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Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz sits out for Rich Hill’s return

09.13.15 at 10:01 am ET
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With his 500th career home run in the books, David Ortiz will get a day off in the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Rays on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Taking his place in the designated hitter spot will be Allen Craig.

Also getting the start will be Deven Marrero, who slots in at third base against Tampa Bay starter Drew Smyly.

Perhaps the most notable piece of the Red Sox‘ plan is Rich Hill taking the hill as a starting pitcher for the first time sine July 27, 2009. According to Elias, the last left-handed pitcher to go at least six years between major league starts was Brad Thomas, who started on Aug. 11, 2001, and then again April 24, 2010.

Hill will attempt to continue the recent run by Red Sox starters, who have posted a 2.65 ERA in the last eight contests.

Here is the Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Travis Shaw, 1B
Rusney Castillo, LF
Allen Craig, DH
Deven Marrero, 3B
Sandy Leon, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF

For the pitching matchups, click here.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Rich Hill vs. Drew Smyly

09.13.15 at 9:08 am ET
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Recently reacquired Rich Hill will make his first major league start since 2009 when the Red Sox close out a three-game series against the Rays and left-hander Drew Smyly on Sunday afternoon.

The 35-year-old Hill, a native of Milton, was in the Sox organization from 2010 to 2012 and again in 2014 before being traded to the Angels midseason. His last stint in the majors came with the Yankees late last year. He was in the Nationals organization to start this season before being released in June. Rather than look for another deal as a reliever, Hill joined the independent league Long Island Ducks and impressed the Sox enough to earn a look as a starter.

“It is special,” Hill said of his latest opportunity with his hometown team. “It’s special to be home, it really is. Somebody asked me if it was improbable. I may have said yes, but that was really my goal — to get back and to start.”

After being signed to a minor league deal on Aug. 10 by the Sox, Hill went 3-2 with an ERA of 2.78 in five starts with Pawtucket before being called up. The left-hander will look to start his rejuvenated career on a positive note Sunday afternoon as part of Boston’s six-man September rotation.

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What David Ortiz had to say after hitting 500th homer

09.13.15 at 12:30 am ET
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After becoming the 27th player in major league history to hit 500 home runs, this is what David Ortiz told reporters Saturday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.:

On deciding to play Saturday: “I thought I was going to play today, but they told me that they don’t want me on the turf for three straight days. I told them I’m going to play last night and if I feel good the next day, I’ll come back and play. I was going to have a day off, that was the plan. But they didn’t know if it was going to be today or tomorrow. [Torey] Lovullo just texted me early, see how I feel, I told him I was going to play and I played.”

On Dustin Pedroia‘s chance to reach 500: “Plenty of time. He’s signed for another 10 years.”

On what the last few weeks were like: “Well, what can I tell you? The past couple of weeks I think there was one day I was trying to hit homers and I think I went 0-for-4 with four punchouts. I was working on just trying to put a good swing on the ball and whatever happens, happens. You guys have seen me lately hitting the ball opposite field. When I’m swinging the bat well, that’s what I do, hit the ball everywhere. I think tonight was one of those nights where if you feel good, swinging the bat good, if you see pitches to hit facing the Devil Rays — I think the Devil Rays have one of the best pitching staffs in the game and they don’t miss much. They have a plan, a game plan against you, and they execute pretty well. I was trying to focus on putting a good swing on the ball.”

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It seems like perfect time to appreciate David Ortiz

09.12.15 at 11:49 pm ET
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David Ortiz celebrates his 500th career home run. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

David Ortiz celebrates his 500th career home run. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Enjoy the moment.

David Ortiz did.

Big Papi joined baseball’s 500-home run club Saturday night in a big way when he launched two home runs off of Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore in the original Fenway South, known locally as Tropicana Field.

It was another case of Ortiz being Ortiz.

His second home run of the game, No. 500, came in the fifth.

It was a solo shot. Fitting for this accomplishment. The announced crowd of 20,698 stood as one and cheered Ortiz. His teammates streamed out of the dugout to greet him. This was good.

The 2-2 curveball landed somewhere between the right field wall and Venus.

Ortiz has been makin’ it rain for the Red Sox since 2003. He’s whacked 442 regular-season and 17 postseason home runs since he was released by the Twins.

Signing Ortiz as an unrestricted free agent is the karmatic historic counterweight to Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez combined.

On Saturday night, he homered in the first. A three-run shot. Then he led off the fifth. Five pitches later, his no-doubter made him the 27th major leaguer to earn MLB’s half-grand prize.

He swung. He watched. He took his sweet damn time rounding the bases.

Wouldn’t you?

“I’m glad I did that. I’m glad it’s over,” Ortiz said, according to interim manager Torey Lovullo.

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David Ortiz becomes 27th member of 500 home run club

09.12.15 at 7:48 pm ET
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David Ortiz wasn’t stuck at 499 for long. Four innings after pulling within one of the 500 home run club, Ortiz became the 27th member when he launched a Matt Moore curveball into the right field seats at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.

No. 500 was a solo home run, while No. 499 was a three-run shot that got the Red Sox off and running Saturday night. Ortiz’s historic blast in the fifth inning extended the Sox’ lead to 8-0.

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David Ortiz hits career home run No. 499 in 1st inning of Saturday’s game vs. Rays

09.12.15 at 6:56 pm ET
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Now the watch really begins. David Ortiz moved one home run away from becoming the 27th player in major league history to join the 500 home run club.

Ortiz blasted No. 499 — a three-run shot — in the first inning of Saturday’s game against the Rays, depositing a Matt Moore fastball into Tropicana Field‘s right field seats.

It was Ortiz’s 33rd home run of the season and his seventh off a left-hander.

Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia makes return

09.12.15 at 2:33 pm ET
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The plan to ease Dustin Pedroia back from his hamstring injury has him playing his first road game since late July 22.

After sitting out Game 1 of the Sox’ three-game set with the Rays, Pedroia will start against Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore Saturday night at Tropicana Field.

Making Pedroia’s availability even more important is the absence of Brock Holt, who was forced to leave Friday night’s contest with back spasms.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox lineup with Rick Porcello taking the hill for the visitors:

Mookie Betts CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Travis Shaw 1B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Rusney Castillo LF
Blake Swihart C
Jackie Bradley Jr. RF

For a recap of Friday night’s game, click here.

Closing Time: Junichi Tazawa, Red Sox bullpen implode again in loss to Rays

09.11.15 at 10:38 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval couldn't catch up to this Chris Archer offering. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval couldn’t catch up to this Chris Archer offering. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Remember when Junichi Tazawa was good? It’s becoming a distant memory.

As the Red Sox assess areas in need of improvement for 2016, the bullpen belongs atop the list. On Friday night in Tampa, Tazawa continued a horrid stretch by blowing a save in the eighth inning as part of an implosion that turned a potential 4-3 Red Sox victory into a demoralizing 6-4 loss.

This one was on Tazawa, whose struggles date to the start of the second half. He took a 5.40 ERA since the All-Star break into his appearance, and that was before submitting the following horror show: double, single, wild pitch, homer, single, wild pitch, steal, strikeout, mercifully lifted.

When Noe Ramirez allowed another homer, that closed the book on Tazawa, who ended up allowing four hits and four runs in just one-third of an inning.

He now owns a 6.95 ERA in the second half and has allowed opposing batters to compile an OPS of over 1.000. Interim manager Torey Lovullo told reporters in Florida that the club has no plans to shut down Tazawa.

“I don’t think so, no,” he said. “We know he’s had 71 outings back-to-back years, he’s into the 60s now. I really don’t think so. He’s a guy that’s in tremendous shape. He wants to be in that moment. I just think fastball command right now is a little bit inconsistent. They hit a couple good pitches tonight. I want to give them a little bit of credit.”

It’s too bad, because Tazawa’s implosion ruined what had the look of another encouraging victory. The Red Sox overcame an immediate 3-1 hole against overpowering Rays starter Chris Archer to knock him out of the game after five-plus innings. The Sox then rallied for three runs in that frame and appeared to be in line for the win until Tazawa decided otherwise.

Left-hander Wade Miley delivered one of his grittier efforts of the season, overcoming Tampa’s three-run first to silence the Rays until Tazawa took over in the eighth. Miley allowed seven hits and three runs in seven innings, striking out five and walking none.

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Red Sox lineup: Dustin Pedroia on bench as Red Sox face Rays with David Ortiz going for 500 homers

09.11.15 at 3:33 pm ET
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The Red Sox released their lineup for Friday night’s matchup against the Rays, and it’s missing a familiar face — Dustin Pedroia.

The second baseman, who just returned from a six-week absence due to a hamstring injury, will sit out this one despite Thursday’s off day. He played on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Blue Jays, going 2-for-9 with a double and a run in his first game action since July 22.

There’s no word yet on the cause of Pedroia’s absence, though interim manager Torey Lovullo should address the media later in the day.

The night’s other main storyline is designated hitter David Ortiz, who has 498 career home runs and needs just two more to become the 27th player in history to hit 500.

Here’s the rest of the lineup:

Mookie Betts CF
Brock Holt 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Travis Shaw 1B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Rusney Castillo LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Jackie Bradley Jr. RF

Wade Miley takes the mound for the Red Sox. Here are the matchups as the Red Sox battle Rays ace Chris Archer.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Wade Miley vs. Chris Archer

09.11.15 at 3:21 pm ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

In the opener of a weekend series in St. Petersburg, Fla. — and a nine-game road trip for the Red Sox — lefty Wade Miley goes up against Rays ace Chris Archer.

Miley (11-10, 4.43 ERA) will look to continue the success from his dominant performance on Saturday, when he pitched a complete game, allowing two earned runs on five hits to pick up his 11th win of the year in the Red Sox‘ 9-2 victory over the Phillies.

“He was just on the attack from the first inning on,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “A little bit of a hiccup after we had the eight-run inning. There was a little bit of a pause there. But all in all, that was the only time he got nicked up. He was in control of all of his innings, pitch count-wise. A complete effort by him.”

Miley has done a solid job against the Rays this year, standing at 1-1 in three starts with an ERA of 1.93. His win came against Archer on April 21. Overall against Tampa Bay, Miley is 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA in five starts. He’s 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA in three games at the Tropicana Dome.

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