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Saturday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Rick Porcello vs. Zach Neal

09.03.16 at 8:23 am ET
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Saturday night’s Red Sox-Athletics game will feature the Sox’ most dominant starter, Rick Porcello, against rookie right-hander Zach Neal.

At 18-3, Porcello leads the majors in wins, and he has a 3.26 ERA and a 1.041 WHIP in 27 starts. On Monday, Porcello pitched seven innings, allowing three runs, six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in a 9-4 win over the Rays.

“Another quality start on his part,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said (via MLB.com). “What’s recurring is that the deeper he goes in the games, the more efficient and sharp he becomes. That was the case again tonight. Rick has been a model of consistency.”

The sinkerballer has been dominant at home this season. With his win on Monday, Porcello became the first Red Sox pitcher since Dave “Boo” Ferris in 1946 to start a season 13-0 at Fenway. Furthermore, since 1913 Porcello is the fifth pitcher in the majors to start a season 13-0 in his home ballpark. He also joined Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008) and Cy Young (1902) as the only three Red Sox pitchers to win 18 of their first 21 starts.

Against the Athletics, Porcello is 5-5 in 13 starts with a 3.87 ERA and a 1.439 WHIP. He last faced the A’s in May, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing three runs, six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in a 13-3 Sox win.

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Closing Time: Travis Shaw, Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, lead Red Sox to rout of A’s

09.03.16 at 1:37 am ET
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Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw (47) celebrates with Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) after smashing a three-run homer against the A's on Friday. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw (47) celebrates with Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez (13) after smashing a three-run homer against the A’s on Friday. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Travis Shaw isn’t giving up his job without a fight.

Marginalized by the arrival of top prospect Yoan Moncada, Shaw responded with his fourth five-RBI game of the season by doubling twice and blasting a three-run homer to lead the Red Sox to a 16-2 victory over the A’s.

Shaw wasn’t the only offensive star of this one. Contributions came from up and down the order. David Ortiz (2-for-2) drove in three runs. Dustin Pedroia (2-for-5, 2 runs), Hanley Ramirez (2-for-4, 3 RBIs), and Sandy Leon (2-for-3) recorded multiple hits as the Red Sox pounded 17 hits total.

Even Moncada got in on the fun, walking in his first big league plate appearance and scoring on Shaw’s second double. He also made a nice play after entering as a defensive replacement at third base in the seventh, making a strong throw across the diamond.

All of that offense supported left-hander David Price, who picked apart the worst lineup in the American League over seven innings to win his fifth straight start and improve to 14-8 while lowering his ERA to 3.92. He allowed four hits and two runs.

Add it all together, and the Red Sox improved to 75-59 with 28 games remaining. They pulled within a game of the Blue Jays in first place in the American League East after Toronto fell to Tampa.

The Red Sox blew the game open in the fifth (4 runs) and sixth (6 runs), with Shaw’s three-run homer the big blow.

Before the game, manager John Farrell made it clear that Moncada will get most of the at-bats against right-handed pitching, with Aaron Hill playing against lefties.

“Where that puts Travis?” Farrell asked. “He’s not a forgotten guy, I can tell you that.”

On Friday night he made sure of it by going 3-for-6 with five RBIs. He also drove in five against the A’s on May 10 in Fenway Park. In the process, the Red Sox scored at least 13 runs against the A’s for the fourth time in four games this year.

Read More: A's, David Ortiz, David Price, Dustin Pedroia

Yoan Moncada makes his big league debut with nice defensive play, walk, and run

09.03.16 at 1:05 am ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada is officially in the books.

One of baseball’s top prospects debuted against the A’s on Friday in Oakland, entering in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement, immediately making a strong throw across the diamond, and then walking and scoring in his first plate appearance.

Moncada checked in for first baseman Hanley Ramirez in the seventh, debuting at third base, with Travis Shaw sliding across the diamond to replace Ramirez.

Moncada made the final out of the frame, fielding Chad Pinder’s grounder deep behind the bag and unloading a strong throw across the diamond.

He then batted second in the top of the eighth, drawing a five-pitch walk without swinging at a pitch against A’s reliever J.B. Wendelken. He didn’t stay on first for long, turning on the jets on Shaw’s double to left-center and scoring from first on Shaw’s double.

In his first official at-bat, Moncada struck out against former Red Sox farmhand Chris Smith.

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Yoan Moncada surprised to be in big leagues with Red Sox, but prepared to make an impact

09.02.16 at 9:41 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

When Yoan Moncada called home to tell his mother he had been summoned to join the Red Sox in the big leagues, she surprised him with her answer — she already knew.

The fact that the 21-year-old Cuban is already here after joining the Red Sox for Friday’s game against the A’s comes as no surprise. Universally considered one of the top five or 10 prospects in baseball, Moncada was going to arrive sooner than later.

But as he spoke to reporters in Oakland, it became clear that he considers himself ready.

“When I first came here, I thought that you sign and right away you go to the big leagues,” he said through translator Daveson Perez. “But soon I realized it wasn’t that easy, so you have to go to the minors, and I just stayed focused and did what I had to do. And stayed the course.”

That course has led him to the big leagues, where the Red Sox hope he can provide a spark like the ones they received from outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury in 2007 or Xander Bogaerts in 2013. Or even Andrew Benintendi, for that matter, before he injured his knee on the bases last month.

Moncada may not be as polished as Benintendi, who played in college, but the talent is clear. At two stops this year, including Double-A Portland, he hit .294 with 15 home runs, 62 RBIs, and 45 steals in 57 chances. He also walked 72 times for an on base percentage of .407 and an OPS of .918. He’s the real deal.

“I feel really good about it,” Moncada said. “I’m just really excited to be a part of a team that’s vying for a championship and I’m just ready to do all I can to support that.

“I’m just looking to not do too much, just play the same baseball I’ve played in the time that’s remaining and I’m really just sticking to what I’ve done to get to this point.”

Moncada won’t start on Friday, but he’ll be available off the bench. He looks forward to contributing in whatever way he can.

“I felt very proud and very happy with the news I was getting called up and just very excited to be called up,” said Moncada, who later added, “it’s definitely a surprise. I didn’t think they were going to call, but I’m here and ready to work and it has been a blessing.”

(Rob Bradford contributed to this report from Oakland)

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‘Possibility’ Steven Wright won’t make his next start

09.02.16 at 9:25 pm ET
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Steven Wright

Steven Wright

OAKLAND — Things aren’t going as planned for Steven Wright.

After coming off a four-inning outing Wednesday in which he gave up four runs, the knuckleballer revealed after the start he was still getting over hurdles both physically and mentally when it came to his ailing right shoulder.

In the two days since, it doesn’t appear as though there has been much improvement for Wright. Because of it, the righty’s scheduled start Tuesday in San Diego remains in doubt.

“He’s still a little bit feeling some of the symptoms in the shoulder,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “These next 24, 8 hours are probably going to be important in terms of what the rotation looks like in San Diego.”

Asked if Wright might miss the outing against the Padres, Farrell said, “There’s a possibility.”

If Wright isn’t able to make the start, it is unclear who would fill in for the 32-year-old. Farrell said the Red Sox hadn’t “got to that point yet” when asked about defining whether or not Clay Buchholz would once again be the fill-in.

Wright seemed to turn a corner after giving up five runs in his first inning back from the right shoulder injury, going on to pitch five shutout frames. But then came the most recent start, and then the days after.

Examining Red Sox plan for 3B with Yoan Moncada in mix

09.02.16 at 9:13 pm ET
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OAKLAND — Yoan Moncada walked out to the Oakland Coliseum field with instructors Laz Gutierrez and Brian Butterfield at 3:15 local time, accompanying the Red Sox’ new third baseman to various spots on the infield. This was all about getting the rookie’s feet wet.

“There was a little bit more addressed in terms of a walk-through, particularly with over shifts and the responsibility of the third baseman,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “So we spent some time with Butter walking through placement on the field, some of the terminology he will become more accustomed to the first time here. Then it will be a day to sit and watch a game, but we fully expect him to be in the lineup [Saturday].

This is what it looks like: Moncada will be the go-to guy more times than not against right-handed pitching, with Aaron Hill being the option vs. southpaws. Friday night’s starter Travis Shaw? That remains to be seen.

“I’m just going to roll with it and see how it is,” Shaw said. “I can’t control that so I’ll just try and stay ready for whenever that time comes.”

“Aaron will get the left-handed starters, and it’s likely he will get some late-inning defensively replacement, as well,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Where that puts Travis? He’s not a forgotten guy, I can tell you that. It’s going to be important for Travis to make sure the work pre game is there. I outlined to him to never be caught off guard in terms of either in the starting role or coming off the bench in certain spots. We’ve also used him at first. The fact is that Yoan is going to get more at-bats against some right-handed starters at third base.”

For the time being, it appears as though the Red Sox might not take any chances in close games with the lead late in games, opting for defensive replacements until there is a better gauge on Moncada’s acumen at third base. This will likely be involving Hill, although recently-promoted Deven Marrero could also be an option.

“I think it’s something we’re going to take the temperature as we go along,” Farrell said. “But we also have a very good third baseman defensively at our disposal. If we’re in a game if we have a lead late, I think it’s reasonable to use everyone on our roster.”

Red Sox lineup: Yoan Moncada starts big league game on bench

09.02.16 at 6:22 pm ET
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OAKLAND — Yoan Moncada is going to have to wait for his first big start.

Red Sox manager John Farrell is giving the recently promoted top prospect a day to acclimate himself in the majors, with Travis Shaw starting at third.

Moncada did join infield coach Brian Butterfield and instructor Laz Gutierrez out in the infield at 3:15 local time for some pregame coaching.

Here is the Red Sox lineup with David Price on the mound in the series opener against the A’s:

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Travis Shaw 3B

Brock Holt LF

Sandy Leon C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Mookie Betts, son of Vietnam veteran, weighs in on Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest: ‘I’m always going to stand because I have that connection’

09.02.16 at 1:38 pm ET
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Willie Betts, father of Red Sox star Mookie Betts, is honored as part of "Hats off to Heroes" during a June game against the White Sox. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Willie Betts, father of Red Sox star Mookie Betts, was honored as part of “Hats off to Heroes” during a June game against the White Sox. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

With 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a stand during the national anthem by refusing to stand, athletes from across sports have weighed in on the appropriateness of Kaepernick’s protest against police violence.

For Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, the issue is personal.

Betts’ father, Willie, served in Vietnam as a member of the Air Force. During a game in June against the White Sox, the elder Betts was honored at Fenway Park for his military service.

So while Betts does not begrudge Kaepernick his right to sit or kneel — as he did on Thursday night in a preseason tilt against the Chargers — he also knows what the song means to him personally.

“I mean, it’s his right. Nobody can control him,” Betts said. “I’m always going to stand because I have that connection. For me, it’s different. He may not have that connection, so he may view it differently. It’s just your views. However you want to look at it, no one can control what he does.

“My dad fought for this country. We may be in a completely different spot if we don’t have those people to go out and protect us. So I’ll always make sure [to stand.]”

Betts sees the anthem as a way to honor those who risked or gave their lives for the country.

“It’s been more than my dad that has fought,” he said. “It’s been a lot of family members and whatnot that have gone and fought. I have to pay my respects to them and all the families with loved ones they have lost, for protecting our country. That’s just my view of it.”

Betts is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season. The Red Sox open a series in Oakland on Friday with Betts hitting .320 with 30 homers and 96 RBIs. He also leads the league in total bases.

He may play a game for a living, but he never forgets where he came from when the strains of the anthem start each night.

“Two minutes, three minutes,” he said. “Pay your respects for those three minutes and say thank you for your service.”

Read More: Colin Kaepernick, mookie betts, Willie Betts,

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: LHP Brian Johnson solid in PawSox loss; Portland RHP Teddy Stankiewicz tosses 6 shutout innings

09.02.16 at 8:49 am ET
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Here’s a look a the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (71-67): L, 2-1, vs. Syracuse (Nationals)

— Left-hander Brian Johnson pitched well in his final start of the season, allowing one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old, a first-round draft pick in 2012, walked three and struck out three. After allowing two of the first three batters to reach base, he retired 16 of the next 18.

“He worked with a consistent tempo, his delivery was repeatable and he attacked the zone,” manager Kevin Boles said (via MiLB.com).

In 15 games with the PawSox, Johnson is 5-6 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. He has allowed one run or fewer in five of his last seven starts.

— Right-hander Williams Cuevas relieved and was charged with the loss after surrendering the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. He finished his night allowing five hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. Righty Heath Hembree came on to record the final out of the ninth with runners on the corners.

— The PawSox had just four hits, with Rusney Castillo, Ryan LaMarre, Bryce Brent and Allen Craig recording one apiece. Chris Dominguez drove in Pawtucket’s lone run on a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.

— Second baseman Mike Miller made a nice leaping catch in the ninth inning to keep the score close, snagging a soft liner with runners on the corners and two outs.

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Friday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: David Price vs. Andrew Triggs

09.02.16 at 8:27 am ET
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After a day off, the Red Sox begin a four game series in Oakland Friday night by sending David Price to the hill to face 27-year-old rookie right-hander Andrew Triggs.

Price is 13-8 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.225 WHIP in 28 starts, which is among the most in the majors. The southpaw picked up his fourth win in as many starts with a win over the Royals on Saturday. In the outing, Price pitched six innings, allowing two runs, five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

“I thought tonight he was more powerful than the last time over in Tampa,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Price (via MLB.com). “They put up some good at-bats against him. A lot of foul balls, ran the pitch count up. Six innings was his night tonight. But still, it’s the offspeed stuff that’s really making a difference for him.”

After the stellar start, Price’s ERA dropped below 4.00 for the first time since April 5.

“I haven’t thought about my ERA in a long time,” Price said. “That ship has sailed. I want to go out and pitch as deep into the ballgame as I can and give up the least amount of runs. I don’t worry about my ERA. I don’t worry about my wins and losses. I want the Red Sox to win every day and especially the days that I’m out there.”

In eight career starts against the Athletics, the 31-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.106 WHIP. The last time Price saw Oakland was in 2015 when he was a member of the Tigers. In that start, Price pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

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