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Torey Lovullo: Xander Bogaerts’ slide into home ‘the key play that broke open the game’

09.05.15 at 9:06 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

It was more than just the slide into home plate itself. It was everything that went into the decision to do it.

When Xander Bogaerts doubled to right field with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of the Red Sox‘ win over the Phillies on Saturday, he made a choice that didn’t come from his coaches.

He wasn’t being waved around by third base coach Brian Butterfield, who had his hands on his knees as the shortstop charged in towards home. Bogaerts paused for the briefest of moments by the plate, read the situation and acted accordingly.

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez had thrown the ball to catcher Carlos Ruiz to try and stop any more runs from scoring, but he made an error on the play and left Ruiz scrambling to grab hold of the ball.

“I saw Ruiz kind of looking for the ball like he didn’t know where it was and just kind of I knew I was going to go home,” Bogaerts said.

Bogaerts continued on his trip around the bases in an attempt to wipe them completely clean, diving headlong down the line. He said he knew if he had gone in feet first, there was only one way he could have maneuvered himself — headfirst gave him options though.

The 22-year-old put two hands out over the clay and swung his right arm so that it was out of the way of Ruiz’s tag, extending his left one to touch the plate. He swung his legs away from home as well and ended up rolling over onto his back, waving his arms to notify home plate umpire CB Bucknor that he was safe.

Bucknor mimicked the gesture a moment later to confirm what Bogaerts had thought. He made it all the way around.

The play scored four runs, adding onto the three that the Sox had already scored that inning. David Ortiz‘s 496th career home run capped off the eight-run frame that helped Boston ultimately win by a score of 9-2.

“We’ve done a number of heads-up things on the bases …” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “Xander turns, finds the ball and that’s what we talked about, make a decision on your own. You can’t rely on your base coach. You have to trust your instincts. He found the ball, did a great job. It was the key play that broke open the game. It was a heads-up play by Xander to make it more exciting.”

Lovullo added that Bogaerts is moving around the bases “as good this year as [he’s] seen him in the three years since [he’s] known him.”

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Closing Time: Eight-run fourth inning, complete game for Wade Miley power Red Sox past Phillies

09.05.15 at 6:46 pm ET
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    Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox had plenty to smile about on Saturda. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox had plenty to smile about on Saturda. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

David Ortiz moved within four homers of history, Xander Bogaerts delivered what might have been the slide of the season, and Wade Miley worked at his breakneck best pace to carry the Red Sox to a 9-2 victory over the Phillies on Saturday.

Ortiz blasted career homer No. 496 as part of an eight-run fourth, an inning Bogaerts had already highlighted with a picture-perfect slide to complete a Little League-style inside-the-park grand slam (technically a three-run double and an error), and Miley made it stand from there en route to the complete-game victory.

Five Red Sox hitters recorded at least two hits, led by leadoff man Mookie Betts, who went 3-for-4 with a walk. Ortiz, Blake Swihart, Josh Rutledge, and Jackie Bradley Jr. contributed two hits apiece.

Miley, meanwhile, took a perfect game into the fifth before allowing two runs. He improved to 11-10 with the first complete game of his career, allowing five hits, walking none, and striking out eight. He threw 110 pitches in a game completed in a tidy 2:24.

This game effectively ended in the fourth. Ortiz started things with a single and Travis Shaw flied out to center field before the next six batters reached. Swihart plated Ortiz with an RBI single, and Bradley added a two-run double. But the real fun came when Bogaerts inside-outed a fastball into the right field corner to clear the bases. When the relay to the plate got away, Bogaerts just kept running, contorting himself to slide around the tag of veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz.

The 22-year-old had wiped the bases clean, and after starter Alec Asher was pulled for reliever Jerome Williams, Ortiz followed suit, turning a 1-1 count into career home run No. 496 for the eighth Boston run of the inning.

Shaw flied out to left field for the final out of the frame and was the only member of the team to not record a hit.

The Red Sox will attempt to complete the sweep on Sunday, when left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez takes on righty Jerad Eickhoff  in a battle of rookies.

Read More: David Ortiz, mookie betts, wade miley, xander bogaerts

Red Sox pregame notes: Hanley Ramirez placed on 15-day DL

09.05.15 at 3:31 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Saturday that Hanley Ramirez has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 27 because of his right shoulder injury.

The move is a little surprising, considering 25-man active rosters have expanded to the full 40 in September, but president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that having him unavailable removes the temptation to put him back on the field before he’s ready.

And while Ramirez said he’s disappointed, he’s “100 percent” in agreement with the decision and knows he has to get ready before he can come back. Interim manager Torey Lovullo added that there was no push-back from Ramirez regarding the situation.

Ramirez is also confident he will be back on the field before year’s end.

“Oh yeah, you’re going to see me at first base before the season’s over so don’t worry about that,” he said.

However, Dombrowski and Lovullo weren’t quite as quick to give Ramirez’s return the definite go-ahead.

“I’m hopeful, and the doctor seems to think at this point that this will suffice, but I don’t know,” Dombrowski said. “Do I feel confident? I feel good about it, but I wouldn’t sit up here and say 100 percent I know that. But he feels good about it.”

Ramirez said the Sox have a plan in place and want to show him “the way they want to work everything out” going forward.

“We’re really at a point of rehab,” Dombrowski clarified. “And he’s also taken some medication at this point, and he’s not going to hit, and he’s not going to throw until the pain subsides. He can go out on the field and work a little bit with his glove and his footwork, so he can still do that, but we’re not going to do anything with him and that’s why the DL, there’s no temptation, there’s no anything. He’s not going to do that, but we’re not going to get him out there to throw or hit until the pain subsides.”

“I’m just looking forward to being back on the field because the way we’re playing right now is unbelievable,” Ramirez said. “It’s a great feeling when you see those young guys [in the outfield] go out there and the way they’re playing right now.”

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Read More: hanley ramirez, jackie bradley jr., mookie betts, Rusney Castillo

Saturday Red Sox Farm Report: Wendell Rijo homers, Trey Ball strikes out 6 in Salem win; Lowell eliminated from playoff contention after walkoff loss

09.05.15 at 11:18 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Friday:

Shawn Haviland

Shawn Haviland

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (57-84): L, 2-1, vs. Rochester (Twins)

— Right-hander Shawn Haviland fell to 5-10 on the season, taking the loss after giving up both Rochester runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked none. In six starts with the PawSox after being acquired from the White Sox organization, Haviland is 1-5 with a 4.17 ERA. His ERA on the year is 4.18.

— Madison Younginer made his first appearance with the PawSox this year and pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and recording one strikeout. The 24-year-old right-hander had an 8-4 record with two saves and a 3.05 ERA in 39 relief appearances for Portland this season.

— Center fielder Jonathan Roof drove in the lone Pawtucket run on a single in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Pawtucket offense managed just five hits, as catcher Humberto Quintero doubled and scored on Roof’€™s single, and third baseman Deven Marrero, designated hitter Carlos Rivero and second baseman Mike Miller all singled.

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Read More: Mike Augliera, Shawn Haviland, Trey Ball, wendell rijo

Saturday’s Red Sox-Phillies matchups: Wade Miley vs. Alec Asher

09.05.15 at 10:16 am ET
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Wade Miley

Wade Miley

The Red Sox look to continue their success against the Phillies on Saturday afternoon when they send Wade Miley to the mound opposite rookie right-hander Alec Asher, who is making just his second career start.

The Red Sox are 15-8 vs. the Phillies all-time at Fenway Park after Friday’s 7-5 victory.

Miley struggled in his last two starts, going 0-1 with a 6.39 ERA. In his most recent game, Sunday in New York against the Mets, he went six innings and allowed four earned runs on nine hits, taking a no-decision. Miley had six strikeouts in a game that the Red Sox couldn’t pull out at the end, losing 5-4 after getting the first two batters on base in the top of the ninth but failing to score either of them.

Miley has been up and down all season, with a record of 10-10 and an ERA of 4.57 in 159 2/3 innings. In nine starts since the All-Star break he has a record of 2-2 with five no-decisions. Miley hasn’t always received a ton of support from his teammates, as in three of the five starts since the break that ended without a decision for the left-hander, he pitched at least six innings and allowed two earned runs or less but the Sox lost all three games.

In his last three home starts, Miley is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA.

Miley will face the Phillies for the first time this season, though he has faced them as a member of the Diamondbacks. In three career starts, Miley holds a 1-1 record with an ERA of 4.24 in 17 innings pitched. Miley has 15 strikeouts in those three starts.

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The forgotten one: Mookie Betts quietly continuing strong 1st full major season

09.04.15 at 11:51 pm ET
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Mookie Betts is currently in the midst of a 10-game hit streak. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mookie Betts is currently in the midst of a 10-game hit streak. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts has hits in 14 of his last 15 games and is the best hitter in the majors since May 31, while Jackie Bradley Jr. is the best hitter in the majors since Aug. 9, batting .423 over that span.

While those young players have received the bulk of the attention of late, leadoff man Mookie Betts has been just as impressive.

Following his 2-for-3, two doubles, two run night in the Red Sox‘ 7-5 win over the Phillies, the rookie has extended his hit streak to 10 games — the second-longest of his career and three short of a season-high.

“It’s whatever,” Betts shrugged. “I just try and go up and see the ball, hit the ball and let the chips fall where they may.”

Betts led off the bottom of the first with a double and scored on Bogaerts’ single. Then in the seventh after he walked, he scored on a Bogaerts ground out part of the four-run inning.

Overall for the season, he’s batting .275 with eight home runs and 65 RBIs, which are second on the team behind David Ortiz.

He’s hit safely in 18 of his last 19 appearances and nine of his last 15 hits have gone for extra bases, including each of his last three. For the season he has 54 extra base hits and as a comparison, Hanley Ramirez has 42 and Pablo Sandoval has 35.

While he may be a doubles machine — 33 on the year — when he steps to the plate that is the furthest thing from his mind.

“No, just go up and hit the ball,” Betts said. “That’s it, try and get on base. Hit it hard and get on base.”

His .275 average is 10th among big league center fielders and he’s proven he can play the position, despite being an infielder his entire life until May of last season.

Despite being 22 years old, the outfielder has batted leadoff in 90 of the 117 games he’s played in. He hasn’t let the potential pressure get to him and has the full support of interim manager Torey Lovullo.

“At the top of the lineup you tend to put guys that you have certain expectations for,” he said.

As the Red Sox have already begun to shift their focus to 2016 it appears Betts and Bogaerts will be major pieces to the team and their performances down the stretch are important in starting to build the foundation for what hopes to be much better season than the previous two.

“Those young guys have been playing really good baseball for a month now and it’s been a lot of fun for us to watch,” Lovullo said. “They are playing wide open, comfortable, confident baseball that is helping us win games.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox offense catches fire late in win over Phillies

09.04.15 at 10:34 pm ET
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Joe Kelly didn't have his best stuff, but it was enough to get the win Friday against the Phillies. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly didn’t have his best stuff, but it was enough to get the win Friday against the Phillies. (Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Although it took a little while longer than they would have liked, the Red Sox offense finally got to Phillies rookie starter Adam Morgan.

After only scoring one run over the first four innings, the Red Sox scored six runs following the fourth inning, including four in the seventh in their 7-5 win over the Phillies.

Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, the Sox scored twice. The first two men reached and Mookie Betts drove home Ryan Hanigan with an RBI double and then Brock Holt’s sacrifice fly brought home Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Sox then scored four times in the seventh inning, led by Bradley Jr.’s solo homer to dead center. David Ortiz just missed career home run No. 496 as it went for a double off the wall in center field, but it scored a run. Holt also contributed an RBI single in the inning.

Morgan allowed six runs over 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.

The Phillies scored twice in the fourth inning off Red Sox starter Joe Kelly — one run on an RBI groundout and the second on a Darin Ruf RBI single, which would be all they would get.

Although Kelly didn’t have his best stuff, the right-hander went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits, while walking three and striking out five. He’s now won seven straight starts.

The bullpen did its job as they had four relievers combine for two scoreless innings — Alexi Ogando, Tommy Layne, Noe Ramirez and Junichi Tazawa. But that strong effort went almost for not, as Jean Machi allowed a two-run homer and another run in the ninth in a non-save situation. Robbie Ross Jr. needed to come on to get the final out as the tying run was at the plate in Ryan Howard.

Bogaert continued his impressive season, as he finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs, which increases his team-leading multi-hit games to 46. Betts went 2-for-3 with a walk to extend his hit streak to 10 games.

Read More: jackie bradley jr., Joe Kelly, mookie betts, xander bogaerts

Red Sox injury updates: Dustin Pedroia (hamstring) getting closer to return

09.04.15 at 5:26 pm ET
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The Red Sox are dealing with a number of injuries as the final month of the season gets underway. The closest player to returning is likely Dustin Pedroia.

The second baseman has been dealing with a hamstring injury since late June. He returned right after the All-Star break, which may have been too soon as he aggravated the injury and hasn’t played in a game since July 22.

Pedroia has been running and working his way back to full baseball activity.

“Dustin is hitting all his checkpoints, aggressively,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s getting close. We’re all in it with him. We’re all excited by what we’re seeing and what we’re hearing.”

“When he walks in after his work day he’s really, really excited and that’s nice to see,” he added.

Pedroia won’t go out for a minor league rehab assignment, as the minor leagues wrap up this weekend and he isn’t quite ready for that. The team has set a Sept. 10 target date for a return and Lovullo said it could be a few days before, or a few days after.

“We aren’t quite sure where exactly that return date will fall because he still has some more baseball activity to do and then he has to ramp it up, to and move as close as he possibly can to game situations,” Lovullo said. “We’ll get that feedback after that last day or two and see where he’s at.”

Lovullo acknowledged Pedroia is chomping at the bit to get back on the field, as he’s one of the most competitive players in baseball.

“In his real special way, Dustin is around and we know it,” Lovullo said.

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Read More: brian johnson, Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez, matt barnes

Red Sox lineup: Allen Craig starts at first base, Pablo Sandoval scratched in series opener vs. Phillies

09.04.15 at 3:38 pm ET
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Allen Craig

Allen Craig

Allen Craig rejoined the Red Sox after rosters expanded earlier in the week and now he’ll get his first start.

Craig will start at first base as the Red Sox open a weekend series with the Phillies. Friday night they will go against left-hander Adam Morgan.

Rusney Castillo will play left field for a second straight game, Mookie Betts will play center field and Jackie Bradley Jr. will play right field.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Joe Kelly.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

[UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: Pablo Sandoval was scratched from the lineup with back tightness. Travis Shaw will play third base.]

Here is a complete look at the updated Red Sox lineup:

Mookie Betts, CF
Brock Holt, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Travis Shaw, 3B
Allen Craig, 1B
Rusney Castillo, LF
Ryan Hanigan, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF
Joe Kelly, RHP

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Kirk Minihane: NESN asked Don Orsillo to classify decision to part ways as mutual

09.04.15 at 11:38 am ET
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Multiple sources have told WEEI’s Kirk Minihane that NESN requested Don Orsillo to tweet that the decision to part ways with the network was mutual. The Red Sox broadcaster declined to position an announcement in such a way.

The request came after the news of Orsillo’s fate was made public on the Dennis & Callahan show Aug. 24.

After the initial announcement on the D&C show, NESN eventually released a press release during the Red Sox series-opening game in Chicago against the White Sox. The statement, however, focused primarily on the hiring of Dave O’Brien as Orsillo’s replacement.

Orsillo is in the last year of his contract with NESN.

Read More: Don Orsillo, NESN,
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