Nate Freiman (.287, 10 home runs as first baseman/DH).

Citizen of the year: Mike McCarthy (the model of community involvement for the third year). Runner-up: Ryan Court (playing catch pregame was a highlight for many kids).


]]> 0, 28 Aug 2016 21:40:59 +0000
Red Sox pound Royals, 8-3 Sun, 28 Aug 2016 02:31:19 +0000 BOSTON — Dustin Pedroia came to the plate in the eighth inning knowing he had some sort of special streak going Saturday night.

He just wasn’t sure how historic it was.

Pedroia had four hits to extend his streak to 11 straight at-bats with a hit before bouncing into a double play with a chance to tie the major-league record, and the Boston Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals, 8-3.

“I heard something,” said Pedroia. “I didn’t know what it was. I was going to the bathroom and heard them say it on TV.”

Pedroia’s streak, which stretched over three games, ended in the eighth inning. The big league mark of hits in 12 straight official at-bats is shared by Walt Dropo for Detroit in 1952, Pinky Higgins of the Red Sox in 1938 and Johnny Kling of the Cubs in 1902.

“Whenever your name is up there with guys in black and white photos, it’s pretty special,” winning pitcher David Price said. “He’s a gamer. He’s a very special teammate. Everybody on this team cherishes what he brings each and every day.”

Xander Bogaerts homered and drove in three runs, and Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez hit consecutive homers for Boston, which snapped a three-game losing streak with its 11th win in 16 games.

Price (13-8) won his fourth straight start, giving up two runs in six innings to lower his ERA to 3.97, the lowest it’s been since after his first start.

Danny Duffy (11-2) gave up three homers and seven runs in five innings, halting a personal 10-game winning streak.

Salvador Perez hit two solo homers for the Royals, who lost for just the fourth time 20 games.

Even Royals Manager Ned Yost could appreciate the run Pedroia was on.

“He’s been hotter than a firecracker, for sure,” he said. “I mean 4 for 4 last night, 4 for 5 tonight. He had a real hot streak and what’s amazing is he keeps his bat in the zone for so long he can handle so many pitches. Just a really good hitter. I’ve always thought that about him.”

Duffy had allowed two or fewer runs in five straight starts – and 6 of 7 – before Boston took care of that string with two each in the first and second innings.

Two batters in, the Red Sox jumped ahead 2-0 on Bogaerts’ 16th homer, a drive that completely left Fenway Park over the Green Monster after Pedroia singled.

In the bottom of the second after the Royals tied it, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Pedroia had consecutive RBI doubles, pushing Boston in front 4-2.

Pedroia collected his 10th consecutive hit with a run-scoring single to make it 5-2 in the fourth. His 11th was a ground single to center in the sixth.

Betts hit his 29th, a solo shot, in the fifth and Ramirez followed with his two pitches later to nearly the same spot, two rows into the Monster seats about three fans apart.

After watching Ramirez’s drive land in the seats, Duffy just smiled in disbelief.

NOTES: David Ortiz played his 2,000 game as a DH (1,721 for Boston, 279 Minnesota), most ever. Harold Baines (1980-2001) is next with 1,643. … Red Sox Manager John Farrell said right-hander Koji Uehara (strained chest muscle) threw 53 pitches with “good intensity” in a bullpen session Friday and is due to throw again Monday.

]]> 0, 27 Aug 2016 23:50:28 +0000