|10.18.13 at 10:10 pm ET|
A major league source confirmed a report from Baseball America that the Red Sox have signed Cuban right-hander Dalier Hinojosa. According to Baseball America, Hinojosa, 27, is a 6-foot right-hander with an 88-92 mph fastball, a changeup/splitter and a slurvy breaking ball. From the publication:
“Several scouts believe Hinojosa, who’s around 6 feet, 200 pounds, fits best as a reliever. Given his age and experience, he figures to start in the upper levels of the minors, perhaps Triple-A Pawtucket.”
Because he is 27 years old, Hinojosa would not count against the Sox’ international amateur spending pool limits, which apply only to amateurs who are under 23 years old. Baseball America said that he signed on a minor league contract.
|10.18.13 at 6:33 pm ET|
Jake Peavy has done it before — once.
The last, and only, time Peavy pitched out the bullpen came on June 25, 2011 in a season he was attempting to comeback from a right lat injury. Having already thrown 104 pitches three days prior, the righty came on for John Danks after the White Sox starter suffered an oblique injury early in Chicago’s game against Washington.
Peavy, who hadn’t started his season until May 11 due to the injury, came on and pitched brilliantly, not allowing a run over four innings while striking out seven and not walking a batter. After the appearance, however, the optimism regarding the outing dwindled.
“Torn lat, pitched for about a month, got in and I was throwing 94-95 mph in relief and I don’t think I threw many balls over 90 mph the rest of the year,” said Peavy of his 55-pitch relief appearance. “I started two days before threw 50-something pitches out of the bullpen a month after I came back. It was tough.”
But now, as Peavy prepares to potentially be an option of the bullpen for either Game 6 or 7 of the American League Championship Series, there is no hesitation.
Having thrown 65 pitches in his three-inning start in Detroit Wednesday night, Peavy is at the ready.
“I’m hoping the situation plays out to where I’m not needed. But I’ll certainly be ready to go,” he said. “There certainly aren’t many more people anxious to get out there than I am. I’m excited if it comes to that, to get out there and help any way I can. Hopefully we go out there, score a few runs off Max [Scherzer] tomorrow night, Clay [Buchholz] does what he can do and we move on and talk about starting in the World Series.”
As for the potential change in preparation, Peavy isn’t worried.
“Warming up, it doesn’t concern me at all just because of how easy I can get loose,” I’m very blessed with that. If you watch me previously, I was done before Fister. It doesn’t take me very long to be warmed up, so I don’t think that will be a problem at all.”
Peavy and Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves feels like they have identified what went wrong in his Game 4 start, in which he surrendered seven runs on five hits while walking three. According to the pitcher, it was a simple matter of letting his body get out in front of his arm too much.
“The ball was moving, and I just have to be able to harness that a little bit better and stay under control,” he said. “A lot has to do with me getting going too much, moving a little too fast. I just wasn’t staying back.”
|10.18.13 at 4:25 pm ET|
Speaking to the media prior to his team’s workout at Fenway Park Friday afternoon, Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed that Xander Bogaerts will make his second straight start at third base when the Sox look to clinch their best-of-seven American League Championship Series with Detroit.
Bogaerts, who notched a hit and a walk during the Red Sox’ Game 5 win, replaces Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks entered the game Thursday night as a pinch-runner for Bogaerts, going from first to third on a David Ross sacrifice bunt.
Farrell also said Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be back in the starting lineup, catching Game 6 starter Clay Buchholz.
One player who will remain in the lineup despite his struggles is shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew is 1-for-17 with eight strikeouts in the ALCS.
Farrell noted that Shane Victorino — who is also mired in a slump (2-for-21 in ALCS) — will remain in the lineup’s No. 2 spot.
Jonny Gomes will get the start in left.
|10.18.13 at 12:55 pm ET|
Red Sox left-hander Craig Breslow will contribute regularly to this blog throughout his team’s postseason run. In addition to his work on the mound, the eight-year big leaguer is also the founder and executive director of the Strike 3 Foundation, a charitable agency that heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research. To learn more about the Strike 3 Foundation, and its new Play It Forward program, click here.
Despite the fact that we lost Game 4, it seemed like we were starting to come to life in terms of our offensive production. We just didn’t string together hits to put runs on the board.
But last night, to come out in Game 5 and put runs on the board early, especially considering what Anibal Sanchez did against us in Game 1 of the series, was huge — particularly considering the fashion in which we did so.
We knew coming into Game 5 that Mike Napoli was swinging the bat pretty well. He had the big home run in Game 3 against Justin Verlander and a couple more hits in Game 4. But the home run that he hit against Sanchez in the second inning represented something distinctive. It was as pure as I think one can hit a ball. I was sitting in the bullpen at the time. There’s an area you go inside and shut a door to stay warm while watching the game. You can’t really hear 40,000 cheering fans. But you were able to hear the crack of the bat when he hit the ball. It was just majestic, and a springboard to an early lead in a series where runs have been scarce.
Jon Lester battled all night, kept us ahead, made some big pitches when he needed to and got the ball over to the bullpen with a 4-2 lead. I don’t think any of us down there would be opposed to an occasional six- or seven-run victory. But at the same time, these tight games keep us in the game and keep us following pitch to pitch. We understand the most likely scenarios that will get us into the game. The close games demand your complete concentration and force your focus on the execution of every pitch. As we’ve seen, wins and losses in the postseason often come down to one or two pitches.
The phenomenon can be fatiguing in a way that I haven’t experienced before. I can certainly say that I am considerably more exhausted at the end of these games than I am at the end of regular season outings as a result of the experience of living and dying with one pitch. But on the mound, while in the game, it’s another story.
I feel like people will say there’s no time to be tired in the postseason and you can’t really worry about advancing or potential elimination or where you stand in a series. The truth is, you can’t really worry about advancing or elimination or where you stand in a series. Given the situations, the importance of the execution of every pitch, what’s at stake, adrenaline truly takes over. It always seems you muster just enough energy to grind through an at-bat and to make the necessary pitches. Read the rest of this entry »
|10.18.13 at 8:03 am ET|
DETROIT — The date was June 21. One day earlier, Andrew Bailey had blown the Red Sox’ 10th save of the season, permitting a two-run walkoff homer to Jhonny Peralta that sent the Sox to a 4-3 loss. It was Bailey’s third blown save in the span of 11 days. It was time.
The Red Sox had to redistribute their ninth-inning duties. Speculation about Bailey’s successor in the role centered on Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa (the latter of whom briefly had been named the Sox’ closer in late-April). Instead, manager John Farrell entrusted the role to Koji Uehara, the team’s most consistent reliever to that point — he had a 2.10 ERA with 12.6 strikeouts and 2.1 walks per nine innings — but suspicions that, at 38 and with a history of elbow and leg issues, he might be injury-prone if overused had led the Sox to turn to three others before settling on Uehara.
At the time, the appointment seemed almost tenuous. The Sox maintained hope that Bailey’s struggles might be short-lived. Even Uehara injected humor into the conversation about the likely duration of his time as the final line of defense in victories.
“I’m assuming two or three days,” he joked from the Comerica Park clubhouse on June 21.
Fast-forward by 119 days, 48 appearances, 52 1/3 innings, three runs (0.52 ERA), 70 strikeouts (12.0 per nine innings), two walks (0.3 per nine innings) and 24 saves (in 26 opportunities).
Could Uehara have ever envisioned a scenario in which he would have been back in Comerica Park having just recorded the five-out save that would bring the Red Sox within one victory of the World Series?
“I wasn’t able to think that far ahead,” Uehara said through translator C.J. Matsumoto. “Even though I was named the closer at that time, I didn’t pitch [in that June series against the Tigers] so I wasn’t able to think that way.”
How Uehara or the Sox viewed him back in late-June is now irrelevant. What matters is what he’s become. Read the rest of this entry »
|10.18.13 at 5:50 am ET|
DETROIT — After their 4-3 loss on Thursday in Game 5 of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, the Tigers are now one win from elimination. The Red Sox need to win just one of two contests this weekend in Boston to secure a spot in the World Series.
But Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter suggested that his team is in a position to play without being encumbered by pressure or anxiety.
“If you had a tiger, and he was backed in a corner, he couldn’t go left, he couldn’t go right, he couldn’t go behind him, what’s he going to do? Fight through,” said Hunter. “And that’s what we’re going to try to do. That’s what Tigers do. Our backs are against the wall. We can’t go left, we can’t go right, we’re going to fight through.
“The pressure is on them to hold us back. We’re going to fight, we’re going to have fun, we’re going to go all out,” he added. “When we play looser, we’re a really good ballclub. So being down 3-2, I think you go in a little light, a little looser, you have some fun, play the game. It’s an uphill battle, but I think it’s good for us.”
The Tigers do have a formidable asset on their side in the form of starters Max Scherzer in Game 6 and, if they win that contest, Justin Verlander in Game 7. The Red Sox are mindful of that reality as they hope to close out the Tigers.
“They’re really good. They’ve got two really good pitchers still in their back pocket, so we need to come out, set the tone early,” said Sox catcher David Ross. “We’re just happy to be going back home up one.”
Yet while Scherzer and Verlander offer the Tigers a template for overcoming their deficit, Detroit suggested that they do not yet have the luxury of looking ahead to a winner-take-all contest with Verlander on the hill.
“We have to win one game and then take it from there,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “We’ve got to win one game.”
|10.18.13 at 5:40 am ET|
DETROIT — Behold (again) the mighty hammer of Thor.
Mike Napoli is once again wielding the sledgehammer in the postseason, at a time that could not be more opportune for the Red Sox. The 31-year-old is living up to the billing as a game-changing middle-of-the-order force, reclaiming a role that he’s fulfilled during the Sox’ best stretches of the year. His solo homer to left on Tuesday proved the decisive blast in the Sox’ 1-0 victory over Justin Verlander and the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALCS.
But on Thursday, in Game 5 of the series, he took that performance to jaw-dropping new heights in the Sox’ 4-3 win over the Tigers, leading his team to a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series, one win from a spot in the World Series. He went 3-for-4, a performance that included a double and two runs scored, but it was one mammoth mash that proved the game’s most memorable moment.
In the top of the second inning, Napoli launched led off with a home run to dead center that not only gave the Sox a 1-0 lead against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez — the pitcher who held the Sox hitless through six shutout innings in Game 1 of the ALDS — but that also proved little short of awe-inspiring. The center field fence in Comerica Park resides 420 feet from home plate. It’s rarely cleared. But Napoli not only hit a ball over that target — he blew well past it, with his projectile landing atop a second tier of hedges that helps to create a batter’s eye in straightaway center field.
“Not too many people hit balls like that,” noted Jonny Gomes. “If you break it down to how many people in this world can do that, you’re not going to come up with too many. That’s pretty impressive.”
According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Napoli’s launch traveled 460 feet. That was the longest homer in the postseason, according to the same site, since Prince Fielder likewise launched a 460-foot homer five years earlier, in 2008.
A pair of Napoli’s teammates who spent time with the Tigers were in a state of near-shock that a player could hit a ball that far, particularly given that the gametime temperature was a raw 51 degrees.
“When it landed, I couldn’t believe it,” said Sox pitcher Andrew Miller, who pitched in Detroit in 2006 and 2007. “That’s usually uncharted territory. That’s pretty impressive. That’s out there.” Read the rest of this entry »
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