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Even without playing, Red Sox come out winners Monday

09.26.16 at 11:33 pm ET
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The Red Sox had a good night Monday.

Even though the Sox were enjoying their last off day of the regular season, they came away in a better spot than when John Farrell’s team left St. Petersburg, Fla. As the Red Sox head into their three-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx Tuesday, their magic number now stands at one.

The Red Sox can clinch the American League East with either a win over New York Tuesday, or a Blue Jays loss against the Orioles. That was made possible because of Toronto’s 7-5 loss to the Yankees Monday night.

The matchup between Toronto and New York included two bench-clearing incidents.

Another positive development for the Red Sox was the loss by the Rangers to to Milwaukee, putting the Sox in lone possession of the best record in the American League by 1/2 game, with Texas possessing one more loss.

The Indians did gain a 1/2 game on the Red Sox with their 7-4 win over Detroit and now reside one game behind Boston.

In the Wild Card race, the Blue Jays still possess the top spot, with the Orioles holding onto the other postseason berth. The Tigers are two games in back of Baltimore.

David Ortiz on D&H remembers Jose Fernandez: ‘That hit home for me big time’

09.26.16 at 5:45 pm ET
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Sunday was a tragic day in the world of baseball as Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning in Miami. Before the Rays-Red Sox game there was a tribute to Fernandez on the video board where Ortiz was seen getting emotional.

On Monday, appearing on Dale & Holley, Ortiz offered how he will remember Fernandez and also explained how difficult Sunday was for him.

“That hit home for me big time,” Ortiz said. “I knew Jose a little bit. Great kid. Unbelievable person. Face of the game, definitely. He had so many years in front of him to do things — special things. Then this tragedy happened. All I could think about yesterday was him and his family. He’s got a baby on the way. His mom, his grandmother. The story behind being from Cuba. Yesterday during the game I couldn’t stop think about that. It’s something that we’re all feeling, especially when a good guy goes down like that. I come back to his family and all his friends around the world, Major League Baseball. I was super sad.

“I started thinking about it and I remember during the All-Star game he came up to me and was like ‘Hey, Papi.’ He was a very happy guy. ‘I’m going to have one jersey at my house and it’s yours. Your my favorite player.’ We started talking: ‘Hey, if I face you in this game, I am going to throw you my best fastball. Let’s see if you can hit it.’ We joked about it and talked about things. Very happy. Very humble kid. Sweet guy. In Miami, I talked to my fiends down there and everyone down in Miami is in absolute shock with his situation. It was hard, man. You know how they had the ceremony for me for the retirement, they asked me and I was like, ‘Man, it’s all about Jose today.’

“… It wasn’t a good day. It wasn’t a good day. By the time we were having the ceremony for Jose and when they were showing the stuff about him on the screen, I couldn’t help it. It was so sad. It was something — man, it hit me.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Jose Fernandez,

David Ortiz on D&H praises John Farrell, talks potentially winning MVP award in final season

09.26.16 at 4:38 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz appeared on the Dale & Holley with Thornton show Monday to talk about a number of things including John Farrell and potentially winning American League MVP in his final season. To hear the interview, go to the D&H audio on demand page.

Throughout the season many have questioned Farrell and his in-game decision making, but Ortiz completely backed his manager, saying he loves the way things are going right now.

“Man, John isn’t wasting time,” Ortiz said. “John, the way he’s managing the bullpen, the way he’s pulling with all of us, it’s perfect. It could get no better. He’s got everything under control really well. We’re so excited. We’re super happy the way he’s doing things right now. He’s not wasting time, any minute. I love the way he’s running this ballclub right now.”

Ortiz is currently tied for second in the American League in batting average, hitting .321, second in RBIs with 124 and leads all of baseball with a slugging percentage of .632. With the numbers he’s putting up, it’s no surprise he’s in the conversation for American League MVP in his final season.

The designated hitter says he doesn’t really care about it, as he’s focused on winning.

“I never really think of it because of all the crap and negativity [it] always brings along with,” Ortiz said. “I have had MVP numbers before and just because I don’t play defense they always down me. They have to always head in a different direction. If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, I’m not really going to go crazy about it. I care about winning and winning another World Series. Those are the things I really care about because personal numbers are always going to be personal numbers.”

Being 40 years old and playing in 145 games, Ortiz admitted he isn’t 100 percent health wise, but is ready for the postseason.

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Why there will be no Dave Roberts, Joey Gathright or Quintin Berry for Red Sox this time around

09.26.16 at 10:02 am ET
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Marco Hernandez may very well be the Red Sox' pinch-running option in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Marco Hernandez may very well be the Red Sox’ pinch-running option in the postseason. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

It had been a staple for Red Sox postseason teams.

The guy who not only could come on to pinch-run, but do so in a fashion where you had a pretty good idea a base was going to be stolen in the process. Dave Roberts obviously set the bar in 2004 after being picked up at the non-waiver trade deadline for Henri Stanley, going on to execute the most important steal in Red Sox history.

Then there was Joey Gathright, who the Red Sox signed for the season’s final month both in 2009 and 2011. He would pinch-run for David Ortiz in Game 3 of the ’09 American League Division Series, stealing a base and then coming on to score via Mike Lowell’s RBI single to put the Sox up by two runs.

And, most recently, it was Quintin Berry who got the opportunity, finding his way on to the Red Sox’ postseason roster in all three rounds of the 2013 world championship run following an Aug. 27 trade that pried him away from the Royals in exchange for Clayton Mortensen. Berry went 3-for-3 in steal attempts during the 2013 playoffs, one in each round.

This time around, however, there won’t be that guy.

“We have no other choice,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We looked at trying to acquire that type of player, and we thought might have been some internal candidates that could serve it as well. But we end up probably not being as proficient in that single kind of player.”

As Farrell noted, the Red Sox tried to find that guy. And one of the players they at least contacted was Berry, who had been released by the Angels. But the 31-year-old outfielder chose to sign with the Blue Jays, who ended up releasing him less than two weeks later.

There was some thought in the organization that Yoan Moncada, he of 94 minor-league stolen bases in 109 attempts, might be the solution. Then came the pickoff in Oakland, and forgetting how many outs there were in Toronto, and it was clear he was not ready to put on such a stage.

So, where does it leave the Red Sox? Marco Hernandez, that’s where.

With the Red Sox typically keeping 11 pitchers on the playoff roster, there will be a spot for that extra position player. And while Hernandez has only stolen one big league bag, while going just 4-for-6 with Triple-A Pawtucket this season, he, along with maybe Brock Holt, will likely be the players Farrell turns to when needing more speed on the basepaths.

It as Hernandez who got the call to pinch-run for Ortiz Sunday in the 10th inning after the designated hitter’s double.

“Here’s the thing, there will be certain game situations where we will have an upgrade in speed as needed. It might not be the pro typical base-stealer to get you 90 feet. But the ability to get from first to third, two bases, that is still present,” Farrell said.

The good news is that because of the athletic lineup the Red Sox possess, there might not be a dramatic need for extra speed. Other than Ortiz and the catcher, virtually every starting player has the ability to swipe a bag. And even Travis Shaw has stolen five bases in six attempts this season.

“We have more team speed, but I can’t say that those single opportunities that arise … We don’t have that one particular guy,” Farrell said.

Closing Time: Red Sox pitchers strikeout franchise record 23 on way to 11th straight win

09.25.16 at 5:13 pm ET
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David Ortiz, and other Red Sox, reflect on death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez prior to their game against the Rays Sunday afternoon. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz, and other Red Sox, reflect on death of Miami pitcher Jose Fernandez prior to their game against the Rays Sunday afternoon. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

It’s hard to upstage winning 11 in a row, or knocking the magic number to win the American League East down to two. But the Red Sox’ pitchers and Dustin Pedroia seemingly did that in their team’s 3-2, 10-inning win over the Rays Sunday.

Once again, it was Pedroia’s contribution that meant the most.

With one out and the second baseman standing at first in the 10th, David Ortiz rifled a shot into right-center field in what would be his last Tropicana Field at-bat. Pedroia would be waved in by third base coach Brian Butterfield, with the throw to catcher Luke Maile easily beating the baserunner.

But upon arriving at the plate, Pedroia began dancing around the tag of Maile until the catcher’s over-sized mitt (he was catching knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa) hit off the runner’s left leg. The contact forced the baseball out of the glove, allowing for the eventual game-winning run to score.

Then there were the strikeouts.

Red Sox pitchers struck out a franchise-record 23 batters in the win, including 11 straight at one point. The run of punch-outs was a major league record, surpassing Tom Seaver’s previous mark set in 1970. It was a stretch that started with Eduardo Rodriguez fanning Richie Shaffer to end the fourth inning and ending with Logan Forsythe finally singling off reliever Matt Barnes to leadoff the eighth inning.

Rodriguez ended up allowing a run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings, striking out a career-high 13 batters. He was followed by Heath Hembree, who struck out all five the batters he faced.

For the second time during the three-game series, it appeared Pedroia sealed the deal for the Red Sox via a home run, giving the visitors a lead in the third with a solo shot. But the Red Sox’ one-run lead disappeared in the eighth inning when Fernando Abad allowed an RBI single to Brad Miller.

The hit by Miller was the first allowed to a left-handed hitter by Abad since Aug. 10, and just the second inherited runner allowed to score by Red Sox relievers in September.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Joe Kelly was able to come on and get out of a first and third jam by inducing a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Nick Franklin to end the eighth.

Kelly went on to earn the win, pitching the last 2 1/3 innings.

For a complete box score, click here.

Closing Time note

The Red Sox set a franchise record for most strikeouts by pitching staff for a season, topping the total of the 2013 staff.

Stunned Red Sox players react to death of Jose Fernandez

09.25.16 at 12:39 pm ET
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The shocking death of Marlins ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident on Sunday morning swept across baseball, with Red Sox players among the hundreds of players, coaches, and media offering their condolences.

Here’s a sampling of Red Sox reaction, gathered from social media.

Read More: David Price, Jose Fernandez, Jose Fernandez death, Marlins

Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident

09.25.16 at 9:47 am ET
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Jose Fernandez

Jose Fernandez

Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident early Sunday morning. He was 24 years old.

The game between the Marlins and Braves Sunday has been canceled.

According to multiple reports, three people, including Fernandez, were found dead at the scene of the accident, which took place just off Miami Beach. According to multiple reports, authorities were called to the scene just after 3 a.m. after a call concerning a boat having overturned due to a collision with rocks.

Fernandez was originally scheduled to pitch Sunday, but was pushed back to Monday in order to make room in the rotation for starter Adam Conley, who was coming off the disabled list.

The right-hander was 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA this season, totaling the second-most strikeouts in the National League (253). He was concerned perhaps the best young pitcher in baseball, with a career ERA of 2.58 and 589 strikeouts in 479 1/3 innings.
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Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Jake Odorizzi

09.25.16 at 8:33 am ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez

Eduardo Rodriguez

Winners of 10 straight, the Red Sox close out their three-game series vs. the Rays on Sunday afternoon by sending out Eduardo Rodriguez opposite right-hander Jake Ordorizzi.

Rodriguez is 3-7 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP in 18 games. On Tuesday he went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs, four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the Orioles. It was the southpaw’s first win since July 16.

“When you are capable to stop the Baltimore offense, that means you’ve got good stuff,” David Ortiz said of Rodriguez (via MLB.com). “Those guys can swing the bat. We know what we’ve got in [Rodriguez].”

In three career starts against the Rays, the 23-year-old Venezuelan is 0-1 with a 9.88 ERA and a 2.195 WHIP. Rodriguez’s last start against the Rays was one of his worst of the season. On June 27 he lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing a whopping nine runs, 11 hits and one walk with two strikeouts in a 13-7 Rays win.

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Red Sox notes: John Farrell talking like Pablo Sandoval could return this season

09.25.16 at 12:19 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval could actually return to the Red Sox this season. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval could actually return to the Red Sox this season. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Winning their 10th in a row was something. So was clinching a playoff berth spot, and cutting the magic number for an American League East title to three.

But there was bit of news that separated itself at Tropicana Field Saturday: Pablo Sandoval might actually play for the Red Sox again this season.

Here is what John Farrell dropped on reporters when asked about Sandoval prior to the Red Sox’ 6-4 win over the Rays: “Could he return this year? I’m not ruling it out.”

Sandoval, who hasn’t played April 10 due to his surgically-repaired left shoulder, was with the Red Sox in St. Petersburg, Fla., having driven up from the team’s training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. He has been working at at JetBlue Park, having already participated in two instructional league games as a designated hitter.

Prior to Saturday night’s game, Sandoval took batting practice and fielded ground balls with the rest of the Red Sox.

“He’s got to go through some steps in instructional league. That’s first and foremost,” Farrell said. “But, again, you can never forecast injury, you can never forecast what takes place ahead. Nothing has been ruled out with Pablo, particularly how he’s responded. He’s well ahead of schedule in terms of his recovery. We’ll see.”

While it would still seem unlikely Sandoval would be an option to be placed on a Divisional Series roster, he could be a legitimate backup plan if the Red Sox suffered any injuries. Farrell could also be throwing the possibility of more competition at the position to spur on the current group of candidates, Travis Shaw, Brock Holt and Aaron Hill.

Another possible benefit of Sandoval being proclaimed healthy enough to contribute is in regards to Sandoval’s offseason trade value. Showing his shoulder isn’t an issue would go a long way toward convincing potential suitors the 30-year-old should be of some worth.

At last check, Sandoval had lost 22 pounds, working out six days a week at JetBlue Park while also integrating a bike-riding regimen.

“At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next spring training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but, at the same time, I want to compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself back into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.”

– The medical update for Steven Wright (right shoulder) wasn’t as encouraging, with the knuckleballer not able to participate in his scheduled bullpen session Sunday at Tropicana Field.

“He got through his 120 feet here today. But it was not to the point where he felt like he was going to throw his bullpen here [Sunday],” Farrell told reporters. “So he’ll remain in Ft. Myers and continue to progress. Logically, the days continue to come off the calendar, so where that puts him in terms of getting back on the mound, getting back to us, that becomes with each passing day a little bit less likely.

“Just feeling like the symptoms aren’t completely gone, diminished,” Farrell added. “We’ve been taking this very much as a day to day type situation. So the way the throwing program was built out was to get to the point of throwing 120 feet, which he did yesterday, hopefully get through a second consecutive day of that, and then be here to throw a bullpen tomorrow. Felt like coming out of [Saturday], that wasn’t going to be the case.”

– The way the Red Sox have their starting rotation lined up, David Price will pitch the final game of the regular season and then Game 2 of the Division Series. Rick Porcello is still on target start what figures to be the Red Sox’ first postseason game.

Closing Time: Dustin Pedroia’s grand slam leads Red Sox to 10th straight win, playoff berth

09.24.16 at 9:21 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia watches his fourth career grand slam clear the left field fence Saturday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Dustin Pedroia watches his fourth career grand slam clear the left field fence Saturday night. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Dustin Pedroia has experienced his fair share of meaningful September baseball. Six of his 10 Septembers as a major leaguer have had some sort of importance attached to them.

But it would be hard to find a bigger September hit than the one Pedroia supplied in the seventh inning Saturday night.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run against the Rays, two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh, Pedroia launched the decisive blow for the visitors. The second baseman took Tampa Bay reliever Danny Farquhar over the left field fence for his fourth career grand slam, leading Sox to a 6-4 win over the Rays.

The win was the Red Sox’ 10th straight, and cut their magic number to win the American League East to three with the second-place Blue Jays also winning. They also clinched at least a berth in the Wild Card playoff game.

“It’s obviously big, it’s the position we wanted to be in this last week in September,” said Saturday night’s winning pitcher, Rick Porcello. “We definitely want that division, so we’re going for it.”

Earning his 22nd win of the season was Porcello, who allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings to put his ERA at 3.11. All three runs against Porcello came in the third inning. He becomes the first 22-game winner for the Red Sox since Pedro Martinez’s 1999 campaign, in which he won 23.

The pivotal seventh inning started with back to back singles from Hanley Ramirez and Brock Holt. After a Chris Young ground out, the Sox loaded the bases on a walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. Sandy Leon failed to get the runners home, hitting into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but keeping the bases loaded.

Then came Pedroia’s 14th homer of the season, punctuating an eight-pitch at-bat.

The Rays did manager to get the potential game-tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. But Brad Ziegler’s one-out outing resulted in a fly out off the bat of Evan Longoria, who was followed by Brad Miller’s line-out to right against Robbie Ross Jr.

Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel closed things out in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Despite giving up a ninth inning homer to Logan Forsythe, Kimbrel recorded his 30th save. The closer now has six straight 30-save seasons.

For a complete box score, click here.

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