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Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts starts again at third base 09.17.13 at 2:41 pm ET
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For the first time in his big league career, Xander Bogaerts will start for a third straight day, getting the start at third base in place of Will Middlebrooks (who was sidelined on Sunday by the flu). Bogaerts went 2-for-3 with a double and walk on Sunday, and is now hitting .303 with a .361 OBP and .455 slugging mark in 13 games (36 plate appearances) since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket a month ago. Bogaerts will be in the lineup against Orioles right-hander Scott Feldman.

Shane Victorino will return to the lineup and play center on Tuesday, with Mike Carp playing left against the right-handed Feldman and Daniel Nava crossing the outfield to play right. Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be behind the plate for Ryan Dempster.

For a complete list of batter vs. starting pitcher matchups, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Shane Victorino, CF

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

Mike Carp, LF

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

Stephen Drew, SS

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

Ryan Dempster, SP

John Farrell: John Lackey, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz line up as possible Game 1 starter 09.17.13 at 9:48 am ET
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John Farrell

John Farrell

Red Sox manager John Farrell, in an interview on WEEI’s Road to October show on Monday night, said that the Red Sox currently have John Lackey, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz lined up to pitch against the Orioles in the final weekend of the regular season, with one of those three starters thus positioned to pitch in a potential Game 1 of the American League Division Series on October 4. The fact that there are four off days between the final day of the regular season and the first game of the ALDS represents a dramatic departure in terms of a team’s ability to line up its rotation if it does not participate in one of the wild card play-in games.

“This year is so different,” Farrell said of the prospect of arranging the rotation relative to the task of doing so in past postseason runs. “If there’s not the play-in game, there’s the ability to arrange things. In the past, we didn’t have that option. You went from the end of the season, one day off and your next series started. Your rotation was kind of pared down to maybe one or two options. This time around, we have the possibility of more options. Just looking at the way our rotation plays out the remaining 11 games, it’s going to be Lackey, Lester and Buchholz. That’s the way it’s falling right now. Those are the three guys who are going to start that series. That’s kind of where we are, and I think one of those three will end up pitching Game 1 provided that we get there.”

Farrell also touched on a few additional topics. Among them:

Jacoby Ellsbury has yet to progress to baseball activities, meaning that he’s neither running nor swinging a bat in his return from a small, non-displaced fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot. While there are just 11 games left in the regular season, the Sox manager suggested that he remains hopeful that the team will see Ellsbury again in a game before October. Still, he suggested that the impact of the downtime at this time of the year might be less extreme than if his absence came before the outfielder had an opportunity to get into the rhythm of a season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Farrell, john lackey
Red Sox pregame notes: Xander Bogaerts’ ‘invaluable’ time with Red Sox; Will Middlebrooks sick; callups can wait 09.15.13 at 9:03 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts is making his second start in as many days on Sunday. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts is making his second start in as many days on Sunday. (AP)

The on-field opportunities for Xander Bogaerts have been limited. But that has not diminished the impact of his time in the big leagues.

The Red Sox called up the 20-year-old last month because they wanted an impact player — preferably a right-handed one — who could offer depth on the left side of the infield. Based on his performance in Pawtucket, the superprospect clearly represented that.

But while he’s played in just 13 games (including Sunday night, in which he’s starting at third for Will Middlebrooks), thus limiting his on-field training for a future in the big leagues, Bogaerts has been able to make — and receive — an impression both on and off the field.

“He’s a very graceful defender. Right now, he looks more comfortable at short than he would at third, which you’d expect because of the number of games played there. But he’s blended in well. He’s been all eyes and ears. He asks great questions,” said manager John Farrell. “This has been invaluable, the time that he’s been here so far. He’s got a bright future.”

That thought from Farrell reflects on Bogaerts’ determination to do just that, and the process he follows in pursuit of that goal. Bogaerts acknowledged recently that he’s “trying really hard to be something great,” and the way in which he’s going about training for a future big league role underscores that commitment.

“I think the individual person is going to take advantage of that more than others,” said Farrell. “He’s a smart kid. He’s very respectful, and I mean that in a good way. He doesn’t come across as he knows it all. He’s all eyes and ears. … His comment of wanting to be great, that’s what you hope every young player aspires to. That means he’s going to put in the work, make the sacrifices that we talked about with Mariano [Rivera]. Whether he achieves that status, who knows? But he’s wanting to put forth that effort.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES Read the rest of this entry »

Mariano Rivera on last regular-season game at Fenway Park: ‘Hopefully it’s not the last time’ 09.15.13 at 8:17 pm ET
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091513_rivera

Mariano Rivera was suiting up for his last regular-season game at Fenway Park on Sunday night. (AP)

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, prior to a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park to honor his remarkable career, expressed his appreciation for the fact that his foremost rivals were celebrating his 19 big league seasons.

“It’s different. Let’s put it that way,” said Rivera. “I’m humbled and honored and I appreciate what they’re doing.”

He suggested that because his first time pitching in Fenway Park came so long ago — on July 16, 1996, he recorded two scoreless innings in a surgical 26 pitches in the first of his 55 regular-season games at Fenway — it was difficult to recall that day in sharp detail. Still, he expressed his affection for Fenway as a visitor, and the many memories he has of the park.

You come here to play against the Red Sox in Fenway, it’s always great games,” he said. “It’s never easy. It’s not. Big moments, big games, every game means something. The games are spectacular. … I always take this opportunity to remember where 19 years I played against the Red Sox. Trying to do my job, it’s not easy.”

In a sense, this is the second time that Rivera has been honored prior to a Red Sox game. The first came prior to the home opener in 2005, when Rivera was cheered at a time when he had blown some early season saves against the Red Sox, the year after he’d blown saves in Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS at Fenway as part of the Sox’ epic comeback that netted a return from a 3-0 deficit en route to Boston’s seven-game triumph in that series followed by the Sox’ first World Series title in 86 years.

“It was great,” Rivera said with a grin about that reception. “Hey, they won. You know? We don’t give it to them; I didn’t give it to them. They won.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts in; Will Middlebrooks, Shane Victorino sit 09.15.13 at 4:12 pm ET
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At a time when Will Middlebrooks is amidst an 0-for-17 stretch spanning the past five games, Xander Bogaerts will start at third base for the Red Sox on Sunday against the Yankees and right-hander Ivan Nova. Middlebrooks has struck out five times in those 17 plate appearances, including three times in four at-bats on Saturday. Meanwhile, this represents just the second time that Bogaerts has started in consecutive games since getting called up to the big leagues

Shane Victorino will also sit, with Daniel Nava in right and Mike Carp in left. Jarrod Salatlamacchia will be behind the plate in Clay Buchholz‘s second start since returning from the DL.

For complete batter vs. starting pitcher histories, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

Daniel Nava, RF

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Carp, LF

Mike Napoli, 1B

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C

Stephen Drew, SS

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Clay Buchholz, SP

Red Sox minor league roundup of the roundup: End of the season, restoration of a youthful blueprint 09.15.13 at 10:17 am ET
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With Xander Bogaerts (above) and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the big leagues, the PawSox offense struggled during the playoffs. (AP)

With Xander Bogaerts (above) and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the big leagues, the PawSox offense struggled during the playoffs. (AP)

The Red Sox’ minor league season came to an end on Saturday, when the Durham Bulls dominated Triple-A Pawtucket, 7-0, to claim a 3-1 win in the best-of-five Governor’s Cup championship series. In a series where Pawtucket produced just three runs in four games, the lineup depleted by the absence of players like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts, the outcome wasn’t necessarily shocking. Nor, in a sense, was it lamented, given the bigger picture of what is happening with the Red Sox.

“We watched the Red Sox win (Saturday afternoon in their 5-1 decision over the Yankees), and — no matter what the names are — you see them contribute to a 90-plus-win team, and that’s what it’s all about,” PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina told the Pawtucket Times. “The fun part for me watching them get there, watching guys play and relax and work their way up.”

What the Red Sox accomplished this year went beyond the success of some of the individual minor league affiliates or even the success of the Red Sox at the major league level. What the Red Sox have done this year is to restore a model of system-wide depth in which they were and are positioned to address the lion’s share of struggles and/or underperformances through their minor league system while maintaining championship-caliber ambitions.

That hasn’t been the case in every aspect of the team. The Sox ended up deciding to trade for Jake Peavy with Clay Buchholz down — though the deal came at a point when Brandon Workman was pitching well enough to suggest that he had a chance to offer scaffolding for a struggling rotation — and the team’s attempt to find internal answers to its bullpen struggles (with pitchers such as Workman, Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Pedro Beato, Jose De La Torre and Alex Wilson) yielded some promise but not yet consistent results. Still . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Time: Jarrod Saltalamacchia punctuates best season in grand style to lead Red Sox past Yankees 09.13.13 at 10:17 pm ET
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia launched a grand slam to lead the Sox to an 8-4 win. (AP)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia launched a grand slam to lead the Sox to an 8-4 win. (AP)

The issue for Jarrod Saltalamacchia had never been talent. The questions about his status in baseball related to his consistency, both offensively and defensively.

The 28-year-old had shown flashes of brilliance both behind the plate and with a bat in his hands, but the stretches throughout his career often proved fleeting — he would excel for perhaps a month, perhaps three, but there was a deep slump on the other side. More specifically, in both 2011 and again in 2012, Saltalamacchia had seen his numbers nosedive down the stretch, hitting a combined .171 over the last two Septembers.

On Friday, Saltalamacchia punctuated what has been his best season as an everyday catcher with a tremendous night, going 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and, most significantly, the grand slam that unlocked a 4-4 tie and propelled the Red Sox to an 8-4 win — the team’s 90th of the year — that dropped their magic number to seven. It was Saltalamacchia’s 13th homer of the year and his second in as many days, a suggestion that the rest he was afforded to let his lower back stiffness subside achieved the desired impact.

Saltalamacchia is now hitting .263 with a .334 OBP and .454 slugging percentage, all marks that suggest that he’s a top 10 offensive catcher in all of baseball — and one who has now learned to be consistent over the course of a full year, having now produced an OPS of .750 or better in every month of the year. That offensive performance, coupled with the fact that he’s emerged as a respected leader of the pitching staff, suggest that he is coming into his own in all aspects of the game.

Other members of the Red Sox are more heralded, of course, but Saltalamacchia’s overall value to the team with the best record in the American League has been far-reaching, a notion that was underscored in grand fashion on Friday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Shortstop Stephen Drew collected a pair of doubles, including a two-run shot to the opposite field in the first inning to give the Sox their early advantage. Since July 27, he’s hitting .292/.369/.513 with seven homers and 20 extra-base hits in 42 games.

David Ortiz appears to have his opposite-field approach locked back in, as he went 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles to left while getting hit by a pitch and walking.

Dustin Pedroia continued his early success in the leadoff role for the Sox. He now has a four-game hitting streak atop the order after going 2-for-5 on Friday. He’s 6-for-18 with a walk atop the order during that stretch.

– Naturally, John Lackey was saddled with a no-decision on a night when he pitched well. The right-hander exited with a 4-2 lead in the seventh, only to see his bullpen permit both runners he left on base to score. Still, Lackey continued to offer a steady supply of innings, with Friday marking the 17th time in 27 starts that he’s recorded at least one out in the seventh inning.

Koji Uehara blitzed through a perfect ninth, extending his streak of consecutive batters retired to 37.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– For the second straight matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees, the Sox had starter Hiroki Kuroda on the ropes early but could not deliver a knockout blow. After they plated four runs and forced the Yankees right-hander to log 33 pitches in the first inning, and then loaded the bases with one out in the second, the team seemed ready to blow out the Yankees in the contest’s initial frames. However, Mike Carp struck out and Daniel Nava lined out to end that threat, and Kuroda then settled to retire 14 of 16, pitching into the seventh inning and permitting the Yankees to whittle their deficit from 4-0 to a tie game before Saltalamacchia’s blast untied it.

Craig Breslow suffered a rare lapse in his strike-throwing ability. He fell behind each of the first two hitters he faced by 3-0 counts, first to Curtis Granderson (eventually working his way back to a strikeout) and then Alex Rodriguez (whom he walked) before giving up the game-tying double on a 2-1 pitch to Robinson Cano.

Jackie Bradley Jr. added to his offensive struggles in his return to the big leagues, going 0-for-4 with strikeout and a pair of groundouts. He’s now 1-for-11 in his last four games.

Will Middlebrooks, after going 0-for-9 in the series against the Rays, continued his skid with an 0-for-4 night that included a strikeout.

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