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Wade Miley on fast track to leading Red Sox turnaround: ‘We’re playing a lot better right now’ 05.24.15 at 6:19 pm ET
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Wade Miley was a picture of perfection early on against the Angels Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Wade Miley was a picture of perfection early on against the Angels Sunday. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Red Sox can only hope they copy the stunningly resurgent turnaround of Wade Miley.

The lefty has suddenly turned into the most reliable and consistent pitcher on staff. On Sunday, that encouraging trend continued when he allowed just four hits and one run over eight stellar innings in a 6-1 win over the Angels at a sun-splashed Fenway Park.

It was a perfect day for a game, and Miley gave fans a perfect start to their Sunday afternoon, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before walking Chris Iannetta on five pitches in the fifth. That was followed up by a single from C.J. Cron, who had been called back to hit after a pitch was ruled to have struck his bat by the umpiring crew.

Miley (4-4) has won each of his last three starts and is 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA in May. On Sunday he took just 45 minutes to race through four perfect innings. He needed just 35 pitches to get through four frames before a 23-pitch fifth. Where did Miley learn his fast pace?

“Probably college, my college coach was huge on that,” Miley said, referring to Southeastern Louisiana pitching coach Daniel Latham. “It’s kind of stuck with me.”

The Angels, who had never faced him before, were aiding the cause of Miley and catcher Sandy Leon by swinging early and often.

“They’re a pretty aggressive team and we kind of used that to our advantage and it worked out,” Miley said. “That’s the biggest thing, being able to throw the fastball. And what Sandy did, it felt like every time he put down a finger, it’s what I wanted to do. We were on the same page from the first inning on.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, wade miley,
Red Sox notes: Mookie Betts gets second look, Mike Napoli hitting with ‘clear mind right now’ 05.24.15 at 2:15 pm ET
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Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox' win Saturday over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli went deep twice in the Red Sox‘ win Saturday over the Angels. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Sometimes bad luck can lead to good things.

In the case of the Red Sox, Shane Victorino leaving Saturday’s game against the Angels (and subsequently landing on the disabled list) opened a new opportunity for John Farrell and Mookie Betts. Specificially, it allowed Farrell to see what Betts looks like hitting behind Dustin Pedroia and it gave Betts a chance to hit between Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez in the order. Sunday marked just the second time this season Betts has batted in the No. 2 hole.

Betts went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in Saturday’s 8-3 win.

“I think it’s one of those things where hey, it worked, I’m not going to change it [with] as much change as we’ve been going through,” Farrell said. “Mookie put three swings on balls [Saturday] night as we’ve seen in a number of other games. He was given a little bit of heads up before the game started, be on-call here because you don’t know how far or how deep in the game he might be needed. It was unfortunately quick in this case. He put up three quality at-bats in the meantime. Credit to him.”

Then there’s the scorching hot Mike Napoli. He obliterated another pitch Sunday afternoon, launching a pitch from lefty Hector Santiago five rows deep to the bleachers in straightaway center for his fourth homer in three games and fifth homer on the six-game homestand. Saturday, he crushed a pair of homers of nemesis C.J. Wilson, including a two-run bomb to left that cleared the Monster and traveled an estimated 450 feet.

“It’s more timing,” Farrell said of Napoli‘s resurgence. “It’s not so much trying to take an approach to one side of the diamond because when the timing is accurate, they’re seeing pitches more clearly and they’re able to react to where pitches are on the plate. You see [Saturday] where in a 3-2 count, Nap gets a fastball on the inside part of the plate that he turns on. When they’re in a good hitting position, there’s a great ability to react to where balls are located in the zone.

“I can’t say there’s a different effort level in the swing. He’s a guy that’s going to impact the baseball and drive the baseball. That’s his calling card as a hitter his whole major league career. So in those [hitter’s] advantage counts, now that his timing is more consistent and more what he’s been accustomed to. He’s just in a better position to drive the baseball. Sometimes, whether it’s a pitcher or hitter, body mechanics can get disrupted by thoughts. More than anything, he’s hitting with a clear mind right now.”

With Victorino going on the disabled list Sunday, the Red Sox brought up infielder Jeff Bianchi from Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said there was no consideration to bring up Jackie Bradley Jr. since the organization felt he needed more regular playing time.

“At this point, he needed to get some regular at-bats,” Farrell said of Bradley, who was expected to travel to Louisville and be ready to play Sunday evening against the Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.

Farrell also said righty Justin Masterson continues to make good progress after being disabled with right shoulder fatigue/tendinitis on May 14.

“He threw a bullpen [Friday],” Farrell said. “A pretty intense bullpen. He’ll have at least one more and we’ll probably get a total of three bullpens before we send him out on a rehab assignment but he’s making strong progress in terms of the intensity of the throws, the volume of throws. We don’t have a targeted date for his first rehab assignment but that’s coming in the near future.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, justin masterson, mike napoli
C.J. Wilson on suddenly hot Mike Napoli: ‘He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware’ 05.24.15 at 12:18 am ET
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Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli tosses his bat aside after crushing his second homer of two homers Saturday night against C.J. Wilson. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

When C.J. Wilson is paying Mike Napoli a compliment, you know he means it.

The two rivals from their bitter tweet dust-up of 2012 met again Saturday night, and safe to say, Napoli got the last laugh. He homered twice off the pitcher who took offense to Napoli proclaiming that he can’t wait to make the Angels pay.

Napoli homered in the second inning, a laser beam that literally hit a target sign hanging on the facade of the second row of Monster seats down the left field line. His second homer off Wilson came on a hanging curve that Napoli put over Monster seats entirely, snapping a 2-2 tie and putting the Red Sox ahead for good in an 8-3 win Saturday night at Fenway.

“He was teammate of mine,” Napoli said. “Yeah, it’s nice to have a good night. I’m glad I just had a good night and feel better at the plate. He has good stuff. He’s handed it to me before this night. It was nice to get him tonight.”

Revenge? “Nah. That was a long time ago,” Napoli said in taking the high road.

Napoli has three homers in the first two games against the Angels and four homers in five games on the homestand. His seven homers lead the club since April 25.

“He was really locked in tonight,” Wilson said. “Obviously, this is the guy tonight, or last two nights, was more like the guy I saw hit .300-plus or .325 in Texas, not the guy on the scoreboard hitting a buck-80 or whatever it is. He’s obviously a very talented hitter and everybody goes through slumps. He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware for the rest of the league for the rest of the season if he stays there.”

As for his relationship with Napoli, whom he played with in 2011, Wilson initially scoffed at the question before offering perspective.

“What does that have to do with anything,” Wilson added. “We only played together for one year so it’s not like we know each other that well. We played together for one season in Texas. He caught me. We had really great results with him catching me. But other than that, him and [Jered] Weaver are buddies but there’s guys that I’m friends with on other teams that I’ve never played with because we got to hang out at a video shoot or commercial or something like that. I’d say Nap and I have different interests on and off the field.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels, mike napoli
Xander Bogaerts can’t get over Red Sox’ terrible luck: ‘Are you kidding me? It’s weird’ 05.21.15 at 11:41 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox are desperately searching for answers. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox are desperately searching for answers. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The way things are going for the Red Sox they can’t win for losing, even when they try to do the right thing to end their misery with runners on base.

If there’s one play that sums up the perfect storm of bad luck and bad execution of the Red Sox with runners in scoring position this season it’s what happened to Xander Bogaerts in the fifth inning of Thursday’s latest anemic loss, 3-1, to the Rangers at Fenway.

With one out, Xander Bogaerts worked a walk. Then with Daniel Nava up, he took off for second base. Nava swung and hit it right into the hole vacated by the second baseman covering the bag. One problem: The right foot of Bogaerts. Namely, the bottom of his cleat. The ball grazed it just enough to change direction and by rule, instead of first and third with one out, Bogaerts was immediately out and Nava given credit for a single.

Sandy Leon struck out swinging to end the inning and the Red Sox still trailed, 3-1.

When things go bad.

“I guess you could say that,” Bogaerts lamented. “Again another tough loss tonight. Probably the play there when I tried to steal and that ball hit me. That was probably the game-changer. I never was aware that ball even touched me until when I came back down [in dugout tunnel] and I saw it on the video monitor. It just scratched the bottom of my cleat or something like that. I didn’t know that ball hit me at all.

“I could’ve bet anything I never felt that ball touched me at all. I was pretty surprised they called me out because I didn’t feel anything. But when you look at the video, you see the deflection of the ball but I had no clue that ball touched me at all.”

Bogaerts at least maintained his sense of humor and perspective when asked how for answers to how the Red Sox can break out of a 5-for-53 slump with runners in scoring position.

“If the ball stops hitting us,” Bogaerts said. “That was first and third right there. The baseball field is so big. What are the chances the ball is going to hit me on the bottom of my cleat? Are you kidding me? It’s weird.”

The Red Sox are now batting a measly .234 with runners on. Only Seattle (.232) and Cincinnati (.228) are worse in MLB. Put runners on and it’s even worse. The Red Sox are batting .199 in such cases and only the hapless Reds are worse at .189. Certainly, no one could’ve imagined this for a team that had such an offensive overhaul in the offseason. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, xander bogaerts,
Joe Kelly takes one for the team while showing signs of turnaround 05.21.15 at 9:34 am ET
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Joe Kelly gave the Red Sox another strong performance Wednesday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly gave the Red Sox another strong performance Wednesday night. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

If there was one person inside Fenway Park Wednesday who deserved a better fate Wednesday night, it was Joe Kelly.

On a night when he wasn’t feeling well to begin with, the Red Sox righty starter took to the mound and dug deep for seven quality innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits, working his way out of trouble and giving his team a chance.

All he got for his troubles was a bruise on the fleshy outside part of his right hand on a Shin-Soo Choo grounder back to the mound in the third inning and his third loss in four decisions this season in Boston’s 2-1 defeat to Texas.

“It’s a little bit sore but it didn’t affect the way I pitched out there,” said Kelly, who wore a white bandage over his wrist and hand after the game. “I’m definitely going to ice it and keep trying to get the swelling down. It feels fine.”

After his 108-pitch effort, manager John Farrell recognized what Kelly was able to accomplish after allowing solo runs in the second and third innings.

“After the third inning, he settled in. He used his curveball a little bit more,” Farrell said of his hard-throwing starter. “He started to elevate his fastball for some strikeouts. And on a night when he wasn’t completely healthy in terms of an illness he was dealing with. He threw the ball exceptionally well. He takes the one-hopper off the hand that really, after the initial sting went away, didn’t affect the way he threw the baseball. He got a couple of big strikeouts with men in scoring position. A well-pitched game.”

It was a well-pitched game using mostly his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, his two best pitches. Of Kelly’s 108 pitches, 79 were fastballs. He velocity improved as the night wore on, reaching 99 on his final pitch of the night to end the seventh with a strikeout of Thomas Field. As a matter of fact, Kelly was able to fan Chirinos and Field back to back after Leonys Martin doubled with one out.

“My fastball was working for me,” Kelly said. “My offspeed, I was giving up a lot of hits on those. My slider wasn’t breaking like it normally does. I couldn’t really throw a changeup over the plate but I made some pitches when I had to and commanded my heater.”

In the last two starts, Kelly has been not only been overpowering, he’s been in command for the most part. Heading into his start last Thursday in Seattle, he allowed 21 runs and 26 hits over a stretch of four straight starts. Last Thursday, he yielded just one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 win. Ironically, Wednesday night, he was on the wrong end of a 2-1 score.

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Joe Kelly, John Farrell,
Jacoby Ellsbury fires back at Edward Mujica, Red Sox after HBP: ‘I didn’t even feel it. … He’s just lucky I didn’t steal 2 bases off him’ 05.04.15 at 1:30 am ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury stares out at Edward Mujica after getting drilled Sunday night in the 8th inning. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jacoby Ellsbury stares out at Edward Mujica after getting drilled Sunday night in the eighth inning. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t charge the mound or incite a fight after getting hit on the right butt cheek in apparent retaliation for the drilling of Hanley Ramirez in the sixth inning of Sunday night’s 8-5 Yankees’ win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Ellsbury, instead, chose a postgame jab session with reporters to fire back at Ramirez, Edward Mujica and the Red Sox.

“We’re definitely [not] trying to throw at Hanley,” Ellsbury said of the two-out beaning of Ramirez on the left hip in the sixth, with the Yankees leading 8-1. “I don’t know why he got all riled up in the first place.”

Ramirez dropped his bat and stared at Yankee starter Adam Warren before slowly taking his base. Mujica would exact a measure of revenge in the top of the eighth, drilling Ellsbury in the backside, after coming up and in on two of the three pitches.

“You throw one up and in and then 3-0, you come at me,” Ellsbury said. “I don’t really care what they’re trying to do over there but [just what] we’re trying to do, so I just took my base and let them know I didn’t appreciate it.

“I don’t need to get thrown out. I don’t need to miss any games. I realize my importance to my team. It didn’t hurt anyway. If it hurt … I didn’t even feel it. He’s just lucky I didn’t steal two bases off him.”

Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi: “I thought it was a little bit fishy. But only Mujica knows for sure.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Edward Mujica, hanley ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury
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
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