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Closing Time: Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka lead Yankees to blowout over sloppy Red Sox

04.22.14 at 10:28 pm ET
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Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

The Red Sox did not so much lose to the Yankees as they committed an atrocity.

A number of defensive vulnerabilities were exposed in Boston’s 9-3 loss to New York that underscored the degree to which the team has been destabilized in the field by the departures of Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia along with the injuries to Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks. While starter Jon Lester was hit hard at times, the unraveling of the game was primarily the fault of the fielders behind him.

Some noteworthy instances:

  • A.J. Pierzynski had a passed ball in the first inning that convinced Derek Jeter to advance to second; Pieryznski’s throw was significantly off line, resulting in an error. The two-base gaffe resulted in an unearned run.
  • Brian Roberts grounded a single to left off the glove of a diving Xander Bogaerts in the top of the second.
  • Mark Teixeira blooped a double down the right field line in the top of the third on which Grady Sizemore wasn’t able to close the ground to get near the catch. On the next play, Brian McCann lined a ball to left-center on which Jonny Gomes didn’t have the range to track it down, resulting in an RBI double.
  • Later in the third, Sizemore got a bad break on a soft liner to right by Roberts and his attempt at a diving catch came up short, clanging off his glove for a single.
  • In the fifth, Mike Napoli failed to glove a liner off his glove, with the ball landing in right for a run-scoring single (with two outs). On that same play, McCann thought the ball had been caught and so started running back to the dugout. Had right fielder Sizemore realized that, he would have been able to force out McCann at second. Instead, Sizemore threw home, allowing McCann to scurry safely to second, as shortstop Xander Bogaerts held his hands on top of his head in observance of the missed opportunity for an inning-ending force. The Yankees tacked on three more runs when the next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, rocketed a double to left-center and, after a pitching change, Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single up the middle.

The Sox’ defensive limitations played a major role in at least six runs (five of which were unearned), and also hastened Lester’s exit from the game after 4 2/3 innings and 118 pitches, resulting in more work for a bullpen that had been taxed one day earlier by Clay Buchholz lasting just 2 1/3 innings. The Sox, it is worth noting, ranked as the fourth-worst team in the majors in defensive efficiency entering the day, having converted just 68.2 percent of balls in play into outs. The limitations of the left side of their infield and their outfield corners have been felt often, and that remained true on Tuesday.

With the loss, the Red Sox are now 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. They’ve lost four of five so far to New York.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Jacoby Ellsbury gets mixed reception then delivers a reminder to Fenway fans

04.22.14 at 8:06 pm ET
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That didn’t take long.

Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Fenway Park for the first time since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees and received a mixture of boos and cheers in the lineup introductions about 15 minutes before first pitch.

He received more boos as he was announced as the first batter of the game.

Then Ellsbury, as was often the case in his time in Boston, quietly showed off his multiple talents as a way of exacting revenge.

In the first at-bat of the game, he drilled a Jon Lester pitch high off the center field wall, so high that a fan wearing a Bruins jersey nearly fell over the 17-foot high barrier and onto the warning track below.

He was awarded a triple on fan interference and scored on a Derek Jeter single to center.

Ellsbury didn’t stop there. Grady Sizemore, brought in to help fill his void at the top of the order, led off the first for the Red Sox. Ellsbury ranged over 30 feet to his right to make a sliding, tumbling grab of a sinking liner for the first out. The play would be significant as Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to left field.

Before the top of the second, the Red Sox paid tribute to Ellsbury with a montage of his days in Boston, featuring highlights in the field from 2013, capped by his appearance on the Duck Boats in Rolling Rally after the World Series win last October. The montage was produced with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing underneath.

For good measure, Ellsbury knocked old friend Jon Lester out of the game in the fifth when he drilled Lester’s 118th pitch to left-center for a two-run double, making it 7-2 Yankees.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB, New York Yankees

Jacoby Ellsbury ready for return to Fenway Park: ‘I’m excited for the second part of my career’

04.22.14 at 6:33 pm ET
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After nine years, seven big league seasons and two championships with the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury is back at Fenway Park as a New York Yankee for the first time on Tuesday night.

Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million pact with the Yankees over the offseason, while the Red Sox chose to go in a different direction. Ellsbury, in a pregame session with the media, said that his time with the Red Sox ultimately influenced his decision to sign with the Yankees, in an indirect way.

“œWhen you get a taste of winning and you experience that…I was fortunate to experience that in ‘€˜07, you always want to get back there, and when the Yankees let me know that they were interested, I was excited because of the opportunity to win again and to play on a team that is committed to fielding a team each and every year that has potential to win.”€ Ellsbury said. “€œNew York was right there…first-class. I think of the championships, I think of the history, I think of the passion that they have for the game…a lot of the same things the Red Sox have, but they gave me the opportunity to play seven more years in the big leagues. I’€™m very blessed that they gave me the opportunity to play the game I love, and I’€™m excited for that.”

Yet just because he has changed sides in the rivalry, Ellsbury is not severing his connection to his experience in Boston. The 30-year-old spoke repeatedly of his appreciation for the seven years he spent in the big leagues in Boston and his nine years in the Red Sox organization after he was taken in the first round of the 2005 draft. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore leads off, Jonny Gomes in left, Daniel Nava sits vs. Yankees

04.22.14 at 3:30 pm ET
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As the Red Sox prepare to face Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for the first time, the team will feature Grady Sizemore in the leadoff spot. Sizemore will play right field, with Jonny Gomes in left and Daniel Nava sitting. A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate to catch Jon Lester.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Jonny Gomes, LF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Brock Holt, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jon Lester, SP

Red Sox-Yankees series preview

04.22.14 at 1:42 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees on Tuesday. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees on Tuesday. (AP)

Will he receive a warm welcome, or will he be greeted by boos? Former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury will make his Fenway return in pinstripes on Tuesday night, as the Red Sox kick off a three-game set with the Yankees.

The Red Sox recorded their first walk-off victory of 2014 on Sunday night thanks to a Dustin Pedroia double (which may or may not have been a home run) and a sac fly from Mike Carp. Though they added some dramatics, the Red Sox couldn’€™t produce another Patriots’ Day comeback win on Monday, even after coming all the way back from a 6-0 deficit.

“We got down early. Our bullpen kept us in the game, kept chipping away, and we had a chance to win that game at the end of the game,” Mike Napoli said (via MLB.com). “So we fought hard, but it fell short. But we’ve got a big series [against the Yankees] coming up. We’ll take it one day at a time and try to get on track.”

With the loss, the Red Sox settled for a series split with the Orioles that left them two games below .500 at 9-11. They’€™ll look to improve that against the Yankees, who took three of four from the Sox earlier this month in New York.

The Yankees were able to salvage the split against the Rays and improve to 11-8 after allowing a total of 27 runs over the course of two games in St. Petersburg, Fla., including a 16-1 drubbing on Saturday. But the Yankees bounced back by scoring four runs in the 12th inning of Sunday’€™s contest and securing the 5-1 victory.

“That’s a big win, after winning the first game the way we did, and then to really get beat up the next two days,” manager Joe Girardi told reporters. “To bounce back and leave here 2-2, and you’ve got a day off tomorrow, you try to get ready for the Red Sox. I thought that was important.”

The Yankees got a boost on Sunday with the return of Mark Teixeira, who had been out of action since April 4 after straining his hamstring. Since losing their five-time Gold Glove first baseman, the Yankees went with a combination of Kelly Johnson, Francisco Cervelli and Scott Sizemore at first. Johnson was the only one of the three with prior experience at first base, and he had only played 18 innings there prior to 2014. Closer David Robertson was activated from the DL on Monday after he missed a little over two weeks with a groin injury.

Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman, strike-throwing machine; pivotal performance for Mookie Betts; Cody Kukuk breaking through; Wendell Rijo ahead of his years

04.22.14 at 10:36 am ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 with an infield single and is now 1-for-7 in two rehab games, with a third slated for Tuesday night. Will Middlebrooks was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in his first rehab game as he recovers from his right calf injury.

– Right-hander Brandon Workman, in his second start for Pawtucket, punched out eight and walked none in five strong innings. He allowed just four hits, though two of those were home runs, resulting in a three-run yield. Between the big leagues and minors this year, Workman has 17 punchouts and two walks in 14 2/3 innings.

Bryce Brentz went 2-for-3 with a double and and also negotiated his 10th walk of the month, his most walks in any month since he reached Triple-A at the end of 2012. In his last eight games, he’s 10-for-30 with three walks and three extra-base hits, good for a line of .333 with a .394 OBP and .500 slugging mark, boosting his season line to .227/.329/.364.

– Garin Cecchini continued to be an on-base metronome, going 2-for-4 to improve his season line to .317/.377/.397. It is worth noting that there does appear to be an adjustment to Triple-A pitching that the just-turned-23-year-old is experiencing. He’s walked just five times to date, a 7.2 percent walk rate that is just over half of his pre-2014 14.1 percent walk rate and down even further from his 16.9 percent walk rate of a year ago.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-4 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Turning the pivot on a triple play. Mookie Betts found himself in the middle of a 5-4-3 triple play in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on first and second and no outs, Sean Coyle fielded a grounder right at the third base bag, stepped on it and fired to second — with the decision to throw to second after stepping on the bag representing a notable prospect development given that it showed impressive game awareness for a player who is playing a new position this season. The throw was described by Portland manager Billy McMillon to the Portland Press-Herald as being low, but Betts handled it and still managed to turn the pivot, throwing to first baseman Travis Shaw to complete the trick. (Here’s the call of the triple play from Sea Dogs play-by-play man Mike Antonellis, courtesy of the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network.) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, Brandon Workman, carlos asuaje, cody kukuk

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. Masahiro Tanaka

04.22.14 at 8:44 am ET
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The Red Sox will kick off a three-game series against the Yankees at Fenway on Tuesday when they send Jon Lester to the mound against heralded Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.

Lester has had arguably the best start to the season of any Boston starter. The 30-year-old comes into Tuesday’€™s contest on a two-game winning streak after he defeated the White Sox on Thursday. After five scoreless innings, and with a 1-0 lead, Lester gave up the game-tying run in the sixth. Boston went on to score two runs in the ninth to come away with the 3-1 victory.

“It’€™s a heavyweight bout tonight,” Lester said after the game (via MLB.com). “It’€™s kind of who was going to make the mistake first. He did, and then I gave it right back. Like I said, it was a fun night to pitch. If you don’€™t like that pitching, you don’€™t like baseball. That was a lot of fun tonight.”

The southpaw picked up his first win of the season on April 11 after he gave up two earned runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees. One of those two runs came on a solo homer by Alfonso Soriano during the second inning. In a total of 27 starts against New York, Lester holds a 12-5 record with a 3.90 ERA and a WHIP of 1.40.

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

While Lester has eight seasons of experience against the Yankees, Tanaka, who signed with the Yankees as a free agent following a standout season in Japan last year, is facing the Red Sox for the first time. Tanaka enters the game after earning his second win of the season Wednesday against the Cubs. The 25-year-old gave up just two hits and struck out 10 for the second consecutive game during eight scoreless innings on the mound. Tanaka has an overall 2-0 record with a 2.05 ERA and 0.77 WHIP on the year.

Yankees vs. Lester (LHP)

Derek Jeter (72 plate appearances): .333 AVG/.389 OBP/.394 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts

Brian Roberts (54): .208/.296/.458, 6 doubles, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts

Ichiro Suzuki (52): .333/.346/.451, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (50): .222/.300/.311, 1 double, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 walks, 17 strikeouts

Kelly Johnson (17): .067/.176/.067, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Alfonso Soriano (16): .313/.313/.500, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 5 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (12): .182/.250/.182, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Carlos Beltran (6): .250/.500/.250, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Brian McCann (4): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk

J.R. Murphy (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Yangervis Solarte has two strikeouts in three plate appearances vs. Lester.

Red Sox vs. Tanaka (RHP)

No current Red Sox batters have faced Tanaka.

Read More: Jon Lester, Masahiro Tanaka,
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