|04.12.16 at 5:25 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell defended his decisions to pinch hit Chris Young for Travis Shaw early this season, explaining they’re a product of matchups and wanting to get Young at-bats against left-handed pitching to take advantage of his platoon splits.
Farrell used Young to pinch hit for Shaw leading off the sixth inning of Monday’s 9-6 loss to the Orioles. Young popped out against left-hander T.J. McFarland. His turn came around again in the seventh against right-hander Mychal Givens with two on and two out, and Young struck out swinging. Farrell said he elected to keep Shaw in the game because of the possibility of facing Orioles closer Zach Britton, who is left-handed, in the ninth.
“We were down a run yesterday, an opportunity to have Chris Young against a left-handed pitcher, in this ballpark, wind blowing out,” Farrell said. “Chris has been strong against left-handed pitching. That’s why we signed him here. I can say it was an aggressive move being that early in the ballgame. With a left-handed closer, at a minimum he would have been guaranteed two at-bats against a left-handed reliever if they would have been in a closing situation.”
Farrell was asked why Shaw continues to be the odd man out, as opposed to left-handed hitters like Jackie Bradley Jr. or Brock Holt.
“If that opportunity presents itself, yeah,” Farrell said. “Any one of those left-handers is a candidate for Chris Young. The tough thing with Brock being the guy is then you lose your utility guy. Going back to the versatile player — his value on our team continues to increase.”
Young was a weapon against lefties last year for the Yankees, hitting .327 with a .972 OPS. He hit just .182 against righties. The left-handed Shaw, meanwhile, hit .329 vs. lefties and just .236 vs. righties last season. He explained to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford why he’s comfortable hitting against left-handers.
“He was good against left-handed pitching last year,” Farrell said. “And yet, the decision to pinch-hit was to get Chris Young, who’s been outstanding against left-handed pitching, opportunities at the plate there.”
Farrell noted that Shaw was the candidate to be replaced on Monday because he was leading off the inning after a pitching change had been made, creating a guaranteed spot for Young to face a left-hander.
“Typically when we’ve had a left-hander come in, there’s also been a right-hander warming behind him,” Farrell noted. “So if you don’t get the first left-hander, you’re going to miss your matchup. And that’s why it’s been Shaw in those spots.”
At the end of the day, Farrell made it sound like this as much about Young as it is Shaw. He’d like Young to face some right-handed pitchers to stay sharp.
“He’s had a career of facing right-handers, too,” Farrell said. “Nothing against Chris Young. Clearly his strengths are against left-handed pitching. There’s also times where you’ll talk to any platoon player and at-bats against the same-sided pitcher help them stay in on balls, rather than possibly looking to pull all the time against the opposite side. At-bats against right-handers for Chris will be sprinkled in here throughout. That’s the role he has on our club.”
|04.12.16 at 4:56 pm ET|
Shaw isn’t about to buy into the controversy.
“It’s still early. It’s the first week,” said the third baseman, who has seen just five plate appearances from the seventh inning and on despite starting every game. “I’m not reading too much into it. I know that’s what Chris Young is brought here to do. It just tends to be my spot.”
But considering Shaw is a hitter who totaled a .329 batting average and .975 OPS in 85 plate appearances last season, there is a curiosity about what he might be able to do, and if his success against southpaws is a sign of things to come.
Shaw has the explanation as to why his ability to succeed off of left-handers is a very real thing.
“I started changing my approach in A ball, kind of what I was looking to do against lefties. [Minor league coach] Rich Gedman told me to try something different and it worked,” he said. “I’ve kind of stuck with that the whole time. For me it’s more approach based. What I try to do helps me lay off of the sliders.
“If it’s hard it’s running back into me. I noticed when I was trying to stay inside the ball against lefties I would just get blown up on fastballs, and then I would chase that slider. So I completely revamped my strategy in what I was looking for, so I looked to pull lefties so that way the fastball in I’m on time and I can hit it that way because it’s coming in. Then the sliders that are off the plate they look so bad because I’m looking to pull, so I’m able to lay off for the most part.
“There are going to be times I get fooled, and times I get blown up. But for the most part, it’s helped me a lot.”
Then there is how he has continued to keep the numbers trending in the right direction, as was evident when hitting .391 (9-for-23) in spring training.
“I like hitting lefties,” Shaw said. “If you notice, every day in BP at home I hit off a lefty. Every day. I don’t ever hit off a righty in BP at home.
“It’s something that developed. I didn’t used to be very good off of lefties, but in the past two or three years my comfort level has gotten pretty good.”
|04.12.16 at 3:38 pm ET|
With Buchholz on the mound, Blake Swihart once again gets the start at catcher, with Ryan Hanigan slated to team up with Wednesday’s starting pitcher, Joe Kelly.
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup in the second game of the three-game set:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Blake Swihart C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
|04.12.16 at 11:32 am ET|
Forget about David Price, Craig Kimbrel or the pomp and circumstance that came with the 2015 Fenway Park Opening Day. It was John Farrell’s late-inning approach that dominated the conversation after the Red Sox’ 9-7 loss the Orioles heading into Tuesday.
For the third time this season, Farrell chose to pinch-hit Chris Young for Travis Shaw. It was also the second time this season he has executed the maneuver as early as the sixth inning.
The first time the move worked perfectly, with Young doubling off of Cleveland lefty Ross Detwiler in the sixth. Friday night, the results weren’t as positive, with the righty hitter striking out with the two men on against Toronto southpaw Brett Cecil. (It was a move that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons later admitted he didn’t expect.)
And that brings us to Monday.
With the Orioles holding a one-run lead in the sixth, and Baltimore manager Buck Showalter choosing to start the inning with lefty T.J. McFarland, Farrell chose to replace Shaw with Young once again. The outfielder would pop up to first. But that was just started the debate.
With the game tied in the seventh, Farrell elected not to use Pablo Sandoval to pinch-hit for Young against Baltimore right-hander Mychal Givens.
This was Farrell’s explanation after the game: “With the left-handed closer in [Zach] Britton, that was the swing decision. It’s an aggressive move in the sixth inning but the way the wind is blowing, the way the ball is carrying, looking for spots for Chris Young against the left-hander, that was it, knowing that Britton is going to close that game out, if they were to take the lead.”
Would it have been worth it to let Shaw get the two more at-bats and then bring on Young vs. Britton if the occasion came up in the ninth (which it didn’t)? Or how about the idea of using Rusney Castillo, who hit .318 against lefties in 94 plate appearances last season, in that spot against the Baltimore closer?
Farrell clearly identifies Young the kind of weapon against lefties he previously has never had, which is why the manager came out of the gate proclaiming the outfielder would start against every southpaw starter.
And even though Shaw hit .329 with a .975 OPS in 85 plate appearances against left-handers last season, Farrell prioritizes keeping lefty-hitting Brock Holt and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the game, particularly since both also hit better than .300 against lefties in 2015.
But the question now has to be surfaced: Will Farrell continue this strategy?
|04.12.16 at 10:53 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (2-3): L, 6-3, vs. Scranton (Yankees)
— Designated hitter Sam Travis had a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-4 while launching a solo home run in the ninth inning — the first for him in a Triple-A game. The 22-year-old Travis turned heads in spring training with the Red Sox this year, batting .469 with two home runs, two doubles, 13 RBIs and four runs scored. He was a second-round pick for the Red Sox in 2014, coming out of Indiana University.
— While Travis’ contribution was too little, too late for the PawSox, shortstop Marco Hernandez (Boston’s No. 13 prospect on MLB.com) got the offense going in the fifth inning when he knocked in two runs with a single to right field. This was his lone hit of the day, as he struck out twice. Left fielder Chris Marrero was 2-for-4, while first baseman Chris Dominguez had a double — the only extra-base hit for the PawSox outside of the home run.
— Catcher Christian Vasquez cooled off after a hot start on his rehab assignment in Triple-A. He went 0-for-3 with one walk and one strikeout, while also making a throwing error behind the plate.
— Starting Pitcher Brian Johnson (Boston’s No. 3 prospect on MLB.com) had a solid outing but still got the loss. He went four innings, allowing five hits, one earned run and one walk while striking out four. He threw 76 pitches. Right hander Roman Mendez struggled in relief, allowing five earned on four hits (including a home run). He walked two and struck out two. The PawSox bullpen threw a scoreless final three innings and allowed only one hit. Reliever Anthony Varvaro threw two perfect innings and struck out two, while Heath Hembree allowed one hit in his inning of work, striking out one.
|04.12.16 at 7:36 am ET|
Clay Buchholz will make his second start of the season on Tuesday at Fenway Park. He is set to square off against young Orioles righty Mike Wright.
In his first start of the season last Wednesday, Buchholz was hit hard by the Indians. He lasted only four-plus innings, allowing five earned runs (four in the first frame) on six hits. He struck out four and walked three in a game the Red Sox would go on to lose 7-6.
“I think most of it was fastball location,” Buchholz said after the game. “I threw some really good offspeed pitches for first pitches and they had some good takes. With a team that you think is going to go out there swinging early, you try to get them to mis-hit some balls with the changeups and curveballs early in the count. The pitches that I threw where I wanted to that were balls, you usually get a lot of swings and misses or weak contact off, they didn’t offer at them. It left me behind in the count for the most part and having to throw strikes with the fastball when you’re not commanding it all that well. That’s how it goes.”
In 18 career starts against the Orioles, Buchholz is 10-5 with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.359 WHIP, recording 85 strikeouts and 46 walks.
Wright will be making his 2016 debut Tuesday, after the game he was scheduled to start on Saturday was postponed due to bad weather. He got his first taste of major league hitting last season, making nine starts and going 3-5 with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.567 WHIP, recording 26 strikeouts and 18 walks. He started out by going 2-0 with 1.40 ERA, including a stretch of 14 1/3 scoreless innings, but went 0-5 with a 10.88 ERA over his last six starts (he also made three relief appearances).
He now has a spot in the crowded and unclear back end of the Orioles rotation, which still is being sorted out. Wright had to earn his place with the pitching staff throughout spring training.
“Usually, the guys that are working on stuff, they have a spot,” Wright said after a solid spring training outing. “I don’t have a guaranteed spot, so to get the results is huge, because even though you’re doing your part — you’re making your pitches — if you’re giving up runs, it doesn’t look good to put you on the roster. To get the results is good for confidence and it makes me feel better going home tonight.”
Wright lost his only career start against the Red Sox, allowing six runs on six hits and one walk and striking out one in a 10-1 loss on Sept. 16 at Camden Yards. He lasted just three innings during the outing.
|04.11.16 at 7:32 pm ET|
It seems nothing gets to David Ortiz.
With all the clutch hits he’s had over the course of his career, which includes three World Series titles and even speaking to Fenway Park and the City of Boston following the Marathon bombings three years ago, nothing seemed to phase the slugger and make him nervous.
Until Monday and his final home opener as a member of the Red Sox.
With Ortiz retiring at the end of the season, the Red Sox surprised him and had his 15-year-old daughter Alex sing the national anthem. It visibly touched Ortiz and he was seen shedding a few tears while standing on the first-base line with the rest of his team.
“I’m not going to lie to you, I was more nervous during that time than any at-bat I ever had in my career, and it wasn’t even about me,” Ortiz said. “It was about her. Whoever has kids knows how that goes. When you are watching your kid performing anything. That was like my first big moment watching one of my child doing something pretty big. Now I understand my dad, my family, my mom when she used to watch me, I know they all used to be very nervous and stuff and now I get it.”
|04.11.16 at 7:15 pm ET|
It wasn’t how it was supposed to go.
In making his first start at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox, David Price entered with a 1.95 ERA in his first 11 starts at Fenway, but Monday afternoon was a different story.
Price allowed five runs on five hits lasting just five innings taking a no-decision in the Red Sox’ 9-7 loss to the Orioles.
Although he wasn’t sharp all game long, it really only came down to just one bad inning — the third inning. The left-hander allowed five runs in the frame with the big blow being a three-run home run by Mark Trumbo.
“It’s kind of been my Achilles heel — having that one bad inning,” Price said. “That’s all it takes in this game. It can be one pitch and today it was just that one bad inning.”
The outing marked the first time Price had allowed more than three runs in an outing at Fenway and just the second time allowing more than two runs. Before today, Price had allowed 16 earned runs in 74 innings and Monday he allowed five earned runs in the first three innings.
Price left the game after the fifth inning with the score being knotted at five as the Red Sox were able to battle back from a 5-2 deficit. The Red Sox did spot Price three runs in the bottom of the first, but he and the team couldn’t hold the lead for long.
The lefty needed 103 pitches to get through five innings and this comes following his Opening Day start against the Indians where he needed 103 pitches to get through six innings, which isn’t exactly efficient.
“I am not concerned. It’s execution,” Price said. “When I go out there and execute, I can pitch deep into that ballgame. That’s definitely something I take pride in and I haven’t done that through two starts, but that is something I will look forward to doing in five days.”
|04.11.16 at 5:31 pm ET|
Red Sox fans came to Fenway Park excited to see the two big newcomers — David Price and Craig Kimbrel — but they left the park wishing they chose another game to see the new acquisitions for the first time.
With Price and Kimbrel being the major reasons why, the Red Sox fell to the Orioles 9-7 in the home opener Monday afternoon.
With the game knotted at 6 in the top of the ninth inning, Kimbrel walked two batters before allowing a three-run homer to Chris Davis, which was crushed to dead-center field.
Mookie Betts hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and then the Red Sox had the game-winning run at the plate with two runners on in David Ortiz with no outs, but he hit into a double play. The next batter Hanley Ramirez was retired to end the game.
“I can only speak for what went through my head, and it was alike a fate/destiny thing — his last home opener, what a way to end it,” Betts said about when Ortiz stepped to the plate. “I was fully confident in his ability to hit it out of the park as well as hit a base hit. He hit the ball well, but they were able to make a diving play. I was very confident at that time.”
The Orioles are now 6-0 and the only unbeaten team in baseball.
Price didn’t have his A-game either in his first start at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox, especially in the third inning when he allowed a three-run homer to Mark Trumbo. The left-hander allowed a two-run single to Davis in the at-bat before, as the Orioles led 5-2 after the inning.
“It’s kind of been my Achilles heel — having that one bad inning,” Price said. “That’s all it takes in this game. It can be one pitch and today it was just that one bad inning.”
The new Red Sox left-hander didn’t have the best command in the game as he threw 104 pitches in five innings of work. Overall, Price went five innings and allowed five earned runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out eight. Despite the lack of command, he did record 20 swing-and-misses.
Before today, Price had allowed 16 earned runs in 74 innings at Fenway Park. Monday, he allowed five earned runs in the first three innings.
|04.11.16 at 4:11 pm ET|
David Price didn’t exactly turn in the ace-like performance the sellout crowd at Fenway Park anticipated.
Making his Fenway debut as a member of the Red Sox, Price lasted just five innings in his outing against the Orioles, allowing five runs on five hits. The lefty struck out eight and walked two.
All five of the runs off Price came in the third inning, with Mark Trumbo’s three-run homer into the Red Sox bullpen serving as the biggest blow.
The Sox starter left with the scored knotted at 5.
It marked just the ninth time in Price’s career that he had thrown as many as 104 pitches while pitching five or fewer innings. The last time he has such an outing came on June 13, 2012, allowing seven runs over five innings in a loss to the Mets.
Coming into Monday, Price was 2-23 in regular-season games when allowing five or more runs.
The lefty was relieved by Matt Barnes, who gave up back-to-back doubles from J.J. Hardy and Jonathan Schoop to start the sixth, giving the Orioles a one-run lead.
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