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Red Sox 7, Rays 5: Pablo Sandoval, Mitch Moreland help Sox show scrappy side in comeback

04.16.17 at 6:17 pm ET
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Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) congratulates left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) after defeating the Rays on Sunday. ((Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia (15) congratulates left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) after defeating the Rays on Sunday. ((Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland leading the Red Sox offense — just the way they drew it up this offseason.

That was the case on Easter Sunday, with Sandoval delivering a two-run homer and the red-hot Moreland stroking the game-winning single in a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Rays.

With starter Drew Pomeranz delivering a bipolar performance that included 10 strikeouts but only 13 outs, the Red Sox found themselves in need of a rally. Sandoval got it started with a two-run blast in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4.

Moreland then finished it off with a two-run single in the seventh to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 lead.

When the Red Sox signed Moreland this winter in the same 24-hour span that netted ace Chris Sale and reliever Tyler Thornburg, the defending Gold Glover looked like the lowest impact of the acquisitions. He’s instead hitting .356 with a league-leading nine doubles.

“The one thing coming out of spring training that he showed us was that in RBI situations he didn’t panic, he used the whole field, he had a pretty good plan at the plate, he wasn’t overaggressive, and that was the case again today on a cutter from Cedeno that stayed up,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ve seen him go the other way multiple times, no bigger than today. He’s put together a number of quality at-bats of late, particularly.”

He probably would’ve had double No. 10 on his game-winning hit, but Hanley Ramirez injured his hamstring while rounding second and was removed from the game. Farrell described his injury as a cramp and said the hope is that he returns to the lineup for Monday’s Marathon matinee.

“It started to loosen up once he got off the field,” Farrell said.

Moreland’s heroics helped erase a middling outing from Pomeranz, who walked the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-run triple to Brad Miller that Andrew Benintendi misjudged near the center field fence.

“At first I thought it wasn’t going to get to the wall, so I thought I had a bead on it,” Benintendi said. “I guess it picked up. Might have caught a burst of wind or something. At that point, I was just trying to time the jump. That’s a ball I probably should have caught.”

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

The win was the 500th of Farrell’s managerial career.

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Red Sox notebook: Jackie Bradley Jr. nearing return; Josh Rutledge close, too

04.16.17 at 12:39 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Red Sox lineup, starved power, could be getting a 26-homer hit back in the near future.

Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is scheduled to join Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday in Charlotte and start in center field. The plan, manager John Farrell told reporters at Fenway Park before Sunday’s game against the Rays, is for Bradley to play five innings on Tuesday, nine innings on Wednesday, and then rejoin the Red Sox on Friday for the start of their weekend series in Baltimore.

Bradley was placed on the 10-day disabled list last Saturday after spraining a ligament in his right knee vs. the Tigers while rounding the bases.

He’s not the only injured player nearing a return. Infielder Josh Rutledge, who opened the season on the 10-day DL with a hamstring injury, will join Bradley on the Triple-A rehab assignment, though Farrell said that he’ll need a little more time.

“He’ll need more at-bats and more of a progression defensively getting back on the field,” Farrell noted, adding, “so all are making very good strides here of late.”

Bradley, a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder and 2016 All-Star, hit 26 homers last year and the Red Sox could use his power. They currently rank last in the American League with five homers as a team.

Rutledge, meanwhile, potentially gives Farrell a right-handed bat to platoon with struggling third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who’s hitting just .132.

In other Sox news  . . .

— David Price reported no ill effects after Saturday’s bullpen session. Sunday is a scheduled day off.

“I will say this past week is a step in the right direction in terms of the overall volume and intensity, so we’ll get a better read tomorrow on what the next steps are going to be,” Farrell said. “Whether that’s another bullpen, whether that’s BP, that’s all dependent on how he continues to advance.”

— Knuckleballer Steven Wright is working to make sure his ball doesn’t over-rotate after allowing eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings of his last start, against the Orioles.

“The maintenance for a knuckleballer is to try and deaden spin, and that’s where the focus and emphasis has been,” Farrell said. “As I mentioned the other day: any time spin creates on a knuckleballer, it’s going to be a challenge for him, and a tough day. And it was for Steven he last time out.”

Read More: jackie bradley jr., JBJ, Josh Rutledge, Red Sox

Red Sox 2, Rays 1: Chris Sale was really good. The offense was just good enough. Welcome to the uncomfortable world of Red Sox baseball.

04.15.17 at 7:00 pm ET
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Chris Sale (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Chris Sale (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Like it or not, these are your Red Sox.

Chris Sale saves the day, while the lineup runs up a mountain with a backpack full of rocks just well enough to plant its triumphant flag. In other words, this team showed once again Saturday they really need their new ace to be really good, because an offensive identity still hasn’t been uncovered. Throw in some uncomfortable moments from the bullpen, and there you have it.

This time the formula resulted in a 2-1 Fenway Park win over the Rays. (For a complete recap, click here.)

The good news for the Red Sox, besides their sixth win of the season, was that their perceived luxury item, Sale, has become the be-all, end-all necessity. With most of the rest of the starting rotation wallowing in early-season uneasiness, the lefty has offered the kind of domination not consistently witnessed by Fenway fans in some time. Through three starts, dare we say, this has been Pedro-esque.

Sale struck out 12 Rays hitters over his seven innings, giving up just the one run on three hits and three walks. As for the punctuation to the performance, the starter retired the last 10 batters he faced. His ERA stands at 1.25 ERA with an opponent batting average of .149.

This just in: He’s really good.

“Chris Sale dominant, strong, any adjective you want to attach to it,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He’s got three power type pitches for a lot of swing-and-miss. And let’s face it, three starts he’s made for us, he’s not had any margin of error. We’re able to push across a run late, but he’s worth the price of admission just to see him. But just a strong, strong day from Chris.”

The Red Sox’ offense right now? That’s another matter.

Yes, Farrell’s club did hit a home run. That came on Erasmus Ramirez’s first pitch after replacing an injured Jake Odorizzi (hamstring) to lead off the second base, with Mitch Moreland clearing the right field fence. That would give the Red Sox five on the season. That would be 16 fewer than the Mets coming into the day, and equal to four players’ output (Yoenis Cespedes, Khris Davis, Salvador Perez, George Springer).

And while the Sox are in the middle of the pack in the majors for total runs scored, it just seems like scoring is too much of a tractor pull too many times, particularly with Sale on the mound. The lefty has now gotten three total runs of support in his three starts, with nine of his last 11 appearances (dating back to his days with the White Sox) resulting in two or fewer runs from his own team.

“I also think across the field guys on the mound they know it’s going to be a tough game for them to score as well so whether that draws more out of them,” Farrell said. “I don’t think our guys are pressing to do more we just haven’t scored in the three starts thus far.”

The only reason Sale got the win this time around because of what has become a semi-trademark inning for the Red Sox, this time coming in the seventh.

Singles by Moreland and Xander Bogaerts were followed by a Pablo Sandoval fielder’s choice. After a walk to Chris Young, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash executed the questionable decision to bring in lefty Xavier Cedeno to turn switch-hitting Sandy Leon around to the right side. (Considering Leon entered the game 5-for-9 as a righty, and just 3-for-18 hitting left-handed, it was a head-scratcher.)

But, once again, it Leon to the rescue. This time in the form of … wait for it … a weak grounder to second base that allowed Moreland to run home with the game-winner. An intentional walk to Dustin Pedroia and ground out by Andrew Benintendi later, and the Red Sox were on their way.

The image wouldn’t be complete without some discomfort for the final two innings, with Matt Barnes supplying the awkwardness this time around. The righty came on to put runners on first and second with one out, before ultimately getting Evan Longoria to ground into a 5-4-3, inning-ending double play.

Welcome to Red Sox baseball.

This time it’s the Rays’ starting pitcher who leaves after getting just 3 outs

04.15.17 at 4:40 pm ET
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After a week which saw Steven Wright go just 1 1/3 innings, with Rick Porcello not making it through five frames Friday night, the Red Sox’ opposition finally suffered a similar fate.

After throwing his first pitch in the second inning, with Mitch Moreland at-bat, Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi pulled up lame, pulling his left hamstring. After throwing a warm-up pitcher with Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash and the training staff looking on, the righty walked to the dugout.

Odorizzi gave up a leadoff single to Dustin Pedroia, but went on to retire Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez without giving up a run.

Moreland would jump on the first pitch from reliever Erasmo Ramirez for a solo home run, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

The Rays starter was coming off a solid outing in his last start, giving up two runs over six innings against Toronto. Odorizzi had kicked off his season allowing four runs in six innings while taking the loss against the Yankees.

Why David Price wasn’t throwing any breaking balls in his latest bullpen session

04.15.17 at 4:04 pm ET
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David Price (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Price (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Saturday morning, David Price continued to move in the right direction.

The Red Sox pitcher executed another bullpen session, this time implementing a few breaks in the routine to further simulate actually pitching. All of a sudden, Price isn’t far away from throwing to actual hitters.

“I haven’t had any setbacks yet. It’s going pretty smooth,” Price said.

But there is one aspect of Price’s game that he hasn’t surfaced when throwing off a mound: throwing breaking balls. On flat ground? Yes. Yet not when participating in these bullpen sessions.

Both Red Sox pitching coach Carl Willis and manager John Farrell relayed, however, the reason behind the lack of anything but fastballs and changeups so far.

“We’re just building arm strength. He’s spun a few balls on the flat ground and in the throwing program. It’s building arm strength and maintaining arm strength before we go to that,” Willis said. “It’s no different than a throwing program preparing for spring training. I think we are approaching the time where we will see those breaking pitches on the mound.

“I don’t necessarily think that once we get to the point where we are facing hitters in a batting practice setting that it’s necessary to already have your breaking ball in play. You can go out and face those hitters in a BP situation with a fastball and changeup and then you progress forward because your breaking pitch comes off your fastball and release point with the arm speed.”

“The one thing that we’re trying to do is not throw a number of variables in at the same time so there’s a progression,” Farrell added. “You go from the long toss to the flat ground to spinning a breaking ball. Then incorporate the angle of the mound. Incorporate some ups and downs, and then also at that point, start to add in a full assortment of pitches. So there’s a little bit more of a systematic approach toward the addition of each variable going forward.”

And then there’s Price’s take.

“Didn’t want to push it too much, with it being the first time I’m throwing pitches and then taking a break and getting back up and throwing more,” the pitcher said.

When Price will throw again is still yet to be determined, although it will likely be at Rogers Centre with the team in Toronto. He is also waiting on something else — the birth of his first child.

“Count the days down until my son gets here, that’s about it,” Price said.

Xander Bogaerts: ‘It’s pretty hard to hit in the cold’

04.14.17 at 11:48 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts seems to have found his swing. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Xander Bogaerts seems to have found his swing. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox offense hasn’t been as advertised to start the season.

Though the first 10 games, the Red Sox are averaging 4.4 runs a game, but have scored three runs or less in three of them.

While 4.4 runs isn’t all that bad, there have been games where they should have had more and several players are getting back into a rhythm after being out with the flu, or for other reasons.

Following Friday’s 10-5 loss to the Rays, Xander Bogaerts admitted it’s not easy hitting in April, especially home runs.

As a team, the Red Sox have just four so far this season.

“I mean in April it’s not easy to hit home runs,” Bogaerts said. “You’re playing in Boston. I know the wall is right there but it’s pretty hard to hit in the cold in general. We’ll hit some home runs, especially when it starts warming up. Looking forward to a lot of home runs from a lot of guys.”

Personally, Bogaerts has seemed to have found something at the plate after a slow start, as he went 3-for-4 with a walk in the loss. It was his third straight multi-hit game.

“I mean the cold is good and bad for me,” he said. “The good part is that it helps me do a little bit less. My effort level goes down because it’s kind of cold. But when it warms up I start swinging a bit bigger. You feel stronger because of the sun and whatever. The cold is good because I just try to do more contact, don’t want to get jammed or off the end for my hands to feel pretty bad.”

While for many players they are not where they want to be at the plate, fortunately the weather is warming up and with that they hope are their bats.

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Rays 10, Red Sox 5: Why Rick Porcello’s poor outing was even more surprising than you think

04.14.17 at 10:47 pm ET
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Rick Porcello had a tough outing on Friday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello had a tough outing on Friday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Rick Porcello was not the pitcher who was supposed to struggle on Friday night.

Coming into the game, Porcello had won five straight decisions against the Rays, while Rays starter Chris Archer entered the game with a 1-11 record and a 5.38 ERA in 16 starts vs. the Red Sox, including a 7.30 ERA at Fenway.

It turned out Porcello looked like the pitcher who had the 7.30 ERA at Fenway, as the right-hander allowed eight runs on eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings, while walking two and striking out five to take the loss. He also allowed four home runs, which were were a career-high.

Ultimately, the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 10-5.

In addition, Porcello had several streaks come to an end (regular season only, not including ALDS vs. Indians last year).

His MLB-leading 20th straight start of going six or more innings came to an end, as well as his AL-leading streak of going five or more innings in 43 straight starts. He also saw a streak of 15 quality starts come to an end. It was the longest active streak in the majors.

“You can live with singles,” Porcello said. “I don’t think it’s so much the number of hits. I’m attacking guys with the fastball. It’s just about location. That’s it. I’ve got to get better with my sinker and four-seamer command and using those two fastballs. That’s really the bottom line. There’s no secret to it. It’s pretty simple. Execute the ball better.”
Added Porcello: “I feel fine. Mechanically I’m pretty much the same. It’s just pinpointing the fastball. I’m not locating it well enough to get in advantage counts and it’s causing me to leave pitches over the plate when I fall behind.”

On the other hand, Archer went 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run on six hits, while walking two and striking out five to pick up the win.

(For a complete recap of the game, click here.)

Porcello is coming off his Cy Young season, but also has dominated the Rays over the course of his career, which made the poor outing even more surprising.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Jackie Bradley Jr. could see live at-bats against David Price as both work way back from injuries

04.14.17 at 5:05 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr. could face David Price next week. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Jackie Bradley Jr. could face David Price next week. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

The earliest Jackie Bradley Jr. (knee) can return from the disabled list is Wednesday, and by all accounts that remains a distinct possibility.

The center fielder did some on-field work Friday afternoon at Fenway Park, including some running with a brace he has been fitted for.

“I think there is [a chance he returns the day he’s eligible],” manager John Farrell said. “I wouldn’t rule it out at this point, particularly with his comments with how he feels coming out of the strength tests that he’s going through and the work they are putting him through. He’s been upbeat. He feels good. I think the brace gives him added confidence and stability as he gets acclimated to it. I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Bradley Jr. suffered the knee injury last weekend in Detroit, but has made progress each day since.

“Good day again today from a rehab and agility standpoint,” Farrell said. “Swung the bat in the cage to determine his on-field ability to take BP, which he will today. He’s wearing a brace and will continue to advance the baseball activities.”

Farrell also said Bradley Jr. might not need a rehab game or two because he could get some live at-bats against David Price.

Price is making steady progress working his way back from an elbow injury and could be ready to face live hitters early next week, which would work out nicely for Bradley Jr. and the team.

“Well, we’re hopeful by the time that comes around, David Price is facing some live hitters at that point so we can get some at-bats in that scenario,” Farrell said.

As for Hanley Ramirez, he’s yet to play a game this year at first base and his throwing program was slowed down because he had the flu last weekend.

According to Farrell, the team isn’t boycotting him playing first base, but know Ramirez prefers to DH.

“I think he does [want to play first base],” Farrell said. “I know for a fact he thrives in the DH slot. That’s probably his preference overall, but in conversations throughout the winter, once we acquired Mitch to the conversations throughout spring training, he understands how our roster is built. He’s not boycotting it, but I know where his preference lies. What is best for our team too has him going over to first base on occasion.”

Read More: David Price, hanley ramirez, jackie bradley jr., John Farrell

Red Sox lineup: Pablo Sandoval, Sandy Leon, Chris Young return in series opener against Rays

04.14.17 at 3:34 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval (Jasen Vinlove/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox are banking on a slightly different lineup as they rolled out Thursday, and a similar result as they’ve had against Chris Archer.

Coming off their come-from-behind victory over the Pirates, the Red Sox begin the first of a four-game series against the Rays, with Archer starting for the visitors. The Tampa Bay righty, who has allowed two runs while going at least seven innings in each of his first two outings, struggled at Fenway Park last year, totaling a 9.58 ERA in two starts.

The only changes in the Red Sox batting order from Thursday will be the addition of Pablo Sandoval at third base, Chris Young in left field and Sandy Leon getting the nod at catcher. Here is their lineup with Rick Porcello on the mound for the hosts:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Andrew Benintendi CF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Chris Young LF
Sandy Leon C

To follow all the goings on with the Red Sox, go to the team page by clicking here.

Coolest Play of the Week: Xander Bogaerts’ go-ahead RBI single helps Red Sox complete sweep

04.14.17 at 11:05 am ET
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Each week, we will be picking the F.W. Webb “Coolest Play of the Week.” This week’s highlight is from Thursday afternoon. With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Xander Bogaerts drove in Hanley Ramirez with a single to right to help the Red Sox complete a (delayed) sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Relive the play below:

F.W._Webb_Company_logo200Enter to win the Coolest VIP Baseball Experience including the chance to watch batting practice and visit the WEEI Broadcast Booth at Fenway! Click here to enter to win.

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