|07.20.14 at 6:44 pm ET|
David Ortiz has played in 2,064 games in his career, and so it qualifies as a surprise when he arrives at a first. But in this case, the milestone was hardly one for which he’ll be seeking out any mementos.
On Sunday, Ortiz went 0-for-5, the 60th time in his career that he’s failed to reach base even once in a game in which he stepped to the plate five or more times. It was the 14th time that he had failed to reach base despite putting the ball in play in each of his at-bats. But the contest — which resulted in a 6-0 Red Sox win over the Royals — represented just the first time in his 17 big league seasons in which Ortiz grounded out every time he stepped into the box in a contest that saw him hit at least five times.
Thus concluded an odd start to the second segment of the season. Ortiz made contact in every trip to the plate during the three-game set — no walks, no strikeouts — but the contact he made was of an atypical sort. He went 1-for-13 in the three game series against the Royals, and made hard contact just twice — on a double to right and a flyout near the warning track in center. That aside, he had eight groundouts and three weak pop-ups.
“I think David’s in one of those little stretches right now, I think we witnessed one earlier in the season, he’s trying to get some things going. He’s been offering at some pitches early in the count, which might not be characteristic,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “But as he’s gone through these stretches, we’re confident he’ll be back as the hitter we know.” Read the rest of this entry »
|07.20.14 at 4:37 pm ET|
Things are getting at least a little interesting.
The Red Sox continued their most impressive surge of the season, winning for the seventh time in their last eight games, this time beating the Royals, 6-0, for a sweep of the teams’ three-game series.
Unlike their seven-game win streak in May — in which the Sox were facing two teams in Atlanta and Tampa Bay who were playing their worst baseball of the season — this doesn’t appear to be a mirage. During the current stretch the Sox have outscored their opponents by a combined 25 runs.
While all but one of their previous six wins had seen a margin of one run, this was a rare no-doubter. Riding the arm of Jon Lester and an offensive attack that drove Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura from the game after just 4 1/3 innings, the Sox had the game in control heading into the final four frames.
The hosts scored one in the first inning, two in the third and three in the fourth to put things out of reach for the Royals, who drop below .500 (48-49).
While the offense was fairly spread out, with Brock Holt, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino and Jackie Bradley all claiming multiple-hit days, the star of the game had to once again be Lester.
The lefty, who come into the game having allowed either zero or one earned run to Kansas City in his previous 10 starts (1.60 ERA) against the Royals, dominated the visitors. Lester allowed just four hits and no runs while going eight innings to lower his season ERA to 2.50. He also struck out eight.
In Lester’s last seven starts he has given up just five earned runs in 55 2/3 innings, striking out 47 and walking eight.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– David Ross notched his sixth home run, a two-run blast in the fourth inning. It marked the fifth straight game the Sox have hit at least one home run.
|07.20.14 at 3:37 pm ET|
A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Saturday:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)
– Third baseman Will Middlebrooks went 2-for-4 with a solo homer to center. It was nearly Middlebrooks’ second homer in as many days (he was robbed of a homer by a tremendous leaping catch on Friday).
For now, Middlebrooks will continue to enjoy steady playing time in Pawtucket. But with the crowd that the Sox have on the left side of their infield between the big leagues (Stephen Drew, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt) and Triple-A (Middlebrooks, Garin Cecchini, Deven Marrero), teams are closely monitoring the situation to see if the Sox start dealing what seems like surplus inventory from their minor league prospect pool.
– DH Carlos Rivero reached base in all four plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks. He is 8-for-12 with two walks in his last three games.
– Right-hander Brandon Workman tossed five shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks while punching out six. He struggled with his control at times (59 of 99 pitches for strikes — a 60 percent rate) but shut down his opponents by getting a handful of groundball outs to complement his six punchouts.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 10-3 WIN AT NEW HAMPSHIRE (BLUE JAYS)
|07.20.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
Where would the Red Sox be without Brock Holt?
That is certainly a fair and legitimate question to ask as the Red Sox approach the second half of the season and try to work their way back into a reasonable chance for the playoffs.
The leadoff hitter has provided a vital anchor at the top of the batting order as the Red Sox searched desperately for a consistent leadoff hitter. He comes into Sunday hitting .325 with a .369 OBP and a .826 OPS. Holt has started all 63 games this season, batting leadoff in 52 of them. As the leadoff hitter, his number are nearly identical to his overall numbers, .326/.364/.825.
Of course, he’s been incredibly versatile in the field, playing seven of the nine positions while earning the name “Superman” from some Red Sox fans. The only two positions he hasn’t tried yet are pitcher and catcher. On Sunday, he’s starting at third as the Red Sox give Xander Bogaerts the day off against hard-throwing righty Yordano Ventura.
“With Brock Holt moving around the field and going up against a right-hander in Ventura, we just wanted to get another left-handed bat in there,” skipper John Farrell said.
“We’re probably at the point in the year where it’s less of a concern than when he was playing right field for the first, or left field for the first time, or first base for the first time. There have been a lot of firsts this year. And the way he’s handled each position defensively, now we’re finding ways to keep his bat in the lineup and not reluctant to change the position by the day.”
What’s truly remarkable is that, as late as early April, Holt wasn’t even considered an option as a leadoff hitter to replace Jacoby Ellsbury.
“He wasn’t in the conversation, either in the offseason or as we got through camp but to the level in which he’s hit at and performed at, and the consistency against left-handers and right-handers, it’s been invaluable, the continuity he’s created at the top of the lineup,” Farrell said.
The left-handed hitting Holt is actually hitting 20 points higher against lefties (.336) than righties (.316), a testament to his ability to hang in against southpaws.
“I think when you see a guy be able to use the whole the field as much as he does and how he you see him handle left-handers, he can track the ball so deep into the zone that he doesn’t overcommit early to breaking balls from left-handers that run away from him,” Farrell said. “And because it is a compact swing, his pitch recognition can be a little better than others because he doesn’t have to start the swing early in the flight of the pitch to home plate.
“I think it’s [just] a trait of really good hitters, regardless of the spot in the lineup. The more compact, the less you may get fooled on certain type of pitches. They’re more difficult to pitch against because he has the ability to take a really good pitcher’s pitch and fight it off and foul it off as he gets deeper into some counts and I think it’s a direct reflection of why you see him hit at the average he is at currently and what he’s done throughout his minor league career.”
|07.20.14 at 11:43 am ET|
Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli will get the day off from the starting lineup as the Red Sox look for the three-game sweep of the Royals against hard-throwing righthander Yordano Ventura. Shane VIctorino is playing in his second straight game with Boston, and fourth consecutive overall, dating back to the start of his brief rehab stint with Pawtucket on Thursday. He is scheduled to have the day off Monday when the Red Sox open a series in Toronto.
For a complete batter vs. pitcher breakdown, click here.
RED SOX LINEUP
Brock Holt 3B
Daniel Nava LF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Carp 1B
Stephen Drew SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Jon Lester SP
|07.20.14 at 9:25 am ET|
July has already seen a number of key trades take place, most recently on Friday, when the Angels acquired closer Huston Street (and a prospect) from the Padres for four prospects. The trade of Street represented the move of one area where the Red Sox potentially could have made some intriguing noise as sellers: Closer.
Koji Uehara, of course, is eligible for free agency after this season. If the Red Sox conclude that they are not in the race, he’d represent a fascinating chip — a player who arguably did as much as anyone to secure a World Series title for the Red Sox last year. A team that feels like it’s one piece away from a title would seem to have every incentive to pursue Uehara.
In this case, however, it appears that the Angels weren’t a match for the Sox on a couple of levels that are revealing about both the state of the trade market for closers and the Sox’ approach to trade chips:
1) The Angels didn’t want a rental player.
The Halos not only acquire the services of Street for the duration of this year, but also hold an affordable $7 million option on him for 2015. The idea that Street could impact the team beyond the final months of this year made a deal more palatable.
‘Were it not for the fact we had the ability to control Huston for a year and two months, it would have been far more difficult to justify giving up the type of package we gave up to get him,’ Angels GM Jerry DiPoto told the L.A. Times. Read the rest of this entry »
|07.20.14 at 8:05 am ET|
Lester (9-7, 2.65 ERA) has been nearly unhittable for over a month, allowing just one earned run over his last six starts, posting a 1.01 ERA in the process. The 6-foot-4 lefty, who has posted career-highs in ERA (2.65) and WHIP (1.14) this season, continued his torrid pace in his last start July 10 against the White Sox.
Against Chicago, Lester allowed just one earned run over seven innings with zero walks and 12 strikeouts. Lester looked dominant from the get-go, striking out two batters in each of the first five innings of the game.
“I had pretty good command of my fastball to both sides, but I think the biggest pitch was my curveball,” Lester said after the game. “I was dropping it in for strikes and bouncing it, too. When I’m able to do that, I can get some separation from my fastball and cutter. It widens the plate for me. I was able to exploit that today.”
Lester was solid in his last outing against Kansas City on Aug. 8, 2013, allowing three runs (one earned) in seven innings of work in what as an eventual 5-1 Royals victory. In 10 career starts against the Royals, Lester is 6-3 with a 1.60 ERA — which stands as the lowest ERA from an active pitcher with at least seven starts against Kansas City.
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