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Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore leads off, Jonny Gomes in left, Daniel Nava sits vs. Yankees

04.22.14 at 3:30 pm ET
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As the Red Sox prepare to face Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for the first time, the team will feature Grady Sizemore in the leadoff spot. Sizemore will play right field, with Jonny Gomes in left and Daniel Nava sitting. A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate to catch Jon Lester.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Jonny Gomes, LF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Brock Holt, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jon Lester, SP

Red Sox-Yankees series preview

04.22.14 at 1:42 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees on Tuesday. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees on Tuesday. (AP)

Will he receive a warm welcome, or will he be greeted by boos? Former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury will make his Fenway return in pinstripes on Tuesday night, as the Red Sox kick off a three-game set with the Yankees.

The Red Sox recorded their first walk-off victory of 2014 on Sunday night thanks to a Dustin Pedroia double (which may or may not have been a home run) and a sac fly from Mike Carp. Though they added some dramatics, the Red Sox couldn’€™t produce another Patriots’ Day comeback win on Monday, even after coming all the way back from a 6-0 deficit.

“We got down early. Our bullpen kept us in the game, kept chipping away, and we had a chance to win that game at the end of the game,” Mike Napoli said (via MLB.com). “So we fought hard, but it fell short. But we’ve got a big series [against the Yankees] coming up. We’ll take it one day at a time and try to get on track.”

With the loss, the Red Sox settled for a series split with the Orioles that left them two games below .500 at 9-11. They’€™ll look to improve that against the Yankees, who took three of four from the Sox earlier this month in New York.

The Yankees were able to salvage the split against the Rays and improve to 11-8 after allowing a total of 27 runs over the course of two games in St. Petersburg, Fla., including a 16-1 drubbing on Saturday. But the Yankees bounced back by scoring four runs in the 12th inning of Sunday’€™s contest and securing the 5-1 victory.

“That’s a big win, after winning the first game the way we did, and then to really get beat up the next two days,” manager Joe Girardi told reporters. “To bounce back and leave here 2-2, and you’ve got a day off tomorrow, you try to get ready for the Red Sox. I thought that was important.”

The Yankees got a boost on Sunday with the return of Mark Teixeira, who had been out of action since April 4 after straining his hamstring. Since losing their five-time Gold Glove first baseman, the Yankees went with a combination of Kelly Johnson, Francisco Cervelli and Scott Sizemore at first. Johnson was the only one of the three with prior experience at first base, and he had only played 18 innings there prior to 2014. Closer David Robertson was activated from the DL on Monday after he missed a little over two weeks with a groin injury.

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Brandon Workman, strike-throwing machine; pivotal performance for Mookie Betts; Cody Kukuk breaking through; Wendell Rijo ahead of his years

04.22.14 at 10:36 am ET
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Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 with an infield single and is now 1-for-7 in two rehab games, with a third slated for Tuesday night. Will Middlebrooks was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in his first rehab game as he recovers from his right calf injury.

– Right-hander Brandon Workman, in his second start for Pawtucket, punched out eight and walked none in five strong innings. He allowed just four hits, though two of those were home runs, resulting in a three-run yield. Between the big leagues and minors this year, Workman has 17 punchouts and two walks in 14 2/3 innings.

Bryce Brentz went 2-for-3 with a double and and also negotiated his 10th walk of the month, his most walks in any month since he reached Triple-A at the end of 2012. In his last eight games, he’s 10-for-30 with three walks and three extra-base hits, good for a line of .333 with a .394 OBP and .500 slugging mark, boosting his season line to .227/.329/.364.

– Garin Cecchini continued to be an on-base metronome, going 2-for-4 to improve his season line to .317/.377/.397. It is worth noting that there does appear to be an adjustment to Triple-A pitching that the just-turned-23-year-old is experiencing. He’s walked just five times to date, a 7.2 percent walk rate that is just over half of his pre-2014 14.1 percent walk rate and down even further from his 16.9 percent walk rate of a year ago.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-4 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Turning the pivot on a triple play. Mookie Betts found himself in the middle of a 5-4-3 triple play in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on first and second and no outs, Sean Coyle fielded a grounder right at the third base bag, stepped on it and fired to second — with the decision to throw to second after stepping on the bag representing a notable prospect development given that it showed impressive game awareness for a player who is playing a new position this season. The throw was described by Portland manager Billy McMillon to the Portland Press-Herald as being low, but Betts handled it and still managed to turn the pivot, throwing to first baseman Travis Shaw to complete the trick. (Here’s the call of the triple play from Sea Dogs play-by-play man Mike Antonellis, courtesy of the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network.) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, Brandon Workman, carlos asuaje, cody kukuk

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. Masahiro Tanaka

04.22.14 at 8:44 am ET
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The Red Sox will kick off a three-game series against the Yankees at Fenway on Tuesday when they send Jon Lester to the mound against heralded Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.

Lester has had arguably the best start to the season of any Boston starter. The 30-year-old comes into Tuesday’€™s contest on a two-game winning streak after he defeated the White Sox on Thursday. After five scoreless innings, and with a 1-0 lead, Lester gave up the game-tying run in the sixth. Boston went on to score two runs in the ninth to come away with the 3-1 victory.

“It’€™s a heavyweight bout tonight,” Lester said after the game (via MLB.com). “It’€™s kind of who was going to make the mistake first. He did, and then I gave it right back. Like I said, it was a fun night to pitch. If you don’€™t like that pitching, you don’€™t like baseball. That was a lot of fun tonight.”

The southpaw picked up his first win of the season on April 11 after he gave up two earned runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees. One of those two runs came on a solo homer by Alfonso Soriano during the second inning. In a total of 27 starts against New York, Lester holds a 12-5 record with a 3.90 ERA and a WHIP of 1.40.

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

While Lester has eight seasons of experience against the Yankees, Tanaka, who signed with the Yankees as a free agent following a standout season in Japan last year, is facing the Red Sox for the first time. Tanaka enters the game after earning his second win of the season Wednesday against the Cubs. The 25-year-old gave up just two hits and struck out 10 for the second consecutive game during eight scoreless innings on the mound. Tanaka has an overall 2-0 record with a 2.05 ERA and 0.77 WHIP on the year.

Yankees vs. Lester (LHP)

Derek Jeter (72 plate appearances): .333 AVG/.389 OBP/.394 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts

Brian Roberts (54): .208/.296/.458, 6 doubles, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts

Ichiro Suzuki (52): .333/.346/.451, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (50): .222/.300/.311, 1 double, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 walks, 17 strikeouts

Kelly Johnson (17): .067/.176/.067, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Alfonso Soriano (16): .313/.313/.500, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 5 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (12): .182/.250/.182, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Carlos Beltran (6): .250/.500/.250, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Brian McCann (4): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk

J.R. Murphy (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Yangervis Solarte has two strikeouts in three plate appearances vs. Lester.

Red Sox vs. Tanaka (RHP)

No current Red Sox batters have faced Tanaka.

Read More: Jon Lester, Masahiro Tanaka,

Shane Victorino collects first hit of rehab assignment, Will Middlebrooks hitless in Pawtucket

04.21.14 at 9:13 pm ET
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Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino, in the second game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket, had an infield single in four plate appearances while playing seven innings. He also popped out twice and grounded into a double play, making the 33-year-old 1-for-7 in his rehab assignment from a hamstring injury. Victorino is also slated to play in Pawtucket one more time on Tuesday before he is re-evaluated for possible activation during the forthcoming Red Sox-Yankees series.

Joining Victorino in Pawtucket on Monday was third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who played in his first rehab game on the 16th day of his stint on the DL due to a Grade 1 calf strain suffered on April 5. Middlebrooks went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts and lined out to right. All three of Middlebrooks’ plate appearances came against highly regarded Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, a hard-throwing starter. Victorino’s first three plate appearances came against Stroman while his fourth (a pop-out) came against left-hander reliever Rob Rasmussen.

Read More: Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks,

Red Sox insist Clay Buchholz’s arm strength, not health, is the issue

04.21.14 at 6:06 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz allowed six runs in just 2 1/3 innings as the Red Sox lost to Baltimore, 7-5. (AP)

Clay Buchholz allowed six runs in just 2 1/3 innings as the Red Sox lost to Baltimore, 7-5. (AP)

It wasn’t the worst start of Clay Buchholz‘s career, but it was close. And so, after the right-hander struggled through 2 1/3 innings in which he allowed six runs on seven hits in a 7-6 loss to the Orioles while regularly featuring a fastball that didn’t crack 90 mph, the question had to be asked: Is he dealing with any physical issues that are undermining his performance at the start of the season?

“He doesn’€™t speak of any [physical issues],” said manager John Farrell, who described his starter as featuring stuff that was “a little bit flat” on Monday. “In all the physical testing that we do with all of our pitchers, it doesn’€™t indicate any deficit. Nothing present physically.”

So what is it? Buchholz suggested he’s merely in the stretch of the season where he’s still working to build arm strength. That *could* be interpreted as a red flag, and given that Buchholz has endured significant injuries in two of the past three years (back in 2011, shoulder in 2013), it’s natural to ask whether the pitcher is healthy given the arm strength issues. The Sox acknowledge that reality at a time when he’s struggled to a 7.71 ERA through four starts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz discuss pros, cons of baseball sleepover

04.21.14 at 4:30 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz (left) and Mike Napoli were roommates at Fenway Sunday night with mixed results. (AP)

Clay Buchholz (left) and Mike Napoli were roommates at Fenway Sunday night with mixed results. (AP)

There’s very little that can truly scare Mike Napoli.

Sleeping on the bottom bunk of bed that has a grown man and starting pitcher on top qualifies.

Monday was one of those truly bizarre days at Fenway, thanks to the unkind schedule-maker and MLB that had the Red Sox play a nationally televised night game on ESPN hours before the traditional 11:05 a.m. Patriots’ Day contest.

To compensate, and to help Napoli get added treatment on a sore left kneecap, the Red Sox provided a solution. Years ago, when the Red Sox renovated their clubhouse, they put aside a room designed to allow staff, players and coaches to sleep in, if needed.

Sunday night into Monday morning provided just such a scenario.

“There’s two bunk beds in there,” Napoli told reporters after Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Orioles. “Just a dark room, blankets, pillows, all the necessary things to sleep.

“I didn’t want to deal with all the traffic. Just being here was easier. I knew it was going to be an early morning, so just stayed here. We have a sleep room upstairs. It’s convenient.”

Of course, Napoli had a sore kneecap because Orioles reliever Darren O’Day drilled him in the bottom of the ninth.

“I mean, I could move my leg around and run. It was just a little sore,” Napoli said.

There were three Red Sox players who elected to take advantage and avoid Monday’s traffic into the Fens. Napoli, Monday’s starter Clay Buchholz and John Lackey. So that meant someone had to bunk up. With Buchholz starting, Napoli and Lackey decided to split the other.

“I was bottom. Had Lackey above me,” Napoli said, before confessing he was “kind of scared he was going to fall through, to tell you the truth.”

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, ESPN
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