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Red Sox-Yankees series preview

05.01.15 at 12:25 pm ET
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Alex Rodriguez is one home run away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on MLB's all-time list. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez heads to Fenway Park one home run away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on MLB’s all-time list. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The Red Sox start a three-game series against the Yankees on Friday, New York’s first visit of the season to Fenway Park. Boston took two of three from the Yankees in their previous meeting this season, with 6-5 and 8-4 wins and a 14-4 loss. New York currently holds the top spot in the AL East with a record of 13-9. Boston is tied for second, one game behind.

Heading into the weekend series, the Red Sox pitching staff holds a major league-worst 5.04 ERA. It is 22nd with a 1.36 WHIP and 19th with a .259 batting average against. Through 22 games, Red Sox pitching already has given up 25 home runs. Joe Kelly is the only Boston starter with an ERA under 5.00, and he is hovering near that mark at 4.94.

The Red Sox offense has been too inconsistent to make up for the underwhelming pitching. It is producing runs at a good rate (113, which is third in baseball), but its subpar batting average suggests that this trend will not last long. Boston batters are hitting .245, putting them 15th in baseball. The Sox offense, which was expected to be one of the elite units in the league, has an OPS of .711, which puts it behind all other teams in the AL East except the Rays.

Just four Red Sox hitters have averages over .274 on the season: Brock Holt (.386), Pablo Sandoval (.312), Hanley Ramirez (.293) and Dustin Pedroia (.291). Over the last seven days, however, the offense has been heating up. Six hitters are batting over .300, six have OBPs of .370 or higher, and they have scored a total of 36 in six games.

Hanley Ramirez is tied for first in the majors with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs. He also boasts a .659 slugging percentage, which is good for fourth in baseball.

The Yankees are coming off four consecutive series victories, winning the majority of games against the Tigers, Mets and Rays (twice) since April 17. During that stretch, New York is 10-3 and has claimed the top spot in the division.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Justin Masterson vs. CC Sabathia

05.01.15 at 8:11 am ET
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As April comes to an end and May enters the city of Boston, so too do the Yankees. Opening the series with a Friday evening game, Justin Masterson (2-0, 5.16 ERA) will take the mound for Red Sox while Yankees right-hander CC Sabathia (0-4, 5.96) gets his first look at Boston this year.

The story for the Red Sox rotation in the month of April was its struggles to turn out quality starts for the team and last longer in games. The starters have been inconsistent, garnering a league-worst 5.75 rotation ERA.

“It’s been every other start,” manager John Farrell said after his team’s loss Tuesday. “There’s been quality starts in between outings, where they’ve been less than [needed], such as tonight. We’ve been victimized by the big inning, and we’ve got to find a way to minimize the damage inside those situations.”

Red Sox starters have registered 119 innings pitched over the course of the season, seventh fewest in the league. Sox relievers have logged 82 2/3 innings. Only Rangers relievers have pitched more with 83 1/3 innings.

Masterson’s last outing was a seven-inning stint against the Orioles on Saturday in which he allowed three earned runs on seven hits. The righty kept his team in the game, but the Red Sox were only able to cross the plate twice with their starter on the hill. They managed to tie the score in the top of the ninth and went ahead in the 10th, 4-3, but closer Koji Uehara surrendered a two-run, walkoff homer to David Lough for the loss.

Masterson has nine starts against the Yankees in his career and 13 total appearances. In 59 1/3 innings pitched, he has a 3.94 ERA with a 1.433 WHIP. Of the 63 hits he’s given up to New York, eight have been for extra bases, and he is averaging 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings. New York is hitting at a .269/.337/.321 clip when facing him.

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Red Sox Minor League Notebook: Ben Crockett says Manuel Margot will be a ‘very good player'; Yoan Moncada update

04.30.15 at 1:41 pm ET
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Outfielder Manuel Margot reportedly has drawn interest from the Phillies. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

Outfielder Manuel Margot (shown last year) reportedly has drawn interest from the Phillies. (Darrell Snow/Greenville Drive)

The Cole Hamels-Red Sox rumors have picked up again this week, with a new name in the discussions as a prospect the Phillies may want — outfielder Manuel Margot.

A report in the Philadelphia Daily News said adviser Charlie Manuel has plans to visit Salem, Virgina and watch Margot play with High-A Salem. Margot is a 20-year-old center fielder who got called up to Salem at the end of last year, and is quickly rising in the eyes of talent evaluators.

Some have even compared Margot to Mookie Betts.

Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett isn’t one to make comparisons between players, but believes Margot is going to be a very good one.

“I don’t know that I want to make comparisons to one guy to the other,” Crockett said to WEEI.com. “I think Manuel is going to be a very good player in his own right. He continues to [make] his path to doing that. I think he’s got physical abilities to play in the middle of the diamond, to put the bat on the ball, to hit the ball with impact and have a good approach at the plate. There’s certainly some physical skills there.”

Margot is hitting .323 with a .361 on-base percentage through 17 games this season. He had an impressive streak that ended Wednesday, as he went 62 at-bats to start the season without a strikeout (79 going back to 2014).

Although monitoring strikeouts aren’t high on Crockett’s priority list, his streak did get some attention.

“I mean, yeah, I don’t see it too often,” said Crockett. “I don’t know that’s something we’ve strive for, not ever striking out. I think strikeouts are part of the game, but obviously it shows it effects the level of confidence he’s feeling at the plate right now — the way he’s seeing the ball, the consistency of his swing to battle with two strikes. It’s not like he’s swinging at the first pitch every time. He’s seeing some pitches and working some walks and finding his way on base. He’s shown a pretty good ability to battle with two strikes right now and he’s feeling pretty good about himself.”

Margot showed more power last year combining for 12 home runs between Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem, after hitting just one with short-season Lowell in 2013.

The Red Sox don’t appear even close to considering dealing Blake Swihart or Mookie Betts, so the Phillies’ interest in Margot is worth monitoring.


The No. 1 ranked prospect in the Red Sox‘ farm system remains in extended spring training after signing with the organization in mid-March. The organization is remaining patient with the 19-year-old, as he didn’t play organized baseball in over a year and he’s still adjusting to the American game, as well as the culture.

“Just getting used to it and getting used to the daily routine, what’s expected of the cage work, batting practice, physical routines and daily preparation,” Crockett said. “Being in the right place at the right time. Being mentally ready and the grind of playing every day. All those things. Not to mention the cultural challenges of being in a new culture without having the benefit of some of our other Latin American players of spending some time at the academy and learning some of those things and forming a bond with the others. There’s a lot of newness for Yoan, but he’s done a really good job of embracing those things and learning a lot.”

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Read More: ben crockett, manuel margot, Red Sox Minor League Notebook, yoan moncada

Part of the ‘Ohana': Shane Victorino pulling for Marcus Mariota

04.30.15 at 12:09 pm ET
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Shane Victorino has gone through something like this before. A few years ago, he was texting with linebacker Manti T’eo leading up to the NFL Draft. A few months earlier, the outfielder had been a guest of T’eo and his family for the final Notre Dame home game of the 2012 season.

Now, it’s Marcus Mariota.

“It was the same thing,” Victorino said.

Identical in the sense that like T’eo, Victorino also attended one of Mariota’s games, taking the former Oregon quarterback out to dinner after beating Stanford. Similar because the Sox outfielder has been also texting with the soon-to-be draftee, offering encouragement and advise.

But what makes Victorino’s interactions with both T’eo and Mariota mirror-images of one another is foundation behind the relationships. All are living the life of Hawaiians entering into the world of professional sports.

“I was texting last week just to see how he’€™s doing and how things are going,” said Victorino of Mariota, who figures to be one of top picks in Thursday night’s NFL Draft. “It’€™s important to be open to help. I told him, ‘€˜If there is any question for anything, if there’€™s one guy who has experienced ‘€“ maybe not in the game of football ‘€“ agents, the ups and downs, being at the high and losing at the top. So we’€™ve communicated.

“We always use the word ‘Ohana,’ which means family. No matter what, I’€™ll still look at you like family. This kid has remained humble. You always hear him talk about his teammates. Being an unbelievable football player, he still always gives credit to his teammates.”

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Larry Lucchino on D&C: Red Sox have backup plan for starting rotation

04.30.15 at 9:48 am ET
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Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to talk about the Red Sox, specifically the starting rotation, and also touching on his possible involvement in Boston 2024. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Red Sox’ starting rotation has an ERA of 5.75, the worst in baseball. Four of the five starters have ERA’s over 5.16, with Wade Miley having the highest at 8.62. Lucchino said although it’s too early to make any changes, the team does have a backup plan.

“Of course there is because it’s a long season,” said Lucchino. “You have to have some potential help from your pitching in Triple-A in every season. I think we have some pretty good arms down there and Pawtucket is actually leading the league, part because the pitching has been quite effective down there. There’s that backup plan and then there is another backup plan.

“There’s an old saying, ‘I don’t cross tie my shoes without a backup plan.’ There has to be a backup plan. Third, of course is to acquire some pitching down the road when the opportunity comes for trades. That’s not really generally the case in April.”

Clay Buchholz has an ERA of 5.76 and is coming off a 2 2/3 inning performance Tuesday night when he imploded in the third inning allowing five runs after he was spotted a 4-0 lead. Lucchino is remaining optimistic.

“I’m actually optimistic about Buchholz and I am not known for my optimism in general,” said Lucchino. “I watched him the other night and I was amazed at the movement on his pitches. He has great stuff. Some would say that he left his pitches over the middle of the plate too often and apparently that was the case because he was hit pretty hard. I think if you just watch his pitches and you see what he can do, you wouldn’t want to give up on a player, a pitcher with that kind of talent, that kind of stuff.

“It does come down to stuff, both pitching stuff and the right stuff in your head and your body. I think he’s shown in the past that he has it and I think it would be terribly wrong to give up on Buchholz.”

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Why 2nd inning in Rick Porcello’s gem vs. Blue Jays was the difference

04.29.15 at 10:43 pm ET
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Rick Porcello gave the Red Sox a start Wednesday that can hopefully turn their season around. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello gave the Red Sox a start Wednesday that the team hopes can turn its season around. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Between the second and seventh innings, Rick Porcello retired 13 straight Blue Jays hitters en route to going seven innings of two-hit, one-run ball in the Red Sox‘ 4-1 win Wednesday night.

It was an impressive start that the Red Sox desperately needed, but Porcello said that stretch wasn’t even the biggest of his outing — it was allowing just one run in the second inning.

“My back was against the wall right there,” Porcello said. “We were able to get a big double play. [Dustin Pedroia] made a great play to turn it. That was huge. To me getting out of it with just one run was the difference. We were able to go ahead when Hanley [Ramirez] hit the home run and put some runs up there. I was able to settle down and get some quick outs and get deep in the game.”

After striking out the side after a lead-off walk in the first inning, Porcello allowed Kevin Pillar to open the second inning with a double. Michael Saunders, the next batter, reached on an error by Porcello as he couldn’t step on first base when he was receiving a flip from Mike Napoli. He then hit Dalton Pompey to load the bases with no outs.

Catcher Josh Thole hit a liner that Xander Bogaerts couldn’t handle, but Mookie Betts alertly was able to force Saunders out at third base with Pillar scoring on the play. Porcello was able to get out of the inning with just the one run when he induced a 4-6-3 double play started by Pedroia.

The offense carried the momentum over to the next half inning when they put up three runs — a David Ortiz RBI single followed by a two-run Ramirez homer. The Red Sox’ pitching staff’s nemesis has been shut down innings, so the third inning was particularly important for Porcello, especially struggling in the second and throwing 38 pitches after two innings.

Porcello responded in a big way with a 1-2-3, 11-pitch inning, which set the tone for the remainder of the game.

“A quick inning and getting back in the dugout was huge,” he said. “To keep the momentum and our offense on their pitcher it’s kind of one of those things where you know you just scored some runs and you want to go out there and throw up zeros.”

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Read More: John Farrell, rick porcello, Ryan Hanigan,

Closing Time: Led by Rick Porcello’s gem, Red Sox beat Blue Jays

04.29.15 at 8:53 pm ET
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Rick Porcello gave the Red Sox just what they needed in Wednesday's win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rick Porcello gave the Red Sox just what they needed in Wednesday’s win. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Desperately needing a good start from a starter, Rick Porcello stepped up and delivered.

The 26-year-old went seven innings, allowing just two hits leading the way to a 4-1 Red Sox win over the Blue Jays Wednesday night. The Red Sox took 2-of-3 in the series.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Red Sox bullpen had thrown 15 combined innings in the last three games and the team has called up four relievers from Pawtucket since Sunday.

After allowing a run in the second inning, the right-hander settled in nicely, as he retired 13 straight batters from the end of the second inning to the first batter of the seventh.

“He gave us exactly what we needed,” manager John Farrell said. “Seven strong innings. Turns it over to the bullpen with [Junichi Tazawa] and Koji [Uehara] doing their job. As much as we talked about the starter setting the tone, Rick certainly did that tonight. Beyond Rick, you go back to the third inning, which was really the difference in the game, Mookie [Betts] makes a great catch in center field. [Hanigan] starts the inning off with a long, quality at-bat. Hanley does what he’€™s been doing all month.”

Porcello finished the night going seven full innings, allowing one run on two hits while walking two and striking out six. He threw 99 pitches and it was his first start this season that he didn’t allow a home run.

Koji Uehara picked up the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz provided the Red Sox all the offense they would need in the third inning. Ortiz had an RBI single, which put the Sox on the board and tied the game. Then Ramirez’s two-run home run, which held up as the game-winning RBI.

The Red Sox added an insurance run in the seventh on an RBI single by Betts.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Porcello. He gave the Sox a start they desperately needed. It was just the fifth time in 22 games a Red Sox starter has recorded an out in the seventh inning.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Ben Cherington on pitching woes: ‘Definitely focus internally first’

04.29.15 at 5:18 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Don’t expect to see Cole Hamels in a Red Sox uniform anytime soon.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington is not ready to explore alternatives to his beleaguered starting rotation, but if the club reaches that point, it will focus internally before entering the trade market.

Red Sox starters entered Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays with the worst ERA in the big leagues (6.03), but Cherington told WEEI.com that now is not the time to make changes.

“Right now, [we’re focused on] the five guys we have here,” he said. “Keep running them out there, and getting better. The first step is just to help our guys — they have to help themselves, they’re a part of it — but get them closer to pitching to what they’re capable of doing. If they do that, they’ll win games.”

It hasn’t been there for the Red Sox as a staff. They’ve allowed a league-high 118 runs, and their starters are the primary culprits. Clay Buchholz is 1-3 with a 5.76 ERA, followed by Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.48), Joe Kelly (1-0, 4.94), Justin Masterson (2-0, 5.16) and Wade Miley (1-2, 8.62).

That has led to speculation that Cherington might engage the trade market earlier than usual, with Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels pitching better, Philadelphia reportedly dispatching former manager Charlie Manuel to Single-A Salem to evaluate outfielder Manuel Margot, and the Red Sox clearly in need of a boost.

Cherington reiterated that the Red Sox aren’t thinking trade at the moment.

“More time,” he said when asked how much longer he could stick by his starters. “I don’t have an exact date, but more time.”

If the Red Sox do reach a point where they need to make a change, Cherington made it clear that they’ll look to Triple-A Pawtucket first, where left-handers Brian Johnson and Eduardo Rodriguez are pitching well.

“Definitely focus internally first,” he said.

Red Sox roster moves: Tommy Layne recalled, Dalier Hinojosa selected; Jackie Bradley optioned, Anthony Varvaro designated

04.29.15 at 4:03 pm ET
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Tommy Layne

Tommy Layne

For the fourth straight day, the Red Sox made a roster move affecting their bullpen.

Wednesday the team recalled reliever Tommy Layne and selected Dalier Hinojosa, while optioning Jackie Bradley back to Triple-A Pawtucket and designating Anthony Varvaro for assignment. Varvaro was designated for assignment in order to get Hinojosa onto the 40-man roster.

Bradley Jr. was up for Tuesday’s game, but didn’t get into the game. The bullpen has thrown 15 innings over the last three games, so the extra arms were needed.

“Obviously we needed the ability to have not only fresh arms but another pitcher that’€™s capable of multiple innings and that’€™s where Hinojosa comes into the mix,” manager John Farrell said.

It is Layne’s second stint with the team this year after throwing 4 2/3 innings in the first week of the year and allowing three runs. He was optioned when Koji Uehara returned for the home opener.

Hinojosa signed with the Red Sox in 2013 as an international free agent and spent last year with Pawtucket. The right-hander went 3-5 with a 3.79 ERA in 41 games. This season he’s thrown 7 1/3 innings and allowed three runs. It’s his first taste of the big leagues.

“The stuff that he has, the power in his arm, the breaking ball that he possesses,” Farrell said. “What we needed was another right-hander to matchup against right-handed hitters and that’€™s where he comes into the mix to us.”

Varvaro, who was traded to the Red Sox this offseason, has thrown 11 innings his year and allowed five runs, while walking six. It wasn’t necessarily anything he did poorly, it was just a matter of necessity and making a roster move for a fresh arm.

“We’€™re trying to get a number of guys on track,” said Farrell. “To single any one pitcher out is probably not the right approach given the work that we’€™ve had with the group of guys here. Again, Anthony’€™s strength has been against left-handed hitting in the past. The fact that we’€™ve got three left-handers in the bullpen, the fit was to go the direction we are.”

The Red Sox now are carrying 13 pitchers and 12 position players, one more pitcher than usual.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Anthony Varvaro, dalier hinojosa, jackie bradley, tommy layne

Red Sox lineup: Mike Napoli returns, Brock Holt stays in right field

04.29.15 at 2:08 pm ET
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After missing two games with an illness, Mike Napoli returns to the Red Sox lineup in the series finale with the Blue Jays Wednesday night.

Brock Holt gets his third straight start in right field with Shane Victorino on the disabled list.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval comes into the game swinging as hot of a bat as anyone in the league, as he’s 6-for-7 over the last two games.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello as the Red Sox lineup will go up against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

1. Mookie Betts, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli. 1B
7. Brock Holt, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Rick Porcello, RHP

Read More: Brock Holt, mike napoli,
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