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Closing Time: David Ortiz victimizes Joaquin Benoit again as Red Sox claim wild win over Blue Jays, open 2-game lead

09.11.16 at 4:56 pm ET
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David Ortiz points skyward after hitting a three-run homer in Toronto on Sunday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz points skyward after hitting a three-run homer in Toronto on Sunday. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

David Ortiz owns two career home runs against Joaquin Benoit. Red Sox fans will never forget the first. We may look back at the second as the biggest of this season.

Three years after his grand slam off of Benoit saved the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, Ortiz once again victimized the reliever, this time blasting a three-run homer to erase an 8-7 deficit and propel the Red Sox to an 11-8 victory on Sunday that restored their two-game lead in the American League East.

The Red Sox finished a brutal nine-game road trip with a 6-3 record, including two of three in Toronto. When they left for Oakland last week, they trailed by two games in the division. Now they lead by two games. They begin a seven-game homestand against the Orioles and Yankees on Monday.

“The two things that come to mind, one, we never rolled over,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Toronto. “We kept grinding, kept finding a way to come back. Two, this was about one guy picking up another. Clay [Buchholz] exits early, we go to the bullpen, the offense climbs right back into it. Every out by guys coming out of the bullpen was key, all the way down to Noe Ramirez’s one out to set it up to piece together the fifth inning. Just a dramatic home run again from David, against Benoit, that, you know, a few years ago, there was another memorable one. This might not have been the same stage, but where we are against that team, really no less important.”

Ortiz’s three-run bomb in the sixth capped a wild back-and-forth contest that was billed as a pitcher’s duel but instead devolved into an old-fashioned Sox-Jays slugfest. It also brought back pleasant memories of 2013, when Ortiz’s Game 2 grand slam off of Benoit kept the Red Sox from returning to Detroit in a 2-0 series hole.

“A little bit, yeah,” Ortiz told reporters when asked if this homer reminded him of that one. “And I thought I was getting a different menu, but he threw me a hittable — I mean, it wasn’t that bad. It was in the bottom of the strike zone, right where the pitcher wanted to make that pitch. I guess I put a good swing on it.”

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Read More: Blue Jays, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia

Sunday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Aaron Sanchez

09.11.16 at 7:45 am ET
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The finale of the Red Sox-Blue Jays series on Sunday afternoon will feature the resurgent Clay Buchholz taking the mound opposite right-hander Aaron Sanchez.

Buchholz is 6-10 with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.364 WHIP in 33 games (17 starts). Over the last four games he has gone 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA, which helped him regain a spot in the starting rotation. Buchholz put together another solid outing on Tuesday against the Padres, pitching 6 2/3 innings and allowing one run, eight hits and no walks with six strikeouts.

“I still feel like I can pitch and help this team out,” Buchholz said (via MLB.com). “Regardless of the role, it’s a part of the game, and whenever my name is called, I try to go out there and give the team the best chance I can to win. I’m feeling good right now.”

In 31 games (28 starts) against the Blue Jays, the 32-year-old right-hander is 14-9 with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.222 WHIP. Buchholz last saw the Jays in June when he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning in 5-4 Sox loss. His last start against Toronto came in April, when he threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing no runs, six hits and two walks with two strikeouts.

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Read More: Aaron Sanchez, Clay Buchholz,

Former Red Sox Rich Hill throws 7 perfect innings before being taken out

09.10.16 at 11:10 pm ET
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Rich Hill

Rich Hill

Executing the biggest stolen base in Red Sox history was easy for Dave Roberts compared to what he faced Saturday night.

With former Red Sox Rich Hill pitching a perfect game through seven innings, the Dodgers manager chose to err on the side of caution with his starter, taking the lefty out after throwing 89 pitches.

Roberts’ reasoning behind the move was based in his concerns for a recurrence of the blister issue that kept Hill out from July 17 until Aug. 24. Since joining the Dodgers, the 35 year old lefty starter hasn’t allowed a run over three starts (19 innings).

It was the second time this season Roberts removed a pitcher who hadn’t given up a hit, having taken Ross Stripling out of his April 8 start despite having not allowed a hit through 7 2/3 innings and 100 pitches.

The Dodgers ultimately beat the Marlins Saturday night, 5-0, with relievers Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton and Kenley Jansen coming in to close things out. Blanton and Dayton each allowed a hit.

Through 17 starts this season, Hill has gone 12-3 with a 1.80 ERA, allowing a 1.81 batting average against.

Closing Time: Red Sox offense goes silent in close loss to Blue Jays

09.10.16 at 4:09 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez pitches against the Blue Jays on Saturday. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Eduardo Rodriguez pitches against the Blue Jays on Saturday. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Now it’s just about winning the series.

Fresh off Friday’s 13-3 demolition of the Blue Jays, the Red Sox took a step back on Saturday afternoon, getting shut down by J.A. Happ and the Toronto bullpen in a 3-2 loss.

One day after recording 18 hits, the Red Sox were no-hit into the fifth and held scoreless until Dustin Pedroia’s homer leading off the sixth. They managed just four hits overall and were outlasted by a Blue Jays squad that had lost four in a row and six of seven, but now finds itself just a game out of first in the AL East.

The Blue Jays took control early against Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his last start. This time, he allowed his first hit a lot earlier, with leadoff man Devon Travis singling in the first.

The Blue Jays took a 2-0 lead in the second when Russell Martin walked and B.J. Upton launched a two-run homer to left-center.

The Jays pushed their lead to 3-0 in the third when Travis led off with a double before being erased at third on replay review on a Josh Donaldson fielder’s choice. The Red Sox gave that out right back, however, when Edwin Encarnacion reached on an error by third baseman Aaron Hill and Jose Bautista singled to short.

The Red Sox clawed back. Pedroia got one run back with the homer, and the Red Sox added another in the seventh on a Jackie Bradley Jr. sacrifice fly. The Sox might’ve done even more damage, but Bautista made a nice leaping catch before slamming into the wall on Bradley’s sac fly with runners on the corners.

Closing Time note

Opponents fell to just 2-for-36 against reliever Matt Barnes with two outs after he ended the seventh by inducing Edwin Encarnacion to line out to right.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who started the day batting .455 out of the leadoff spot, gave the Red Sox their first run with a line drive solo homer to left in the sixth.

— After a slow start that included a two-run homer by B.J. Upton, Rodriguez ended up limiting the Jays to four hits and two earned runs in six innings, striking out five.

— With a walk, right fielder Mookie Betts extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 27.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Third baseman Aaron Hill was charged with an error on an Encarnacion grounder in the third, leading to Toronto’s unearned run.

— Rodriguez was drilled in the shin by a comebacker, but remained in the game.

— With Jason Grilli on the mound in the eighth and the top of the order due up, the Red Sox failed to score when Mookie Betts popped out with pinch runner Yoan Moncada on first.

— Speaking of Moncada, the rookie committed an unpardonable sin by losing track of the outs in the eighth and failing to run on Betts’ inning-ending flyout.

Read More: Blue Jays, Dustin Pedroia, eduardo rodriguez, Red Sox

Red Sox notes: Andrew Benintendi’s final test; Yoan Moncada project put on hold; Ryan Hanigan reappears

09.10.16 at 12:11 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

TORONTO — The last step for Andrew Benintendi? A simulated game.

Benintendi, who could be seen chasing fungoes from outfield instructor Ruben Amaro in Rogers Centre’s left field an hour before Saturday’s game, execute one more test before rejoining the Red Sox’ lineup. That will come Tuesday when the outfielder participates in a simulated game at Fenway Park started by Henry Owens.

“He’ll continue to go through baseball activity here,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “When we get home is when we’ll run him through some sliding. We’ll, Tuesday, likely put together a sim game that has Henry on the mound, probably some other pitchers that haven’t been in games will be able to get some at-bats for Andrew and other guys. We’ve got a taxi squad here. We can build that out. Once we get through and get him through half a dozen at-bats at least on Tuesday, we might be in a position where we could see him on the field shortly after that.”

Farrell did start to define how he envisioned Benintendi’s playing time upon the 22 year old’s return.

“If we’re going to have a left-handed hitter in left field and Andrew is healthy [he will start],” the manager stated.

– Heading into Saturday, Yoan Moncada had struck out in eight straight plate appearance, cementing a shift in the Red Sox’ approach toward third base. It appears going forward that they will be going back to their previous rotation of Travis Shaw starting against right-handed pitching and Aaron Hill getting the nod vs. lefties.

“He’s swung the bat well. Much like he did the first month or six weeks of the season,” Farrell said of Shaw. “When he’s in this type of run offensively, he’s got a bat that can almost carry the team when he gets hot. We’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs with Travis throughout the course of this year. And if competition has found that edge for him, somehow or someway, even better for us.”

As for Moncada, the rookie remains a work in progress.

“This is a great learning experience for Yoan,” Farrell noted. “But like I said I think while he got a boost of confidence by coming to the big leagues, you get challenged a little bit and you have to take a step back to rebuild that. Still, our primary goal is to win. Development in this situation does not take a front seat.”

– Farrell explained the decisions that went into starting Ryan Hanigan behind the plate with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound Saturday afternoon.

“Well, one, day after night, schedule had a lot to do with this,” the manager said. “And when Ryan’s been back behind the plate, there’s no denying his ability to run the game. That’s been proven over time. Left-hander on the mound. Obviously he’s got a working relationship with Eddie [Saturday]. Still, Hanny’s done an excellent job in terms of running the game. You look at our win-loss record, it’s pretty obvious that he’s added a lot to the lineup on the day he’s in there.”

It’s the first start for Hanigan since he came off the 15-day disabled list, having totaled three at-bats heading into Saturday. The Red Sox are, however, 25-7 in games the catcher has appeared this season.

“Setting aside the record, the number that’s probably more indicative is the overall pitchers ERA (3.42) when he’s behind the plate,” Farrell said. “That’s a clear indication of his game-calling. The ability to navigate the dirty innings. That’s probably the biggest thing. That’s where his experience comes into play and there’s been many games where he’s put up quality at-bats and contributed in some form or fashion.”

Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. J.A. Happ

09.10.16 at 8:21 am ET
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On Saturday afternoon the Red Sox and Blue Jays will play the middle game of their three-game series with the Sox sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to face veteran left-hander J.A. Happ.

Rodriguez is 2-6 with a 4.83 ERA and a 1.305 WHIP in 15 starts. The southpaw is coming off one of the best starts of his career. On Sunday against the Athletics he carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning with two outs. Then Marcus Semien hit a ground ball up the middle hit off Rodriguez’s foot and Semien barely reached first ahead of Rodriguez’s throw. Rodriguez finished the game going eight innings, giving up no runs, one hit and two walks with five strikeouts.

“In the bigger picture, Eddy’s start today is extremely important to us as we continue to build out this rotation over the final three to four weeks here,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said (via MLB.com).

The 23-year-old Venezuelan is 1-2 with an 8.27 ERA and a 1.469 WHIP in three career starts against the Blue Jays. In his one start against Toronto this season, a 5-4 loss on June 5, Rodriguez threw 5 2/3 innings, giving up five runs on four hits — all home runs — and three walks with no strikeouts.

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Read More: eduardo rodriguez, J.A. Happ,

Closing Time: Rick Porcello wins 20th, Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts homer as Red Sox pummel Blue Jays

09.09.16 at 10:33 pm ET
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Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello won his 20th game on Friday in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski-USA Today Sports)

Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello won his 20th game on Friday in Toronto. (John E. Sokolowski-USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — The Red Sox visited Toronto on Friday intent on growing their lead in the American League East.

They did so in overwhelming fashion.

Right-hander Rick Porcello won his 20th game and Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts homered to pace an offensive explosion as the Red Sox destroyed the Blue Jays, 13-3, to open a two-game lead in the AL East.

“It’s definitely a huge honor,” said Porcello, whose first order of business was to call his parents. “It’s hard to win one game in the big leagues let alone 20. I’m very proud of that. At the same time it’s collective. We had to swing the bats and play defense. It’s a complete team effort. Sharing this with all 25 guys. Or 40 now that we’re in September.”

“Well, what Rick has done for a long stretch now, his game-plan that he prepares and he executes it,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That’s the thing, his execution has been outstanding because he’s pitching with average velocity but his location is tremendous. He knows when to elevate and he’s been able to use breaking balls in certain counts that have worked to his advantage. More than anything, he doesn’t add baserunners by the walk. One walk again here tonight. Like I said, he knows what he’s doing. He’s got complete conviction to each pitch he throws and it’s evident by the bottom-line results.”

Porcello, blessed with overwhelming run support all season, was staked to a 1-0 lead in the first, 2-0 in the second and 4-0 in the third. He cruised from there, improving to 20-3 and lowering his ERA to 3.21. He allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one.

The Red Sox entered the game with the best offense in the American League and they did nothing to dispute that notion.

They struck quickly in the first. Dustin Pedroia led off with a single and scored on Mookie Betts’ two-out double.

They added another run in the second on Pedroia’s RBI single and two more in the third on Travis Shaw’s sacrifice fly and an error by left fielder B.J. Upton.

Devon Travis got two of the runs back with a single in the third, but the Red Sox kept piling on. They scored one in the fourth on a Pedroia sacrifice fly and then exploded for sixth in the seventh to build an 11-2 lead.

Bogaerts and Ramirez both homered in the frame.

But Friday, was Porcello’s day.

“He’s probably the MVP of our team right now,” said Jackie Bradley Jr. of his starting pitcher. “He’s tremendous on the mound.”

Closing Time note

The last Red Sox pitcher to win 20 games was Josh Beckett in 2007.

“They do it differently,” said Farrell when asked to compare the two pitchers. “I think Rick is probably more of a four-pitch pitcher where Josh was primarily fastball-curveball and changeup. Might not have the power that Beckett did, but still, when you’re talking about sending a guy to the mound that’s going to go deep in ballgames, the similarity is the wins obviously. Still, they do it a little bit differently in their own way.”

WHAT WENT RIGHT

— Porcello was once again on top of his game, easily out-dueling Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada, who was bounced in the third inning.

— Second baseman Dustin Pedroia remained red-hot. He recorded three more singles and drove in four runs.

— First baseman Hanley Ramirez has saved his best baseball for the end of the season. He blasted a three-run homer in the seventh to blow the game open.

— Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, mired in a lengthy slump, stroked two hits, including a solo homer to get things started during a six-run seventh.

— Five members of the starting lineup recorded multiple hits (Pedroia, Bogaerts, Betts, Ramirez, Leon, Jackie Bradley Jr., Ramirez).

— The Red Sox outfielders tried a little something new in their celebration after the win. “We’re mixing it up a little bit. It was the debut of the ski jump today,” said Bradley Jr.

WHAT WENT WRONG

— Second baseman Deven Marrero made an error in the eighth, leading to an unearned run.

Read More: Blue Jays, Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez, Red Sox

Andrew Benintendi just some sliding away from playing real baseball

09.09.16 at 8:07 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Andrew Benintendi appears close to a return to baseball. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — Andrew Benintendi sure looks like he’s just about ready for a return to the Red Sox.

The injured outfielder (left knee) continued his progression in trying to rejoin the lineup, running the bases at Rogers Centre prior to the Red Sox’ series opener against the Blue Jays.

Benintendi, who hasn’t played since spraining his knee Aug. 24, has now run the gamut in terms of participating in baseball activities while wearing his new knee brace. According to Red Sox manager John Farrell, there is just one last hurdle to overcome.

“[Friday] was a very good day for him,” Farrell said. “Feels like he’s running at 100 percent intensity. The one last thing with baserunning that we have to accomplish is just getting him to slide. So we’ll look t getting him on a sliding pad tomorrow at the earliest. It doesn’t get us anymore clarity on when he might be first activated, but the fact that he’s had no pushback from the knee when he’s ramping up the work, he’s in a good spot right now.”

With Benintendi trending toward a return during the upcoming homestand, there is the question regarding playing time. Left fielder Chris Young has been performing well of late, hitting in last three appearances with a pair of home runs. And Brock Holt got the start against Toronto righty Marco Estrada Friday night.

Farrell was non-committal, however, when asked about playing time distribution upon Benintendi’s return.

“I don’t know when he’s going to be ready. We’ll work through that based on matchups day to day,” the manager said.

Read More: Andrew Benintendi,

Which Red Sox legend are you? Enter to win a baseball autographed by Hanley Ramirez

09.09.16 at 5:06 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez/USA Today

The Boston Red Sox have had their share of stars over the years. If you were a Red Sox legend, who would you be?

Click here to take a quick quiz to find out.

Everyone who takes the quiz has the chance to enter to win a baseball autographed by Hanley Ramirez.

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Red Sox lineup: Travis Shaw starts at third base in series opener against Blue Jays

09.09.16 at 3:20 pm ET
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Travis Shaw (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Travis Shaw (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — Travis Shaw has worked his way back into the Red Sox’ lineup.

With righty Marco Estrada on the mound for the Blue Jays Friday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell starts Shaw at third and Brock Holt in left field. Shaw’s presence is no surprise considering he is coming off a performance Wednesday in which the 26-year-old notched a pair of hits, including his 16th homer of the season.

Shaw had been sidelined with the presence of Yoan Moncada. But with the rookie striking out 10 times in his 17 at-bats, including his last seven plate appearances, the Sox’ Opening Day starter gets another crack at holding down the position against right-handers.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup with Rick Porcello on the mound for the visitors:

Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Brock Holt LF

For all the matchups, click here.

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