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Red Sox minor league roundup: Mother Nature cannot stop Mookie Betts’ streak; Daniel Gonzalez, strike-throwing winner

06.18.14 at 12:06 pm ET
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A brief look at the limited action in the Red Sox farm system on Tuesday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LEAD (SUSPENDED AFTER 3 INNINGS) AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

(BOX)

Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks both played in the second of back-to-back games, with both going 0-for-2 for the second straight day before rain forced the suspension of the game. Victorino played in right field, while Middlebrooks served as DH.

Feats of Mookie: Waiting for nothing. Mookie Betts collected a single in two plate appearances (he also struck out) before the rain arrived, and so when the game does become official, the 21-year-old will receive credit for having reached base in his 14th straight game since being promoted to Triple-A.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 2-0 LEAD (SUSPENDED IN 2ND INNING) AT ERIE (TIGERS) Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Brock Holt moves to RF for finale vs. Twins

06.18.14 at 10:23 am ET
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One day after making a sensational play in center field, do-it-all infielder/outfielder Brock Holt will shift to right field for Wednesday’s matinee against the Twins. Holt, the team’s top hitter (.338/.378/.464), again will bat leadoff as the Sox face right-hander Kyle Gibson (6-5, 3.55 ERA).

After posting wins in the first two games of the series despite scoring a total of three runs, the Red Sox look to complete the sweep as they send John Lackey (8-4, 3.24) to the mound. The Red Sox have allowed three runs or fewer in their last 11 home games (nine of which were wins). The team record is 12, set in 1914 and repeated a year later, when the staff was led by the likes of Ernie Shore, Rube Foster, Dutch Leonard, Smoky Joe Wood and a young left-hander named Babe Ruth.

RED SOX LINEUP

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 Jr., CF

For a breakdown of the pitching matchup, click here.

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Twins matchups: John Lackey vs. Kyle Gibson

06.18.14 at 9:43 am ET
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The Red Sox finish their three-game series with the Twins at Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon when they send John Lackey to the mound against Kyle Gibson.

Lackey (8-4, 3.24 ERA) continues to be the Red Sox‘€™ best arm this season after throwing his 11th quality start of the year last Friday. He gave up three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings in a 10-3 win over the Indians. He struck out five and walked just one. The right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts, and is 6-2 with a 2.56 ERA in that span.

Lackey, however, deflected the praise to his offense after his latest win.

“Tonight was more about the offense more than anything,” Lackey said after the game. “The guys really swung the bats great, made a couple of great defensive plays for me, just a good team win.”

Lackey went 1-1 in a pair of starts against Minnesota last season. He gave up five runs — just one earned — in a 5-3 loss at Fenway on May 9, 2013, but shut down the Twins in six strong innings for a win 10 days later.

Lackey is 8-6 with a 3.35 ERA in 17 career starts against Minnesota. He’€™s particularly struggled against Twins slugger Joe Mauer, who is batting .367 lifetime against Lackey with two home runs and four RBIs in 31 career plate appearances.

Gibson (6-5, 3.55 ERA) has been playing arguably the best baseball of his young career as of late. The 26-year-old has a 2.37 ERA in his last six starts and has pitched shutouts in three of his last four outings, including his last two. On Friday the right-hander dominated the Tigers over seven innings, giving up five hits and two walks to go with three strikeouts to improve his June ERA to 1.80. Detroit’€™s Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez combined to go 1-for-7 against Gibson.

“His ball was moving really nice,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game. “He had them in the defensive mode. You could see them fighting off pitches.”

Wednesday will be Gibson’€™s first career start against the Red Sox and their current roster.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Koji Effect: Uehara’s presence felt by Red Sox bullpen even on night he doesn’t pitch

06.18.14 at 9:38 am ET
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Koji Uehara's consistent performance have rubbed off on the rest of the bullpen. (AP)

Koji Uehara’s consistent performance has rubbed off on the rest of the bullpen. (AP)

On one level, Tuesday night represented just another day at the office for the Red Sox bullpen.

After starter Jon Lester left the game following 6 1/3 innings, the relievers recorded the final eight outs in impressive fashion to preserve a one-run win.

Burke Badenhop stepped in and got Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki to ground out. Craig Breslow took on Eduardo Escobar and Sam Fuld, walking Escobar but then getting Fuld to fly out to Brock Holt to end the seventh inning. In the eighth, Red Sox manager John Farrell handed the ball off to Junichi Tazawa, who subsequently struck out the side.

With Koji Uehara taking the night off after pitching three straight days, it was Edward Mujica who faced the challenge of finishing off the game in the ninth inning. Mujica stepped up and shut down the Twins, striking out two hitters and getting Oswaldo Arcia to fly out to end the game, closing out the 2-1 victory in Koji-esque fashion.

To recap: Red Sox relievers pitched 2 2/3 innings, struck out five, walked one and allowed no hits. Despite the absence of Uehara, Tuesday’s flawless performance in a way was nothing out of the ordinary for the Red Sox bullpen.

As a group, the Red Sox relievers rank second in the American League and fourth in the big leagues with a 2.77 ERA. The group leads the majors in WAR at 3.8, with the second closest being the Yankees bullpen at 2.9. The Red Sox are fourth in baseball in walks per nine innings at 3.01 and fourth in fielding independent pitching (FIP) at 3.18. The group is tied for sixth in the majors in left-on-base percentage at 78.3 percent.

On a night when Uehara did not make his jog out of the bullpen to “Sandstorm” by Darude, the closer’s impact remained palpable for those who did contribute.

“A high tide raises all ships, and we’re led by a pretty good captain in the back of our bullpen and we go from there,” Badenhop said. “[Uehara] sets the tone, and we know that when one guy gets the job done, it carries over to the next guy. Just like hitting, it’s contagious. With us, it’s just pitching.” Read the rest of this entry »

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‘One of the best catches … that you ever see’: Red Sox react to Holt’s out-of-nowhere catch

06.17.14 at 11:59 pm ET
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It would have been amazing to see Jackie Bradley Jr. make such a play. After all, when Jonny Gomes lost what appeared to be a routine fly ball to left, there appeared little time for anyone to swoop in and save the day, even a Gold Glove-caliber defender like Bradley.

But it wasn’t Bradley who offered Gomes a reprieve from what the left fielder described as “that lonely feeling for about four seconds that I had, kind of like you’re the only one out there.” Instead, it was a player who had all of two innings of baseball experience in center field who furiously closed ground, leaped and made a tumbling catch in left-center, nowhere near where Gomes was playing. (To see the play, click here.)

The degree of difficulty was extreme — not just because of the extension required at the end of the play, with the dive, but also because the first-time center fielder had to track Gomes and, when he saw that Gomes had lost it, follow both the whereabouts of his teammate to avoid a collision and track the path of the ball in flight.

How significant was the degree of difficulty?

“That might be one of the best catches — the whole sequence of what happened — that you ever see, just because of everything that’s involved in it, just to have the wherewithal to start with to even go after the ball,” said Red Sox outfield coach Arnie Beyeler. “That’s kind of a routine ball to the left fielder and then all of a sudden he doesn’t see it in the twilight. Most guys would just stand there watching the play. Infielders usually go out and get those if anybody does. That was just a great instinctual play.”

Here is a breakdown of the play from different vantage points:

BROCK HOLT

“It’€™s one of those things where you look over and you see Gomes’€™ arms out and try to do all you can, looking at him, looking at the ball, looking at him — he never picked it up. Fortunately I was able to get over there and make a play on it,” said Holt. “I ran to the wrong spot, that’€™s why I had to to do that. I thought the ball was going to be somewhere and it ended up somewhere else, that’€™s why I had to kind of dive backwards for it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Super Brock, Jon Lester lead Red Sox past Twins

06.17.14 at 10:02 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

Is there anything he can’t do? To this point, the answer has been no.

Brock Holt continued to play like someone armed with a cape, not just because he went 2-for-4 and scored both Red Sox runs, but also because of his remarkable display of versatility.

In his first career start in center field, Holt made a memorable, spectacular play in the top of the third inning with two outs. Brian Dozier lofted what appeared to be a routine fly ball to left, but left fielder Jonny Gomes lost the ball’s flight against the sky. Out of what seemed like nowhere, Holt sprinted to the ball — perhaps 30 feet from Gomes and behind him — and made a diving, tumbling catch to keep Dozier off the bases and end the inning.

Since May 20, Holt has become the Sox’ most valuable player. He’s started all 27 games, bouncing from third base to first to left field to right to center, with the constant shifting doing nothing to detract from his offense. Indeed, he’s been a force, hitting .355 with a .388 OBP and .496 slugging mark.

He led off the game with a single, improving to 9-for-26 (.346) in the first Sox at-bat of the game, and came around to score. He then doubled to lead off the third, stole third and scored on a sac fly to account for the other Red Sox run in a 2-1 victory over the Twins.

Phrases no one anticipated coming out of spring training: Where would the Red Sox be without Brock Holt? On a night where the 26-year-old accounted for all of his team’s run-scoring, it appears safe to suggest the Sox would rather not know the answer.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox announce signings of 9 draft picks, with more to come

06.17.14 at 8:45 pm ET
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Red Sox first rounder Michael Chavis was in Boston on Tuesday for his physical. (Twitter.com/MichaelChavis11)

Red Sox first rounder Michael Chavis was in Boston on Tuesday for his physical. (Twitter.com/MichaelChavis11)

The Red Sox announced the official signings of nine draftees, including their second first-rounder, Michael Kopech, and second-rounder Sam Travis, and according to industry sources, the team is close to finalizing agreements with all but one of the players taken in the first 10 rounds of the draft.

The team’s top overall pick, Michael Chavis (who was taken with the 26th pick of the first round, seven spots ahead of Kopech), visited the Red Sox clubhouse on Tuesday to visit with GM Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell. Chavis has an agreement, but his deal won’t become official until the conclusion of a routine physical and other normal procedural matters.

Chavis isn’t alone. The Sox appear close to deals with seven more players taken in the first 10 rounds, including:

– 3rd rounder Jake Cosart, a right-handed pitcher out of Seminole Community College

– 4th rounder Pat McAvoy, a right-hander out of Bryant University Read the rest of this entry »

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