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Why You Should Have Cared About This Red Sox Game: Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and hope for the future

09.02.14 at 10:37 pm ET
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(For the final month of the regular season, ‘€œClosing Time’€ will now be called ‘€œWhy You Should Have Cared,’€ looking beyond the final score — at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) — for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.)

Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts collaborated on a historically precocious feat. (Getty Images)

Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts collaborated on a historically precocious feat. (Getty Images)

The revisionist fiction is intriguing.

What if the Red Sox had been carried by their rookies rather than weighed down by them? What if Xander Bogaerts had remained the elite offensive performer he looked like through the first two months of the year rather than the least productive hitter in the majors over the next two-plus months?

That concept seemed tantalizing in the Red Sox‘ 9-4 win over the Yankees on Tuesday night, when Bogaerts and Mookie Betts became the first pair of Red Sox rookies to homer in Yankee Stadium since 1952, and the first pair of 21-year-olds in half a century to go deep against New York in a single contest (and just the second duo — along with Jim Palmer and Curt Blefary of the Orioles in 1965 — to do it since at least 1914).

Bogaerts set one career high with four hits and matched another with two extra-base hits, going 4-for-5 with two singles, a double and homer. It was his first homer since July 29, and just his second three-hit game since the start of June.

Betts, meanwhile, had his first big league three-hit game, with singles to both left and right and a long homer to left-center that continued his dazzling performance as the everyday centerfielder with the Sox. In 15 games since his mid-August promotion for that role in the big leagues, he’s hitting .315/.413/.556 with three homers.

The leading role played by the Red Sox‘ young core may not have happened this year. But on Tuesday, Betts and Bogaerts offered a reminder of why the team will not turn its back on the potential upside of its young players going forward. The team likely will be more deliberate in how it integrates young players — and the signing of Rusney Castillo offers the team an avenue to allow Betts to spend more of next year in Triple-A — but the idea of a young, homegrown top-of-the-order hitter and a young, homegrown middle-of-the-order hitter remains a potential foundational strength going forward.

OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT TUESDAY’S GAME Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Joe Kelly, mookie betts, xander bogaerts,

John Farrell: Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘still a work in progress’ but expected back in big leagues this year

09.02.14 at 6:41 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — The Red Sox added a pair of players to their roster on Tuesday, with right-hander Anthony Ranaudo (the scheduled starter for Wednesday) and catcher Dan Butler joining Steven Wright. But at a time when teams can carry rosters of up to 40 players (as opposed to the standard 25) for the final month of the season, there was a notable omission in the group coming up from Pawtucket to the big leagues.

When Jackie Bradley Jr. was sent to Triple-A a couple of weeks ago, manager John Farrell said that his expectation was that the center fielder would be back in the majors at some point in September. That point has yet to arrive. And so, Farrell was asked, has anything altered with regards to the idea of bringing back Bradley?

“Nothing has changed in that way,” said Farrell.

Still, Bradley has been struggling in Pawtucket. In 14 games since being sent down, he’s hitting .212 with a .246 OBP and .273 slugging mark with three walks and 18 strikeouts. His ability to make some of the adjustments that the Sox hoped to see has been inconsistent.

“Jackie was well aware when we sat down and described what needs to be the focal point. I don’€™t know that has necessarily needs to be repeated right now. The reports have been mixed,” said Farrell. “There have been days as he’€™s executed between the lines as he’€™s been working on but it’€™s still a work in progress.”

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Next wave of Red Sox prospects makes its mark; Manuel Margot’s breakout stretch

09.02.14 at 1:13 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo may have been the recognizable name in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League championship game. But there may come a day when he’s the footnote rather than the headliner.

Shortstop Javier Guerra launched a homer in the GCL Red Sox' championship victory on Monday. (WEEI.com)

Shortstop Javier Guerra launched a homer in the GCL Red Sox‘ championship victory on Monday. (WEEI.com)

After all, Castillo — who went 0-for-3 with a walk, two groundouts and a flyout — batted in front of Javier Guerra, an attention-grabbing shortstop who looks the part of a big league defender and whose unusual pop for his position was evident in the homer he smoked to right, his lone hit in a 1-for-4 day that also included a walk. Batting behind Guerra was the Sox’ top pure hitting prospect in years, Rafael Devers, who went 1-for-5 as the final note of a year that saw him lead both his DSL and GCL teams in homers at the age of 17. Devers was hitting in front of first-rounder Michael Chavis, who launched a two-run homer to left, a final display of what became a regular display of precocious extra-base power that started in August as an 18-year-old making his pro debut.

Behind Chavis was second baseman Victor Acosta, a slight player whose strong wrists allow him to generate unlikely pop. Outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe, a 17-year-old with speed and athleticism as well as an approach that proved surprisingly advanced this year, permitting him to move from the DSL to the GCL, went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. Left fielder Trenton Kemp, an 18-year-old who was taken in the 15th round for his intriguing power/speed combination, went 2-for-5 to wrap up an 8-for-17 postseason that included a homer. The lineup was rounded out by a huge player with huge power potential in Josh Ockimey and an 18-year-old catcher (Devon Fisher) who helped navigate through a number of wins.

It will be years before some clarity is achieved with that group of prospects, before it is known whether Devers and Chavis and Guerra emerge as potential stars or regulars or what-happened-to’€¦ busts. But for now, between a DSL team that is competing for a championship and a GCL team that won one with an 8-1 victory over the GCL Yankees on Monday, there’s burgeoning strength in the lower levels of the Red Sox system, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in years. There is now a very distinctive wave behind the current upper levels wave, with potential high-impact players such as Devers (a potential middle-of-the-order masher at third base), Guerra (who draws uniform raves from team personnel) and Chavis (potential middle-of-the-order power at second, third or even in left) leading the charge, and some outfielders with big upside like Yoan Aybar in the DSL and Basabe and Kemp in the GCL.

Castillo will make his mark in the big leagues this year. But in five or 10 years, it’s possible that he will prove something other than the most important player to have taken the field in the GCL Sox’ championship victory on Monday.

Here’s the box score.

A brief look at the rest of the action in the Red Sox system:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-1 LOSS VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: deven marrero, javier guerra, jordan betts, manuel margot

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Shane Greene

09.02.14 at 10:16 am ET
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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

The Red Sox will start the last series of their 10-game road trip when they face the Yankees on Tuesday night, sending Joe Kelly to pitch opposite Shane Greene in the first game of the series.

Kelly (0-1, 3.86 ERA) still is searching for his first win in his sixth start since joining the Red Sox at the non-waiver trade deadline. His last time out, Wednesday against the Blue Jays, the right-hander allowed two runs and struck out four in six solid innings. He was removed from the game after 86 pitches because of shoulder concerns stemming from his five-inning start against the Mariners on Aug. 26.

The Red Sox held a one-run lead at the time of Kelly’€™s exit, but reliever Junichi Tazawa allowed two crucial runs to score in the seventh inning, costing the Red Sox the game.

“After he came out of the last game, we had every intention to hold his pitch count down in the 85 range. He pitched exceptional tonight,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Kelly after the game. “He was very good. He and David Ross worked well together. But we felt like in light of five days ago, we were going to hold him shorter than normal, and knowing we were going to have to match up through the bottom of the order, it didn’€™t work out the way it looked like we could match up.”

Tuesday’€™s start will be Kelly’€™s first-ever matchup against the Yankees.

Greene (4-1, 3.09 ERA) will be making his second start of the season against the Red Sox. The rookie, who spent over two months in the minor leagues this year, did not factor in the decision in his Aug. 2 start against Boston, a game the Yankees won 6-4. The 6-foot-4 right-hander went 4 2/3 innings that afternoon, allowing just three runs, all of which came in the second inning. Greene settled down enough after a rough start to the game to strike out five hitters before exiting.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was impressed with Greene’€™s perseverance during that outing.

“You’ve got to remember, he is a young kid and a lot of this is all new for him,” Girardi said after the game. “The most impressive thing for me was that he made the adjustment, and that’s what you want to see.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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What we learned about Red Sox over Labor Day weekend

09.01.14 at 11:07 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia suffered what appeared to be a concussion Saturday night. (Getty Images)

Dustin Pedroia suffered what appeared to be a concussion Saturday night. (Getty Images)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On the surface, anything that transpired on the west coast of Florida involving the Red Sox over the past few days would seem of little consequence. This was a team, after all, that after dropping a 4-3 loss to the Rays Monday afternoon had dropped to a season-worst 19 1/2 games out of first place.

But there were some notable items that popped up since the summer started its annual punctuation Friday.

Dustin Pedroia was elbowed in the head Saturday, didn’t play for three straight days, and finally explained his lot in life while exiting the clubhouse late Monday afternoon.

Since the incident that drove him from Saturday night’s game — a Logan Forsythe slide into second (click here to see the video)– Pedroia has been battling concussion-like symptoms. By the time he left Florida, the headaches had subsided, but there was still the kind of sleep deprivation (staying up until 4 a.m. Monday) that accompanies concussions.

He will continue to take tests before being cleared, although Pedroia did offer this analysis: “I’m feeling better. There’s a part where you feel normal and then they’ve got to take all these tests and stuff. I’ve got to pass them, which is kind of tough. I didn’t pass many tests in my schooling life.”

There was an outside chance Pedroia might be able to play in New York, but the likelihood is that his return will come back at Fenway Park. He did at least manage to get clearance for the plane from Tampa. “It’s a long drive back,” he noted.

– While Clay Buchholz was pitching one of his best games of the season Sunday afternoon, most of the attention was focused two hours down I-75 in Fort Myers. It was there Rusney Castillo was making his professional debut with the Red Sox, serving as designated hitter for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox.

The 27-year-old outfielder would play a total of two games for the GCL Red Sox, getting four at-bats during the team’s title-clinching game Monday while playing center field without a chance.

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Rusney Castillo headed to Double-A Portland

09.01.14 at 5:12 pm ET
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Rusney Castillo went 0-for-3 with a walk in Monday’€™s Gulf Coast League title game, making him 1-for-5 through two professional games and closing the book on his GCL stint.

The Red Sox revealed Monday that Castillo will head to Double-A Portland Wednesday for the start of their postseason against Binghamton.

Castillo, whom the Sox signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract last month, went 1-for-2 Sunday as he made his professional debut. He was also thrown out stealing.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Why you should have cared about this Red Sox game: Mookie Betts was good in leadoff spot

09.01.14 at 4:44 pm ET
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Mookie Betts had two hits out of the leadoff spot. (Getty Images)

Mookie Betts had two hits out of the leadoff spot. (Getty Images)

(For the final month of the regular season, Closing Time will now be called “Why you should have cared,” taking into consideration the team’s increasing distance from a .500 record.)

Mookie Betts has ascended up the Red Sox batting order in recent days, and his first tango in the leadoff spot suited him well in a 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Rays.

Betts had hit eighth in nine straight games after his mid-August recall and was moved up to seventh for three straight before hitting second on Sunday. He found success in the leadoff spot Monday, going 2-for-5 with an RBI double and a run scored.

The run scored was a key one, as Betts, after singling in the top of the eighth with the Sox trailing down a run, was advanced to second on a groundout by Brock Holt and scored on a Yoenis Cespedes single.

Monday marked Betts’ second straight game with an RBI, as he contributed a run-scoring single in Sunday’s win over the Rays.

Here are some other things to care about as the Sox fell to 60-77:

Mike Napoli hit a solo shot to left-center in the bottom of the fourth to snap an 0-for-13 skid. With his 17th homer of the season, Napoli is closer to becoming the Sox’€™ second player with 20 home runs this season (David Ortiz leads the team with 30). Ortiz and Napoli were the only Sox hitters with 20 homers last season, which was the first time since 1997 that the Sox didn’€™t have at least three players hit 20 or more home runs.

– Though Napoli came through in the fourth, he struck out swinging to end the top of the eighth after Cespedes had tied the game.

Read the rest of this entry »

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