|09.26.14 at 11:37 am ET|
The Red Sox start their final series of the year on Friday night when the Yankees come to Boston for Derek Jeter‘s last-ever games in the major leagues. Knuckleballer Steven Wright will get the start against New York’s Chris Capuano.
Pitching in place of Rubby De La Rosa, Wright (0-0, 3.38 ERA) will be making his first start of the season with the Red Sox. The last time Wright pitched this year was three innings out of the bullpen on Saturday against the Orioles. He gave up three hits, one run and struck out six.
Though he has not made a start in the big leagues this season, Wright has one relief outing where he pitched five innings. Wright struck out six and allowed just three baserunners and no runs over five innings on Sept. 7 against the Blue Jays at home. This performance came during fellow knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s start. Dickey got the win, but he said he was impressed with Wright’s pitching.
“To be honest, he had a better knuckleball than I did tonight,” Dickey said. “Our velocities are a little different. We had a light wind at my back, which made it tough to make it move the way I wanted, but it was moving enough to get off the barrels today and I made some big pitches when I needed them.”
Wright’s game plan against a powerful Blue Jays lineup was simple: Just throw strikes.
“It felt good to get out there. I was just trying to throw strikes, as many strikes as I could, then hope to put it in play with some weak contact so I could try to go as deep as I can,” Wright said.
Wright made one start in 2013, coming against the Astros in August. He lasted just one inning and was charged for three runs. This season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, the right-hander pitched to a 5-5 record and a 3.41 ERA in 15 starts.
Wright has never faced the Yankees in his brief major league career.
|09.25.14 at 11:49 pm ET|
When asked to describe what he saw unfold in New York Thursday night, David Ortiz simply said, “Perfection.”
Derek Jeter punctuated his Yankee Stadium career in unbelievable fashion, singling in the game-winning run to hand the Yankees a 6-5, walkoff win over the Orioles Thursday night. Making the moment even more incredible was that the only reason Jeter had the opportunity to claim his opposite field, RBI single was because Baltimore claimed two home runs in the ninth off Yankees closer David Robertson, eliminating a three-run New York lead.
“Wow. That’s him. Perfect,” Ortiz said. “I would say the Yankees fans this year, they’re not going to go to the playoffs, but that was like a playoff game right there when you end up winning it. It was unbelievable.”
After the game, in an interview with MLB Network, Jeter said that he would play during the Yankees three-game set against the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend “in some capacity,” but not while playing shortstop.
“I think he should, and he will,” said Ortiz when asked about Jeter playing. “Even one at-bat. I know that he probably will be thinking about leaving it right there. But he’s a guy who knows what he does very well. Everybody is expecting him to get an at-bat or play in a game, or whatever.”
|09.25.14 at 10:26 pm ET|
Since Rusney Castillo arrived with the Red Sox, the reviews have been mixed.
The outfielder has shown an ability to go get the ball in the outfield, while taking to coaching like the Red Sox would hope he would. He showed hints of pop, particularly to right field. Conversely, Castillo’s much-publicized speed has come under some scrutiny, possessing a pedestrian time of 4.4 seconds down the first line (due in part to an aggressive hitting follow-through).
It all added up to four hits in 23 at-bats (.174) with one run and a single RBI (claimed on a bases-loaded walk).
Thursday night, however, Castillo went next-level.
The rookie play a key role in the Red Sox’ blowout, 11-1 win over the Rays at Fenway Park, launching his first big league homer — clearing the left field wall with at three-run blast off a 92 mph fastball from Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson. He also just missed a second by a few feet, having to settle for a seventh-inning double.
“I have been feeling more comfortable,” Castillo said through translator Adrian Lorenzo. “I’m feeling closer towhere I want to be, so it’s like anything else, with some more time and somemore repetitions you get to feel a little bit more comfortable and confident. But yeah, I feel like I’m on my way there.”
With catcher Christian Vazquez hitting a second-inning homer over the left field wall, and Garin Cecchini sending a fly ball over the right field fence Wednesday night, the Red Sox have had three rookies hit their first major league homers in the past two nights.
Like Castillo, Vazquez’ night wasn’t just limited to a home run. The backstop went 4-for-4 with three RBI. Also pitching in for the offense was fellow rookie Bryce Brentz (2-for-4).
Also of note was Allen Webster’s outing. The righty starter turned in yet another solid performance, this time allowing one run on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out five and walked one while throwing a season-high 99 pitches.
In his last three starts, Webster — who has implemented his four-seam fastball a bit more of late — has allowed four runs in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 10 and walking three.
“Much like we talked about with [Anthony] Ranaudo last night, the final start of the year with some increased confidence going into the offseason and even furthermore, with Webby, just some momentum as he finishes things out this year,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
|09.25.14 at 8:19 pm ET|
With three games to play — and little on the line — the Red Sox are playing it safe.
Mike Napoli (toe, finger, back) and Brock Holt (concussion) are, according to Red Sox manger John Farrell, not likely to see game action the rest of the way. And now David Ortiz figures to be joining the duo on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.
The designated hitter has felt soreness in his left wrist after aggravating it during Tuesday night’s game. And with it being the same wrist he missed 45 games in ’08 because of having partially torn a tendon sheath, the Sox and their designated hitter aren’t taking any chances.
After the Red Sox‘ 11-1 win over Tampa Bay, Ortiz suggested he had played his last game this season.
“I’m not feeling like ‘¦ My hand is just not what I would like it to be,” Ortiz said. “The doctor already told me the other day, let’s take it day by day, but what you’ve got will probably take one or two weeks to go back to normal, and that was two days ago.”
As for the similarities between this sensation and the one he endured in ’08, Ortiz noted there were enough to allow for a conservative approach.
“The doctor said I just need to rest so I can get some of that inflammation out of there. But it’s not anything crazy,” he noted. “From what I heard it’s not something I’m super concerned about.”
When comparing this ailment to the one six seasons ago, Ortiz added, “It’s different. I think what happened to me now, it happened to me in ‘08 and I never really paid attention to it and all of a sudden my tendon just snapped back then. I’ve been sore the last couple of weeks but it wasn’t really bothering me to swing the bat until the other night and that’s when I started getting concerned about it. … I’m not as stupid as I used to be. I’m older to understand things better now.”
Ortiz is currently sitting at 35 home runs with an .873 OPS, ninth best in the American League.
|09.25.14 at 9:47 am ET|
One year after the Red Sox claimed the World Series title, the team has slipped into last place in the American League East. A season that started with high expectations and optimism now is coming to a close over the course of the next few days.
“We spent so much of the year still hopeful,” Lucchino said. “Of course the 2015 season began July 31 when we made the trades and acquisitions. So we began to flip the switch around that time.”
Continued Lucchino: “No, I didn’t see this coming. This was a perfect storm in so many ways. We were not alone in being overly optimistic about this team. I think if you go back to the predictions that were made by the sports writers and baseball people early on, there was plenty of optimism carried over from the world championship in 2013.
“But baseball is not only an unforgiving game, but it’s also a very unpredictable game. And a lot of those things that worked so well last year, and breaks that came our way last year, were not present this year.”
Lucchino said he is optimistic about the Red Sox making a turnaround in the 2015 season with a lot of the talent they have in the organization.
“I think the opportunity for us to rebound, to retool, in the offseason is certainly there,” Lucchino said. “We have the financial wherewithal to take some important steps. And we have younger players, who were perhaps not quite ready this year, at least that’s what the performance would indicate. But they are still immensely talented, young players. We’re beginning to see some of that talent on the part of some of them. Some may have to regress to Triple-A for some seasoning. … There’s plenty to watch and to enjoy, and there are some rational reasons for hoping expectations being better next year.”
|09.25.14 at 9:40 am ET|
Trying to get a rotation spot next season, Webster (4-3, 5.54 ERA) pitched well vs. the Orioles last Friday night at Camden Yards. He pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowed seven hits but just one run in the no decision. The lone Orioles run off Webster came on a Nelson Cruz RBI infield single. Webster said after the game that he wished he had better command of his offspeed pitches early in the contest.
“I wasn’t really locating my offspeed stuff as well as I would have liked,” Webster said. “But later in the game, I started finding it, and me and [catcher Christian Vazquez] just kept pounding the zone.”
The outing in Baltimore was the third quality start of September for Webster. After a 7.28 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in August, the right-hander has rebounded over the final month with a 1-0 record and a 3.18 ERA in three starts. In each outing this month, he’s pitched at least five innings, recorded at least one strikeout and not allowed more than three runs.
The three September starts follow one at the end of August in which the Rays roughed up Webster for six runs on five hits. He lost a little bit of control in that one, as he also hit two batters. James Loney‘s double in the second started a three-run rally, which carried Tampa Bay to victory.
Webster’s other start against the Rays this year came back in July during his first outing of 2015. He allowed two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn the win. Both runs scored in the third inning on a Desmond Jennings double. Other than that, Webster limited the damage.
|09.24.14 at 10:52 pm ET|
Pawtucket still looks better than Durham.
That characterization — noting that the Red Sox‘ Triple-A affiliate beat Tampa Bay’s Triple-A roster in the Governor’s Cup finals — only slightly misrepresents what occurred at Fenway Park on Wednesday night. But it was the case that a prospect-laden group of Red Sox players, only one of whom (21-year-old Xander Bogaerts) has spent all year on the major league roster, blew out the Rays, 11-3.
The contributions from the young or inexperienced players, many of which marked career milestones, were numerous:
— Garin Cecchini launched his first big league homer, reached base three times (once on a walk, once by getting hit by a pitch) and made three plays that showed range to his left at third base.
— Anthony Ranaudo logged a career-high seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out two. For the first time in his seven big league starts, he did not allow a homer. The win improved him to 4-3 in the big leagues and 18-7 on the year.
— Rusney Castillo negotiated his first two career walks while also offering a glimpse of his extra gear on the bases when he scored from second on a passed ball. Granted, the bases were loaded and he was running on a 3-2 count with two outs, but his ability to read the play and then accelerate around third gave some insight into the athleticism that drew the Sox to him. His walk came with the bases loaded, resulting in his first career RBI. Read the rest of this entry »
|09.24.14 at 9:37 pm ET|
With the Yankees now eliminated from postseason contention following their 9-5 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the decision about whether or not Jeter plays in Fenway Park will fall to the shortstop.
“I will leave that up to him, very similar to what I did with [Mariano Rivera],” Girardi told reporters prior to his team’s game. “In my mind, I really thought that Mo would want to play that inning in center field and it never happened. So I’ll leave that up to Derek. I don’t see any reason I wouldn’t do it any different.”
Girardi had given Rivera the option of playing an inning in center field in Houston against the Astros. However, the closer decided that his trip off the mound in Yankee Stadium — when he was pulled by teammates Andy Pettitte and Jeter — would be the last time he set foot on a field in a major league game.
Whether Jeter follows suit remains to be seen. When reporters asked him whether he would play in Boston, he said that the contest was too far away to speculate, and that he was focused solely on his next game. That said, it’s worth noting that Jeter’s scheduled final game in Yankee Stadium on Thursday has the threat of rain hovering over it. Jeter went 0-for-4 on Wednesday.
|09.24.14 at 6:59 pm ET|
Will Middlebrooks, who was scratched just prior to the start of Tuesday’s game against the Rays, is once again out of the lineup on Wednesday due to soreness in his left wrist. Manager John Farrell suggested that the third baseman is “day to day at this point,” but suggested that the team is hopeful that his season is not over.
“We’re going to continue to press and push to get him on the field as much as possible in these final five days even though one of them is today and won’t be on the field,” said Farrell. Tomorrow, through the weekend, we need to get him on the field as much as possible.”
At a time when there will be just four games beyond Wednesday’s contest, and with Middlebrooks having little remaining opportunity to improve his dreadful season stat line of a .191 average, .256 OBP and .265 slugging mark, Farrell was asked to explain the urgency he expressed for an opportunity to evaluate the 26-year-old further this year.
“More than anything, if a player is capable, we’re not just wanting to shut someone down,” Farrell said. “That’s not a precedent that we want to set or enable, to be honest with you.”
It has been a year in which Middlebrooks rarely has played at full health. He spent time on the DL with a calf injury. His current wrist sprain is believed to be related to when he got hit by a pitch in May. He lost months to a finger that was fractured by the line drive. The result has been fitful playing time at the big league level, which in turn has contributed to some of Middlebrooks’ struggles to remain in a sustained offensive groove.
That said, Farrell said that it would be a mistake to view Middlebrooks’ struggles as simply the product of injuries. He’s been healthy enough to play. His limited production — particularly the absence of his characteristic home run power (he has hit just two homers in 63 games this year) — is not entirely a function of health, in Farrell’s view.
“I don’t think he’s been limited any different than other players who deal with nagging ailments over the course of a full season. There’s been times when he’s been unavailable. To say it’s to the extent that he can’t go or can’t play, we’re not at that point,” said Farrell. “He’s missed time over the past couple of years as we know. The inconsistent playing time has had some effect. To say that there’s something existing here, sure, he’s banged up a little bit. Is that the sole reason why the power numbers have dropped? I can’t say that it is.”
|09.24.14 at 5:53 pm ET|
The logic is obvious, almost compelling. At a time when Will Middlebrooks has struggled at third base and the Red Sox don’t appear to have an internal answer at that position to open 2015, why not see if Mookie Betts can play there? It’s a matter that the Red Sox seemingly have no intention of exploring.
Betts is playing second right now because Dustin Pedroia is out for the rest of the season and Brock Holt has been sidelined by a concussion. But when Pedroia is healthy, the Sox envision Betts patrolling the outfield.
“We moved Mookie to second base when Dustin went down for the year. We moved Mookie to center field initially because of Dustin’s presence. With Dustin coming back, we see Mookie as an outfielder — not on the left side of the infield,” said Farrell.
Betts actually began his pro career as a shortstop in Lowell, but after a dozen games, he was moved to second (partly because of throwing struggles that yielded six errors in that time, partly because the team drafted Deven Marrero). At this point, the team wants to build on the areas where Betts has focused his professional development rather than introducing a new element to his career that might slow his career progression.
“He was moved off the left side of the infield early in his minor league career because of some changes with accuracy to throws and that type of thing,” said Farrell. “To go back to an area that has already been played, we’re trying maximize the current ability and plug him in to a team that can contend and compete as soon as possible.”
Read the rest of this entry »
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