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Clay Buchholz says lat, not shoulder, has been issue since ALCS 10.28.13 at 4:50 am ET
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ST. LOUIS — Clay Buchholz missed more than three months this year due to inflammation in the bursa sac of his right shoulder. But that’s not the injury that had his ability to start in the World Series in some doubt.

Instead, Buchholz said, he was dealing with tightness in his right lat. He said it was unrelated to his prior shoulder injury, and “felt completely different” than the shoulder issue.

“A little bit of lat stuff. I think that’s really where I’ve got the most tenderness, or [tightness],” Buchholz said of his ailment following his four innings of work in the Sox’ 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the World Series. “That’s about it. I think all the stiffness and soreness was running a couple other places. I think all the tugging and pulling they had to do on it may have made other things sore, but to be able to come out and start this game tonight, it’s big.”

Buchholz said that he was concerned throughout the days leading up to his start about whether he might be able take the mound. Those weren’t answered completely until Sunday night. Read the rest of this entry »

David Ortiz, David Ross expected to start again on Monday 10.28.13 at 4:31 am ET
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ST. LOUIS — Red Sox manager John Farrell said after his team’s 4-2 win in Game 4 of the World Series that he expects to have David Ortiz at first base for the third straight contest in Game 5 of the World Series and that he “likely” will have catcher David Ross back in the starting lineup to work with starting pitcher Jon Lester.

The decision to have Ortiz start at first base has gone from complicated (based on the performance of Mike Napoli in the ALCS and World Series) to obvious. Ortiz went 3-for-3 with a double and walk on Sunday, and he’s now hitting an absurd .727 with a .750 OBP and 1.344 slugging mark in the World Series.

“Playing first base has certainly not affected [Ortiz's hitting] in any way,” said Farrell. “He’ll be back in there [in Game 5] at first.”

The Sox are now 4-1 in the starts where Ross (who was 0-for-4 on Sunday) has started at catcher, including 2-1 with Lester.

“[Ross is] ready to go [Monday], and likely will be back there as he’s paired up with Jon Lester,” said Farrell. “Good game caller, as he’s always been known for. Very good at framing pitches. And ran a very good game once again tonight.”

Closing Time: Red Sox rebound as Clay Buchholz, Jonny Gomes deliver in series-tying Game 4 win over Cardinals 10.27.13 at 11:52 pm ET
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ST. LOUIS — According to popular opinion, neither of them should have been in the game.

Clay Buchholz was too injured, too lost in the notion of his own fragility to be effective. The Sox, many believed, should shut him down and give the ball for the Game 4 start to someone else — perhaps Felix Doubront, perhaps Ryan Dempster, perhaps Jon Lester on three days’ rest.

As for Jonny Gomes, he had been a good mascot, but his role as a magic charm delivering one postseason win after another had come and gone. Even with Shane Victorino injured, some wondered whether it was Gomes — hitting .152/.200/.212 in the playoffs — who should be in the lineup over the left-handed Mike Carp. At the least, inserting Gomes as the No. 5 hitter, behind David Ortiz, seemed a guarantee that the Sox’ foremost slugger would see few pitches to hit.

But both players defied the limited (or even negative) expectations for their performances, and as a result, the Red Sox — one day removed from an agonizing defeat that still rankled the team one day later — claimed a 4-2 triumph to knot the World Series, 2-2.

Buchholz gave the Red Sox virtually everything for which they could have hoped. He worked with a clearly diminished arsenal made evident by the fact that his fastball started at 86-88 mph in the first inning and, after a gradual build-up, eventually elevated to a still-pedestrian 88-90 mph. But while he lacked power and velocity, the right-hander still showed his characteristically excellent feel for pitching and ability to manipulate the baseball, staying out of the middle of the plate and doing just enough with his fastball, changeup, splitter, cutter and curve to stay off the barrel of the Cardinals’ bats. In four innings, he limited the Cardinals to three hits (two singles and a double) while allowing three walks, working around trouble (he allowed multiple base runners in the second, third and fourth innings) to limit the Cardinals to one unearned run before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth, after the Sox had rallied to tie the game, 1-1.

Buchholz both kept the St. Louis lineup in check and gave the Sox enough innings to reach a point where they could line up their bullpen for the rest of the game. In short, he did a solid job of giving his team a chance to win.

And that the Sox did, thanks to Gomes, the player who was hitless in his first nine plate appearances of the World Series. The left fielder finally broke through, to a degree, in the fifth, when he worked his way back from an 0-2 count against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn to elicit a 10-pitch walk. But that was merely the appetizer.

In the top of the sixth, the Sox amassed a two-out rally when Dustin Pedroia singled and the Cardinals pitched around Ortiz. Cards skipper Mike Matheny brought in right-hander Seth Maness for Gomes; Gomes was ready. After seeing four straight sinkers en route to a 2-2 count, Gomes sat on a hanging sinker when Maness went back to that well for a fifth straight time. This time, the offering was elevated, belt high, and Gomes launched it through the cold St. Louis air, the rocket finally descending in the Cardinals bullpen for a three-run home run that gave the Sox a 4-1 lead.

That cushion — a considerable margin in a series where runs have seemingly arrived one at a time — permitted the Sox to navigate the latter innings en route to their series-tying victory, in a game that could be seen as pivotal based on World Series precedent. Teams that win Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead have won 86 percent of the time; teams that rallied for a Game 4 win to tie the series, 2-2, have historically gone on to win the World Series 54 percent of the time.

In other words, the Sox claimed a victory in a game that represented the difference between a near certain elimination and a slightly better than 50-50 shot at a title — largely thanks to performances that few might have anticipated entering the contest.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The incomparable Ortiz continued to provide an offensive force like no other for the Red Sox, going 3-for-3 with a pair of singles (one of the infield variety, when his hard comebacker kicked off Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, another against hard-throwing lefty Kevin Siegrist), a double and a walk. He is enjoying an epic World Series so far, hitting .727/.750/1.364. He’s reached base in 12 of his 16 plate appearances — with one of his four outs having come when he was robbed of a grand slam by Carlos Beltran. Read the rest of this entry »

Updated Red Sox World Series Game 4 lineup: Shane Victorino scratched; David Ross replaces Jarrod Saltalamacchia 10.27.13 at 4:42 pm ET
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ST. LOUIS — One day after manager John Farrell said that the Red Sox might consider having David Ross start at catcher in place of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, he elected to use a lineup featuring just such a substitution. Ross is behind the plate to catch for starter Clay Buchholz, the first time this postseason that Ross has been paired with Buchholz. He’s started three games with Jon Lester on the mound and one with John Lackey pitching, amassing an offensive line of .308/.357/.462 in 15 plate appearances while helping the pitching staff to go 3-1 while yielding an average of 2.25 runs per game in his starts. Saltalamacchia, meanwhile, is hitting .188/.257/.219 with 19 strikeouts in 35 plate appearances in October. The Sox are 5-4 in the games where he’s been behind the plate.

Otherwise, the lineup is unchanged from Game 3, with Stephen Drew once again starting at shortstop, Xander Bogaerts at third base, David Ortiz at first and Mike Napoli on the bench.

UPDATE: The Red Sox scratched right fielder Shane Victorino, originally slated to bat second, from the starting lineup due to what the team described as lower back tightness. Daniel Nava, who was originally batting fifth and playing left, will instead bat second and play right, with Jonny Gomes entering the lineup in the fifth spot.

Victorino is hitting .188 with a .304 OBP and .271 slugging mark in the postseason with 14 strikeouts and one walk (along with a postseason record-setting seven HBPs in 57 plate appearances). In nine games since the start of the ALCS, he’s hitting .088/.184/.206. Gomes, meanwhile, is hitting .152/.200/.212 in 35 postseason plate appearances and 0-for-8 in the World Series. The question of offensive productivity in the batter’s box notwithstanding, the swap of Victorino for Gomes (whom the Sox felt was not as good a defender as Nava) diminishes the Sox’ defensive range in the outfield in a Busch Stadium outfield that is among the more expansive in baseball.

No member of the Cardinals roster has ever faced Buchholz, while the Sox have limited history with St. Louis starter Lance Lynn. For a complete look at the batter vs. starting pitcher matchups, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF

Shane Victorino, RF  Daniel Nava, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, 1B

Daniel Nava, LF Jonny Gomes, LF

Xander Bogaerts, 3B

Stephen Drew, SS

David Ross, C

Clay Buchholz, SP

Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo: Sox expect 100 pitches from Clay Buchholz; Mike Napoli an ‘emergency’ option at third base 10.27.13 at 3:46 pm ET
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ST. LOUIS — Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, in an interview on WEEI, suggested that the Sox believe that Clay Buchholz is “ready to go” and give the team a full workload for Game 4 of the World Series.

“Clay is ready to go. He’s fully armed and loaded. We anticipate Clay giving us 100 pitches and getting into the seventh inning, that’s first and foremost,” said Lovullo, in a conversation about how the Sox used their pitching staff in Game 3 knowing that there are questions about what Buchholz might be able to offer as the Game 4 starter. “But you always have to have that backup thought that just in case, you better have some length or somebody in there to have a little bit of coverage.”

Lovullo also discussed the Sox’ impetus for having Mike Napoli take grounders at third base prior to Game 3 of the World Series, chuckling that team officials knew that having the first baseman do so would “raise some eyebrows.” But he suggested while the Sox are contemplating using Napoli at a position he hasn’t played as a professional since 2004, the team does not view Napoli as an option to start at third base. Lovullo characterized Napoli at third base as being preparation for “an emergency situation.”

“We’re looking for any advantage that we can have, any advantage that will help us score runs by putting the best players out on the field at any given time,” said Lovullo. “[The idea of Napoli at third base is] more of a) an emergency situation b) a quick matchup where we could put him out there for one inning with a double-switch and then potentially have another double-switch where, there might be a pinch-run situation or something for [David Ortiz] where we can slide Napoli back over to first base and now play defense in a go-ahead situation. It’s not for a long-term, nine-inning start. It’s mostly for an emergency, a quick inning double-switch or maybe lightning in a bottle, hit a three-run home run, go ahead and slide him over there, in a situation where we already have maneuvered with some of our backup infielders — in this case, Will — in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Allen Craig, Brandon Workman, Clay Buchholz, mike napoli
John Farrell suggests he should have double-switched to avoid Brandon Workman hitting 10.27.13 at 1:59 am ET
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ST. LOUIS — Red Sox manager John Farrell raised eyebrows with his decision to let pitcher Brandon Workman hit for himself in the top of the ninth inning, rather than employing a pinch-hitter (at a time when Mike Napoli, David Ross and Quintin Berry were on the bench). The decision became even more puzzling when, in the bottom of the ninth, Farrell lifted Workman in favor of closer Koji Uehara after a one-out single.

Farrell suggested that he did have the Sox in a flawed position in the batting order, but suggested that the mistake he made occurred when Workman entered the game in the bottom of the eighth, rather than by letting Workman hit for himself in the ninth. In retrospect, Farrell said, he should have employed a double-switch, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who made the final out of the top of the eighth inning) getting taken out of the game in favor of David Ross, thus putting Ross (who would have been put in the ninth spot in the lineup) in place to bat second in the ninth inning, and Workman’s spot in the order (seventh) not due up for nine hitters.

“In hindsight, probably should have double-switched after Salty made the final out the previous inning, with Workman coming in the game. I felt like we get into an extended situation, which that game was looking like it was going to — held [Napoli] back in the event that spot came up again,” said Farrell. “In hindsight having Workman hit against [Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, who blew away Workman on three fastballs] is a mismatch. I recognize it, but we needed more than one inning out of Workman.”

Farrell further clarified that he didn’t want to use Uehara for a full two innings, thus further playing into the decision to let Workman hit in the ninth once he had missed the opportunity to double-switch.

“I felt like we had four outs with Koji, four to five outs,” said Farrell. “If the thought was to go for a two-inning outing for Koji, we would have pinch-hit for Workman the inning before. We were trying to get two innings out of Workman. Once his pitch count was getting in the 30s range, with the go-ahead run on base, that was the time to bring Koji in, even though this would have been five outs. We fully expected him to go back out for the 10th.”

Umpires offer their explanation for ‘great call’ on obstruction ruling 10.27.13 at 1:36 am ET
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ST. LOUIS — The World Series umpiring crew offered its explanation of what may become one of the most controversial rulings in baseball history. Crew chief John Hirschbeck, third base umpire Jim Joyce (who made the obstruction ruling that ended up resulting in Allen Craig being awarded home plate for the 5-4 Cardinals walkoff victory in the bottom of the ninth) and home plate ump Dana DeMuth, along with MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre, addressed the media following the game.

First, the obstruction rule as defined:

Obstruction is the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.

Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment: If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered ‘€œin the act of fielding a ball.’€ It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the ‘€œact of fielding’€ the ball. For example: an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.

Some highlights of the press conference — which featured Hirschbeck proclaiming the ruling a “great call” by Joyce:

HIRSCHBECK WITH AN EXPLANATION OF THE OBSTRUCTION RULE Read the rest of this entry »

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