|09.25.16 at 8:33 am ET|
Winners of 10 straight, the Red Sox close out their three-game series vs. the Rays on Sunday afternoon by sending out Eduardo Rodriguez opposite right-hander Jake Ordorizzi.
Rodriguez is 3-7 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP in 18 games. On Tuesday he went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs, four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in a 5-2 win over the Orioles. It was the southpaw’s first win since July 16.
“When you are capable to stop the Baltimore offense, that means you’ve got good stuff,” David Ortiz said of Rodriguez (via MLB.com). “Those guys can swing the bat. We know what we’ve got in [Rodriguez].”
In three career starts against the Rays, the 23-year-old Venezuelan is 0-1 with a 9.88 ERA and a 2.195 WHIP. Rodriguez’s last start against the Rays was one of his worst of the season. On June 27 he lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing a whopping nine runs, 11 hits and one walk with two strikeouts in a 13-7 Rays win.
|09.25.16 at 12:19 am ET|
But there was bit of news that separated itself at Tropicana Field Saturday: Pablo Sandoval might actually play for the Red Sox again this season.
Here is what John Farrell dropped on reporters when asked about Sandoval prior to the Red Sox’ 6-4 win over the Rays: “Could he return this year? I’m not ruling it out.”
Sandoval, who hasn’t played April 10 due to his surgically-repaired left shoulder, was with the Red Sox in St. Petersburg, Fla., having driven up from the team’s training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. He has been working at at JetBlue Park, having already participated in two instructional league games as a designated hitter.
Prior to Saturday night’s game, Sandoval took batting practice and fielded ground balls with the rest of the Red Sox.
“He’s got to go through some steps in instructional league. That’s first and foremost,” Farrell said. “But, again, you can never forecast injury, you can never forecast what takes place ahead. Nothing has been ruled out with Pablo, particularly how he’s responded. He’s well ahead of schedule in terms of his recovery. We’ll see.”
While it would still seem unlikely Sandoval would be an option to be placed on a Divisional Series roster, he could be a legitimate backup plan if the Red Sox suffered any injuries. Farrell could also be throwing the possibility of more competition at the position to spur on the current group of candidates, Travis Shaw, Brock Holt and Aaron Hill.
Another possible benefit of Sandoval being proclaimed healthy enough to contribute is in regards to Sandoval’s offseason trade value. Showing his shoulder isn’t an issue would go a long way toward convincing potential suitors the 30-year-old should be of some worth.
At last check, Sandoval had lost 22 pounds, working out six days a week at JetBlue Park while also integrating a bike-riding regimen.
“At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next spring training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but, at the same time, I want to compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself back into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.”
– The medical update for Steven Wright (right shoulder) wasn’t as encouraging, with the knuckleballer not able to participate in his scheduled bullpen session Sunday at Tropicana Field.
“He got through his 120 feet here today. But it was not to the point where he felt like he was going to throw his bullpen here [Sunday],” Farrell told reporters. “So he’ll remain in Ft. Myers and continue to progress. Logically, the days continue to come off the calendar, so where that puts him in terms of getting back on the mound, getting back to us, that becomes with each passing day a little bit less likely.
“Just feeling like the symptoms aren’t completely gone, diminished,” Farrell added. “We’ve been taking this very much as a day to day type situation. So the way the throwing program was built out was to get to the point of throwing 120 feet, which he did yesterday, hopefully get through a second consecutive day of that, and then be here to throw a bullpen tomorrow. Felt like coming out of [Saturday], that wasn’t going to be the case.”
– The way the Red Sox have their starting rotation lined up, David Price will pitch the final game of the regular season and then Game 2 of the Division Series. Rick Porcello is still on target start what figures to be the Red Sox’ first postseason game.
|09.24.16 at 9:21 pm ET|
Dustin Pedroia has experienced his fair share of meaningful September baseball. Six of his 10 Septembers as a major leaguer have had some sort of importance attached to them.
But it would be hard to find a bigger September hit than the one Pedroia supplied in the seventh inning Saturday night.
With the Red Sox trailing by a run against the Rays, two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh, Pedroia launched the decisive blow for the visitors. The second baseman took Tampa Bay reliever Danny Farquhar over the left field fence for his fourth career grand slam, leading Sox to a 6-4 win over the Rays.
The win was the Red Sox’ 10th straight, and cut their magic number to win the American League East to three with the second-place Blue Jays also winning. They also clinched at least a berth in the Wild Card playoff game.
“It’s obviously big, it’s the position we wanted to be in this last week in September,” said Saturday night’s winning pitcher, Rick Porcello. “We definitely want that division, so we’re going for it.”
Earning his 22nd win of the season was Porcello, who allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings to put his ERA at 3.11. All three runs against Porcello came in the third inning. He becomes the first 22-game winner for the Red Sox since Pedro Martinez’s 1999 campaign, in which he won 23.
The pivotal seventh inning started with back to back singles from Hanley Ramirez and Brock Holt. After a Chris Young ground out, the Sox loaded the bases on a walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. Sandy Leon failed to get the runners home, hitting into a fielder’s choice for the second out, but keeping the bases loaded.
Then came Pedroia’s 14th homer of the season, punctuating an eight-pitch at-bat.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) September 25, 2016
The Rays did manager to get the potential game-tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. But Brad Ziegler’s one-out outing resulted in a fly out off the bat of Evan Longoria, who was followed by Brad Miller’s line-out to right against Robbie Ross Jr.
Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel closed things out in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Despite giving up a ninth inning homer to Logan Forsythe, Kimbrel recorded his 30th save. The closer now has six straight 30-save seasons.
|09.24.16 at 2:55 pm ET|
Judging by Saturday’s lineup, that continues to be the case.
With right-hander Matt Andriese on the mound for the Rays, Brock Holt gets the start at third base. Holt is 2-for-8 against Andriese, while the other lefty-hitting option, Travis Shaw, is 1-for-6. Shaw is coming off a start Friday night in which he went 0-for-4.
Chris Young gets the nod in left field, having not started since Tuesday.
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
Brock Holt 3B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Sandy Leon C
For all the matchups, click here.
|09.24.16 at 8:15 am ET|
With the Red Sox looking for their 10th straight victory, Saturday evening’s matchup will feature Cy Young contender Rick Porcello against Rays right-hander Matt Andriese.
Porcello is 21-4 with a 3.08 ERA and a 0.978 WHIP in 31 starts. The sinkerballer picked up his 21st win against the Orioles on Monday with a complete game, giving up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in what ended up being a 5-2 Sox win.
“Rick Porcello was outstanding,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said (via MLB.com). “He threw a high number of first-pitch strikes. He was able to induce ground balls. He elevated at appropriate times. He had four pitches working for strikes tonight. He was in complete command for this one.”
The 27-year-old right-hander is 9-4 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.134 ERA in 16 career starts against the Rays. This season Porcello is 4-0 with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.038 WHIP in five starts vs. Tampa. His last start against the Rays was on Aug. 29. In that outing he threw seven innings, allowing three runs, six hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in a 9-4 Sox win.
|09.23.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
Mookie Betts let Twitter inspire him, and Friday night’s outfield dance might’ve been the group’s most zeitgeisty yet — The Carlton.
For those unfortunate enough not to have been born/paying attention in the early ’90s, The Carlton was the eponymous manic dance performed by actor Alfonso Ribeiro, whose character loved lusty 60s lounge singer Tom Jones. In real life, Ribeiro went on to win Dancing With the Stars in 2014.
After Friday’s 2-1 victory over the Rays, in which Betts went 3-for-4, the MVP candidate busted out the dance’s signature right-to-left “white man” grooves, as Eddie Murphy called them in Delirious.
Speaking to reporters in Tampa, Betts explained his process.
“I saw a couple of Twitter requests for The Carlton,” he said. “I want to switch it up each time. I may ask Twitter what the next dance should be.”
That said, Betts didn’t make the call until late in the game.
“No, that was on the spot,” he said. “In the eighth inning, I said. ‘Imma do the Carlton.’ That was on the spot.”
This obviously opens a world of possibilities.
“There are so many out there,” Betts said. “I need to know the night before so I can YouTube how to do it, and then go from there.”
After watching fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi earn plaudits for his Michael Jackson homage on consecutive nights, and Jackie Bradley get rave reviews for his ski jumper, Betts wants to keep viewers on their toes.
“I feel like we’ve been escalating,” he said. “I want to do something different each time. They can do the same thing. It’s just your personal preference.”
|09.23.16 at 10:03 pm ET|
The David Ortiz Show keeps getting better and better.
On a night when the Red Sox offense didn’t do much with Rays starter Chris Archer or the Tampa Bay bullpen, Ortiz gave the Red Sox all the runs they would need with a mammoth two-run homer in the first that proved decisive in a 2-1 victory.
The Red Sox won their season-high ninth straight game and lowered their magic number to clinch the division title to four. They maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over the Blue Jays, who beat the Yankees.
Ortiz, who will retire at the end of the season, is going out with a bang. He added a single that originally was a double before replay changed it, and finished the game hitting .319 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs, numbers that will be sure to earn him MVP consideration.
All in a night’s work for the ageless slugger, who remains the most feared bat in the Red Sox lineup.
Ortiz’s homer made a winner of left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who allowed four hits and a solo homer in five innings. Pomeranz, who hadn’t won in five starts since beating the Tigers on Aug. 20, was lifted after 78 pitches.
The bullpen took over from there. Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross, Matt Barnes, and Robby Scott combined to get the Red Sox to the ninth inning. With Koji Uehara and closer Craig Kimbrel unavailable, right-hander Brad Ziegler nailed down his fourth save with the Red Sox, stranding the tying run at second after a leadoff double.
Offensively, the other star of the game was MVP candidate Mookie Betts, who went 3-for-4 with a walk.
Scott continues to impress. The rookie left-hander retired the only man he faced to end the eighth with the tying run on base. He now has started his career with five straight scoreless outings.
|09.23.16 at 12:21 pm ET|
The Red Sox open a three-game series with the Rays on Friday night by sending Drew Pomeranz to the hill to face right-hander Chris Archer.
Pomeranz is 10-12 with a 3.40 ERA and a 1.205 WHIP in 29 starts. Since being traded to the Sox in July from the Padres, he is 2-5 with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.444 WHIP in 12 starts. The lefty’s last two starts have been disappointing. Over just 5 2/3 innings he gave up a whopping nine runs, 11 hits and four walks with six strikeouts. In his last start against the Yankees on Sunday, he lasted just 3 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs, seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts. However, the Red Sox rallied for a 5-4 Sox win.
“This team’s amazing,” Pomeranz said. “It seems like we’re never out of reach. It’s fun to watch.”
Against the Rays, Pomeranz is 1-1 with an 2.45 ERA with a 1.145 WHIP in four games (three starts). In August, Pomeranz had back-to-back starts against the Rays. On Aug. 25 he threw six innings, allowing two runs, seven hits and one walk with 11 strikeouts in a 2-1 Rays win. Then on Aug. 30 he threw 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs, five hits and two walks while recording eight strikeouts in a 4-3 Sox loss.
|09.22.16 at 10:28 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — The Magic Number to win this division is now five.
When looking at the Red Sox schedule heading into the second half, such a reality wouldn’t seem plausible with nine games to play. But John Farrell’s team has managed to officially put any and all concerns about the September gauntlet in the rear-view mirror, completing a four-game series sweep of the Orioles with Thursday night’s 5-3 win at Camden Yards.
The Red Sox now own a seven game lead over the Orioles in the American League East, while maintaining their five-game cushion over idle Toronto. The Sox are still 1/2 game in back of Cleveland in the jostling for postseason position, with the Rangers 1 1/2 games in front with the American League’s best record.
The Sox own an eight-game winning streak, their longest stretch since 2011. Each of the victories have come against AL East clubs, a run against divisional teams the Red Sox hadn’t accomplished since 1990.
The impetus for this win was a familiar formula: solid starting pitching and timely hitting.
Earning the win on the mound for the Red Sox was starter David Price, who gave up three runs over seven innings, striking out five and walking two. Of the lefty’s 99 pitches, 72 of them were strikes.
But perhaps the most impressive statistic to come out of Price’s outing was the fact the Red Sox have now won in each of Price’s last nine starts, the longest such streak of his career with any team.
“We do everything well,” Price said. “I don’t know what our weakness is, to be honest. We do a lot of things really well. That’s what you want. There’s no over glaring weakness with our team. Everybody has really picked it up in the second half and that’s what you need.”
|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.”
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