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Closing Time: New-look Red Sox take win over Yankees

08.01.14 at 10:13 pm ET
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Not a bad start for the new-look Red Sox.

Just one day after dealing five players on the major league roster in four deadline moves, the Sox began their new direction with a 4-3 win over the Yankees Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak in the opener of their three-game series at Fenway Park .

The Red Sox welcomed a pair of new faces in Allen Craig, who was acquired from St. Louis in a trade for John Lackey, and starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, who was called up to the majors from Triple-A Pawtucket in the wake of trading Jon Lester and Lackey.

Craig contributed a double in a what was a relatively lively offensive effort. The Sox’ four runs were their most in a game since last Friday in Tampa Bay, which is saying much considering they scored just six runs combined in a three-game series against the Blue Jays this week. Eight different players reached base safely in the nine-hit effort.

The offensive effort wasn’t nearly as strong as Ranaudo’s work on the mound, however. The 24-year-old allowed two runs on four hits over six innings for his first big league win. He became the first Red Sox starter to win his major league debut since Felix Doubront did so on June 8, 2010. His only notable mistake came in the fourth inning when Carlos Beltran drove a 1-0 pitch into the bullpen for a solo home run.

“I thought he did a good job of keeping the game under control,” manager John Farrell said of Ranaudo. “There were a number of innings where the leadoff hitter would get on base, threw walks to lead some innings off, but I thought he threw the ball downhill well, kept the ball out of the middle of the plate for the most part.”


– It was a more than ideal debut for two Red Sox newcomers Friday night. Ranaudo’s effort was most impressive. The rookie held the Yankees to four hits and avoided any high pressure situations. New York had more than one base runner on at a time just once for the game, and failed to score in that situation. Ranaudo was, however, hurt by some command issues. He allowed four walks, struck out one and threw just 53 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

“I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of emotions going out there,” Ranaudo said. “But it’s nice to have that first one under my belt and next time I take the ball, whenever that is, I have that confidence that I have my debut underneath me and I can focus on just getting guys out now.”

Craig got his first hit since July 22 after going 1-for-4 Friday with a double to left in the third. Craig was part of a logjam in the Cardinals’ outfield this season, limiting his playing time while trying to battle career-worst struggles. His four at-bats Friday were his most in a game since July 13.

“It felt really good to get that first hit,” Craig said. “To get that first hit in Fenway Park and get to second, it really means a lot. So I was glad to kind of get that one out of the way and just kind of move on from there, but it was really a specially moment for me.”

– If the Sox are going to improve offensively, they’ll need more run production from the top of the order. Friday was a good start. Hitters one through three – Brock Holt, Pedroia and David Ortiz – combined for four hits, three RBIs and a pair of runs. They were especially key in the Sox’ two-run third inning. Holt led off the frame with a triple to the right field corner, then scored on a ground-rule double by Pedroia to dead center. Ortiz singled to right to score Pedroia and give the Sox something they haven’t had much this season: an early two-run lead. Ortiz has driven in 14 of the Red Sox‘ last 36 runs over their last 11 games.

The triple was a nice boost for Holt, who had just three hits in his last 29 at-bats prior to that plate appearance. The super utility player leads the team with five triples this season. Pedroia, on the other hand, continues to roll. His two-hit effort marked his third multi-hit game in a row and his fifth in the last seven. It was Pedroia’s first multi-RBI game since June 29.

– On Wednesday, the left side of the Sox’ infield included Bogaerts at third base and Stephen Drew at shortstop. On Friday, Will Middlebrooks was at third for his first major league game in over two months and Bogaerts made his long-awaited return to short. The results were solid both on the field and at the plate. Bogaerts went 1-for-4 with a single to extend his hitting streak to six games and Middlebrooks doubled and scored a run.

Bogaerts made a nice diving stop on a Jacoby Ellsbury grounder heading to center field, but the speedy Ellsbury beat out the throw for an infield single. The play ultimately counts as a base hit, but the effort was one worth noting as Bogaerts tries to show he can handle a full-time shortstop role.

– Also making his mark in the field Friday night was Mookie Betts, who made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track in center to rob Ellbury of extra bases. Betts is still new to playing a major league outfield after being forced to switch from his original second base spot, so the catch is sure to give the 21-year-old some confidence as he continues to learn his new position.

“I think I’m still getting more comfortable,” Betts said of playing the outfield. “I think the catch today gave me, maybe, a little more confidence out there. But I’m still learning every day.”


– Junichi Tazawa was hit hard in what was nearly a costly eighth inning for the Red Sox. Derek Jeter led off the inning with a first-pitch solo shot over the Wall in left field. Tazawa would’ve given up a potential triple to deep center to Ellsbury one batter later if it weren’t for Betts’ leaping heroics. Mark Teixeira followed with a ground-rule double and Tazawa walked Brian McCann with two outs and Teixeira on third before escaping trouble by forcing Chase Headley to ground out.

– The Red Sox have found themselves on the wrong side of challenges pretty regularly this season. Friday was no different. Ellsbury was initially called out on a stolen base attempt in the top of the sixth inning. But after a challenge by Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi, the umpires ruled that Ellsbury slid underneath Bogaerts and into second before he could apply the tag. Beltran drove the outfielder in two batters later to score the Yankees‘ second run.

– David Ross left the game after the sixth inning due to what was described as right foot plantar fasciitis recurrence. Ross was hobbling to first while running out a ground ball he hit to third. The catcher was immediately replaced by Christian Vazquez the following inning.

Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes introduced in Oakland

08.01.14 at 9:40 pm ET
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Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes were welcomed to Oakland, Friday afternoon. Once at the podium, there were few surprises.

Here is what Lester and Gomes had to say to the assembled media at the O.Co Coliseum:


Initial reaction trade?

I think excitement. Obviously leaving Boston after being there for so long is difficult, but I’€™m excited to be here, going from a team that hasn’€™t done so well this year to the team with the best record in baseball is exciting. Fortunately I have a few faces here that I recognize and know well, so it should make the transition pretty smooth.

Being part of Oakland rotation

It looks great. I’€™ve got to see a few of these guys from the other side pitch against us in the past, and they’€™ve done really well, and obviously their numbers speak for themselves. Hopefully I can just fill my spot and do my job and give some innings and give these guys a chance to swing the bat and score some runs.

What last few days were like

The anxiety of it, not knowing where you’€™re going to be ‘€¦ having a family makes it difficult. When you leave someplace you call home for eight years, that made it harder. But, like I said, I’€™m happy to be here and happy to be a part of this, and hopefully I can contribute.

Thoughts on A’s from afar

Full of energy. They play the game the right way. Obviously their pitching staff has always been strong. It’€™ll be fun to be a part of. They’€™ve got a lot of young guys that have already been around awhile, so the youth and the energy is still there. It’€™s exciting to be a part of it and see it from the other dugout now.

Pressure of winning

I wouldn’€™t say pressure. These guys have been in the playoffs before, they’€™ve made runs before, it’€™s not going to be anything new to a lot of these guys here. Hopefully with adding us, we can maybe just add a little bit more experience the further side of it, going deeper, and help out as best we can as those situations once we get there. But I wouldn’€™t say pressure. I think these guys here expect to go the playoffs every year now. It’€™s a good atmosphere to have when you have the clubhouse in the same direction, having the same goal.

Difference in pitching in new park

Obviously having the Monster 300 feet away isn’€™t exactly great for pitching, but it’€™s a lot more foul territory, bigger in gaps, it’€™s going to be fun to see what those doubles that scrape the wall are fly balls to left. It’€™ll be nice to see that instead of the cheap doubles. We’€™ll see. I’€™ll just pitch my style and see what happens.

Importance of relationship with Oakland pitching coach Curt Young

Huge. That’€™ll definitely make the transition a little bit easier. You go through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of trials and errors, stuff you get into in bullpens, during a game, and he knows how I am as a competitor and a person. That makes a transition for me as a pitcher, and our catchers, defense, a little bit easier. You don’€™t have to learn someone all over again. He knows that from a full season, so it’€™ll make it a lot easier on me and hopefully on the team.

Relationship with Red Sox

Any time you negotiate with a team and it doesn’€™t go the way everyone wants it, there’€™s always a little bit of disappointment, but that’€™s not to say the effort wasn’€™t there on both sides to get something done. But my time in Boston will be something I always remember and cherish, from 2002 to yesterday. I’€™ve got nothing but great things to say about the organization, the way they treated me, treated my family through the good times and bad times. We’€™ll see where that relationship goes later on, but right now I’€™m an A and I’€™m going to go out and perform for these guys and do the best I can to bring the championship here.


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Allen Craig hoping to turn page, start new chapter with Red Sox

08.01.14 at 9:06 pm ET
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The 2014 has certainly not gone the way that Allen Craig wanted it to go. After having his offseason cut short due to the World Series and rehabbing an ankle injury, Craig has struggled at the plate to the tune of a .236 batting average, .291 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 44 RBIs. After finishing 21st in the National League Most Valuable Player balloting in 2013, Craig has certainly fallen back in terms of offensive production.

The trade to the Red Sox, in a way, represents a clean slate for the outfielder to start fresh. Red Sox manager John Farrell says that right now, the focus for the team is to get Craig firmly supplanted in Boston and comfortable in his new surroundings.

I’ve had a chance to talk to Allen a little bit today and we haven’t really started to dig in to get his feedback,” Farrell said. “Today has been about… just getting him settled in a little bit. We’ll get to know what he’s been dealing with a little bit more specifically as his at-bats are witnesses here. We’re clearly excited to have him.”

Craig said he was surprised to hear that he had been treaded because he hadn’t heard very many rumors.

I was surprised. As the day went on, I started to get really excited about where I was going to go,” Craig said. “I think it’s still sinking in, being in the clubhouse and seeing a lot of faces and putting names to faces and that type of stuff. I’m looking forward to getting down there and playing ball.”

The struggles that Craig has endured this season have been part of a big learning process for the 30-year-old.

Making adjustments and figuring out pitchers are going to do to you. I feel like I learned a lot from the first half of my season and I’m ready to look forward,” Craig said. “The first half of was frustrating. Ups and downs, but this is part of the learning curve of this game. It’d be nice to go out there and be great every single night, but sometimes you need to learn and I definitely learned.”

Craig does not consider his shortened offseason as an excuse for his struggles.

“I never like to use anything as an excuse,” Craig said. “My offseason was cut short because we played in the World Series and it was long. In that regard, my offseason was a little bit shorter, but I was healthy going into this year and I’m healthy now and that’s something that I’ve put in the past and I feel good and ready to go.”

For Craig, coming back to Fenway Park brings back memories of playing in the World Series for the Cardinals. The outfielder says playing at Fenway for the first time during the World Series was an incredibly positive experience.

I loved the atmosphere. It was a great experience for me and I’m happy to be back,” Craig said. “It’s cool to be on this side of the clubhouse and get to know the guys on this side.”

Craig, who says he will contribute offense to the Red Sox lineup, has not thought through about how hitting in Fenway Park will benefit him.

I’m just excited to be a part of this organization and get to know these guys,” Craig said. “Obviously, the tradition here is rich and winning the World Series last year and I’m just here to do my part and contribute to a good team.”


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Stephen Drew caught off guard by end-of-deadline trade to visiting Yankees

08.01.14 at 7:59 pm ET
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It was 3:50 p.m. Thursday, just 10 minutes before Major League Baseball‘s trade deadline, and Stephen Drew‘s phone had been quiet all day.

The shortstop was simply enjoying his off day. He brought his two kids to teammate Jon Lester‘s home while the pitcher was out attending a birthday party and was outside enjoying the summer weather while the kids were playing. At this point, the thought of being traded so late seemed improbable.

“To be honest, I wasn’t even monitoring it,” he said.

About five minutes later, Drew received a call. He had been traded to the Yankees for infielder Kelly Johnson. Drew was soon on his way to Fenway Park to clean out his locker.

Fortunately for Drew, the Yankees were coming to Boston Friday to begin a three-game series at Fenway. So his travels consisted of nothing more than moving his stuff from the Red Sox‘ clubhouse over to the visitor clubhouse on the other end of the park.

“It’s definitely different, over there just playing a game and then an off day and then the moves,” Drew said. “It comes with the business though. We all know that as players, we know that as our job.

“It is different walking across from the guys you were just playing with a day ago. Was over there with them, now I’m over here. I’m excited, it’s going to be a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”

Drew was a contributing member of the Sox’ 2013 World Series championship team, but wasn’t brought re-signed by the team until early May to add infield depth while rookie Xander Bogaerts was still acclimating to playing shortstop in the big leagues.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Yoenis Cespedes on trade: ‘I feel very happy … to share a part of my career with the Red Sox’

08.01.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes already is larger than life. Cespedes, built more like an NFL fullback rather than an outfielder, makes throws from the outfield reminiscent of a bullets slicing through air and has won back-to-back All-Star Home Run Derby competitions.

Cespedes has even been the subject of a viral video, one created by his agent that showcased the outfielder’s ability to hit baseball a mile, dance with his family and cook a whole pig over a roasting fire.

But when Cespedes heard about Thursday’s trade, he was partaking in activity that non-pig-roasting, non-home run-hitting mortals do on a daily basis.

I was sleeping when the news came through,” the Cuban star said through a translator. “It caught me by surprise. There is a saying that only God knows why things happen.”

The outfielder is hitting .256/.303/.464 this season with 17 home runs, 67 RBIs, 26 doubles and 62 runs scored. Manager John Farrell said that Cespedes will play right field for the Red Sox moving forward, a spot unoccupied currently due to Shane Victorino‘s latest stint on the disabled list. Cespedes said that he has some experience playing the position from his time in Cuba. The acquisition of Cespedes filled the need for a power-hitting outfielder with major league-ready talent.

“We’ve been very clear internally the need to improve and upgrade our offense was a goal,” Farrell said. “We’ve been able to do that through these trades. To be able to bring in a middle-of-the-order, All-Star-caliber bat from a contending team, it’s not typical. I think as this deal came about, it became unique in its own right, and our ability to lengthen out the lineup with he and Allen Craig gives us that depth that has been lacking throughout the course of the season.”

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Jacoby Ellsbury: Jon Lester trade proves unpredictability of baseball business

08.01.14 at 7:34 pm ET
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As baseball players, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury don’t have much in common. The way they’re built and their position on the field couldn’t make that more obvious.

The former is a big, powerful starting pitcher known for his humble demeanor and his sneaky, game-changing ability on the mound. The latter is a speedy outfielder better known for his athleticism in the field and his threat on the base paths.

However, one thing both players have in common, as of Thursday morning, is that they’re both former Red Sox.

Ellsbury left Boston via free agency in the offseason after signing with the Yankees on a seven-year, $153 million contract, a number unmatched by the Red Sox. Lester, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, was traded to Oakland at the deadline after contract negotiations failed to come to fruition.

Ellsbury, in Boston Friday for the Yankees‘ three-game set at Fenway Park, came up through the Sox’ minor league system with Lester and won a pair of World Series titles with him.

While some may have been surprised to see Lester go, Ellsbury said he wasn’t sure what to expect given the business of baseball.

“It’s hard to say,” Ellsbury said. “You come up through the minor league system and that’s really all you know. Like I’ve said numerous times, I enjoyed my time in Boston and I think Lester has said the same thing but you just never know. You never know how it’s going to go. I wish him the best. Hopefully things work out how he wants it too.”

The Lester trade was one of just four deals made by the Sox by Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline. The deals represented a shift in focus for the last-place Sox, who appear to be rebuilding for next season. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell: ‘We’re not in a development phase. … Where we are is unacceptable’

08.01.14 at 6:00 pm ET
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A dispirited Red Sox team left Fenway Park on Wednesday. The team had just lost its third straight game to the Blue Jays. Trade winds whirled around a team that had lost eight of nine games to fall to 48-60, on pace for a 72-90 record that itself seemed like a potentially ambitious mark.

But on Friday, with the Sox having brought back veteran components (Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, Joe Kelly) while dealing away key veterans (Jon Lester, John Lackey, Andrew Miller, Stephen Drew), John Farrell suggested that the Sox were not going to be content to go through the motions while hoping that young players familiarize themselves with the big league setting over the duration of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

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