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Monday’s Red Sox-Cubs matchups: Jake Peavy vs. Jake Arrieta

06.30.14 at 8:46 am ET
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The Red Sox return home for a three-game series against the Cubs on Monday when they send Jake Peavy to the mound against Jake Arrieta.

With the Red Sox rotation getting more and more crowded, Peavy (1-6, 4.93 ERA) may be pitching for his starting job. The Sox have seven pitchers fighting for five spots, and Peavy may be the worst of them all right now. The right-hander hasn’t won a start since April 25 and has an ERA north of 5.00 in each of the last two months. He’s 0-5 with a 6.38 ERA in his last nine starts.

Things got about as bad as they have been all season for Peavy on Tuesday night in Seattle. He lasted just five innings after giving up seven runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in an 8-2 loss to the Mariners.

“Nothing’s fun about getting beat, especially when you don’t do your job and get beat,” Peavy said after the game. “It’s just frustrating. There’s no other way to say it. When you get beat and you’re playing from behind all night, it’s not fun. You feel like you get back in it and you have some chances and come so close to turning the double play there, maybe change the momentum of the game or the inning, get something to bounce our way.”

Peavy hasn’t faced the Cubs since May 30, 2013, when he was pitching for the White Sox. He got knocked around in that outing, allowing six runs on eight hits over just four innings in an 8-3 Cubs win. Peavy has been effective against the Cubs for most of his career, however, going 7-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 14 career starts.

Alternatively, Arrieta (4-1, 2.05 ERA) has been at his best as of late. The righty is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in his last five starts. He took a perfect game into the seventh in his last outing against the Reds on Tuesday before giving up two runs on three hits in a nine-strikeout performance.

“He was commanding his pitches,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said after the game. “His pitches had life.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mookie Betts on debut: ‘Same game I’ve been playing’

06.30.14 at 1:25 am ET
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Mookie Betts posed with the ball that he struck for his first career hit on Sunday night in New York. (twitter.com/redsox)

Mookie Betts posed with the ball that he struck for his first career hit on Sunday night in New York. (twitter.com/redsox)

NEW YORK — It was a night of firsts for Markus Lynn Betts, the 21-year-old whose MLB monogram received official validation on Sunday night in the Red Sox‘ 8-5 win over the Yankees. Mookie Betts went 1-for-3 with a single, a walk and a run in his first big league game, showing the poise that convinced the Red Sox to bring him up to the big leagues after just 23 games in Triple-A Pawtucket.

Betts said that he was not overwhelmed by his surroundings, that the 48,124 ensemble at Yankee Stadium did not alter the fact that he was playing the same game at which he’s excelled while rocketing through the Red Sox system over the last two years.

“It was great, I mean going up my first at bat I had a little jitters but once I saw the first pitch — same game,” said Betts. “For the first game it’€™s a really big atmosphere but I had that day off before so I kind of got to feel it out and see what it was about. … I don’€™t think it was difficult at all [to remain patient at the plate]. Just be in my approach, swing at good pitches, if it’€™s not, then take it. Again, I go and relax. It’€™s the same game I’ve been playing the whole time. Not wanting to put any extra pressure on myself today, so I think I did that pretty well.”

Betts displayed his characteristic patience at the plate. In his first plate appearance, he got ahead 2-0 against Yankees starter Chase Whitley before a swing and miss at a slider and then grounding into a 5-4-3 double play. After taking a first-pitch slider against Whitley in his second at-bat, he pounced on a 90 mph fastball for a groundball single up the middle. He got ahead, 2-0, in his third at-bat en route to a nine-pitch walk against lefty David Huff, then wrapped up his day by getting ahead of left-hander Matt Thornton, 3-0, taking a pair of strikes, fouling off a pair of 3-2 pitches and finally grounding to short on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.

“He controlled each and every one of his at-bats, particularly the walk,” noted Sox manager John Farrell. “He takes a borderline 3-2 pitch for the walk. He showed good presence in the batter’s box.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jon Lester: Contract talks ‘a distraction we don’t need’

06.30.14 at 12:35 am ET
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Jon Lester said he doesn't want to discuss a contract extension with the Sox until after the season. (AP)

Jon Lester said he doesn’t want to discuss a contract extension with the Sox until after the season. (AP)

NEW YORK — Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester said that reports that contract talks between him and the team have resumed are off the mark. The 30-year-old, who will be eligible for free agency after the season, said that he is not talking with the team about contract terms, and further said that he does not plan to do so during the season.

“I think it’s an added distraction that we don’t need right now,” said Lester. “We need to focus on playing good baseball and getting back to the top of the East and going from there, hopefully getting to the playoffs. We don’t need to be worried about my contract stuff. That’s the last thing I want these guys to have to answer questions about. I mean, kind of like tonight — we got a big win, took a series from the Yankees, playing good baseball and we’re sitting here talking about this. This is the last thing we need to be talking about right now.

“I don’t think they’ve started anything,” Lester added of the idea that he was engaged in renewed contract talks. “I know the conversation has been there throughout the season, different topics. Like I said from the beginning of the season, everything is amicable. Conversations continue. But nothing as far as contract or numbers or anything like that.”

Asked if the Red Sox had reached out to his representatives about in-season talks, Lester responded, “No, not that I’m aware of.”

Based on the fact that he’s had success thus far this year while focusing on pitching (he is 9-7 with a career-best 2.92 ERA), he has no plans to change course.

“Like I’ve kind of been pretty consistent with, you’re just asking for trouble when you do something like [talk about a contract in-season],” he said. “For me, our focus, my focus right now is getting this team back to where it needs to be. With that being said, the last thing I want is these guys having to answer questions about me. Like I’ve said, per Red Sox protocol, we’ll just put it off to the end and talk then when it’s more appropriate, hopefully after another World Series. I just think right now is not too good of a time. Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Time: Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz propel Red Sox to series win over Yankees

06.29.14 at 11:45 pm ET
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Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz combined to drive in six of the Red Sox' runs in an 8-5 win over the Yankees. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz combined to drive in six of the Red Sox‘ runs in an 8-5 win over the Yankees. (AP)

NEW YORK — As much as Mookie Betts represented a focal point for the Red Sox entering Sunday, it was the team’s established stars who took center stage in an 8-5 win over the Yankees — and a series win — on Sunday night.

Ortiz crushed a three-run homer deep into the right field bleachers, while Pedroia amassed his second straight three-hit night, going 3-for-3 and driving in three runs to help pace a Sox offensive breakout.

By winning two out of three in the Bronx, the Sox snapped a streak of five straight road series losses. The team is also now within six games of the Blue Jays in the American League East, while also six behind the Mariners for the second wild card.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– While the offense took center stage in the win, the Red Sox also enjoyed a number of game-changing defensive plays. After John Lackey gave up a triple and double to open the fifth inning, Pedroia reined in the rally with a diving play to his left against Derek Jeter that helped limit the Yankees‘ inning to two runs. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Daniel Nava made a tremendous running catch, ranging about a mile on a fly ball to the wall in left-center for the first out of the inning. After a one-out double, Jackie Bradley Jr. then came up firing with a fantastic one-hop bullet on a single to shallow center, easily gunning down Carlos Beltran at the plate. It was Bradley’s ninth outfield assist this year, most among big league center fielders.

– On a team that otherwise has been power-starved, Ortiz continues to give the Sox a power hitting threat in the middle of the order. He’s hit seven of the team’s 20 homers in June, and 19 of their 62 longballs on the season — singlehandedly accounting for 30.6 percent of the team’s home runs for the season, the largest percentage of a team’s home runs by any one player in the big leagues this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Source: No meaningful progress in Jon Lester negotiations

06.29.14 at 10:33 pm ET
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In the wake of a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Red Sox “have re-engaged Lester’s representation in recent hours” and are “taking what might be one last run at trying to sign the left-hander,” an industry source downplayed the significance of the contact. While the Red Sox do seem to want to re-engage with Lester, there have been no signs of progress that would point towards an increased likelihood of an agreement.

Lester, according to the source, does not want in-season talks to become a distraction from pitching — something he fears could happen if the negotiations were to last any more than a few days.

Lester is now 9-7 with a career-best 2.92 ERA with 9.1 strikeouts and a career-low 2.3 walks per nine innings in 17 starts this year. He’s averaging 6 2/3 innings per start, and is tied for the team lead with 12 quality starts.

“He’€™s been our ace,” manager John Farrell told reporters on Saturday night, after Lester bested Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees, 2-1. “He’€™s been the guy we’€™ve looked to every time he’€™s walked to the mound, to give us an opportunity to win.”

Red Sox pregame notes: Jake Peavy tunes out trade rumors; Greg Colbrunn ready to return

06.29.14 at 9:31 pm ET
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Jake Peavy said that his focus is not on trade rumors. (AP)

Jake Peavy said that his focus is not on trade rumors. (AP)

NEW YORK — A year ago at this time, Jake Peavy was on the disabled list and getting ready to return to the big leagues and to the familiar existence of life in the middle of the rumor mill. As he pitched for a White Sox team that had fallen far from contention, Peavy — who spent years enduring rumors of a potential trade from the Padres before being dealt to Chicago in 2009 — represented one of the prizes of baseball’s July swap meet, ultimately getting dealt to the Red Sox as part of a three-team deal with the Tigers and White Sox.

Now, he’s finding his name back in the rumor mill, but for different reasons. At a time when the Red Sox saw tremendous promise from Rubby De La Rosa, Peavy — who is 1-6 with a 4.93 ERA — represents a candidate to be traded, particularly given that he’ll be a free agent after this season. The ongoing presence of De La Rosa in the big leagues through Saturday created a perception (even if not necessarily a reality) that the Sox were trying to deal Peavy to create a spot for the 25-year-old.

Those rumors proved unfounded, but nonetheless pointed to the uncertainty surrounding Peavy’s future with the team. Has he sought any clarity from the Sox about where he stands in their plans?

“No. I have a great relationship with my pitching coach (Juan Nieves), my manager (John Farrell) and my general manager (Ben Cherington). We’re all very open with each other. I don’t need any clarity on any situation involving anything. At the end of the day, you do what you’re told, work as hard as you can work, get better at your craft. That’s the way I approach each day and will continue to do that,” Peavy said earlier this weekend. “If you start worrying about stuff like that, your focus is off where it needs to be and it’s going to affect things.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Mookie Betts is debuting in right field and Xander Bogaerts is sitting

06.29.14 at 7:22 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts is sitting on Sunday. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts is sitting on Sunday. (AP)

NEW YORK — At this time last week, Mookie Betts was playing center field in Pawtucket and the Red Sox were counting down days till Shane Victorino made his return to the big leagues in right field.

The world has changed.

When it became clear that Victorino would remain sidelined for some time, Betts was introduced to right field for the first time on Thursday. He played two nights there, got called up Saturday and now, a player who had spent his entire professional career in the infield until last month will make his big league debut in right field on Sunday night. Though Betts has seen considerably more time in center, the Sox felt comfortable with the idea of letting him debut at his newest position, keeping Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field behind John Lackey, a flyball pitcher.

“As he’€™s handled each new position — that being center field and as well as right field — his athleticism has played,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “Jackie has done an outstanding job in center field. As we outlined yesterday, we basically have five guys for four positions. There will be some rotation through center and right and the left side of the infield with (Betts, Bradley, Xander BogaertsStephen Drew and Brock Holt), so today it’€™s Bogey who’€™s going to be the guy who’€™s out.”

The fact that Bogaerts is out reflects not just the crowd but also the fact that the young Red Sox infielder is amidst a search at the plate. Bogaerts is 18 games into the deepest offensive funk of his career. He’s hitting .091 with a .129 OBP, .136 slugging mark, three walks and 19 strikeouts in his last 18 games spanning 70 plate appearances (including 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in his last three games). In that time, he’s seen his line for the season go from a robust .299/.387/.452 to across-the-board season lows of .251/.331/.380. Read the rest of this entry »

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