|09.29.14 at 11:02 am ET|
Once again, Jon Lester will occupy center stage in the postseason. The left-hander is slated to start the Athletics’ one-game playoff against the Royals on Tuesday night, his opponent (in almost comical coincidence) Kansas City ace James Shields.
With Lester on the mound following a 16-11 season, career-low 2.46 ERA, career-high 219 1/3 innings, 220 strikeouts (9.0 per nine) and career-low 48 walks (2.0 per nine) and on the cusp of free agency, the baseball world will be watching closely. That, of course, includes the Red Sox organization that traded him on July 31 (along with outfielder Jonny Gomes) for Yoenis Cespedes.
The negotiations — or lack thereof — between the Sox and Lester after the pitcher had stated a desire to sign a long-term deal to remain with the Sox, even if it meant taking a discount to do so, lorded over the Sox’ season. That was true while Lester was with the team, and it’s true now that he’s gone, given that the Red Sox make no secret of the fact that they have a significant amount of work to do regarding the rebuilding of their rotation, and more specifically, the front of their rotation.
“Hopefully we can get right back into it if we fix the top of the rotation,” Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy said.
“That’s absolutely our intention,” team chairman Tom Werner said on Sunday about whether he believed that the Sox could build a rotation to return to contention in 2015. “We have the resources. Hopefully it will all fall into place soon.” Read the rest of this entry »
|09.28.14 at 10:31 pm ET|
It was the season of the selfie.
‘ Joseph Kelly Jr. (@JosephKellyJr) September 29, 2014
Yet, as well-executed as Kelly’s photo turned out, his wife’s tweet after the moment may have been even more impressive.
Perhaps the real highlight of the ceremony, however, was the introduction of former Boston College baseball star Pete Frates, who is battling ALS and served as the impetus for the ice bucket challenge, helping raise awareness to combat the disease.
Here is the more from the ceremony.
|09.28.14 at 8:20 pm ET|
The wave of tributes to Derek Jeter came and went at Fenway Park Sunday afternoon during his final major league game. In the midst of them all was this video tribute from Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart and Chris Rock (courtesy “Funny or Die”), played on the center field video board:
|09.28.14 at 8:05 pm ET|
In the end, he was ready to cross the finish line.
Derek Jeter acknowledged that, after the nearly overwhelming emotion that accompanied his final Yankee Stadium contest on Thursday, he gave some consideration to never playing again, to sitting out the entirety of his team’s final three games of the year against the Red Sox in Fenway Park. But ultimately, he decided that while he wouldn’t play shortstop, he was ready to complete his career in Boston, with two at-bats in the final two games of the season.
“A lot of fans told me that they came a long way to see these last games and I felt it was right to play here,” said Jeter. “Don’t think I didn’t think about it, I thought about it.”
Sunday marked the final game of a disappointing season for the Red Sox, but the focus of the afternoon was primarily on Jeter as he played in the final game of his stellar 20-year career.
After an extravagant pre-game ceremony that included appearances from the likes of Carl Yastrzemski, Bruins legend Bobby Orr, former Celtic Paul Pierce and former Patriot star Troy Brown (among many others), Jeter served as the DH for two at-bats, ending his career on an infield single that drove in a run.
Jeter said that the plan was to get a couple of at-bats, regardless of the results. But he was glad to collect a hit in his final plate appearance, even if it was just an infield chopper.
“I would have loved to hit a home run like everyone else, but getting hits is not easy to do,” Jeter said. “My first at-bat I hit a line drive [to shortstop Jemile Weeks], unfortunately it was caught, but I feel a whole lot better getting a hit. I don’t care how far it goes, where it goes — I have no ego when it comes to hits. It’s either a hit or an out. I’ve gotten a lot of hits like that throughout my career and they all count the same.”
With one more hit this season, Jeter could have tied Ty Cobb‘s record of 19 consecutive 150-hit seasons. But the record wasn’t all that important to the 40-year-old.
“I wasn’t aware of [the record] until [manager] Joe [Girardi] told me this morning. But I never played this game for numbers, so why start now?” Jeter said. “With one more hit I would have tied Cobb’s record but I’m tied with Hank Aaron, that’s enough for me.” Read the rest of this entry »
|09.28.14 at 7:05 pm ET|
The long, painstaking, sometimes interminable procession to the finish line finally sputtered to its conclusion. With a 9-5 loss to the Yankees, the Red Sox wrapped up a 71-91 campaign that represents both a disappointment and embarrassment for the team that still claims the title, at least for another month, of reigning champions.
The record did not fall to the same depths as 2012 (69-93), nor did the atmosphere assume the quality of a daily train wreck, but the reality of the record is hard to hide from.
“We didn’t anticipate the final record, but you play the games to determine that and it is where we are. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of that has already begun. When we took the field on Feb. 15, this is not what we envisioned,” said manager John Farrell. “We know where our shortcomings have been this year. We have a clear to-do list. How we get to that point remains to be seen.”
Farrell did suggest there are elements of the roster that offer some promise going forward, and he believes that there are participants to the decision-making process who likewise offer the possibility of changing course.
“With all people involved we’re confident we’ll achieve that. There’s a number of good things in place right now in terms of guys on this roster,” said the manager. “We’ve got some meetings starting the second week of the offseason to put together our in-depth review of where we stand and begin to strategize how we’re going accomplish the objectives set out.”
Still, the fact that Farrell’s October now includes plans for fishing on the Cape followed by meetings about how to move on from this year’s struggles represents a form of finality to games that he does not relish.
“That today was the final game, we knew that for a while,” Farrell said. “That’s not something that sits well because of what our expectations are every year so it’s disappointing. The game of baseball has been put to bed for the time being, like I said, it’s not what we anticipated.”
|09.28.14 at 4:53 pm ET|
For most in attendance, including those on the field, the reason to care about the 162nd game of a very, very long season boiled down to this:
Beyond the final at-bat of the magnificent career of Derek Jeter, however, there were other important final notes to the season in the Sox’ 9-5 loss to the Yankees that dropped the curtain on a 71-91 last-place campaign.
— Aside from the four-run third inning that included the last hit of Jeter’s career (an infield chopper to third), Clay Buchholz pitched adequately through six innings, allowing five hits and walking one while punching out four. But his season ends with a cover-your-eyes 5.34 ERA. Among the 395 pitchers in Red Sox history who have had enough innings in a season to qualify for an ERA title, Buchholz’s mark ranks 388th. The Sox saw enough down the stretch, and they have enough holes ahead of him in the rotation, that a combination of belief and necessity will dictate that they rely on Buchholz to be a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter for them next year. Perhaps with the benefit of a fully healthy offseason, he will be able to claim such a role. And it’s worth noting that he’s responded to adversity at other points in his career, including recovering from a horrific rookie year (6.75 ERA) in 2008 to become a rotation staple by the second half of the following year. Still, there’s a considerable amount of uncertainty about who he is going forward. Read the rest of this entry »
|09.28.14 at 3:38 pm ET|
As former and current Red Sox players honored Derek Jeter at Fenway Park prior to the final game of his 20-year career, it was the presence of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield that had special significance.
Butterfield has an interesting history with the Yankees superstar. He first coached Jeter in the instructional league after Jeter was taken in the first round of the 1992 draft. He worked closely with Jeter on his defense after the shortstop committed 56 errors in his first full professional season, and Jeter has given Butterfield credit for helping him become a major league shortstop.
The Red Sox third base coach says that even though they’re not as close anymore, it’s been meaningful to be a part of Jeter’s final season.
“There’s been a lot of distance between Derek and I. I was blessed to have crossed paths with him, it was a long time ago,” Butterfield said. “I don’t have his phone number, he doesn’t have mine, we don’t stay in touch in the offseason, but when we do cross paths, because he’s such a respectful guy, he had a tremendous upbringing, he always makes a point to say something or come over and get on me about something from shortstop when I’m over at third base. I think we’ve always had a good relationship, I’m very thankful for that.”
Though it’s been more than 20 years since Butterfield first worked with Jeter in the minors, he still has fond memories of working with the shortstop. Read the rest of this entry »
|09.28.14 at 2:36 pm ET|
As the 2014 season comes to a close, the Red Sox had the opportunity to honor and celebrate the career of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, whose 20-year career comes to a close on Sunday at Fenway Park.
Batting second and serving as the designated hitter in his final game, Jeter lined out to Jemile Weeks at shortstop in his first at-bat of the day. But he went out on a positive note, driving in a run on an infield hit off Clay Buchholz in his second plate appearance of the day. Jeter was lifted for a pinch runner and shook the hand of Buchholz on his way off the field, with the crowd chanting his name as he headed to the dugout for the final time.
Jeter’s day began with a moving ceremony that honored his illustrious career. The festivities began with Jeter trotting out to the shortstop position, receiving a rousing ovation from the Fenway crowd, with Yankees fans making up a significant portion of the packed house.
All three living former Red Sox captains, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice and Jason Varitek, as well as former Sox Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn and Tim Wakefield made an appearance to honor Jeter. Boston sports legends Bobby Orr, Troy Brown, and Paul Pierce were also included as part of the ceremony
The entire 2014 Red Sox squad went out to shake hands with Jeter as he stood at shortstop, as a way to congratulate him for the 153 games he played as a visitor at Fenway Park, the most by any Yankee. Joe Kelly, who was the last pitcher to ever strike out Jeter, even snapped a selfie with the man of the hour. Brian Butterfield, who served as a minor league coach in the Yankees system and was instrumental in turning Jeter into a major league-caliber shortstop, was also included as part of the festivities, presenting Jeter with a pair of boots. Last in the line of Red Sox players, Dustin Pedroia presented a pinstriped base with Jeter’s number two in navy blue.
Among the other gifts Jeter was presented with was a check worth $22,222.22 for his Turn 2 Foundation, as well as a scoreboard sign that said “RE2PECT,” presented to him by David Ortiz and Xander Bogaerts.
To wrap up what had been billed as a “low-key ceremony” (but what was actually a a rather extravagant affair), Michelle Brooks Thompson, a native of Massachusetts who appeared on the singing competition “The Voice,” serenaded Jeter with Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
|09.28.14 at 1:22 pm ET|
The Red Sox conclude their 2014 season at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon against the rival Yankees. Clay Buchholz will pitch against Michael Pineda during Derek Jeter‘s last-ever game in the major leagues.
Buchholz (8-10, 5.31 ERA) has been resurgent of late, and is looking to gear up for next season. For seven innings last Tuesday against the Rays, the right-hander kept Tampa Bay off the board in a great outing. But in the eighth inning, things fell apart. He was charged with five runs and the loss.
“When you get that deep into a game, not giving up a run yet, it’s tough to swallow giving up five in one inning,” Buchholz said after the game. “But like I said before, it is what it is.”
Save for his start against the Pirates on Sept. 17, Buchholz pitched into the sixth inning in all of his previous nine starts. In three of those outings, he made it into the eighth inning. But one of the worst appearances over a stretch since August happened to come against the Yankees. Buchholz threw 114 pitches by the fifth inning on Aug. 3 against New York, allowing seven runs, eight hits and five walks. Three of the runs were plated by former Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew.
The only other appearance Buchholz has against the Yankees this year came back on April 10 at Yankee Stadium. He took the loss in that one, although he was charged with just two earned runs in six innings.
Jeter has solid numbers against Buchholz in his career. The shortstop has eight hits and two RBIs in 29 career at-bats.
|09.27.14 at 6:52 pm ET|
For Clay Buchholz, the scenario is a dream.
He was the kid from Texas who grew up with that poster on his wall of his baseball idol, the one of the guy the young shortstop-turned-pitcher fashioned his baseball world around. And now — one week from Sunday — Buchholz will get the opportunity to become the last pitcher Derek Jeter ever faces.
“It’s a game you try and go as deep as you can to be that last pitcher that he faces. I’ve definitely thought about that,” Buchholz said. “You have to take care of everybody else before you get to that point. There is going to be a lot of stuff going on. It’s something that’s pretty neat to think about.”
When Buchholz first stared down Jeter — resulting in the shortstop claiming an infield single during an April 16, 2008 game at Yankee Stadium — such a moment seemed implausible for the young pitcher. (“I was definitely nervous. There were definitely some nerves going on,” he said.)
“He was a guy I idolized growing up, playing shortstop,” added the Red Sox starter, who has faced Jeter 32 times, limiting him to a .276 batting average without any homers. “It was pretty neat being in that stadium and pitching against the Yankees for the first time in your career.
“It was just him. I grew up and there were Yankees hats everywhere. Boston and Yankees. Everybody was either wearing a Boston hat or a Yankees hat where I grew up. He was the guy I watched the most. I liked the way he played the game.”
Getting to Jeter’s final at-bat will be a feat. Other pitchers have such acts in similarly monumental moments and come up short. (Surely, Cleveland starter Bud Anderson wanted to be that guy in Carl Yastrzemski’s last game on Oct. 2, 1983, but instead that fell on reliever Dan Spillner.)
Still, Buchholz is grateful for the opportunity to give it a whirl.
“It’s a game to me that’s a little bit different in a couple of different ways. But at the same time, it’s still baseball. I have to go out and execute pitches and try to get outs,” the pitcher said.
“Things are going to be magnified by a pretty good amount. I’m sure I’ll have to do a couple of sit-downs about it. I’m sort of looking forward to it, actually.”
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