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Closing Time: Eduardo Rodriguez, Sandy Leon lift surging Red Sox past reeling Yankees

07.16.16 at 7:07 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez was in control for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Saturday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

Eduardo Rodriguez was in control for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Saturday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — Eduardo Rodriguez was lost for the entire first half of the season. Might he finally be found?

He certainly looked that way on Saturday in a 5-2 victory over the Yankees, pitching seven effective innings and riding a three-run homer from Sandy Leon to a win his best start of the season.

His timing couldn’t have been any better, because he delivered seven innings of one-run ball with his future in the rotation on the line.

“It’s good because they gave me the chance to get back here and do what I do,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve got to say thanks to them to believe in myself.”

The Red Sox ran their winning streak to a season-high six games, while the Yankees dropped their second straight to open the second half, falling two games below .500 this late in the season for the first time since 1995.

This one was about the Red Sox battery. Rodriguez had struggled since injuring his knee in spring training, taking an 8.59 ERA out to the mound in his first start since June 27. His previous start might’ve been his worst, and featured a very public tongue-lashing from second baseman Dustin Pedroia on the mound in Tampa.

Rodriguez was supposed to spend a considerable chunk of time in Triple-A figuring out what plagued his delivery, but he rejoined the Red Sox after just one and a half rehab starts.

He delivered, in part by exhuming the slider he had abandoned for most of the season. He allowed four hits and one run, striking out one and walking two. He also featured a modified delivery out of the stretch with his hands starting higher in an effort not to tip pitches. It seemed to work.

“It was good, because now I’m not thinking about the tipping stuff,” Rodriguez said. “I just throw the ball right where I wanted.”

His only mistake came in the third on a solo homer to Brett Gardner. Otherwise, he controlled the game, inducing grounders and weak fly balls while outdueling former Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia.

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Read More: Brett Gardner, eduardo rodriguez, Red Sox, Sandy Leon

Source: Rays pitchers never option for Red Sox

07.16.16 at 5:07 pm ET
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Matt Moore

Matt Moore

NEW YORK — The Red Sox needed to add a starter, but as it turned out, their options were pretty limited.

The Sox ultimately landed San Diego lefty Drew Pomeranz in exchange for top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza on Thursday.

After Pomeranz, the quality of starting pitchers who were being made available thinned out significantly. Rich Hill would have been a consideration, but the combination of Oakland’s asking price and the fact the veteran is eligible for free agency after this season led to the Red Sox shying away.

Philadelphia’s Jeremy Hellickson could have been had. The 29-year-old wasn’t at the level of either Pomeranz or Hill, totaling a 4.03 ERA in 19 starts with the Phillies.

A few pitchers that may have normally been considered by the Red Sox — Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi or Chris Archer — weren’t in the mix despite reportedly being on the block. The reason was, according to a major league source, was that Tampa Bay had no interest in dealing any of the group to its division rival.

The news lines up with comments by Tampa Bay president Matt Silverman to the Boston Herald recently, telling the newspaper he would prefer not to trade with the Sox.

Pomeranz is slated to make his Red Sox debut Wednesday at Fenway Park against the Giants.

Saturday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Eduardo Rodriguez vs. CC Sabathia

07.16.16 at 8:23 am ET
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The Red Sox will call upon Eduardo Rodriguez to take on fellow left-hander CC Sabathia and the Yankees on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez is 1-3 in six starts with an 8.59 ERA and a 1.739 WHIP. The 23-year-old was taken out of his last major league start on June 27 against the Rays after just 2 2/3 innings as he allowed a whopping nine runs, 11 hits and one walk with two strikeouts in a 13-7 Red Sox loss.

After the outing, Rodriguez was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket. Rodriguez worked with pitching coach Bob Kipper to try to improve his command. On July 3, Rodriguez threw seven scoreless innings, and last Friday he pitched three innings and allowed two runs on three hits in a rain-shortened start.

“There’s been some adjustments made to his hand position,” manager John Farrell said. “It was a seven-inning and a rain-shortened three-inning outing in which he’s pitched down there. The first inning in his second start — took him an inning to get into things, but the seven innings prior was sharp, was powerful. I think he’s by all reports and watching video of him looks like he’s gaining some comfort with the hand position that has been widely talked about. Required needed adjustments have been made.”

Rodriguez is 3-1 in four career starts against the Yankees with a 2.22 ERA and a 1.315 WHIP. Rodriguez last faced the Yankees in September of last year, going six innings and allowing one run on seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts in a 5-1 Red Sox win.

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Read More: C.C. Sabathia, eduardo rodriguez,

John Farrell will not get credit for managerial moves that helped beat Yankees on Friday

07.16.16 at 12:50 am ET
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Koji Uehara pitches during a 1-2-3 ninth to earn save in a 5-3 victory over the Yankees on Friday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Koji Uehara pitches during a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save in a 5-3 victory over the Yankees on Friday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — We crush John Farrell when he gets something wrong, and conveniently ignore the decisions he gets right. Take Friday’s 5-3 victory over the Yankees.

With Steven Wright showing signs of fatigue after a three-run sixth, Farrell summoned Brad Ziegler for the seventh. Ziegler needed only seven pitches to escape the frame, leading to an obvious question — why not just send him back out for the eighth?

Farrell had no such plans, however. He instead called upon Robbie Ross and opened himself to a second-guess when switch-hitter Chase Headley led off with a single. There was nothing to fear, as it turned out, because Ross set down Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and then handed the ball to closer Koji Uehara for a 1-2-3 ninth.

“Given the performance of guys over a long period of time, where they’re best suited, it felt like that was the best combination we had available,” Farrell said.

So why did the moves make sense? A couple of reasons.

For one, the 36-year-old Ziegler spent the first half closing in one-inning stints for the Diamondbacks. He had pitched multiple innings just four times in 37 previous appearances, and those outings take a toll.

“It doesn’t affect me a whole lot in that instance, I can do it, but tomorrow I would feel more sore,” Ziegler said. “I haven’t done it a lot while closing. I’ve done it a couple of times, but I know that’s probably going to come up more here with the role that I’m in, so I’ll do what I can to prepare myself for it.”

Ziegler has also performed better against right-handed batters (.644 OPS) than lefties (.777 OPS) not just this year, but over the course of his career (.556 vs. .763). So giving him right-handers Alex Rodriguez and Starlin Castro made sense. The numbers even supported the matchup with lefty Didi Gregorius, who exhibits reverse splits — he’s hitting nearly 90 points higher (.360) vs. lefties this season.

In the eighth, the numbers were even more pronounced. Ross has dominated lefties (.162 average, .462 OPS, 1 extra-base hit). The eighth featured two lefties (Gardner, Ellsbury) and what turned out to be two switch hitters (Headley, Beltran).

Headley is a better hitter from the left side, so turning him around to bat righty (.646 OPS) favored Ross. Beltran represented the one trouble spot, since he has hammered lefties (.330-1.017), but Farrell trusted Ross, who delivered. The alternative was to call a righty like Matt Barnes, but Beltran is slugging over .500 against them, too.

In any event, Farrell played the matchups perfectly on Friday. Feels like something worth noting, given the scrutiny his moves often face.

Read More: Brad Ziegler, John Farrell, John Farrell managerial decisions, Koji Uehara

Closing Time: Red Sox open 2nd half on Wright foot with victory over Yankees

07.15.16 at 10:14 pm ET
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Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw (47) celebrates his two-run homer on Friday with Jackie Bradley Jr. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw (47) celebrates his two-run homer on Friday with Jackie Bradley Jr. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — Steven Wright is determined to prove he’s no flash in the pan.

The Red Sox knuckleballer took a no-hitter into the fifth and a shutout into the sixth to lead the Red Sox to a 5-3 victory over the Yankees in the first game of the second half.

Wright dazzled the Yankees until running into trouble in the sixth, but by that point the Sox had opened a 5-0 lead on homers by catcher Ryan Hanigan, third baseman Travis Shaw, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

“What’s so important to that, you come off of a stretch of days where you’ve been inactive, and the ability to keep a game under control, put up zeroes until we can get an opportunity to score some runs, that’s invaluable,” said manager John Farrell.

The game pitted two teams headed in opposite directions. The Red Sox just acquired left-hander Drew Pomeranz from the Padres in a major deal that bolsters their rotation for the second half. The Yankees, meanwhile, are reportedly holding internal deliberations over whether they should be buyers or sellers come the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

They dropped to 44-45, the first time they’ve been below .500 in the second half since 1995.

The Red Sox looked like the better team on Friday night. Fresh off not pitching in the All-Star Game, Wright set down the first 14 Yankees he faced before Alex Rodriguez beat out a chopper toward third that died on the infield grass with Wright unable to make the barehanded play.

“I felt really good going out there,” Wright said. “I worked a lot with [Tim] Wake[field] before the break on trying to simplify and get my timing back and my rhythm and I felt like today we were able to do that. Hanigan helped me out a lot to make sure I stayed in that rhythm.”

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Read More: Drew Pomeranz, Michael Pineda, Red Sox, Ryan Hanigan

Jason Groome used negative remarks, rumors against him as determination to ‘prove everyone wrong’

07.15.16 at 6:44 pm ET
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After about a month after being selected No. 12 overall by the Red Sox, Jason Groome finally signed his professional contract on Friday afternoon for $3.65 million, which is above the slotted value of $3,192,800 for the pick.

Groome admitted he wanted to sign earlier, but he was just going along with his agent Jeff Randazzo.

“When I got my name called by the Red Sox it was just like a dream come true because they are my favorite team,” Groome said on a conference call Friday night. “It was just hard not to sign right away because that was between the Red Sox and my agent. I didn’t have anything to do with that, but it’s just a dream come true I can be part of my favorite team.”

The left-hander added his favorite players are David Price and Dustin Pedroia and he got into the Red Sox from his dad. Groome spent Thursday at Fenway Park and was able to meet with Red Sox manager John Farrell, which was a thrill for the 17-year-old, as they both are from New Jersey.

It wasn’t the easiest of years for Groome as there were quite a bit of rumors after he transferred from IMG Academy after his junior year back to Barnegat High School in New Jersey where he played his freshman and sophomore years. He had to miss games because of transferring issues when it came to his home address, but when he was on the mound he dominated.

This past spring he posted a 0.77 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. On April 11 against Central Regional High School, Groome recorded 19 strikeouts in the first no-hitter in school history, facing the minimum number of batters over seven innings.

There were times he was thought of as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, but slid on draft night all the way down to No. 12 where the Red Sox selected him.

Groome said he heard all the rumors about him and said it was tough at times, but in the end he used it to prove everyone wrong.

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Read More: Jason Groome,

David Ortiz talks Tom Brady suspension, tampering allegation, Drew Pomeranz

07.15.16 at 6:21 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

NEW YORK — Throughout the Deflategate controversy, one athlete who has been very vocal in his support of Tom Brady has been David Ortiz.

And just because Brady has made the decision to accept his four-game suspension, and not further fight the NFL in the courts, that doesn’t man Ortiz has reeled back his opinion on the matter.

“He probably has his reasons to do it,” said Ortiz, who admitted to not knowing the particulars when it came to Brady’s decision to draw back. “He probably got tired of all this BS going on. Who knows. I’ll holler at him later and find out what’s up.”

Another minor controversy Ortiz found himself in the middle of this week involved a report out of Toronto that the designated hitter’s proclamation at the All-Star Game that he would love to have both Miami’s Jose Fernandez and Edwin Encarancion of the Blue Jays on the Red Sox was being looked into by Major League Baseball for potential tampering.

Talking before taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium Friday, Ortiz seemed genuinely surprised the topic had been raised at all.

“What? Tampering who? Tampering? I don’t write no paycheck. I can say whatever I want,” he relayed. “I’m not a GM or a team owner or whatever. If I say tomorrow that I want to play with LeBron James, am I tampering too?”

Ortiz also commented on the newest Red Sox addition, starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz, who is slated to make his first start for Boston Wednesday.

“Good, Good. You guys know Dave [Dombrowski]. Dave doesn’t play around,” he said. “He goes for what he needs and this is the second half. There’s not another half after this one. I’m pretty sure he’s going to keep on moving the line.”

Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Brian Johnson throws 5 scoreless innings for Lowell; Rafael Devers continues hot streak

07.15.16 at 10:58 am ET
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Here is a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (47-45): L, 4-0, vs. Charlotte (White Sox)

— Rain shortened Justin Haley’s last outing, as he was only able to throw 10 pitches, but on Thursday, Haley was able to record a quality start by pitching six innings, allowing three runs, seven hits and one walk with six strikeouts. Haley is 2-3 in six games (five starts) with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in Pawtucket. Haley was promoted from Portland on June 17. In Portland, the 25-year-old right-hander was 5-4 in 12 starts with a 2.20 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.

— In relief of Haley, Roman Mendez pitched two scoreless innings allowing just one hit and no walks with two strikeouts. Mendez extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings. Pat Light came in to pitch the ninth inning giving up one run, which ended his scoreless streak with Pawtucket at 14 innings.

— To make room on the 40-man roster for newly acquired Aaron Hill the Red Sox designated Ryan LaMarre for assignment. After passing through waivers, LaMarre was sent outright to Pawtucket. In his first game for Pawtucket since June 18, when he was promoted to Boston, LaMarre reached base twice — once by a walk and another by hit by a pitch, which extended his on-base streak to 21 games, the longest such streak by a Pawtucket player in the last two seasons.

— Haley’s opponent on Thursday was former PawSox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo. The 26-year-old right-hander was traded in January in 2015 to the Rangers for Robbie Ross Jr. The Rangers then traded Ranaudo to the White Sox in May of this year. In his return to McCoy Stadium, Ranaudo pitched eight scoreless innings, surrendering just three hits and one walk, while recording four strikeouts. For Charlotte this year, Ranaudo is 5-3 in 12 starts with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS (32-58): L, 6-4 (10 innings), vs. New Hampshire (Blue Jays)

— Mitch Atkins got the start for the Sea Dogs on Thursday. Atkins pitched 5 1/3 innings, surrendering four runs on seven hits and no walks with six strikeouts. Atkins is 2-4 in 20 games (11 starts) with a 5.33 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP with Portland this year.

— In the fourth inning, Tim Roberson hit a solo home run to make the score 2-1. In the sixth inning with the score 4-1, Cody Decker blasted a two-run home run to put the Sea Dogs within one, but that would be as close as they could get. Roberson went 1-for-5 with with three strikeouts, while Decker was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX (53-36): W, 5-3 vs. Wilmington (Royals)

— For the fourth time in Salem franchise history, it hit four triples in a game. In the fourth inning Mike Meyers and Danny Mars hit back-to-back triples. In the fifth inning, Rafael Devers hit the third triple of the game and then Mars hit his second triple of the day in the eighth inning. Mars finished the game going 2-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI.

— Lead off hitter Joseph Monge opened the game with a double to left field. Following a Bryan Hudson walk, Devers doubled to left field to score Monge and Hudson. Monge went 2-for-4, while Devers ended the day going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a strikeout.

— Starter Matt Kent pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing three runs, seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts. In 16 starts, the 23-year-old left-hander is 8-4 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP with Salem.

— After Kent was pulled from the game, the bullpen was lights out. Jamie Callahan pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts. Following Callahan, Simon Mercedes pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with two strikeouts.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE (48-41): W, 3-1, vs. Greensboro (Marlins)

— In the bottom of the fourth, catcher Austin Rei singled for one of his two hits in the game. Later in the inning, Trenton Kemp hit a home run to left center field to put the Drive on the scoreboard, which was enough to give them the win.

— Josh Ockimey hit his 15th home run of the year in the sixth inning, which leads the team. The home run was estimated at 485 feet. Ockimey is hitting .269/.395/.509 in 77 games.

— Dedgar Jimenez pitched 6 1/3 innings allowing only one run on eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts. In eight starts, Jimenez is 4-2 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.

SHORT SEASON SINGLE-A LOWELL SPINNERS (16-11): W, 1-0, at Brooklyn (Mets)

— Lowell scored their only run of the game after Victor Acosta singled, eventually advanced to third and came around to score on a throwing error in the top of the eighth inning.

— Brian Johnson pitched five scoreless inning,s allowing only four hits and one walk, while recording five strikeouts in a rehab start. Johnson was placed on the temporary inactive list because of anxiety on May 21 where he was sent to Fort Myers to continue non-game baseball activities. On July 4, the 25-year-old left-hander started his rehab assignment with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox before being assigned to Lowell. Johnson was 2-3 in seven starts with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP in Pawtucket before being placed on the temporary inactive list.

Read More: brian johnson, Justin Haley, rafael devers,

Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchup: Steven Wright vs. Michael Pineda

07.15.16 at 10:47 am ET
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In the first game back from the All-Star break, the Red Sox will send Steven Wright to the mound, while the Yankees will call upon Michael Pineda Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

Wright is 10-5 in 17 starts with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.211 WHIP. The knuckleballer’s 2.68 ERA is the best in the American League, which helped Wright get voted into his first All-Star Game, although he did not pitch in the game. Wright’s last start was a 11-6 Sox win over the Rangers. In that outing, Wright pitched six innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits while issuing one walk and striking out seven. It was the second consecutive start that Wright kept his opponent off the scoreboard over the first five innings.

Wright is 3-1 in four games (three starts) with a 1.33 ERA and a 0.926 WHIP against the Yankees. The last time the 31-year-old right-hander faced the Yankees was on May 8. Wright pitched a one run, three hit complete game with seven strikeouts.

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Read More: Michael Pineda, steven wright,

Dave Dombrowski: ‘We’ve really been able to address our major needs at this point’

07.14.16 at 11:33 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski appears done with major moves. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski appears done with major moves. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

There are still just over two weeks until the MLB trade deadline, but it would appear the Red Sox are done with making major moves.

Led by Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox have made four trades in a week.

First they acquired infielder Aaron Hill from the Brewers, then infielder/outfielder Michael Martinez from the Indians and then a day later reliever Brad Ziegler from the Diamondbacks. Finally, on Thursday the team acquired their biggest piece of all — All-Star pitcher Drew Pomerantz.

With the team addressing offense, the bullpen and now starting pitching, Dombrowski talked like someone who is done making major trades.

“Well, I think, again, you can always get better. There are no perfect clubs out there, but we’ve really been able to address our major needs at this point,” Dombrowski said on a conference call Thursday night. “We have four guys and we’re hopeful Eduardo [Rodriguez] will step up at this point when he pitches on Saturday. And we’ll see what else happens beyond that. Our bullpen, I know we’ve had a couple of injuries, we think Taz’s situation is very short term. Craig Kimbrel, we’re talking a few weeks. With the addition of Ziegler, we don’t lose anybody else.

“I think our starting lineup, our everyday players, is pretty well set. We should be getting guys like Blake Swihart and Chris Young back in the next few weeks so overall I think we’ve addressed our main needs but that’s not to say we won’t be listening and paying attention to what’s going on. You just never can tell.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski,
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