|Closing Time: Jonny Gomes’ sacrifice fly hands Red Sox extra-inning win over Twins||05.17.13 at 11:35 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — Jonny Gomes and the Red Sox did just enough.
After struggling offensively for much of the game, the Sox were finally able to get over the hump when Gomes plated Dustin Pedroia with the eventual game-winning run via a sacrifice fly to center field. The 10th-inning RBI allowed for a 3-2 win for the Red Sox over the Twins in the teams’ series-opener at Target Field.
“They had a couple double plays early on in the game, like just don’t run into a double play,” said Gomes regarding what he was thinking. “But just sort of a pitch to elevate really. Left-center, right. Just a pitch I could elevate, get under. And it worked out.”
Clay Buchholz turned in another stellar performance, this time allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings. The outing dropped the starter’s ERA to 1.78.
Buchholz was followed by relievers Andrew Miller (1 2/3 innings), Alex Wilson (one batter) and Koji Uehara (inning), who all were perfect in their stints. In fact, the Red Sox teamed to retire the last 17 Twins batters.
“It speaks for itself,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell regarding the pitching. “On a night when [Junichi Tazawa), we wanted to stay away from him, [Clayton] Mortensen was down. Andrew Miller what he did last night down in Tampa and again tonight, after the first three or four outings of the season, he’s really started to turn the corner. The dependability of strike-throwing is there, the breaking ball has been much more consistent to give him something to get right-handers off his fastball. They did an outstanding job coming to the mound.”
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Twins starter Vance Worley — who came into Friday with a 7.15 ERA — also turned in his second straight solid outing against the Sox. The Minnesota righty, who had allowed three runs over five innings in getting a no-decision May 6, allowed one run over six innings. This after the Sox came into the game ranking second in the majors with 5.28 runs per road game.
Here is what went right and wrong for the Red Sox in their 42nd game of the season:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- The Red Sox were able to prevent Buchholz from taking a loss in the seventh when Jacoby Ellsbury’s sharp ground ball up the middle couldn’t be gathered in by Minnesota shortstop Pedro Florimon, allowing Gomes to come in with the game-tying run. The hit tied the game at 2-2 and pushed Jarrod Saltalmacchia to third with one out.
- Despite dealing with a sore left side — which he aggravated once again in his first at-bat Thursday night — David Ortiz came through with his third three-hit night of the season.
- The Red Sox initially jumped to a 1-0 lead with a run in the first inning. The score came when Ortiz singled in Daniel Nava, who had singled and moved to second via second baseman Brian Dozier’s throwing error.
- Will Middlebrooks executed the first sacrifice bunt of his career, moving pinch-runner Pedro Ciriaco to second and Dustin Pedroia in the 10th inning. The bunt paved the way to an intentional walk issued to Stephen Drew, leading to Gomes’ sacrifice fly.
“I came up and [third base coach Brian Butterfield] came up and talked to me,” said Middlebrooks, whose only other professional bunt came while playing for the Single-A Lowell Spinners. “They had a pitching visit, I told him, ‘If you want to give it to me I can get it down.’ They didn’t give it to me first pitch, second pitch they gave it to me and I got a good pitch to do it on.”
Added Farrell, “What we’ve seen is he’s a very good athlete. He’s got good hand-eye coordination. Knowing that it wasn’t part of his game as an offensive player, still I thought the game situation called for it. He executed it perfectly. … Just gave him a heads up that it may be coming. In the 1-0 situation, knowing they’d have to throw him a strike, it was the pitch that he did a very good job with.”
- With closer Tazawa having pitched two innings Thursday night, Uehara closed out the game for the Sox for just his second save over the last three seasons.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- The Red Sox had an opportunity to claim the lead in the seventh, with Ellsbury at second and altalamacchia at third with one out and the game tied. But with lefty reliever Brian Duensing pitching, Nava — who entered the at-bat 2-for-15 against lefties since April 13 — struck out. Dustin Pedroia then popped out to second against righty reliever Casey Fien to end the threat.
- Buchholz’ only miscue came in the third when Florimon cleared the right field wall for a two-run homer and a Twins lead. It was just the second homer allowed by the Red Sox’ starter this season, and first since his initial appearance of the season.
“Good pitch, maybe the wrong spot to use it in,” said Buchholz of the home run. “It was actually a better pitch than I was wanting to throw. Just trying to throw a strike over…. He dropped the head to the ball…. Overall I felt pretty good.
“I was able to get out of trouble in big situations without giving up any more damage outisde of the home run. It doesn’t always work that way. Fortunately tonight I was able to do that and hand it over to the guys in the bullpen, and we came out with the win.”
- After rocketing a two-out double in the right-center field gap in the eighth, Stephen Drew seemingly hurt his lower back. After being checked out by trainer Rick Jameyson and manager John Farrell, Drew remained in the game. After a walk to Gomes, the Twins ended the Sox’ threat when Jared Burton struck out Mike Carp. The punch-out put the Sox at 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, after Farrell’s team had totaled the majors’ second-best OPS with RISP over the past three games.
“I ran so hard to get to second, just the way I hit the bag all my force bent my back in the middle. It was awkward,” Drew said. “Other than that, come in tomorrow and see how it is and go from there.”
|Clay Buchholz, rest of the Red Sox starters have executed an interesting traveling trend||05.17.13 at 10:09 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS – It’s not clear how it might translate into wins and losses, but John Farrell certainly has taken notice of the dynamic.
For the sixth time in as many opportunities this season, the Red Sox pitcher who was scheduled to start in a series opening game in different city than the team had played the night before, didn’t travel ahead of the club.
This time it was Clay Buchholz who remained with his team in St. Petersburg, Fla. the night before he was slated to take the hill against the Twins at Target Field Friday night.
“My only comparison was being here before,” the Red Sox manager said, “and guys would travel ahead a little more frequently.”
Asked if the dynamic might be a microcosm of the new clubhouse culture, Farrell said, “That’s the way I look at it. Some guys, just by nature, don’t want to go out head. They want to travel with the group and not have that feeling of separation.
“We give the option to every guy and still most guys want to stay with the team and don’t want to break away from that unit. They want to give the support the night before they’re pitching and feel like they can manage the travel and still be prepared to pitch.”
As for tangible results stemming from the strategy, it has been a mixed back. Heading into Friday, the Red Sox starters have totaled a 5.15 ERA, which dips to 3.52 without Felix Doubront’s 3 2/3-inning, six-run outing in Texas. And Buchholz brought the numbers down even further with his performance against the Twins Friday.
Yet, with or without early-season excellence, the intentions are what have struck a chord with those in the Sox’ clubhouse.
“I’ve always believed I’m not the only one playing, my teammates are all playing too,” said Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster. “The other thing is, what if you go 17 innings or something and I’m sitting on my couch or bed at home and my team ends up losing a game because I’m not there to help. You can sleep on a plane and get your rest.
“With this team, everybody kind of wants to be together. I think that’s awesome. It just everybody’s preference, but everybody here wants to stay and be a part of it.”
|This just in: Mike Napoli will not start 162 games this season||05.17.13 at 9:24 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — Heading into Friday, Mike Napoli led the American League in two categories. One was doubles. The other?
Prior to the series opener at Target Field, Napoli was one of 12 American League players who had played all 41 games.
“That was probably my longest stretch of games in a row of my career,” he said.
Thursday, however, the first baseman was informed by Red Sox manager John Farrell that the streak of starts would be coming to an end and Friday was to be Napoli’s first day off of the season.
He had entered Minnesota coming off a series against the Rays going 1-for-11. But this was more about maintenance than production. In fact, if it was up to the player, the streak would still be trucking along.
“I still feel good. I don’t even have to look at the lineup, I’m just in there. I’m prepared to play every day,” he said. “John came to me and let me know I would have the day off today so mentally I know I wasn’t going to play today, so that was a different feeling.
“Knowing I’m going to be in there every day, when I go home I know it’s going to be the same routine. But my body feels good. It feels fine. Playing first base is such a different feel, mentally and physically.”
Napoli explained that his new lot in life has a lot to do with a desire to join teammates Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury in maintaining a perfect attendance record this season. For the most part, he has lived up to expectations, totaling 34 RBI and more extra-base hits (26) than any player in the majors.
“Mentally it’s unbelievable,” said Napoli regarding the position switch. “I’m not going through the pitchers’ meeting. I’m not going through the game-calling situations. I’m not worrying about how I have to view each pitcher when they’re on the mound. You’re just mentally free. You’re just tackling baseball. It’s so different.”
He did point out that even when catching was part of his existence, such offensive downturns as he experienced in St. Petersburg weren’t an immediate result of whatever he was doing in the field. For that, he credits his former minor-league manager in the Angels’ farm system, Keith Comstock.
“He would always make me take a deep breath,” Napoli said. “If I came in and struck out, he always told me to take a deep breath and lead it go. He would be like, ‘You take a big, deep breath, blow it out, and it’s gone.’ I still do it now. I’ll be pissed off with an at-bat, I’ll take a deep breath, let it go and it’s time for defense.
“It was easy for me separate my defense and offense. When you’re catching, you can’t go behind the plate when you’re struggling hitting and bring that into catching. I was taught at a young age to be able to separate the two. For me, when it’s not going so good, I understand it’s part of baseball but you just try and minimize it.”
|Red Sox injury updates: Shane Victorino’s absence a precaution; David Ross still feeling concussion symptoms||05.17.13 at 7:22 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS – Shane Victorino was back out the lineup due to a back issue Friday night, but he said the absence is nowhere near as necessary as when he missed seven games a few weeks back.
“We’re going to be smart about it,” said Victorino, who left Thursday night’s game in the ninth inning after colliding with the right field wall at Tropicana field, causing his ailing back to stiffen up.
“Last time I missed a week. That’s not the goal to do the same thing this time. But again, I’m not evaluating it like it was the last time. It’s nowhere near that. I just don’t want it to get to that point because these are the symptoms I felt the last time. I can’t go out there and make it a week. Hopefully we can calm it down, ASAP. Like I said, hopefully I’ve got three hours to calm it down, and if I’m needed to play tonight, that’s the goal.”
While Victorino was volunteering for duty – having gone 3-for-3 with a homer the last the time Sox faced Minnesota starter Vance Worley – Red Sox manager John Farrell hoped that the outfielder wouldn’t be needed this time around.
“We’ll do everything we can to kind of stay away, just to give him a full day off his feet,” Farrell said.
Starting in right field in place of Victorino for the series opener was Daniel Nava, who also took over the lineup’s No. 2 spot.
In 32 games, Victorino is hitting .383 with a .708 OPS and 19 runs. His .360 batting average with runners in scoring position leads the Sox, and is 13th in the American League.
“It’s a little stiff today, but I’m hoping it’s not anything like it was the first time,” Victorino said. “We’ve got to go day-to-day and see how it feels. It feels a lot better today, obviously, but it’s still frustrating to be circling back to this situation. I never wanted this to happen. I never wanted to be back where I was a few weeks ago. That was no fun. But again, you know, we’re still far from all that to get that point. So, just hoping today is the day and we’ll get out there tomorrow.”
ROSS STILL FEELING IT
David Ross, who was slated to possibly join the team in Minnesota, is still feeling the effects of his concussion, pushing the testing scheduled to gauge any symptoms back to Monday.
Ross most likely won’t be joining the Sox on their current road trip.
“Everything pointed to him being re-examined there and him joining us here in Minnesota but much like we’ve seen with many other concussions, these things take on a life of their own,” Farrell said. “He’s still experiencing some light-headedness and fatigue, so we’ve just got to give it time.”
Ross is currently on the seven-day concussion disabled list after taking two foul balls off his mask last Saturday.
HANRAHAN TO STAY IN DALLAS
Farrell noted that Joel Hanrahan – who had surgery on both his flexor tendon and elbow ligament – will conduct the first portion of his rehab in the Dallas area. The reliever will be in a cast for 10 days before he can begin the process.
|Red Sox lineup: Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli not starting against Vance Worley, Twins||05.17.13 at 3:59 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — Stephen Drew has been moved up to sixth in the Red Sox lineup Friday, with John Farrell’s team taking on right-hander Vance Worley and the Twins. It is the highest in the order Drew has hit this season, with the shortstop having hit .325 with a .936 OPS in his last 11 games.
It is the second time this season the Red Sox have faced Worley, with Shane Victorino having made the biggest impression on the 25-year-old by going 3-for-3 with a home run. Worley allowed three runs over five innings in getting a no-decision at Fenway Park. Victorino is out of the lineup after injuring his back while colliding into the right field wall Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
Mike Napoli, who was just 1-for-11 in the Sox’ recent series against the Rays, also gets the night off, with Mike Carp getting the start at first base.
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup for the series opener at Target Field:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Daniel Nava RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Stephen Drew SS
Jonny Gomes LF
Mike Carp 1B
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Clay Buchholz P
For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Henry Owens’ eye-opening progress; Michael Almanzar’s year as a prospect; Daniel Bard remains resolute; Mookie Betts remains astonishing||05.17.13 at 3:28 pm ET|
Though Henry Owens gave up a season-high eight hits (seven singles, one double), he showed an impressive ability to weave through and around a host of baserunners to limit his opposition to one run in five innings of work. He struck out four and walked none while throwing strikes with an impressive 59 of 84 pitches (70 percent), and he got a ton of groundballs — resulting in eight groundball outs.
Owens has been outstanding in all but one of his eight starts this year, and he’s shown development in two areas that represented focal areas entering the year. First, he’s getting groundballs at a much higher rate this year than he did last year in Single-A Greenville. A year ago, he was a somewhat extreme flyball pitcher, recording just 0.59 groundouts per flyout. This year, he’s doubled the rate of groundouts per flyout, with 1.19 outs on the ground per air out. Secondly, he continues to show a consistent ability to attack the strike zone. He has permitted two or fewer walks in seven of his eight starts, and gave up only three in the other outing. Hence, after walking 4.2 per nine last year, he’s trimmed that rate to 2.9 per nine this season — a reduction of roughly 30 percent. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to get swings and misses in volume thanks to a big-league-quality three-pitch mix (four- and two-seam fastball, changeup, curve), averaging 10.9 punchouts per nine.
In short: There’s a reason why the 20-year-old will receive considerable hype as one of the better pitching prospects in the game if he sustains what he’s done to date this year.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-4 LOSS VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)
– Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa gave up just one unearned run on one hit in four innings of work. He had command difficulties (throwing just 36 of 71 pitches for strikes and walking a season-high four), but nonetheless punched in with his fifth straight outing (spanning 18 innings) without allowing an earned run. In that time, he has 22 strikeouts and eight walks. Opponents are hitting .145 against him. Read the rest of this entry »
|Friday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Vance Worley||05.17.13 at 1:25 pm ET|
Undefeated Clay Buchholz will be matched up against right-hander Vance Worley as the Red Sox and Twins begin a three-game series in Minnesota on Friday night.
Buchholz’ early success has been a big reason why the Red Sox are 24-17 this season, compared to an 18-20 record on this date a year ago. Through eight starts in 2012, Buchholz owned a 7.77 ERA. But this year, he sits just behind Felix Hernandez with the second-lowest ERA in the American League at 1.69. At this point last season, he had only struck out 25 batters while walking 23 in 44 innings. In 2013, he’s fanned 60 while walking 21 in 58 2/3 innings, good for a 2.86 strikeout-to-walk rate. Buchholz also had problems with the longball in the early part of 2012, giving up 10 home runs in his first eight games. This year, he’s allowed only one home run, and that was in his very first start of the season. He hasn’t let one out of the park in 55 innings.
The Twins are the only team in 2013 to get more than two runs off Buchholz, tagging him for four earned runs on six hits and two walks in six innings on May 6. Minnesota has given Buchholz some trouble in the past; despite a 3-1 record against the Twins in his career, he possesses a 4.54 ERA and 1.458 WHIP in six starts and 35 2/3 innings.
Worley has not been the dominant pitcher the Twins hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Phillies in December. The 25-year-old righty comes into the game with a 7.15 ERA and WHIP just under two, allowing an average of 15.2 hits per nine innings. Worley notched his first win in a Twins uniform his last time out, but his performance wasn’t all that impressive. He allowed five runs on a season-high 11 hits to the Orioles, walking one, fanning one and hitting a batter. His 5 1/3-inning outing was the first time he made it past the fifth inning in three starts.
Worley took on Buchholz once already this season, getting a no-decision after allowing three runs on nine hits to the Sox. He’s only faced the Red Sox one other time in his career, throwing seven innings and allowing one run against Boston in 2011 while he was pitching for the Phillies.
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