|Red Sox-White Sox series preview||05.20.13 at 10:58 am ET|
The Red Sox will make their first (and only) trip of the season to Chicago to take on the White Sox for a three-game set beginning Monday night. The Red Sox begin the day with a 27-17 record, a half-game behind the Yankees, who were rained out on Sunday.
Apparently, all it took to get the Red Sox back on track was a little road trip. After a disappointing homestand in which they went 2-5, the Sox dropped the first game of the trip to the Rays but took the last two games of that series and moved on to sweep the Twins in a three-game set. The most recent five-game winning streak is the third time the 2013 Sox have won five or more in a row, with their longest streak (seven) coming in mid-April.
The White Sox are off to a frustrating start after finishing second in the American League Central a year ago. Chicago comes into the series with a 19-23 record, percentage points ahead of the last-place Twins. The good news for the White Sox is that the race for the division lead is a tight one. Despite being close to the cellar, they’re only six games behind Terry Francona’s Indians, who sit in first with a 25-17 record. The White Sox are opening an eight-game homestand after going 4-3 on a road trip.
It’s fair to say that the White Sox offense has been a big part of why the team hasn’t gotten off to a great start. The lineup ranks third from the bottom in OPS, tied for third worst in runs scored, and 26th in batting average amongst all major league clubs. But slugger Adam Dunn anticipates that better fortune is on the horizon. “We are pretty close to getting really hot,” Dunn said after the Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Angels. “”We swung the bats pretty well, excluding [Sunday].” He did note, however, that the club would need to put runs on the board with Boston in town.
Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.
Monday: Jon Lester (6-0, 2.72) vs. Dylan Axelrod (1-3, 4.27)
Tuesday: Felix Doubront (3-1, 6.03) vs. Jose Quintana (2-1, 3.97)
Wednesday: Clay Buchholz (6-0, 1.78) vs. Chris Sale (5-2, 2.53)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• The Red Sox bullpen has been fairing pretty well without the team’s two closers, Joel Hanrahan (flexor tendon and Tommy John surgery) and Andrew Bailey (biceps inflammation). During the first six games of the road trip, Red Sox relievers have allowed only one run over the course of 20 innings, good for a 0.45 ERA.
• David Ortiz has gotten back on track after having a quiet homestand. The designated hitter is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak, batting .429 over the course of those games while driving in 12 runs. Ortiz had a huge game on Saturday night, driving in half of Boston’s 12 runs and knocking two home runs, notching his 40th multi-home run game and passing Ted Williams for the most in Red Sox history.
|Three-hour rain delay was a piece of cake for Red Sox||05.19.13 at 9:56 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — It could have been a lot worse for the Red Sox, just ask the players and coaches on the Rangers and White Sox who sat through a 7-hour, 23-minute delay on Aug. 12, 1990. (Hat tip to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.)
Sunday, the Sox and Twins had to weather a three-hour delay, ultimately finishing up with a 5-1 win for John Farrell’s team, along with a series sweep. As was the case in that game at Comiskey Park, just a few hundred Target Field fans stuck around to witness the final outcome.
The answers for what the Red Sox did while waiting in the visitors clubhouse and dugout weren’t mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination. For instance, John Lackey relayed that he passed the time (with others) by watching the movie ‘The Sandlot,’ which was being showcased (with attendance from a few of the actors) to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary.
(Note: At the time the game re-started, there were inarguably more fans at the table getting autographs from ‘The Sandlot’ cast members than there were in the entire outfield seats.)
“Watched ‘Sandlot,’ hadn’t seen that in awhile, so that was solid,” the pitcher said.
Dustin Pedroia’s choice to pass the time?
“I was just walking around hanging out,” said the second baseman. “Basically it. It was pouring, so you kind of have that in the back of your mind that you’d not’ know if you’re going to continue to pay, so you got to try to stay focused.”
Regardless of what activities took place in between the 4:30 p.m. (eastern time) and 7:30 p.m., Red Sox manager John Farrell said there was no concern that his team would be ready to play for the final 2 1/2 innings.
“This group? That’s built-in,” said Farrell when asked about the team’s focus. “We obviously all had to wait three hours. But a number of guys were in the dugout for probably half of that time. Updates were being given as best we could relay it. This is a group that, their focus is to play the game. Even with a three-hour rain delay, they were raring to go. They love the game. They love to play it. Keeping this group focused, I’m not going to say is not an issue, but the game is clearly a priority to all of them.”
And while the Red Sox did run into some trouble when Koji Uehara loaded the bases in the eighth, the reliever managed to escape the jam by striking out and proceeding to hug his catcher and then go through the visitors dugout to deliver a series of intense high-fives.
It took a while, but it all worked out for the Red Sox in the end.
“Glad we got it in,” Farrell said. “Whatever it took to finish out this win, we were here for.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox weather three-hour rain delay to sweep Twins||05.19.13 at 8:27 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS – The Red Sox have certainly used the last week wisely when it comes to turning around perception.
The Sox closed out their three-game trip to Target Field with a 5-1 win over the Twins, sweeping the series and extending their win streak to five games. The game was complete with a three-hour rain delay, leaving a couple of hundred people in the stands when the teams came back out for the home half of the seventh inning.
It was the Red Sox’ fourth series sweep of the season, having managed just three sweeps in all of 2012.
John Farrell’s team, which has now won six of their seven road series, was paced this time by starter John Lackey. Lackey rebounded from his worst outing of the season – a five-run, nine-hit performance that stretched just 4 1/3 innings – to limit the Twins to just one hit over six innings, striking out five and not walking a batter.
The Red Sox starter was set to go beyond just six frames, having thrown 84 pitches, but the rain came, forcing the players off the field as Lackey was warming up for the seventh inning.
“I thought John was very crisp,” Farrell said. “He was powerful. He threw some good cutters, particularly to their left-handed hitters to get down underneath their swings. It was consistent with the stuff he had two starts ago when he faced Minnesota and really the stuff in Tampa. He cruised through the first three-four innings with no men on base. Even when he did get in the one inning, I thought he made a quality pitch for what seemed at the time a tailor-made double play. He limited the damage to really zero. Overall, just a solid performance for him.”
“Honestly, I’ve felt better the last couple of times than I did today,” Lackey said. “I warmed up terrible today and then I found some location when the game started.”
The bizarre day was capped in the ninth inning when Dustin Pedroia hit his second home run of the season, with this one being propelled off left fielder Josh Willingham’s wrist (jumping to catch the ball) and over the fence for a two-run blast. The pitch Pedroia hi was a neck-high, 92 mph fastball from Minnesota reliever Jared Burton.
“I don’t know, the pitch was pretty high,” said Pedroia when asked if he thought the hit was a home run.” This field’s pretty big, so I don’t know. I thought it was going to be a double, but we’ll take it.”
Every Red Sox player, except Pedro Ciriaco, collected at least one hit.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ 27th win (27-17):
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Shane Victorino made his presence felt immediately upon returning from a back ailment. The outfielder – who was filling in for Jacoby Ellsbury in center field and in the leadoff spot – singled in his first at-bat and walked in the third. The free pass ultimately led to the Sox’ second run, coming in on Dustin Pedroia’s roller to third. Victorino also stole his fourth base of the season.
- Will Middlebrooks kept moving in the right direction, launching a solo homer in the second for the Sox’ first run. The third baseman came into the game hitting .286 with eight extra-base hits in his last nine games.
- Mike Napoli helped the Sox’ collect their third run, punctuating back-to-back-to-back singles in the fifth inning for his 35th RBI
- Pedroia extended his hit streak to 11 games thanks to a fifth-inning single. He entered the game hitting .475 (19-for-40) over the course of his stretch, having managed multiple hit outings in seven of the 10 games.
- Reliever Andrew Miller continued to impress, this time coming on after the rain-delay to pitch a perfect seventh inning. In his last 13 outings, Miller has only turned in one appearance in which he surrendered a run, striking out 17 and walking just two.
- Koji Uehara got into some trouble in the eighth, loading the bases. But the righty proceeded to strikeout Joe Mauer to kill the threat, leading to an enormous embrace for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia just outside the dugout along the subsequent round of high-intensity high-fives.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- David Ortiz wasn’t able to score from second on Daniel Nava’s single to deep center field with one out in the fifth inning, holding up while waiting to see if Aaron Hicks was going to make the grab. The ball, however, went off the outfielder’s glove, bouncing to the wall and leaving the Red Sox with the bases loaded. It would be the last batter Minnesota starter Pedro Hernandez would face, with the Red Sox leaving the frame without any more runs after a Will Middlebrooks’ pop-up and Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounder to first.
- Lackey saw his no-hitter broken up when Trevor Plouffe lined a double into left field to kick off the fifth inning. It was the first time since July 22, 2010 he had gotten through the first four innings without surrendering a hit, with the previous occasion before that coming against the Red Sox in ’08.
- The Twins scored their first run thanks to an errant throw from Ciriaco on what should have been an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. The ball sailed wide of first baseman Napoli (deflecting into the midsection of baserunner Chris Parmelee, who was on the ground recovering for a bit), allowing Plouffe to come in from third. It made it 3-1 Red Sox. It marked the 13th unearned run of the season for the Red Sox, five of which have come with Lackey pitching.
- Through seven innings, the Red Sox were just 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position, having stranded eight.
|Red Sox, Twins in rain delay in seventh inning||05.19.13 at 4:30 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — The Red Sox and Twins are in a rain delay that began at 4:30 eastern time.
The delay occurred with the Sox holding a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning, with the Twins scheduled to bat. It is the ninth rain delay in the history Target Field.
Check back for updates …
|Should the conversation start regarding Dustin Pedroia playing 162 games?||05.19.13 at 3:02 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS – There have been six occasions where a Red Sox players has played in every single one of his team’s regular season games since the schedule was expanded to 162 game — Jim Rice (1978), Bill Buckner (’85), George Scott (’66), Carl Yastrzemski (’69) and Dwight Evans, who did it both in ’82 and ’84.
Could Dustin Pedroia be next? He is, after all, the last man standing on the Red Sox who has played in every one of the team’s games this season after the only other candidate, Jacoby Ellsbury, received Sunday off.
“I don’t have goals,” Pedroia reminded. “I’m just trying to play today. I’ll worry about tomorrow if we wake up. Day by day by day by day. That’s it.”
Pedroia has come close before, playing in 159 games in ’11. It is, however, traditionally an elusive feat for many in baseball with managers attempting to counteract the wear and tear that comes with this day and age of baseball.
Last season, there were four players – Starlin Castro, Prince Fielder, Adam Jones, Ichiro Suzuki – who never took a day off.
“Pedey will fight that one tooth and nail,” said Red Sox manager regarding the possibility of sitting Pedroia down for a day. “He’s the last man standing right now,and that’s probably the way he likes it.
“If it comes to that, he and I will set down and talk. As well as he’s playing, as good as he feels, as headstrong as he can be with not wanting to come out, all that is taken into account. … Pedey is the heartbeat of this team, and you don’t want to cutout the heart.”
|Stephen Drew: ‘I don’t plan on sitting out too much longer’||05.19.13 at 2:19 pm ET|
MINNEAPOLIS — Stephen Drew was out of the Red Sox’ lineup for a second straight game after aggravating his back during an eighth-inning slide. The shortstop was optimistic, however, regarding the possibility of returning within the next few days.
“I hope so. I don’t plan on sitting out much longer,” said Drew when asked if believed a return was imminent. “I know I needed that day [Saturday], and then we have the quick turnaround [Sunday afternoon]. Give it one more day and hopefully it kind of settles down and we get back after it.”
Drew described as a “hyperextension on my spine,” having slid in awkwardly while legging out a double.
For May, the shortstop is hitting .321 with a .969 OPS. He was replaced in the lineup by Pedro Ciriaco, who collected a pair of hits while subbing Saturday.
“It’s not so much a surprise as it is being cautious because it’s your back,” Drew said. “Yesterday going into the cage, throwing and trying to do that motion, it wasn’t feeling so good. Throwing more so than the hitting, twisting and stuff. I actually threw first to see how that felt and it was just in the same place I felt it the night before.”
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The uniqueness of Mookie Betts; Anthony Ranaudo strong in struggle; Garin Cecchini’s standout year continues||05.19.13 at 11:29 am ET|
Daily Feats of Mookie: Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with a homer (his seventh of the year and fifth in his last 11 games) and a walk for Single-A Greenville. During his current 13-game hitting streak, he’s now hitting .429/.533/.837 with 10 extra-base hits (five homers, five doubles). On the year, he’s now hitting .256/.413/.488.
The run remains singularly shocking, since prior to the streak, Betts had shown excellent excellent plate discipline but no real ability to drive the ball. He had just four extra-base hits in his first 25 games this year after collecting nine (with no homers) in 71 games in 2012 with the Lowell Spinners. So, in his last 11 games, with those 10 extra-base hits, he’s nearly matched his total from his previous 97 games as a professional.
The out-of-nowhere power-hitting stretch is even more impressive since it has occurred without Betts selling out his characteristically disciplined approach at all. During his hitting streak, he’s walked 11 times (including once in each of the last four games) and struck out just four times — meaning he has more than twice as many extra-base hits as strikeouts.
Context: Here’s the complete list of players in the minors with at least seven homers and at least as many walks as strikeouts:
Since 2001, the only player in the big leagues with at least seven homers in a season and twice as many walks as strikeouts has been Barry Bonds. The last player to do it who wasn’t Bonds was Mark Grace, who did it in 2000. The people who accomplished the feat in the 1990s: Tony Gwynn, Gary Sheffield, Wade Boggs, Eric Young, Mark Grace, Lenny Dykstra, Frank Thomas.
It remains to be seen what this remarkable run means for Betts. After all, he didn’t hit a home run all of last year. But for now, Betts is performing as a player with a profile that does not currently exist in pro ball, and that few have displayed in the last 25 years.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-3 LOSS VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)
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