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Closing Time: Steven Wright dominates, Mookie Betts leads offensive explosion, Red Sox cruise past Dodgers

08.06.16 at 1:08 am ET
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Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) celebrates his 23rd homer of the season with David Ortiz on Friday in Los Angeles. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts (50) celebrates his 23rd homer of the season with David Ortiz on Friday in Los Angeles. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright turned back the clock to May on Friday night, and the Red Sox followed his lead.

The knuckleballer dominated the Dodgers in the fashion that earned him a spot on the American League All-Star team. The offense exploded. Put the two together and the Red Sox claimed their first easy victory in more than two weeks with a 9-0 whitewashing of the Dodgers.

Wright was masterful, allowing three hits to record his first shutout. Had Justin Turner not touched him for a clean double in the second, Wright would’ve taken a no-hitter into the eighth.

Regardless, Wright gave the Red Sox exactly they needed. He had entered the game in a slump, with a 6.23 ERA in six starts since July 1. He went 4-0 in that span and the Red Sox won five times, so it didn’t hurt the team in the standings, but it didn’t fill anyone with confidence, either.

However, facing a National League offense unfamiliar with his signature pitch, Wright cruised, at one point retiring 15 straight before Yasmani Grandal singled leading off the eighth.

Wright unfurled a big smile after Josh Reddick popped to Xander Bogaerts in short left field to end it.

Offensively, the star of the night was once again Mookie Betts. The All-Star right fielder went 3-for-5 with his 23rd homer. He boosted his average to .309 and his RBI total to 73, maintaining his 30-100 pace and strengthening his case for MVP consideration, should the Red Sox remain in contention.

The homer-happy Sox also got long balls from Sandy Leon (4th) and Travis Shaw (14th) in winning their second straight and fourth in six games.

They needed it, too, because all three of their primary playoff rivals — Baltimore, Toronto, and Detroit — prevailed in earlier action.

Closing Time note

With his fourth complete game, Wright tied Chicago ace Chris Sale and Giants All-Star Johnny Cueto for the most in baseball.


— Wright was on point from the very start, mixing his knuckleball and his fastball and keeping the Dodgers off balance. He struck out nine and walked only one over the course of 119 pitches.

— Betts remains on fire. Fresh off his Player of the Month Award for July, he stayed hot in August, boosting his OPS within a whisker of .900. He remains on pace to become the first player in history to record 30 homers and 100 RBIs out of the leadoff spot.

— Second baseman Aaron Hill had a productive night, going 1-for-1 with two runs and three walks.

— Sandy Leon unloaded on a Scott Kazmir offering in the third, ripping his fourth home run of the year and his third batting right-handed.

— Playing in the park where he grew up watching baseball when his father, Jeff Shaw, played for the Dodgers, Travis Shaw made his presence felt with the homer that started a five-run eighth.


— Only one thing went wrong, but it was big. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia fouled a ball off his shin/ankle in the third and left the game one inning later with a contusion.

Read More: AL playoff standings, Dodgers, mookie betts, Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia leaves Red Sox game vs. Dodgers after fouling ball off ankle

08.05.16 at 11:44 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia left Friday’s game against the Dodgers, one inning after fouling a ball off his left shin.

Pedroia ripped a Scott Kazmir offering directly onto his left shin in the third, falling immediately to the ground in pain. He was attended to by manager John Farrell and the training staff, limping behind home plate before electing to stay in the game.

He grounded to second and then played defense in the bottom of the third, recording a putout and assist, but he did not take the field in the bottom of the fourth, with Aaron Hill moving over to second and Travis Shaw entering the game at third.

After the game, manager John Farrell told reporters in Los Angeles that initial X-rays were negative, but that Pedroia had suffered a “severe” bruise.

NL West parks haven’t been kind to Pedroia over the years. He fouled a ball off his leg in San Francisco on June 25, 2010 and suffered a broken foot. He returned for two games in August before calling it a season.

Pedroia went 0-for-2 before departing on Friday, dropping his average to .298.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox,

Red Sox reverse course, announce that David Ortiz will play 1B Saturday against Dodgers

08.05.16 at 11:29 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

On second thought, the Red Sox will use David Ortiz in the field.

The team originally intended to employ him only as a pinch hitter this weekend in Los Angeles against the Dodgers with no DH in the National League park, but manager John Farrell told reporters that after consulting with Ortiz and the medical staff, Ortiz will start at first base on Saturday.

“Yeah, he’s in the lineup unless something happens in BP that suggests otherwise,” Farrell told reporters. “He’s at first base. Everything points to David playing first base tomorrow. He feels good physically and the medical staff feels like he was in very good condition as far as getting on the field defensively tomorrow. That’s the status for first base.”

Ortiz has made no secret of the effort it has taken to stay in the lineup, thanks to sore heels. Playing him in the field brings some risk, but Farrell wanted to get him at-bats against right-hander Ross Stripling, with lefty Scott Kazmir starting on Friday and southpaw Rich Hill slated to go on Sunday.

“The at-bats are the risk and the reward inside that,” Farrell told reporters. “Yeah, David was on the field last year in interleague play. We have held off for obvious reasons. With a right-hander going tomorrow sandwiched by two left-handers, we felt like it was a good day to get him on the field.”

Farrell made it clear this is a one-time thing.

“This is one game,” he said. “And granted, can totally understand the potential risk-reward here, but if it wasn’t signed off on all parties, particularly David and the way he feels, we wouldn’t even consider it. But you know what? Games are taking on added importance. His bat in our lineup is an important one and that will be in the lineup tomorrow.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Red Sox,

Report: MLB investigating whether Padres shared all medicals with Red Sox during Drew Pomeranz trade

08.05.16 at 7:29 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz

Drew Pomeranz

Major League Baseball is investigating whether the San Diego Padres shared all relevant medical information on Drew Pomeranz with the Red Sox before dealing him to Boston for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, according to a report on ESPN.com.

The story says MLB is taking a look at that deal, as well as another made with the Marlins that resulted in injured starter Colin Rea being returned to San Diego after just four innings in Miami because of an injury.

The story goes on to say the Red Sox do not plan to seek any reparations from the Padres, nor do they plan to try to reverse the deal for Pomeranz, who is winless in four starts with Boston. On Thursday, he took a no-decision in a 3-2 win over the Mariners, walking a career-high six batters.

The report also says the Red Sox have become aware of “medical information with Pomeranz” that was not properly disclosed before the trade.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Drew Pomeranz, san diego padres,

What if Mark Teixeira signed with Red Sox?

08.05.16 at 11:52 am ET
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Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira

So, Mark Teixeira is calling it quits, and Lars Anderson is still playing. Who knew?

In case you forgot, Teixeira still represents one of the few free agents the Red Sox actually wanted and didn’t get. It was after the 2008 season that the then 28-year-old chose the Yankees offer of eight years at $180 million over the Sox’ comparable proposal.

Immediately after losing out on Teixeira — who had last played for the Angels before the Yanks thanks to midseason trade — the Red Sox front office immediately sounded the siren, letting all of those within earshot that missing out of the first baseman wasn’t the end of the world because there was a future star first baseman almost ready for major league action: Lars Anderson.

Teixeira, however, continued to be a sore subject for the Red Sox. That was evident when, after a Sox June 11 win over New York, Sox owner John Henry took to Twitter to take a not-so-subtle jab at the first baseman and his new team.

The sensitivity only amped up after Teixeira finished second in the American League MVP voting in his first year in New York on the way to a World Series championship for the Yankees.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox were surviving without Teixeira, as Kevin Youkilis managed to finish sixth in the A.L. MVP voting in ’09. Two years later, Adrian Gonzalez with the Red Sox after the Sox finally jumped ship from the Lars Anderson dream. (The big lefty hitter would be dealt at the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline for a pitcher named Steven Wright.)

In fact, over the first three seasons of Teixeira’s contract with the Yankees the Red Sox’ first basemen outproduced New York at the position (.888 OPS vs. .863 OPS). Still, during that time, Teixeira was still getting MVP votes while never playing fewer than 156 games.

But starting in 2012, the injuries started piling up on Teixeira and all of a sudden the Red Sox were able to finally pound their chests about not possessing the contract. The Red Sox won a World Series with a $13 million-a-year first baseman in Mike Napoli in 2013, a season in which the Yankees starting first baseman only played 15 games.

The last two seasons, both teams have been chasing certainty at first base. Teixeira did manage an .803 OPS with 53 home runs over that span, but never played in 123 games in 2014 and 111 games a year ago. Thanks mostly to the struggles of Napoli, the Red Sox’ first basemen were 24th overall in OPS from 2014-15.

Now Teixeira is announcing his retirement after struggling for most of this season while continuing to battle injuries, with the Yankees’ first basemen dead last in OPS. The Red Sox are 15th overall in OPS at the position, with some viable options for the future of the position if Hanley Ramirez morphs into a designated hitter.

Now that it’s almost all said and done, the Red Sox’ first baseman have totaled an .814 OPS since the beginning of 2009, with the Yankees coming in at .793.

And the now-28-year-old Lars? He’s hitting .279 with a .795 OPS with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa.

Would Red Sox won more or less if they signed Mark Teixeira?

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Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Rusney Castillo stays hot by going 4-for-4, LHP Brian Johnson delivers 2nd consecutive strong start for PawSox

08.05.16 at 11:27 am ET
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Here’s a look at what happened in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (58-54): W, 3-1, at Rochester (Twins)

— The Rochester pitchers had no answer for Rusney Castillo. Castillo went 4-for-4 with an opposite-field RBI triple and a run scored. Rochester pitchers being unable to retire Castillo has been a theme throughout the three-game series, as Castillo has gone 9-for-14 over the last three days. Since July 27, Castillo is 16-for-33 (.485). During Castillo’s hot streak his batting average has risen from .233 to .257. The 29-year-old Cuban is hitting .257/.299/.342 in 76 games with Pawtucket.

— Brian Johnson turned in his second consecutive strong start., pitching six innings and allowing just one run, three hits and three walks with six strikeouts. In his last two starts (12 innings), Johnson has given up just one run. The 25-year-old lefty is 4-4 in 10 starts with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP for Pawtucket.

— Heath Hembree earned his fifth save of the year by striking out the side in the ninth. Hembree has dominated in Triple-A, striking out 16 of the 30 batters he has faced while getting out 23 of the last 24 hitters he has seen. Hembree was demoted to Pawtucket on July 24. With Boston, Hembree was 4-0 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP in 27 games.

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Read More: brian johnson, Rusney Castillo, Trey Ball,

Red Sox outfielder Blake Swihart needs second opinion on ankle, leaving season in doubt

08.05.16 at 9:09 am ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

When Blake Swihart severely sprained his ankle in June, the Red Sox initially feared the injury would be season-ending.

It looks like their fears may be coming true.

Swihart has suffered a setback in his rehab, according to the team, and will visit Dr. Robert Anderson, a foot and ankle specialist, on Friday in Charlotte for a second opinion.

The hope a week ago had been that Swihart would be able to begin a rehab assignment in the next few days, but that’s not going to happen, and with the season in its final two months, the odds of the young catcher-turned-outfielder returning this year grow increasingly distant.

Swihart twisted his ankle gruesomely when colliding awkwardly with the side wall in Fenway Park’s left field on June 4 against Toronto. He’s hitting .258 in 19 games.

Read More: blake swihart, Red Sox, severe ankle sprain,

Friday’s Red Sox-Dodgers matchups: Steven Wright vs. Scott Kazmir

08.05.16 at 8:33 am ET
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The Red Sox will complete the final leg of their West Coast road trip with a three-game series vs. the Dodgers in Los Angeles. To start the series on Friday night, the Sox will call upon knuckleballer Steven Wright with the Dodgers sending Scott Kazmir to the hill.

Wright is 12-5 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.242 WHIP. On Sunday, Wright pitched five innings, giving up three runs on 10 hits (all singles) and two walks with five strikeouts in a 5-3 win over the Angels. Wright was able to keep the Angels off the scoreboard until the fifth inning, when he gave up three runs. Wright has struggled in the fifth inning this year. In 19 2/3 fifth innings pitched he has allowed 14 runs.

Wright has never faced the Dodgers. Against the National League, Wright is 2-0 in four games (three starts) with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP. Wright’s last interleague start came in May against Colorado. In that outing, Wright went seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned), seven hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

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Read More: Scott Kazmir, steven wright,

Closing Time: Brock Holt’s single in 11th lifts Red Sox to win over Mariners

08.05.16 at 3:08 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia singles during the eighth inning at Safeco Field on Thursday. (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

Dustin Pedroia singles during the eighth inning at Safeco Field on Thursday. (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

It wasn’t easy, but the Red Sox got their split in Seattle.

Brock Holt’s single off the glove of diving shortstop Shawn O’Malley in the 11th inning drove in the go-ahead run and Brad Ziegler stranded a runner at third to save it as the Red Sox held on for a 3-2 victory that draws them even at 4-4 on their road trip as they move on to Los Angeles to close it out with three games against the Dodgers.

Holt, who entered the game as a pinch hitter for Bryce Brentz in the seventh, won it after Travis Shaw led off the 11th with a single and was sacrificed to second. Holt’s grounder up the middle might not have scored Shaw, but O’Malley deflected it on the dive, slowing it down just enough to guarantee the run crossed home.

Until that point, it looked like another frustrating night for the Red Sox, who blew a 2-0 lead before advancing to extras.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, acquired to settle the back of the rotation, proved hard to hit but struggled to find the plate. He limited the Mariners to four hits, but still surrendered 10 baserunners by walking a career-high six. He departed after allowing two runs in six innings.

Missed opportunities have marked this road trip, and the Red Sox got an early start by loading the bases with one out in the first without scoring.

The Mariners returned the favor in the fourth when Pomeranz walked the bases loaded.

The Red Sox struck first on Shaw’s solo homer in the second. They pushed their lead to 2-0 in the fifth on consecutive doubles by Bryce Brentz and Mookie Betts.

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Read More: Drew Pomeranz, Mariners, mookie betts, Red Sox

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Rusney Castillo goes 3-for-5 for PawSox; Rainel Rosario hits grand slam for Portland

08.04.16 at 11:57 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the minors on Wednesday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (57-54): L, 3-2, vs. Rochester (Twins)

— A second-inning RBI ground out proved to be the difference in the PawSox’ loss Wednesday night. After each team scored a pair of runs in the first inning, the Twins added the aforementioned run in the second and proceeded to hold on the remainder of the game.

— In the final four innings alone, Pawtucket stranded nine men on base.

— PawSox starter Henry Owens went five innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits with seven strikeouts and four walks. He also allowed a first inning home run to Wilfredo Tovar. The 24-year-old lefty is now 6-6 this season with a 4.06 ERA and 1.44 WHIP. Opposing batters are hitting .222 against him.

— Lead off hitter Rusney Castillo had a solid night at the dish, going 3-for-5 with a double and a run scored. The 29-year-old Cuban is hitting .247 in Pawtucket this season.

— Marco Hernandez, Chris Marrero and Chris Dominguez each had a pair of hits.

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Read More: henry owens, rainel rosario, Rusney Castillo,
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