|09.22.16 at 7:17 pm ET|
Their starting rotation has fallen into place, as has the roles in the bullpen. The position players have remained relatively injury free while continuing to present one of the majors’ best offenses. And, most importantly, the Red Sox have won more games in September than any other team.
But there is one piece of the puzzle that Red Sox manager John Farrell would like to firm up in the last 10 games of the regular season — third base.
“That’s a position, we were very candid, that’s why [Yoan] Moncada came here,” Farrell said. “We’re looking for production at third base to continue to climb. Guys are here that have done it. It’s a spot that can further be grabbed. We don’t ever want to just hand a spot just because you hit right-handed or left-handed.”
Since the beginning of the month, Aaron Hill has had the most offensive production among the third basemen, hitting .350 (7-for-20), with Travis Shaw coming in at .265 (13-for-49). Moncada, of course, had gotten the first crack at winning playing time before going into the tailspin that currently has him striking out in nine straight plate appearances.
The wild-card in the equation might be Brock Holt, who has only gotten one start at third in Sept. With Andrew Benintendi back and playing in left field against right-handers, third base might represent the best opportunity to get the lefty-hitting utility man in the lineup.
“All of our guys are recognizing that how guys perform is not only important for us but to them and because third base has been a little bit unsettled this year,” Farrell said. “Travis was the majority of the year, obviously. But over the last month or so, six weeks, it’s been a little bit more unsettled just because of the overall production.”
|09.22.16 at 8:27 am ET|
Looking to complete a four-game sweep of the Orioles, the Red Sox will send out David Price opposite right-hander Chris Tillman in Thursday night’s series finale.
Price is 16-8 with 3.91 ERA and a 1.176 WHIP in 32 starts. In six innings of work on Saturday, Price surrendered five runs, nine hits and no walks while recording nine strikeouts in a 6-5 win over the Yankees. The southpaw didn’t factor in the decision, which ended his streak of wins in seven straight outings.
In his career against the Orioles, Price is 10-5 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.112 WHIP in 23 starts. This season against the O’s, he is 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA and a 0.667 WHIP in four starts. His last outing vs. Baltimore was on Aug. 17. In a rain-shortened game, he pitched six innings, giving up one run, four hits and no walks with four strikeouts in an 8-1 Sox win.
|09.21.16 at 11:12 pm ET|
— Obnoxious Boston Fan (@realOBF) September 22, 2016
BALTIMORE — Andrew Benintendi wanted to be prepared.
So while waiting for his opportunity to star in the Red Sox’ outfielders’ celebratory victory dance, Benintendi did his due diligence.
“Oh, yeah. All the time,” said Benintendi when asked if he practiced his moves. “I’m always practicing.”
It paid off.
After hitting Wednesday night’s decisive three-run homer in a 5-1 win over the Orioles, all eyes — and fake movie cameras — turned to Benintendi after the final out. With Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. “rolling,” the rookie broke out a solid rendition of Michael Jackson’s strut, kick, and tippy-toes dance made famous by the video for “Billie Jean.”
“I grew up watching him on YouTube, his dances,” Benintendi said. “I thought it would be quick enough to do out there. Just wanted to add a little fun to that.”
Even though the maneuver had to follow up what has become Bradley Jr.’s popular ski jump, Benintendi’s execution seemed to be on point.
How would he grade himself?
“I’ll have to watch the video,” he said with a laugh.
|09.21.16 at 10:15 pm ET|
Suddenly, the Magic Number is six. Can anyone stop the Red Sox?
Saving their best baseball for the absolute right time of the year, the Red Sox capitalized on a huge error by Orioles first baseman Chris Davis to score five runs in the sixth, erase a 1-0 deficit, and cruise to a 5-1 victory.
The team’s seventh straight win left it on the cusp of completing its second straight four-game sweep, coming on the heels of four wins over the Yankees at Fenway Park. The seven-game winning streak is a season-high.
This one was in the balance until the sixth, when Sandy Leon grounded to Davis with the bases loaded and two outs. Instead of under-handing to pitcher Brad Brach covering, Davis threw a seed that eluded the pitcher, allowing two runs to score.
One pitch later, rookie Andrew Benintendi drilled a three-run homer over the right field fence to give the Red Sox a comfortable lead they would not relinquish.
Right-hander Clay Buchholz, making a bid for the final spot in the postseason rotation, stymied the O’s for seven innings, allowing three hits and one run, striking out four. The only Orioles run came on an Adam Jones sacrifice fly in the third. Otherwise, Buchholz cruised while improving to 8-10 and lowering his ERA to 5.00.
Coupled with Toronto’s loss in Seattle, the Red Sox opened a five-game lead over the Blue Jays and six games over the Orioles in the AL East. Their magic number now stands at six with 10 games to play, which should allow manager John Farrell to rest regulars down the stretch.
The Red Sox will try to complete the sweep on Thursday.
The Red Sox have won Clay Buchholz’s last five starts. He’s 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his last six.
|09.21.16 at 8:43 pm ET|
The last time we saw the rookie was during a Sept. 12, blowout victory over the Orioles which saw him get one at-bat to extend his streaking of striking out to nine straight plate appearances.
And it has now been three weeks since John Farrell proclaimed Moncada would be getting all the starts at third base against right-handed pitching. It was a strategy that lasted four games.
Now Moncada is left simply watching, a reality that doesn’t figure to be changing any time soon.
“I’m learning a lot. I haven’t been playing, but I’m just watching and learning as much as I can,” Moncada said through translator Daveson Perez. “It’s been a little hard just because I’ve been so used to playing. It’s not my call. It’s not my decision.”
Without a regular spot at third base, there simply doesn’t appear to be much opportunities for Moncada to find playing time in the middle of this pennant race. Even the pinch-running role seems to be a non-starter for the rookie, who has had multiple lapses on the basepaths. (He was picked off in Oakland, and forget the number of outs in Toronto.)
“I know it’s a tough situation for him to be in,” Farrell said. “You know you sit for six seven eight days and then all of a sudden you’re finding yourself in a major league game. All those experiences are going to be beneficial to him.
“If the opportunities present itself, we will. Nothing’s taken for granted here. And you know, seven days or so ago, winning is the precedent right now. Development is secondary.”
There does seem to be some payoff for Moncada during his time with the Red Sox. According to the infielder, the live the life of a major leaguer, even on the bench, has served a valuable purpose.
“The thing I’ve learned the most is the mental part of the game since being up here,” said Moncada, who is still slated to play in the Arizona Fall League next month. “I’ve learned you have to be mentally sharp and on top of that just continue the same routine every day, getting your early work in and maintaining your routine, being consistent.
“This has been a blessing just being here in the big leagues. It’s something I’ve always dreamed up. I’m just trying to pick up as much as I can for next year.”
|09.21.16 at 7:45 pm ET|
The knuckleballer continued his road back from his right shoulder injury Wednesday, throwing out to 120 feet while working out at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Fla.
The next step will be to get to the point where a bullpen session is a reality when joining the Red Sox in St. Petersburg, Fla. over the weekend. And even though that would leave just one week in the regular season, Red Sox manager John Farrell said having Wright ready just in case wouldn’t be out of the question.
“As long as he can get into his normal arm slot, and pitch without restriction, we feel like he’ll be able to execute his knuckleball as he did,” said Farrell of Wright, who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 31. “That’s what he’s continued to work at, to get to this point.”
According to Farrell, one of things helping keep the window open for Wright is the pitch that the 32-year-old relies on.
“If he was a traditional or conventional pitcher, I don’t know there’d be enough time to buildup arm strength,” the manager said. “I think the fact that he is a knuckleball pitcher gives us the ability to entertain this. Nothing is a given at this point and we don’t want to take anything for granted with Steven and his health but the fact that it’s the pitch that he throws it gives you more of a possibility.”
– Wondering which pitcher offers the most relaxation for Farrell when they’re on the mound? The manager offered some insight.
“Take away the age or take away the stuff, or the raw stuff as one might look at a radar gun, you look at the most comfortable inning on the field when Koji’s on the mound,” he said. “That’s the way he’s pitched for the vast majority of his time in Boston.”
|09.21.16 at 3:34 pm ET|
After missing Tuesday night’s Red Sox win with a sore left knee, Pedroia returns to leadoff against the Orioles and their righty starter, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Not in the starting lineup is Hanley Ramirez, with Travis Shaw playing first base.
“The ball off his foot last night, a little bit of the back of his shoulder is nagging a little bit,” Farrell said of Ramirez’s nagging ailments. “After we talked in between at-bats on a couple of occasions last night, felt like today was the day to get him off his feet.”
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup in the third of the four-game set at Camden Yards with Clay Buchholz on the mound for the visitors:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Travis Shaw 1B
Aaron Hill 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
Andrew Benintendi LF
For all the matchups, click here.
|09.21.16 at 1:53 pm ET|
The Red Sox extended their winning streak to six games with a 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Check out some photos from the streak here.
|09.21.16 at 10:24 am ET|
It was here, after all, that the Red Sox were forced to live out one of the most painful final days of the regular season in major league history. That would have been Sept. 28, 2011, when the greatest collapse ever seen was punctuated with a Orioles walk off win, coupled a few minutes later by the Rays’ Evan Longoria sending his team to the postseason with a 12th-inning homer.
“Regardless of how long you’ve been around you can still learn things from what the game presents you. That was a tough one to swallow,” said Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz. “After [the Orioles] walked us off we walked back in, went into the food room thinking were just going to go to Tampa for the playoff game and they hit the home run.
“In this clubhouse, that’s the signature bad moment.”
There are 11 games left in the regular season, with the Red Sox carrying a four-game lead in the American League East over the Blue Jays, and a five-game advantage in front of the Orioles. They also have a 6 1/2-game cushion in the Wild Card chase.
Still, a lot can happen.
Players from both sides of the equation that day five years ago will never forget the lessons learned that September.
“It was nuts,” said Red Sox pitcher David Price, whose Rays team was nine games in back of the Sox on Sept. 3, 2011 before finally overtaking them that final day. “It all happened so fast, like 15 or 20 minutes. It was crazy.
“When [Robert] Andino hit that to left [giving the Orioles their 4-3 win over the Red Sox] I ran down the dugout and told them, ‘The Red Sox lost! Let’s go! Do something good.’ And then [Longoria] hits a home run in the landing zone. The lowest of low to the highest of highs. That was very special.”
“We learned not to take anything for granted,” Buchholz said. “I think everybody at one point was pretty content on where we were at, and that didn’t end up working out. You’ve got to play the whole season to get to the point where you can move on into October. But you can’t move forward without taking care of the regular season games first regardless of how high in the standings you are.
“I don’t think anybody wants to go through that again. We’ve got to take care of business.”
|09.21.16 at 10:08 am ET|
Making his weekly appearance on Kirk & Callahan on Tuesday morning, Curt Schilling said he expects the Red Sox will attempt to lure David Ortiz back for another season but the slugger isn’t likely to return. To hear the interview, go to the Kirk & Callahan audio on demand page.
Ortiz continued his torrid summer Tuesday night in Baltimore, hitting a three-run home run as the Red Sox won their sixth straight game. Ortiz is batting .318/.403/.634 with 36 home runs and 121 RBIs. He leads the league with 47 doubles and a 1.037 OPS.
However, the 40-year-old also has been dealing with foot issues and has said he’s been playing with pain.
“Getting ready to play this game is a 12-month-a-year job,” Schilling said. “And at some point you get to the point where … it’s not like he needs the money.”
Added Schilling: “I don’t believe [he’ll return], given what I know about his feet and how bad they’ve been since, well, since ’04. It’s not a matter of giving him a couple of days off. They hurt when he plays. And that doesn’t matter if it’s a day, a week, or three days a week, or five days a week.”
That said, Schilling expects the Red Sox to at least make an attempt to convince the designated hitter to consider one more year.
“I think Mr. Henry’s going to do it. I think they’re going to make him an offer that’s going to make him the highest-paid player ever for a year,” Schilling said. “I don’t think David will do it, but stranger things have happened.”
Ortiz has been feted at almost every ballpark he’s visited this year, putting even more on his plate.
“We were texting the other night, and that’s been draining,” Schilling said. “I’ve always felt like this is not a financial decision. None of this is going to be financial for him. It comes back to quality of life kind of thing. And it’s not the playing. Listen, he’s having the greatest go-away season in the history of sports. It’s not the game itself. If it was just the game, guys would play a lot longer than they do. It’s the months and the hundreds of thousands of hours in the wintertime when no one’s watching and the camera’s not on and you’re by yourself. If you can’t do that and you have pride, which he does, you know when it’s time.”
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