|09.18.16 at 9:52 am ET|
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.
|09.18.16 at 8:19 am ET|
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.”
|09.17.16 at 4:45 pm ET|
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.”
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).
|09.17.16 at 3:45 pm ET|
But what has been truly mind-blowing is David Ortiz’s ability to handle the requests of all those wanting one final piece of David Ortiz. It started on the first day of spring training, kicked up steam during Fort Myers’ golf cart presentation, and hasn’t stopped for a minute.
Gifts. Interviews. Public appearances. You name it. With just a couple of weeks left in the regular season, Ortiz can reflect on a sometimes uncomfortable challenge for his final season.
“No clue,” Ortiz told WEEI.com when asked if he had any idea the demands would be like this prior to the season. “But if I knew I would have probably announced it after the season. But it’s all good. At least we’ve been able to give the fans what matters the most, the opportunity to watch me play for the last time.”
“No, I haven’t, which I think is totally related to how well he’s performed this year, and also how accommodating he’s been to the media,” said Red Sox media relations director Kevin Gregg when asked if he has seen anything like the amount of requests given to Ortiz this season. “The thing with him is that it’s not just local media. It’s local, national and international. It’s been a ton.”
The last week or so has offered a microcosm of what Ortiz has had to deal with. In each of the Red Sox’ last three road stops — Oakland, San Diego and Toronto — the demands for the designated hitter’s time was non-stop. And being the last visits to those places, it only made it worse.
So by the time the Red Sox faced off with the Yankees this weekend, Ortiz knew enough to lay as low as possible.
“He knows when to shut down,” Gregg said. “He knows the media has a job to do and he does the best to help. Sometimes he needs to balance the preparation for baseball over what he’s doing for the media.”
“We’ve all come to know David, he’s a got an uncanny ability to, I don’t know whether you want to say compartmentalize,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “It’s almost like he operates best when there’s so many different things going on. He’s got a lot going on. He’s earned it. To watch him be able to focus in to get four or five at-bats, individual events, it’s pretty remarkable. On night games, he walks in at 12:30 in the afternoon and there’s a lot going on with him with some of the other things as it relates to his career, the final season, a number of personal things that he has going on. But he finds a way to balance it all and has not skipped a beat when it comes to the bottom-line numbers.”
Or, as Ortiz explained it, “There has been a lot. When I’m locked in playing the game I don’t worry about anything but playing the game.”
Ortiz has found a way to prioritize, which has been evident in the ability to stay health and produce on the field. But he also admits that it hasn’t been easy, a reality that, on Sept. 17, only becomes more evident. It’s another reason why those hoping for another season shouldn’t hold their breath.
“I don’t know how I’ve done it, but I have,” Ortiz explained. “I just don’t think I could put up with this again. I just can’t wait for this to be over because I’m pretty tired. Everybody wants a piece of you. But it’s all good.”
|09.17.16 at 12:16 pm ET|
Not only has Ramirez proved himself as a viable first baseman, but the offensive production he had displayed while with the Marlins and Dodgers has once again been put on display.
Heading into Saturday, Ramirez was hitting .286 with an .858 OPS, 26 home runs and 102 RBI. Of American League first basemen, the Sox righty hitter has the third-best OPS, only trailing Miguel Cabrera (.946) and Mike Napoli (.858).
Asked prior to Saturday’s game when he first started seeing the evolution of Ramirez, who only played 105 games in 2015, Red Sox manager John Farrell pinpointed a moment in the offseason.
“I think there was a noticeable change in the couple days spent with (Ramirez) back in January down in south Florida,” Farrell said.
“Going through a 2-1/2 hour workout with him and watching all that was being done with him at that time from a physical standpoint, the commitment that was being made, the workout environment – there were probably 12 big-leaguers in there so that competitive element was there in that workout environment in January so the foundation he laid back then is to me one of the prime reasons he’s been able to be on the field as frequently as he’s been this year, he got himself in much better shape, the athleticism returned. He was big and bulky and it didn’t play well for him. On his part, the understanding and maybe the recognition that he needed to be more approachable, a little bit more engaging as a person. And you know what, to his credit, he’s doing all that.”
This month, Ramirez has seven home runs, while hitting .327 with a 1.121 OPS.
|09.17.16 at 8:49 am ET|
It looks like the Rays have changed their minds.
On Friday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported the Rays weren’t planning any special ceremony for David Ortiz’s last game there next weekend, rather just a short video tribute to be shown prior to the second inning in next Sunday’s series finale.
Now, it looks like that won’t be the case.
“We have the outline of a plan for next Sunday, and we’re waiting for the players to come home so that we can get their input before finalizing the details,” team president Brian Auld said to Topkin later on Friday.
Evan Longoria seems to be one player who would like there to be more than just a small video tribute, as every other team has had a small pregame ceremony and presented him with gifts, or donations to his charity.
“Obviously we would like to do something for (Ortiz),” Longoria said. “I have no answer if that means something monetarily as a donation to his foundation, if that means a gift, I don’t know yet.
“I guess we will get together with Brian and see what makes the most sense. The players want to do something for him. We’ll figure out the best way to accomplish that so we feel like we’ve done it the right way.”
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|09.17.16 at 8:12 am ET|
Saturday afternoon’s Red Sox-Yankees matchup will feature the streaking David Price opposite right-hander Bryan Mitchell.
Price is 16-8 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP in 31 starts. Over his last seven starts Price has been dominant, going 7-0 with a 2.16 ERA.
“He’s thrown much more consistent quality starts,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said (via MLB.com). “He’s on a run right now that might be the best run of his career inside not only these seven consecutive wins he’s recorded, but the second half of the season. He continues to increase his power, he’s maintained his direction through the lane in which he’s intending to execute pitches.”
On Monday, Price went eight solid innings, giving up just two runs, two hits (both home runs) and no walks with nine strikeouts in a 12-2 win over the Orioles.
“A guy like David is pitching as well as anybody in baseball is right now,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s why he can command those type of commitments they made to him. That’s a great example of how important those guys are.”
Against the Yankees, the southpaw is 14-9 with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.340 WHIP in 34 games (33 starts). This season against New York, Price is 1-2 with a 7.79 ERA and a 1.788 WHIP in three starts. His last outing against the Yankees came in July when he pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, 11 hits and one walk with one strikeout in a 3-1 Yankees win.
|09.16.16 at 11:56 pm ET|
It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Clay Buchholz.
His past three outings have been his fourth stint in the starting rotation as because of performance and injuries, Buchholz has gone back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen.
As the Red Sox continue to search for a dependable No. 3 starter, Buchholz is the only pitcher pitching like he wants it.
Buchholz was solid on Friday night to earn the win in the Red Sox’ 7-4 victory over the Yankees. He went six innings, allowed two runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out two. He picked up his first win at Fenway Park since May 9.
“Not as many walks – the two walks that I did have, found a way to minimize them, had a couple of double plays that helped out,” Buchholz said. “Defense played really good behind me again tonight. It was a grind.i felt like they put up some really tough at-bats together. With that win, its a big win given the situation that we’re in.”
Although he didn’t have a clean inning all night, his ability to pitch out of jams was what made him so effective.
“I thought he did a very good job with men on base,” manager John Farrell said. “He created a couple of jams for himself, but to the left-handers he was able to go to a couple of changeups to get some soft contact. I thought he made a couple of really good fastball pitches in to [Gary] Sanchez for a couple of groundball double plays early on. He’d bend a little bit, but stayed away from the big inning.”
Besides his rough outing in Toronto last Sunday, Buchholz allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings against the Padres on Sept. 6 and then was good again Friday. Prior to the Padres start, he allowed one earned run in each of his prior two starts, so he’s been solid as a starter for well over a month.
Over his last five starts he has an ERA of 3.94, which includes the six runs over three innings against the Blue Jays.
|09.16.16 at 11:50 pm ET|
Hanley Ramirez is the hottest hitter in the Red Sox lineup and also one of the hottest in all of baseball at the moment.
Except don’t tell him that.
“I haven’t got hot yet,” Ramirez said Friday. “I think we’ve got to keep forward. We’ve got to keep forward and push it to the limit. Grinding every day, give everything we’ve got as a team, and keep playing how we’ve been playing.”
This came after going 2-for-3 with a home run in the Red Sox’ 7-4 win over the Yankees.
After his walk-off homer on Thursday, he’s homered on back-to-back days and has hit homers in six of his last nine games, nine in his last 16 and 10 in his last 19. Ramirez leads the majors with 40 RBIs since Aug. 11 and is batting at a .417 clip over that span with runners in scoring position.
“We’ve just got to keep rolling,” Ramirez said. “You cannot be really comfortable with yourself. You got to keep pushing to the limit and see how far you can go.”
It’s no surprise that the Red Sox are playing some of their best baseball of the season at the same time Ramirez is on such a hot streak. The team has won the last 10 games Ramirez has recorded a RBI in and 20 of its last 26.
Ramirez’s homer on Friday went to just about the same spot in dead-center field as his walk-off the night before did and the first baseman had a definitive answer when asked which ball he hit harder.
“Both of them,” he said with a smile.
|09.16.16 at 10:24 pm ET|
The Red Sox appear to be in a good position for the final 15 games of the season.
Led by Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, and Clay Buchholz on the mound, the Red Sox beat Yankees 7-4 Friday night at Fenway Park.
They now lead the Yankees by six games in the AL East and Orioles by two games as they came from behind to beat the Rays. The Blue Jays are playing the Angels late on the West Coast.
The Red Sox carried over their momentum from Thursday night into the first inning on Friday as they scored two runs. David Ortiz had an RBI single off the Green Monster, but was thrown out at second base and then Ramirez singled up the middle to make it a 2-0 game.
Ramirez kept his hot streak going as he crushed a solo homer in the fourth inning to almost the exact same spot as his walk-off on Thursday to put the Red Sox in front 3-0 at the time. Travis Shaw and Sandy Leon each added RBIs before Bradley Jr. hit a solo homer in the seventh.
Buchholz wasn’t perfect by any means, but was able to make key pitches when he needed to as he escaped a few jams. The right-hander went six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out two. It was his seventh win of the year.
He’s given the team two outstanding starts in his last three outings with Steven Wright down and possibly out for the year.
The Yankees went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Robbie Ross Jr. (2/3 of an inning), Brad Zieger (1/3 of an inning), Koji Uehara (one inning) were excellent in relief as they didn’t allow a run in two innings of work, but Fernando Abad had issues in the ninth as he allowed a two-run homer to Billy Butler forcing Craig Kimbrel to come on for the final two outs.
Ramirez has six home runs in his last nine games, nine in his last 16, and 10 in his last 19.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win.
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