|08.18.16 at 1:08 am ET|
Jackie Bradley’s dream season continues with a first he didn’t even achieve in Little League — 20 home runs.
Bradley blasted No. 20 in the third inning against the the Orioles on Wednesday night, breaking a 1-1 tie and propelling the Red Sox to an 8-1 victory.
“Twenty home runs,” Bradley said. “That’s the most I’ve ever had at any level, and what better than to do it at the top level.”
Bradley’s two-run shot to center off of Orioles starter Dylan Bundy opened the floodgates for the Red Sox, who got another homer from Sandy Leon in the fifth to put the game out of reach.
“I just try to attack the baseball, hit it hard,” said Bradley, who totaled 14 homers in his first three seasons. “I don’t try to put any I guess trajectory on it. I just try to square it up and let it do what it wants.”
|08.18.16 at 12:59 am ET|
The Red Sox believe the Tigers manipulated the schedule to gain a competitive advantage on Thursday by playing a 1 p.m. game despite the Red Sox playing at 7 p.m. in Baltimore a night earlier.
Defenders of the Tigers have contorted themselves into nothing-to-see-here pretzels by noting that the team virtually always plays Thursday matinees, which have become a tradition, and thus was under no obligation to shift the start.
The Red Sox privately believe the move is an F-U to former boss Dave Dombrowski, who arrived last August after being fired by the Tigers.
So which is it?
Tigers GM Al Avila told MLB Network radio, “that 1 o’clock start time on Thursdays here is popular.” He also noted that the Lions play a preseason game across the street at 7:30 p.m. and playing in the afternoon will ease congestion.
But here’s where the popularity argument loses all credibility. Three times since 2012, the Tigers have played a road finale on a Wednesday night, and all three times they’ve returned to Detroit to play … night games. In other words, they’re asking the Red Sox to play at a time they wouldn’t schedule for themselves.
— Last Aug. 19, the Tigers beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field at 7 p.m. The next night, they shut out the Rangers at home.
— The situation did not present itself in 2014, but it did previously in 2013, and in May the Tigers followed a night win in Cleveland with an 8 p.m. Thursday game at Comerica Park against the Twins, tradition apparently be damned.
— That August, they even followed a 1 p.m. win in Chicago with a 7 p.m. game at home the next night against the Royals.
— In April of 2012, they beat the Royals at 7:10 p.m., and then returned home to lose to the Rangers at 7:07 p.m.
(It should be noted that their one Thursday night game in 2016 wasn’t on the schedule, but was instead the makeup of a rainout against the Yankees. It also came after the Tigers had finished a series in Anaheim on Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST. No reasonable person would expect them to play a day game at home under those conditions.)
In any event, this idea that the Tigers always play Thursday matinees simply isn’t true. And that leaves us to draw the obvious conclusion that by refusing to move Thursday’s start time, Detroit is sticking it to the Red Sox.
|08.17.16 at 10:45 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — As far as potential season-defining road trips go, this one has been pretty good for the Red Sox so far.
First was the win over Cleveland in that one-game series, and now a two-game sweep of the Orioles on their home turf. And, to cap it all off, the Red Sox are heading into their four-game series in Detroit riding a six-game win streak, matching the longest of their season.
The latest victory was a no-doubter, with the Red Sox running away with an 8-1 trouncing of the Orioles. The win keeps the Sox a game in back of first-place Toronto, while vaulting into the top wild card spot.
Perhaps with the possibility of the game getting cut short due to weather looming, the Red Sox struck early and often against Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy, who had been the O’s hottest starting pitcher this month. Filling in for the injured Chris Tillman (shoulder), the righty allowed five runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings.
When it was all said and done, the Red Sox came away with 13 hits, two of which were homers and three doubles. Even with the shortened game, every Sox starter notched at least one hit with the exception of Andrew Benintendi.
But while the offense made life easy for Sox starter David Price, the lefty kept the key part of the equation rolling along for the Red Sox. With his six-inning, one-run outing, the Sox starters now have allowed three earned runs or less in each of the team’s last 14 games.
|08.17.16 at 8:36 pm ET|
There’s been plenty of stories and analysis of how and why he’s able to hit so many balls over the fence. Of all the aspects of Betts’ game being analyzed during what is evolving into an MVP season, it’s his home run power that has gotten the most attention.
Wednesday, before the Red Sox’ series finale against the Orioles, Betts took a moment to reflect on when this home run thing actually began for him.
As Betts remembered, he was a 9-year-old playing Little League in Nashville. As one of the smaller kids on the Mets, he served as the team’s leadoff hitter, watching his friends already get their introduction into hitting home runs.
Then came that moment.
“I couldn’t believe when it went over the fence,” he said, “but it did.
“I just knew I hit it good. I knew I hit it over his head. They would always tell the outfield to come in when I was up, so my Dad said, ‘Just hit it over their head.'”
So he did, and over the center field fence.
“I think I was sprinting until I got to second, then I started smiling and jumping,” Betts said. “That’s when you had a celebration at home plate with the whole team. It was the only one I hit all year.”
Betts never did get the ball as a keep-sake, with some younger kids shagging anything that went over the fence. But he did get something else to remember the moment by — a car ride home with his Mom, Diana.
“My Mom called everybody on the way home, saying I hit a home run, so I had to talk to everybody,” Betts said. “At the time I thought I was really cool, but now I look back on it and think, ‘Geez.’ She was like, ‘He hit a home run!’ I’m sure people were like ‘Woo hoo.’ We went out for ice cream, but we did that all the time. My parents were the types that even if I went 0-for-4 they were getting me an ice cream.”
Betts went on to hit about 10 home runs the following year, finally taking advantage of the 230-foot fences. And in high school, there was another 10 homers. But it wasn’t until recently that he finally mastered all that went with hitting homers on a regular bases, mastering his home run trot.
“I don’t really know how to do it. I get out the box pretty quick,” he said of his gait around the bases after clearing the fences. “It wasn’t normal until last year, and now I’ve got a pace. I’ve figured it out.”
|08.17.16 at 5:07 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, making his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley with Thornton show Wednesday, discussed the possibility of adding Jonathan Papelbon and other team news. To hear the interview, go to the D&H audio on demand page.
Farrell said he had no updates on Papelbon, the 35-year-old reliever who became a free agent on Saturday. Farrell talked to the former Red Sox closer personally, but he said he does not know when Papelbon will make his decision on where to play next.
“That’s something I didn’t get into,” Farrell said. “I’m sure him and his agents are well down that path of what their game plan would be, ideally when they would like to make a decision of some kind. That’s on their side. Like I said, I have no other updates as far as that goes.”
It seems the Red Sox front office really wants Papelbon back at Fenway, and Farrell knows what his bullpen will get with him.
“Obviously there’s an accomplished guy here,” Farrell said. “One who’s highly competitive, he’s done it in the city of Boston as we know, he’s been very successful. Like many other players, as time goes on, they have to evolve as the wear and tear of a long and productive career have piled up. That’s probably the best and most succinct way I can tell you.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.
On the latest with Eduardo Rodriguez, who dealt with a tight hamstring in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Orioles: “He’s felt better than anticipated [the day after being removed from Tuesday’s game]. Our first thought of him possibly making his start on Sunday at least right now is favorable and looks like he will. He has yet to do any kind of throwing and start to get an lunging off of it, but as far as the way he reported to the training room, the way he’s moved around, the way he feels and his comments relating to that have been encouraging so far today. We’ll get a better sense of this as we go through, he’ll throw bullpen on Friday over in Detroit.”
|08.17.16 at 2:12 pm ET|
Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen joined the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show Wednesday to give an update on free agent Jonathan Papelbon and address Eduardo Rodriguez’s injury situation. To hear the interview, visit the OM&F audio on demand page.
Papelbon, who was a dominant closer during his six years with the Red Sox, reportedly has drawn interest from several teams after the Nationals released him on Saturday. Red Sox manager John Farrell reached out personally to the 35-year-old Papelbon, making it clear that the team’s front office is considering adding the six-time All-Star.
At the time of the early afternoon interview on OM&F, Hazen said he did not have any update on the Red Sox’ pursuit of Papelbon.
“I think [president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Farrell] made it clear on what we’re doing from a strategy standpoint, etc. and what we’re pursuing,” Hazen said. “We’re just kind of in wait-and-see at this point. … I think the value here for us in exploring all these things, Jonathan Papelbon’s name and history here aside, once you get into August, it becomes really tough to continue to build depth on your team. As you go through the first half of the season, you have the ability, whether it’s in Triple-A or whether it’s major league level, to make trades or find different ways to sign free agents that come off the waiver wire, etc. … You still have six weeks to go, and as we know, this is the time of year where the manager has to ride guys in certain cases in the bullpen, that the workload from the first four months of the season really starts to add up for those guys, and you can just never have enough quality, good bullpen guys.”
Papelbon had some issues with the Nationals prior to becoming a free agent, most notably starting a dugout altercation with Bryce Harper late last season that led to a suspension. He was released per his own request. As far as Papelbon’s personality goes, Hazen personally seems to have no issue with it.
“When you look at your bullpen, it’s such an odd duck, the whole group,” Hazen said. “You’re trying to put these pieces together and how they fit and who’s going to pitch in certain roles. When the game starts to ratchet up in intensity … sometimes a little crazy goes a long way.”
|08.17.16 at 9:39 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (65-58): L, 1-0, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— Brian Johnson pitched well despite picking up the loss, holding Lehigh Valley to one run on four hits in seven innings. The 25-year-old southpaw had a no-hitter through four innings and struck out two in the effort. Boston’s No. 7 prospect at MLB.com, Johnson saw his three-game winning streak snapped with the loss. He now is 5-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 15 minor league starts.
— Jantzen Witte had three hits for the PawSox, who failed to plate a run despite totaling 10 hits. Witte, 26, has hit safely in five consecutive games. He is slashing .279/.354/.402 with 29 doubles in 98 games with both Pawtucket and Portland.
— Ryan LaMarre 2-for-4 on the night. He has a hit in three straight games after going four games without one. The 27-year-old outfielder is batting .297/.373/.434 with 32 RBIs in 256 minor league at-bats.
— Noe Ramirez pitched a hitless eighth inning, striking out one in the frame. That’s now seven of his last eight outings that Ramirez has not allowed a run. The 26-year-old right-hander been impressive coming out of the bullpen for Pawtucket, totaling a 2-3 record with a 2.04 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 24 appearances. Opponents are batting only .239 against him.
|08.17.16 at 8:27 am ET|
Wrapping up their two-game series against the Orioles on Wednesday, the Red Sox will send out David Price to go against 23-year-old right-hander Dylan Bundy, who was named as a late replacement for Chris Tillman (shoulder).
The inconsistent Price holds a 10-8 record to go along with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. The 30-year-old leads the American League in innings pitched (163 2/3) and ranks third in the AL in strikeouts (167), but Price has struggled to rack up wins. He did record a victory in a 9-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Friday, but it was his first win since July 10. The southpaw let up three runs on 10 hits in eight innings vs. Arizona, while striking out eight and walking just one.
“I’m happy we won,” Price said. “That’s what I came here for, is to help these guys win. And that was a good win after two tough losses against the Yankees and we needed that.”
In 21 career games against the Orioles, Price is 8-5 with a 2.93 ERA. His last game vs. Baltimore came on June 14 of this season in a 3-2 Red Sox loss, when he gave up three runs on five hits in eight innings. He struck out 11 and walked none in the effort.
|08.17.16 at 3:03 am ET|
That was clear the moment Red Sox manager John Farrell started talking about the former closer during his pregame media session.
“Have I talked to him? Yeah, I’ve communicated with him,” Farrell said the free agent reliever.
So, why the interest?
Judging by Farrell’s comments, the Red Sox feel they have role for the 35-year-old, with Papelbon potentially adding the kind of edge that could offer a boost heading into the final 1 1/2 months of the regular season.
“I guess the best way to summarize it is if he were to choose to come here and if we found a defined role for him, it would not be as a closer,” the Red Sox manager said. But …
“There’s no question he’s a different pitcher now than nine years ago. There’s been a lot of saves recorded in between, a lot of pitches thrown. I think the one thing that you look over the course of time and you follow scouting reports that have been submitted on him, he’s evolved as more of a quote unquote pitcher versus relying so much on velocity and a fastball that he would attack with. With the exception of a stretch in July, where maybe the performance was sub or less than what Pap has been maybe accustomed to, he’s been an effective pitcher. Coming back into Boston, if that were to happen, he’s very well aware of the environment, the expectation, so we’ll see where that goes.”
“Pap is a unique guy in many ways,” added Farrell. “But a guy that thrives in the moment, thrives to be in critical spots in the ballgame. While that closing role may be a thing behind him, still, the intangibles of the competitor haven’t changed.”
As of late Tuesday night, there was still an expectation that Papelbon would be making his decision regarding his next destination at some point Wednesday.
|08.16.16 at 11:45 pm ET|
Aaron Hill was scratched by Red Sox manager John Farrell just before game-time due to right forearm tightness. Taking his place was Brock Holt, who notched a hit in four at-bats in the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Orioles Tuesday night.
“Felt a little bit as he was getting loose during BP,” Farrell said. “BP was fine. swinging the bat was no issue. As he went out to try to throw, there was some restriction there. We had to make the scratch.”
Hill was playing because Hanley Ramirez is on bereavement leave. Ramirez is expected to rejoin the Red Sox in Detroit, Thursday.
— At first glance, it would appear the Red Sox might be getting a break with Orioles ace Chris Tillman being pushed back from his scheduled start Wednesday due to shoulder stiffness. But his replacement doesn’t figure to be any kind of bargain.
Getting the start in the series finale for the O’s will be Dylan Bundy, who has been Buck Showalter’s hottest pitcher of late. In his last three starts, the righty has totaled a 3-0 record and 1.45 ERA, striking out 19 in 18 2/3 innings.
— With another subpar outing from Fernando Abad, who didn’t retire either of his two batters Tuesday night, John Farrell hinted that Robbie Ross Jr. may have to be the high-leverage, matchup lefty coming out of the bullpen.
“We’ve used him early in the game because he’s got multi-inning capability,” Farrell said of Ross Jr. “But we’re probably going to have to shift that here a little bit.”
Ross Jr., who struck out lefty-hitting Chris Davis with a runner on base to end the eighth inning, has held left-handed hitters to a .164 batting average.
“I’m fine with whatever because I think it’s a thing where I’m finally facing lefties,” Ross Jr. said. “But also a thing where if a righty comes in, or they end up pinch-hitting for that lefty, I kind of like that matchup too just because my cutter plays there and my stuff goes in that direction. So it’s kind of a good feeling for me because I get more ground balls off of righties than I do lefties.”
Abad, however, continues to be ineffective when brought in to strand runners. The lefty has now allowed six of his seven inherited runners to score since joining the Red Sox.
— The people Mookie Betts were pointing to in the stands after each of his two home runs Tuesday night were the 12 friends and family he had in attendance.
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