|05.06.16 at 8:55 am ET|
The Red Sox open a three-game series in the Bronx by sending Rick Porcello out against fellow right-hander Michael Pineda in a rematch of their game last Saturday at Fenway Park.
Porcello is off to a stellar 5-0 start with a 2.76 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He stifled the Yankees six days ago, going seven innings and allowing five hits and one walk with six strikeouts as the Sox rolled to an 8-0 win.
“I felt like my sinker was actually a little sporadic the first two innings,” said Porcello, who has not allowed a run in 13 1/3 innings. “I kind of found a groove with it, settled in.”
With Henry Owens only pitching three-plus innings Thursday night in Chicago, forcing the Red Sox to go to their bullpen early and often (four relievers), Boston could use a long outing from Porcello. Based on his recent history, that shouldn’t be a problem, as Porcello has pitched at least six innings in his last 13 starts, dating back to last August when he returned from a stint on the disabled list. That’s the longest active such streak in the majors, and a personal best for the 27-year-old.
In 12 career starts against the Yankees, Porcello has a 6-4 record, 3.33 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. He faced New York twice last season, going 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA and 0.81 WHIP — far better than his full season totals.
Pineda comes in with a 1-3 record, 6.33 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. In Saturday’s game at Fenway he went five innings and surrendered two runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts as he lost his third straight decision.
“Michael battled his butt off for five innings,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game. “We are not hitting.”
The Wall Street Journal noted that while Pineda is throwing as hard as ever (92.8 mph), his fastball command has dropped to 61 percent strikes (down from 68 percent last year and below the MLB average of 65 percent). His efficiency also is poor, with 40 percent of batters seeing at least five pitches per at-bat (up from 33 percent last year) and Pineda getting outs just 42 percent of the time he falls behind on counts of 2-0, 2-1 or 3-0 (a huge drop from 63 percent last year).
In the game against the Red Sox, it took him 77 pitches to get through the first three innings, and he matched his season high with three walks.
Said Pineda: “I’ll continue grinding and fighting every day, and everything can be better.”
Pineda, 27, has started against the Red Sox eight times in his four-year MLB career, compiling a 4-4 record with a 4.71 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Last season he saw the Sox three times, going 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
|05.06.16 at 2:22 am ET|
The Sox figured there would be other options to secure an ace.
It took a year, but the Red Sox finally realized that in order to get the kind of certainty Lester represented, a certain financial commitment would be needed. That’s when the inked David Price to a seven-year, $217 million deal.
Lester, who is in the midst of his second season with the Cubs, has no hard feelings.
“I don’t dislike David Price because he got $217 million from the Red Sox,” he said Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. “I’m happy where I’m at, and we’re happy where we’re at. I don’t second-guess my decision my any means.”
Lester would seemingly be a good resource for Price, who has struggled to a 6.14 ERA after his first six starts with the Red Sox.
He knows what it’s like to top a rotation with the Red Sox, while also having a good grasp on how to handle that first season of being his team’s highest-paid player.
“I think the biggest thing is that first year is a little more difficult than the second year,” said Lester, who went 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA in 2015 with the Cubs. “The first year, the microscope is on you. It’s not on anybody else. The biggest thing is that the quicker you can realize you can’t justify what happened in the offseason, I think the easier it becomes to do your routine, pitch and be you, as opposed to trying to be a number.
“I think it’s a different situation for him, too, because he has David, he has Pedey [Dustin Pedroia], he has Pablo [Sandoval], he has Hanley [Ramirez]. He has all these other guys who have these contracts. Here, it was me last year. Not only did I have the microscope on me for that. I was supposed to turn this whole thing around for the team. So I put a lot of pressure on myself to do that, single-handedly. But as the summer went on you come to realize we have some really good talent. We have guys on this team where I don’t have to do everything. I can do my part, the best I can, and that’s all I can control. Once I started settling in that, I started pitching like myself again.”
Lester, for one, has no doubt Price will be a wise investment for his old team.
“I think David handles himself pretty well,” the Cubs southpaw said. “I’ve been around him a little bit. Played against him for a long time. I think he’ll be fine. We all know that he’s not going to pitch to a 6.00 ERA the whole season.”
|05.06.16 at 12:10 am ET|
The Red Sox and White Sox walked each other all night Thursday, and it was brutal.
Fortunately for the visitors, however, none of the nine free passes handed out by Boston pitchers led to Chicago runs as the Red Sox took a 7-3 win at U.S. Cellular Field. The game, which saw the teams combine for 16 walks, gave the Red Sox the series victory in their three-game set in Chicago.
Hanley Ramirez was one of three Red Sox to homer on the night. Ramirez was back in Boston’s lineup after sitting out Wednesday’s win with flu-like symptoms.
The Sox needed their offense to come through Wednesday, as a short outing from Henry Owens (two runs and six walks over three-plus innings) was aided by steady scoring over the course of the night. After taking a one-run lead into the sixth inning, the Red Sox gained separation thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. home run in the sixth and a two-run eighth inning on RBI from Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz.
The first-place Red Sox improved to 17-11 on the season with the win. They next will head to New York for a three-game series with the Yankees.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
— The White Sox appeared set to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Red Sox were saved by Mookie Betts. After Heath Hembree walked in a run and was replaced by Matt Barnes with one out, Betts caught an Austin Jackson fly ball and threw a tagging Brett Lawrie out at the plate to end the inning. The White Sox challenged the play, but the call on the field was upheld.
Betts also made a nice catch against the wall on a deep fly ball from Jose Abreu to open the bottom of the ninth inning. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.05.16 at 7:37 pm ET|
The Red Sox waited until batting practice to clear center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to start and bat ninth against the White Sox on Thursday.
Bradley injured his right ring finger diving back into third on a pickoff attempt in Wednesday’s victory over the White Sox. He had the finger wrapped at BP on Thursday and took his round of hitting before getting the OK to start.
He’ll be joined in the lineup by first baseman Hanley Ramirez, who missed Wednesday’s game with flu-like symptoms. Ramirez is back and batting fifth.
Had Bradley not been able to go, manager John Farrell told reporters in Chicago that Mookie Betts would’ve slid over to center, with Brock Holt in right and Chris Young in left.
Here’s the lineup, with lefty Henry Owens on the hill:
RF Mookie Betts
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Xander Bogaerts
DH David Ortiz DH
1B Hanley Ramirez
3B Travis Shaw
LF Brock Holt
C Ryan Hanigan
CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
|05.05.16 at 11:47 am ET|
1. Left-hander Trey Ball didn’t think anything was wrong.
He felt something in his right knee for about a month beginning roughly following the New Year, but didn’t think anything of it as it wasn’t too painful, just a loose, aggravating feeling. Ball wasn’t concerned as he felt it would go away.
Then at the beginning of February after running one day it hurt again, but the feeling went away the next day. He told the Red Sox trainers about it and after they examined the knee, it was determined minor surgery was needed.
The 2013 No. 7 overall pick had surgery in early February to repair a small tear in his meniscus and was forced to miss almost all of spring training.
The Red Sox didn’t rush anything with him as he went through the normal progression of a pitcher and continued to throw in extended spring training games when the rest of the minor player league players left for their respective affiliates at the beginning of April.
After a few outings in extended spring training games, Ball made his 2016 debut last Saturday with High-A Salem, where he spent all of last year. The 6-foot-6 lefty went four innings, allowing two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out five. Although it wasn’t game number-wise, Ball was just glad to be back on a mound in a real game.
“Everything felt normal,” Ball said. “I’ve had zero problems since getting back on the field, which I am happy about.”
|05.05.16 at 11:04 am ET|
Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (13-13): W, 7-2, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)
— Trailing 2-0 going into the eighth inning, the PawSox scored seven runs in the final two innings, including five in the ninth to come away with the win to even their record at .500. Chris Marrero had the big hits — a two-run single in the eighth and a grand slam in the ninth.
— Catcher Dan Butler also had a solid day at the plate as he went 2-for-3 with a double.
— Blake Swihart, playing left field, went 1-for-3 with two runs scored, and so did first baseman Sam Travis. It was a day off for Rusney Castillo.
— It was a strange day for starter Brian Johnson as it was uncertain if he would start at all because of the weather. He did start, but was removed after one inning and 28 pitches. He walked three batters and allowed two runs. The team said afterward it wasn’t injury-related. In five games this season he’s 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA, but he has 14 walks in 21 innings.
— Roman Mendez picked up the win as he tossed three scoreless innings of relief.
|05.05.16 at 9:31 am ET|
The Red Sox close out their series with the White Sox on Thursday by sending lefty Henry Owens out against right-hander Erik Johnson, who was just called up from Triple-A.
Owens (0-0, 4.82 ERA, 1.92 WHIP) has made two starts for the Red Sox since his call-up from Pawtucket, and while he has no record to show for it, Boston won both games. After lasting just 3 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts in an April 24 game against the Astros, Owens faced the Yankees last Friday and went six innings, giving up two runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Owens has not yet faced the White Sox in his 13-game MLB career.
Johnson, a second-round pick of the White Sox in 2011 out of the University of California, was called up this week when the team decided to cut ties with veteran left-hander John Danks.
In four starts this season with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, Johnson is 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
The 26-year-old has started 16 games for the White Sox split almost equally over the last three seasons, compiling a record of 7-4 with a 4.17 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. Last year he went 3-1 with a 3.34 ERA and 1.40 in six starts, covering 35 innings.
His lone appearance against the Red Sox came on April 15, 2014, when he pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed one run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts but did not factor in the decision. Chicago eventually walked off with a 2-1 win, with the winning run scoring on a throwing error by Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the ninth inning.
|05.05.16 at 1:44 am ET|
David Ortiz continues to amaze.
The 40-year-old designated hitter has already announced this season will be his last, but at this rate, the Red Sox may refuse to accept his retirement.
On Wednesday, Ortiz blasted the go-ahead homer in a 5-2 victory over the White Sox as part of a 2-for-5 night that raised his average to .311 and his OPS to 1.037. He added an RBI single and now has six homers and 22 RBIs on the season.
The home run, his 451st with the Red Sox, moved him within one of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski for second on the club’s all-time list, trailing only Ted Williams.
“You know what happens when that is happening? You’re getting old,” Ortiz told reporters in Chicago. “Like I say, every time they mention your name right next to those legends, that’s an honor. Those guys did those things through their career and were dedicated. I was just a guy who was trying to have a good career and put your family in a better situation. And all of a sudden all these things are happening. It’s a blessing.”
The Red Sox are counting their blessings that Ortiz returned for another season. With the team trailing 2-1 in the fifth, White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon left a fastball over the plate and Ortiz did not miss it. He crushed it nearly 400 feet to right field, driving in Xander Bogaerts and giving the Red Sox the lead for good.
“I tell you what he does it in such big moments — he gives us a lift,” said manager John Farrell. “He gives us the lead with one swing of the bat. They get two quick outs and a walk to Bogey set it up, but we’re 26, 27 games into this and David is in such a good spot offensively. You kind of marvel at how consistent and powerful he is.”
And he’s not slowing down.
(Rob Bradford contributed to this report)
|05.04.16 at 10:58 pm ET|
When Clay Buchholz allowed two runs to the White Sox before recording two outs, it seemed Wednesday would not be the night the struggling starter snapped out of an underwhelming start to his 2016 season.
Yet Buchholz recovered exceptionally from Jose Abreu’s two-run homer in the first inning by allowing just one hit and no runs over the next six innings in a 5-2 Red Sox win. The victory was Buchholz’s first of the season and Boston’s first win in a game started by him in 2016.
Chicago’s other hit off Buchholz came with one out in the second inning, but an inning-ending double play essentially closed the book on any damage the White Sox would do against the Boston starter. He struck out six batters and walked two. Buchholz also retired the last 10 batters he faced as he improved his season record to 1-3.
(For more on Buchholz’s breakout performance — and fans’ frustration with him — check Rob Bradford’s column.)
The win moved the Red Sox back into first place in the AL East, as the Orioles were defeated handily by the Yankees in a 7-0 loss in Baltimore. The Red Sox sit atop the division with a 16-11 record on the season.
Buchholz’s performance Wednesday was a much-needed departure from an opening month of the season that saw him allow five earned runs in four of his five starts. Wednesday also marked Buchholz’s longest outing of the season, as he pitched into the seventh inning on two prior occasions but never made it out of the inning.
The win for Boston evened this week’s series with the White Sox at a game apiece. The teams will play the rubber game Thursday night, with Henry Owens opposing Erik Johnson. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.04.16 at 10:49 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Has Clay Buchholz reversed course once again?
After heading into his Wednesday night start with a 6.51 ERA after five appearances, Buchholz turned in a much-needed strong performance against the White Sox. The Red Sox starter lasted seven innings, allowing two runs (both coming on a Jose Abreu, first-inning homer), three hits and two walks while striking out six.
Buchholz gave way to Koji Uehara for the eighth inning after throwing 98 pitches, with the Sox holding on to a three-run lead.
Early on, it didn’t look promising for Buchholz thanks in large part to Abreu’s blast.
But the righty settled down to retire 16 of his last 17 batters, lowing his ERA to 5.71. It marks the first time the Red Sox have won this season with Buchholz starting.
The outing resembled the beginning of Buchholz’s turnaround last season, as he started 2015 with a 6.03 ERA after his initial six starts. But starting with a 6 2/3-inning effort in a three-run win over Texas on May 10, the hurler went on to manage a 2.20 ERA in his next 12 appearances.
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