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Gamesmanship alive and well among American League contenders, as Red Sox learn in Baltimore and Detroit

08.18.16 at 12:07 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

The Red Sox looked suitably bleary-eyed as they stumbled into Comerica Park on Thursday morning, and with good reason. To recap some of the happenings from the last 24 hours:

— On Wednesday night, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 8-1 behind an excellent start from David Price. That game wasn’t without its minor controversy, though. After Price’s first pitch, a 90 mph fastball, manager John Farrell consulted with the umpires about the stadium radar gun.

While Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy was on the mound, the scoreboard only registered pitch type. As soon as Price took the mound, it immediately began showing velocity as well. Because that information gives the Orioles an unfair advantage, Farrell complained and the velocity was removed for Price.

— The game was called in the seventh inning because of heavy downpours after a delay of one hour and 17 minutes. The Red Sox hustled to the airport at midnight and proceeded to sit on the runway for more than two hours because the conveyor belt that loaded their luggage onto the plane was broken. Once that was fixed, they taxied a short distance before they had to stop again because of a faulty generator.

They finally took off at 2 a.m., checked into the hotel around 4, and didn’t fall asleep until 5. Most players arrived at the park between 10 and 10:30, meaning they’ll play Thursday’s game on roughly four hours sleep.

“It was a quick turnaround, but we’re here and ready to go,” manager John Farrell said.

— The Tigers, who gain a competitive advantage by forcing the Red Sox to play under adverse circumstances, were under no obligation to move the game time, though it’s worth noting that three times since 2012, when the Tigers have played a Wednesday night game on the road, they’ve returned to play Thursday night home games.

Also, the idea that the game wasn’t moved because of a conflict with the Lions is disingenuous, since the baseball schedule was released last September and the NFL preseason schedule didn’t come out until April. The Red Sox filed their first complaints before the new year, according to a team source.

— That said, the Red Sox are notorious for making visiting teams play night games at Fenway Park on getaway day, so what goes around comes around. Earlier this year, for instance, the Red Sox made the Braves play a night game before Atlanta flew to Chicago for a day game the next afternoon with the Cubs.

Read More: Dave Dombrowski, John Farrell, playoff race, Red Sox

Red Sox minor league notebook: 3B Rafael Devers could hit ’20 or 30′ home runs in big leagues

08.18.16 at 10:57 am ET
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High-A Salem third baseman Rafael Devers is viewed as a 20-30 home run player. (David Kohl/USA Today Sports)

High-A Salem third baseman Rafael Devers is viewed as a 20-30 home run player. (David Kohl/USA Today Sports)

1. What a difference a few months have been for High-A Salem third baseman Rafael Devers.

The 19-year-old batted just .138 in April and has now raised his average to .281 on the year, due in large part to a monster second half of the season where he’s hit .337 with seven home runs and 37 RBIs.

“I think just the processes of him working on staying behind the ball and using the whole field and being more patient,” Salem manager Joe Oliver said of what has changed with him at the plate. “Working with our hitting coach Nelson Paulino finally started to settle back in and his natural ability and swing started to click and he started putting more balls in play and wasn’t so pull happy. He showed a lot more patience and good pitch selection as opposed to what he was doing earlier in the year.”

Devers is a special talent. He was named to the Futures Game as an 18-year-old last year, but didn’t get invited back this year because of his poor start. Although the numbers weren’t there earlier in the season, he was still considered a step below Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada in terms of how much the organization values him, and thus was not dealt at the trade deadline despite numerous inquiries on him.

“This young man is one of the best third baseman I’ve seen — not just in the Carolina League, I’m talking he’s pretty special,” Oliver said. “Really the sky is the limit for him. His struggles offensively, he could have taken it out to the field on defense and he didn’t let that happen. He’s played All-Star caliber defense and really has saved our ballclub and our pitching staff numerous hits and runs by the excellent defense that he’s played. A special talent.

“The young man has an internal clock that is built in that special players have that he knows how fast each runner is whether they are going to first or second. He doesn’t rush or hurry anything. He knows how hard and how quick he has to be to get the ball across the diamond.”

Although he stands just 6-feet, 195 pounds, he has extremely quick hands, similar to Mookie Betts and can hit the ball a long way. Oliver wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit 20 or 30 homers a year in the big leagues one day.

“I don’t see why he couldn’t hit 20 or 30 home runs in the big leagues,” Oliver said. “He has that type of swing and as long as he stays within his approach and doesn’t become pull happy, he can hit the ball out. He gives himself a good opportunity to hit it anywhere.”

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Read More: Jason Groome, michael kopech, rafael devers, Red Sox Minor League Notebook

Thursday Red Sox Farm Report: Mauricio Dubon goes 3-for-6 in Sea Dogs doubleheader; Brandon Workman struggles in rehab outing

08.18.16 at 10:12 am ET
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Here’s a look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Wednesday.

Justin Haley

Justin Haley

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (65-59): L, 9-4, at Lehigh Valley (Phillies)

— The IronPigs jumped on PawSox starter Justin Haley early, tagging him for four runs in the first inning and five in the second. That proved to be the difference, as Pawtucket couldn’t make up the difference at any point throughout the game.

The 25-year-old Haley made it just two innings, allowing all of Lehigh Valley’s nine runs, while allowing eight hits and a walk. Among the eight hits were a pair of home runs, one of which being a three-run blast and the other being a two-run shot. The loss dropped Haley to 7-4 this season with a 3.92 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.

— None of the PawSox hitters had  multi-hit games, while six of nine batters had at least one strikeout.

— Chris Dominguez did smack his ninth home run of the year home run, a solo shot in the second inning. The only other extra-base hit came via a Jose Vinicio triple in the third inning.

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Read More: Brandon Workman, Chris Dominguez, mauricio dubon,

Red Sox lineup: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia sit; Hanley Ramirez returns vs. Tigers

08.18.16 at 9:58 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez

After getting a few hours of sleep, the Red Sox are back at it for an afternoon game with the Tigers.

Given their travel schedule, the lineup resembles one from spring training, but they do get Hanley Ramirez back from the bereavement list. As the corresponding move, Marco Hernandez was sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket.

David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia both get the day off — at least to start — as Sandy Leon will DH, Deven Marrero will play second base and Aaron Hill will play third base against Tigers lefty Matt Boyd.

Bryan Holaday will catch Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.

Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:

Aaron Hill, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Mookie Betts, RF
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Sandy Leon, DH
Bryan Holaday, C
Deven Marrero, 2B
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Clay Buchholz, RHP

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez,

Thursday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Matt Boyd

08.18.16 at 8:59 am ET
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The Red Sox begin a four-game series at Detroit on Thursday afternoon. The Sox will start the series by sending Clay Buchholz to the mound, while the Tigers will dispatch 25-year-old left-hander Matt Boyd.

Buchholz is 4-9 in 27 games (14 starts) with a 5.66 ERA and 1.406 WHIP. Buchholz made his first start in over a month last Saturday against the Diamondbacks, returning to the starting rotation when knuckleballer Steven Wright injured his shoulder. In the outing, Buchholz went 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, three hits and three walks with one strikeout in a 6-3 Red Sox win. Buchholz was pulled after 71 pitches because it was his first start since July 2.

In 13 relief appearances, Buchholz is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.017 WHIP.

Against the Tigers, Buchholz is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.200 WHIP in 10 games (eight starts). The 32-year old right-hander saw the Tigers in two relief appearances in July of this season. In his first appearance on July 25, he threw two innings, allowing one run, two hits and no walks with one strikeout. In his second appearance two days later on July 27, he pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Buchholz last start against the Tigers came in July of 2012 when he pitched eight innings, allowing three runs (two earned), five hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Matt Boyd,

Clay Buchholz’s travel plans don’t go as planned

08.18.16 at 1:52 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

Clay Buchholz

BALTIMORE — A complicated travel schedule for the Red Sox was made a bit more uncomfortable Wednesday night.

With the Red Sox’ series opener in Detroit scheduled for a 1:10 p.m. first pitch, the plan was to send their starting pitcher, Clay Buchholz, to the home of the Tigers ahead of his teammates.

Buchholz was slated to take off from Baltimore Washington International Airport at 5:30 p.m., with a car scheduled to pick him up at Detroit Metropolitan Airport at 7:15 p.m.

But his flight was delayed at least three hours, forcing the pitcher to head back to Camden Yards, where he found himself at about 9 p.m., just as the Red Sox were getting ready to start their rain delay. The plan to have Buchholz avoid being subjected to the team’s quick turnaround no longer was an option.

The Red Sox’ plane ultimately took off from BWI just after 1 a.m., with flying time to Detroit just over an hour. Buchholz was scheduled to get to the team hotel just about 10 hours before he was scheduled to take the mound.

Buchholz will be going up against Detroit starter Matt Boyd.

The game time for Thursday’s tilt has come under some scrutiny, with the Red Sox repeatedly trying to push it back considering their travel from Baltimore. For more on that controversy, click here.

David Price, Red Sox starters finding their way at just right time

08.18.16 at 1:13 am ET
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David Price has been part of the Red Sox' starting rotation's resurgene. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

David Price has been part of the Red Sox’ starting rotation’s resurgene. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

BALTIMORE — The sting for David Price, and probably some of the others in the starting rotation, is still there.

For much of the Red Sox’ season, they were perceived as a big part of the problem.

Times are changing.

“I just don’t listen to any of the outside noise, any of the bullcrap that’s said,” said Price after the Red Sox’ rain-shortened, 8-1 win over the Orioles. “I’m just going to continue to plug forward. I don’t care about any of that other stuff.”

The noise Price referenced is shifting out of the equation. That’s what a run like the Red Sox’ starting staff is on will do. All of a sudden, the lefty is looking ace-like, and the Sox’ starters have become the envy of Major League Baseball.

No team in baseball has gotten the kind of performance from their starters this month that the Red Sox have produced. Not even close. After Price’s six-inning, one-run win Wednesday night, the Sox’ starting pitchers have totaled a 2.62 ERA and .203 batting average against in August.

They have now gone 14 straight starts without allowing more than three earned runs, a stretch the team has managed a 9-5 record.

“You always have to be able to do that,” said Price of the starters feeding off each other. “That’s something we’ve definitely done here recently, and that’s something we’ve got to continue to do.”

For Price, he seemingly has found the groove so many expected he would uncover long ago. For the first time since the end of May, he has won back-to-back starts, with his only miscue this time around being a solo home run by Baltimore’s Chris Davis.

“We’re in a good run where our rotation, our starters, are doing a good job of keeping games under control,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ve been able to manage any kind of damage, we’ve been able to put up some low-run outings pretty consistently here. And that’s’ been the biggest key. To give us a chance to win the low-run game, come back if we’ve been down a run or two. It’s not a big whole to dig out of. Our starters have set the tone in this stretch.”

Jackie Bradley on hitting home run No. 20: ‘That’s the most I’ve ever hit at any level’

08.18.16 at 1:08 am ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

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.”

Read More: jackie bradley jr., Red Sox,

Tigers definitely messing with Red Sox over schedule, and here’s proof

08.18.16 at 12:59 am ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

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.

To wit:

— 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.

Read More: MLB schedule, Red Sox, schedule, tigers

Closing Time: Red Sox keep rolling with 6th straight win, sweep Orioles

08.17.16 at 10:45 pm ET
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David Price only allowed one run over his six innings Wednesday night. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

David Price only allowed one run over his six innings Wednesday night. (Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports)

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.

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