|Closing Time: CC Sabathia dominates, Jon Lester continues struggles as Yankees beat Red Sox||05.31.13 at 10:03 pm ET|
On Opening Day, the Red Sox took advantage of the vulnerability of Yankees ace CC Sabathia. The veteran left-hander’s fastball sat mostly around 90 mph and lacked explosive late finish, permitting the Sox to drive up the pitch count and, ultimately, drive him out of the game after he permitted four runs in five innings.
The Sabathia who took the mound on Friday night in a rematch with the Sox and fellow Opening Day starter Jon Lester was different. This Sabathia featured better velocity — often working at 91-93 mph — and a devastating slider that seemed untouchable at stages of the game.
Sabathia logged 7 1/3 dominant innings in which he permitted one run on six hits while walking none and punching out 10 Red Sox, leading New York to a 4-1 victory. With the loss, the Sox’ lead over the Yankees in the AL East dwindled to one game.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Against a Yankees team that ranked as one of the worst in the majors at negotiating its way on base (New York’s .307 OBP entering Friday was 13th in the AL), Jon Lester struggled with his command and execution. He walked four Yankees — the most free passes given up by any starter to New York since May 1 — during a laborious 116-pitch, 6 1/3 inning outing.
By and large, Lester did a good job of limiting the damage despite his struggles. Still, a 31-pitch second inning in which the Yankees scored two runs on a walk and three hits (a double and two singles) while getting just one swing-and-miss — pointed to the fact that Lester was not at his sharpest on a night when Sabathia permitted the Sox almost no margin for error. Given that he was working on normal (four days) correction: an extra (fifth) day of rest after logging 124 pitches against the Indians in his prior outing, it seemed fair to wonder if his diminished stuff pointed to a hangover from his prior outing.
Lester has now given up four or more runs in three straight starts, going 0-2 with a 6.05 ERA in that span. Friday marked the second straight game in which he’s throw 115 or more pitches in a game — the third time this year that he’s had back-to-back outings of at least that many pitches.
|Red Sox deal Triple-A RHP Graham Godfrey to Pirates for cash||05.31.13 at 8:19 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Red Sox traded right-hander Graham Godfrey to the Pirates late on Thursday night in exchange for cash considerations. Godfrey, who had spent the year with Triple-A Pawtucket, walked from the visiting clubhouse in Indianapolis (where the PawSox wrapped up a road series on Thursday night) to the home clubhouse to join the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate, according to the PawSox.
Godfrey, a 28-year-old whom the Red Sox acquired from the A’s during the offseason in exchange for the oft-designated-for-assignment Sandy Rosario, was 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA, 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 4.0 walks per nine in 13 games (four starts) for the PawSox.
While the Red Sox have commenced internal conversations about possible promotions for some of their pitchers in Double-A Portland relatively recently — with starters Anthony Ranaudo (6-1, 1.48 ERA, 9.5 strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine) and Brandon Workman (5-1, 3.75 ERA, 10.8 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine) looming as top candidates — no move up the ladder is in the offing for now. The PawSox currently have a somewhat bloated pitching staff that features 13 members.
|Red Sox lineup: Jacoby Ellsbury scratched due to left groin||05.31.13 at 5:06 pm ET|
NEW YORK — It turns out that a record-setting wealth of stolen bases takes a toll on the body.
One night after Jacoby Ellsbury set a Red Sox record by swiping five bags in a game in which he went 3-for-4 with a walk and got hit by a pitch, the Sox’ leadoff hitter was scratched prior to the series opener in New York due to tightness in his left groin. Ellsbury said he suffered the injury on his fifth and final steal of the night.
“I felt it get tight right when I did it. The ball went into the outfield, and you could see me just jogging into third,” said Ellsbury. “It’s day to day, see how it is tomorrow. I got here early and got all the treatment I could get, and it continued to stay tight, and I want to do the right thing so it doesn’t get worse.”
While Ellsbury — hitting .268/.337/.372 with a major league-leading 21 steals (in 23 attempts) — suggested that he’d remain available if the Sox asked him to enter the game in the late innings, manager John Farrell said that Ellsbury would not be considered as an option for Friday’s game even as a substitute. The game marks just the second time this year that Ellsbury is not in the starting lineup.
In his absence, Daniel Nava will lead off and Jackie Bradley Jr. will play center and hit eighth against Yankees starter CC Sabathia. With Shane Victorino on the DL and no other center fielders on the Sox roster (Nava, Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp are all outfield corners), Farrell said that Bradley will be the team’s center fielder until Ellsbury is back.
RED SOX LINEUP
Daniel Nava, LF
Jonny Gomes, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Stephen Drew, SS
David Ross, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Jose Iglesias, 3B
Jon Lester, SP
Brett Garden, CF
Kevin Youkilis, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Vernon Wells, LF
Jayson Nix, SS
David Adams, 3B
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Chris Stewart, C
CC Sabathia, SP
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The Drake Britton puzzle; Garin Cecchini raking (again); Mookie Betts in line for a promotion?||05.31.13 at 12:15 pm ET|
Glass half-full: Drake Britton went five innings and allowed one earned run while punching out seven and walking just one for Double-A Portland on Thursday. Glass half-empty: After an error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts opened the second inning, Britton couldn’t control the damage, permitting a five-run inning albeit with four of the runs counting as unearned. He ended up yielding seven hits in his five frames, including three doubles.
The left-hander’s season remains something of a puzzle. On the one hand, he has a strong strikeout rate (8.8 per nine innings) and solid strikeout-to-walk rate (2.4:1, a notable step forward from the 2.1:1 that he posted last year) and he’s keeping the ball in the park (one homer allowed in his last 54 innings after permitting three homers in three innings in his first outing of the year). On the other hand, after spending the majority of last year in Double-A, he has yet to show the ability to produce dominant outings at that level, and while he’s limited lefties to a .224/.296/.306 line, righties are teeing of at a clip of .288/.359/.424.
Britton, who just turned 24, remains a left-hander with uncommon power stuff — a mid-90s fastball with a slider, curve and changeup. Still, he’s 3-5 with a 4.11 ERA in his second option year, and with other pitchers in the Sox system hurtling towards the 40-man roster (foremost Brandon Workman and Anthony Ranaudo, who will both need to be added to the 40-man roster after this year), he may not be far from a point where his Red Sox career reaches something of a crossroads.
A year ago, Stolmy Pimentel was in a similar position — in his second year on the 40-man, alternately outstanding and then so-so while repeating in Double-A Portland, where he went 6-7 with a 4.59 ERA. Pimentel ended up being traded to the Pirates as part of the Joel Hanrahan deal; he’s now 2-3 with a 3.92 ERA for the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate.
Britton may be in a different class than Pimentel, in part because he has a more impressive strikeout rate, in part because of his left-handedness. Still, he’s reaching a point where his performance will have to make a strong case for his continued presence on the 40-man roster. There is time for him to do that — Felix Doubront comes to mind as a player who, in his second year on the 40-man, opened the year repeating in Double-A, pushed his way up to Triple-A and then the majors in the early months of 2010. But he’d started producing more consistent performances, and more dominant ones, by this point of the year than has Britton. Indeed, Doubront was promoted to Pawtucket right around this stage of the 2010 season.
A breakthrough may not be far off for Britton. The seven strikeouts and one walk on Thursday do point to a left-hander with considerable talent. But at some point, the clock will begin ticking on his opportunity to make an impact and prove his worth for a 40-man spot.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 LOSS AT INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)
– Reliever Alex Wilson, in his first appearance since being optioned to Pawtucket on Wednesday, fired a 1-2-3 ninth inning that featured a pair of strikeouts but then faltered in the 10th. After being greeted that inning with a double and infield single followed by an intentional walk, Wilson got a fielder’s choice groundout for a force at the plate. However, with the bases still loaded, he uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Indianapolis to score the decisive run in a walkoff win. Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Jacoby Ellsbury steals a piece of Red Sox history in blowout win over Phillies||05.30.13 at 10:22 pm ET|
The Red Sox will arrive in Yankee Stadium the same way they left it after the first series of the year: In first place in the American League East. The Sox ensured they would enjoy the divisional pole position by dispatching of the Phillies, 9-2, in a game notable for the team’s ongoing ability to conjure starting pitching depth and for the continuation of its ability to take advantage of rookies in what turned into an offensive explosion in the late innings against the Philadelphia bullpen.
Franklin Morales joined Alfredo Aceves and Allen Webster as pitchers who delivered serviceable outings when pressed into duty for injured teammates. In this instance, with Clay Buchholz missing a turn in the rotation, Morales proved serviceable if unexceptional, delivering five solid innings in which he gave up two runs. The Sox offense ensured that outing would prove sufficient by jumping early on rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone for four runs in the first. While those proved the only runs Pettibone permitted, he became the sixth straight rookie starter (in as many games) whom the Sox knocked out in five or fewer innings; rookie starters have a combined 10.64 ERA in those six starts against the Sox.
Meanwhile, Jacoby Ellsbury continued a recent surge in which he looked like a player capable of altering the dynamic of the Red Sox lineup.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Ellsbury continued his recent surge. He went 3-for-4 with a walk and also got hit by a pitch, matching a career high by reaching base five times in a game (something he’d done four previous times, last on Sept. 13, 2011). He also set a new personal and Red Sox team record with five stolen bases; his previous best was four, accomplished against the Yankees on Aug. 9, 2010. The contest marked the 10th straight game in which he’s reached base. Over those 10 games, he’s now hitting .400/.489/.550, pushing his line for the year up to .268/.337/.372. Though he (somewhat startlingly) scored just one run despite spending the entire game in scoring position, he’s playing with considerable and obvious confidence in the batter’s box, in the field and on the bases, something that bodes well for a Sox team that entered the game having gotten just a league-average OBP (.327) from its leadoff spot. Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell on Salk & Holley discusses Dustin Pedroia’s injured thumb||05.29.13 at 3:04 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, discussed the decision by Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia to continue playing despite suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament of his left thumb when diving head-first into first base in Yankee Stadium on Opening Day. Despite playing through a condition that could have required surgery and eight weeks on the DL, Pedroia is hitting .332 with a .422 OBP and .444 slugging mark.
“It’s clear that when he dove into first base on Opening Day in New York, every exam needed to make a correct diagnosis was done,” said Farrell. “I think everybody who was involved, Dustin being the most important, felt like no further damage could be done. The decision [was made] by him to continue on. And much like any other guy that’s dealing with not being 100 percent, or [is] banged up in different ways, guys go about their work to manage the situation physically to be ready to play every night, and Dustin is no different. He’s having a heck of a year.”
Farrell noted his appreciation for the second baseman’s attitude, and his willingness to play in all 53 Red Sox games to date this year despite the injury.
“I think he embodies exactly what every competitor and every player, what their view is,” said the manager. “Certainly some guys have different pain thresholds. Dustin’s, obviously, because of what we’re talking about here, is pretty high. When a player can make it that black and white, say, ‘Hey — I’m a player. That’s what I’m going to go do’ — it takes away whatever drama might be there, whatever indecision might be there and you just go about your work.”
|Jackie Bradley to join Red Sox in Philadelphia, Alex Wilson to be sent down||05.29.13 at 1:01 am ET|
It was a matter of when, not if.
The Red Sox have been playing with 13 pitchers and 12 position players for longer than manager John Farrell would have liked. That roster distribution reflected the fact that a) the team placed Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino on the disabled list last week; b) the team needed extra pitchers given the health concerns surrounding Clay Buchholz and the innings concerns attendant upon starts by Ryan Dempster. So, Alfredo Aceves was added to the big league roster, initially as a long reliever and then as a spot starter, and on Tuesday, Aceves was sent down to Pawtucket so that the team could add Franklin Morales as a potential multi-innings bullpen option.
But after Dempster fired seven innings on Tuesday night and with Buchholz now scheduled to pitch in New York on Friday (following a skipped start due to irritation in his right AC joint), the pitching staff is in solid shape. And so, with the Sox needing an expanded collection of position players for the inevitable pinch-hitting, pinch-running and double-switching situations that will crop up on the road in Philadelphia, the time to reconfigure the roster has arrived.
And so, according to multiple industry sources, Jackie Bradley Jr. will join the club in Philadelphia on Friday. Bradley went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, continuing a torrid stretch that has seen him forge a .438 average with a .519 OBP and .729 slugging mark during a 12-game hitting streak dating to April 30. The early-season big league struggles that saw the 23-year-old hit just .097/.263/.129 in a dozen games in the majors seem a thing of the distant past. His addition is something of a no-brainer, given not only his scorching stretch but also the fact that he’s the only minor leaguer on the Red Sox 40-man roster who is healthy and can play the outfield. Read the rest of this entry »
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