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Closing Time: Rick Porcello cements himself in Cy Young conversation with dominating win over Orioles

09.19.16 at 9:41 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — When you’re kicking off the most important series of the season, it probably isn’t a bad thing when you do so with the pitcher steaming his way toward the American League Cy Young award.

That’s exactly what the Red Sox were reminded of Monday night at before 18,456 fans at Camden Yards.

In a year that has now seen Rick Porcello garner 21 wins, this one might have been the most impressive, and certainly was the most important. The Red Sox ace dominated the O’s in leading John Farrell’s team to a 5-2 win, pushing Boston’s lead in the American League East to four games.

“We’re going to try, but we’re playing against a good ball club,” said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz when asked if the Red Sox wanted to use the four-game series to push the Orioles out of the picture. “You’re not supposed to take anything for granted.”

Said Porcello: “Up to this point right now, this is the biggest series of the year for us. So you know we got to beat these guys up front and we have three more games left. It’s a good way to start it.”

The performance was Porcello’s third complete game of the season and marked the 11th straight start he has gone at least seven innings. The righty’s ERA would have stood at 3.03 — the exact same as perhaps his most formidable competition for the Cy Young, Chris Sale — but Adam Jones took the Sox pitcher deep with a solo blast with two outs in the eighth inning.

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David Ortiz hits 35th home run of season, extends Red Sox lead

09.19.16 at 8:34 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — There might only be a few regular-season games left in David Ortiz’s career, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down as the finish line draws near.

The latest feat in Ortiz’s historic final season came Monday night at Camden Yards when the designated hitter launched his 35th homer of the season. The fifth-inning blast over the right field wall scored Dustin Pedroia and increased the Red Sox’ lead to 5-1 over the Orioles.

It was Ortiz’s seventh homer against the O’s, matching the most the 40-year-old as ever hit in one season against Baltimore (with the other seven-homer campaign coming in 2013).

Ortiz has 53 home runs against the Orioles, the third most by any opponent. Only Harmon Killebrew (68) and Alex Rodriguez (69) have more.

Ortiz has homered in five of his last eight games at Camden Yards, having gone deep 10 times in his last 16 trips to the home of the O’s. Since 2012, Ortiz has hit 15 homers in 34 games here.

Prior to the Ortiz homer, the Red Sox already had utilized the long ball to get the better of Orioles starter Dylan Bundy, with Mookie Betts launching a two-run home run to kick off the scoring in the third inning. It was Betts’ eighth homer at Camden Yards this season the most by a visiting player since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954.

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Red Sox have no plans to draw back on Drew Pomeranz

09.19.16 at 6:12 pm ET
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Drew Pomeranz. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

Drew Pomeranz remains in the starting rotation. (Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports)

BALTIMORE — With three more trips through the rotation to be had in the regular season, the Red Sox and Drew Pomeranz are staying the course.

Despite the lefty’s recent downturn — nine runs in 5 2/3 innings over his last two starts — Red Sox manager John Farrell said that the plan still is to have Pomeranz make his next scheduled outing, Friday in St. Petersburg, Florida, against the Rays. On Sunday night, the southpaw allowed four runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings against the Yankees.

The 27-year-old is well above his career high in innings pitched, having thrown 164 1/3 between his stints with the Padres and Red Sox.

“Command. It’s been command,” Farrell said when asked what has been Pomeranz’s primary issue. “Is that a direct correlation to the innings workload to date? That’s quite possible. I thought last night his velocity was consistent or similar to previous starts. The command from pitch to pitch was not there. And it cost him. That’s something we monitor close. He’s going to start Friday in Tampa. We continue on.”

The only mechanism in place to limit Pomeranz’s workload has been the Red Sox not allowing the starter to begin an inning when at or over 100 pitches.

“That still holds true. That still holds steadfast,” Farrell said of the mandate. “If there’s a quality outing after ‘X’ number of innings, we feel like, you know what, here’s a step in the right direction, given the availability of a number of arms to us, that might be a little bit of a shift as we move forward. We’re balancing all of that.”

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Red Sox lineup: Andrew Benintendi gets start in LF, Brock Holt at 3B against Orioles

09.19.16 at 3:36 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

BALTIMORE — Andrew Benintendi is getting the call for the first game of the season’s most important series.

The rookie starts in left field for the Red Sox, who begin their four-game set against the Orioles Monday night at Camden Yards with Baltimore trailing the Sox by three games in the American League East. The lefty hitting Benintendi bats ninth against Orioles starter Dylan Bundy.

A new wrinkle to the Sox’ order is Brock Holt playing third base, a position he hasn’t started at since Aug. 24. It will be Holt’s sixth start at third this season.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with Rick Porcello getting the start for the visitors:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Andrew Benintendi LF

For all the matchups, click here.

Monday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Dylan Bundy

09.19.16 at 12:54 pm ET
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On Monday night the Red Sox will be in Baltimore to open a four-game series with the second-place Orioles. The Sox will send Rick Porcello to the mound for the opener to face rookie right-hander Dylan Bundy.

Porcello is 20-4 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.002 WHIP, all among the best marks in the American League. On Wednesday against the Orioles, Porcello went eight innings, allowing just one run, four hits and no walks with six strikeouts but was the hard-luck loser in a 1-0 game. The lone run came via a Mark Trumbo home run in the second inning. It was Porcello’s first loss at Fenway this season.

“Rick was outstanding,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He settled in. He takes the ball off the calf [on a line drive in the second inning], was able to maintain staying loose, got better as the game went on.”

Against the Orioles, the right-hander is 3-8 with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.365 WHIP in 14 starts. Before Wednesday, Porcello last pitched against the O’s in June, going six innings, giving up five runs, six hits (three home runs) and no walks with three strikeouts.

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Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez (2 HRs) continues torrid September by lifting Red Sox to sweep of Yankees

09.18.16 at 11:42 pm ET
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Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) watches his three run home run during the fifth inning against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) watches his three run home run during the fifth inning against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Hanley Ramirez is not of this world. At the very least, no ballpark can contain him.

Ramirez continued one of the most torrid stretches of his career on Sunday against the Yankees by smashing two home runs, including the go-ahead shot in the seventh, to lift the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory and four-game sweep that might just deal a death blow to the Yankees’ playoff hopes.

Ramirez, who began the series with a dramatic game-winning three-run homer, ended it with a three-run homer in the fifth and then the solo shot over everything in left in the seventh to send the Red Sox to Baltimore for a four-game showdown with the second-place Orioles.

“I just was just listening from the dugout, ‘Make him pay, make him pay, make him pay,'” Ramirez said of the first homer, which got the Red Sox back in the game.

The Red Sox needed Ramirez’s heroics, because left-hander Drew Pomeranz once again struggled with his command, allowing seven hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings, as well as another homer his 12th in 13 games.

Pomeranz got in trouble right off the top, allowing Brett Gardner to lead off the game with a double. He scored on a two-out single by Didi Gregorius.

The Yankees added another run in the third on the 16th homer of the season from catcher Gary Sanchez before chasing Pomeranz in the fourth. An infield single, double, and a walk loaded the bases, and the Yankees plated two runs with fielder’s choices before Farrell summoned right-hander Heath Hembree for the final out.

“Got in a few jams that I didn’t get myself out of,” Pomeranz said. “It’s kind of frustrating, a few balls that don’t leave the infield, but that’s baseball. They put them in the right spot and they did a good job. Most importantly, we won the game. This team’s amazing. It seems like we’re never out of reach. They really picked me up tonight. It’s really fun to watch.”

The Red Sox finally got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the fifth. Bryan Holaday led off with a double before Xander Bogaerts worked a one-out walk. Both runners advanced on Sabathia’s error after he caught Mookie Betts’ liner, but Ramirez rendered their respective choice of bases irrelevant with a line drive home run to left that made it 4-3.

“Everything, like I say, everything’s coming together,” Ramirez said. “When we need a big play, you know, it’s come. When we need a big rally, we’ve been doing it. Everything’s coming together at the right time.”

The Red Sox tied the game in the sixth after singles by Travis Shaw, Aaron Hill, and Jackie Bradley Jr. plated a run. David Ortiz pinch hit to a standing ovation, but struck out. The Red Sox failed to score.

No matter. Ramirez took care of everything in the seventh against reliever Tyler Clippard by unloading on an off-speed pitch and blasting deep into the night to give the Red Sox their four-game sweep and a two-game lead in the division.

MVP candidate Mookie Betts helped the Red Sox hang on with a pair of brilliant diving catches, including one on Gardner leading off the ninth.

Closing Time note

Reliever Koji Uehara closed it out in the ninth for his seventh save. His last three saves have come against the Yankees, including two in July before he suffered the pectoral injury that nearly ended his season.

Read More: Drew Pomeranz, hanley ramirez, Red Sox, Yankees

Red Sox lineup: Doubles machine David Ortiz gets night off as Sox look to complete sweep of Yankees

09.18.16 at 6:42 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

David Ortiz has earned a night off.

The Red Sox DH, originally penciled in for the entire Yankees series, will skip Sunday’s finale to rest up for a four-game series with the Orioles that starts on Monday. He served as honorary captain at the Patriots-Dolphins game in Foxboro on Sunday afternoon.

“When I talked with David after Friday night’s game, in large part because of the number of times he was on base and the extent to which he ran, with a quick turnaround on Saturday, we talked about the upcoming two days — yesterday and today,” manager John Farrell said. “With the late-night arrival, likely four right-handed starters in Baltimore, felt like this was the day to give him down.”

Ortiz leads the league in doubles with 47, a feat Farrell considers even more impressive than his 34 homers.

“I would say, yes,” Farrell said. “Fortunately here, I don’t know how many have been ground-rule where he’s jogging into second base, but it was before the All-Star break where you look up and he’s already in the low 30s, and at that point you look up and it’s a little bit of a head-scratcher. To see that number of doubles hit in this, what would be his last year, that’s a crazy amount if you ask me. A crazy amount. He’s got a chance to have 50-plus doubles, 35-plus home runs. That’s a career for a lot of guys.”

Here’s the Red Sox lineup, with Drew Pomeranz facing Yankees lefty CC Sabathia.

Pedroia 2B
Bogaerts SS
Betts RF
Ramirez DH
Young LF
Shaw 1B
Hill 3B
Bradley Jr. CF
Holaday C

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Drew Pomeranz vs. CC Sabathia

09.18.16 at 9:52 am ET
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The Red Sox look to complete a four-game sweep of the Yankees on Sunday night with Drew Pomeranz squaring off against fellow left-hander CC Sabathia.

Pomeranz is 10-12 with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.176 WHIP in 28 starts. Since being traded to the Red Sox from the Padres in July, he is 2-5 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.381 WHIP in 11 starts. On Tuesday he had his worst start since being traded to Boston. He lasted just two innings, allowing five runs, four hits (two home runs) and two walks with three strikeouts in a 6-3 loss to the Orioles.

“With the number of pitches thrown by Drew, the time that he sat on the bench [in the bottom of the second], when he started the third inning, it looked like his stuff was backing up a little bit, and felt like we needed to go to the bullpen at that point,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Against the Yankees, Pomeranz is 1-1 with a 1.27 ERA and a 0.891 WHIP in four games (three starts). He has pitched against the New York twice this year. First as a member of the Padres in July he threw seven innings, allowing just one run, five hits and no walks with seven strikeouts. He last saw the Yankees on Aug. 10 as a member of the Sox. In that outing, he threw 5 1/3 innings, giving up one run, six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in a 9-4 Sox loss.

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Read More: C.C. Sabathia, Drew Pomeranz,

Why Red Sox would be well-served not settling for anything but American League East title

09.18.16 at 8:19 am ET
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The Red Sox should be eyeing a chance to celebrate clinching the division. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox should be eyeing a chance to celebrate clinching the division. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

After the Red Sox’ latest win, Saturday afternoon, Hanley Ramirez reminded the media, “It’s a long season. You’re going to have some ups and downs.”

He was then presented with the notion that, with just 14 regular season games left, it actually wasn’t such a long season anymore. That didn’t sit well.

“Yes it is,” Ramirez responded. “There’s a lot of games left. Who knows?”

He’s right. Just ask Robbie Ross Jr.

On Sept. 24, 2012 his Rangers were five games up in the American League West, sitting with an American League-best 91 wins. Nine games, and just two victories, later, Texas found themselves playing a one-game Wild Card matchup against the Orioles.

On Oct. 5, 2012, Ross Jr.’s season ended when his team’s ace, Yu Darvish, was beaten by Baltimore’s Joe Saunders.

A year later, Ross Jr. and the Rangers lived the life of having an entire season rest on one game once again. This time it was in the form of Game No. 163, when Texas won its last seven games to earn the right to play Tampa Bay in a winner-take-all play-in to the playoffs.

Thanks in large part to David Price, the Rangers season once again ended with a one-game thud.

The moral of the story for these Red Sox: Don’t take the foot off the gas because you don’t want to take your chances with just nine innings standing between you and the golf course.

“When I was with Texas in 2012, it was like, ‘Oh crap, we have to face David Price now.’ You’re facing that ace,” Ross Jr. said. “You’ve got to be ready to roll. Winning that division early and knowing we have five games to go after it is a lot easier than knowing it’s one and done.”

Heading into Sunday night’s series finale with the Yankees, it would seem the Red Sox are in a pretty good spot. For the American League East, they are three games up on both Baltimore and Toronto, who are both three games ahead of Detroit, Houston and Seattle for the final Wild Card spot.

It would sure seem like some sort of postseason berth is in the cards for the Red Sox. But even if that’s the case, just playing beyond that final game against Toronto shouldn’t be the focus.

History scare the Red Sox into really, really not wanting to play that Wild Card game.

In 2013, the Indians fell one game short of equaling Central Division-winning Detroit. But instead of playing a best-of-five postseason series, Terry Francona’s club were forced to take on the Rays in the Wild Card tilt, which ultimately ended it’s season.

Or how about the Pirates?

Pittsburgh has been in the Wild Card game the last two seasons, missing out on the division lead by two games in both years. The payoff? In 2014, after winning 98 games, the Pirates got to face San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, and in 2015 the opponent was Jake Arietta of the Cubs. Neither ended well for the Bucs.

Lessons should be learned. The Red Sox will be best served not settling.

“Winning the division is huge,” Ross Jr. said. “But with this team if we win the division or a Wild Card spot I think we’ll be good because we have some tough guys. Mentally tough. It’s awesome.”

Closing Time: Wild pitch punctuates Red Sox come-from-behind win over Yankees

09.17.16 at 4:45 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts watches his fifth-inning home run leave the park. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Xander Bogaerts watches his fifth-inning home run leave the park. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Here’s your one-run win.

On a day David Price was not the pitcher he had been of late, the Red Sox still found a way to bury the Yankees deeper in the standings. And all it took was Sandy Leon getting out the way of a wild pitch.

What it resulted in was a 6-5 win for the Red Sox Saturday afternoon over the Yanks, who now find themselves seven games in back of the first-place Sox. It was also a reversal of fortune for John Farrell’s team, which had seen five of its last six losses have come by one run (making the Red Sox 17-22 in such margins this season).

The victory also continued a recent trend of the Red Sox coming back late in the game, having struggled all season to rally. Entering Saturday, the Sox were just 8-44 when trailing after six innings. Now, make that nine wins.

After the Red Sox found themselves trailing by three runs heading into the fifth inning, the hosts’ offense started chipping away, scoring two in the fifth inning on Xander Bogaerts’ 20th homer of the season.

The Sox, who finished going just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, seemed to squander their best chance for a comeback in the sixth inning when Dustin Pedroia struck out looking with the bases loaded.

But in the seventh, they were able to seal the deal.

Bogaerts led off with a double and was advanced to third on David Ortiz’s long fly ball to center field. With the infield drawn in, Mookie Betts lined an RBI single over the head of shortstop Didi Gregorius to knot the game at 5-5.

After a Hanley Ramirez single, the Red Sox found themselves with runners on second and third with two outs thanks to a ground out to first base by Travis Shaw. That set the stage for Adam Warren’s wild pitch, that Leon was able to step away from just in time to allow the ball to carom toward the Sox’ on-deck circle.

While the errant pitch did let Betts race in with the eventual game-winner, an ill-advised race home by Ramirez — who tried to take advantage of nobody covering home plate for a moment — ended the threat.

“We won the game, that’s all that matters,” Ramirez said. “Just going out there and trust what you see.”

“When [Yankees catcher Austin] Romine went to retrieve the ball after Mookie scores, he’s walking back to home plate with his head down,” Farrell said. “And actually I thought it was a good heads-up risky play on Hanley’s part. Yeah, he comes up short but he has the right and accurate read on Romine’s awareness or lack thereof in the moment.”

The resurgence of the Red Sox’ offense took Price off the hook. The Red Sox starter, who had gone 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last six starts, struggled against the Yankees for a fourth time this season, giving up five runs on nine hits over six innings. Price now has a 7.71 ERA (20 earned runs, 23 1/3 innings) vs. New York in 2016.

The biggest blow against Price came in the third inning when Yankees phenom Gary Sanchez continued his historic major league debut, launching a three-run homer over the left field wall.

Some good news for the Red Sox was that their bullpen continued to dominate, with the combination of Robbie Ross Jr., Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel pitching three hitless innings to finish things off. Kimbrel struck out all four batters he faced.

The Red Sox’ bullpen now has a 1.06 ERA in September, the lowest in the majors.

Ramirez finished with three hits for the 12th time this season, marking the ninth time he has accomplished the feat at Fenway Park in 2016. The first baseman is now six or his last eight with three extra-base hits.

“Everything is coming together,” Ramirez said. “It’s a long season. You’re going to have some ups and downs. When you’re down you just have to find a level until you get hot. We’re playing pretty good baseball right now.”

When it was suggested that it is no longer a long season, with 16 games left in the regular season, Ramirez responded, “Yes it is. There’s a lot of games left. Who knows?”

Bogaerts also finished with three extra-base hits, which was the second time in his career he has finished with such a day.

“It’s just what I was doing. It was something blocking me. I was blocking myself. It wasn’t anyone else,” Bogaerts said of his recent struggles. “It was just me blocking myself from doing what I was able to do at the plate and freeing up myself was one of the main things I had to do. Obviously you get frustrated when you don’t get hits, but it was all physical. I know I wasn’t feeling what I was supposed to be feeling and freeing up myself was the best thing I had to do. I kind of dive a lot so I kind of lock up my own self. It’s just a bad habit that’s probably created from taking pitches and stuff like that. I’ve just got to keep working.”

For a complete box score, click here.

Closing Time note

The Red Sox improved to 17-6 in day games at Fenway this season, including 16-2 since the start of May. Betts is hitting.342 in his 47 day games this season. The Sox’ right fielder has also hit safely in 117 of the club’s 148 games. Since 1913, only four Red Sox have hit safely in more games through this point in the season (Wade Boggs, 124 in 1985; Joe Vosmik, 120 in 1938; Ted Williams, 118 in 1949; Johnny Pesky, 118 in 1947).

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