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Closing Time: Rich Hill pitches well, but Red Sox offense stymied as Yankees book passage to playoffs

10.01.15 at 10:22 pm ET
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John Ryan Murphy of the Yankees slides in safely before Sandy Leon can apply the tag in the second on Thursday. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

John Ryan Murphy of the Yankees slides in safely before Sandy Leon can apply the tag in the second inning Thursday. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Rich Hill‘s remarkable September didn’t quite carry over to October, but the left-hander has nothing to feel bad about after the Red Sox dropped a 4-1 decision to the Yankees on Thursday.

Barely two months ago, Hill was toiling with the independent-league Long Island Ducks. Now, after making his first four starts in the big leagues since 2009, the Milton native has forced himself into the discussion to at least get a shot at somebody’s rotation next spring — maybe even with the Red Sox.

Dominant in his first three starts this season (2-0, 1.17 ERA, 30 Ks in 23 IP), Hill finished the season on a solid note, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings against the Yankees. He struck out six, including his final three batters of the season — Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Chris Young.

Hill’s only mistakes came in the second, when Beltran led off with a homer, and a pair of walks set up Brendan Ryan for a two-out RBI single to left. Otherwise, the Yankees managed virtually nothing off Hill.

The only problem is the Red Sox could do even less with Yankees counterpart CC Sabathia, who allowed six hits and a run in five innings before yielding to Adam Warren, who shut down the Red Sox over three scoreless innings of relief.

The Red Sox’ best chance at doing some damage came in the seventh, when Josh Rutledge led off with a single and Mookie Betts sent Chris Young back to the left field fence to haul in his long drive. Betts had been bidding for his fourth homer of the series.

With the victory, the Yankees clinched a wild card berth and booked passage to the postseason for the first time since 2012, when Derek Jeter broke his ankle during a sweep by the Tigers in the American League Championship Series.

Red Sox notes: Don’t expect Xander Bogaerts to bat leadoff in quest for 200 hits; some downtime for David Ortiz

10.01.15 at 8:19 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

A couple of playing time notes with the Red Sox concluding their penultimate series in New York on Thursday night.

Interim manager Torey Lovullo doesn’t expect to move shortstop Xander Bogaerts into the leadoff hole in a bid to help him reach 200 hits for the season. Bogaerts, who began the night with 194 hits, hasn’t hit anywhere other than third since Aug. 6.

“We have such good lineup continuity, I wouldn’t want to put one guy before the team at this point,” Lovullo said before the game. “I know this team would step aside for him and do that, it’s the kind of group we have right now. But I feel like it’s moving in a really good direction right now and we probably need to stay away from that.”

Also, no determination has been made on the playing time of veteran David Ortiz during the final weekend, though Lovullo intimated that Ortiz has basically given more than enough with the season drawing to a close. He didn’t start on Thursday because of general soreness.

“He’s had a really, really good season,” Lovullo said. “And I don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s going to run up against an injury, out of fairness to him. I’ve been saying all along, he’s played through days off, he played through a lot of days off in that little run that he was on.

“Chasing 500 home runs was bigger than any day off for me and I just wanted to make sure the medical team would sign off on it, David wanted to play, and just kept playing him through those days. So he deserves this time down.”

Lovullo said that if Ortiz plays again, he’d likely be replaced at some point during each game for a pinch runner or pinch hitter.

“I think it’s fair to him, to get him off his feet,” Lovullo said.

(Rob Bradford contributed to this report from New York.)

Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia denies feud with Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, who’s just confused by whole thing

10.01.15 at 11:54 am ET
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CC Sabathia often shows emotion on the mound. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

CC Sabathia often shows emotion on the mound. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

File this under Mystifying Feuds: CC Sabathia vs. Jackie Bradley Jr.

When the Red Sox played the Yankees in New York earlier this summer, the YES Network ran a fascinating montage of Sabathia basically losing his mind every time Bradley finished an at-bat — gesturing at him, swearing at him, and in one instance, drilling him before mockingly asking, “Are you OK?” as he took first base.

As competitive as Sabathia is, it certainly looks like there’s something more there, so what is it?

“I don’t know,” Bradley told WEEI.com recently. “I don’t. I wish I did. I know he’s a competitor, and I’m a competitor as well. Maybe it’s just his way of competing, but I don’t think anything against it. I’m still trying to do my job, make it hard on him, and he’s trying to make it hard on me.

“I’ve noticed it, but I don’t feed into it or give it any attention. That’s something you’ll have to ask him. I don’t have any animosity or anything. He’d be the person to ask if he has something against me.”

OK, then. How about it, CC –€“ what do you have against Bradley?

“I don’t have anything to say about that,” Sabathia told WEEI.com recently. “I have nothing against him. I don’t.”

Told that Bradley thought maybe it had something to do with competitiveness, Sabathia nodded.

“That’s exactly what it is,” Sabathia said. “I want to beat you. I don’t have nothing against him, no.”

This is relevant because Sabathia pitches in Yankee Stadium on Thursday night with New York trying to clinch a playoff berth, and Bradley will presumably be in the lineup for the Red Sox.

The next hit Bradley gets off Sabathia will be his first. He enters the game 0-for-9 with six strikeouts and three walks against the big left-hander. Two of those walks came in Bradley’s very first game, on Opening Day in 2013, when the Red Sox beat Sabathia and the Yankees 8-2. Bradley fell behind 0-2 in his first plate appearance before working a walk to load the bases in the second inning, later scoring as part of a four-run frame.

Who knows if that set Sabathia off, but future encounters have proven strangely hostile, with Sabathia yelling, “Sorry-ass [expletive],” at Bradley after a 2014 strikeout (link title is NSFW), and sarcastically asking if he was OK after hitting him that same year.

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Rich Hill vs. CC Sabathia

10.01.15 at 8:31 am ET
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After extending their season-high winning streak to six games Wednesday night via a 9-5 win in 11 innings, the Red Sox have the opportunity to complete a sweep at Yankee Stadium for the first time since June 2011 and again keep New York from clinching a postseason berth.

The finale will be a battle of 35-year-old veterans, as the Sox will send the resurgent Rich Hill to the mound to counter CC Sabathia.

Hill (2-0, 1.17 ERA) has proven to be a remarkable comeback story since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sept. 8. The left-hander, who had not started a major league game since 2009, has yet to lose in his three outings, holding batters to a .127 average.

Hill is the first pitcher since 1900 to make a debut in September or later and have 10 or more strikeouts in each of his first three starts that season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Milton native most recently saw the Orioles last Friday, throwing a complete-game shutout. He allowed just two hits and one walk during Boston’€™s 7-0 win.

“For a guy that has resurrected his career in the way that he has, it’s very, very impressive,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said following the game. “You’re starting to get the feel that this is a little bit of a habit.”

Hill has yet to see the Yankees this season, but has faced them nine times (one start) over the course of his career, going 0-1 with a 8.31 ERA over 8 2/3 innings.

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Read More: C.C. Sabathia, rich hill,

Clay Buchholz appears on verge of cementing return to Red Sox in 2016

10.01.15 at 1:42 am ET
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NEW YORK — After Wednesday afternoon’s bullpen session, it sure looks like that $13 million option for 2016 is going to be picked up.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has told the media, Clay Buchholz and his agent that if the pitcher is deemed healthy at the conclusion of the 2015 season, picking up Buchholz’ ’16 team option for $13 million would be the team’s likely course of action.

Well, it appears as though Buchholz has done his part.

Buchholz threw what was likely his last bullpen session of the season prior to Wednesday night’s Red Sox win, coming through the exercise without incident.

“I feel good,” Buchholz said. “I had the same conversation (regarding picking up the option) with Dave a while back so I completely understand where they’€™re coming from on the business side of it. Whenever I’€™m healthy and in the field, the last couple years haven’€™t been a full season, but I feel I give the team a good chance to win. Whenever I’€™m able to follow a certain pattern and stay on schedule with the bullpens.

“I feel good and I’€™ll talk to Dave again before we head out for Cleveland and go from there.”

Option or no option, Buchholz has already achieved what he set out when he started coming back from his right elbow issue.

“Even when I started playing catch I felt the difference from the last game I was in,” he said. “Going forward I followed the protocol laid out and that was going to be everything was going to be fine. It’€™s always good going into the offseason knowing you’€™re not nursing anything and sort of treat it like a regular offseason rather than having to start rehab at a certain point. And then you get to that point it makes everything sort of monotonus and dry in the offseason. Looking forward to getting going into a normal time period off.”

Now, Buchholz can plan on a normal offseason, one which paves the way to a return to Fort Myers in early February.

“I’€™ve talked to our doctors and that’€™s what they’€™ve told me,” said Buchholz of having the same sort of offseason training regimen as a year ago. “It should be a normal run start throwing in November. I feel like when you start throwing then I’€™ll go to spring training a couple weeks early to throw a bullpen down there with our guys rather than throw them anywhere else.”

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox,

How some pregame pizza delivery led to four Red Sox homers

10.01.15 at 12:29 am ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

It might have been strictly a coincidence. Then again, maybe it wasn’t.

One night after Blake Swihart hit two home runs in the Red Sox‘ Tuesday night win over the Yankees, Mookie Betts repeated the feat in the Sox’ 9-5, 11-inning victory at Yankee Stadium.

What did they have in common? Pizza and selflessness.

“Me and Blake yesterday when we got to eat we had a pizza left and he said the night before he had given it to a homeless guy and he hit two home runs so I had a pizza and I gave it to a homeless guy and hit two home runs so maybe pass it onto the next person,” Betts said.

While it has yet to be determined who will be offering refreshment to the less fortunate prior to the series finale, we do know that Betts’ homers represented more than just culinary coincidence.

For one, with the outfielder’s 17th and 18th homers of the season, he becomes the youngest player in Red Sox history to launch multiple homers at Yankee Stadium.

And, just for good measure, the blast into the wind, over the left field wall, off of Dellin Betances in the seventh inning was identified by Betts has the longest ball he’s ever hit.

“I’ve never hit one that far,” said the 22-year-old regarding his 427-foot homer. (In fairness, according to hittrackeronline.com the blast ties his career-best, previously set on a June 21 homer in Kansas City.)

“That’€™s one of the best balls I’€™ve seen hit since I’€™ve known him,” said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo.

Read More: mookie betts, Red Sox,

Closing Time: Rolling Red Sox tee off on Yankees in 11th behind Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw, win sixth straight

09.30.15 at 11:21 pm ET
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Travis Shaw is congratulated after hitting a 3-run homer in the first . (Elsa/Getty Images)

Travis Shaw is congratulated by Xander Bogaerts (center) and David Ortiz after hitting a 3-run homer on Wednesday. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The quest for .500 lives. If only there was more season to go along with it.

The Red Sox won their season-high sixth in a row on Wednesday, beating the Yankees 9-5 in 11 innings.

The winning run came off the bat of rookie Deven Marrero, who sliced a hit-and-run single up the middle to score Travis Shaw from third. Outfielder Mookie Betts later added his second homer of the game, and 18th of the season, to put it away.

The Red Sox improved to 78-80 with four games remaining. If they can win three more, they’ll finish 81-81, an impressive feat for a club that was 14 games under .500 as recently as Aug. 17.

For the second game in a row, a youngster gave the Red Sox an immediate lead. On Tuesday night, it was Blake Swihart mashing a three-run homer. On Wednesday, Shaw turned the trick, ripping a Masahiro Tanaka offering deep into the first section of right field bleachers for a three-run shot of his own.

That looked like it would be more than enough for Wade Miley until the fifth, when the left-hander allowed three runs that tied the game at 4-4, with Carlos Beltran‘s RBI double the big blow.

The game stayed knotted until the sixth, when Alex Rodriguez homered to left off of reliever Matt Barnes to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. But Mookie Betts got the run right back in the top of the seventh with a two-out solo homer of his own, an impressive blast to left against a 96 mph fastball from indomitable Yankees reliever Delin Betances.

Offensive standouts for the Red Sox included DH David Ortiz, who went 2-for-2 with a double, run, and RBI before being lifted for a pinch runner in the sixth, as well as Swihart and Shaw, who recorded two hits apiece.

But the biggest bat once again belonged to Betts, who has smacked three homers in his last two games and four in his last five. He became the youngest player in Red Sox history (22) to hit two homers in a game at Yankee Stadium. With two more homers, he could become the 16th player in history to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in a season before age 23 (5 players — Mike Trout, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Cesar Cedeno, and Vada Pinson — did it twice).

As for Miley, his final start of 2015 pretty much summed up his season. Staked to leads of 3-0 and 4-1, he couldn’t make them stand and left after five innings. He allowed nine hits and four runs, striking out three and walking four, including three in New York’s three-run fifth.

Read More: mookie betts, Red Sox, Yankees,

Padres announce hiring of NESN’s Don Orsillo as broadcaster for 2016 season

09.30.15 at 8:00 pm ET
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Don Orsillo is officially a Padre.

The Red Sox broadcaster, whose de facto firing caused a firestorm in New England, will join the Padres next season as a TV and radio broadcaster, the team announced. He’ll shift to TV full-time in 2017 after broadcasting icon Dick Enberg retires.

“We are excited to add Don to our broadcast lineup,” said Padres president and CEO Mike Dee in a statement. “Over his 15 years broadcasting Major League Baseball, Don has established himself as one of the premier play-by-play men in the game. We look forward to both his fun-loving personality and outstanding play-calling ability resonating with Padres fans during what we expect will be a very long career in San Diego.”

NESN informed the 46-year-old Orsillo that it would not renew his contract for next season, instead handing the reins to WEEI radio broadcaster Dave O’Brien. Fans reacted angrily, with a petition demanding Orsillo’s reinstatement garnering over 60,000 signatures.

Orsillo was born in Melrose, raised in New Hampshire, and graduated from Northeastern. San Diego always felt like a natural fit, because Dee is a former Red Sox COO, and Padres chief marketing officer Wayne Partello worked for Entercom Boston prior to joining Dee with the Dolphins.

Read More: Don Orsillo, NESN, Padres, Red Sox

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Wade Miley vs. Masahiro Tanaka

09.30.15 at 9:18 am ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

Winning five straight games for the first time in 2015 following Tuesday’s 10-4 win over the Yankees, the Red Sox continue to play the role of spoiler in this series. In the first two games the Sox have kept their rivals from clinching a postseason berth while also denying New York its 10,000th franchise victory. The Sox will send Wade Miley to the hill Wednesday night to oppose Masahiro Tanaka in the third game of the four-game set.

Miley (11-11, 4.39) is coming off a 4-2 loss last Thursday against the Rays. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs with a walk and three strikeouts. Miley did not allow a run until the three-run sixth inning.

“I just didn’t execute pitches,” Miley said following the game. “I was in situations where I was in pretty good counts and just didn’t make a pitch I needed to make. Obviously [the Rays] made me pay for it.”

The 28-year-old left-hander has been durable for the Sox, going six or more innings in each of his last 10 starts. He has not gone less than five innings in a start since June 11.

Miley is seeing the Yankees for the fourth time this season, carrying an 0-2 record with a 5.60 record over 17 2/3 innings. He last saw New York just before the All-Star break on July 12, when he was tagged for six runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings while striking out two and not allowing a walk in Boston’s 8-6 loss.

He has yet to earn a decision at Yankee Stadium over two starts, with a 3.75 ERA and a .186 opponents batting average.

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Read More: Masahiro Tanaka, wade miley,

Padres to announce Don Orsillo hiring Wednesday or Thursday

09.29.15 at 10:47 pm ET
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According to multiple sources, the Padres will announce the hiring of Don Orsillo either Wednesday or Thursday.

Orsillo will be participating in both the team’s radio and television broadcasts for the 2016 season. He will then transition to strictly TV for the remainder of his contract.

The plan to integrate the current NESN Red Sox play-by-play announcer into radio stems from Dick Enberg’s commitment to still do approximately 60 television games in ’16, along with a desire to allow for a consistent presence from Orsillo in his new market.

The 46-year-old Orsillo had been the Pawtucket Red Sox radio announcer prior to joining NESN in 2001.

He joins a Padres organization that is led by executives with Boston roots, with former Red Sox COO Mike Dee currently serving as San Diego’s CEO, and Padres chief marketing officer Wayne Partello having worked for Entercom Boston prior to following Dee to the Dolphins.

Read More: Don Orsillo, Red Sox,
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