|David Ortiz offers interesting idiom for Tom Brady’s plight||04.26.16 at 1:01 am ET|
ATLANTA — Last May, David Ortiz was animated in his defense of Tom Brady when word came down the NFL had suspended the quarterback for four games.
“I think the decision was very poor,” the Red Sox DH said regarding NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s initial mandate that Tom Brady miss the first four games of the 2015 season. “You’re not just talking about any football player. You’re talking about probably the best player in the game, so what is the message you’re sending? I don’t think the message they’re sending is good. They want to send a strong message to who? The NFL players? How about the fans. What we think of it doesn’t matter?”
Then on Monday, it happened all over again.
Brady once again was tagged with a four-game suspension after the NFL won its appeal of Judge Richard Berman’s ruling. And, like many New Englanders, Ortiz’s reaction was that of frustration … and exhaustion with the situation.
“It’s crazy,” Ortiz said after his team’s 1-0 win over the Braves. “It’s just surprising a year later talking about the same stuff.”
And then Ortiz dropped an apt description of what has unfolded.
“When you fight eggs with a rock, the eggs never win,” said Ortiz, referencing NFL’s stubbornness. “It’s crazy.”
For more on Brady’s situation, check the It Is What It Is blog.
|Christian Vazquez throws out first runner since 2014, proclaims himself 100 percent||04.26.16 at 12:32 am ET|
The praise has been heaped on Christian Vazquez since he was recalled to the major leagues earlier this month.
But there one bit of punctuation the catcher needed before feeling all the way back from Tommy John surgery — throwing a runner out trying to steal.
Monday night, during the Red Sox’ 1-0 win over the Braves, he got to check that last test off his list.
Atlanta’s Jace Peterson decided to be the second runner trying to steal on the Sox catcher this season, and first to not make it successfully. Vazquez gunned down Peterson, who was just 12-for-22 in steal attempts last season, with ease.
“You saw me excited, right? It was an exciting moment,” Vazquez said. “It was a long time until this moment.”
And now Vazquez feels he can make the ultimate proclamation.
“It’s 100 percent,” he said of his surgically-repaired right elbow. “The more I’m playing, I’m getting stronger and stronger. I feel good, man.”
And just for good measure, Vazquez also has seen some modest improvement offensively, claiming a double to raise his batting average to .200. That’s two straight games he has a hit after three straight contests of going a combined 0-for-10 with six strikeouts.
|Closing Time: Rick Porcello, Jackie Bradley Jr. all Red Sox need in win over Braves||04.25.16 at 10:05 pm ET|
ATLANTA — In case you weren’t paying attention, Rick Porcello has been pitching pretty well.
The righty was one of the chief contributors in the Red Sox’ 1-0 win over the Braves on Monday night, going 6 1/3 innings without giving up a run. After striking out six and walking two, he now has 30 punchouts and just five free passes to go along with an ERA of 3.51 and a record of 4-0.
Since he started teaming up with catcher Christian Vazquez, Porcello has a 2.75 ERA in three starts. Also, it marked the 12th straight start the righty has gone at least six innings, the second-longest active streak (only behind Jake Arrieta).
The win puts the Red Sox over .500 (10-9) for the first time since they were 6-5 on April 17.
The only run the Red Sox would need came off the bat of Sunday night’s hero, Jackie Bradley Jr., who took Atlanta starter Julio Teheran deep over the right-field wall in the seventh inning for the outfielder’s first homer of the season.
Teherhan did his best to keep pace against a Red Sox lineup that was without both David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, giving up one run over seven innings, striking out eight, walking three and allowing six hits.
The only time the Red Sox were threatened came in the seventh, after Porcello was driven from the game by a Jeff Francoeur double and Freddie Freeman walk. Robbie Ross Jr. came on to get a ground ball to second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who could only get a force out at second.
Ross Jr. ended the Braves’ rally by striking out pinch-hitter Erick Aybar, who came into the game with just one hit in 22 at-bats against left-handed pitching.
|Chili Davis reflects on becoming Godfather of breaking bats over one’s leg||04.25.16 at 8:47 pm ET|
ATLANTA — When Carlos Gomez snapped his bat over his leg Sunday night, having swung and missed at a Henry Owens’ changeup, Chili Davis couldn’t help but smile a bit.
The Red Sox hitting coach is, after all, the guy who started the craze.
While many credit Bo Jackson with first executing the fit of rage, it was actually Davis who many believe was the first to snap a bat (that wasn’t previously broken) over his thigh.
“I remember everything about it,” Davis said of the 1983 incident. “I remember Kevin Gross pitching. I remember he had that big rolling curveball, which he threw in the first at-bat. I was at a point in my career where I read curveballs pretty good. I was the kind of hitter if I saw it and I thought I could hit it, I’m thinking, ‘The next time I see that I’ll be ready for it.’ The next time I went up I saw one, threw it again, took it, strike, and then when two strikes I threw right threw it. The third time up he struck me out again because I kept swinging threw it. I just thought, ‘It had to be this bat, time to die.’ It was a brand new bat. Big handle. Big 36-, 37-ounce bat.
“That was just reaction. It wasn’t planned. I had never done it before.”
It wouldn’t be the last time Davis took his frustrations out on the lumber, either.
One offseason, while vacationing in Hawaii, pitcher Frank Viola threw down the gauntlet while playing golf with the slugger.
“He said, ‘If I ever strike you out twice in a game, will you break your bat over your knee for me.’ I said, ‘Frank, you’re never going to strike me out twice in a game. But if you ever do, I’ll do it,'” Davis remembered. “So during the season he struck me out the second time and after I was walking away I kept hearing a voice yelling, ‘Do it! Do it!’ I turned around and he was on the mound yelling, ‘Do it!’ So I broke it over my knee and he was like, ‘Yeah!’
“You do stupid stuff. When you play sometimes you get angry and you do stupid stuff, and then you get back home and you see it on TV and you’re like, ‘Oh my goodness, how dumb was that.'”
But, as awkward as such a maneuver might seem, Davis totally understand why players like Gomez go that route.
“I understand his frustrations,” the hitting coach said. “He’s a good player and there were a few frustrating at-bats for him. He’s a highly temperamental player. And he’s competitive. You put those two together and sometimes you get frustrated an react in that sort of way.”
Somebody isn't a Celtics fan (or a fan of Henry Owens changeups) pic.twitter.com/vY4dVLhsZS
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) April 25, 2016
|Red Sox notes: Left-handed outfield options on horizon (and they don’t include David Murphy)||04.25.16 at 7:45 pm ET|
But with Brock Holt the only lefty-hitting outfielder on the roster, and Chris Young showing no signs that he will reverse his struggles against right-handed pitching (against which he’s 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts), there is a hole on the roster.
It was a dynamic that forced Red Sox manager John Farrell to pinch-hit for Young with right-handed-hitting Josh Rutledge, Saturday. (Rutledge ripped an RBI double against righty reliever Ken Giles.)
So when David Murphy — who had been with the Red Sox in spring training — opted out of his contract with the Twins Monday, it potentially opened the door for a move. But according to team sources, the Red Sox don’t have any interest in bringing Murphy back.
The plan, for the time being, will be to integrate both the left-hitting Marco Hernandez and Blake Swihart, a switch-hitter into left field with Triple-A Pawtucket. That process began Monday night, with Hernandez playing his first game in left for the PawSox.
Other than Hernandez and Swihart, the Red Sox don’t have any left-handed-hitting outfield options at Triple-A.
Another possibility to see some action in the outfield at some point this season is the hot-hitting Sam Travis. But while the Red Sox have discussed such a move for the future, the organization is committed to keeping Travis at first base for the time being.
– After an uncomfortable season debut with the Red Sox Sunday night, in which he gave up three runs over just 3 1/3 innings, Henry Owens will get another chance.
Sox manager confirmed that Owens will make another start for the Red Sox, with that turn scheduled to take place Friday night at Fenway Park against the Yankees.
– Eduardo Rodriguez will pitch his first official rehab outing Thursday, as planned. But because of the uncertain weather, the venue for the outing might be changing.
Farrell suggested Rodriguez, who is returning from an injured right knee, may have to join Triple-A Pawtucket instead of Single-A Salem due to the threat of rain.
– Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz both didn’t start the series opener, with Ramirez’s absence coming as more of a surprise. But with the late arrival after the Sox’s 12-inning game in Houston Sunday night, Farrell decided it would be a good time to give Ramirez his first day off of the season.
Ortiz likely won’t play in either of the two games at the Braves’ home stadium.
The Red Sox got to their hotel just after 5:30 a.m., not scheduled a bus to the stadium until 3 p.m. Dustin Pedroia and John Farrell did take matters into their own hands, however, taking a taxi over to Turner Field at about noon.
– With the addition of hard-throwing Heath Hembree, Junichi Tazawa, Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox all of a sudden find themselves with one of the hardest-throwing bullpens in the majors. And Pat Light, who has hit 100 mph, hadn’t pitched prior to Monday night, while Carson Smith is also on the horizon
According to Fangraphs.com, the Sox relievers average fastball velocity of 94.3 mph, second only to Kansas City’s 94.4.
“The last couple of years, we’ve been in the bottom third in terms of average velocity and all of a sudden with Heath’s evolvement, with Matt barnes, with Carson coming to us, with Craig Kimbrel, we’ve now assembled a power bullpen and it’s got the ability to come in and get a key strikeout,” Farrell said. “That is a clear, distinct advantage.”
|Closing Time: Jackie Bradley Jr., Heath Hembree help carry Red Sox to 12-inning win||04.25.16 at 1:12 am ET|
What could have been a disastrous loss became one of the Red Sox’ most satisfying victories.
The Red Sox scored twice in the 12th inning, thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. bases-loaded single and a run-scoring wild pitch, giving John Farrell’s team a 7-5 win over the Astros. This after allowing Houston to tie things up with two outs in the ninth inning on a two-run homer from Colby Rasmus off closer Craig Kimbrel.
With Heath Hembree stepping in and mowing down the Astros for the final three innings (throwing 49 pitches, just 8 of which were balls), the Sox rebounded in impressive fashion against Houston reliever Ken Giles in the 12th.
Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw led off the frame with a pair of singles, with both runners moved up on a Brock Holt bunt. After Ryan Hanigan’s 13-pitch walk loaded the bases, Bradley rifled the game-winner into right. The Sox center fielder now is 5-for-6 with 11 RBIs with the bases full over the past two seasons.
Hanigan, who caught all 217 of the Red Sox pitches, would add an insurance run by racing on home on Giles’ wild pitch.
Just about an hour before the 12th, it looked like Rasmus had punctured the Sox for a second straight game. With two outs in the ninth inning, his team down by two runs and a runner on third, the Houston outfielder jumped all over a Kimbrel fastball for a game-tying two-run blast.
The Kimbrel pitch was almost in the exact same spot as the fastball Rasmus hit for a grand slam the day before against Clay Buchholz.
It was the first blown save as a Red Sox for Kimbrel, and ruined what had been a stellar outing by the Sox bullpen, who had to pick up the slack for another short outing from the starter.
The bullpen, which has thrown more innings than any other group of American League relievers, was forced to carry the load once again. This time the bullpen had to spring into action with one out in the fourth inning, thanks to just a 3 2/3-inning outing from starter Henry Owens.
But, once again, the relievers managed. Matt Barnes, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara (who was pitching for the first time since Marathon Monday) did their job until Kimbrel’s issues.
Barnes went two innings, giving up a hit and a walk. Tazawa struck out two in cruising through the seventh. And Uehara needed 14 pitches to strike out two of his three batters. Hembree then closed things out, stretching his string of scoreless innings to 7 2/3 to start his season.
With the promotion of Pat Light before the game, the Red Sox now have featured 11 relievers already this season.
Carlos Gomez was not a big fan of striking out on a Henry Owens changeup.
Somebody isn’t a Celtics fan (or a fan of Henry Owens changeups) pic.twitter.com/vY4dVLhsZS
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) April 25, 2016
|Closing Time: Clay Buchholz, Roenis Elias let one slip away in Houston||04.23.16 at 7:33 pm ET|
It’s a results business, a reality Clay Buchholz was reminded of during the Red Sox’ 8-3 loss to the Astros on Saturday in Houston.
Buchholz was on his way to a second straight encouraging start, having allowed just one run over his first 4 2/3 innings. But then came a two-out, misplaced, 2-2 fastball to Colby Rasmus in the fifth inning.
The result of the pitch was a game-changing grand slam from Rasmus, propelling his team to the win and Buchholz to what would be classified as another discouraging start. It was the first grand slam Buchholz has ever allowed.
The Red Sox starter’s ERA now stands at 6.33, having given up five runs in three of his four starts.
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) April 23, 2016
Coming into the game, Rasmus was just 3-for-28 against Buchholz.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Xander Bogaerts’ X-rays come back clean; Eduardo Rodriguez, Carson Smith closing on returns||04.23.16 at 3:25 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters prior to Saturday’s game in Houston that X-rays on Bogaerts right wrist didn’t reveal any significant concerns. It offered the organization a huge sigh of relief considering the impact made on the wrist by Luke Gregerson’s fastball in the ninth inning Friday.
“Following the game [Friday] night, the X-rays were clean, they were negative, so there’s no structural damage,” said Farrell, who started Brock Holt at shortstop for the second game of the three-game set. “He’s sore today. He’s dealing with some swelling that he’s working on getting out of there. He would be available only in an emergency situation and more defensively. Not going to take BP here today, but we would hopefully expect him to be back available [Sunday] night in the night game.”
Bogaerts said that he was feeling the effects of the hit-by-pitch.
“I thought I would be able to play today, but I don’t think so when I woke up [Saturday],” he said. “It’s a bit sore. I have power in it, I have the power, it’s just the mobility and the flexibility is what I don’t have.”
– Both Carson Smith and Eduardo Rodriguez appear getting close to re-joining the Red Sox.
For Smith, his return might come as early the first game of the Yankees series at Fenway Park April 29 if all goes well in his stint with Triple-A Pawtucket this coming week.
“Carson threw an inning, showed very good arm strength and velocity, so he’s going to be moving out of Florida,” said Farrell of the reliever’s most recent outing in Fort Myers. “We’re probably looking at Tuesday for his next appearance. That’s likely to be in Pawtucket. But came through it fine from a physical standpoint.”
Rodriguez also threw at JetBlue Park, and most likely will now head out to an affiliate to amp up his rehab.
“E-Rod threw the ball good,” the manager said. “He got through his five up-and-downs with 70-plus pitches. There was solid velocity in the low-90s. Used all his pitches. Provided he comes in tomorrow and checks out fine, we would get him out to make his next start likely at Portland.”
Farrell pointed out that the organization has 30 days to activate Rodriguez once he is sent out to an affiliate, while also noting the lefty would need between two and three starts on his rehab outing.
– Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree has left a solid impression since being recalled. After turning in 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball Tuesday, the righty came back and tossed 1 1/3 innings scoreless innings Friday night.
“He’s been efficient, he’s been powerful,” Farrell said. “When he added that curveball, that top-to-bottom curveball, last year, it’s made his fastball more effective, and I think it’s really helped his slider for his hand or fingers to get over the front of the baseball, be able to put more depth. He’s got three defined pitches right now, and I think the fact that he’s got more consistent weapons, it’s added to his confidence. You know, that inning-and-a-third last night was big. Contrast of styles with some power in behind the knuckleball always works well, but Heath is growing in his own role and his own confidence.”
|Red Sox lineup: No Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt mans shortstop||04.23.16 at 12:15 pm ET|
Brock Holt will start at shortstop against Houston starter Mike Fiers, a right-hander. Chris Young moves to Holt’s spot in left field.
Also, Jackie Bradley Jr. is moved out of the ninth spot, with Christian Vazquez sliding into that position.
Here is the Red Sox lineup with Clay Buchholz on the mound for the visitors:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt SS
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
|Closing Time: Steven Wright, Red Sox bats too much for Astros||04.22.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
All Steven Wright does is get outs.
The 31-year-old knuckleballer, who was only in the Red Sox rotation to start this season because of Eduardo Rodriguez’s knee injury (and perhaps because he was out of options), has been the team’s best starter. Friday night, he cemented that distinction.
Wright allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings, helping lead the Red Sox to a 6-2 win over the Astros, in the series-opener at Minute Maid Park.
The righty starter did walk five batters, but he also struck out six while giving up just four hits to lower his ERA to just 1.40 ERA after three starts.
In 14 career starts, Wright now has a 3.48 ERA, having gone six or more innings in five of his last six outings. During that recent six-start stretch, his ERA is just 2.06.
“He’s been the most consistent starter, without question,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters. “Going back to the conversation in spring training, not knowing where he was going to break with us. Just go out and pitch. And he does a great job of that, whether it’s in either role. To pitch the innings he’s doing, he’s been a stabilizer in the rotation.”
Wright was helped out by a Red Sox offense that continues to pull it’s weight, particularly early on. For the third straight game the Sox scored multiple runs in the first inning, this time putting up a pair.
The Sox offensive star was Mookie Betts, who came up just 90 feet shy of hitting for the cycle. The right fielder claimed a triple in his first at-bat, a double in his second and a single his third time up.
Betts made a bid for the rare feat in his fifth time up, rifling a line-drive to the right field fence, allowing him to race into third for his second triple of the night. The outfielder became the youngest Red Sox player to hit two triples in a game since Dwight Evans.
His four hits were part of a 15-hit attack for the Red Sox, the second straight game they notched that many.
The worst news of the night for the Red Sox came in the ninth inning when Xander Bogaerts was hit in the right wrist by a Luke Gregerson fastball. (For more on the injury, which forced the shortstop from the game, click here.)
Longtime Red Sox fan, and reigning NBA MVP, Steph Curry was in attendance, sitting behind home plate. To get an idea how big a Sox fan Curry is, understand he held his bachelor party at Fenway Park.
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