Boston Red Sox – Press Herald http://www.pressherald.com Sat, 29 Apr 2017 23:35:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.4 Cubs go deep to sink Red Sox, 7-4 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/29/cubs-go-deep-to-sink-red-sox-7-4/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/29/cubs-go-deep-to-sink-red-sox-7-4/#respond Sat, 29 Apr 2017 23:19:28 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/29/cubs-go-deep-to-sink-red-sox-7-4/ BOSTON — Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run homer, and Miguel Montero and Ben Zobrist had solo shots, helping the Chicago Cubs rebound from a series-opening loss with a 7-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

Kris Bryant had two hits and scored twice for Chicago, backing a decent start by former Red Sox righty John Lackey.

Lackey (2-3) gave up four runs in six innings, snapping his string of losses in three straight starts. He was part of Boston’s 2013 World Series title team.

Hanley Ramirez and Andrew Benintendi had solo homers for the Red Sox, who have the majors’ fewest homers.

Steven Wright (1-3) gave up five runs and seven hits in 61/3 innings.

Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

This story will be udpated.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/29/cubs-go-deep-to-sink-red-sox-7-4/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1188924_922879-SoxWeb.jpgChicago pitcher Koji Uehara celebrates with Miguel Montero against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday. A former member of the Red Sox, Uehara allowed no hits or runs in the seventh inning of Chicago's 7-4 win. (Associated Press/Michael Dwyer)Sat, 29 Apr 2017 19:22:02 +0000
Major league notebook: Price pitches simulated game http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/29/major-league-notebook-price-pitches-simulated-game/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/29/major-league-notebook-price-pitches-simulated-game/#respond Sat, 29 Apr 2017 23:13:53 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/29/major-league-notebook-price-pitches-simulated-game/ BOSTON — Left-hander David Price got back on the Fenway Park mound Saturday for a two-inning simulated game before the Boston Red Sox took batting practice for their game against the Chicago Cubs.

Under the watchful eye of the team president, Dave Dombrowski, who was positioned on a step on the batting cage, Manager John Farrell, pitching coach Carl Willis and other players, Price threw to Chris Young, Josh Rutledge and Chase d’Arnaud.

Price has been sidelined by a strained left elbow since early in spring training. There is no set timetable for the former AL Cy Young Award winner to return.

“It was a quality workday for him, accomplished what the plan was and that was for two simulated innings after he warmed up,” Farrell said.

“Good intensity. I know when he walked off he said he felt good.”

Farrell said Price would throw a bullpen session Monday before likely getting back on the mound for another simulated game Thursday.

“We’re happy with the progress he’s making and we’ll continue to take this week by week,” Farrell said.

ANGELS: Los Angeles put first baseman C.J. Cron and left-handed starter Tyler Skaggs on the 10-day disabled list.

Cron has a bruised left foot and Skaggs has a strained right oblique. They both left Friday night’s game against Texas.

MARINERS: Seattle placed right-hander Evan Scribner on the 10-day disabled list with a sore elbow and recalled outfielder Boog Powell from Triple-A Tacoma.

The Mariners have seven players on the DL, including two starting pitchers – staff ace Felix Hernandez (right shoulder bursitis) and left-hander Drew Smyly (flexor strain).

NATIONALS: Washington placed outfielder Adam Eaton on the 10-day disabled list with a left knee strain.

“We’re hopeful it’s not as serious as it looked,” said Manager Dusty Baker.

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Sox score 5 in first inning, hold off Cubs, 5-4 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/28/sox-score-5-in-first-inning-hold-off-cubs-5-4/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/28/sox-score-5-in-first-inning-hold-off-cubs-5-4/#respond Sat, 29 Apr 2017 02:51:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/28/sox-score-5-in-first-inning-hold-off-cubs-5-4/ BOSTON — Against Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, the Red Sox didn’t have time for a slow start Friday night – not exactly a strength for them this season.

Andrew Benintendi helped Boston solve that issue, and the club just had to hang on from there.

Benintendi hit a solo homer off Arrieta to spark a five-run first inning and Boston beat Chicago 5-4.

The Red Sox had just seven first-inning runs this season entering Friday.

“Being able to scratch a few across, put up a crooked number early is always nice,” Mitch Moreland said. “It kind of helps everybody settle in.”

Every Boston starter had at least one hit, and Moreland, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez also drove in a run each.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (2-1) got the win with six innings of two-run ball, surrendering early solo homers to Kris Bryant and Albert Almora Jr. before settling in. He allowed six hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Boston has won its last nine interleague games at Fenway Park.

Arrieta (3-1) logged his shortest start since Aug. 28, 2014, lasting only 41/3 innings and giving up 10 hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

“The home run I gave up, just a ball elevated,” Arrieta said. “Made a few pitches in spots that I shouldn’t have. And they strung some hits together.”

Arrieta also had a tough beginning against Cincinnati in his last start, and this is the first time in his career that he has allowed four first-inning earned runs in consecutive outings. Arrieta took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start in Boston on June 30, 2014.

Ben Zobrist also drove in a run for Chicago, which is playing its third regular-season series at Fenway and first since 2014.

After pulling within a run in the seventh, Chicago threatened again in the eighth with runners on first and second and one out. Fernando Abad came on and got both pinch-hitter Matt Szczur and Kyle Schwarber to strike out swinging.

Craig Kimbrel struck out Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to open the ninth before Zobrist doubled. Addison Russell then struck out to end the game, and Kimbrel locked up his eighth save.

“Fernando’s two strikeouts were key, and then Kimbrel has been Craig. He’s been overpowering. Great stuff,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

NOTES: Chicago pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey and Koji Uehara were given a video tribute after the top of the second inning for their return to Fenway Park. All three were members of Boston’s World Series championship team in 2013. Anthony Rizzo, once a top prospect in Boston’s farm system, was also back at Fenway along with Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, the former Red Sox general manager who helped end the team’s 86-year championship drought in 2004. “I’m definitely still a Bostonian. I’m just lucky to have a great second home in Chicago. I consider them both home,” said Epstein, who was raised in nearby Brookline. “How lucky is that?” … OF/INF Brock Holt (vertigo) began a five-game rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night, getting four at-bats as the designated hitter. … LHP David Price (left elbow strain) is still on track to face live hitters Saturday for the first time since spring training.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/28/sox-score-5-in-first-inning-hold-off-cubs-5-4/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1188612_Cubs_Red_Sox_Baseball_27970-e1493434324378.jpgBoston's Andrew Benintendi gestures as he crosses the plate with a solo home run in the first inning Friday night against the Cubs at Fenway Park.Sat, 29 Apr 2017 00:07:35 +0000
On Baseball: Sale’s woes hardly of his own making http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/28/sales-woes-hardly-of-his-own-making/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/28/sales-woes-hardly-of-his-own-making/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1188058 BOSTON — Chris Sale took all the blame.

Boston’s ace is 1-2, following a Thursday night loss to the Yankees, and Sale said it was his fault.

“I know what I can do and I just got to be better there,” Sale said.

Did we mention that Sale’s teammates scored zero runs? They totaled three singles and did not get a runner past second base in a 3-0 loss.

Darn that Sale.

“On a night, where we’re once again scuffling to score some runs, we come up on the short end,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.

As for his thoughts on Sale?

“Similar to the previous four starts he made,” Farrell said. “Powerful. A lot of swing and miss. Very efficient.”

But for all that, Chris Sale has as many wins as Brian Johnson, who made only one start.

In Johnson’s start on April 18, the Red Sox scored six runs while Johnson was still pitching.

In Sale’s five starts – 372/3 innings – while he has still been pitching, the Red Sox have scored a total of four runs.

Is Sale wondering where that relentless lineup is, the one Boston loves to boast about?

“The only frustration would be toward myself,” Sale said. “Flat-out got to be better than that in the last inning.”

Going into the last inning, New York led on an unearned run in the fourth; unearned because of a passed ball charged to catcher Sandy Leon – a mistake that Sale said was his fault (throwing a slider when Leon called for another pitch).

In the ninth, Sale gave up back-to-back ground-ball singles. Matt Holliday, who had three quality at-bats against Sale, was coming up. Farrell stayed with Sale.

“Felt he’s earning the right to continue on in the ninth,” said Farrell, who was hoping for a double play.

It was a mistake. Holliday singled in a run, ending Sale’s night.

Of course, Sale believed he should be pitching in the ninth.

“I felt great. I wanted it bad,” Sale said. “I didn’t want to say anything but I wanted to go out there. … But you can’t go out there and want the ninth inning, and go out there and do that. That’s just unacceptable.

“We had a chance in the ninth and I just completely took the wind out of our sails there.”

Actually, the wind had died a while ago.

This Red Sox team cannot score right now. Oh, they usually get on base – except against Yankees pitching. Heading into Thursday, Boston led the American League in average and on-base percentage.

But out of 15 American League teams, Boston ranks 13th in runs scored (78 runs in 21 games). The only teams behind the Red Sox are Toronto and Kansas City, which have the two worst records in baseball.

Boston has only 11 home runs, last in the major leagues.

Surely, this is not just about David Ortiz’s retiring. Sure, no one can fill the big man’s shoes, but who figured the rest of the team would deflate so badly?

“I don’t want to say that this is what our club is,” Farrell said. “We’ve had ballgames where this lineup has produced. It has put together big innings.”

What is amazing is that Boston is not in worse shape. The Red Sox are 11-10.

But they just wasted starts by Sale and Rick Porcello. Now the Red Sox welcome the defending champion Cubs this weekend, hoping Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez can hold down Chicago.

But how sensational must the pitching be?

Sale could have pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and still lost 1-0.

Even with the two runs, Sale has a 1.19 ERA – and one win to show for it.

While Sale is tough on himself, his teammates know they have a special pitcher on their side.

“Dominance,” center fielder Jackie Bradley said. “He has conviction. He gets the ball and throws it.”

Sale has conviction, all right. He could use a little support.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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Tanaka shuts out Red Sox, 3-0 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/27/tanaka-shuts-out-red-sox-3-0/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/27/tanaka-shuts-out-red-sox-3-0/#respond Fri, 28 Apr 2017 01:43:51 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/27/tanaka-shuts-out-red-sox-3-0/ BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox continued their offensive funk Thursday night, losing to the New York Yankees 3-0 at Fenway Park.

Boston, which had only four hits on Wednesday, managed three on Thursday against Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka.

Tanaka dazzled in a complete game: no walks, three strikeouts.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale pitched into the ninth inning. He allowed an unearned run in the fourth and then left in the ninth after giving up three straight hits.

Sale finished with 10 strikeouts, allowing eight hits and three runs (two unearned).

Boston has lost two straight to New York and is 11-10. The Yankees improved to 13-7.

Sale was dominant early, striking out seven of the first 10 batters he faced. But the Yankees turned one hit in the fourth inning into a run.

Aaron Hicks led off with a line-drive single to right that Mookie Betts initially charged in on, and then backed up.

Chase Headley hit a hard bouncer up the middle that Sale knocked down. He threw Headley out as Hicks slid into second base.

With Matt Holliday up, catcher Sandy Leon appeared crossed up on a slider. It was a strike but got past Leon, advancing Hicks to third.

Holliday, who struck out in a seven-pitch at-bat in the first inning, worked a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth, finally lining out to left field, scoring Hicks on the sacrifice.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, could do little against Tanaka, putting only three runners on base.

Hanley Ramirez (2 for 3) led off the second inning with a single, and advanced to second on Mitch Moreland’s groundout. But Ramirez stayed there, as Xander Bogaerts flied out to shallow right, and Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded out.

It would be the only time Boston got a runner to second base.

Ramirez had a two-out single in the fourth, and was forced at second to end the inning.

Bogaerts led off the fifth with a single. But Bradley hit into a 3-6-3 double play.

Sale gave up consecutive singles to Hicks, Headley and Holliday in the ninth, leaving with the score 2-0 and two runners on. Heath Hembree gave up an RBI single to Starlin Castro.

NOTES: The Red Sox signed utility player Chase d’Arnaud, 30, who was waived by the Braves. A right-handed batter, d’Arnaud has played every position in the majors except catcher, first base and pitcher. He is expected to be activated Friday, which could mean Steve Selsky is headed to Pawtucket. … To make room for d’Arnaud on the 40-man roster, reliever Carson Smith was moved to the 60-day disabled list. Smith, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, “had to slow down” in his rehab, Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. Smith stopped throwing off the mound two weeks ago because of soreness. He is currently in a long-toss program. … Utility player Brock Holt (vertigo) is close to leaving the disabled list. He took part in batting practice and ran the bases before Thursday’s game. He will join Pawtucket soon on a rehab assignment. … David Price (elbow) is scheduled to pitch two simulated innings against hitters on Saturday. Farrell said the goal is to put Price on a regular rotation schedule, pitching simulated games every five days, building up his arm strength.

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Judge, Severino carry Yankees past Red Sox, 3-1 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/26/judge-severino-carry-yankees-past-red-sox-3-1/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/26/judge-severino-carry-yankees-past-red-sox-3-1/#respond Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:35:49 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/26/judge-severino-carry-yankees-past-red-sox-3-1/ BOSTON — Aaron Judge came running across Fenway Park’s right field grass, making his 6-foot-7 frame look a linebacker going for a tackle as he tumbled into the right-field stands to make a catch.

It was a highlight that he’ll be able show at future birthday parties.

Judge celebrated his 25th birthday with a two-run homer and the spectacular catch, and Luis Severino pitched seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball to carry the surging New York Yankees to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night in the longtime rivals’ first meeting this season.

“I really didn’t feel too much,” Judge said of landing on an empty seat. “My adrenaline was pumping. I was trying to make a play.”

Asked if he’d ever tumbled over before to make a catch, Judge smiled and said: “I have before but never at Fenway Park. That was a first.”

In the third, the right fielder made his running grab of a foul ball that carried him, flipping over head first, beyond a short wall into the seats. He came up showing the ball with his bare hand and it was originally ruled “no catch” by first base umpire Mark Carlson, but was overturned after a challenge.

“It’s his birthday, so it didn’t seem to ruin the day,” New York Manager Joe Girardi said.

He had homered into the Yankees’ bullpen an inning earlier.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Judge became the first Yankee to homer on his birthday at Fenway Park since Roger Maris did it on Sept. 10, 1966. Hall of Famer Yogi Berra is the only other to do it, on May 12, 1947.

“One pitch where Judge pulls his hands inside a fastball and hits it out of the ball park,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.

It was the 11th win in 14 games for the Yankees after they opened the season 1-4.

Severino (2-1) struck out six and walked two, posting his third straight strong start. In his previous two, the 23-year-old righty became just the third Yankee ever to post double-digit strikeouts without more than one walk in consecutive games.

Reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello (1-3) lost his third straight start, giving up three runs – two earned – in 62/3 innings. He didn’t lose consecutive starts last season.

Dellin Betances worked a perfect eighth and Aroldis Chapman got the final three outs for his fifth save despite giving up a run.

“It was a fastball, middle in,” Porcello said of Judge’s homer. “He put a good swing on it. Other than that, really, I felt pretty good.”

Fog rolled in during the middle innings after both teams didn’t have batting practice on the field because of steady rain, probably causing a rare non-sellout in a game between the teams in Boston.

NOTES: Farrell said 2B Dustin Pedroia still had some “lingering soreness” and he “didn’t want to risk him losing his footing on the wet ground.” Pedroia missed his third straight game after Orioles 3B Manny Machado slid into the back of his left leg. … The manager also said that “the symptoms that caused the onset of the vertigo, seemed to have cleared up” for utility infielder Brock Holt. … In the last nine seasons, the teams faced each other 166 times and were 83-83 before Wednesday. Even more interesting, they were 41-41 at Fenway and 42-42 at Yankee Stadium.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/26/judge-severino-carry-yankees-past-red-sox-3-1/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1187495_470442-RTS143CJ.jpgAaron Judge of the Yankees dives into the stands to catch a foul ball hit by Boston's Xander Bogaerts in the third inning Wednesday night at Fenway Park.Wed, 26 Apr 2017 23:57:49 +0000
On Baseball: Weren’t some of these Yankees recently at Hadlock? http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/on-baseball-werent-some-of-these-yankees-recently-at-hadlock/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/on-baseball-werent-some-of-these-yankees-recently-at-hadlock/#respond Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:06:29 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/on-baseball-werent-some-of-these-yankees-recently-at-hadlock/ Two years ago they walked into Hadlock Field, carrying high expectations as well as the future of the New York Yankees on their shoulders.

Pitcher Luis Severino, outfielder Aaron Judge, first baseman Greg Bird and catcher Gary Sanchez played for the Trenton Thunder then. Now they are certified Yankees, most of them walking into Fenway Park this week.

It sounds strange to say, but this New York team is younger – and better.

The Yankees, whose game in Boston was rained out Tuesday, are supposedly in a rebuilding year – rebuilding with the third-highest payroll in baseball, mind you. They arrive at Fenway Park with an 11-7 record, a half-game better than Boston (11-8).

There are reasons to doubt that New York can keep this up. But the team could get better. It is missing two players – Sanchez and shortstop Didi Gregorius – because of arm injuries. Both are expected back early in May.

Both Bird and veteran outfielder Brett Gardner are in slumps. They easily could pick it up.

The Yankees have been in need of a revival. In the previous five seasons they made the playoffs once, and that was a 2015 wild- card game they lost to Houston.

In the four seasons before that, 2009-2012, New York made the playoffs every year. It won the World Series in 2009 – after their infamous free-agent spending on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett.

But the Yankees had been aging and weighed down by big contracts. Burnett has been long gone. Alex Rodriguez was forced to retire midseason last year (and is now a $21 million “consultant” for the Yankees). Teixeira retired after last season. Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann were traded.

Sabathia is in the final year of his deal, at $25 mllion.

The only onerous contract still on the books is Jacoby Ellsbury’s, at $21 million annually through 2020. In Ellsbury’s first three seasons with New York, he averaged 136 games and a .248 average. (At least Ellsbury is in the major leagues, as opposed to Triple-A Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo, with an $11.5 million annual average salary through 2020.)

Ellsbury, Gardner and third baseman Chase Headley are graybeards at age 33 among the regulars (topped only by 37-year-old designated hitter Matt Holliday, signed to a one-year contract this year).

Both Headley (.339 average/.995 OPS) and Ellsbury (.333/.835) are playing well beyond expectations – one of the reasons why skeptics wonder if New York can keep up this pace.

After Ellsbury’s seven-year deal was inked in 2014, the Yankees seemed to change tactics. No more crazy contracts or quick fixes. Aroldis Chapman was signed this winter for five years and $86 million and is a lights-out closer (0.00 ERA/0.79 WHIP), anchoring baseball’s best bullpen (1.39/0.95).

For the most part, New York is turning to the kids.

Sanchez, 24, batted .299/1.032 last year with 20 home runs in 53 games. Catcher Austin Romine is subbing in well (.324/.840), but the Yankees look forward to Sanchez’s return.

Judge, 25, has six home runs. He’s hitting .279/.983.

Bird, 24, who missed last year with shoulder surgery, is batting .104. That shouldn’t last. When he was called up in 2015, Bird hit .261/.871 with 11 home runs in 46 games.

Severino, 23, is 1-1 with a 4.04 ERA, and 27 strikeouts/two walks in 20 innings. He is scheduled to start Wednesday.

We used to watch these prospects play for the Trenton Thunder, then wonder who the Yankees will trade them for. Now, New York is holding onto to its prospects.

General Manager Brian Cashman has made shrewd deals and acquisitions. He traded reliever Adam Warren to the Cubs for second baseman Starlin Castro, 27 (.357/.971), then got Warren back in a trade for Chapman (who returned as a free agent). Shortstop Ronald Torreyes, 24 (.293/.724) was on waivers when the Yankees got him back. He’s filling in well for Gregorius.

On the mound, Sabathia is holding up (2-1, 2.70 ERA) at age 36. The rest of the staff is 28 and younger, including lefty Jordan Montgomery, 24 (1-1, 3.78), a fourth-round draft pick in 2014.

This is a young team that’s supposed to rebuilding butdoesn’t appear to realize that.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/on-baseball-werent-some-of-these-yankees-recently-at-hadlock/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1186943_870495-Aaron-Judge-e1493167082547.jpgRight fielder Aaron Judge, one of the Yankees who was playing with Trenton at Hadlock Field just two years ago, is showing his power in the majors.Tue, 25 Apr 2017 21:33:15 +0000
Sox-Yankees game postponed; Sandoval placed on DL http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/red-sox-place-pablo-sandoval-on-10-day-dl/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/red-sox-place-pablo-sandoval-on-10-day-dl/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 16:52:07 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/red-sox-place-pablo-sandoval-on-10-day-dl/ The Boston Red Sox game against the New York Yankees scheduled for Tuesday night has been postponed due to rain.

The game has been rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader on Sunday, July 16, beginning at 1:05 p.m.

Also Tuesday, the Red Sox placed third baseman Pablo Sandoval on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 24, with a right knee sprain.

He will be replaced on the roster by Josh Rutledge, who played Monday night for the Portland Sea Dogs on an injury rehab assignment.

Sandoval is batting .213 with a team-high three home runs and 10 RBI. Rutledge has yet to play in the major leagues this season. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain on April 1.

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Red Sox farm report: Buttrey reborn as reliever http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/red-sox-farm-report-buttrey-reborn-as-reliever/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/red-sox-farm-report-buttrey-reborn-as-reliever/#respond Tue, 25 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1186446 The Boston Red Sox like to have power arms in the bullpen. So Ty Buttrey might be catching their attention.

Buttrey, a Portland Sea Dogs right-hander, brings a high-90s fastball to the mound, and it’s doing the job. Through five games and 82/3 innings, Buttrey has 15 strikeouts.

“Everything is getting better,” Buttrey said. “Mechanics feel better. Arm feels better. I’m going to keep going with it, because it’s going well.”

That’s quite a difference from this time last year. Buttrey, 24, was a fourth-round draft pick out of high school in 2012. He was a starter, but the results in the minors just weren’t coming – including an 0-6 record and 6.08 ERA at the beginning of last year in Portland.

That’s when the Red Sox told Buttrey he was going to the bullpen.

“It was the right move for me,” said Buttrey, whose ERA was 3.00 the rest of last season.

“I loved starting and I was trying to figure things out. I couldn’t really get that consistent third pitch. As a reliever, you really need only one or two pitches.”

Buttrey ditched the curve. He now brings the heat, along with an improved change-up. For variety, he occasionally throws a slider.

“Buttrey continues to throw the ball well,” Sea Dogs pitching coach Kevin Walker said. “He’s starting to really have some confidence with himself and with his stuff – and trust his stuff in the zone.

“He’s got an uptick in velo and he’s on a roll.”

Buttrey, who is 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, has hit the radar gun at 97 mph.

“Let’s just say that I’m having a lot more fun playing baseball than when I was a starter,” Buttrey said. “It allowed me to free up some things and be a little bit more aggressive with my stuff.”

Except for one hiccup (two runs in 11/3 innings at Binghamton), Buttrey has been consistent, including two hitless innings against Trenton on Saturday.

IN PAWTUCKET, the team is batting .231 (ranked 13th in the 14-team International League). Hoping to break out soon are Blake Swihart (.189), Sam Travis (.175) and Deven Marrero (.103). … Reliever Chandler Shepherd has struck out 13 in 71/3 innings, recording a 1.09 WHIP (walks/hits per inning).

IN PORTLAND, Aneury Tavarez is batting .400 in his second season with the Sea Dogs. It’s likely that the Red Sox will find room for him in Pawtucket soon. … The same goes for reliever Austin Maddox (0.00 ERA, 0.60 WHIP), who already has made a couple Triple-A appearances before coming back down. … Rafael Devers is batting .320 with an .813 OPS, though he has drawn only one walk.

IN SALEM, third baseman Michael Chavis turned heads with a three-homer game April 19 at Salem Memorial Ballpark, which is considered a pitcher’s park.

Chavis, 21, was a first-round draft pick out of high school in 2014. Lauded for his potential, Chavis entered the season with a career average of .235. But the Red Sox believed in him, putting him in Salem above the touted Bobby Dalbec, a fourth-round pick in 2016.

Chavis spent most of the first week of the season on the disabled list. He’s been hot in the eight games he’s played – .400 average, five home runs and three doubles.

At the other infield corner in Salem is first baseman Josh Ockimey, 21, who is enjoying his debut in advanced Class A. Ockimey is batting .362 with a 1.057 OPS and three home runs.

IN GREENVILLE, Dalbec, 21, leads the Drive with a .310 average and an .834 OPS. … Starting pitcher Shaun Anderson is shining (2-0, 0.83 ERA, 23 strikeouts and seven walks in four starts. Anderson was a third-round draft pick last summer out of the University of Florida.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/25/red-sox-farm-report-buttrey-reborn-as-reliever/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1186446_20160405_seadogs_0111.jpgTy ButtreyMon, 24 Apr 2017 23:42:05 +0000
Major league notebook: Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes suspended 4 games http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/major-league-notebook-barnes-suspended-four-games/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/major-league-notebook-barnes-suspended-four-games/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 22:55:27 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/major-league-notebook-barnes-suspended-four-games/ NEW YORK — Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes has been suspended four games and fined for throwing a fastball past the head of Baltimore star Manny Machado.

The commissioner’s office issued the penalty Monday. The Red Sox are off and Barnes is appealing, meaning the reliever can continue to pitch until the process is done.

Barnes was ejected Sunday after sailing a fastball past Machado’s helmet at Baltimore. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in nine games this season.

On Friday night at Camden Yards, Machado made a late slide that injured Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

On Sunday, Machado batted in the sixth inning and dodged out of the way when Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw three pitches down and in around the knees. Machado came up again in the eighth and Barnes’ fastball whizzed behind his helmet.

The Orioles and Red Sox play again next Monday at Fenway Park.

SALARIES: The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are cutting payroll and their luxury tax bills – just as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and perhaps Clayton Kershaw near the free-agent market after the 2018 season.

The Dodgers are on track to slice their tax bill by about a quarter this year and the Yankees by two-thirds. The San Francisco Giants also are set to slice their payment in the first season of baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, but the Detroit Tigers are slated to pay more despite saying they want to reduce payroll.

If a team doesn’t pay tax in 2018, its tax rate would drop to 20 percent in 2019 – allowing perennially high-spending clubs to sign stars at a lower cost.

“What the market produces is what the market’s going to produce,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said.

The Dodgers are forecast to pay a $25.1 million competitive balance tax this year, according to opening-day calculations by the commissioner’s office obtained by The Associated Press, down from $43.6 million in 2015 and $31.8 million last year. The Yankees’ bill is slated to be just under $9 million, their lowest since the tax began in 2003 and less than one-third of the $27.4 million they owed last season.

“The new CBA has had no influence on my belief that you don’t need a 200-plus million dollar payroll to win championships,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in an email to the AP.

The tax threshold increased from $189 million to $195 million under the new labor contract, and rates were simplified to three levels: 20 percent for first-time payers, 30 percent for those owing for a second straight season and 50 percent for clubs paying three times in a row or more.

MINOR LEAGUES: Former All-Star pitcher Steve Delabar, a veteran of six major league seasons with Seattle, Toronto and Cincinnati, has been suspended for 80 games following a positive test under baseball’s minor league drug program.

Also, Seattle pitcher Jonathan Aro was suspended 50 games for an unspecified violation. The 26-year-old righty made his major league with Boston in 2015, appearing in six games, and pitched once for Seattle last season. He was sent outright to Triple-A Tacoma before spring training. Aro pitched for the Portland Sea Dogs in 2015.

TWINS: Miguel Sano was suspended for one game and fined by Major League Baseball for what the sport termed “aggressive actions” that caused benches to clear during a game against Detroit last weekend.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/major-league-notebook-barnes-suspended-four-games/feed/ 0 Mon, 24 Apr 2017 19:29:18 +0000
MLB suspends Red Sox reliever Barnes 4 games http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/mlb-suspends-red-sox-reliever-barnes-4-games/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/mlb-suspends-red-sox-reliever-barnes-4-games/#respond Mon, 24 Apr 2017 22:52:35 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/mlb-suspends-red-sox-reliever-barnes-4-games/ NEW YORK — Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes has been suspended four games and fined for throwing a fastball past the head of Baltimore star Manny Machado.

The commissioner’s office issued the penalty Monday. The Red Sox are off and Barnes is appealing, meaning the reliever can continue to pitch until the process is done.

Barnes was ejected Sunday after sailing a fastball past Machado’s helmet at Baltimore. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in nine games this season.

On Friday night at Camden Yards, Machado made a late slide that injured Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

On Sunday, Machado batted in the sixth inning and dodged out of the way when Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez threw three pitches down and in around the knees. Machado came up again in the eighth and Barnes’ fastball whizzed behind his helmet.

The Orioles and Red Sox play again next Monday at Fenway Park.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/mlb-suspends-red-sox-reliever-barnes-4-games/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1186342_Red_Sox_Orioles_Baseball_36.jpgRed Sox reliever Matt Barnes walks off the field after being ejected for throwing at Manny Machado during the eighth inning Sunday.Mon, 24 Apr 2017 18:52:35 +0000
Tempers flare in Red Sox win over Orioles http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/sox-down-machado-orioles/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/sox-down-machado-orioles/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 21:36:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/sox-down-machado-orioles/ BALTIMORE — A spikes-high slide. A near beanball. Harsh talk in the clubhouse.

The rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles soared to a new level over the weekend, and there’s no telling what might happen when they soon meet again.

A tempestuous three-game series between these AL East foes wound up with Orioles star Manny Machado seeing a fastball sail behind his head and Matt Barnes getting ejected for throwing it Sunday in Boston’s 6-2 victory.

The high, very inside pitch came two days after Machado spiked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia with an aggressive slide.

Pedroia watched from the dugout for a second straight day with knee and ankle injuries. Machado apologized with a text message on Friday night, but that evidently wasn’t the end of it.

“That’s on them,” Machado said. “Whatever happened today, I’m going to keep (being) me.”

When Machado batted in the sixth inning, Eduardo Rodriguez threw three pitches down and in near the knees. Machado came up again in the eighth and Barnes’ fastball whizzed behind Machado and hit his bat. The ball hit Machado and rolled foul, and plate umpire Andy Fletcher tossed Barnes.

“I would never intentionally throw at someone’s head. That’s kind of a line you don’t cross,” Barnes said.

Boston Manager John Farrell insisted Barnes’ wayward pitch was nothing more than an accident.

“He was trying to take a four-seamer in and above his hands and the pitch got away from him,” Farrell said.

But Orioles first baseman Chris Davis thought the fastball was intentionally directed at Machado’s head.

“I think it was completely obvious,” Davis said. “I haven’t seen a guy miss that bad in a while – behind a guy’s head.”

During Farrell’s argument with Fletcher, Pedroia was standing on the top step in the dugout and whistled to catch Machado’s attention. He mouthed the words “It’s not me,” evidently trying to show he was not seeking revenge. Machado acknowledged Pedroia and later pointed to his head.

“I had nothing to do with that. That’s not how you do that, man,” Pedroia said afterward. “I’m sorry to him and his team. If you’re going to protect guys, you do it right away.”

After the game resumed, Machado hit Joe Kelly’s first pitch for an RBI double to make it 6-1.

Machado ended up making the last out, hitting a popup on a pitch from Craig Kimbrel, who got his seventh save.

The Red Sox and Orioles play again May 1 at Fenway Park.

Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez homered on successive pitches in a four-run first inning, and Andrew Benintendi had a career-high five hits to help Boston avert a three-game sweep.

Mitch Moreland also homered for the Red Sox, who came in with a major-league low eight home runs. All the long balls were off Kevin Gausman (1-2), who found himself in a 4-0 hole after throwing only seven pitches.

Rodriguez (1-1) allowed one hit over six innings, walking five and striking out seven. Obtained in the 2014 trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Orioles, Rodriguez is 3-1 with a 1.37 ERA in six career starts at Camden Yards.

Not only did the Red Sox play a second straight game without Pedroia, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval left with a sprained right knee.

NOTES: Farrell says because there’s still some swelling in Pedroia’s knee and ankle areas, he will “go through some imaging” Monday in Boston. “At this point, it warrants a further look,” Farrell said. … LHP David Price (elbow) participated in a long-toss session Sunday and will pitch a few simulated innings at Fenway Park on Monday. … After an off day Monday, Boston opens a season-high, 10-game homestand Tuesday against the Yankees.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/sox-down-machado-orioles/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1185925_Red_Sox_Orioles_Baseball_36.jpgRed Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriquez pitched six shutout innings, allowing one hit, while striking out seven and walking five in Boston's 6-2 win Sunday in Baltimore.Sun, 23 Apr 2017 20:20:14 +0000
Fifty years ago, Carl Yastrzemski led Red Sox to dream come true http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/fifty-years-ago-carl-yastrzemski-led-the-red-sox-to-a-dream-come-true/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/fifty-years-ago-carl-yastrzemski-led-the-red-sox-to-a-dream-come-true/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1185648 Only an Impossible Dream could have relegated Carl Yastrzemski’s 1967 Triple Crown to a virtual footnote.

It was a dream realized, as the Yastrzemski-led Red Sox pounded life into a moribund franchise and won the American League pennant for the first time since 1946.

Yastrzemski, now 77, led the way with a virtuoso performance that – if only for one season – drew comparisons with Red Sox icon Ted Williams, who won the Triple Crown twice.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Yastrzemski did it by hitting .326, driving in 121 runs and tying Harmon Killebrew of the Twins with 44 home runs.

Now, 50 years later, Yastrzemski still gives scant attention to one of the greatest individual seasons in major league history.

“I never even thought about it, not at all, even during the season,” Yastrzemski said from south Florida, where the avid golfer spends his winters. “I think it’s because we finished last or next-to-last my first six years, then all of a sudden, to become involved in the pennant race, there was only one thing on your mind, and that was to try to help win a pennant. So I never thought about the Triple Crown. It was like a shock being in the pennant race.”

The Red Sox, Twins, Tigers and White Sox battled for the American League flag in what many called the best race in baseball history.

Orioles outfielder Frank Robinson won the Triple Crown in 1966, so Yastrzemski’s pursuit did not captivate fans the way it did 45 years later in 2012, when Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers won his Triple Crown in the era of wide television coverage and frenzied social media.

Yastrzemski didn’t see it coming, nor could anyone else. He had averaged fewer than 16 home runs his first six years. At 27, he already was a three-time All-Star and had won a batting title. But to Red Sox fans, he was not Williams.

“I went to spring training with the Red Sox in ’60 and I lockered next to (Williams),” Yastrzemski said. “I think he was 44 at the time. We had some great conversations. I was just always amazed at how big he was and the strength that he had. If I would hit a driver in golf, he’d hit a pitching wedge and hit it just as far. I just marveled watching him take batting practice.

“But it put a lot of pressure on me my first year up being compared to him. I knew myself that I could never be the hitter that he was. I knew that. I think my first couple months in the big leagues, I tried to change my style of hitting instead of hitting the way I did in the minor leagues. I tried to hit home runs, trying to be him. It finally dawned on me after a few months I couldn’t be him and never would be.”

Yastrzemski listened to what everyone said about hitting but didn’t necessarily take their advice. “Most of the time,” he said, “I tried to figure out everything myself.”

He often changed his batting stance, with his most distinctive version the one in which he held the bat high. “It wasn’t as high as people thought,” he said. “It was just ear level. At that time, it was higher than normal.”

In the winter before the 1967 season, Yastrzemski started to work out under physical therapist Gene Berde, who had been a member of the Hungarian Olympic boxing team, at the Colonial Resort in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

“It was a boxer’s workout. I would jump rope, do some wrist curls, things like that,” Yastrzemski said. “I did rope climbing. After the workout, I swung a leadened bat maybe a couple hundred times. I think I started to mature physically.”

And Yastrzemski’s teammates noticed. “Carl, to that point, had not been a Triple Crown threat,” former infielder Mike Andrews said from Jupiter, Florida. “He didn’t hit that many home runs. It was almost like the whole year, pitchers didn’t believe he was going to do it.”

Shortstop Rico Petrocelli agreed. “While I don’t recall anyone thinking Yaz had a chance for the Triple Crown, he showed great power after his workouts in the offseason,” he said from Nashua, New Hampshire. “If anything was close to the plate, he hit it solid somewhere. It was like the (1969) Miracle Mets. Every day somebody was doing something special, and Carl was doing it every day.”

But it was all about the pennant race. In 1966, the Red Sox finished ninth out of 10 American League teams, 26 games behind Baltimore. It was the fourth time in the previous five years that they had finished no higher than eighth. They hadn’t had a winning season since 1958 and had gone 574-703 (.449) from 1959-66.

But in the first three months of the 1967 season, they hovered around the first division and were only six games out of first place at the All-Star break.

The Red Sox won 10 straight games after the break and moved within a half-game of the lead, but on Aug. 18 outfielder Tony Conigliaro was lost for the season when a pitch by Jack Hamilton of the Angels fractured his left cheekbone, dislocated his jaw and, most significantly, damaged the retina in his left eye.

“I thought we would have had a shot (in the ’67 World Series, in which the Cardinals beat the Red Sox in seven games),” Yastrzemski said. “It could have been different if Conigliaro had been healthy.”

The regular season went down to the final weekend, with the Twins at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox drew more than a million fans that season for the first time in Yastrzemski’s career. The Red Sox trailed the Twins by one game with two remaining. The Triple Crown was back-burner talk, if at all. Yastrzemski and Killebrew were tied with 43 homers and Yastrzemski led Killebrew 115-111 in the RBI race. Yastrzemski was batting .319, Robinson .314.

In the Saturday game, Yastrzemski had three hits, including his 44th homer, a three-run shot into the right-field seats off reliever Jim Merritt in the seventh inning of a 6-4 victory.

“I said, ‘Wow, that’s hard to believe that happened,’ ” Merritt said from Hemet, California. “That’s one of those things that was meant to happen.”

Merritt said it didn’t occur to him that Yastrzemski had taken the home-run lead over Killebrew. “We were just trying to finish off the pennant,” he said.

In the ninth, Killebrew came up against Red Sox reliever Gary Bell. “I said, ‘I’ll just pitch around him,’ ” Bell said from San Antonio, Texas. “He hits it right over the fence. That ended up tying Yaz. He hit 573 of them, so I wasn’t the only one who gave up a homer to him.”

Bell didn’t feel he had disappointed Yastrzemski. “I don’t even recall that being an issue,” Bell said. “We were too worried about winning.”

On Sunday, the final day of the season, Yastrzemski went 4 for 4 as the Red Sox won 5-3 to earn at least a tie for the pennant at 92-70. The team stayed at Fenway listening on the radio as the Angels eliminated the Tigers by winning the second game of a doubleheader, which clinched the pennant for Boston.

Killebrew took no solace in denying Yastrzemski the outright home-run lead. “It was more disappointing to my dad losing the pennant,” said his son, Cameron, of his Hall of Fame father, who died in 2011.

Merritt agreed. “Harmon was a pro’s pro,” he said. “He tipped his cap to Yastrzemski for what he accomplished. That’s the kind of man he was.”

At the time, Yastrzemski told The Boston Globe, “I’ll settle for a tie with Killebrew. He’s a pretty good ballplayer. What the hell. I had it for one inning.”

Petrocelli said that while tying Killebrew for home runs “didn’t take anything away from” the Triple Crown, “I think (Yastrzemski) was a little disappointed in that. In fact, I know it.”

Yastrzemski said that was not the case and didn’t realize he had won the Triple Crown until he read it in the newspaper.

“Never thought about it,” he said. “Because we won the pennant, it was just matter of fact.”

Yastrzemski was 7 for 8 in the last two games, raising his average to .326. Robinson, who got off to a good start but suffered a concussion in late June and never fully recovered, finished at .311.

Yastrzemski had an incredible final month, hitting .491 with five homers and 18 RBI. In his last six games, he hit .619. He was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player and won a Gold Glove.

His offensive onslaught continued in the World Series where he batted .400 (10 for 25) with two doubles, three home runs and five RBI, and an on-base percentage of .500 and slugging percentage of .840.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player do as much as he did,” said former Red Sox pitcher Jim Lonborg, who won the Cy Young Award in ’67 and now is a dentist in Hanover, Massachusetts. “I don’t think he was interested in records. We were all riding on his shoulders. We loved to see it. I felt like that team was the one that lit the fire of Red Sox Nation.”

After eight straight losing seasons, the Red Sox had their pennant.

“The place went nuts,” Andrews said. “We were 100-1 shots. Baseball was reborn in Boston way beyond anyone’s expectations.”

As for Yaz’s Triple Crown?

“I don’t remember anyone talking about it,” Andrews said.

After the Triple Crown season, Yastrzemski had 40-homer seasons in 1969 and 1970. He retired in 1983 at age 44 after a 23-year career in which he had 3,419 hits and 452 home runs.

He never won a World Series but was thrilled when the Red Sox finally won in 2004, ending an 86-year drought.

“I absolutely loved it,” he said. “I imagine I felt like the Cubs felt this year.”

Yastrzemski had triple bypass heart surgery in 2008 and said his health is good. He has a favorite – and private – fishing spot where his spends his summers in Massachusetts. He occasionally does autograph shows but avoids the limelight befitting a Hall of Fame player.

While Yastrzemski spends some time as a guest instructor with the Red Sox in spring training, he was never interested in remaining in the game after retiring.

“I put so much into it as a player,” he said. “I was never interested in coaching or managing or anything like that. I had my place in the sun.”

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/fifty-years-ago-carl-yastrzemski-led-the-red-sox-to-a-dream-come-true/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1185648_66339-Yaz2-e1492902073199.jpgA half-century ago, Carl Yastrzemski's jaw-dropping season propelled the usually sad Boston Red Sox into the World Series, where he continued his heroics, including a Game 2 homer off Joe Hoerner of the Cardinals.Sat, 22 Apr 2017 23:01:31 +0000
On Baseball: The pen is mightier than expected http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/the-pen-is-mightier-than-expected/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/the-pen-is-mightier-than-expected/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1185702 Two of Boston’s most reliable bullpen arms over the years, Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, were allowed to walk away in the offseason.

Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski traded for eighth-inning set-up man Tyler Thornburg last December. He hasn’t been on a mound since March 1 because of a sore shoulder. So Thornburg is on the disabled list, along with Dombrowski’s previous acquisition, Carson Smith, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last year.

For all the excitement over Boston’s deep rotation and its relentless lineup, the Red Sox bullpen attracted only worry and questions.

But look at the gang now. Through Friday night, they were third or fourth in the American League in ERA (2.18), WHIP (1.04), home runs allowed (three), holds (12) and OPS allowed (.561).

“That entire group has done a very solid, if not an outstanding job,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said last week when the Red Sox were still in town. “Once they get a little success, their confidence is starting to grow.”

That confidence begins with the main man, Craig Kimbrel – one of three bullpen acquisitions by Dombrowski who is actually pitching.

Kimbrel was good but not great last year (3.40 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.09, his highest since 2010). He said he got into some “bad habits.”

So far this year, he is in sync – 2.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 17 strikeouts and two walks in nine innings; the one hiccup being the blown save Thursday when he gave up a leadoff home run in the ninth inning, tying the game 1-1.

Kimbrel proceeded to retire the next six batters he faced, the last five by strikeout, using a 96-98 mph fastball, and an 86 mph curve.

“He’s probably in the best spot he’s been, from a delivery standpoint, in the year-plus he’s been here,” Farrell said. “He’s been in his delivery so consistently, able to generate that kind of power without abnormal effort … he’s an elite closer.”

Without Thornburg – who is currently on a long-toss program – and Smith (ETA June?), Farrell has had to figure out who to use, and when.

“Once we got into the latter part of the first week of the season, roles started to define themselves a little bit more,” Farrell said. “There’s a lot of big-league stuff out there. There’s power. There’s the ability to match up … as long as they execute.”

For power, you’ve got right-handers Matt Barnes (95 mph average), Heath Hembree (94 mph) and Joe Kelly (98 mph). And to match up, Farrell calls on left-handers Robby Scott and Robbie Ross (and seldom-used Fernando Abad).

Barnes was anointed the eighth-inning reliever and has been solid in high-leverage situations.

He has shown a much-improved curveball, which plays well when he’s commanding his fastball. Barnes’ ERA went from zero to 3.12 when he allowed three runs last Tuesday, entering with a four-run lead.

Even with that one lousy night, Barnes WHIP is 1.27 (improved from 1.40 last year).

Hembree brings an 89 mph slider to accent his fastball. He seems to be gaining more and more trust from Farrell, with a 2.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.

Farrell was not pleased with Kelly’s performance in spring training. But Kelly (1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) seems to be settling in.

It was thought that Scott stayed in the majors because Thornburg was hurt, but Scott (0.00, 0.67 WHIP) has been lights out. Farrell does not let Scott stay out long (six games, three innings), but that could change.

Ross was sick at the start of the year. He came off the disabled list and ate up 22/3 innings (two runs) on April 14 when Rick Porcello was knocked out early. He was more effective his next time out, and could be relied on a lot, like last year.

For depth, Ben Taylor appears to be the first option out of Pawtucket. He’s already had two stints with Boston (1.59/1.24). Brandon Workman appears finally to be getting back from Tommy John surgery. In seven innings in Pawtucket, he’s allowed one hit and one walk, striking out 10.

When (or if) David Price comes off the disabled list, that will mean a back-end starter could go to the bullpen. More reinforcements are expected in the summer, when (or if) Thornburg and Smith are ready.

Questions about the bullpen are being answered, worries alleviated.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/23/the-pen-is-mightier-than-expected/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2016/07/963143_570163_kimbrel.jpgBoston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel has torn a meniscus in his left knee and will be out for 3-6 weeks. Kimbrel had been selected to the All-Star Game after recording 17 saves for Boston.Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:59:09 +0000
Red Sox fall to Orioles again http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/22/red-sox-fall-to-orioles-again/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/22/red-sox-fall-to-orioles-again/#respond Sun, 23 Apr 2017 02:49:14 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/22/red-sox-fall-to-orioles-again/ BALTIMORE — Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop homered in succession off knuckleballer Steven Wright, Jayson Aquino won his first big league start and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

Baltimore will seek to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday. The Orioles have not lost a series this year and own the best record in the majors (12-4).

Aquino allowed two runs and six hits over six innings. The 24-year-old lefty previously pitched three times in relief, all last year.

Mychal Givens followed with two perfect innings, Donnie Hart got two outs in the ninth, and Darren O’Day finished for his first save.

Wright (1-2) gave up four runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. Just 10 days earlier, the right-hander got only four outs and yielded eight runs against Baltimore at Fenway Park.

Jackie Bradley Jr. put the Red Sox up 2-0 in the third inning with his first home run, a shot onto Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard. Boston came in with only seven home runs, fewest in the big leagues.

Limited to three singles over the first three innings, Baltimore hit two singles, two doubles and two homers in a four-run fourth.

Chris Davis doubled and Mancini and Schoop homered before Adam Jones chased Wright with an RBI single.

It was Mancini’s team-high fifth homer of the year. He has eight homers in 17 big league games over two seasons.

ONE DAY LATER, Red Sox Manager John Farrell was still sore about Manny Machado’s spikes-up slide that injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia was not in Boston’s starting lineup Saturday after hurting his knee and ankle in the eighth inning of Friday night’s 2-0 loss to Baltimore. The injury occurred when Machado spiked Pedroia in the back of his left leg while sliding into second on a force play.

“My knee’s sore, and then my ankle is a little sore, but I’ll be all right,” Pedroia said. “If I have to go in the game, I’d go in the game.”

Farrell was so angered over Machado’s action that he called the league office, seeking clarification about the rule designed to protect infielders from late and aggressive slides.

“Clearly there is a difference in opinion in how that rule was interpreted and the slide,” Farrell said. “Bottom line, if that slide last night is not deemed an illegal slide, we should just get rid of the rule.”

Pedroia said Machado sent him a text after the game, offering an apology.

“I just said, ‘Thanks for reaching out,’ ” said Pedroia.

Pedroia didn’t seem to harbor any hard feelings.

“It’s baseball,” he said. “I was trying to get one out, so I just put my foot on the back part of the base to get that out. If he just slid into the part of the base that I gave him, he’d have been safe. Luckily, he didn’t. We got the out.”

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Pedroia hurts knee in Boston’s 2-0 loss to Baltimore http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/21/pedroia-hurts-knee-in-bostons-2-0-loss-to-baltimore/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/21/pedroia-hurts-knee-in-bostons-2-0-loss-to-baltimore/#respond Sat, 22 Apr 2017 02:43:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/21/pedroia-hurts-knee-in-bostons-2-0-loss-to-baltimore/ BALTIMORE — If not for the image of Dustin Pedroia limping off the field with the aid of the Red Sox training staff, the talk in both clubhouses probably would have centered on the outstanding pitching performance of Dylan Bundy.

Bundy took a five-hitter into the eighth inning Friday night, yet the buzz after Baltimore’s 2-0 victory centered on Pedroia’s unexpected exit in the bottom half.

Pedroia, a four-time All-Star, left after hurting his knee. The injury occurred when Manny Machado slid into second on a force play and spiked Pedroia in the back of the left leg.

Boston Manager John Farrell contended that Machado violated the rule preventing oversliding the base.

“If the rule is in place to protect the middle infielder, then it didn’t work tonight,” he said. “It was a late slide.”

Pedroia walked around the clubhouse with just a faint hint of a limp.

“I just got caught in a weird position. I don’t know what hit the side of my knee … it kind of pushed it in a little bit,” Pedroia said. “I’ve turned double plays in the big leagues for 11 years. It’s my job, and it’s not the first time I’ve been hit and it won’t be the last. It’s baseball, man.”

Machado sent Pedroia a text, explaining he meant the second baseman no harm.

“You don’t want that to happen. I went and tried to grab him as soon as I can,” Machado said. “The intention wasn’t there. You can just see it.”

It was the seventh win in nine games for the Orioles, whose major league-best 11-4 record includes a 9-3 mark in the AL East.

Bundy (3-1) struck out three, walked one and allowed six hits in seven-plus innings. The 2011 first-round draft pick lowered his ERA to 1.37 and extended his run of consecutive scoreless innings to 13.

“It was a tough one,” Bundy said. “I got some double-play balls that my defense helped me out on and got me out of some jams.”

After Bundy yielded a leadoff single in the eighth, Donnie Hart walked pinch-hitter Chris Young before getting two straight outs. Mychal Givens then retired Orioles nemesis Mookie Betts on a pop-up with runners on the corners.

Brad Brach worked a perfect ninth for his third save – all in the past three nights. Brach is subbing for All-Star closer Zach Britton, who’s on the disabled list.

Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz (1-1) gave up two runs and five hits over 51/3 innings in his first career start at Camden Yards. The left-hander beat Baltimore on April 11, allowing just one run in six innings.

Seeking their sixth win in seven games, the Red Sox managed only two hits over the final six innings. Betts, who went 0 for 4, had at least one hit and one run scored in each of his previous 11 games at Camden Yards.

Bundy gave up a leadoff single in each of the first three innings, and each time he avoided damage with a double-play ball.

Baltimore took the lead in the third when Craig Gentry doubled and scored on a single by Adam Jones.

Machado made it 2-0 in the fifth, launching a 2-1 pitch for his third home run.

NOTES: Boston LHP David Price threw 30 pitches in a side session at Camden Yards and said he felt no discomfort. Price, who was shut down in February with a sore left elbow, likely will throw another side session either Monday or Tuesday. Farrell called Friday’s outing “very encouraging.” … Pablo Sandoval filled in at second after Pedroia left. … The Red Sox activated outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. from the disabled list and placed utility player Brock Holt on the 10-day DL with vertigo. Bradley missed 12 games with a right knee sprain. Holt says he started feeling “a little weird” during the team’s series in Detroit earlier this month. He says he tried to play anyway “but it just didn’t feel right.” He described the symptoms as “a little dizziness, a little light-headedness.” Holt hopes some time off will “help me kind of settle down a little bit.”

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Sale strikes out 13, Sox top Blue Jays in 10 innings http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/20/sale-strikes-out-13-sox-top-blue-jays-in-10-innings/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/20/sale-strikes-out-13-sox-top-blue-jays-in-10-innings/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:17:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/20/sale-strikes-out-13-sox-top-blue-jays-in-10-innings/ TORONTO — When his first pitch of the day was driven to the edge of the warning track, Chris Sale was concerned he might be in for a long afternoon.

Turns out he had nothing to worry about.

Sale struck out 13 over eight shutout innings, Mookie Betts hit a three-run double in the 10th and Boston beat the struggling Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Thursday.

“Powerful, a lot of strikes,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “All three pitches working. He had such good swing and miss to his fastball up and away.”

At 3-12, Toronto is off to the worst start in team history and has lost its first five series for the first time.

“You look at the names on the back here and it’s like ‘How is this happening?'” Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada said.

Sandy Leon drew a one-out walk from Jason Grilli (0-2) in the 10th, and Brock Holt singled to stop an 0-for-12 slide. Andrew Benintendi walked with two outs, and Betts, who was 0 for 3, pulled a 2-0 fastball down the left-field line.

“I was just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch,” Betts said. “I did have a rough day but it can come down to one at-bat.”

Grilli, who helped Toronto reach the AL Championship Series last season, found it difficult to describe his team’s early struggles.

“Losing only makes you appreciate winning,” he said.

Mitch Moreland hit a two-out double in the ninth off Roberto Osuna and scored on Xander Bogaerts’ single, but Kendrys Morales homered against Craig Kimbrel (1-0) leading off the bottom half, the eighth time Morales has tied a game or given his team a lead with a homer from the ninth inning on.

Farrell called it a tough decision to take Sale out.

“We felt like it was time to turn to it over to a guy who was fresh and powerful,” Farrell said. “Unfortunately, the second pitch goes out of the ballpark.”

Acquired from the Chicago White Sox during the offseason, Sale become the first Boston pitcher to strike out 12 or more in consecutive outings since Pedro Martinez did it in four straight starts in 2001.

“It’s impressive, man,” Dustin Pedroia said. “He’s just attacking the zone, overpowering guys with all of his pitches.

Sale allowed four hits, all singles, and walked one. Throwing 80 of 102 pitches for strikes, Sale lowered his ERA to 0.91. Yet, he is 1-1 because he has received just four runs of support over four starts.

Estrada allowed three hits, all singles, in six innings.

NOTES: Betts, who struck out Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 14, fanned in each of his first two at-bats against Marco Estrada – his first two-strikeout game since July 31 against the Los Angeles Angels. … LHP David Price has been dealing with soreness in his recovery from an injured left elbow, according to Farrell. Price threw on flat ground for the second straight day Thursday. He is to throw a bullpen session in Baltimore on Friday.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/20/sale-strikes-out-13-sox-top-blue-jays-in-10-innings/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1184663_Red_Sox_Blue_Jays_Baseba15.jpgMookie Betts hits a three-run double in the 10th inning Thursday to give the Red Sox a 4-1 win in 10 innings over the Blue Jays at Toronto.Thu, 20 Apr 2017 23:38:32 +0000
Errors costly as Red Sox lose to Blue Jays, 3-0 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/19/errors-costly-as-red-sox-lose-to-blue-jays-3-0/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/19/errors-costly-as-red-sox-lose-to-blue-jays-3-0/#respond Thu, 20 Apr 2017 02:17:44 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/19/errors-costly-as-red-sox-lose-to-blue-jays-3-0/ TORONTO — Even though they came up short in a ninth-inning rally attempt a night earlier, Kevin Pillar and the Toronto Blue Jays were able to carry some much-needed momentum into Wednesday night.

Francisco Liriano and three relievers combined on a six-hitter, Darwin Barney hit a two-run single and the Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 3-0.

Kevin Pillar had three hits for the second straight game and stole two bases as the Blue Jays won for the third time this season and improved to 2-6 on their homestand.

“I felt like the attitude and tone in here changed a little bit from what we were able to create yesterday,” Pillar said, referring to a three-run rally in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 8-7 defeat. “Guys went in there confident today and you could see it by their swings.”

Toronto scored three unearned runs in the second after Troy Tulowitzki reached leading off on a throwing error by third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Tulowitzki took third and Russell Martin reached second on a fielding error by first baseman Mitch Moreland. Barney singled with one out, and Ezequiel Carrera had a two-out RBI single.

“You give a team extra outs, we’re probably going to pay for it and we did tonight,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.

The shutout was Toronto’s first of the season.

“Just an all-around good ballgame,” Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said. “It’s what it takes sometimes.”

AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello (1-2) allowed six hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.

“I thought he deserved a better fate,” Farrell said. “That was the typical performance that Rick delivered so many times last year.”

Liriano (1-1) allowed four hits in 51/3 innings.

“I didn’t try to do too much, I just tried to throw strikes,” Liriano said through a translator. “The defense played really well behind me.”

Mookie Betts said Liriano was able to keep the Red Sox off balance.

“He was mixing it up, throwing all his pitches for strikes,” Betts said.

After Liriano gave up consecutive singles to Andrew Benintendi and Betts, Joe Biagini came on and got Hanley Ramirez to ground into a double play.

“When they put the ball on the ground, they found some holes,” Farrell said. “When we did, it turned into a couple of key double plays in the middle innings.”

Jason Grilli worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna finished for his first save.

Betts stuck out swinging in the fourth, snapping a streak of 129 plate appearances without a strikeout since he took a called third strike from Baltimore’s Oliver Drake on Sept. 12.

Betts was reluctant to say much about his streak, calling it “irrelevant.”

“It’s just an out to me,” he said.

NOTES: Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez rejoined the team from paternity leave one day ahead of schedule and pitched one inning in his first big league relief appearance. Left-hander Brian Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Rodriguez. … LHP David Price (strained elbow) threw at 120 feet on flat ground and is expected to throw off a mound in Baltimore on Friday. … OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (right knee) went 1 for 3 with a homer at Pawtucket. He’s expected to come off the DL Friday.

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Sea Dogs outfielder learns a lot by watching http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/19/sea-dogs-outfielder-learns-a-lot-by-watching/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/19/sea-dogs-outfielder-learns-a-lot-by-watching/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1183825 There was one outfielder to watch in Salem last year; that is until Andrew Benintendi moved on to Portland, and then Boston. There were other outfielders. We just didn’t notice them.

In Benintendi’s shadow was Danny Mars, a slight 6-foot, 195-pound outfielder.

“Good player,” Benintendi said the other day from Fenway. “Hits well from both sides of the plate and plays good defense. Good teammate, too; someone I connected with.”

While Benintendi was in Salem, he roomed with Mars. At the ballpark, Mars was observant of Benintendi – “probably the most beautiful swing I’ve ever seen” – as well as teammates Yoan Moncada and Mauricio Dubon.

“Playing with those guys, you learn a lot,” Mars said. “It was a great experience. I feel I got a lot better from the first half to the second half last year – and a lot was from just watching them.”

Indeed, Mars batted .264/.686 OPS the first half, and .331/.844 the second half. He was invited to the Arizona Fall League, and then promoted to Portland this season.

Heading into Tuesday night’s game, Mars was batting .455/1.247 (10 for 22).

“He has been aggressive at the plate,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “He has a good approach, hitting what the pitchers will give him.”

Mars can play every outfield position. He covers ground and showcases an accurate arm.

Solid, but not flashy, Mars isn’t listed on any prospect rankings. He hit two home runs in Salem last year. He already has one in Portland, but is not expecting to swing for the fences.

“When I make it my goal, I usually fail,” Mars said. “Power-hitting isn’t really my game. Getting on base and putting pressure on the defense (is) … just trying to make contact … if one goes out of the park, that’s fine.”

Speed helps, which accounted for Mars’ 18 doubles and 10 triples (and 31 stolen bases) last year. While watching the big-name prospects may have helped Mars, he also adjusted to the grind of a full pro season in Salem.

Mars, 23, was drafted in 2014, out of Chipola College, a two-year school near Tallahassee, Florida. He played 54 pro games that year and then missed much of 2015 with a wrist injury.

“Last year was my first season playing every day, learning about myself and my routine,” he said.

If Mars wants to watch Benintendi now, it will be on TV, along with Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts – three young outfielders expected to patrol Fenway for years. That doesn’t seem to make room for an up-and-coming outfielder in the Red Sox organization.

“They’re obviously really good players,” Mars said. “It’s something you can’t control. The more you think about what you can’t control, the more stress you put on yourself.”

IN PAWTUCKET, lefty Brian Johnson got the call to pitch (Tuesday night) for Boston, while Henry Owens awaits his next start for the PawSox. Owens pitched last Friday for Pawtucket, so he would not have been ready for Tuesday night. And, likely, Boston wants Owens to continue to work on his command. It’s getting there. Owens’ ERA in two starts is 0.82. He has struck out 12 and walked six in 11 innings.

IN PORTLAND, Rafael Devers seems to have adjusted to Double-A pitching. He’s batting .351/.892 … Outfielder Aneury Tavarez is batting .342/.856. He should be in Triple-A, but likely won’t go up until he’s assured enough playing time.

IN SALEM, right-hander Travis Lakins is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 21 strikeouts/three walks in 1611/3 innings. This is his second stint in Salem. He made 18 starts last year before a stress fracture ended his season … First baseman Josh Ockimey is hitting .429/1.152. Ockimey, 21, was ranked Boston’s 10th best prospect by Baseball America. He batted only .226 in Greenville last year.

IN GREENVILLE, the question concerns third baseman Bobby Dalbec. Dalbec, 21, tore up Lowell last year (.386) after he was drafted in the fourth round. The Red Sox usually push their prospects, but sent Dalbec to Greenville. He’s batting .325/.838.

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Brian Johnson earns first win as Red Sox edge Blue Jays, 8-7 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/brian-johnson-earns-first-win-as-red-sox-edge-blue-jays-8-7/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/brian-johnson-earns-first-win-as-red-sox-edge-blue-jays-8-7/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 03:23:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/brian-johnson-earns-first-win-as-red-sox-edge-blue-jays-8-7/ TORONTO — Brian Johnson earned his first major league win after being called up from the minors earlier in the day, Mookie Betts hit his first home run of the season and the Boston Red Sox hung on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7 on Tuesday night for their season-high fourth straight victory.

Johnson (1-0), promoted Tuesday morning from Triple-A Pawtucket, gave up four runs and seven hits and struck out six in five innings. He lost his only other start, at Houston on July 21, 2015.

Betts, who was 3 for 5 and got the Red Sox rolling with an RBI single in the third inning, hit a drive into the second deck to lead off the seventh.

Mitch Moreland, who reached based for the 12th straight game and hit his league-leading 10th double, was 3 for 5 and drove in three runs.

Russell Martin, Justin Smoak and Ezequiel Carrera had home runs for the Blue Jays, off to a franchise-worst 2-11 start. Toronto went just 3 of 12 with runners in scoring position.

Facing an 8-4 deficit in the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Jays rallied with two outs. Steve Pearce drove Martin in with a single. Carrera then hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot into the Blue Jays’ bullpen in left field, to make the score 8-7. But Devon Travis popped out to shortstop to end the game.

Marcus Stroman (1-2) had his shortest outing of the season, surrendering six earned runs and 11 hits before being removed in the fourth inning with two outs.

Kendrys Morales started the scoring in the first with an RBI single, and came home on Justin Smoak’s drive to the outfield fence two batters later, giving Toronto a quick 2-0 lead.

The Red Sox came right back in the third to take a 3-2 lead, before Smoak tied it at 3 with his second home run of the season.

Boston got to Stroman in the fifth, as both Hanley Ramirez and Moreland drove in runs. After Stroman left, Pablo Sandoval brought another runner home.

Martin’s first home run of the season, in the bottom of the fifth, brought the Blue Jays to within two, before Betts restored Boston’s three-run lead two innings later with a shot beyond the left-field wall.

UP NEXT

RED SOX: RHP Rick Porcello (1-1, 7.56 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner was 3-0 in five starts against Toronto last season.

BLUE JAYS: LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1, 9.00 ERA) is 2-3 with 5.97 ERA against Boston in six career starts.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/brian-johnson-earns-first-win-as-red-sox-edge-blue-jays-8-7/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1183930_200590-JOHNSON2.jpgBoston Red Sox's starting pitcher Brian Johnson throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)Tue, 18 Apr 2017 23:35:49 +0000
Tom Caron: Boston has embarrassment of sports riches http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/tom-caron-boston-has-embarrassment-of-sports-riches/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/tom-caron-boston-has-embarrassment-of-sports-riches/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 23:32:30 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/tom-caron-boston-has-embarrassment-of-sports-riches/ Has there ever been a better time to be a Boston sports fan?

The answer, at least this past weekend, was clearly no. This is truly the Golden Age of Boston sports, and we reveled in it over the long holiday weekend.

TD Garden was humming with playoff action, with the Bruins and Celtics making the playoffs in the same year for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Sunday night’s Celtics game was the start of four consecutive nights of playoff action at the Garden, with the “bull gang” picking up and laying down the parquet each night.

This used to be a regular thing at the old Boston Garden. Back in the ’70s and ’80s it was shocking if at least one of the teams wasn’t playing through Memorial Day or beyond. That seemed to change in the ’90s, and when the teams moved into their new home in 1995, the mystique and aura of the Garden was hard to find.

That magic returned in 2008 when the Celtics hoisted banner No. 17, and continued into this decade with the Bruins winning the Cup in 2011 and returning to the finals in 2013.

The electricity was back Sunday when the Garden faithful showed its support for Isaiah Thomas as he took the court for Game 1 of the playoffs with a heavy heart. Despite losing his sister to a fatal car accident just the day before, Thomas was the Celtics’ best player in the opener against the Bulls.

The trouble is, Boston’s supporting cast wasn’t up to the task and Chicago’s bench was the difference in a 106-102 Celtics loss.

A day later the Bruins brought the Garden to life as they roared back from a 3-0 deficit and batted the Ottawa Senators with everything they had. Unfortunately they didn’t have enough. Boston ultimately succumbed to the Senators in overtime, while four injured Bruins defensemen watched from the ninth floor.

Tommy Cross was 10th on the Bruins’ defensive depth chart this season, but he was on the ice when the game ended in overtime. The former Boston College standout did all he could to cover for a bad Zdeno Chara shift change that left the Bruins undermanned as the Senators attacked. Boston needs to have its best personnel on the ice if it hopes to survive and advance.

While the Garden was humming with hoops and hockey playoffs, Fenway Park has been hopping with the start of the baseball season. The Red Sox held their annual morning game on Patriots Day and finished off a 5-2 homestand that brought their home record to 7-2.

This team was expected to contend primarily on the strength of its starting rotation. That rotation has not been as good as expected, at least not yet. Steven Wright’s outing Monday was just the second quality start this year from a pitcher not named Chris Sale or Rick Porcello. And Porcello gave up four home runs in his last outing.

Yet the Sox hit the road three games above .500, largely because of an offense that has the best batting average in baseball. They’re hitting .325 from the seventh inning on, the best team batting average in the game. That has led to five Red Sox wins in games they trailed or were tied after six innings.

Those kind of come-from-behind wins can build confidence in a team and can get fans thinking about the playoffs. The Sox got there last year but are looking to do better than the three-and-out run of last October.

On a weekend like this, a major event like the 121st running of the Boston Marathon ranks no better than fourth on our list of sporting events worth keeping an eye on. Yet it’s a reminder that this is truly the best sports town in America. We might have an embarrassment of sports riches, but we’ll never be embarrassed to call Boston home to our favorite teams.

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

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On Baseball: Two years later, Brian Johnson gets another chance with Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/on-baseball-two-years-later-brian-johnson-gets-another-chance-with-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/on-baseball-two-years-later-brian-johnson-gets-another-chance-with-red-sox/#respond Tue, 18 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1183352 BOSTON — The line drive hit Brian Johnson in the side of the head 10 days ago, and he was so grateful.

It’s all perspective.

“I think the only way to shake that off is to take one in the face before that,” Johnson said. “You take one in the face, then one in the head is not too bad.”

Johnson, 26, a left-hander who will start for the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night in Toronto, has dealt with his share of adversity – physically and emotionally – beginning with a liner to his face in 2012.

The comebacker five years ago ended Johnson’s rookie pro season. He needed to recover from a broken nose and 16 fractures in his face, mostly around his eyes and nose.

That is why Johnson can say the shot to the side of his head on April 8, while making his first 2017 start for Triple-A Pawtucket, was “not too bad.”

Johnson left the game under his own power. He made his next scheduled start last Thursday.

“I just had to get back out there. I didn’t want anything to linger from the start before,” he said. “I felt well.”

And he looked it.

Johnson pitched 62/3 innings, giving up one run on four hits and one walk, striking out eight.

“The strike-throwing has been good, much improved,” said Red Sox Manager John Farrell. “Sharpness with the secondary stuff is there. The velocity is probably not where it was two years ago, but improved over a year ago.”

Initially, Johnson was not considered the first starting option out of Pawtucket. Major League veteran Kyle Kendrick had a much better spring training, but has struggled with the PawSox (0-2, 10.38), and his last start was Saturday.

Boston realized it needed a pitcher when starter Eduardo Rodriguez went on paternity leave after the birth of his son Sunday night. The PawSox were scheduled to fly out Monday morning to Charlotte, North Carolina. Johnson’s phone rang.

“It was nine in the morning,” Johnson said. “I was about to go to the field, to get on the bus (to the airport). Good timing.”

Johnson spoke from the Fenway clubhouse after Monday’s game. He was packing his Pawtucket gear bag, readying for the flight to Toronto. He walked into Farrell’s office, and the manager leaped to his feet with a huge grin.

Who wouldn’t be glad to see Johnson get another shot at the majors?

“He’s been through quite a bit,” Farrell said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity with him (Tuesday).”

Johnson rebounded from that initial, violent injury in 2012. He reached Double-A Portland in 2014 (a stellar 10-2 record, 1.75 ERA) and made his major league debut in July 2015.

But after that start (four runs in 41/3 innings), Johnson was shut down for the season with nerve problems in his arm.

In the offseason, Johnson was a passenger in a car that was carjacked in Florida. He appeared to recover from that.

But early in the 2016 season, Johnson did not feel right. The arm was improved, but Johnson was battling anxiety, putting too much pressure on himself. With the Red Sox help, he took a break from May to July. He eventually came back and made his final eight starts with Pawtucket.

Coming into this season, Johnson’s spring training numbers (5.40 ERA) did not inspire confidence. Then came another line drive to the head – but away from his face.

Johnson got back up and excelled.

“It says a lot about (his) mental strength,” Farrell said. “To being hit in the head four years ago, to the recent one, I think it says a lot about the resiliency and the competitiveness that is there right now.”

Johnson is commanding his low 90s fastball, while mixing in an above-average curveball.

After Johnson made his first appearance with the Red Sox in 2015, it seemed like he would be back soon – not almost two years later.

“You definitely appreciate the call-up more because you don’t know what’s next … It took two years. It was a long path, but I’m excited to be here … I don’t even know how to express it.

“It is everything I hoped for. You’re not guaranteed to get that chance again. Now I have opportunity.

“Healthy, confident and I’ll try to make the most out of tomorrow.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/18/on-baseball-two-years-later-brian-johnson-gets-another-chance-with-red-sox/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1183352_914161_20140730_seadogs1.jpgPORTLAND, ME - JULY 30: Portland's #38 Brian Johnson delivers a pitch as the Portland Sea Dogs host the Reading Fightin Phils at Hadlock Field in Portland. (Photo by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer)Mon, 17 Apr 2017 21:54:48 +0000
Red Sox hold off Tampa Bay, 4-3, in Patriots Day matinee http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/17/red-sox-hold-off-tampa-bay-4-3-in-patriots-day-matinee/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/17/red-sox-hold-off-tampa-bay-4-3-in-patriots-day-matinee/#respond Mon, 17 Apr 2017 18:20:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/17/red-sox-hold-off-tampa-bay-4-3-in-patriots-day-matinee/ The Boston Red Sox scored four runs early and held on for a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon, before a sold-out crowd of 37,318 at Fenway Park.

Steven Wright gave up three runs (one earned) over six-plus innings, and the Red Sox bullpen took over from there. Craig Kimbrel recorded his third straight save and sixth this year.

Boston had nine hits, including three from Andrew Benintendi, who knocked in two runs.

The Red Sox (8-5) won their third straight against Tampa Bay (6-8).

Errors played a critical factor in the scoring. Five of the seven runs were unearned.

Wright (1-1) gave up a leadoff single to Corey Dickerson and appeared to get Kevin Kiermaier to fly out in foul territory, but third baseman Marco Hernandez bobbled it.

Kiermaier then singled, as did Evan Longoria to load the bases. Two RBI groundouts followed and the Rays led 2-0.

Wright’s knuckleball danced more after the first inning.

“It’s all feel. Finding that feel, keeping it and repeating it,” he said.

Boston got one run back in the first with three singles, including Hanley Ramirez’s RBI line drive to right.

In the second, Sandy Leon singled with two outs. Hernandez hit a grounder to shortstop Tim Beckham, but second baseman Brad Miller dropped Beckham’s toss, keeping the inning alive.

“I just didn’t catch the ball,” Miller said. “It ended up costing us three runs and it ended up being the difference in the game.”

Dustin Pedroia walked to load the bases. Benintendi hit a soft liner to center field for a two-run single and a 3-2 lead.

“Off the bat, I thought it would drop farther in front (of the fielder), but it kind of hung up there a little bit,” Benintendi said. “Fortunately it (dropped) … I just got pitches and executed.”

Mookie Betts followed with an RBI single, and Boston led 4-2.

“It was a huge break,” said Red Sox Manager John Farrell. “It was almost like blood was in the water and we took advantage of it.”

Not only did Miller’s error open the door to three runs, it caused starting pitcher Blake Snell (0-2) to throw 24 more pitches in the inning.

Wright was steady. He got out of a jam in the third – first and third, one out – with a pop-up in foul territory (Hernandez got this one) and a strikeout.

Wright exited in the seventh after Beckham led off with a single.

Robbie Ross relieved, allowing a double and walk, striking out two.

Ben Taylor, just called back up from Pawtucket, relieved and gave up an RBI single to Steve Souza. Taylor stayed in to face left-handed slugger Logan Morrison, and got him to fly out to right.

Heath Hembree pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, with two strikeouts. Kimbrel also went 1-2-3, all by strikeout.

He got Dickerson with a 98 mph fastball, Kiermaier with a curve and Longoria with a 99 mph fastball.

NOTES: The Red Sox announced that pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez is on paternity leave and will miss his Tuesday start in Toronto. Brian Johnson will make the start instead … Taylor was called up Monday to fill in. After the game, he was sent back down, and Johnson was called up … Jackie Bradley Jr. (knee) and Josh Rutledge (hamstring) were running the bases before Monday’s game. Both will next join Pawtucket for rehab games. Bradley is expected to play with the PawSox on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then rejoin the major league team in Baltimore on Friday.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/17/red-sox-hold-off-tampa-bay-4-3-in-patriots-day-matinee/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/AP17107662481882.jpgBoston Red Sox's Hanley Ramirez (13) hugs Craig Kimbrel after the Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 in a baseball game Monday, April 17, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)Mon, 17 Apr 2017 22:16:05 +0000
Moreland sparks Red Sox past Rays http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/16/moreland-sparks-red-sox-past-rays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/16/moreland-sparks-red-sox-past-rays/#respond Sun, 16 Apr 2017 21:47:19 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/16/moreland-sparks-red-sox-past-rays/ BOSTON — Mitch Moreland feels like he’s fit right in with the Boston Red Sox.

Moreland hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the seventh inning and drove in three runs, helping the Red Sox rally to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Boston trailed 5-4 before loading the bases against Danny Farquhar (0-1). Moreland singled off left-hander Xavier Cedeno, who already has blown three leads this season.

“The group of guys in here just make it easy,” Moreland said. “It’s been a smooth transition. When you have that, you get pretty comfortable, pretty quick.”

Moreland, signed as a free agent to a $5.5 million, one-year deal, has gone 16 for 33 after opening hitless in 12 at-bats.

“He’s put together a number of quality at-bats of late,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

Red Sox slugger Hanley Ramirez advanced from first to second on Moreland’s hit but limped off with what the team called a left hamstring cramp.

“I’ll be fine,” Ramirez said. “I’ll be in there tomorrow.”

Pablo Sandoval had a two-run homer for the Red Sox, who won their second straight. Mookie Betts and Christian Vazquez each had three hits.

Vazquez added an RBI double in the eighth against Austin Pruitt.

Joe Kelly (2-0) allowed one hit in 22/3 scoreless innings, and Craig Kimbrel struck out two in a perfect ninth for his fifth save.

Brad Miller had a two-run triple and Tim Beckham and Corey Dickerson hit solo homers for the Rays, who have lost five of six heading into Monday morning’s Patriots’ Day finale of the four-game series.

Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead in the first.

“It was a little bit of a frustrating loss,” Manager Kevin Cash said. “We had a few opportunities, but were unable to hold the lead.”

Beckham homered in the fifth for a 5-4 lead against Drew Pomeranz, who allowed five runs and five hits in 41/3 innings with 10 strikeouts.

Sandoval tied the score 4-4 in the third when he homered off Alex Cobb, who gave up four runs and 11 hits in five innings. He jumped a couple of times to celebrate with teammates on his way back to the dugout.

“It was a weird one,” Cobb said. “Some situations that I put myself into or things didn’t go your way happened.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

RAYS: Right-hander Jake Odorizzi went on the 10-day DL, a day after he strained his left hamstring. Right-hander Chase Whitley was recalled from Triple-A Durham.

RED SOX: Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., on the 10-day DL because of a sprained right knee, is scheduled to play a pair of games at Triple-A Pawtucket before he is activated. … Dustin Pedroia fouled a ball off his left ankle and limped around but stayed in the game.

STRANGE START

Pomeranz threw his first seven pitches of the game for balls and got a mock cheer when he threw a strike. He also had a wild pitch.

CONTACT

Cobb failed to strike out any batters for the first time in 89 career starts.

“I think it comes back to not getting any strikeouts,” he said of his outing. “You’ve got to have times in the game where you can rely on that swing-and-miss pitch. I just didn’t have it today.”

MORE CONTACT

Betts hasn’t struck out in 119 plate appearances, the majors’ longest stretch since Juan Pierre of the Marlins went 147 in a row in 2004.

UP NEXT

RAYS: Left-hander Blake Snell (0-1, 3.18 ERA) is slated to start the series finale.

RED SOX: Knuckleballer Steven Wright (0-1, 13.50) is set to start in his first outing since giving up four homers in 11/3 innings against Baltimore.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/16/moreland-sparks-red-sox-past-rays/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1182874_Rays_Red_Sox_Baseball_17846.jpgTampa Bay's Daniel Robertson tags out Boston's Christian Vazquez, who tried to advance to third on a fly ball in the eighth inning Sunday at Fenway Park. Vazquez went 3 for 4 with an RBI double in Boston's 7-5 win.Sun, 16 Apr 2017 19:12:46 +0000
On Baseball: Red Sox have formidable tandem at catcher http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/16/on-baseball-red-sox-have-formidable-tandem-at-catcher/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/16/on-baseball-red-sox-have-formidable-tandem-at-catcher/#respond Sun, 16 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1182704 BOSTON — When the diagnosis came during spring training of 2015, it was terrible news for catcher Christian Vazquez. He needed Tommy John surgery and would miss the season.

But from the ashes of that disastrous time rose the stellar catching tandem the Red Sox enjoy today.

Without Vazquez’s injury, Boston does not have Sandy Leon.

Now the Red Sox have both players – arguably the best defensive duo in the game – healthy and performing with a hot bat to begin 2017.

Back in March 2015, Leon was not in the plans. The Red Sox idea was to have Vazquez and the newly acquired Ryan Hanigan behind the plate. Blake Swihart was coming off an impressive 2014 in Portland but wasn’t ready for the majors.

When Vazquez’s elbow betrayed him in late March, the Red Sox looked for available catchers. The Nationals offered Leon, who seemingly had little future – .189 average in 34 major league games over three seasons – and was out of minor league options.

Washington sent Leon to Boston for “cash considerations,” a term meaning “not much.”

Leon didn’t impress initially. When Hanigan was hurt in May, Boston called up Swihart, giving him most of the playing time.

Leon batted .184 in 41 games and was designated for assignment on July 20. Nobody claimed him. Leon, on a minor league deal, went to Pawtucket.

In 2016, Leon was back on the 40-man roster and assigned to Pawtucket. He was called up on June 5 when Hanigan was hurt.

But this was a new Leon, a switch hitter who worked hard on an improved batting stance – more upright, better balanced. He seemed in control at the plate instead of overmatched.

Leon hit .417 in June.

Fluke, right? Leon remained above .300 through July, then August.

“Start getting over 125 at-bats, you can’t say he’s hitting into good luck all the time,” Manager John Farrell said. “He was driving the ball from both sides of the plate.”

Leon finished the year with a .310 average, the highest for a Boston catcher since Carlton Fisk (.315) in 1977.

Vazquez never got traction in 2016, catching 57 major league games and batting .227.

Heading into this year, Boston knew it had two good defensive catchers, but there were questions. Could Vazquez hit? Was Leon a one-year wonder?

So far, so good. Vazquez, despite going 0 for 4 on Friday night, is batting .296. Entering Saturday’s game, he was 5 for 8 in three games, with two doubles and a triple. He was batting .625.

“In the early going it’s been a welcome addition,” Farrell said. “Still, their impact has been felt most behind the plate.”

Not only do pitchers rave about both catchers’ pitch-calling and receiving abilities, the two have thrown out 6 of 7 base-stealers.

That’s no fluke. Over the last 30 years, Vazquez leads all catchers (minimum 100 starts as a catcher) with a caught-stealing percentage of 46.4. Leon is No. 2 at 44.3 percent. Ivan Rodriguez is next at 41.7.

“On both sides of the ball, they’ve done an excellent job,” Farrell said.

Neither Leon, 28, nor Vazquez, 26, is eligible for free agency until 2021. That brings up the issue of Swihart, 25, who is in Pawtucket. He’s an obvious talent but is guilty of not being as good defensively as two of the game’s best defensive catchers.

The Red Sox tried Swihart in left field last year and he ended up with a severely sprained ankle that required surgery. That experiment seems done, especially with Andrew Benintendi cemented in left.

Swihart is out of minor league options after this year.

For now, it’s a good problem to have.

REMEMBER THE 2008 draft, when Boston went after catchers early and often? Vazquez was the third catcher the Red Sox chose, in the ninth round out of high school in Puerto Rico.

Before Vazquez the Red Sox opted for college catchers, Ryan Lavarnway in the sixth round and Tim Federowicz in the seventh. They played together in Portland in 2011.

Federowicz, 29, was traded to the Dodgers later that year. Since then he’s been with the Padres’ organization, and the Cubs last year, including 17 major league games.

Federowicz signed with the Giants this year and recently was called up to fill in for the injured Buster Posey.

Lavarnway played parts of four years with Boston and was waived after the 2014 season. Since then he’s played in the Orioles, Braves and Blue Jays organizations. Signing with Oakland this year, he’s in Triple-A.

THE SILLY quote of the week comes from Orioles Manager Buck Showalter, regarding the Red Sox flu outbreak. Showalter, who enjoys needling the Red Sox, especially their big-market clout, said his players also battled the flu big.

“Our guys have fought their way through it,” Showalter said. “I know we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t 100 percent with it, but so do a lot of clubs.

“Nobody wants to hear somebody else complain about it. Our guys have done a good job not broadcasting it to the world.”

There is a difference between “broadcasting it to the world” and explaining why a regular player isn’t in the lineup or even at the stadium.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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Major League notebook: Bradley should rejoin Sox soon http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/major-league-notebook-bradley-should-rejoin-sox-soon/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/major-league-notebook-bradley-should-rejoin-sox-soon/#respond Sat, 15 Apr 2017 23:18:46 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/major-league-notebook-bradley-should-rejoin-sox-soon/ BOSTON — Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is on track to return to the Red Sox next weekend in Baltimore, if not a day or two before.

Bradley suffered a sprained right knee April 8 in Detroit. He’s eligible to be activated from the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday. The plan now is for Bradley and Josh Rutledge (hamstring) to go through baserunning drills on Monday at Fenway Park and then join Triple-A Pawtucket for a rehab assignment on Tuesday.

Bradley might not need more than a rehab game or two to get his swing back in rhythm, which would give him a chance to return to the Red Sox either Thursday in Toronto or Friday in Baltimore.

Rutledge, out since late March, might need more at-bats than Bradley. Boston hopes Rutledge, a right-handed hitter, can complement Pablo Sandoval at third base. Sandoval is hitless against lefties this season.

David Price continues to take his rehabilitation one step at a time.

Price threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Saturday morning, a session broken up to simulate the ups and downs of inning breaks. Whether he faces hitters in his next throwing session will depend on how his arm feels when he reports to Fenway Park on Sunday morning.

What Price didn’t do Saturday was throw a breaking ball off the mound. He has thrown breaking balls on flat ground, he said, but he hasn’t thrown breaking balls from the mound yet.

“I didn’t want to push it too much,” he said, “it being the first time I’m throwing pitches and taking a break and getting back up and throwing more.”

Price will face hitters in a simulated setting at least a couple times before he goes out on a minor-league rehab assignment.

METS: Right-hander Noah Syndergaard’s exits from two recent starts because of finger issues aren’t cause for concern, Manager Terry Collins says.

Syndergaard left Friday’s game at Miami after six innings because of two bleeding fingernails, and he left his first start of the season after six scoreless innings because of a blister.

“If it was the same thing, we’d have to look at it,” Collins said. “But since it’s two different things, I don’t think it’s anything to worry about. I think he’ll be OK.”

Despite the issues with his fingers, Syndergaard is 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three starts, with 20 strikeouts in 19 innings.

“He’s one of the top pitchers in baseball right now,” Collins said. “I give him a lot of credit. He’s a tireless worker. He keeps himself in tremendous shape. He asks a lot of questions. He tries to refine pitches. And he commands his stuff.”

Syndergaard has yet to walk a batter.

“He’s not afraid to throw strikes,” Collins said. “If you’re afraid to get hit sometimes when you get in certain counts, you walk guys. He’s not afraid.”

REDS: Left-hander Brandon Finnegan left after only one inning Saturday against the Brewers because of a strained muscle in the back of his left side.

Finnegan walked three, threw a wild pitch and allowed a pair of runs.

PIRATES: Outfielder Gregory Polanco was scratched from the lineup against the Chicago Cubs because of a groin injury.

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Sale gets first win with Red Sox, 2-1 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/sale-gets-first-win-with-red-sox-2-1/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/sale-gets-first-win-with-red-sox-2-1/#respond Sat, 15 Apr 2017 23:11:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/sale-gets-first-win-with-red-sox-2-1/ BOSTON — Chris Sale doesn’t seem to care if each of his starts are low scoring.

He was dominant Saturday with 12 strikeouts over seven innings for his first victory with Boston, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer and the Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 2-1.

Sale (1-1) allowed one run on three hits with three walks, striking out seven of the last nine batters he faced. He’s given up three runs in 212/3 innings with the Red Sox.

“That’s how you like it, man,” he said. “I like that. I like being in those ones that I can be that guy that can get a ‘W’ in those games. If they’ve all got to be like that, so be it. I look forward to the challenge.”

Boston acquired Sale from the White Sox for four prospects during the offseason.

The Red Sox had lost 5 of 8. The Rays dropped their fourth in five games.

Jake Odorizzi of Tampa Bay left his start with left hamstring tightness after throwing one pitch in the second inning. The Rays used four relievers.

“Outstanding effort by everybody that pitched after (Odorizzi),” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said. “They were asked to do some things that we normally wouldn’t ask of them.”

In each of Sale’s three starts the Red Sox have done little offensively, collecting only three total runs.

But they got just enough Saturday.

“Chris Sale: dominant, strong, any adjective you want to attach to it,” Manager John Farrell said.

“He’s got three power pitches for a lot of swing and miss, and let’s face it, the three starts he’s made for us he’s not had any margin of error.”

Sandy Leon’s broken-bat, bases-loaded groundout pushed across the tiebreaking run in the seventh. Boston loaded the bases on two singles and a walk against Tommy Hunter (0-1).

Matt Barnes worked a hitless eighth despite two walks, and Craig Kimbrel got the final three outs for his fourth save.

Erasmo Ramirez relived Odorizzi and Moreland belted his first pitch deep into the right-field seats, making it 1-0.

“The only mistake was the first pitch,” Ramirez said. “I expected he was going to swing at the first one.”

Longoria’s RBI single tied it in the third before Sale escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Derek Norris with a sharp slider in the dirt.

Sale breezed through the first inning, throwing only 11 pitches to retire the side in order, but the strikeouts and some long at-bats added to his 111-pitch total.

NOTES: Odorizzi bent down in apparent pain after the pitch and threw two warmup pitches in front of Cash and a trainer before walking off slowly. “He’ll be on the DL,” Cash said. “He’s fine. We anticipate this will be a short stay.” … There was a moment of reflection before the game, marking the fourth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Two bombs went off near the finish line a little less than an hour after the Red Sox had beaten the Rays.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/sale-gets-first-win-with-red-sox-2-1/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1182696_Rays_Red_Sox_Baseball_52572.jpgChris Sale delivers a pitch for the Red Sox against Tampa Bay in Boston on Saturday. Sale earned his first win with the Red Sox, striking out 12 and walking three with just one earned run over seven innings. (Associated Press/Michael Dwyer)Sat, 15 Apr 2017 21:25:52 +0000
On Baseball: Momentum missing for Red Sox http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/on-baseball-momentum-missing-for-red-sox/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/on-baseball-momentum-missing-for-red-sox/#respond Sat, 15 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1182494 BOSTON — This seemed like a sure thing for Boston Red Sox fans. Watch Rick Porcello carve up the Rays and see Chris Archer again hang his head in another walk of shame to the dugout.

On paper, the Red Sox had Friday’s game all the way.

Porcello, the reigning Cy Young Award winner, was 5-0 against the Rays last year and was working on a streak of 15 consecutive quality starts.

Archer had lost 11 straight decisions to Boston.

Plus, the Rays were swept in three games in Yankee Stadium before coming to Boston.

But on the field Friday night, it was Porcello who took an early exit, with one out in the fifth inning. It was his shortest outing since July 2015 as he gave up four homers and eight runs in a 10-5 loss.

When Archer left in the sixth inning, his chin was up and he was greeted in the dugout with enthusiastic high-fives.

The Red Sox can’t get traction in this early part of the season. They won their first two games, lost their next two, and have since gone win-lose-repeat. They are 5-5.

You can blame some of the losses on the flu. But Boston is now mostly healthy. (Still, the Rays were taking no chances with lingering germs at Fenway; they brought their own air filtration units into the visiting clubhouse).

But the Red Sox had Porcello on the mound. He’s not always overwhelming, but he’s consistent.

At least he was until Friday night.

Porcello’s success hinges on pinpoint location. But in the second inning, with two outs and a runner on, Porcello faced Shane Peterson, who was just called up from Triple-A. Peterson turned on an inside fastball on a 2-2 count, launching it into the right-field seats.

Porcello’s location was worse in the third inning. He loaded the bases on a bloop single and two walks, then fell behind 2-0 to Logan Morrison. Porcello opted for a change-up, but it stayed up, right down the middle. Morrison did not miss it.

Just like that, it was 6-0.

These are the Rays, a team that ranks 28th among 30 major-league teams in payroll ($71 million). Boston ranks fifth ($179 million). Tampa Bay had a nice run under Joe Maddon, but in the past three years, the Rays have finished either fourth or fifth in the American League East.

Could they be bouncing back? The Rays lead the division in runs scored (50) and starters’ ERA (3.37). Archer seems more than ready to rebound from a 9-19 season.

The concern about Porcello is that Red Sox fans have seen the good (2016) and bad (2015). What are they going to get in 2017?

It’s obviously way too early to make conclusions, with 152 games to go.

There were some positive signs Friday, including Mookie Betts looking his old self with a 4-for-5 night.

Xander Bogaerts was 3 for 4 with a walk, and Andrew Benintendi looks comfortable in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, going 2 for 4 with a walk, a double and an RBI single.

Robby Scott pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to continue his underdog story. The left-hander who went from the independent leagues to the Portland Sea Dogs to the majors maintained a 0.00 ERA. In his 11 major league appearances, he has yet to allow an earned run.

And the Rays showed they are hardly a finished product. They entered the ninth inning ahead 10-2 but still needed closer Alex Colome to come in and record the final out.

There are three more games left in this series, and Boston has Chris Sale on the mound Saturday.

“He’s been outstanding,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said of Sale, adding that “we’ve scored one run when he’s on the mound.”

Maybe the Boston bats will bust out with clutch hits Saturday. And with Sale pitching, it looks good for the Red Sox, at least on paper.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/15/on-baseball-momentum-missing-for-red-sox/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/porcello.jpgFri, 14 Apr 2017 23:35:12 +0000
Porcello allows 4 homers as Red Sox fall to Rays http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/14/porcello-allows-four-homers-as-red-sox-fall-to-rays/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/14/porcello-allows-four-homers-as-red-sox-fall-to-rays/#respond Sat, 15 Apr 2017 03:08:25 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/14/porcello-allows-four-homers-as-red-sox-fall-to-rays/ BOSTON — Rick Porcello did not have his fastball command early and the Tampa Bay Rays attacked Friday night.

Shane Peterson hit a two-run homer in the second inning and Logan Morrison clubbed a grand slam in the third as the Rays beat Boston 10-5 at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox scored three in the ninth to make it appear closer.

Porcello (1-1) exited in the fifth after allowing back-to-back home runs to Brad Miller and Steven Souza, making it 8-0. The four home runs was the most allowed by Porcello in a game.

Rays starter Chris Archer (2-0) continued his solid April. Friday’s outing was his shortest, but he still held Boston to one run over 52/3 innings. Andrew Benintendi’s RBI single in the fifth was the one run Archer Allowed.

Archer snapped a personal 11-game losing streak to the Red Sox while lowering his ERA to 2.21.

Boston (5-5) outhit Tampa Bay 14-12 but squandered chances (12 left on base) and Tampa Bay (6-5) feasted on Porcello.

Porcello gave up a first-inning double to Evan Longoria, but stranded him by striking out Miller, looking at a 95 mph fastball.

But too many fastballs missed their mark. Morrison doubled to the triangle with one out in the second inning. Porcello struck out Derek Norris but Peterson, one of the five left-handers in the lineup, jumped on a 2-2 inside fastball. The homer made it 2-0.

With one out in the third, the Rays loaded the bases – two walks sandwiched around Brad Miller’s bloop single. Morrison came up and Porcello fell behind 2-0 on a fastball and change-up.

Porcello came back with another change-up and Morrison sent it deep into the Boston night, landing in the right-field seats.

Archer retired nine of the first 10 batters but faced a bases-loaded two-out jam in the fourth. With the count full, Archer got Pablo Sandoval to ground out.

Porcello retired six straight before facing Miller with one out in the fifth. His homer, followed by Souza’s, made it 8-0.

Boston scored one with a two-out rally in the fifth – Dustin Pedroia’s double and Benintendi’s RBI single to right. Mookie Betts doubled to left put runners on second and third, but Hanley Ramirez flied to center.

Ramirez singled home a run in the seventh.

In the ninth, RBI by Betts, Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts made it interesting, but not close enough.

NOTES: Jackie Bradley Jr. could be activated as early as next Thursday from the disabled list, Boston Manager John Farrell said. Bradley, who suffered a sprained right knee April 9, was running and taking batting practice with a brace before Friday’s game.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/14/porcello-allows-four-homers-as-red-sox-fall-to-rays/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1182479_Rays_Red_Sox_Baseball_76796.jpgBoston's Rick Porcello, second from left, hands the ball to Manager John Farrell, left, as he leaves the game after giving up two runs during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays in Boston on Friday.Fri, 14 Apr 2017 23:28:22 +0000
Red Sox rally late to topple Pirates, 4-3 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/13/red-sox-rally-late-to-topple-pirates-4-3/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/13/red-sox-rally-late-to-topple-pirates-4-3/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 21:40:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/13/red-sox-rally-late-to-topple-pirates-4-3/ BOSTON — Hanley Ramirez looked plenty healthy in a big spot for the Boston Red Sox.

After a recent absence because of the flu, Ramirez doubled during a three-run rally in the eighth inning Thursday that sent the Red Sox over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3.

“I think he’s carried what he did last year into this season despite missing the four games in Detroit,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “I think he’s carried that confidence he had last season into the first five games that he’s been active.”

The game was a makeup from a rainout in the opening series. Boston wound up sweeping the Pirates, having beaten them in the first two games of the year.

Andrew McCutchen tied Barry Bonds for fourth on Pittsburgh’s all-time list with his first homer of the season, but the Pirates lost their fourth straight.

Matt Barnes (2-0) worked one inning of hitless relief. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his third save.

Ramirez got his first RBI of the season, hitting a two-run double with the bases loaded off Juan Nicasio (0-2) that made it 3-all. Mookie Betts, the second of two close runners heading home, was out at the plate.

Xander Bogaerts then slapped a go-ahead single to right.

“My pitch was just to throw a sinker inside and I didn’t miss,” Nicasio said. “The thing is Hanley came out on top.”

Boston newcomer Mitch Moreland set a club record by hitting a double for the seventh straight game. The major league record is eight by Derrek Lee (2007) and Yadier Molina (2016).

“Being at this ballpark and knowing you’ve got a little help in left there makes you feel little more comfortable,” Moreland said of the Green Monster.

McCutchen hit the first pitch he saw from Eduardo Rodriguez off a billboard above the Monster for his 176th career homer.

The 30-year-old McCutchen – the NL’s 2013 MVP – entered the day with just one RBI following an offseason filled with trade rumors.

Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl gave up one run on five hits over 61/3 innings, striking out six without a walk.

“Chad pitched a fantastic game,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “To hold that offense in check, to pitch into the seventh, no walks, six strikeouts, the fastball command was excellent.”

Rodriguez gave up two of his three runs in the first inning, but struck out eight with four walks over 51/3.

NOTES: David Price, out since early into spring training with a strained left elbow, is set to throw a bullpen session on Saturday. … Farrell gave struggling 3B Pablo Sandoval the day off. He’s hitting just .133 (4 for 30) with two homers and seven RBI … LHP Robbie Ross Jr. was removed from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket and activated from the 10-day disabled list. He was out with the flu. To make room, RHP Ben Taylor was optioned to Pawtucket.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/13/red-sox-rally-late-to-topple-pirates-4-3/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1181665_Pirates_Red_Sox_Baseball_69.jpgPittsburgh catcher Chris Stewart, right, tags out Boston's Mookie Betts, who wase trying to score on a hit by Hanley Ramirez during the eighth inning of Thursday's game at Fenway Park in Boston.Thu, 13 Apr 2017 19:54:01 +0000
Orioles pound Wright, Red Sox early http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/12/orioles-pound-wright-sox-early/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/12/orioles-pound-wright-sox-early/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 03:23:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/12/orioles-pound-wright-sox-early/ BOSTON — Trey Mancini hit two of Baltimore’s five home runs, all in the first three innings, and the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 12-5 on Wednesday night.

A night after Boston’s bats put up eight runs, Baltimore returned the favor against knuckleballer Steven Wright by tagging him for six in a first inning that included back-to-back homers from Mancini and Jonathan Schoop. Adam Jones and Chris Davis each added a solo shot in the second.

Mancini hit his second home run in the third, marking the first multihomer game of his career. He finished with four RBI.

Wright (0-1) lasted just 11/3 innings, allowing eight runs and eight hits. He also threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.

Baltimore reliever Mychal Givens (2-0) got the win after starter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched his way into a bases-loaded jam and was pulled in the fifth. Jimenez, who has lost three straight decisions to Boston, started strong but gave up five runs and eight hits. He’s given up five runs in each of his first two starts this season, both no-decisions.

Wright was able to stifle Baltimore’s powerful bats last season, beating the Orioles twice in two appearances while allowing five earned runs in 161/3 innings.

The 2016 All-Star seemed set up for a similar performance, facing an Orioles lineup that had been outscored 15-4 in two straight losses after starting the season with four consecutive wins.

Instead, Baltimore’s hitters jumped on him early in the count, hitting balls hard and into the gaps when they weren’t going out of Fenway Park.

NOTES: LHP David Price (left elbow strain) threw a 30-pitch bullpen and is set to throw again on Saturday. … RHP Tyler Thornburg (right shoulder impingement) began the first day of his throwing program with 30 tosses from 60-70 feet.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/12/orioles-pound-wright-sox-early/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1181282_Orioles_Red_Sox_Baseball_88.jpgBaltimore's Jonathan Schoop, 6, celebrates his solo home run with Manny Machado in the first inning Wednesday night at Fenway Park.Thu, 13 Apr 2017 00:08:06 +0000
Vazquez, Pedroia lift Boston to 8-1 win over Baltimore http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/11/pedroia-drives-in-4-runs-for-boston-in-8-1-win-over-orioles/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/11/pedroia-drives-in-4-runs-for-boston-in-8-1-win-over-orioles/#respond Wed, 12 Apr 2017 02:49:13 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/11/pedroia-drives-in-4-runs-for-boston-in-8-1-win-over-orioles/ BOSTON – The Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-1 on Tuesday night as Drew Pomeranz struck out six in his season debut and Dustin Pedroia drove in four runs.

Christian Vazquez added a two-run triple in the eighth, capping off a 4-for-4 game, as the Red Sox tagged Baltimore pitchers for 15 hits and had back-to-back three-run innings in the seventh and eighth to blow the game open.

Pomeranz, who opened the season on the disabled list with a strained left forearm, took a shutout into the seventh inning. He held Baltimore to four hits and one run in six innings and picked up his first win at Fenway Park.

Pablo Sandoval had a sacrifice fly in the second and Pedroia had one in the fifth off Dylan Bundy (1-1), who was strong through the first six innings. Bundy pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits.

Bundy was pulled after walking Sandoval with one out and Boston up only 2-1. The Red Sox caught a break when shortstop J.J. Hardy botched a grounder that could have started a double play and get the Orioles out of the threat.

Instead, Chris Young reached and Vazquez followed with a single to load the bases. Pedroia blooped a single just out of Jonathan Schoop’s reach in shallow right to drive in two, then Andrew Benintendi added an RBI single to make it 5-1.

Chris Davis scored Baltimore’s only run, leading off the seventh with a single and scoring later on a fielder’s choice.

Adam Jones’ one-out double in sixth was just the third hit for the Orioles and ended a run of 12 straight outs for Pomeranz, who preserved the shutout by getting Manny Machado on a pop out to first and Mark Trumbo’s fly ball to right. Jones was the first baserunner for the Orioles since the second inning.

UP NEXT

RED SOX: RHP Steven Wright (0-0, 5.40) is coming off a no-decision in his season debut last week in Detroit. Wright allowed four runs and seven hits, striking out four and walking three over 6 2-3 innings Friday against the Tigers.

ORIOLES: Send RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (0-0, 10.38 ERA) out for his second start as Baltimore wraps up its two-day visit to Boston.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/11/pedroia-drives-in-4-runs-for-boston-in-8-1-win-over-orioles/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1180697_Orioles_Red_Sox_Baseball_22.jpgThe Red Sox's Christian Vazquez rounds first on a two-RBI triple Tuesday during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park in Boston. Associated Press/Charles KrupaTue, 11 Apr 2017 23:41:38 +0000
Maine students head to Fenway Park Wednesday to sign national anthem http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/11/maine-group-to-give-the-signs-at-fenway-during-national-anthem/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/11/maine-group-to-give-the-signs-at-fenway-during-national-anthem/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1180092 A group of 23 students, mostly from Cumberland and North Yarmouth, won’t utter a word Wednesday night when the national anthem is sung live before the Boston Red Sox game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

Instead, the students will stand silently – behind home plate – and perform the national anthem in American Sign Language, a non-verbal language expressed through hand and finger movements.

The Sounds of Silence, a community group based in Cumberland, has been chosen to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” using sign language to communicate the lyrics to baseball fans who are deaf or hard of hearing. It’s an honor that has the group’s teacher, Robin Sidders, and her students pinching themselves, just to make sure they are not dreaming.

“You guys can make a difference and I want you to realize this,” Sidders told the Sounds of Silence members as they rehearsed signing the anthem Sunday evening at the White Pine Ministry Center in North Yarmouth.

AWARENESS OF DEAF CULTURE

Sidders created the Sounds of Silence program in 2009, when she was teaching music to elementary school students in California.

She moved to North Yarmouth in summer 2010 and established a similar program through the Cumberland Recreation Department. About 80 percent of her students, who range in age from 8 to 17, attend Maine School Administrative District 51 schools. Students learn sign language skills and develop an awareness of deaf culture through the program.

Aidan Volk signs “sunrise,” relating to the phrase “dawn’s early light” in the national anthem, during rehearsal. The Sounds of Silence will be the first group to “sign” the anthem before a game at Fenway Park.

Sidders said her students have performed the national anthem at Maine Red Claws and Portland Sea Dogs’ home games and at L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, and they are now appearing in a Renys department store television commercial.

A spokesman for the Red Sox confirmed Monday that although individuals have signed the national anthem at Red Sox games before, Wednesday’s appearance will be the first time that a group has done it.

“We get a lot of requests for the anthem and we keep them on file,” said Dan Lyons, the Red Sox’s senior manager of entertainment. “We noticed this group and thought that this would be something different and very unique.”

Lyons said the team does make sign language interpreters available for pregame ceremonies on request, but not for every game.

The Sounds of Silence will be signing the national anthem during a live performance of the song by Karen St. George, a teacher from Westford, Massachusetts, Lyons said.

Wednesday’s performance will be the first time that most of Sidders’ students will sign the national anthem with a live performer. In the majority of their appearances, the students have signed to a musical recording.

Will Klein, 10, and the rest of the Sounds of Silence rehearse “The Star-Spangled Banner” in American Sign Language on Sunday. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

“It’s going to be a real challenge, but I think they will be up for it,” Sidders said, noting the unpredictable pace of a live song.

BIG CROWD, TELEVISION AUDIENCE

Sidders reached out to the Red Sox last September with her idea for a sign language performance, but it wasn’t until three weeks ago that she received an official invitation to perform at the annual Disability Awareness Night game.

It will be by far the largest crowd that any of Sidders’ students has performed for. Fenway has a capacity of more than 37,000 and all of the team’s games are televised.

“I am scared out of my socks. I’ve never performed at anything this big,” said Will Klein of Cumberland, who will turn 11 on April 13, the day after the group performs.

Klein, an avid snowboarder, said he’d one day like to serve as a sign language interpreter at the Winter Olympics.

Rehearsals like the one held Sunday evening are valuable because they give Sidders a chance to keep her students focused. With a large group of parents watching and a news photographer’s camera clicking away, the distractions serve as a good learning tool.

The Sounds of Silence use American Sign Language to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” under the direction of Robin Sidders on Sunday at the White Pine Ministry Center in North Yarmouth. The children will sign the national anthem at Fenway Park on Wednesday. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

“Watch me, not the camera,” Sidders said in her teacher’s voice during the rehearsal. Sidders’ role is similar to that of an orchestra conductor: The students have to follow her gestures because the pace of a live performance is vastly different from a recorded song.

Sidders likes to challenge her students, asking them to sign the national anthem without music before signing it to a recording.

“There’s no music this time because that’s the way the deaf will hear it. They will hear it with their eyes,” Sidders tells her students. “I want you to think about bridging the gap between the two worlds.”

A PASSION FOR SIGN LANGUAGE

Anna Hoffman-Johnson, a 17-year-old home-schooled student from Falmouth, describes herself as a visual learner who enjoys learning new languages, singing and the arts. One day she would like to put her skills to use, possibly working as a sign language interpreter at a Broadway show, she said.

Hailey Albert, 9, rehearses “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday, along with the 22 other children in the Sounds of Silence, founded by Robin Sidders. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

“I’m not nervous,” she says of her group’s upcoming Fenway Park performance.

Stephanie Bruder, 14, an eighth-grader at Greely Middle School in Cumberland, said she has developed a passion for sign language, starting when she was in fourth grade and her mother signed her up for a class.

“I thought it was cool that they used their hands to talk,” Bruder said.

Sidders is grateful that the Red Sox are giving the Sounds of Silence an opportunity of a lifetime.

“I know what this can do for their self-image,” she said. “It can help these kids take off.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/11/maine-group-to-give-the-signs-at-fenway-during-national-anthem/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1180092_263565-20170409_signing-ant.jpgRobin Sidders leads students through sign language communicating the lyrics of the national anthem at White Pine Ministry Center in North Yarmouth. The students, ranging in age from 8 to 17, are members of the Sounds of Silence, a community group based in Cumberland.Tue, 11 Apr 2017 09:17:04 +0000
Red Sox farm report: Where have all the prospects gone? http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/10/red-sox-farm-report-where-have-all-the-prospects-gone/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/10/red-sox-farm-report-where-have-all-the-prospects-gone/#respond Tue, 11 Apr 2017 01:16:05 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1180019 Chris Sale has allowed two runs in 142/3 innings. So far, it looks like he’s worth the high cost it took to acquire him.

Much was made about bundle of players Boston gave up to entice the White Sox to trade Sale. The price was four prospects, topped by Yoan Moncada.

Red Sox President Dave Dombrowski has not been shy about trading prospects. In the 20 months since he took over, he has traded 16 minor leaguers and two major leaguers.

So, before our farm report begins tracking current Red Sox prospects, let’s check the status of those dealt away.

Of the traded minor leaguers, one is in the majors. Outfielder Manuel Margot may become a National League Rookie of the Year candidate, leading off for the Padres. He’s known for his speed, but he hit his first two major league home runs Friday.

Margot was part of a four-prospect package to land closer Craig Kimbrel before the 2016 season.

While Margot was tough to give up, Boston was awash in outfielders. Plus, the Red Sox desperately needed a closer.

In the Sale trade, Moncada was the big-name prospect. He’s off to a fast start in Triple-A Charlotte, batting .400 with a .979 OPS. But those who have watched Moncada, including his time in Portland last year, want to know the splits.

Sure enough, Moncada is tearing it up left-handed (8 for 13 with a home run). Batting right-handed, Moncada is 0 for 7 with three strikeouts. That’s consistent with what he showed in Portland and Boston.

The other top prospect in the Sale deal was right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech, he of the 100 mph fastballs. Kopech made his Double-A debut last week and struck out 10 in 41/3 innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and two walks.

Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (1 for 13 in high Class A) and pitcher Victor Diaz (on the disabled list in low Class A) also went to the White Sox.

The Kimbrel trade included second baseman Carlos Asuaje (in Triple-A), shortstop Javier Guerra (high Class A) and pitcher Logan Allen (low A).

Guerra, 21, was supposed to be an up-and-comer, but he hit .202 in the hitter-friendly California League last year and is back there again (2 for 17 so far).

Dombrowski made two other significant deals, including the trade for Drew Pomeranz last July. Pomeranz was an All-Star for San Diego, and Dombrowski gave up Anderson Espinoza, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

Pomeranz had a 2.47 ERA in San Diego that ballooned to 4.59 with Boston. Espinoza, who just turned 19 last month, is on the disabled list because of forearm tightness (as reported by the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier).

On the morning of the Sale trade last December, Dombrowski sent major leaguer Travis Shaw and prospects Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington to Milwaukee for set-up reliever Tyler Thornburg.

While Thornburg has yet to pitch because of a sore shoulder, Shaw is batting .280 with a .979 OPS for the Brewers. Dubon, 22, who ended last year with Portland, is still in Double-A, assigned to the Biloxi (Mississippi) Shuckers. Pennington, 21, is in low Class A.

To get reliever Carson Smith from the Mariners before the 2016 season, Dombrowski traded major league pitcher Wade Miley and Triple-A reliever Jonathan Aro.

Boston not only got Smith (who underwent Tommy John surgery last year and might be back by June), but also lefty Roenis Elias (headed to Pawtucket when he gets off the disabled list). Seattle traded Miley to Baltimore and still has Aro in the minors.

The Red Sox still have lefty reliever Fernando Abad, whom they got from Minnesota last year for reliever Pat Light. The Twins traded Light to the Pirates, who have him in Triple-A.

Dombrowski made two trades to bolster the roster for the playoff run last year, sending pitcher Aaron Wilkerson and infielder Wendell Rijo to Milwaukee for Aaron Hill; and second baseman Luis Alejandro Basabe (Luis Alexander’s brother) and pitcher Jose Almonte to Arizona for Brad Ziegler.

Both Hill and Ziegler have moved on. Wilkerson is in Double-A and Rijo in high A for the Brewers. Almonte is in high A and Basabe is in low A for the Diamondbacks.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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Sale, Red Sox fall to Tigers, 2-1 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/10/sale-sox-fall-to-tigers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/10/sale-sox-fall-to-tigers/#respond Mon, 10 Apr 2017 20:50:52 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/10/sale-sox-fall-to-tigers/ DETROIT — Chris Sale pitched a little longer than Justin Verlander in a matchup of ace pitchers, and it might’ve cost the Boston Red Sox a chance to split their series with the Detroit Tigers.

Nicholas Castellanos chased Sale with a two-out, go-ahead single in the eighth inning after Ian Kinsler homered in the sixth, lifting Detroit over Boston 2-1 on Monday.

“You’ve got Sale and Verlander going at it, you assume it’s going to be a game like this,” Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus said. “And they didn’t disappoint.”

Verlander gave up only an unearned run, three hits and two walks while striking out four over seven innings. Justin Wilson (1-0) struck out one and walked one in the eighth, and Francisco Rodriguez struck out two and allowed a hit in the ninth, earning his second save in three chances to help Detroit win the four-game series.

Sale (0-1) struck out 10 and gave up two runs and five hits over 72/3 innings in his second start for the Red Sox. He stayed in the game after pitching seven strong innings because Manager John Farrell thought he still looked sharp.

“He was still strong and still had quality stuff,” Farrell said. “He pitched around Kinsler with the base open, which I thought he was managing the situation, and he had handled Castellanos the three previous at-bats. (Castellanos) hits one through the hole.

(Sale) pitched a hell of a game.”

As good as Verlander was, the Tigers and their fans were thrilled with the performance of a beleaguered bullpen. Earlier in the day, Detroit sent struggling right-hander Bruce Rondon to Triple-A and purchased the contract of righty Joe Jimenez. Rondon was once viewed as the future closer for Detroit, but the Tigers swapped him out for a 21-year-old Puerto Rican who has yet to pitch in the majors.

“The bullpen is in flux right now,” Verlander said. “But I think that will get a lot better as guys settle into their roles.”

The Comerica Park crowd groaned when Ausmus went to the mound with two outs in the seventh to visit Verlander. He kept the right-hander in the game, much to the delight of the fans, who cheered even louder when Sandy Leon, the next batter, popped out to end the inning. Verlander raised his glove in the air to acknowledge a standing ovation, and Ausmus was the first person to shake his hand near the bottom step in the dugout.

“I felt good about leaving him in, but he was over 100 pitches and he’d only been to 103 his last outing and it’s only his second start of the season,” Ausmus said. “So I wanted to make sure he was OK and still felt strong.”

The Red Sox scored their only run in the second inning on a double-play grounder by Brock Holt after Castellanos’ fielding error loaded the bases with no outs.

Mitch Moreland led off the inning with a double and Pablo Sandoval followed with a walk. Chris Young hit a grounder toward Castellanos at third, and instead of potentially starting a double play, he couldn’t field the ball cleanly. Holt then hit into a double play, scoring Moreland, and Verlander got Leon to hit an inning-ending liner to Castellanos.

FLU FIGHTERS

The Red Sox have fumigated and disinfected their clubhouse at Fenway Park to help fight the flu, which has hit the team hard and led to Robbie Ross being on the disabled list and Hanley Ramirez playing just two games.

“You can sit here and try to find excuses all day long,” Sale said.

Farrell said it has been done a few times while the team has been on the road.

TRAINER’S ROOM

RED SOX: Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is headed to the disabled list because of an injured right knee, but Farrell is hopeful he will only be out for 10 days. … Left-hander David Price, on the DL because of an elbow strain, had a 20-pitch bullpen session before the game and may throw again Wednesday.

TIGERS: Outfielder Justin Upton was scratched from the lineup because of upper back tightness.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/10/sale-sox-fall-to-tigers/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1179872_Red_Sox_Tigers_Baseball_849.jpgRed Sox pitcher Chris Sale allowed two runs on five hits, including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and the Red Sox lost 2-1 to the Tigers on Monday in Detroit.Mon, 10 Apr 2017 21:56:05 +0000
Major league notebook: Jackie Bradley Jr. hopes to avoid DL http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/09/major-league-notes-bradley-hopes-to-avoid-dl/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/09/major-league-notes-bradley-hopes-to-avoid-dl/#respond Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:49:36 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/09/major-league-notes-bradley-hopes-to-avoid-dl/ DETROIT – Jackie Bradley Jr. said Sunday he’s hopeful he can avoid the disabled list after missing Boston’s game at Detroit because of an injured right knee.

Bradley fell after rounding first base when he hit a flyout in Saturday’s loss to the Tigers. He was able to walk off and seemed OK, but Manager John Farrell said before Sunday’s game that Bradley was dealing with soreness and swelling, and had an MRI.

“The MRI shows that he has some inflammation and, I guess you’d call, a sprain to the outside of the knee,” Farrell said after the game.

Bradley said he still feels as though he can move around pretty well.

PADRES: San Diego placed right-hander Trevor Cahill on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain, a move retroactive to Thursday.

The team recalled right-hander Zach Lee from Triple-A El Paso.

MARLINS: Adeiny Hechavarria landed on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain. Miami called up infielder J.T. Riddle from Triple-A New Orleans to take his roster spot.

It’s not clear when Hechavarria’s injury occurred. He went 2 for 5 in the 8-1 win over the New York Mets on Saturday night. In five games, Hechavarria is 4 for 20.

YANKEES: Catcher Gary Sanchez was placed on the disabled list and New York called up catcher Kyle Higashioka from Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“I want to stay positive. I want to get back as soon as possible,” said Sanchez through an interpreter.

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Red Sox beat Tigers, 7-5 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/09/red-sox-beat-tigers-7-5/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/09/red-sox-beat-tigers-7-5/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2017 21:05:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1179487 DETROIT – Even if the Boston Red Sox hadn’t been short-handed, this would have been a gratifying win.

Sandy Leon broke an eighth-inning tie with a two-run single Sunday, part of a four-run rally that lifted Boston to a 7-5 victory against the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox, depleted recently by injury and illness, rallied four times from one-run deficits.

“The one thing that hasn’t emerged was anyone talking about any excuses,” Manager John Farrell said. “We know what’s in front of us. We know how people feel. A number of guys aren’t 100 percent but there’s fight in this group.”

Jackie Bradley Jr. missed the game after hurting his right knee Saturday, but the Red Sox got Mookie Betts back after he had been sick. Hanley Ramirez was still out with an illness.

Xander Bogaerts hasn’t played since Wednesday – he’s on the bereavement list.

The Tigers led 4-3 in the eighth when Bruce Rondon (0-1) allowed a leadoff walk to Betts and a single by Chris Young. A throwing error on Young’s single by left fielder Justin Upton left runners at second and third. After an intentional walk, Kyle Ryan came in and walked pinch-hitter Brock Holt to force in the tying run.

Leon followed with a line single to center and Boston led, 6-4.

“We’ve just got to find someone that can pitch the seventh and eighth innings,” Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus said. “Justin Wilson was unavailable tonight – he’d be a guy you could pitch in the eighth inning, but he’d pitched two days in a row and we didn’t want to use him.”

Matt Barnes (1-0) got the win in relief. He came off the bereavement list before the game.

Craig Kimbrel allowed a run in the ninth but recovered for his second save of the season. He’s converted 21 straight chances.

The Red Sox led 7-4 when Kimbrel walked the first two Detroit hitters in the ninth. He then struck out Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez nearly tied it with a drive to right but it went foul, and he ended up settling for an RBI single.

Kimbrel then struck out Upton and Tyler Collins to end it.

Boston right-hander Rick Porcello allowed four runs – three earned – and 11 hits in six-plus innings against his former team. Porcello. the AL Cy Young Award winner, walked one and struck out eight.

Porcello looked briefly hobbled at one point when he brushed against Detroit third-base coach Dave Clark while going to back up the base.

“I just kind of landed awkwardly,” Porcello said. “I was watching the ball and didn’t see him. I heard him say something and then I tried to move, and I just kind of landed awkwardly. It scared me more than anything but I’m good to go.”

Porcello reached 1,000 strikeouts when he fanned Martinez in the first.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/09/red-sox-beat-tigers-7-5/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1179487_Red_Sox_Tigers_Baseball_92.jpgBoston Red Sox's Sandy Leon enters the dugout after scoring from third on a single by Marco Hernandez during the second inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers, Sunday, April 9, 2017, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)Sun, 09 Apr 2017 20:02:04 +0000
Tigers hold off ailing Red Sox for 4-1 win http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/08/tigers-hold-off-red-sox-for-4-1-win/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/08/tigers-hold-off-red-sox-for-4-1-win/#respond Sat, 08 Apr 2017 20:28:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/08/tigers-hold-off-red-sox-for-4-1-win/ DETROIT — Andrew Benintendi had a chance to give the Boston Red Sox an early lead Saturday when he came to the plate in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Instead he grounded an inning-ending double play.

Perhaps Benintendi can be forgiven. By the sixth inning, Manager John Farrell said, Benintendi was throwing up – presumably adding him to the list of victims of a flu that has ravaged the Boston clubhouse in the last two weeks.

And in its wake, the Red Sox suffered a second straight setback, falling 4-1 to the Tigers.

That Benintendi managed to reach base in the eighth inning as part of a brief rally looked in hindsight like a minor miracle.

“We’re hopeful that that was just a one-time deal,” Farrell said. “We’ll see how he feels when he comes in (Sunday).”

So it goes for the Red Sox, who lost Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Robbie Ross to the flu before the four-game series in Detroit began – in addition to losing Xander Bogaerts and Matt Barnes to the bereavement list.

And there’s more: Pitcher Joe Kelly couldn’t leave his hotel room after becming ill, and even the television play-by-play announcer, Dave O’Brien, had to leave the park in the sixth inning, with Tom Caron stepping in from the studio in Boston.

Boston has scored in only four of the 38 innings it has played this season and lost meekly to the Tigers.

Jordan Zimmermann of Detroit was hardly overpowering but still yielded just one run in six strong innings before three relief pitchers saw the game out.

Rather than Betts and Ramirez hitting third and fourth for the Red Sox, as they did on Opening Day, Benintendi and Mitch Moreland hit third and fourth on Friday and Saturday – both games Boston lost. Moreland doubled and scored Saturday.

“It’s not like we can go home and quit,” said Dustin Pedroia, one of the few survivors left in the Boston clubhouse. “We’ve got games to play, man. We’ve got a job to do. We’re going to try to do it the best we can.”

“You take out the middle of an order, it’s going to create a little void,” Farrell said.

The Red Sox seemed to dodge an even more damaging loss in the ninth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. had just flown out to left field when he lost his footing in the dirt beyond first base. He crumpled to the ground and required the assistance of a trainer, but eventually walked off under his own power. Early indications were he avoided serious injury.

“I’m built like Secretariat,” he said later.

The value of Bradley to the Red Sox has been increasingly evident in the first week of the season. The rangy center fielder made a pair of highlight-reel catches Saturday, both to rob Nick Castellanos of Detroit – including an eighth-inning catch that saw him crash into the fence in right-center field.

“It’s a joke. He’s making plays that I don’t know if anybody else can make,” Pedroia said. “It’s pretty special the routes he’s taking and the way he’s getting the ball.”

“He’s been exceptional in center field – the ground he’s covering and the range that he has, whether it’s coming in on balls or going back deep in the corners,” Farrell said.

Eduardo Rodriguez navigated the loaded top half of the Detroit batting order relatively well in his first start of the season. He blew a fastball past Miguel Cabrera in the first inning. He got Victor Martinez to bounce into a double play in the fourth.

But nine-hole hitter Jose Iglesias hit a home run and an RBI double, and James McCann hit his second home run in as many games.

David Price threw out to 120 feet Saturday in what Boston Manager John Farrell described as “another consistent work day” for the left-hander who is recovering from an elbow strain.

Farrell said Price threw with increments at 60, 90 and 120 feet and “was able to spin the ball on flat ground” before the Red Sox took on the Detroit Tigers.

Boston again fielded a short-handed lineup. Several players have been ill recently.

Farrell said: “There’s three different things that are going around. One’s a respiratory one, one’s flu-like symptoms, and one is the full-blown flu.”

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz (forearm strain) threw Saturday and is on track to start Tuesday against Baltimore.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/08/tigers-hold-off-red-sox-for-4-1-win/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1179146_Red_Sox_Tigers_Baseball_644.jpgBoston's Christian Vazquez safely returns to first as teammate Brock Holt flies out during the fifth inning of a Saturday's against the Tigers in Detroit. (Associated Press/Carlos Osorio)Sat, 08 Apr 2017 19:14:24 +0000
Red Sox rally, then fall to Tigers http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/07/red-sox-rally-then-fall-to-tigers/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/07/red-sox-rally-then-fall-to-tigers/#respond Fri, 07 Apr 2017 21:14:17 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/07/red-sox-rally-then-fall-to-tigers/ DETROIT — After seven runs, five walks, two lead changes and a parade of futile pitching changes, the eighth inning finally ended at Comerica Park.

What the Detroit bullpen squandered, the Boston relievers had given right back.

JaCoby Jones drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth, and the Tigers outlasted the flu-bitten Red Sox 6-5 on Friday to win their ninth straight home opener. Detroit allowed five runs in the top of the eighth, blowing a 4-0 lead in the process, but the Tigers scored twice in their half to take back the lead.

“Up and down the lineup, you had guys that were having good at-bats and passing the baton to the next guy,” Detroit catcher James McCann said. “That just builds chemistry, builds camaraderie among ourselves as a team.”

Red Sox stars Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts were ill and out of the lineup. Boston also was without shortstop Xander Bogaerts and reliever Matt Barnes, who are on the bereavement list.

Whoever won this game was going to do so in spite of its bullpen. The Tigers wasted their lead when Pablo Sandoval put the Red Sox ahead with a three-run homer off Francisco Rodriguez. Sandoval, who played in just three games last year before having shoulder surgery, hit a drive to left-center field on an 0-2 pitch for his first home run since Aug. 15, 2015.

The lead didn’t last.

After Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera struck out to start the Detroit eighth, Heath Hembree (0-1) walked two batters, and pinch-hitter Mikie Mahtook followed with a tying double off Robby Scott.

“He threw me a curveball and I was able to get a barrel on it,” said Mahtook, who was playing his first home game for the Tigers after being acquired in the offseason.

Joe Kelly then allowed consecutive walks to McCann and Jones, forcing in the final run.

“Just yanking some fastballs to his glove side,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “Missed down and away to right-handers where you’re looking to finish off an inning. This one got away from us.”

Mahtook made another important play in the ninth. With a man on first, Rodriguez (1-0) allowed a two-out double to Mitch Moreland. Mahtook reached the ball in the right-field corner and threw it in quickly enough to make the lead runner stop at third.

“If he bobbles that ball, if he doesn’t field that ball cleanly, it’s a tie ballgame,” McCann said.

Before the bullpens got involved, Detroit’s Michael Fulmer pitched six scoreless innings. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year allowed four hits and two walks, striking out four.

Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright allowed four runs and seven hits in 62/3 innings.

McCann’s two-run homer made it 4-0 in the seventh, but relievers Bruce Rondon and Alex Wilson were able to get only one out apiece in the top of the eighth, forcing Rodriguez to come in and face Sandoval with two outs and runners on first and third.

“I got ahead of him 0-2, and then just threw an extremely bad pitch over the plate,” Rodriguez said. “You guys know what was the result.”

NOTES: The Tigers played a video tribute before the game honoring owner Mike Ilitch, who died shortly before the start of spring training. A large “Mr. I” was cut into the grass in center field and also appeared in a circle to the left of home plate and on a flag beyond the wall in left-center. … Boston reliever Ben Taylor made his major league debut in the seventh, striking out the only hitter he faced. He was in line for the win after Sandoval’s homer, but the Red Sox couldn’t hold on.

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/07/red-sox-rally-then-fall-to-tigers/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1178748_Red_Sox_Tigers_Baseball_194.jpgDetroit's Nicholas Castellanos slides into third as Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval waits on the throw during the sixth inning Friday in Detroit.Fri, 07 Apr 2017 20:25:47 +0000
Thursday’s Red Sox-Pirates game rained out http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/06/todays-red-sox-pirates-game-rained-out/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/06/todays-red-sox-pirates-game-rained-out/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 14:00:21 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/06/todays-red-sox-pirates-game-rained-out/ BOSTON — The series finale between the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates scheduled for Thursday was rained out.

The teams will make up the game at Fenway Park on April 13 at 2:05 p.m.

Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez had been scheduled to face Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl.

The Red Sox won the first two games of the series, including a 3-0 win in 12 innings on Wednesday night.

Boston next heads to Detroit, where it is set to begin a four-game series with the Tigers on Friday afternoon.

Manager John Farrell said knuckleballer Steven Wright (13-6 in 2016) will make his first start of the season in the series opener. He will be followed by Rodriguez, Rick Porcello and Chris Sale.

But Farrell will be without two more players for the start of the Detroit series, with reliever Matt Barnes and shortstop Xander Bogaerts both going on the bereavement list for a death in each player’s family. Right-hander Noe Ramirez was called up to replace Barnes, and infielder Marco Hernandez was recalled to fill Bogaerts’ spot.

Barnes is slated to rejoin the team Sunday, with Bogaerts available on Monday.

Those absences are in addition to an illness that’s been going around the clubhouse. Brock Holt, Mookie Betts and Robbie Ross all sat out Wednesday’s game. Betts will travel to Detroit, but is still experiencing symptoms.

Farrell said both he and Ross are “tentative” for Friday.

There was some good news on the injury front, though.

Farrell said lefty Drew Pomeranz, who went on the 10-day disabled list March 30 with a left forearm flexor strain, is slated to make his season debut at home Tuesday against Baltimore. In addition, David Price (left elbow strain) was able to throw Thursday before the rain started and got in some distance throwing on Wednesday. He will resume his throwing program in Detroit.

“So a quality day for him,” Farrell said.

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On Baseball: Strong start for Sale http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/05/on-baseball-strong-start-for-sale-in-boston/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/05/on-baseball-strong-start-for-sale-in-boston/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 03:33:02 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/05/on-baseball-strong-start-for-sale-in-boston/ BOSTON — When Chris Sale walks out to the mound, he looks like he’s on stilts, his 6-foot-6, 178-pound body seemingly all legs.

Then Sale goes into his funky delivery, looking like he will stumble off the mound.

“You get the impression there are arms and legs coming at you at every different angle,” Manager John Farrell said. “His delivery does not give hitters a real comfortable feel when they’re in the batter’s box.”

Farrell was eager Wednesday night to watch his newest – and best? – pitcher make his debut for the Boston Red Sox against the Pittsburgh Pirates, eventually a 3-0, 12-inning win for the Red Sox.

“We all have anticipated,” Farrell said, “from the time he was traded (for) in the winter meetings.”

On that Dec. 6 day, Boston sent four prospects, including $63 million man Yoan Moncada and 100 mph fastball-thrower Michael Kopech, to land Sale from the Chicago White Sox and bring immediate hope for Boston’s next World Series appearance.

Sale has never pitched in the playoffs. He also has never won a Cy Young Award, although he’s been in the top six in the voting the past five years.

He entered Wednesday’s game with a career 3.00 ERA, 1,244 strikeouts and 260 walks. Pretty good strikeout/walk ratio of 4.78 – actually the best ratio in the live ball era (after 1920).

Sale improved that ratio Wednesday, striking out seven and walking one. He gave up three hits over seven innings. And if not for Jameson Taillon matching him with seven scoreless innings, Sale would have had his first Red Sox win.

Instead it was Joe Kelly who got the win, courtesy of Sandy Leon’s three-run homer in the 12th inning for a 3-0 victory.

On a raw, damp 40-degree night, Sale established a fastball that hit 98 mph, mixing in sliders and change-ups.

The Red Sox have seen that before – against them.

“It went bad most of the time. I’m glad he’s on our team now, that’s for sure,” said center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

In 11 at-bats against Sale, Bradley had one single and six strikeouts.

“He’s tall,” Bradley said. “A very unusual delivery. He throws really hard. Great off-speed pitches. And he’s not afraid to pitch inside.”

Bradley figured there would be a buzz at Fenway.

“Everyone comes to watch guys like him on the mound,” Bradley said.

Wednesday’s crowd cheered every strike. Sale retired the first four batters and 13 of the first 15 he faced. He would start batters with a 97 mph four-seamer, or a two-seamer at 92, or a change-up (87) or his biting slider (79).

And when he mixed them … the term is nasty. In the third, with a runner on first and two outs, right-hander Starling Marte came up. Marte swung and missed a first-pitch change-up. He fouled off another change-up. Sale then came with a slider that had Marte flailing for strike three.

“A deceptive change-up, a good breaking ball,” Farrell said. “He’s got a lot of things going for him, in addition to an attitude he exudes on the mound of a very competitive guy.

“The total package is what enables him to be successful.”

Sale should make the Red Sox successful – provided they score some runs for him.

Wednesday night provided relief as the Red Sox anxiously await the fate of David Price. The team keeps speaking optimistically of Price’s rehab from a sore elbow, but he’s yet to pitch off the mound during this rehab. Besides long toss on Wednesday, Price stepped on the mound just to get a feel for it. He threw the ball but didn’t pitch to a crouching catcher.

Who knows what the Red Sox will get with Price? They do know they have another lefty they can rely on in Sale.

The White Sox got a good haul of prospects in this deal, but Moncada is in Triple-A, and Kopech is still in Class A.

Sale is in Fenway. Everyone comes to watch guys like him.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:’

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/05/on-baseball-strong-start-for-sale-in-boston/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/Pirates_Red_Sox_Baseball_2.jpgThu, 06 Apr 2017 12:10:21 +0000
Leon blasts 3-run homer in 12th as Sox top Pirates, 3-0 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/05/leon-blasts-3-run-homer-in-12th-as-sox-top-pirates-3-0/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/05/leon-blasts-3-run-homer-in-12th-as-sox-top-pirates-3-0/#respond Thu, 06 Apr 2017 03:17:01 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/05/leon-blasts-3-run-homer-in-12th-as-sox-top-pirates-3-0/ BOSTON — Sandy Leon prolonged the game with a base-running mistake in the third inning.

When Boston’s catcher came up in the 12th, he ended it.

Leon hit a three-run homer – the first walkoff of his career – and Chris Sale pitched seven innings of three-hit ball in his Red Sox debut to lead Boston to a 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

“It’s nice to get the win. All the better to walk it off. It’s special,” said Sale, who was Boston’s big acquisition of the offseason. “If you told me tonight it was going to be 0-0 in the 12th, I probably would have given you a crazy look.”

Leon also doubled in the third inning but got thrown out at the plate after running through third-base coach Brian Butterfield’s stop sign. It was scoreless into the bottom of the 12th, when Antonio Bastardo (0-1) walked Jackie Bradley Jr. and Pablo Sandoval with one out.

Leon followed with a drive over the Green Monster to end a cold night for the Red Sox, who also beat Pittsburgh in the season opener on Monday.

“He certainly redeemed himself with the final swing tonight,” Manager John Farrell said.

Joe Kelly (1-0), the sixth Red Sox pitcher, earned the victory with two innings of one-hit relief as the Red Sox won their seventh straight interleague game at Fenway Park. The Pirates did not get a runner past first base.

“I’m not going to overcook this thing,” Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle said. “That one swing makes it look bigger than it was, but there wasn’t a lot of separation.”

Sale, who walked one and struck out seven, was acquired from the Chicago White Sox for a package of minor leaguers that included No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada. He gave the Red Sox a rotation that included two Cy Young winners and three All-Stars.

“He was nasty,” said Leon, who had three hits. “He was mixing his pitches, getting ahead in the count. He was fun to catch.”

Jameson Taillon matched Sale’s shutout for seven innings, allowing five hits while walking three and striking out six.

The Red Sox did threaten against him in the third, when Leon was thrown out at the plate by Andrew McCutchen, who had moved from center field to right this season. Newly acquired first baseman Mitch Moreland also hit a ball deep in the fourth, but McCutchen caught it at the short bullpen wall.

“I knew the wall was close,” he said. “But I didn’t realize how close until I hit it.”

Boston loaded the bases with two outs in the 10th, thanks in part to a single by Leon, but Pirates closer Tony Watson retired opening day hero Andrew Benintendi on a weak grounder to second to end the inning.

NOTES: OF Mookie Betts missed the game with the flu. Brock Holt and Robbie Ross were also stricken with a bug. … David Price threw long toss from 100 feet and also made about 25 pitches from a mound. “The most encouraging thing is every throwing session he goes through, he comes out feeling good physically,” Farrell said. … Bradley clutched his left leg after getting spiked on a stolen base in the 12th, but he remained in the game. Afterward, he said his leg was “great.”

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Tom Caron: Sale looks to build upon Opening Day http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/04/tom-caron-sale-looks-to-build-on-a-promising-opening-day/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/04/tom-caron-sale-looks-to-build-on-a-promising-opening-day/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 23:41:48 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/04/tom-caron-sale-looks-to-build-on-a-promising-opening-day/ Call this Opening Night.

Chris Sale takes the mound Wednesday for the first time as a member of the Red Sox. He was acquired this offseason for four top prospects, a major acquisition that immediately made Boston the favorite to win the American League pennant.

Opening Day has come and gone, with plenty of good vibes to be found in a 5-3 win over the Pirates. Rick Porcello followed up his Cy Young season with a win, Rookie of the Year favorite Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run home run, and the bullpen held on for the victory.

It was a great start to the season, but a precursor of things to come. Sale takes the mound in Boston’s first prime-time performance of the year. He’s averaged 226 strikeouts a season over the last five years, and finished in the top six in Cy Young voting each of those seasons.

His competitive nature makes him an intimidating presence on the mound. It also led him to take a pair of scissors to a room full of Chicago throwback jerseys he didn’t like. Sale thought the jerseys reflected poorly on the team, that it was more interested in marketing than winning.

Sale might not like throwback jerseys, but he’s a throwback to a time when pitchers kept hitters uncomfortable at the plate. He hit 17 batters last season, the second straight year he led the league in hit batters. He commands the inside of the plate, something pitchers don’t do much in this era.

“He likes to come inside,” said Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon. “Pitchers have to come inside without being afraid of hitting someone. He’s not afraid.”

Throughout spring training, Sale impressed everyone with his desire. On his first day, he told pitching coach Carl Willis that he would do whatever it takes to win. That sounds like a cliche, but for a guy who has never been to the postseason it’s the truth.

“The will to win is evident,” said Manager John Farrell. “Whether it’s a team function, or playing ping pong, you see it. There’s a purpose to everything he does.”

Sale’s sole purpose in Boston is to help take a defending AL East championship team to the next level. There is still a bitter taste left behind from a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians. The Sox want to be better than that, and bringing in a guy who struck out 233 batters in 2262/3 innings last season should help them achieve that goal.

What the Sox never expected is a February injury to David Price that would put last year’s Opening Day starter on the shelf. Price won’t be available for a month or more. Losing a pitcher like that would derail most team’s hopes of contending. With Sale and Porcello, the Sox think they have a Big Two that can keep them in the hunt until the Big Three is reunited.

They say hope springs eternal on Opening Day. And there was plenty of optimism in the air Monday as the Patriots dropped by with five Super Bowl trophies and the Sox got the ‘W’ on a sun-splashed day at Fenway Park. It was a great start.

On Wednesday night, under the lights, the Sox hope to get a glimpse of a pitcher expected to make all the difference this season. They’re hoping Sale’s starts are appointment viewing, and that the big lefty helps them keep an appointment with October.

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

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/04/tom-caron-sale-looks-to-build-on-a-promising-opening-day/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1177129_113755-chris-sale.jpgBoston Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale tips his cap to cheering fans during Red Sox Home Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Boston. The Red Sox face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the baseball game. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Tue, 04 Apr 2017 21:07:20 +0000
Photos: Brady, Gronk frolic with jersey at Red Sox opener http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/04/bradys-jersey-stolen-again-only-this-time-at-fenway-by-gronk/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/04/bradys-jersey-stolen-again-only-this-time-at-fenway-by-gronk/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 13:16:04 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/04/bradys-jersey-stolen-again-only-this-time-at-fenway-by-gronk/ BOSTON — Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey was stolen again – this time by Rob Gronkowski in full view of 37,000 screaming Red Sox fans.

The New England Patriots quarterback was showing off the recently re-acquired uniform top during the pregame ceremony on opening day at Fenway Park on Monday when Gronkowski ripped it out of his hands. Brady chased him around the infield and playfully tackled him in right field.

The Patriots said it was the same jersey that had been stolen out of their locker room in Houston after the Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons in February.

“That was awesome seeing those guys out there,” said Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi, whose three-run homer propelled the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Pirates in a rematch of the first World Series, in 1903. “I grew up watching them and still do. It was cool to see them all out there.”

Brady got the jersey back at owner Robert Kraft’s home in suburban Brookline earlier Monday. “It took an international trip,” Kraft said in the video that was tweeted out on the team’s account.

The Patriots brought all five of their Vince Lombardi trophies out for the first pitch ceremony, coming out from behind a 37 foot-high American flag draped over the Green Monster. Joining Brady, Gronk and Kraft were James White, who scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl in overtime, and fellow running back Dion Lewis.

The other players wore their blue uniform tops, but Brady walked out in the white one from the Super Bowl before he pulled it off and began waving it around.

Gronkowski jumped behind him and snatched it away.

“It was fun. They were kind of making fun of the whole jersey-taking thing,” said Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who started the winning burst with a fifth-inning triple. “It was good seeing some champions out there. And they definitely know a lot about winning.”

Brady threw out the first pitch to Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia – like the Patriots quarterback, the longest tenured player on his team – before the two embraced. Even the Pirates enjoyed the pregame shenanigans.

“It was pretty hard not to,” said Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole. “Tom Brady is on the field, and he’s tackling Gronk. It’s a pretty special environment. I’ll probably forget everything after the fourth inning.”

The Patriots tweeted a video earlier on Monday showing Kraft presenting his star with two No. 12 Super Bowl jerseys that had been missing. (Another had disappeared after the 2015 Super Bowl.)

Kraft thanked the authorities who found the jerseys while searching the property of Mexican media executive Martin Mauricio Ortega. He has not been charged.

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On Baseball: Benintendi is mature beyond his years http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/on-baseball-benintendi-is-mature-beyond-his-years/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/on-baseball-benintendi-is-mature-beyond-his-years/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 01:21:58 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/on-baseball-benintendi-is-mature-beyond-his-years/ BOSTON — Andrew Benintendi added muscle in the offseason. But what still amazes are his nerves of steel.

Benintendi is a 22-year-old rookie. Really, he is.

Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole should have had the Red Sox left fielder chasing a curveball for strike three to end the fifth inning.

Benintendi had just fallen behind in the count, 1-2, on a 97-mph fastball. Boston had two runners on base. Benintendi had to be looking to swing, and swing quickly at Cole’s heat.

Cole came with a curveball and Benintendi stayed away for a 2-2 count.

“He has a short track record, we know, but there has never been evidence of panic, even in a two-strike situation,” said Red Sox Manager John Farrell.

Cole stood on the mound and looked in. Catcher Francisco Cervelli put down one finger and Cole gripped the ball for another four-seam fastball. This one came in at 98 mph.

It went out faster. Benintendi applied his Michelangelo swing – a thing of baseball beauty – and swatted it. The exit velocity was 103 mph as Benintendi’s bash sailed into the Pirates’ bullpen.

“His swing is so effortless and smooth, you can’t tell if he ever overswings the bat,” Farrell said.

“For a guy of his stature (5-foot-9), there is such great timing and fluidity to the swing, he creates easy power. And that was the case with that swing.”

That swing produced a three-run homer for a 5-0 lead and the eventual winning runs in Boston’s 5-3 victory Monday on Opening Day at Fenway Park.

And if we can offer this reminder: Benintendi was first promoted last year on May 16 – from Class A to the Portland Sea Dogs. He eventually reached Boston last season.

Now he is batting second in the Red Sox lineup – and producing.

Dustin Pedroia, who knows a little about high rookie expectations, sees a lot in Benintendi.

“The sky’s the limit on his potential,” Pedroia said. “His at-bats are very professional. He always controls the at-bat.

“He’s great in the outfield. He’s instinctive. Everything … it’s right in front of him. It’s a matter of going out and doing it.”

In the outfield, Benintendi may have saved the game in the seventh inning. With the bases loaded and one out, and the Red Sox leading 5-2, Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte smoked a line drive to left-center off Matt Barnes.

Benintendi got a good jump, ran it down and made a leaping catch, changing a multirun, extra-base hit into a sacrifice fly.

“I thought I had a good first step,” Benintendi said. “After that I was trying to time my jump. I was lucky enough to catch it.”

Benintendi sounded almost as nonchalant about his home run.

“Fastball in,” Benintendi remembered. “I thought the wind was going to hold it up a little bit, but I was fortunate enough that it went over.”

And how about the curveball before the home run? Benintendi shrugged. “I don’t remember.”

Red Sox fans will remember Benintendi.

There are so many expectations placed on him. He deflects them as well as other players before him.

Mookie Betts homered in the past two season openers. In 2015, all Betts talked about was the improvements he needed to make.

Ask Benintendi about his success and he smiles.

“You let it go in one ear and out the other,” he said. “It all comes down to playing well and winning.”

If Benintendi stays off the bad pitches and squares up fastballs like he did Monday, the Red Sox have a chance to win.

“He sees the ball extremely well. He’s got a true understanding of the strike zone,” Farrell said.

“Pretty special young player.”

Benintendi is the youngest Red Sox left fielder to start on Opening Day in 55 years. Carl Yastrzemski was 40 days younger than Benintendi was when he started in left in 1962.

Too early to make those kind of comparisons.

But, geez, the kid can swing the bat.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/on-baseball-benintendi-is-mature-beyond-his-years/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1176494_Pirates_Red_Sox_Baseball_8.jpgAndrew Benintendi celebrates his three-run homer with Red Sox teammate Sandy Leon in the fifth inning Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Fenway Park. The homer capped a five-run inning, and the Red Sox held on for a 5-3 win in their season opener. (Associated Press/Elise Amendola)Mon, 03 Apr 2017 22:27:17 +0000
Boston bullpen a work in progress http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/boston-bullpen-a-work-in-progress/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/boston-bullpen-a-work-in-progress/#respond Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:50:26 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/boston-bullpen-a-work-in-progress/ BOSTON — For all the good feelings that a five-run fifth inning produced for the Boston Red Sox in their season opener, things look hairy in the seventh. Matt Barnes allowed two inherited runners to score, making the score 5-3 with two runners on base.

With Robby Scott warming up, Barnes got out of the inning, striking out Andrew McCutchen.

Scott began the eighth with a one-pitch effort – getting lefty Gregory Polanco to ground out. Heath Hembree retired the next two batters. Closer Craig Kimbrel made things interesting, but got his first save.

But where was Joe Kelly or Robbie Ross in that seventh or eighth inning?

“The guys who have been throwing the ball well coming out of spring training were the ones on the mound before Kimbrel today,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

Farrell said the bullpen is in flux with newly-acquired setup man Tyler Thornburg out with a sore shoulder (and still five days away from even throwing). Farrell had to go with the hot hand.

Craig Kimbrel’s first season as Boston’s closer was the worst of his career. He struggled again Monday in the 2017 season-opener. Associated Press/Elise Amendola

“Without a lock-down eighth-inning guy, we’re going to have to mix and match,” Farrell said. “We have to settle into roles as quick as possible …

“You’d like to be able to assign an inning and let them run with it. But if need be, we have others guys to bail somebody out.”

So before relievers settle into roles, the pen looks like it could be in for a wild ride. Of course, Kimbrel adds to the excitement, like Monday when he allowed two base runners (double, hit-by-pitch) before closing it out.

Eventually, Farrell will have to call on Kelly, Ross and Fernando Abad.

“We’ll see how things unfold,” Farrell said.

WHEN BEN TAYLOR was called into Farrell’s office near the end of spring training, he figured he was headed to the minors.

“They told us they were going to give us an update on where we were going,” said Taylor, a reliever who finished last season with the Sea Dogs. “I was expecting Portland, maybe Pawtucket.

“To get the call to come here … can’t even describe it. This is going to be a special day.”

Taylor did not get into Monday’s game. He may only be up until the end of the week when Drew Pomeranz is expected to come off the disabled list.

THERE ARE QUESTIONS about Boston’s bullpen depth after the promotion of Taylor. Two relievers with major league experience were sent to Triple-A Pawtucket. Brandon Workman is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery in 2015, and Noe Ramirez was not consistent enough this spring. That Chandler Shepherd, Austin Maddox and Jamie Callaghan stayed in major league camp longer than Ramirez and Workman speaks volumes about who Farrell and company have confidence in.

BRIAN BUTTERFIELD WAS as excited as anyone about opening day. Butterfield, 59, of Standish, was able to coach third base for the Red Sox for the first time this year.

“I’ve been working all spring toward this game,” said Butterfield, who underwent knee replacement surgery in the offseason. He was not able to coach third base during spring training.

“I didn’t take bus trips. I didn’t hit fungoes. I worked toward this day.”

Butterfield was out hitting ground balls during batting practice. He had some experienced help, with Jason Varitek catching the infielders’ throws.

THE OTHER THIRD BASE coach Monday was Joey Cora, whom the Pirates promoted in the offseason. Cora, 51, a native of Puerto Rico, managed the Altoona Curve last year. When the Curve were in Portland last August, Cora spoke about the lack of Latin American managers in Major League Baseball. Cora had interviewed for major league managing job six times but, he believes, only because of MLB rules.

This is Cora’s first major league coaching job since he was Ozzie Guillen’s bench coach in Miami in 2012.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and players Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, James White and Dion Lewis display the team’s five Super Bowl trophies before the Red Sox opening day game. Associated Press/Steven Senne

THE OPENING CEREMONIES featured the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. After a series of highlights shown on the video board, owner Robert Kraft and players Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Dion Lewis and James White entered the field, each carrying one of New England’s five Super Bowl trophies.

Brady, who had his jersey stolen after the Super Bowl (and later recovered), held up that jersey to the crowd. Gronkowski took it out of Brady’s hands and ran around, with Brady giving chase. Brady tackled him in right field. Brady threw the ceremonial first pitch to Dustin Pedroia.

LEFT FIELD had a new occupant for the 10th straight opening day, although it appears Andrew Benintendi may have the job for a few years. Can you name the nine previous starting left fielders on opening day?

The nine are Brock Holt, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Carp, Jackie Bradley Jr., Cody Ross, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay and Manny Ramirez.

POMERANZ THREW six innings in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers, Florida. “Uptick in overall stuff. Encouraging day for him,” Farrell said.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/boston-bullpen-a-work-in-progress/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/02/1154341_979349-Kimbrel1.jpgCraig Kimbrel's first season as Boston's closer was the worst of his career, and 30 walks surrendered in 53 innings was a big part of that. The Red Sox will be counting on a bounce-back campaign in 2017.Mon, 03 Apr 2017 21:27:56 +0000
Benintendi homer sparks Red Sox in season opener http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/benintendi-homer-sparks-red-sox-in-season-opener/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/benintendi-homer-sparks-red-sox-in-season-opener/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 21:17:37 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/benintendi-homer-sparks-red-sox-in-season-opener/ BOSTON — With one out remaining in the bottom of the fifth inning, Boston’s Rick Porcello had allowed three hits, the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole one.

“Both guys were throwing a heck of a game,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.

It only took five batters to change that, as the Red Sox got to Cole and ended up with a 5-3 win on Opening Day Monday afternoon before a capacity crowd of 36,594 at Fenway Park in their first game since David Ortiz’s retirement.

Now, back to that fifth inning, with two outs:

 Jackie Bradley tripled.

 Pablo Sandoval beat out an infield single to score Bradley. (Yes, you read that right; the slimmed-down Panda got it in gear).

 Catcher Sandy Leon singled – on a bunt.

 Dustin Pedroia singled in Sandoval from second … yes, from second base.

 Andrew Benintendi capped the rally with a three-run homer and a 5-0 lead.

Porcello, who won his first Opening Day start, allowed three runs on six hits over 61/3 innings.

Cole was working on a one-hitter after he retired the first two batters in the fifth.

“They were matching pitch for pitch,” Farrell said.

Well, not exactly. Cole was cranking up his fastball to 97, 98 and 99 mph. Porcello’s fastball dipped below 90 mph in the later innings, but he mixed in his slider and curve. He walked one and struck out five.

“He stayed ahead in the count with everything,” Leon said.

Porcello was backed with some good defense, including Bradley’s hustle into the triangle to catch a fly ball just before he pushed off the wall.

“I’ve seen so much from him I feel like it’s routine,” said Benintendi, who made his own stellar catch in left field in the seventh.

But could Boston’s bats back up Porcello?

Bradley woke up Fenway with his triple off the right-field wall. Sandoval’s grounder was to the shortstop-third base hole. The throw to first was high, but Sandoval had it beat anyway.

Leon came up and the Pirates went into a shift toward the right side. Leon, the No. 9 batter, had one thought.

“We got Petey and Benintendi coming up. Just get on base for those guys,” said Leon, who pushed a bunt down the third-base line for an easy single.

Pedroia’s single scored Sandoval for a 2-0 lead. Then Benintendi, the player who rose from Class A ball, through Double-A Portland to Boston last year, faced a 2-2 count. He crushed a 98 mph fastball into the Pirates’ bullpen in right field.

“We’re able to bunch a number of two-out base hits together – with Benny getting the big blow,” Farrell said.

Cole, who needed only 50 pitches for the first four innings, threw 26 in the fifth and was done for the day.

Porcello lost his shutout in the seventh. He gave up three hits, including Josh Harrison’s RBI single, and left the game with one out and a 5-1 lead.

“I’m satisfied with the win,” said Porcello.

Matt Barnes relieved and allowed both inherited runners to score on an RBI single (Jordy Mercer), walk and sacrifice fly (Starling Marte).

The sacrifice fly was actually a line drive toward left-center that Benintendi made a leaping catch on.

Relievers Robby Scott and Heath Hembree took care of a 1-2-3 eighth.

Closer Craig Kimbrel allowed a leadoff double in the ninth. After two strikeouts, he hit a batter, before getting Marte to pop out for his first save.

The Red Sox and Pirates are off Tuesday and resume the series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday in Chris Sale’s Boston debut.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/benintendi-homer-sparks-red-sox-in-season-opener/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/AP17093714170716.jpgBoston Red Sox's Andrew Benintendi hits a three-run homer in front of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) during the fifth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Tue, 04 Apr 2017 10:58:08 +0000
High expectations for Red Sox in opener today at Fenway http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/high-expectations-red-sox-opener-today-fenway/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/high-expectations-red-sox-opener-today-fenway/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 13:33:45 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1176330 BOSTON — The field is amazingly green. Baseball is coming.

Forget that Saturday snowstorm. It dropped only two inches on Boston, and snow was nowhere to be found Sunday at Fenway Park. The only noticeable white came from the bases and baselines.

The Red Sox worked out Sunday, preparing for Monday’s season opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Game time is 2 p.m., when it is expected to be a brisk, but playable 49 degrees.

That’s quite a contrast from those Florida spring training games in 80-degree weather.

“You know what you’re getting into, coming up here,” said Rick Porcello, the 2016 Cy Young winner who gets the start Monday. “I’m pretty familiar with (the weather), kind of grew up pitching in it my entire life.”

Porcello grew up in New Jersey and then pitched for the Detroit Tigers. What he’s not used to is getting the ball on opening day. His last opening-day start was at Seton Hall Prep High School. But Porcello, who was 22-4 last year, said there is no extra pressure.

“Where our pressure lies is our expectations for ourselves as a team,” he said. “We know (we’ve) got a good ball club and we have to get it done on the field. Those are exciting expectations.”

Manager John Farrell shares the excitement.

“We have high expectation,” Farrell said. “We love the group that’s here. “It’s a very diverse lineup. It’s balanced. There are guys in the rotation that are going to establish what we need on a nightly basis.

“While there are still some moving parts to our roster, this is a team that is certainly built to win.”

The moving parts include a pitching staff that’s missing starter David Price (left elbow strain) and two relievers to begin the season.

But the core of the team will be in uniform Monday, looking to improve on last year when the Red Sox won 93 games but were swept by the Indians in the division series.

“We didn’t play as well as we could have played. We also tip our hats to Cleveland, and how well they played,” Porcello said. “You never want to come up short on your goals, and that’s what hurts about last season.

“But that’s over with. This is a completely different year. We can’t have our minds preset on what we’re going to do in the postseason. We have to go through the entire process, the entire grind of the regular season … nothing is set in stone that we’re going to get back there.

“We have to do the same thing all over again this year. It’s a completely new journey.”

That journey begins at 2 p.m. Monday.

MITCH MORELAND will likely play first base after being quarantined for two days because of the flu. He worked out Sunday. No other players currently have the flu, but assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez and bullpen catcher Mike Brenly were under quarantine.

Moreland’s availability is important, because Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) is limited to the DH role until his ailing shoulder improves.

IN PITCHING NEWS, Stephen Wright threw six innings in an extended spring training game Sunday and is scheduled for Friday’s game in Detroit.

Drew Pomeranz, who is on the disabled list because of a forearm strain, is scheduled to pitch Monday in Fort Myers, Florida and is expected to come off the disabled list for the April 9 game in Detroit.

Price has extended his long-toss program to 110 feet, according to Farrell, who said he would like Price to get to 150 feet before returning to the mound.

BRIAN BUTTERFIELD, who underwent knee replacement surgery in the off-season and spent the winter recuperating at his home in Standish, will be back in the third-base coach’s box Monday. Butterfield spent spring training as the bench coach while still on the mend.

ANEURY TAVAREZ is back with the Red Sox and has been assigned to the Portland Sea Dogs. Tavarez, 24, an outfielder, batted .335 for Portland last season. In the off-season, the Orioles selected Tavarez in the Rule 5 draft, but he didn’t make Baltimore’s 25-man roster, so the Orioles had to send Tavarez back to the Red Sox. He will join the Sea Dogs on Tuesday when they report to Portland, in time for their season opener Thursday at Hadlock Field against the Reading Fightin Phils.

OPENING DAY is traditionally a day when some enterprising fans miss work or school to watch the game. Porcello never played hooky, however. “My mother was an English teacher, so that wasn’t part of the program.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/high-expectations-red-sox-opener-today-fenway/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/03/1167867_888768_porc1_2.jpgBoston's Rick Porcello, the American League Cy Young Award winner last season, has been named the Red Sox starter for Opening Day. The Red Sox open the season on April 3 against Pittsburgh at Fenway Park (Associated Presso/Michael Dwyer)Mon, 03 Apr 2017 11:00:56 +0000
On Baseball: With you-know-who gone, Pedroia is Boston’s leader http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/with-you-know-who-gone-pedroia-is-bostons-leader/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/with-you-know-who-gone-pedroia-is-bostons-leader/#respond Mon, 03 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1176199 BOSTON — It was 12 years ago when Dustin Pedroia strutted into the old Portland Sea Dogs clubhouse in the Expo, 21 years old and confident – brash at times – ready to prove himself and win baseball games.

Pedroia is still confident, although his words come out in even tones. He’s proven himself, but there are still ballgames to win.

“The expectations are always high,” Pedroia said Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, 24 hours before the Red Sox would open their 2017 season.

It will be Pedroia’s 11th straight season opener as the starting second baseman. The only Red Sox player with a longer streak at one position is Carl Yastrzemski, who played 12 straight openers in left field. (Bobby Doerr played 13 openers at second base, but not continuously because of his military service in 1945).

“For the last decade, he’s been a bedrock here,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said of Pedroia.

Pedroia seemed dumbfounded that such statistics are kept.

“I guess I’m kind of like a housefly. You can’t get rid of me,” he said. “I don’t know, man. I’m just trying to show up every year and play. I enjoy playing. I enjoy playing here. It’s a great place when you win, and we plan on doing that.”

Pedroia is coming off his best season since 2011; he hit .318 with an .825 OPS in 2016. In the off-season, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He needed little time to get ready in spring training, batting .463 with a 1.037 OPS in 17 games.

Pedroia, who has four Gold Gloves, is still producing. He’s no longer the talented kid who was trying to prove himself when he tore it up in Portland (.324/.917) – now he’s a veteran. He has been one of the team’s leaders for several years, but now he’s the top dog, so to speak.

“He’s been a cornerstone player and his importance to the club continues to grow,” Farrell said. “With … (pause) … as players have moved on …”

Allow me to interpret Farrell’s pause: With David Ortiz gone, all eyes are on Pedroia.

Farrell continued: “Even a guy of his stature in Boston, he’s still growing daily as the leader of our team, and is more and more comfortable in that role.”

Ortiz, of course, is now retired. All young Red Sox players talked about Big Papi taking them under his care. He instructed and he motivated while also slugging the Red Sox to victory.

“You can’t replace David. That’s obvious,” Pedroia said. “You saw what he did his entire career here. It’s going to take everybody to kind of step up in different roles and overcome his absence – and play together. We plan on doing that.”

Pedroia will be one to remind teammates of that plan.

“Our goal is to win the World Series,” he said. “It’s going to be the goal of the Boston Red Sox when I’m gone. That’s something the guys before me started and you keep passing it along.

“You try to win every single game in this environment.”

With Ortiz gone, Pedroia is the elder statesman – the last remaining player from the 2007 World Series team.

“Everything changes,” Pedroia said. “It doesn’t matter who is here or for what period of time. You have to go play together and execute.

“We’re all going to miss (Ortiz). But he’s not here anymore. We have to kind of turn the page and go on.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/03/with-you-know-who-gone-pedroia-is-bostons-leader/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1176199_97860-ped1.jpgDustin Pedroia, entering his 11th full season with the Red Sox, is now the team's elder statesman – the only player who has been on the roster longer than five years.Sun, 02 Apr 2017 21:52:26 +0000
Season preview: Red Sox are the favorite, but there are questions http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/02/red-sox-are-the-favorite-but-there-are-questions/ http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/02/red-sox-are-the-favorite-but-there-are-questions/#respond Sun, 02 Apr 2017 08:00:00 +0000 http://www.pressherald.com/?p=1175863 The predictions are streaming in. The Boston Red Sox are trending. Just check your Insta-Chat or Snappy-Gram accounts. Everyone is all a-Twitter

The Red Sox are tops.

MVP favorite: Mookie Betts.

Cy Young candidates: Chris Sale and Rick Porcello.

Shoo-in for Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi.

Repeat as American League East champions? There is little doubt.

So, why Red Sox fan, are you so concerned?

I know, you are worried, unable to shed that annual New England angst about the Fenway Nine.

I’ll make a list of woe for you:

David Price has an elbow that might finally give way to the workload he’s carried the last seven years. He’s on the disabled list with hopes for a May return. But who knows?

 Drew Pomeranz, for whom the Red Sox traded away the game’s best pitching prospect, is doing a fine job of filling in for Clay Buchholz; you know, lots of talent, but oft-injured and ineffective.

 David Ortiz is retired. And Boston is going to miss a lot more than his infectious smile; like that major league-leading 1.021 OPS.

 Hanley Ramirez has yet to play first base this spring because of a sore right shoulder. Being a full-time designated hitter would not be the worst thing, but Ramirez’s health is always a concern.

 Pablo Sandoval looks better but can he halt a steady decline in production? He did bat .339 this spring, but .250 batting right-handed.

 The last two set-up relievers Dave Dombrowski has traded for are on the disabled list. Carson Smith underwent Tommy John surgery last year and there is hope for a return this summer (effectiveness unknown). Tyler Thornburg, for whom Dombrowski traded Travis Shaw and two prospects, is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder (called a shoulder “impingement” which used to be called bursitis).

We could go on with the worries – don’t think we’re not aware of the thin rotation depth – but that should suffice for now.

With all of that, how can experts be so pro-Boston?

THE OPTIMISM begins with Chris Sale. Just think if Dombrowski did not trade for him, how the angst around here would have doubled.

Chris Sale: Stud of the staff, or not worth the prospects? Associated Press/David Goldman

Instead, Boston has another ace. Over the past five seasons, Sale’s 3.04 ERA is best among league starters, and his 26.2 WAR is second only to Price’s 26.4.

Add to that Porcello (22-4, 3.15 ERA last year) and Boston has a 1-2 punch. The intangible is Price, who could make it a 1-2-3 trifecta.

The rest of the rotation includes All-Stars Steven Wright and Pomeranz, and the ever-promising Eduardo Rodriguez. Pomeranz has pitched over 100 innings once (1702/3 last year). Wright’s high was 1562/3 last year, and Rodriguez has never pitched more than 1212/3 major league innings in a season.

And, in case you’re wondering, Buchholz had a 6.65 ERA this spring for the Phillies, including five earned runs in five innings on Friday.

THE OUTFIELD is a reason for the Red Sox being must-see viewing. Not only will there be highlight catches, but plenty of production.

Betts, 24, is headed to stardom, if he continues the pace from his breakout 2016 season – All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, second in MVP voting and in WAR (9.5) to leader Mike Trout. He led the Red Sox in batting average (.318) and stolen bases (26) and was second to Ortiz in home runs (31), RBI (113) and OPS (.897).

And there are no worries that this all goes to Betts’ head. Those who knew him in Portland (2014) remember a humble player intent on always improving.

Jackie Bradley ranked third in WAR (4.8) among American League center fielders. Bradley batted .267/.835 OPS with 26 home runs. He would like to cut down on his streakiness and strikeouts (team-leading 143) and improve against left-handed pitching (.244/.673).

Benintendi’s presence could be huge for Boston. Last year, using Brock Holt, Chris Young and Benintendi, the Red Sox production in left field was decent (a .759 OPS, good for sixth in the league).

Andrew Benintendi: Rookie of the year, or rough return? Associated Press/Alex Gallardo

But imagine how Benintendi will improve that if he plays a whole season? Last year, in a season he began in Class A, Benintendi batted .295/.835 in 34 major league games.

When Benintendi played in Portland (.295/.872 in 63 games), he showed a mature approach, adjusting to pitchers and avoiding bad streaks. He demonstrated the same in Boston.

One concern is that Boston is already counting on him too much – possibly batting him second in the lineup – instead of easing him in. Plus, there is the adjustment to the quirky left field at Fenway (Benintendi plays all out, and those Fenway walls are not forgiving).

THE INFIELD has stability up the middle with Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts, although Bogaerts’ slide in the second half of last year (.253/.729) is worth noting.

Sandoval is the question mark. Boston may need to platoon him against left-handers, but there are few options (and Josh Rutledge is currently out with a hamstring strain). If Sandoval is even average, that will be an improvement over last year – Boston ranked last in the league in OPS from third base (.686).

The first base plan has shifted to a full emphasis on Mitch Moreland because of Ramirez’ shoulder limitations. Last year, Moreland batted .233/.720, with 22 home runs for Texas. One hope is Moreland’s success in his few games (14) at Fenway – batting .341/1.061.

The intangible here is Holt, who will be everywhere, especially third base if Sandoval falters.

THE BULLPEN looks fine with closer Craig Kimbrel, and key contributors Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Robbie Ross. The return of Thornburg and Smith could be a boost.

Kimbrel (3.40, 31 saves) needs to be better in non-save situations (5.12 ERA, 1.50 WHIP).

CATCHING IS good and deep. Christian Vazquez appears completely recovered from Tommy John surgery in 2015 and Sandy Leon is coming off a career year (.310/.845).

FROM THE MINORS, three players could be counted on soon – pitcher Kyle Kendrick, catcher Blake Swihart and first baseman Sam Travis.

Kendrick, 32, a nine-year big league pro, has not pitched in the majors since 2015. Signed to a minor league contract, Kendrick impressed in the spring (4-0, 2.18) and will get a call before Brian Johnson (0-2, 5.40) or Henry Owens (0-3, 15.95).

Swihart is not as defensively sound as either Vazquez or Leon, but may be the best hitter of the three. He remains an attractive option.

Travis had another great spring (.318/991), feasting on fastballs. If he shows consistency in Pawtucket, Boston could use another right-handed bat.

PREDICTION TIME: Last year, I predicted 87 victories for Boston, and the Red Sox won 93, along with the AL East title. How to figure out 2017? Add Sale, minus Ortiz and an uncertain Price. I come up with one less win, for a 92-70 record.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: @ClearTheBases

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http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/02/red-sox-are-the-favorite-but-there-are-questions/feed/ 0 http://multifiles.pressherald.com/uploads/sites/4/2017/04/1175863_868966_benintendi1.jpgRookie of the year, or rough return?Mon, 03 Apr 2017 09:38:09 +0000