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Why there will be no Dave Roberts, Joey Gathright or Quintin Berry for Red Sox this time around

09.26.16 at 10:02 am ET
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Marco Hernandez may very well be the Red Sox' pinch-running option in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Marco Hernandez may very well be the Red Sox’ pinch-running option in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It had been a staple for Red Sox postseason teams.

The guy who not only could come on to pinch-run, but do so in a fashion where you had a pretty good idea a base was going to be stolen in the process. Dave Roberts obviously set the bar in 2004 after being picked up at the non-waiver trade deadline for Henri Stanley, going on to execute the most important steal in Red Sox history.

Then there was Joey Gathright, who the Red Sox signed for the season’s final month both in 2009 and 2011. He would pinch-run for David Ortiz in Game 3 of the ’09 American League Division Series, stealing a base and then coming on to score via Mike Lowell’s RBI single to put the Sox up by two runs.

And, most recently, it was Quintin Berry who got the opportunity, finding his way on to the Red Sox’ postseason roster in all three rounds of the 2013 world championship run following an Aug. 27 trade that pried him away from the Royals in exchange for Clayton Mortensen. Berry went 3-for-3 in steal attempts during the 2013 playoffs, one in each round.

This time around, however, there won’t be that guy.

“We have no other choice,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We looked at trying to acquire that type of player, and we thought might have been some internal candidates that could serve it as well. But we end up probably not being as proficient in that single kind of player.”

As Farrell noted, the Red Sox tried to find that guy. And one of the players they at least contacted was Berry, who had been released by the Angels. But the 31-year-old outfielder chose to sign with the Blue Jays, who ended up releasing him less than two weeks later.

There was some thought in the organization that Yoan Moncada, he of 94 minor-league stolen bases in 109 attempts, might be the solution. Then came the pickoff in Oakland, and forgetting how many outs there were in Toronto, and it was clear he was not ready to put on such a stage.

So, where does it leave the Red Sox? Marco Hernandez, that’s where.

With the Red Sox typically keeping 11 pitchers on the playoff roster, there will be a spot for that extra position player. And while Hernandez has only stolen one big league bag, while going just 4-for-6 with Triple-A Pawtucket this season, he, along with maybe Brock Holt, will likely be the players Farrell turns to when needing more speed on the basepaths.

It as Hernandez who got the call to pinch-run for Ortiz Sunday in the 10th inning after the designated hitter’s double.

“Here’s the thing, there will be certain game situations where we will have an upgrade in speed as needed. It might not be the pro typical base-stealer to get you 90 feet. But the ability to get from first to third, two bases, that is still present,” Farrell said.

The good news is that because of the athletic lineup the Red Sox possess, there might not be a dramatic need for extra speed. Other than Ortiz and the catcher, virtually every starting player has the ability to swipe a bag. And even Travis Shaw has stolen five bases in six attempts this season.

“We have more team speed, but I can’t say that those single opportunities that arise … We don’t have that one particular guy,” Farrell said.

Closing Time: Red Sox pitchers strikeout franchise record 23 on way to 11th straight win

09.25.16 at 5:13 pm ET
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David Ortiz, and other Red Sox, reflect on death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez prior to their game against the Rays Sunday afternoon. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz, and other Red Sox, reflect on death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez prior to their game against the Rays Sunday afternoon. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

It’s hard to upstage winning 11 in a row, or knocking the magic number to win the American League East down to two. But the Red Sox’ pitchers and Dustin Pedroia seemingly did that in their team’s 3-2, 10-inning win over the Rays Sunday.

Once again, it was Pedroia’s contribution that meant the most.

With one out and the second baseman standing at first in the 10th, David Ortiz rifled a shot into right-center field in what would be his last Tropicana Field at-bat. Pedroia would be waved in by third base coach Brian Butterfield, with the throw to catcher Luke Maile easily beating the baserunner.

But upon arriving at the plate, Pedroia began dancing around the tag of Maile until the catcher’s over-sized mitt (he was catching knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa) hit off the runner’s left leg. The contact forced the baseball out of the glove, allowing for the eventual game-winning run to score.

Then there were the strikeouts.

Red Sox pitchers struck out a franchise-record 23 batters in the win, including 11 straight at one point. The run of punch-outs was a major league record, surpassing Tom Seaver’s previous mark set in 1970. It was a stretch that started with Eduardo Rodriguez fanning Richie Shaffer to end the fourth inning and ending with Logan Forsythe finally singling off reliever Matt Barnes to leadoff the eighth inning.

Rodriguez ended up allowing a run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out a career-high 13 batters. He was followed by Heath Hembree, who struck out all five the batters he faced.

For the second time during the three-game series, it appeared Pedroia sealed the deal for the Red Sox via a home run, giving the visitors a lead in the third with a solo shot. But the Red Sox’ one-run lead disappeared in the eighth inning when Fernando Abad allowed an RBI single to Brad Miller.

The hit by Miller was the first allowed to a left-handed hitter by Abad since Aug. 10, and just the second inherited runner allowed to score by Red Sox relievers in September.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Joe Kelly was able to come on and get out of a first and third jam by inducing a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Nick Franklin to end the eighth.

Kelly went on to earn the win, pitching the last 2 1/3 innings.

For a complete box score, click here.

Closing Time note

The Red Sox set a franchise record for most strikeouts by pitching staff for a season, topping the total of the 2013 staff.

Stunned Red Sox players react to death of Jose Fernandez

09.25.16 at 12:39 pm ET
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The shocking death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident on Sunday morning swept across baseball, with Red Sox players among the hundreds of players, coaches, and media offering their condolences.

Here’s a sampling of Red Sox reaction, gathered from social media.

Read More: David Price, Jose Fernandez, Jose Fernandez death, Marlins

Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident

09.25.16 at 9:47 am ET
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Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez

Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning. He was 24 years old.

The game between the Marlins and Braves Sunday has been canceled.

According to multiple reports, three people, including Fernandez, were found dead at the scene of the accident, which took place just off Miami Beach. According to multiple reports, authorities were called to the scene just after 3 a.m. after a call concerning a boat having overturned due to a collision with rocks.

Fernandez was originally scheduled to pitch Sunday, but was pushed back to Monday in order to make room in the rotation for starter Adam Conley, who was coming off the disabled list.

The right-hander was 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA this season, totaling the second-most strikeouts in the National League (253). He was concerned perhaps the best young pitcher in baseball, with a career ERA of 2.58 and 589 strikeouts in 479 1/3 innings.
For more, click here.

Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Jake Odorizzi

09.25.16 at 8:33 am ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

Winners of 10 straight, the Red Sox close out their three-game series vs. the Rays on Sunday afternoon by sending out Eduardo Rodriguez opposite right-hander Jake Ordorizzi.

Rodriguez is 3-7 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP in 18 games. On Tuesday he went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs, four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the Orioles. It was the southpaw’s first win since July 16.

“When you are capable to stop the Baltimore offense, that means you’ve got good stuff,” David Ortiz said of Rodriguez (via MLB.com). “Those guys can swing the bat. We know what we’ve got in [Rodriguez].”

In three career starts against the Rays, the 23-year-old Venezuelan is 0-1 with a 9.88 ERA and a 2.195 WHIP. Rodriguez’s last start against the Rays was one of his worst of the season. On June 27 he lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing a whopping nine runs, 11 hits and one walk with two strikeouts in a 13-7 Rays win.

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Read More: eduardo rodriguez, Jake Odorizzi,

Red Sox notes: John Farrell talking like Pablo Sandoval could return this season

09.25.16 at 12:19 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval could actually return to the Red Sox this season. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval could actually return to the Red Sox this season. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Winning their 10th in a row was something. So was clinching a playoff berth spot, and cutting the magic number for an American League East title to three.

But there was bit of news that separated itself at Tropicana Field Saturday: Pablo Sandoval might actually play for the Red Sox again this season.

Here is what John Farrell dropped on reporters when asked about Sandoval prior to the Red Sox’ 6-4 win over the Rays: “Could he return this year? I’m not ruling it out.”

Sandoval, who hasn’t played April 10 due to his surgically-repaired left shoulder, was with the Red Sox in St. Petersburg, Fla., having driven up from the team’s training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. He has been working at at JetBlue Park, having already participated in two instructional league games as a designated hitter.

Prior to Saturday night’s game, Sandoval took batting practice and fielded ground balls with the rest of the Red Sox.

“He’s got to go through some steps in instructional league. That’s first and foremost,” Farrell said. “But, again, you can never forecast injury, you can never forecast what takes place ahead. Nothing has been ruled out with Pablo, particularly how he’s responded. He’s well ahead of schedule in terms of his recovery. We’ll see.”

While it would still seem unlikely Sandoval would be an option to be placed on a Divisional Series roster, he could be a legitimate backup plan if the Red Sox suffered any injuries. Farrell could also be throwing the possibility of more competition at the position to spur on the current group of candidates, Travis Shaw, Brock Holt and Aaron Hill.

Another possible benefit of Sandoval being proclaimed healthy enough to contribute is in regards to Sandoval’s offseason trade value. Showing his shoulder isn’t an issue would go a long way toward convincing potential suitors the 30-year-old should be of some worth.

At last check, Sandoval had lost 22 pounds, working out six days a week at JetBlue Park while also integrating a bike-riding regimen.

“At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next spring training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but, at the same time, I want to compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself back into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.”

– The medical update for Steven Wright (right shoulder) wasn’t as encouraging, with the knuckleballer not able to participate in his scheduled bullpen session Sunday at Tropicana Field.

“He got through his 120 feet here today. But it was not to the point where he felt like he was going to throw his bullpen here [Sunday],” Farrell told reporters. “So he’ll remain in Ft. Myers and continue to progress. Logically, the days continue to come off the calendar, so where that puts him in terms of getting back on the mound, getting back to us, that becomes with each passing day a little bit less likely.

“Just feeling like the symptoms aren’t completely gone, diminished,” Farrell added. “We’ve been taking this very much as a day to day type situation. So the way the throwing program was built out was to get to the point of throwing 120 feet, which he did yesterday, hopefully get through a second consecutive day of that, and then be here to throw a bullpen tomorrow. Felt like coming out of [Saturday], that wasn’t going to be the case.”

– The way the Red Sox have their starting rotation lined up, David Price will pitch the final game of the regular season and then Game 2 of the Division Series. Rick Porcello is still on target start what figures to be the Red Sox’ first postseason game.

Closing Time: Dustin Pedroia’s grand slam leads Red Sox to 10th straight win, playoff berth

09.24.16 at 9:21 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia watches his fourth career grand slam clear the left field fence Saturday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Dustin Pedroia watches his fourth career grand slam clear the left field fence Saturday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Dustin Pedroia has experienced his fair share of meaningful September baseball. Six of his 10 Septembers as a major leaguer have had some sort of importance attached to them.

But it would be hard to find a bigger September hit than the one Pedroia supplied in the seventh inning Saturday night.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run against the Rays, two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh, Pedroia launched the decisive blow for the visitors. The second baseman took Tampa Bay reliever Danny Farquhar over the left field fence for his fourth career grand slam, leading Sox to a 6-4 win over the Rays.

The win was the Red Sox’ 10th straight, and cut their magic number to win the American League East to three with the second-place Blue Jays also winning. They also clinched at least a berth in the Wild Card playoff game.

“It’s obviously big, it’s the position we wanted to be in this last week in September,” said Saturday night’s winning pitcher, Rick Porcello. “We definitely want that division, so we’re going for it.”

Earning his 22nd win of the season was Porcello, who allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings to put his ERA at 3.11. All three runs against Porcello came in the third inning. He becomes the first 22-game winner for the Red Sox since Pedro Martinez’s 1999 campaign, in which he won 23.

The pivotal seventh inning started with back to back singles from Hanley Ramirez and Brock Holt. After a Chris Young ground out, the Sox loaded the bases on a walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. Sandy Leon failed to get the runners home, hitting into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but keeping the bases loaded.

Then came Pedroia’s 14th homer of the season, punctuating an eight-pitch at-bat.

The Rays did manager to get the potential game-tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. But Brad Ziegler’s one-out outing resulted in a fly out off the bat of Evan Longoria, who was followed by Brad Miller’s line-out to right against Robbie Ross Jr.

Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel closed things out in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Despite giving up a ninth inning homer to Logan Forsythe, Kimbrel recorded his 30th save. The closer now has six straight 30-save seasons.

For a complete box score, click here.

Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt gets start at third base

09.24.16 at 2:55 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Red Sox manager John Farrell said the last few regular seasons games might determine who would get the majority of playing time at third base when the postseason rolled around. (He said that, of course, without specifically mentioning the Red Sox might be in the playoffs.)

Judging by Saturday’s lineup, that continues to be the case.

With right-hander Matt Andriese on the mound for the Rays, Brock Holt gets the start at third base. Holt is 2-for-8 against Andriese, while the other lefty-hitting option, Travis Shaw, is 1-for-6. Shaw is coming off a start Friday night in which he went 0-for-4.

Chris Young gets the nod in left field, having not started since Tuesday.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with Rick Porcello on the mound for the visitors:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Brock Holt 3B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
For all the matchups, click here.

Saturday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Matt Andriese

09.24.16 at 8:15 am ET
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With the Red Sox looking for their 10th straight victory, Saturday evening’s matchup will feature Cy Young contender Rick Porcello against Rays right-hander Matt Andriese.

Porcello is 21-4 with a 3.08 ERA and a 0.978 WHIP in 31 starts. The sinkerballer picked up his 21st win against the Orioles on Monday with a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in what ended up being a 5-2 Sox win.

“Rick Porcello was outstanding,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said (via MLB.com). “He threw a high number of first-pitch strikes. He was able to induce ground balls. He elevated at appropriate times. He had four pitches working for strikes tonight. He was in complete command for this one.”

The 27-year-old right-hander is 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.134 ERA in 16 career starts against the Rays. This season Porcello is 4-0 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.038 WHIP in five starts vs. Tampa. His last start against the Rays was on Aug. 29. In that outing he threw seven innings, allowing three runs, six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in a 9-4 Sox win.

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Read More: Matt Adriese, rick porcello,

Mookie Betts explains why he chose to perform ‘The Carlton,’ solicits more input on Twitter

09.23.16 at 11:40 pm ET
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With Red Sox teammates Brock Holt (left) and Jackie Bradley (center) looking on, Mookie Betts breaks out The Carlton on Friday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

With Red Sox teammates Brock Holt (left) and Jackie Bradley (center) looking on, Mookie Betts breaks out The Carlton on Friday. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Mookie Betts let Twitter inspire him, and Friday night’s outfield dance might’ve been the group’s most zeitgeisty yet — The Carlton.

For those unfortunate enough not to have been born/paying attention in the early ’90s, The Carlton was the eponymous manic dance performed by actor Alfonso Ribeiro, whose character loved lusty 60s lounge singer Tom Jones. In real life, Ribeiro went on to win Dancing With the Stars in 2014.

After Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Rays, in which Betts went 3-for-4, the MVP candidate busted out the dance’s signature right-to-left “white man” grooves, as Eddie Murphy called them in Delirious.
Speaking to reporters in Tampa, Betts explained his process.

“I saw a couple of Twitter requests for The Carlton,” he said. “I want to switch it up each time. I may ask Twitter what the next dance should be.”

That said, Betts didn’t make the call until late in the game.

“No, that was on the spot,” he said. “In the eighth inning, I said. ‘Imma do the Carlton.’ That was on the spot.”

This obviously opens a world of possibilities.

“There are so many out there,” Betts said. “I need to know the night before so I can YouTube how to do it, and then go from there.”

After watching fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi earn plaudits for his Michael Jackson homage on consecutive nights, and Jackie Bradley get rave reviews for his ski jumper, Betts wants to keep viewers on their toes.

“I feel like we’ve been escalating,” he said. “I want to do something different each time. They can do the same thing. It’s just your personal preference.”

Read More: mookie betts, Red Sox, The Carlton, Win dance repeat
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