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Closing Time: Jonny Gomes, Grady Sizemore makes sure Jon Lester finally gets support as Red Sox win

04.11.14 at 10:08 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Grady Sizemore and Jonny Gomes were going to make sure Jon Lester was finally going to get some runs to work with. And once they did, the Red Sox lefty took advantage.

Gomes and Sizemore both homered in the Sox’ pivotal four-run sixth inning against Yankees starter CC Sabathia, handing the visitors enough offense to claim a 4-2 win over New York, at Yankee Stadium.

(Lester had entered the game having gotten just one run of support in his first two starts.)

“I felt all right,” Lester said. “I had some grinds in there throughout the game. That’s the Yankees. They’re going to grind away at you and make you throw a bunch of pitches. Overall, none of that really matters. We won the game, at the end, that’s all that matters.”

While Gomes’ solo homer and Sizemore’s three-run job highlighted the offense for the Red Sox, perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the night for John Farrell‘s team was the continued excellence of Lester. The starter went 6 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, two runs, and two walks while striking out six. Lester finished his outing throwing 113 pitches.

Sabathia continued his struggles against the Red Sox, having come in the night totaling a 4-6 mark and 6.48 ERA against the Sox since the beginning of 2011. (The Yankees‘ record in those 12 starts was 4-8.) The lefty went seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits, striking out nine and walking two.

“CC is such a competitor and bulldog out there,” Gomes said. “Once he gets the lead you have to do what you can to jump him. So coming out in the sixth he’s going to be pounding the strike zone so I want to try and be aggressive in the count. We did a great job. You really have to congratulate Jon Lester, keeping us off our feet on defense. We couldn’t get much going early on and he kept running out there with those quick inning. He pitched his heart out tonight and I’m glad we were able to give him some runs.”

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- Gomes’ homer — clearing the left field fence — was his first of the season. The outfielder finished with two hits, marking his first multi-hit game of the season.

- Sizemore also came away with a pair of hits, including the blast over the right field fence with David Ortiz and Mike Napoli having gotten aboard via singles. The Sox left fielder also is now 4-for-10 against left-handers this season.

- Junichi Tazawa came on and ended the Yankees‘ threat in the seventh inning, getting Derek Jeter to fly out to right on the reliever’s second pitch of the night. Tazawa came on for Lester with runners on first and second with the Sox leading by a pair. The righty finished his night allowing just one hit over 1 1/3 innings.

- Edward Mujica came on for the ninth to pick up his first save as a member of the Red Sox.

WHAT WENT WRONG 

- Dustin Pedroia went hitless in back-to-back games for the first time this season, going 0-for-4 to lower his batting average to .240. Pedroia still hasn’t walked this season.

- Lester could have escaped his outing having surrendered just one run (an Alfonso Soriano homer) if home plate umpire Brian Hays had given the lefty a two-strike cutter against Brian Roberts in the seventh. But Roberts would ultimately walk (to Lester’s dismay), leading to a Kelly Johnson RBI single.

- Koji Uehara was sidelined after experiencing shoulder stiffness. (See details by clicking here.)

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David Ross on Brian McCann: ‘I knew he wanted to come (to Boston), a lot’

04.11.14 at 8:47 pm ET
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NEW YORK — David Ross had hope.

For a portion of the offseason, the Red Sox catcher believed his longtime friend and teammate, Brian McCann, might actually end up in Boston.

But then, on a November get-away weekend with McCann and former Braves pitcher Eric O’€™Flaherty (whom the Red Sox also had interest in), the free agent catcher broke the news to his buddy.

“We went on a guys’€™ trip and he had told me the Yankees had made a pretty good offer early on and he was probably going to be a Yankee,” Ross said. “I didn’€™t say anything because that’€™s a lot of money and I don’€™t want to be messing up anybody’€™s thing.

“Early on I did (think McCann would come to Boston). I knew he wanted to come here, a lot. I had just told him what it was like here and that interested him. But when it comes to that much money they were talking about, I kind of stayed out of it because he’€™s got to make the best decision for him and his family. But I definitely was telling him about everything I liked about being here, and how well he would fit in here. But the Red Sox weren’€™t even close to what he got, so it really was a no-brainer.”

The left-handed hitting McCann ‘€“ who signed a five-year, $85 million deal (with a $15 team option) ‘€“ is batting just .167 with a .356 OPS in his first nine games with the Yankees.

Still, the expectation is that acquring the 10-year veteran (he of the .819 career OPS) will ultimately be a big win for the Yankees.

“It’€™s weird competing against him. It’€™s really weird,” Ross said. “It’€™s funny to me. There was a foul ball over near our dugout about 20 rows deep and he ran over and I was yelling, ‘€˜You’€™ve got room!’€™ He just started laughing. You turn yourself into competitors. I want to now kick his tail every time I play him.

“I think they knew how close we were. I know there was some dialogue and they were interested in him. There were other players they called me about, including some catchers. They knew he would fit in well here. But they were in a tough position here where they had some really good catchers coming. I don’€™t know if the Yankees felt the same way about their farm system.”

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Shane Victorino: Michael Pineda’s alleged use of pine tar ‘was too obvious”

04.11.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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NEW YORK —  Shane Victorino seemed to speak for the majority of players in the Red Sox‘€ clubhouse when asked about the controversy surrounding the foreign substance spotted on Michael Pineda‘s right hand Thursday night.

‘€œI don’€t sit here and go ‘€˜˜he’s cheating.’€ Do whatever you’€ve got to do get a grip on that ball so it doesn’€t hit me in the head,” Victorino said. “There are nights when you can’€t feel a grip. Last night was a little overboard. But we couldn’€t hit him. That’€s my point, it’€s going to be a bigger story because the camera caught it. As I said, you can’€t take anything away from Pineda’€s performance but people are going to assume that he did what he did because of that ‘€no. He’€s going to come out clean next outing and be just as good, he can do that.

‘€œWhat are we going to do now? No, it’€s too late. It’€s not like we can take it back. Let the league handle it and whatever decision they decide to make, let them make and it is what it is.’€

Victorino emphasized that while the glob of what appeared to be pine tar was perhaps too prevalent for his liking, it also wasn’€t the reason for Pineda’€s effectiveness.

‘€œIf you need it for grip purpose, as a hitter, do what you’ve got to do on that mound to have a better grip. Everybody does it,’€ the outfielder said. ‘€œSo it’€s not like, as I said, last night was a little obvious, a little overboard. Was that why he did what he did on the mound? Hell, no. Pineda was good.

‘€œI do it all the time from the outfield. When I throw it in I bounce it. Why? Because I want my pitcher to have a scuff on the ball. So when I throw it in from the outfield, I bounce it. There’€s all kinds of ways to do it. Throwing between innings, catcher throws it down, it short-hops, all right, that ball’s scuffed. There’€s so many ways ‘€¦ Throw the ball every time in the dirt, if you want to go that badly. ‘€¦What happened last night was because it got so blatant. It was too obvious.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell also re-emphasized prior to Friday night’€s game that he might have drawn attention to the substance, but by the time he had come to realize it’€s presence Pineda had removed it from the palm of his pitching hand.

In other news, Farrell noted the both Victorino (hamstring) and Will Middlebrooks (calf) would be re-evaluated after the Red Sox’ series in Chicago against the White Sox, with Victorino progressing a bit ahead of the third baseman. At that point the outfielder could be ready for a minor league rehab outing.

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Red Sox lineup: Jackie Bradley Jr. remains in lineup against CC Sabathia

04.11.14 at 3:31 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

NEW YORK — Even with Yankees lefty CC Sabathia on the mound for Friday’s tilt at Yankee Stadium, left-handed hitting Jackie Bradley Jr. remains in the lineup for the Red Sox, playing center field. Grady Sizemore returns to left field, while Jonny Gomes replaces Daniel Nava in right.

Here is the Red Sox’ lineup in the second of a four-game series:

Jonny Gomes RF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Grady Sizemore LF

Xander Bogaerts SS

Ryan Roberts 3B

David Ross C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Jon Lester P

For all the matchups, click here.

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Kevin Millar on M&M: Michael Pineda pine tar controversy ‘not a big deal’

04.11.14 at 12:50 pm ET
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Kevin Millar

Kevin Millar

MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Red Sox news, focusing on Thursday’s loss to the Yankees and the controversy surrounding pitcher Michael Pineda. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

In Thursday’s game, Pineda appeared to have pine tar on his wrist and arm as he kept the Red Sox bats in check during New York’s 4-1 victory.

“This goes on, first of all, let’s get that out there,” Millar said. “This goes on in every single clubhouse, every single staff. ‘€¦ It goes on. Has it ever bothered me? Never. It’s part of what goes on. The problem I have with it now if I’m the league, how do you address this. Because I don’t mind it going on, but you can’t carry a pine tar rag in the back pocket. Don’t throw it in my face.

“So, that’s my biggest thing. If I’m the league, how do I address this. Because we’ve seen this from Jon Lester in the postseason last year, we’ve seen it from [Clay] Buchholz in Toronto, we’ve seen it from now Pineda, we’ve seen it with Kenny Rogers in the World Series. And it’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t mean, oh, you’re a bad guy. But don’t throw it in my face now.”

Millar said it benefits everyone if the pitchers have a strong grip on the ball.

“It’s not cheating,” he insisted. “You’ve never thrown a baseball in 37-degree weather. You need some grip. And it goes on with hair mousse, it goes on with hair gel when it dries up, players that go to their hat off, whether it’s rosin — I’ve seen players put rosin in their hair. That’s why we use rosin on the mound. That’s why there’s pine tar and Stickum on our bats. Because if you have a little bit of grip the bat’s not going to go flying out of your hands into the stands and hit somebody in the head.

“It’s the same thing with a baseball. As hitters, I don’t mind a guy having a grip. Because I’d rather him have a grip and throw the ball where he wants to throw the ball than throw it at my neck by accident. So that’s why it’s not a big deal from the players’ standpoint. It’s fun for media to talk about. It’s fun to go, ‘Oh my God, what was it?’ It’s fun to hear Pineda say it’s dirt. Right. Did you just go No. 2 in the bathroom stall? Brother, that ain’t dirt. That’s all the fun stuff. The bottom line is it’s not a big deal.”

For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox minor league roundup: Rubby De La Rosa dominating; feats of Mookie Betts; Jamie Callahan strikes out everyone

04.11.14 at 12:10 pm ET
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Rubby De La Rosa has been dominant in two starts this year. (AP)

Rubby De La Rosa has been dominant in two starts this year. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Friday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-4 WIN AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

– When Rubby De La Rosa opened the 2014 season with five dominating innings in which he yielded neither a run nor a walk, the Red Sox were thrilled, but with a caveat — they wanted to see him do it again. On Thursday, he did just that. De La Rosa logged a strong 5 2/3 innings in which he once again attacked his opponents, allowing just one run while permitting two hits (both singles) and walking two while retiring the last 12 batters he faced. He punched out four. In two starts so far, the 25-year-old has allowed one run in 10 2/3 innings (0.84 ERA) while punching out nine and walking two. He’s given up just four hits, with opponents hitting .111 against him to date this season. And he’s been an absolute groundball machine, with 14 of his 15 outs recorded by strikeout or groundball in his first outing and 15 of his 17 outs recorded by strikeout or groundball on Thursday.

Brock Holt added to his strong start to the year by going 3-for-5; he’s now 9-for-22 with a .409/.500/.500 line in 26 plate appearances. Holt did strike out for the first time of the season on Thursday. His nine hits in six games are one shy of the number he amassed in 20 games for Pawtucket last April.

– Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-5 and clubbed his first homer of the year. He’s now 3-for-9 with a double and homer — his first two extra-base hits of the year — in his last two games. Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchups: Jon Lester vs. CC Sabathia

04.11.14 at 8:44 am ET
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The Red Sox will look to bounce back after a controversial loss to the Yankees on Thursday when they send Jon Lester to the mound against CC Sabathia on Friday.

Lester is looking for his first win of the season when he takes the mound at Yankee Stadium. The southpaw, who is making his third start of the year, came away with the loss on April 6 when he gave up four runs, two of which were earned, on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings in a 4-0 loss.

Lester has not given up more than two earned runs in either of his outings this season.

“We created a number of opportunities obviously,” John Farrell said after the loss (via MLB.com). “I thought we squared up a number of balls that got knocked down by some gusty winds in the outfield. But we continue to create chances. I thought Jon Lester was in control of the ballgame here today. They made the most of the hits they put up.”

Lester battled Sabathia when he last took on the Yankees on Sept. 14, 2013. Lester came away with the win as he gave up just one earned run and scattered three hits and five strikeouts over eight innings. Sabathia struggled during his six innings as he gave up five runs on nine hits with four walks and five strikeouts in Boston’s 5-1 win.

Sabathia picked up his first win of 2014 on April 6 after he gave up four earned runs on seven hits during six innings against the Blue Jays — an improvement over his first outing of the year when he earned a loss after giving up six runs in six innings.

Lester is a career 11-5 against the Yankees with a 3.96 ERA and a WHIP of 1.40, while Sabathia has gone 10-11 with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP against the Sox.

Read the rest of this entry »

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