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Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli named Co-AL Players of the Week 09.09.13 at 4:13 pm ET
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Red Sox infielders Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli were named American League Co-Players of the Week for the week ending on Sept. 8, the league announced Monday.

Middlebrooks went 13-for-28 over seven games with a double, four homers, nine RBI and eight runs scored. He led the AL in both hits and total bases (26), while his RBI total was tied with Napoli first in the league over the week.

Napoli had a 10-for-21 showing at the player with a pair of doubles, four homers, nine RBI and seven runs scored. It was Middlebrooks’ second time being named AL Player of the Week, while it was the third such honor for Napoli.

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Did Daniel Nava’s paternity leave benefit him on the field? The numbers say so 09.02.13 at 9:33 pm ET
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Daniel Nava has been on fire since the the birth of his daughter. (AP)

Daniel Nava has been on fire since the the birth of his daughter. (AP)

On a day that he moved into the top five in on-base percentage in the American League, Daniel Nava struggled for answers when asked why he’s been so good. It’s a hard thing to pinpoint, but perhaps he benefited from last month’s paternity leave in more ways than one.

Nava only had three days of paternity leave as he went to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter, Faith, but when you consider that he hadn’t played the two days prior, Nava ended up with five days off between games, a rare non-All-Star-break experience in which he had the better part of a week off without it being due to injury or performance.

While the biggest takeaway from the that time was his family’s new addition, Nava’s play has been off the charts since returning. In 17 games, he’s his .425 with a sky-high .500 on-base percentage and nine doubles. For the sake of comparison, he hit .279 with a .353 OBP and four doubles in his 17 games prior to the birth of his daughter.

“Maybe I need to have a baby more often,” Nava said with a laugh. “I wish I had an answer for [the play since Aug. 8], because if I did I’d bottle it up and sell it to everybody and say ‘This is the key to success.’”

Nava says he doesn’t think the break helped him physically, saying that going the few days without a bat in his hands didn’t make him feel any fresher. However, he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of being mentally refreshed upon his return. After all, it isn’t that often that you get time off during the season with things more important than baseball on your mind.

“I’m sure that definitely helped,” Nava said. “When it’s your first [child], you obviously don’t know what to expect, so maybe going into it I was just thinking more about my wife and her safety and the baby’s health and all that stuff more than I realized, and then once it happened I was able to relax. I don’t know. I didn’t lose sleep when she was [nearing her due date].”

Nava’s current run has improved his OBP on the season to .387, which ranks him behind Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Joe Mauer and David Ortiz. It’s been a career year for Nava, but his manager played it cool when asked about seemingly unforeseen success.

“I don’t think what he’s doing this year should be seen as a total surprise,” John Farrell said after Monday’s loss. “This is very much a part of his track record as a player.”

While Nava’s always had good on-base percentages relative to his batting averages, this is indeed uncharted territory for him. He’s never been in the high .380s range for on-base percentage this deep into a season, and whatever the cause of it is, he’ll take it.

“I don’t know,” Nava said honestly when asked what’s allowed him to thrive this season. “I really don’t. Obviously it helps knowing your role and helps knowing when you’re going to play and not going to play. I’ve said from the get go that that allows any player — Johnny [Gomes], myself, [Mike] Carp — to get in a rhythm. Once you get in that rhythm you can just come to the field and know, ‘This is when I’m going to play and when I’m not going to play,’ and you’re able to lock yourself in.”

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John Lackey: ‘This is about as good as I’ve ever pitched’ 09.02.13 at 6:21 pm ET
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John Lackey hasn't seen his strong starts rewarded. (AP)

John Lackey hasn’t seen his strong starts rewarded. (AP)

John Lackey doesn’t think he’s ever pitched better, which is unfortunate because it’s coming at a time when his run support couldn’t be worse.

Lackey pitched into the eighth inning for the third straight start Monday, but the three runs he allowed were three too many as the Sox took a 3-0 loss against Doug Fister and the Tigers. It was the second time in his last three starts in which the Red Sox didn’t score at all for him, the fourth time in his last eight starts and the sixth time this season.

“You can’t worry about that,” Lackey said after the loss. “The other team’s pitcher’s not my problem. I’ve got to get a good lineup out as many times as I can.”

The loss dropped Lackey, who leads Sox starters with a 3.22 earned run average, to 8-12 on the season. Still, despite the lack of wins, that ERA would rank as the second-lowest of his career, higher than only his 3.01 mark from 2007 with the Angels.

“Honestly, this is about as good as I’ve ever pitched,” Lackey said. “I’m probably better now than I ever have been.”

Of course, things would be even better for Lackey if the Sox were able to produce for him offensively. The Red Sox began each of the first two innings by having their first two hitters reach base, but both innings yielded a double play and, eventually, no runs. They also squandered two leadoff doubles and stranded a total of eight men on base, five of which were in scoring position. Lackey defended his teammates following the game, saying that his frustration isn’t with them, but with the end result.

“It’s definitely not about lack of effort. The boys want to give me some runs,” he said. They feel pretty bad about it. … They’re grinding. Things happen.”

“He just gets frustrated when we don’t win,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “I think that’s the biggest thing. He knows his job is to go out there and give us the best chance possible to win, and he’s been doing that his whole career. To have a kind of stretch like that where he’s keeping us in the ballgame and we just can’t get any runs, at the end of the I think personal goals to him are kind of out the window. He wants to win, period.”

With the way he’s throwing, Lackey has at least put himself in a position to win the job of No. 1 postseason starter. He’s come a long way from where he once was, as he followed a disastrous 2011 season with Tommy John surgery and missed last season, which he joked wasn’t all that bad.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to be a part of last year a whole lot,” he said with a smirk. “It’s nice to be on a good team playing good baseball. It’s a great group of guys, for sure.”

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Closing Time: Red Sox blanked as John Lackey takes tough loss 09.02.13 at 4:37 pm ET
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The Red Sox dropped the first game of their three-game series against the Tigers, taking a 3-0 loss on a day in which they left eight men on base.

John Lackey was the hard luck loser for the Red Sox, as he pitched into the eighth inning, for the third consecutive game. In his 7 1/3 innings, Lackey allowed seven hits and three runs, the last one of which came on a sacrifice fly from Prince Fielder against Matt Thornton following Lackey’s departure from the game. Lackey also walked one and struck out five as his record dropped to 8-12 on the season.

Lackey is 0-2 over the three game span in which he’s seen the eighth inning each outing, a stretch in which he has allowed eight runs over 22 2/3 innings. In those games, he has been given just four runs of support, with the team scoring no runs for him in two of the starts. Monday marked the fourth time in his last eight starts in which the Red Sox were shut out and was the sixth such occurrence all season.

Following the game, Lackey expressed frustration only with the fact that the team lost, saying that he feels “this is about as good as I’ve ever pitched,” and isn’t worried that he needs to do more each time he takes the mound because of offensive concerns.

“You can’t worry about that,” Lackey said. “The other team’s pitcher’s not my problem. I’ve got to get a good lineup out as many times as I can.”

The Red Sox struggled to capitalize on some good offensive opportunities, as they wasted three different promising innings of two on with nobody out (additionally, they twice failed to cash in on leadoff doubles). The Sox didn’t get their first hit of the day off Doug Fister until there were two out in the fourth, though Fister had put four of Boston’s first seven batters on base with three walks and one hit batsman.

Despite the rocky start for Fister, he was able to go seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits, walking four batters and striking out four.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

- Jose Iglesias hit the ball well in his return to Fenway Park. The shortstop, whom the Sox traded in the Jake Peavy deal after he hit .330/.409/.785 this season, received a nice ovation as he took the batters box and subsequently belted a double to left field. He was robbed of a hit in his second at-bat, as Jacoby Ellsbury sprinted in to make a highlight-reel diving catch.

Iglesias also turned in a fine play in the field with an unassisted double play. With Shane Victorino on first with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Iglesias came from across the bag to field a Dustin Pedroia grounder, tag out Victorino and fire the ball to first. Always regarded as an exceptional shortstop whose bat was his only question mark, Iglesias has enjoyed a strong season between Boston and Detroit in which he has excelled in both areas of his game.

- The Tigers got their first run on a rather adventurous play from Ellsbury in which an Andy Dirks drive went over his head and allowed Victory Martinez to score from first base.

- Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn’t have the best day at the plate, grounding out in the second and failing to bunt Daniel Nava to third after Nava had led off the seventh with a double and Mike Napoli walked. Saltalamacchia’s bunt didn’t get far, allowing Avila to scoop it up and get the force out at third.

- The first two innings started equally promising and end equally disappointing, as the Sox saw their first two batters reach base in both innings, only to see a double play steer them towards a scoreless frame.

After Ellsbury walked and Victorino was hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the first, Dustin Pedroia grounded into a double-play. Though it advanced Ellsbury to third, Boston’s leadoff man was stranded as David Ortiz grounded out to end the inning.

In what was essentially a carbon copy of the inning, Daniel Nava and Napoli walked to lead off the second, but a Saltalamacchia double play and Stephen Drew flyout to center led to the same fate as the first.

- Speaking of all those double plays, two of them were grounded into by Pedroia. He made up for it in the eighth with a two-out double to set the Red Sox up to get on the board in the eighth, but David Ortiz struck out swinging after Pedroia had advanced to third on a wild pitch.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

- Lackey was able to work his way out of a tough spot in the fourth thanks in part to misstep from a former Red Sox slugger. Following a leadoff double from Fielder and a pass ball that allowed Fielder to advance to third with no outs, Victor Martinez hit a short grounder that Lackey fielded and pelted Martinez with. Martinez was ruled out, however, as he was running on the grass and obstructing Lackey’s throw to first.
Lackey then got Dirks and Omar Infante to fly out, the latter of whom took  Ellsbury to the warning track on an inning-ending hard-hit ball.

- With a single and two doubles, Nava Daniel Nava moved himself to fifth in the American League in on-base percentage. Nava trails some big names in Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Joe Mauer and Ortiz.

- Victorino has been planed seven times in 63 plate appearances while hitting right against righties. That’s pretty often, and at the time accounted for .115 points of on-base percentage (it was on his 61st such plate appearance).

- The Red Sox were able to gets double play out of the Tigers and limit the damage in a trying seventh inning. Following the adventures that yielded Detroit’s first run and put Dirks on third and a walk to Infante, Pedroia fielded a grounder from Don Kelly, and though Infante avoided Pedroia’s attempted tag, the Sox were able to get Kelly at first and get the ball to second in time to tag Infante. The play scored Dirks, but the inning had the makings of a potentially long one ended on the next batter when Alex Avila lined out.

Red Sox lineup, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks in; Xander Bogaerts sits 09.02.13 at 11:44 am ET
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Both Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks are in the starting lineup Monday as the Red Sox kick off a three-game series against the Tigers. Both players sat on Sunday against the White Sox, with Monday marking the first time in three games that infielder Xander Bogaerts will be on the bench.

Batting ninth for the Tigers is Jose Iglesias, whom the Red Sox sent to Detroit in a three-team deal that landed Jake Peavy in Boston. In 28 games for the Tigers, Iglesias has hit .292/.344/.360 for the Tigers with one homer and five RBI.

The series between the AL East-leading Red Sox and AL Central-leading Tigers matches up the top two teams in the American League. John Lackey (8-11) will take the mound for the Red Sox after pitching into the eighth inning of each of his last two starts (0-1). The 11-7 Doug Fister will oppose him.

RED SOX

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Daniel Nava, LF
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
SP — John Lackey

Red Sox trade Clayton Mortensen to Royals for Quintin Berry 08.27.13 at 2:51 pm ET
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The Red Sox swung a minor-league trade with the Royals, sending right-handed pitcher Clayton Mortensen to the Royals in exchange for outfielder Quintin Berry.

Mortonsen, 28, has spent the last two seasons in the Red Sox organization, making 50 appearances and compiling a 4.11 ERA with the Sox over 167 1/3 major-league innings. He has also played for the Cardinals, Athletics and Rockies. Most recently he had been pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket, where he began showing improvement in what was otherwise a challenging season.

The 28-year-old Berry has only played one season at the major league level, appearing in 94 games for the Tigers with a .258 batting average, two homers, 29 RBI and 21 stolen bases. He was waived in June and claimed by the Royals, who used him at Triple-A Omaha. In 97 games at Triple-A between Omaha and Toledo (as a member of the Tigers organization), he has 28 stolen bases this season.

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Red Sox walk in winning run, hand Giants come-from-behind victory 08.21.13 at 1:19 am ET
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The Sox got 5 2/3 innings out of Jake Peavy. (AP)

The Red Sox got 5 2/3 innings out of Jake Peavy. (AP)

Brayan Villarreal walked Marco Scutaro on four pitches with the bases loaded to walk in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning and give the Giants a 3-2 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday at AT&T Park.

The Rays defeated the Orioles again on Tuesday, so the Red Sox loss puts Boston and Tampa Bay tied atop the American League East.

Jake Peavy allowed one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings on a night in which he walked one batter and collected five strikeouts. The lone Giants run against Boston’s starter came in the fifth inning, when Joaquin Arias tripled to score Roger Kieschnick. The Giants would tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning when Shane Victorino elected to catch a foul ball off the bat of Buster Posey with one out and allow Marco Scutaro to tag up and score.

The Red Sox got on the board in the first inning when Jacoby Ellsbury scored on a sacrifice fly from Mike Carp, though San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong was fortunate to get out of the inning with just one run allowed. The Sox had two runners in scoring position following Carp’s sac fly, but both Daniel Nava and Xander Bogaerts failed to score them.

Victorino made it a 2-0 lead for Boston with a solo shot in the top of the third, but that would be the extent of the damage the Sox would do against Vogelsong. The Giants starter ended up going seven innings, allowing six hits, walking one and striking out five on 103 pitches.

Bogaerts, who made his major league debut, started at shortstop went 0-for-3 at the plate before being taken out as part of a double-switch in the bottom of the sixth inning.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Bogaerts figures to have many stellar offensive performances ahead of him, but his major league debut was not one of them. By grounding out to end innings in his first two at-bats, Bogaerts stranded five runners on base in the first three innings of the game. He struck out swinging in his third and final at-bat of the game before being taken out as part of a double switch when Peavy exited the game with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning.

– Peavy, who showed plenty of emotion (which translates to frustration) at points during his outing, was not a happy camper when he got the hook after 92 pitches. San Francisco’s local telecast reportedly showed him saying “Are you [expletive] kidding me?” as John Farrell emerged from the dugout after Peavy had gotten Hunter Pence to fly out. Farrell’s decision proved correct enough, however, as Craig Breslow came on and got Brandon Crawford to ground out to end the inning and strand Brandon Belt, who had led off the inning with a double, at second base.

– After going 0-for-4 in Monday’s shutout, Belt had little trouble at the plate against Peavy and the Red Sox bullpen Tuesday night. The Giants first baseman fell a homer shy of the cycle in a 3-for-4 performance.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Victorino followed Monday’s three-hit performance with another strong showing at the plate. His homer, which came on a full count in the top of the third, was his eighth of the season.

Victorino had something of an adventure on a Belt fly ball that went over his head and resulted in a triple, and though he probably could have caught the ball had he judged it better earlier, the miscue did not cost the Sox any runs.

– Though he didn’t shine at the plate, Bogaerts did save a run with a good defensive play to end the bottom of the fifth inning. With Arias on third base with two out, Scutaro hit a high chopper past the mound that Bogaerts had to charge in a hurry for a shot at getting Scutaro at first. He was off from the crack of the bat and managed to zip the ball to first just in time to beat the sliding Scutaro and prevent the Giants from tying the game.

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