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John Lackey bounces back, sticks through eight innings

04.24.14 at 12:33 am ET
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John Lackey knew what he needed to do tonight against the Yankees.

Following two sticky starts against the Yankees and Orioles where he allowed six runs over 5 2/3 and 5 1/3 innings, respectively, Lackey needed to turn in a strong performance to help save a taxed bullpen. Lackey needed to be the pitcher he was in his first two starts of the season, when he allowed a total of two earned runs over 13 innings pitched.

But Lackey wasn’t focused on turning around his own individual performance. Instead, Lackey focused in on putting forth a performance that would give the bullpen a rest and set up the rest of the pitching staff moving forward over the next couple of days.

Lackey did just that.

“I really wasn’t thinking about [turning things around],” Lackey said. “I was thinking about trying to give the bullpen rest, for sure. We’ve got some guys down there that have been worked pretty good the last week or so and we’re trying to give those guys a little bit of a breather and win a ballgame.”

Through his eight-inning outing, Lackey tarred the corners pitch after pitch with strikes, befuddling the Yankee lineup at the plate all night. The hurler struck out a season-high 11 hitters for his third win of the season. The outing marked his highest strikeout output since July 26, 2013 versus Colorado when he punched 12 Rockies.

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Joe Girardi, Michael Pineda, Brian Cashman react to ejection of Yankees starter due to presence of pine tar

04.24.14 at 12:26 am ET
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PinedaPineTarFollowing the Red Sox‘ 5-1 win over the Yankees, the majority of the conversation centered on New York starter Michael Pineda being ejected  in the second inning after being caught with pine tar on the right side of his neck.

With Pineda’s April 10 start against the Red Sox still fresh in most everyone’s mind — with the righty having been seen with a glob of pine tar on his wrist before removing the substance in the fifth inning before the Red Sox could act — there was little room for interpretation.

After the ejection, Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Pineda and New York general manager Brian Cashman didn’t question the ruling, or the objection made by Red Sox manager John Farrell. Here is what they had to say:

GIRARDI

Did you know he had it on?: “I did not. He did not have it on when the game started. I guess from what I understand he had a hard time gripping the ball and put it on in the second inning. Obviously that’€™s a problem and we’€™re going to have to deal with the circumstances and Michael’€™s going to have to deal with it and we’€™ll get through it.”

Did you see it on him? “No, I did not, I never saw it on Michael, so. I didn’€™t look at Michael. Gerry told me he did, said he had something on his neck and I just said, ‘€˜OK,’€™ got Phelpsie ready and worried about trying to keep the score the same.”

Michael Pineda is examined for pine tar by home plate umpire Gerry Davis. (AP)

Michael Pineda is examined for pine tar by home plate umpire Gerry Davis. (AP)

What about the April 10 game? “Obviously we have discussions with all our pitchers on things they’€™re dealing with, that’€™s what we do. We don’€™t ignore situations, we handle situations and something Michael chose to do after the first inning, he had a hard time gripping the baseball. Conditions are not conducive to gripping a baseball. Unknown to us he put it on and went out there.”

Surprised at his judgement?: “I mean, it’€™s a young kid. I don’€™t think he’€™s trying to do anything to cheat, I think he’€™s trying to just go out there and compete. It’€™s unfortunate it happened but like I said we’€™ll deal with it we’€™ll get through this, it’€™s a little bump in the road and we’€™ll be all right.”

Upset?: “I’€™m not going to get mad at him. The kid’€™s doing the best he can, he’€™s trying to compete, and that’€™s what he’€™s trying to do. I don’€™t think he’€™s trying to get an edge on anyone. He’€™s a young man that’€™s been through a lot, been through a lot of rehab and has worked his tail end to get off to this start and he made an error in judgment.”

Where do you go from here?: “It’€™s something we have to deal with. There are other things that are going to come up in the course of the year that we’€™ll find a way to get through it.”

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Red Sox reaction to Michael Pineda: ‘Something has to be said’

04.24.14 at 12:06 am ET
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John Farrell had no choice Wednesday night at Fenway Park. There was no room for looking the other way from the greasy skin of Michael Pineda this time.

After watching the Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda blatantly used pine tar on his hand in a 4-1 win on April 10 at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox manager said he had no choice but to call for home plate umpire Gerry Davis to inspect the right side of Pineda’s neck in the second inning Wednesday at Fenway Park.

What Davis found was an obvious streak of pine tar used by the pitcher to gain an advantage on the grip of the baseball. The blatant use of pine tar represented an obvious violation of rule 8.02 (4) of applying a foreign substance to the ball and Pineda was immediately ejected. After being warned by MLB after his previous violation in New York, Pineda faces an almost certain suspension of at least eight games from Major League Baseball for the latest infraction.

John Farrell explained his case in detail after Boston’s 5-1 win Wednesday night:

“In the second inning it looked from the dugout that there was a substance on his neck,” Farrell said. “You could see it, I could see it from the dugout. It was confirmed by a number of camera angles in the ballpark, and given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something.

“I fully respect on a cold night you’re trying to get a little bit of a grip. But when it’s that obvious, something has got to be said.”

Farrell continued: “I can say our awareness was heightened, given what we’ve seen in the past, and it was confirmed today.”

Farrell was asked if he fears the Yankees retaliating and asking umpires to check Red Sox pitchers on the mound. Clay Buchholz was accused by Toronto broadcasters early in the 2013 season of using suntan lotion for the same purpose.

“We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that. As obvious as this was, I felt like he needed to be checked at the time.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, Michael Pineda, New York Yankees

Closing Time: John Lackey sticks around for eight innings in leading Red Sox past Yankees

04.23.14 at 10:23 pm ET
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John Lackey came into Wednesday looking for a bounce back start after two straight shaky outings where the righty gave up six runs in less than five innings pitched. Sans the help of pine tar, Lackey delivered a dynamite eight inning, one-run performance, helping lift the Red Sox to a 5-1 win over the Yankees.

Through his eight innings, Lackey dominated the Yankees to the tune of a season-high eleven strikeouts on seven hits. Lackey consistently pounded the outside part of the plate with all of his pitches, throwing 76 percent (111 pitches, 84 strikes) of his pitches for strikes on the evening.

The stickiest situation all night for the hurler came in the fifth inning, when Yankees right fielder Brett Gardner started the inning off with a single and was moved to third base by Kelly Johnson‘s ground rule double. Lackey quickly responded to the hits by striking out Jacoby Ellsbury and forcing Derek Jeter to ground out to Dustin Pedroia.

The Yankees‘ lone run came in the sixth inning when Alfonso Soriano drove in Carlos Beltran on a sacrifice fly. The Yankees‘ one run is tied the lowest run total a Red Sox opponent has scored this year (The Texas Rangers also scored one run in a 5-1 win on April 7).

Lackey’s eight inning performance was incredibly important for the Red Sox bullpen, which has thrown 14.2 innings in the three games prior to tonight’s contest.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

  • Grady Sizemore started the home half of the first inning with a standup triple into the right field corner, breaking his 0-for-13 streak on the homestand. Sizemore was 1-for-26 before the three bagger. The triple was Sizemore’€™s first since June of 2011. Sizemore scored on a Dustin Pedroia single up the middle.
  • The Red Sox scored two runs in the first inning for the first time this season.
  • This time, the Red Sox got him. Michael Pineda was ejected in the middle of second inning forusing pine tar. Home plate umpire Gerry Davis ejected the tall righty after touching a shiny area on Pineda’s neck. Major League Baseball will review the incident on Thursday and former Yankees manager and current MLB Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre will determine the length of Pineda’s suspension.
  • PinedaPineTar
  • Mike Napoli continued his strong week with an RBI double in the third inning that bounced fair down the right field line and disappeared into the stands. During the ensuing confusion, Napoli ran home because Gardner and the umpires could not find the ball. The play was subsequently ruled a ground rule double. Since April 13, Napoli is hitting .342 with a .385 on-base percentage with four doubles, three home runs and six RBI.
  • Dustin Pedroia continued his recent hot streak with two singles, two runs scored and one RBI. Since receiving a cortisone shot in his left wrist on April 15, Pedroia has hit .352 (34 at-bats) with a .450 on-base percentage with six doubles and three RBI.
  • Brock Holt turned in another strong performance with an RBI single and two walks. Since being recalled from Pawtucket on April 18, Holt is hitting .400 with four RBI with a .458 on-base percentage.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

  • Catcher A.J. Pierzynski swung through a hit-and-run that resulted in Mike Napoli being thrown out at second base.

Michael Pineda ejected from game in second inning for apparently using pine tar

04.23.14 at 8:00 pm ET
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Yankees starter Michael Pineda was ejected from his start against the Red Sox Wednesday night after home plate umpire Gerry Davis determined the pitcher had what appeared to be a significant amount of pine tar on the right side of his neck.

Davis was alerted to the substance by Red Sox manager John Farrell  with two outs and Grady Sizemore at bat, with the righty having already thrown 40 pitches and given up two first-inning runs. The umpire proceeded to come out to the mound, checking Pineda’s glove and hand before identifying the pine tar on his neck.

Cameras showed Pineda did not have the substance on his neck in the first inning.

Rule 8.02 of in the Major League Rulebook states: ‘€œThe pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.’€ (Click here for the rule.)

Pineda had come under scrutiny in his previous start against the Red Sox (April 10), possessing what appeared to be a significant amount of pine tar on his wrist. (For a recap of that incident, click here.)

Farrell had said after the previous appearance that the Red Sox didn’t notice the discoloration until it was too late, with Pineda having cleaned off the substance when coming on for the fifth inning.

Michael Phelps replaced Pineda, striking out Sizemore to end the second.

Red Sox notebook: John Farrell explains Daniel Nava’s demotion; Shane Victorino just about ready

04.23.14 at 7:32 pm ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

While his demotion to Pawtucket was not unforeseen, Daniel Nava was still disappointed to hear after last night’€™s 9-2 loss to the Yankees that he would be taking the bus back to Triple-A.

Nava started the season off struggling, hitting .149 with two home runs and three RBI while posting a .240 on-base percentage. Nava’€™s weak performance combined with the team’€™s need to carry an extra reliever in the bullpen led to 31-year-old’€™s trip back down to the minors.

‘€œGiven the number of innings by our last five days, we needed to add another arm, some help out there,’€ Red Sox manager John Farrell said. ‘€œI felt like we needed to get Daniel Nava going again. His struggles at the plate are evident. We’re just trying to get him back to the player of confidence that we’ve seen in the past.’€

Farrell believes that Nava needed to find his approach back at the plate after the outfielder struggled to find his typically patient approach at the plate out of the gate this season.

‘€œThere needs to be more of a consistent two strike approach,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œThere were times where he tried to hit with a little bit too much power instead of that hitter of average that had occasional home runs. He also needs to hit from the right side of the plate as well.’€

Part of the reason the team sent down Nava was a result of the outfielder’€™s dip in confidence.

‘€œPlayers’ confidence ebbs and flows,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œWe’ve got to get a guy that was pivotal to our success a year ago right at the plate and it’s going to take some time to get some at-bats to do just that.’€

Farrell says that Nava was still disappointed with the demotion to Pawtucket, although the outfielder’s recent performance suggested a potential demotion.

‘€œI can’t say that it was disbelief but it was a disappointing message to deliver considering his contributions last year in combination with the need for another reliever,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œMaybe deep down, he agreed with it and knew that it was a necessity.’€

Wilson ready to step up and contribute

In response to the a thin bullpen that pitched 14.1 innings over the last three games, the Red Sox called up reliever Alex Wilson. Wilson pitched in 26 games in 2013, posting a 4.88 ERA with 22 strikeouts, 1.735 WHIP and a 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Wilson is excited for the opportunity to contribute to the major league squad.

‘€œI’m throwing the ball pretty well,’€ Wilson said. ‘€œI’m pretty comfortable. I’m in a good spot right now. It’s always great to come back and be the first guy called up this year, it feels good.’€

Farrell said the reason that team brought up Wilson stemmed from the abundance of innings the relievers have pitched over the last couple of games.

‘€œHopefully we get through tonight in good shape and our bullpen gets back to normal rest,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œWe typically don’t like to carry an eight-man bullpen so we’d like to get back to thirteen position players if we can.’€

Farrell also added that the team brought Wilson over starting pitcher Allen Webster due to the team’€™s desire not to mess with Webster’€™s starting routing in Pawtucket.

‘€œWe felt like that a two inning reliever is what we needed and that’s what Wilson’s done,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œFamiliarity of role. That’s why Alex is here.’€

While his current stint with the Red Sox is expected to be short, Wilson is just glad to have an opportunity with the team.

‘€œJust keep working every day,’€ Wilson said. ‘€œIn the long haul, I’m still playing baseball as my job so I’m glad to be doing and I’m glad to be here.’€

Victorino in Boston during scheduled off day

Outfielder Shane Victorino is inching closer every day to making his regular season debut with the Red Sox after suffering a right hamstring injury at the end of Spring Training. After going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts for Pawtucket last night against the Rochester Red Wings, Victorino was spotted in the clubhouse before the game. Farrell said that today is a scheduled off day for the 33-year-old.

‘€œPart of the plan was to have today be an off day and we weren’t going to adjust if he wasn’t active here,’€ Farrell said. ‘€œHe’ll go through the pre-game work today with us.’€

Farrell would not hint whether or not the team will activate Victorino for tomorrow’€™s game.

Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore leads off, Mike Carp in left field

04.23.14 at 3:57 pm ET
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With Daniel Nava having been sent down by the Red Sox on Wednesday, Mike Carp will get a start in left field against Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda. Grady Sizemore will hit leadoff — a responsibility that he is likely to part with starting Thursday, with the anticipated return of Shane Victorino from the disabled list.

Nava went 1-for-3 with a homer against Pineda earlier this year; Carp has yet to face him, while Sizemore is 0-for-3 against the hulking righty. Pineda will face off against John Lackey, who will be looking to improve upon his prior start against the Yankees in which he allowed a career-high four homers.

For complete batter vs. pitcher matchup histories, click here.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Mike Carp, LF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Brock Holt, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

John Lackey, RHP

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