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Closing Time: John Lackey, Red Sox no match for Felix Hernandez, Mariners

06.24.14 at 1:07 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia races around the bases for the Red Sox' first run Monday night. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia races around the bases for the Red Sox‘ first run Monday night. (AP)

SEATTLE — It was supposed to be one of the better pitching matchups of the season. It wasn’t. For that you can blame the Red Sox.

Sox starter John Lackey struggled through his worst outing of the season, allowing six runs in the fourth inning before being pulled with two outs in the frame. The righty’s 74-pitch outing was the springboard for what turned into a 12-3 rout by the Mariners on Monday night at Safeco Field.

The seven earned runs were just one fewer than Lackey had totaled in his previous six starts. It was the fourth time this season a Red Sox starter has allowed as many runs, not having suffered such a fate since Jon Lester‘s May 22 outing in Toronto.

“I felt pretty good in the first couple of innings,” Lackey said. “Struggled obviously in the fourth inning, wasn’t able to make a pitch to get out of there. Started going downhill, and couldn’t stop it.”

The Seattle offense was more than enough for M’s starter Felix Hernandez, who had gotten just one run of support in his last three starts. It was the righty’s eighth straight appearance in which he didn’t give up more than a pair of runs.

“Well, not only from a staff standpoint, but in the last year and a half from John Lackey,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said about his team’s rare subpar performance from its pitchers. “He’€™s been a model of consistency, he’€™s pitched so well for us. Not to take anything away from the Mariners hitters, I thought he had very good stuff to open up the game with, and trying to get that final third out in that fourth inning turns into a six-run inning, and at that point, going against Hernandez, that’€™s a tall order to try to come back from.”

Offering another example of how rough it was for the Red Sox was the performance of Seattle’s Logan Morrison, who came into the game hitting .164 but finished the night with four hits (two of which were home runs).

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Lackey surrendered a second-inning home run to Morrison, only the seventh long ball given up by the starter in his last seven appearances. Lackey came into the game having given up just one home run in his last seven Safeco Field starts.

– For the second time in the game, the Sox starter allowed the Mariners to tie things up after his team had claimed the lead, giving up an RBI single to Kyle Seager with one out in the fourth.

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Shane Victorino after rehab start: ‘I’m part of the problem not being out there’

06.23.14 at 11:31 pm ET
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LOWELL –  Shane Victorino feels as responsible as anyone for the Red Sox‘ struggles this season.

The right fielder has been limited to just 21 games with the Red Sox in 2014 with his troublesome right hamstring and hasn’t played baseball since since a short three-game stint in Pawtucket on June 17. In that time he’s been forced to watch the Sox fall in the AL East standings, the offense struggle and the outfield fail to produce in the last month, all from the outside.

“I’m a culprit. I’m part of the problem not being out there, not helping those guys,” he said.

On Monday, it was back to playing baseball for Victorino, who took another step toward his return to the Red Sox lineup in a rehab stint with Single-A Lowell at LeLacheur Park. He went 0-for-3 batting out of the leadoff spot, but ran the bases at full speed and, most importantly, felt healthy in his five innings of play.

“Body felt good, good to be back out there running around,” Victorino said afterward, later adding, “Everything was going accordingly. Some things got a little set back, but we’re getting back in the right direction.”

Victorino said he expects to play with Pawtucket Tuesday night and hopes to return to the big leagues as soon as possible.

“My goal would love to be out there in Seattle Wednesday, but again, it’s about doing the things, getting back into so-called baseball activity physically, getting back into motion and all those kinds of things,” he said.  Read the rest of this entry »

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David Ortiz gets his scoring change, apologizes for actions

06.23.14 at 8:58 pm ET
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SEATTLE — The scoring decision was changed, and so was David Ortiz‘€™s tone.

Major League Baseball announced official scorer Bob Ellis has made a scoring change on the decision that originally give Twins first baseman Joe Mauer an error on Ortiz’€™s line drive in the seventh inning of the June 18 game at Fenway Park. The play is now ruled a hit, raising the designated hitter’€™s batting average from .248 to .252.

Prior to the Red Sox‘€™ series-opener against the Mariners, Ortiz offered his apologies regarding how he handled the situation, having exhibited his displeasure both on and off the field.

“I apologize for the incident,” he said. “The frustration coming out the other day, I mean, this year has already been very frustrating. Sorry, but my career has been based on results, and when you don’t see it it’s not like they give you a free pass. When I’m not hitting all people talk about is why he’€™s not hitting. So when you think you’ve got something and that situation happens, you get frustrated. But it’s not like you have anything personal with anybody.

“MLB is what we are. Joe Torre and everybody, the scorekeeper and everybody, I feel like I owe them an apology because of the way things come up. It shouldn’t be like that. On the other hand, hopefully things get better.”

Ortiz said he hasn’t talked to any of the particulars involved in the incident, including Ellis or Torre, who criticized the DH for his actions and comments after the game.

“I’m just saying this because I think I over — like I said, it was very frustrating,” he said. “But it’s not like you want things to come out that way.”

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Red Sox lineup: Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt in outfield against Felix Hernandez

06.23.14 at 6:36 pm ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

SEATTLE — With Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on the mound for the hosts, the Red Sox will send out the following lineup in the teams’ series opener (with John Lackey on the hill for the Sox):

Brock Holt RF

Xander Bogaerts 3B

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava LF

A.J. Pierzynski C

Stephen Drew SS

Jackie Bradley CF

For all the matchups, click here.

Red Sox-Mariners series preview

06.23.14 at 3:03 pm ET
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The Red Sox will look to salvage what has been a disappointing road trip to the West Coast on Monday, as they visit Seattle to take on the Mariners for a three-game series at Safeco Field.

Mike Zunino

Mike Zunino

Boston is coming off a discouraging four-game set against the Athletics in which the Red Sox only scored six runs through the first three games. Saturday’€™s 2-1 loss marked the eighth straight game in which Boston had scored three runs or less.

The Red Sox finally broke out of their offensive drought Sunday, scoring seven runs and collecting 13 hits, but it took a 10th-inning home run from David Ortiz to give the Red Sox a win and prevent a sweep in the Bay Area.

“Despite the last three days, our guys are still fighting, they’re still putting together as tough at-bats as they can,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell after Sunday’€™s game. “This was a hard-fought series, and it’s good to salvage one out of it.”

After dropping two of three to the feeble Padres last week, the Mariners got back on track over the weekend, sweeping one of the hottest teams in baseball, the Royals, in three games.

In Sunday’s game, catcher Mike Zunino blasted a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh inning, giving Seattle a 2-1 lead that it would not relinquish.

“Whenever you put at-bats together or you’re playing well it’s one of those things that definitely carries over,” Zunino said. “It’s nice that we can turn around and play again [Monday against the Red Sox], and hopefully we can build on [Sunday].”

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.

Monday: John Lackey (8-4, 2.96 ERA) vs. Felix Hernandez (8-2, 2.22 ERA)
Tuesday: Jake Peavy (1-5, 4.52 ERA) vs. Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.62 ERA)
Wednesday: TBA vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (5-3, 3.04 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

– Lackey has been one of the few bright spots this season for the Red Sox. He has been the most consistent pitcher in the Boston rotation thus year, posting an 8-4 record with a 2.96 ERA. The 35-year-old righty has been even better in June – going 2-1 with a 2.27 ERA in four starts.

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Red Sox sign top pick Michael Chavis

06.23.14 at 1:00 pm ET
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The Red Sox‘ agreement with first-rounder Michael Chavis is official, with the slugging 18-year-old infielder having passed his physical.

Chavis, an infielder out of Sprayberry High School in Marietta, Georgia, will report to the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League in Fort Myers, Fla.

The deal is for the full slot value of a player taken (as Chavis was) with the No. 26 overall pick — with Chavis set to get a bonus of $1.8075 million.

As a senior, Chavis hit .580/.663/1.197 with 13 homers, 14 walks and 10 strikeouts in 28 games. He ranked 12th nationally with a 1.183 slugging percentage while leading his team to an 18-11 record and the Region 7AAAAA championship.

Chavis, who said he does not consider himself a home run hitter, gets results because he puts in the effort, according to his high school coach.

“He works at it a lot. He’s constantly in the cages and doing team work,” Sprayberry coach Phil Henderson told the Marietta Daily Journal. “As long as he stays healthy [in the Red Sox organization], the sky’s the limit. He’s going to work at it, no doubt about that. Work ethic has never been a problem.”

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Allen Webster’s steady (if unspectacular) year continues; Deven Marrero streaking; Cody Kukuk’s baffling struggles

06.23.14 at 10:43 am ET
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Deven Marrero

Deven Marrero

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

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-4 LOSS AT SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)

(BOX)

Allen Webster allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits (including a first-inning solo homer) while lasting just 5 1/3 innings. He labored through 101 pitches in which he threw just 53 (52 percent) for strikes, but still limited his walks to two while punching out five. The outing snapped a string of four straight starts in which Webster had logged at least six innings, but gave him five straight starts of three or fewer earned runs, during which he has a 2.58 ERA in 31 1/3 innings.

Overall, Webster has had a far more consistent season in 2014 than he did in 2013, but without the same flashes of complete dominance that he offered last season. In many respects, he more closely resembles a big league starter now than he did in 2013 given the consistency with which he’s been able to deliver credible starts in Triple-A, and the fact that his control of his two-seam fastball has been far better this year than last (perhaps most notable: he’s hit just two batters this year after drilling 16 hitters a year ago), but his performance has suggested more of a potential back-of-the-rotation starter than someone with the ceiling of a front-of-the-rotation hurler if the stars aligned.

Through 16 starts, Webster is 3-4 with a 2.97 ERA, 7.1 strikeouts per nine and 3.5 walks per nine; in 2013, he was 8-4 with a 3.60 ERA, 9.9 strikeouts per nine and 3.7 walks per nine.

Garin Cecchini played his first career game in left field, handling a pair of fly outs and a single. Though Cecchini had spent his entire pro career at third base, however, he does have some noteworthy prior experience in left field as an amateur. The 23-year-old went 0-for-4, and he’s now hitting .260/.340/.324 for the year in Pawtucket. Read the rest of this entry »

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