|Red Sox postgame notes: Mike Napoli offers grand protection; Felix Doubront makes Live Ball Era history vs. Yanks; Jackie Bradley breaks through||06.01.13 at 11:53 pm ET|
NEW YORK — A few quick postgame notes:
– Mike Napoli became the first Red Sox with multiple grand slams in a season since Ryan Kalish hit a pair in 2010. His four-run four-bagger came after an intentional walk to David Ortiz. In four plate appearances following an Ortiz intentional walk this year, Napoli is now 2-for-3 with two homers, a sac fly and eight RBI.
“I like protecting him and maybe giving managers another thought of doing that,” said Napoli. “I went in there and just tried to execute. Had a runner on third with less than two outs and tried to hit a fly ball.”
– Napoli, asked if he had any contact with the Yankees this offseason during his strange stretch of limbo while trying to work out a deal with the Red Sox, said that there “might have been a little bit but nothing crazy.”
– Felix Doubront was outstanding, delivering six innings of one-run ball in which he struck out six and walked three. He threw 103 pitches, but just 54 (13.5 per inning) over his final four frames. That continued a remarkable introduction to the Yankees. Doubront has now thrown quality starts in each of his five career starts against the Yankees, becoming the first pitcher to open his career against New York with five straight quality starts in the Live Ball Era (dating to 1920).
“That’s a big part – the challenge. I like that challenge. I try to beat them every time,” Doubront said of his success against New York. “I think adrenaline and wanting to win the game against the Yankees. It’s a lot of things going on in my mind in that moment that made me have confidence and have a lot of conviction.”
Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Felix Doubront dominates, Red Sox offense erupts in blowout win over Yankees||06.01.13 at 10:42 pm ET|
NEW YORK — It was less than a month ago that it started to seem reasonable to question Felix Doubront‘s place in the Red Sox rotation. No longer.
The left-hander overcame some early inefficiency (49 pitches, 26 strikes through the first two innings), stranding a pair of runners but keeping the Yankees off the board in the first and second innings, before settling into one of his more impressive grooves in some time. Once the Red Sox erupted for five runs in the third (keyed by Mike Napoli‘s grand slam), Doubront needed just 54 pitches to navigate the next four innings, a span in which he gave up no walks after conceding three free passes in the first two innings.
Doubront started commanding his 90-92 mph fastball while featuring a tremendous swing-and-miss curveball (a commonality in three straight solid starts), ultimately logging six innings in which he permitted just one run on six hits and three walks (none after the second inning) while striking out six. In his last four starts since being skipped to do some extra delivery work, Doubront has a 2.74 ERA in 23 innings with 24 strikeouts and 13 walks. He’s been even more impressive over his last three outings, working six innings and delivering a quality start in each of them, forging a 2.50 ERA with 17 strikeouts and seven walks in 18 innings.
The result? The questions about Doubront’s place in the rotation have subsided. As a strikeout-an-inning left-hander who is increasingly looking like he has the capacity to be sufficiently pitch-efficient to assume a reasonable starter’s workload, he suddenly looks like a source of strength in the Red Sox rotation rather than the weak link.
The Sox offense, meanwhile, erupted for nine runs on the strength of three homers and 18 hits, as the Sox cruised to an 11-1 victory in Yankee Stadium.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Mike Napoli clubbed a grand slam to right-center on a Phil Hughes fastball following an intentional walk to David Ortiz that loaded the bases. It was Napoli’s ninth homer of the year and increased his team-leading RBI total to 44, putting him on pace to drive in 125 for the year. It was his second hit of the night, following a ringing single to right-center in the second inning, and he later added an infield single, giving Napoli (3-for-5) his second multi-hit game in 18 contests. He appears to be close to the approach that typifies the slugger at his best, driving the ball to the opposite field on fastballs away. After going 12 straight games from May 14-26 without a homer, Napoli now has two four-baggers — both to right-center — in his last six games.
– Daniel Nava, who had been 2-for-11 on the roadtrip and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double play grounder as the leadoff hitter (in place of Jacoby Ellsbury) on Friday, rebounded to go 4-for-6 with three singles and an eighth-inning three-run homer, Nava’s eighth homer this year. It was his first multi-hit game since May 22, and the four hits matched a career-high that he’d previously accomplished twice (both times in June 2012). Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox pregame notes: Questions about Shane Victorino’s return; Jacoby Ellsbury remains out||06.01.13 at 6:49 pm ET|
NEW YORK — For the second straight day, Jacoby Ellsbury is out of the Red Sox lineup and unavailable due to tightness in his left groin. Manager John Farrell said that there was a chance that he could be ready to return to the lineup on Sunday, but that such an assessment would not be made until Ellsbury — who suffered the injury while stealing his fifth and final base on Thursday in Philadelphia — arrived at the park on Sunday.
“The improvement that Jacoby has made as far as yesterday to today is very encouraging. Not ruling out tomorrow as his availability, but still, we’ve got to monitor and check in with him when he comes to the park,” said Farrell, who added that the team also would weigh the benefits of a Sunday return versus having him sit on Monday, get an additional day of rest on Tuesday and then return to the lineup on Tuesday.
The Sox — who have Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, Daniel Nava in left and Mike Carp in right on Saturday night — expect that they may soon have both Ellsbury and Shane Victorino back and patrolling the outfield. However, while the team had envisioned Victorino returning as soon as he was eligible to come off the DL (he’s eligible to come off on Monday’s off-day), Farrell suggested that the team reserves the right to revise that timetable.
Farrell said on Saturday that Victorino might be able to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket as soon as Monday. Given the manager’s stated desire to have such an assignment be at least two games, such a timetable would still have Victorino missing at least one game (Tuesday) beyond his eligibility to return from the DL. And, Farrell said that Victorino still must prove that he’s physically ready to commence a rehab assignment through some team-administered running tests. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox considering keeping Jose Iglesias in big leagues as utility player||06.01.13 at 6:11 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Necessity led to the current call-up for Jose Iglesias to the big leagues, but the 23-year-old’s performance has a chance to keep him from a return to the minors.
Iglesias was called up on May 24, when Will Middlebrooks landed on the disabled list, to serve as the team’s everyday third baseman. On Saturday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that while Middlebrooks is currently on track to return on May 8, Iglesias won’t necessarily be sent back down to Triple-A Pawtucket when the regular third baseman is activated. Iglesias has played so well — hitting .435 with a .460 OBP, .543 slugging mark and seven multi-hit contests among his 14 games this year — that he has a chance to stick in the big leagues in a utility backup role.
“We haven’t ruled out that he would remain here in a utility role,” said Farrell. “He’s been exposed more to third than he has been to second. Obviously, we’re more than comfortable with him at shortstop. At some point, if we’re to strongly and surely consider him for a utility role, then he’s got to get some exposure to second base. The one thing we’re cautious of is just the pivot on the double play. I don’t know how you can emulate that in early work or in simulated-type situations, but I think most importantly, we haven’t ruled out him being in a utility role.”
Earlier this year, the Sox felt that Iglesias’ developmental interests were best served by playing everyday in Pawtucket than by serving as a role player in the big leagues. But the disparity in his performance in the majors as opposed to Triple-A this year (he has a .202/.262/.319 line with Pawtucket) that the team is reconsidering that stance.
“Before that decision is made on where he’s at with the roster, we’re probably more open-minded to less than everyday at-bats than maybe we were previous,” said Farrell.
Asked if he could explain the degree to which Iglesias’ performance has improved at a higher level, Farrell admitted that he, too, finds the phenomenon difficult to explain. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox lineup: Jacoby Ellsbury remains out||06.01.13 at 2:35 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Jacoby Ellsbury remains out of the Red Sox lineup for a second straight contest due to a tight left groin suffered against the Phillies on Thursday. Mike Carp gets the start, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate for left-hander Felix Doubront.
RED SOX LINEUP
Daniel Nava, LF
Mike Carp, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Stephen Drew, SS
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Jose Iglesias, 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Felix Doubront, SP
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The return of Henry Owens; Xander Bogaerts is hazardous to scouts’ health; Mookie Betts doubles down||06.01.13 at 12:01 pm ET|
After a dominant April, Henry Owens had endured some rough outings in May for High-A Salem. Through May 4, he was 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 11 walks in 32 innings. In three subsequent starts, he was 0-1 with a 7.62 ERA, 15 strikeouts and six walks in 13 innings. And so, particularly given that his start after the May 4 outing had been pushed back by a couple of days to give Owens six days of rest, it seemed fair to ask on Friday afternoon: Was the tremendously talented left-hander dealing with any physical issues that explained his brief run of tough starts?
“No concerns,” said Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett. “I think it’s been a good learning experience for him. … Some games, he’s had very good stuff, just not his best command, and in others, maybe not having his best stuff — his best breaking ball or something like that. I think early in the season and in spring training, quite often he was going out with every pitch working well. … He’s learning from those games.”
Evidently so. Owens was armed with the goods on Friday night and used them to carve up the strike zone and his opponents with Myrtle Beach.
The 20-year-old retired the first eight hitters in a row before issuing a two-out walk in the third — a baserunner he promptly erased with a pickoff. He continued to hold the Pelicans without a hit until a one-out double to right by the No. 9 hitter on a changeup that he left over the plate. Owens ended up giving up a run on two hits while matching a season high with six innings (the third time he’s worked that deep). He punched out seven and walked two in a spectacular performance.
This was a contest in which Owens had as sharp a three-pitch mix as he’s featured at any point this year in Salem. Pitching coach Kevin Walker suggested that the left-hander was working with a fastball that sat at 91 mph but crept up to 93, an offering on which the 6-foot-7 left-hander was able to create good life and angle while also pitching inside (interestingly, the only two hits against him were by lefties; righties were 0-for-10 against him). He featured, Walker added, quality deception and depth on his changeup as well as the “best curveball he had all season,” with his arm whipping through the zone to create consistent rotation and tight break.
The net result was a 90-pitch gem (in which there were 14 swings and misses) that featured a pitch mix that has Owens’ ceiling ranking with that of nearly any other pitcher in the Sox system. He now has a 3.53 ERA with 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings — a mark that ranks ninth in the minors among pitchers with at least 50 innings to this point. He is second in the Carolina League with 62 strikeouts, and opponents are hitting just .199 against him (the third best mark in the league) with a 1.10 WHIP (second).
In other words, he’s performing like a prospect whose stuff — at a still-young age for his level — ranks with that of any pitcher in the league. But perhaps more importantly, on Friday, Owens showed the ability to shake off a slump, adapt and dominate.
“He has great mental makeup,” Walker wrote in a text. “He is a great student of the game and applies the things he learns very quickly.”
And that is why the 2011 first-rounder is holding his own while being pushed against much older competition, a notion showcased on Saturday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 9-8 WIN (WALKOFF, 12 INNINGS) VS. SYRACUSE (NATIONALS)
– Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, 25, went 1-for-6, and he’s now collected hits in each of his five games since returning to Pawtucket while hitting .273/.333/.455. Read the rest of this entry »
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Phil Hughes||06.01.13 at 10:37 am ET|
Felix Doubront will take the mound for the Red Sox in the second games of the series vs. the Yankees. He’ll be matched up against righty Phil Hughes.
It’s been a strange season so far for Doubront, who briefly was faced with the possibility of being taken out of the rotation. Doubront has settled down in his last few games and has shown better command. He was not very efficient in his last start, throwing 112 pitches in six innings, but also logged eight strikeouts against the Indians while allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks. Since being skipped in the rotation and appearing in relief on May 8, Doubront is 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA, 10 walks and 18 strikeouts in 17 innings and three starts. The lefty has given up only two walks in his each of his last two appearances.
Arguably his best outing of the season came on May 21 against the White Sox, when he allowed two runs on five hits but more importantly threw only 85 pitches over the course of six innings. Doubront’s high pitch counts have been an issue for the 25-year-old over the course of his career, forcing him out of games early despite pitching well.
Manager John Farrell can tell that Doubront has made adjustments and is working his way back to being an effective starter for the Red Sox. “He feels more confident about himself just in the way he speaks when you have conversations with him. The responses are probably a window into the inside of how he feels internally about himself. Over the last three starts, that’s been much improved,” Farrell said after Doubront’s most recent outing.
Doubront did not get a start against the Yankees in the first series of the year, but he was extremely effective when facing New York in 2012. Doubront went 1-1 in four games against the Yankees last year, allowing seven earned runs in 25 innings, good for a 2.52 ERA. In one of Doubront’s best performances vs. New York, he allowed only one run on four hits while striking out seven. His good work was erased when the Red Sox bullpen gave up a total of 14 runs, and the Sox fell 15-9 after enjoying an eight-run lead going into the seventh inning.
The Red Sox will try to get some offense going against Hughes, who is 2-3 with a 4.97 ERA. The right-hander went through a tough stretch earlier this month but has settled down and is coming off of two of his better starts this season. Hughes has given up three runs in his last 13 innings, striking out 11 and walking two. However, the Yankees are 0-2 in Hughes’ last two starts.
- Red Sox reportedly sign 12th-rounder Jake Drehoff
- Wendelken added to South Atlantic League All-Stars
- Red Sox reportedly sign Bryan Hudson, Jantzen Witte
- Cup of Coffee: Spinners open season with 15-strikeout gem
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: A-Ball hitters
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #39.1: Mellen's Excellent Adventure
- 2013 Annual Drive - Help Keep SoxProspects Free!
- Cup of Coffee: Wright's bounce-back start lifts Pawtucket
- Cup of Coffee: Swihart, Cecchini once again lead Salem
- Jalen Williams, Danny Bethea reportedly agree to terms