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Mookie Betts, John Farrell can feel the worm beginning to turn back in his favor 04.20.15 at 11:08 pm ET
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Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts

Little by little, Mookie Betts can feel things turning back in his direction. And so, too, can his manager.

Statistically, it was a pretty rough first homestand for the young outfielder, collecting five hits in 25 official at-bats. This after he started like a house on fire in both the season opener and the home openers. Betts homered in Philadelphia on April 6 and against the Nationals on April 13.

On Monday against the Orioles, he singled to right field in his first at-bat. The impact on the rest of the team was immediate and positive. He stole second, advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway bad throw and scored on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly to right. His run, unearned, was what the Red Sox envisioned when they put him at the top of the order.

“It’s good. I feel like it’s not just the top,” Betts said. “A couple of games ago, it was the bottom that scored the runs. There’s no difference between the top and the bottom. It’s just a matter of who does it on any given day.”

On Sunday, he drove a ball hard to deep right field, only to have it caught just shy of the warning track. The balls to the opposite field are always a good sign but especially so when you consider teams have made an adjustment after getting burned on fastballs inside to Betts. On Sunday and Monday, it appeared Betts was the one making the adjustment.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles. MLB, Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, mookie betts
John Farrell, Buck Showalter know their teams will be at each other all season 04.20.15 at 10:31 pm ET
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John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot's Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

John Farrell speaks after a rain-shortened win over Baltimore on Patriot’s Day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

From the moment Buck Showalter‘s Orioles shocked the Red Sox and helped complete the greatest collapse in baseball history in 2011, the Orioles and Red Sox have been at each other’s throats.

In 2012, the Orioles eliminated the Rangers in the AL wild card game, taking the Yankees to the limit in five games before bowing out in the ALDS.

In 2013, the Red Sox won the World Series. In 2014, the Orioles won the AL East and made it to the American League Championship Series before bowing out to the Royals.

Now, the two AL East rivals appeared poised to battle each other over the long course of the season for supremacy in their division. Entering Monday’s series finale, the two teams stood at 7-5 after the Orioles won two of the first three games.

The first three games featured equal parts gamesmanship and respect from Showalter and Red Sox skipper John Farrell. So, when the Red Sox pulled out a 7-1 rain-shortened win to split the series and head to Tampa Bay with some first-place momentum, Farrell was happy to provide some very early season perspective on the Orioles and the rest of the division.

“Big win? “Sure it is. They’re a good team,” Farrell said. “I would imagine we’re going to be neck-and-neck with most everybody in this division throughout. And anytime you can come away in the final game of a series to earn a split, whether it’s home or road, it sends us off on a positive note. We’re going to end up right back there at the end of this week, going up against them for three.

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, John Farrell
David Ortiz blasts Jim Palmer over critical tweets: ‘All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh?’ 04.20.15 at 4:33 pm ET
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David Ortiz has a bone to pick with Jim Palmer.

The hall of fame pitcher and long time Orioles broadcaster criticized David Ortiz on Twitter Sunday after he flipped his bat and dropped it at the plate after a check-swing that was call strike two by third base umpire Jerry Meals.

Meals yelled at Ortiz long distance and Ortiz returned the favor. When home plate umpire John Tumpane (filling in for Paul Emmel) interceded, Ortiz got in Tumpane’s face and was ejected.

Palmer tweeted: FINALLY Oritz gets tossed with hashtags that included #ZipitOrtiz and #disrespectful. Then, early Monday, Palmer tweeted another not-so thinly veiled shot at Ortiz: O’s fans: Marathon day in Boston. What’s the over under on Ortiz going 9?

Ortiz, asked about Palmer by ESPN’s Gordon Edes after Monday’s rain-shortened 7-1 win, didn’t hold back.

“Actually, I thought he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of sudden, he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who want to get paid, make some noise and come to Papi, right? All right.”

Edes then attempted to provide some perspective and context to the tweet on behalf of Palmer, suggesting Palmer wasn’t hating on Ortiz.

“Oh no?,” Ortiz said, before offering some advice to Palmer, “I don’t need your help. [If] he wants me to respect him, it ain’t going to happen.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Jim Palmer
Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman take swipes at ‘forever’ pace of Clay Buchholz 04.18.15 at 11:37 pm ET
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Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves (far left) visits with starter Clay Buchholz in the fourth inning Saturday. (Michael Ivins/Getty Images)

Clay Buchholz has earned a reputation as one of the slowest pitchers in baseball with runners on base. The Baltimore Orioles felt the Red Sox pitcher Saturday reached a new low – or long – as he slowed the game down to a crawl in the fourth and fifth innings.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in the fourth, when the Orioles loaded the bases twice but could only score twice. That inning also featured four throws to first and a coaching visit to the mound. It took over 20 minutes to record three outs. But to Buchholz’s credit, he limited damage to two runs by getting of the jam with strikeouts of Alejandro De Aza and Steve Pearce.

In the fifth inning, it was another tedious inning for Buchholz. He loaded the bases with none out. But a 3-2-3 double play sped things along and then Ryan Flaherty struck out. No runs. Amazingly, Buchholz allowed 11 hits over his six innings, taking 102 pitches to complete his day’s work.

But Orioles manager Buck Showalter couldn’t believe that the two half innings by Buchholz took nearly 40 minutes of the three hours, 24 minutes it took to complete the game. More annoying to Showalter was the impact it had on his starter Chris Tillman.

“Let’s put it this way, Chris was good, had good stuff,” Showalter said. “I think he was challenged by the tempo that was set by things out of his control. Wow. I think it kind of froze things up there a little bit.”

Tillman confirmed the observation of his manager when asked how long the delays in between innings felt like with Buchholz on the mound.

“Forever. I couldn’t even tell you how long they felt. They felt like forever,” Tillman said.

“There were a couple of innings there where he’s sitting around for 20, 30 minutes over here,” Showalter said. “It’s cold and we finally found a couple of heaters. It took him a little while to get loose. It’s sad in a way because he had stuff to go deep in that game. We needed at least five or six innings.”

The reason the Orioles felt they needed five or six innings from Tillman was the untimely ejection of Friday starter Ubaldo Jimenez in the fourth inning.

“They had the four-corner stall going there,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to keep concentration. It’s really tough. It seemed like Buchholz had thrown 120 but he had only thrown 80 or 90. It’s all about getting that last base touched and we weren’t able to do it.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s mentally tough,” added Tillman. “It’s more physically challenging. I’ve been in that situation enough to prepare myself in the dugout to go back out to make pitches from the get-go. First couple of times it was tough.”

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Buck Showalter, Chris Tillman
Power isn’t everything to John Farrell when it comes to a good bullpen 04.18.15 at 7:18 pm ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

As the Red Sox assembled their 2015 bullpen over the winter, there were some questions as to whether they had enough “power” arms in the back end of games.

Power bullpens have become all the rage among those teams who fancy themselves World Series contenders. Kansas City is the most classic example, as the Royals rode a trio of 98-plus arms to the Fall Classic last year. Detroit has had success in the past employing a similar formula. In the National League, St. Louis has had a great deal of success with pitchers who overpower batters at the end of games, led by Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez (now a starter).

But the Red Sox saw a different way. With Matt Barnes the only true power arm in camp with a shot at the roster, and with names like Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica already with spots on the club, the Red Sox decided to go in a different direction. The Red Sox added Anthony Varvaro, Alexi Ogando and perhaps the hardest thrower of the bunch, Robbie Ross Jr.

The results have not been bad so far. Entering Saturday, in 42.2 innings, they’ve allowed 33 hits and walked 14 for a 1.10 WHIP. The ERA is 2.74 and they allowed four of 12 inherited runners to score. They’ve had just two save chances and converted one, with Mujica’s blown chance in New York being the only missed opportunity.

If Red Sox relievers have proven anything, they’ve shown you don’t have to overpower batters to get good results, including strikeouts, recording 37 so far in 2015 before Saturday.

“Location is important but I think what we have are a number of relievers that use an assortment of pitches rather than rely on arm strength and velocity,” Farrell said. “Bottom line is outs. How they get them, the ability create some mishits. Sure, strikeouts are good but we have guys capable of strikeouts, even though they’re of average major league velocity.”

Another trait Red Sox relievers have is experience. And with experience comes adjustments. Mujica threw mainly fastballs on April 10 in New York before Chase Headley timed one and tied the game. Friday night, he opened with seven straight splitters and recorded a key strikeout of Manny Machado to bail out Joe Kelly.

“His last two, three outings, he’s gone to that pitch a little bit more than the night in New York where there were a high number of consecutive fastballs,” Farrell said of Mujica. “That’s not to say he doesn’t have confidence in his fastball. He’s not afraid to throw it for a strike and put a hitter away with it.”

That was followed by scoreless performances from Tazawa and Uehara, both masters of the split-fingered fastball.

“Well, it says in those games, our bullpen has pitched very effectively, and that was certainly the case [Friday] night,” Farrell said. “We had a lot of experience last year in one-run games. Unfortunately, it might not have always been to our advantage. We have veteran players that made good decisions in moment on the field.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Edward Mujica, junichi tazawa, Koji Uehara
Shane Victorino scratched with sore ribs, Daniel Nava starts in RF 04.18.15 at 3:24 pm ET
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Looks like Shane Victorino did pay a price for going after that fly ball in right field Friday night.

Victorino was scratched an hour before Saturday’s game with sore ribs. He was replaced in right field by Daniel Nava, batting seventh.

The Victorino situation appeared encouraging at the start of the day when the outfielder was in the starting lineup, one day after he had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right. Victorino made a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night.

He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and was penciled in the lineup for Saturday before the late scratch.

(Update: Here is what Red Sox manager John Farrell said regarding Victorino after the Red Sox’ 4-1 loss to the Orioles – “When he hit the wall, he made a great effort to try to bring back a home run. The left rib area was sore here today. He was no go. We’€™ll check him in the morning on his availability.”

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the adjusted lineup for the Red Sox:

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Daniel Nava, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, daniel nava, MLB
Red Sox pregame: John Farrell on Mookie Betts (.209): ‘His batting average isn’t the reason he’s not in lineup’ 04.18.15 at 3:11 pm ET
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For as red hot as Mookie Betts was to start the homestand and the season, he has cooled off quite a bit in the last three days. He’s is hitless in his last seven at-bats and just 4-for-17 on the homestand. His average has slipped to .209 on the season and facing a tough right-hander in Chris Tillman, with a heavy sinker and good breaking ball, doesn’t figure to be the right medicine to get him better at the plate fast.

Enter Brock Holt. The super utility man, batting .533 (8-for-15 in five games) made his fourth start Saturday, including his second in center. Holt is also 3-for-5 against Tillman while Betts is 1-for-6.

“A way to get Brock in the lineup,” Farrell said. “He has swung the bat well in limited looks against Tillman and our goal, and my personal goal, is to get Brock [in the lineup] and keep him in the mix as much as possible. That’s his role. We try to do that to the best of our abilities and as frequent as possible. We also have a very deep roster. He accepts his role. He excels at it, and the versatility he provides is a real good fit, given David is our everyday DH on our team.

“I think we’ve seen that so far. He’s hit first. He’s hit seventh. He’s hit ninth. What really stood out last year with Brock is that when we put him in a new position he had never played before, he embraced it. He didn’t make too much of it, in terms of the fact that he didn’t have any previous experience there. It wasn’t any big deal to him. It’s almost the same way he goes about his approach at the plate, regardless of his spot in the order.”

As for Betts, Farrell said he’s still very happy with the way the second-year outfielder is swinging the bat of late.

“He’s squared up some balls that have gone for naught and his approach at the plate hasn’t changed,” Farrell said. “His batting average isn’t the reason why he’s not in the lineup today. This is a matchup I like the way it suits us. Mookie has hit into some tough luck at times. That was more evident in the Phillies series. Still, he is our center fielder.”

The Red Sox are also facing a pitcher in Tillman who controls the bases when runners do get on.

“He does a great job of controlling the running game,” Farrell said. “When you look at the combination of pitches he does have, a guy with a sinking fastball and a good top-to-bottom curveball is a rare combination so he’s unique in that way. He’s pitched for a team that has had airtight defense. So that the combination of all that makes him a pretty complete pitcher.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, mookie betts,
Red Sox starting lineups Saturday: Mookie Betts sits, Brock Holt gets the call in center 04.18.15 at 1:56 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

John Farrell chose Saturday to give Mookie Betts his second off day of the season.

Starting in center Saturday in place of Betts will be Mr. Super Sub, Brock Holt, getting his second start in center this season and leading off. In addition to two starts in center, Holt has started one game at short and one at third base.

The rest of the lineup remains basically in tact, including right fielder Shane Victorino, who will bat seventh.

The Victorino news is encouraging after the outfielder had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right, making a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night. He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and apparently had no ill effects overnight.

Ryan Hanigan will catch right-hander Clay Buchholz, who was beaten up by the Yankees in his last start last Sunday in New York. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Chris Tillman.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Shane Victorino, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Chris Tillman
Emotions high in tribute to Boston Marathon bombing victims and Jackie Robinson 04.15.15 at 1:08 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell has seen so many highs and lows over his two-plus years in Boston.

Wednesday afternoon, on a perfect sun-splashed day at Fenway, he and everyone else at Fenway Park will take time to recall one of the tragic lows. At 2:49 p.m., the Red Sox and Nationals will stop what they’re doing and pay tribute to the exact moment two years ago when hundreds of lives were permanently altered and devastated by the Boston Marathon bombings.

“We’re fortunate that we play in front of a fan base that is so in tune with every team,” Farrell said. “The way they not only pay attention but react positive or negative. They’re passionate. We as Red Sox are so fortunate to be a part of the fabric of this city and the connection that was even galvanized further two years ago, I think it’s an extremely worthy pause in today’s game, whatever that will be. Whether it’s in the midst of an at-bat or between innings, wherever 2:49 falls on, I think we’ll all pause at that moment and recall where we were at that specific moment.”

It is ironic that the same passion for unity and community will also share the stage with Major League Baseball‘s annual tribute to the day 68 years ago that Jackie Robinson broke the sport’s color barrier. The effort today, according to Farrell is to expose more of the African-American community to the sport.

“I think there are some initiatives being taken,” Farrell said. “That’s through the RBI program, for one. But I think we all recognize there are a tremendous amount of athletics that are migrating towards football and basketball. To create more space in the inner city is one possible way to do it. I think we have to continue to find ways to make our game appeal to young people across all walks of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Marathon, Boston Marathon bombing, Boston Red Sox, Jackie Robinson
Matt Williams sick to his stomach over Nationals terrible start: ‘It doesn’t taste very good’ 04.15.15 at 2:32 am ET
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Matt Williams

Matt Williams

Give Matt Williams this much. He sure knows how to weave a metaphor.

The Nationals manager has watched his team – picked by many experts to represent the National League in the World Series – self-destruct in the opening week. The first two games at Fenway Park this week represent a glaring example of all that has gone wrong in Washington’s start.

They allowed two high, lazy fly balls to drop on the outfield grass in a four-run third inning for the Red Sox. They committed one fielding error in the infield, allowed a passed ball and watched as Jordan Zimmerman plunked Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in back-to-back at-bats. They were humiliated 9-4 in the Red Sox home opener.

Their ace pitcher was on the mound Tuesday to try and stem the tide. Stephen Strasburg instead allowed 10 hits and five runs and lasted just 5.1 innings. Still, he left with the lead after his team scored six in the fifth. But then the National League powerhouse turned into little leaguers in the seventh, committing three errors on routine plays and allowing the Red Sox to steal an 8-7 win.

It’s only eight games in but these Nationals are 2-6 and national nightmare to watch, for fans and manager alike.

“It’s the same recipe,” lamented Williams. “If you put all the ingredients the same way every time, you’re going to get the same meal,” That’s what we’ve been getting. There’s nothing to be said that hasn’t already been said. We got the pitches we wanted to get and didn’t make the plays. That’s the same recipe. That’s all I’ve got for you.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Matt Williams, washington nationals,
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