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Closing Time: Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello highlight Red Sox’ rout of Blue Jays 09.07.15 at 4:23 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The Red Sox excelled in their first taste of the September pennant race.

Behind another solid outing from starter Rick Porcello, and the latest round of extra-base hits from Jackie Bradley Jr., the Red Sox claimed an 11-4 win over the first-place Blue Jays on Monday afternoon at Fenway Park. It was the Red Sox‘ fourth straight win.

It moves the Red Sox to seven games under .500 for the first time since July 17, and makes them 21-14 since July 30. They have also won 14 of their last 21 games at Fenway Park.

In their last 28 games, the Red Sox have posted a plus-51 run differential, hitting .311 during that stretch. Remarkably, the Sox actually now have scored more runs than the Blue Jays since Aug. 1.

“I think our guys are ready for this challenge,” said interim manager Torey Lovullo. “Our team is playing good baseball. We knew they were coming to town, we’€™re in a good place. Our guys were ready to play and it showed today.”

Porcello allowed two solo home runs — by Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak — in his 7 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking two while throwing 107 pitches. He would be charged with two more runs after Noe Ramirez came on to give up a two-run single off the bat of Jose Bautista.

Since returning from the disabled list, Porcello has given up seven runs (4 earned) over 22 1/3 innings in three starts for a 1.61 ERA.

Offensively, the Red Sox were led by their outfielders, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts and Bradley Jr. The trio combined to go 9-for-13 with six runs and six RBI. In total, the Sox hitters finished with 17 hits.

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Dustin Pedroia on target to play Tuesday 09.07.15 at 12:23 pm ET
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It appears Dustin Pedroia is on the verge of rejoining the Red Sox lineup.

The second baseman, who has been sidelined since July 22 with a hamstring injury, will be back in action for the Red Sox for Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays if all things check out medically earlier that morning.

“Well, I know that Dustin is real excited about where he’s at right now. We like that,” said Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo. “That’s where we want him to be. His medical evaluation tomorrow with our medical team will be a real important day. If he reaches that final checkpoint, we’ll try to get him in there tomorrow, but everything has got to be all systems go. We’re not going to put him in a situation where it’s a maybe. This has got to be 100 percent yes. If we get that verdict from the medical team, he’ll be playing [Tuesday].”

Pedroia did return for six games following the All-Star break, but was forced out of the lineup due to lingering issues with his hamstring.

The second baseman initially injured the right leg rounding first base June 24.

“There may have been a situation where he was a little distracted by the injury, may have felt a little bit of the injury,” Lovullo said. “We’re avoiding that this time. We are staying 100 percent away from the fact that he might not be ready. We can assume that he’s going to be ready tomorrow, once he gets that final checkpoint. If so, he’s not going to be thinking about the leg, and more focused on being productive.”

Pedroia is hitting .287 with a .774 OPS in 75 games this season.

Closing Time: Red Sox sweep Phillies; David Ortiz hits 497th career home run, leaves game with calf injury 09.06.15 at 4:33 pm ET
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The suspense was taken out of the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Phillies Sunday early.

Not only did the Sox put up six runs in the first two innings against Philadelphia’s rookie starter, Jerad Eickhoff, on the way to a 6-2 win over the Phils, but David Ortiz wasted no time in giving the Fenway faithful what they were hoping to see.

The Red Sox designated hitter took Eickhoff over the right field fence in his first at-bat of the game. It not only led to an early two-run lead for the Sox, but also changed the home run total posted over the left field wall to “497.”

Ortiz now finds himself just three home runs away from becoming 27th major league player to reach 500 home runs, surpassing Dwight Evans for the fourth-most homers at Fenway (200) in the process.

It was Ortiz’s 31st homer of the season, making him one of eight American League hitters to total as many homers.

Ortiz would have to leave the game in the fifth inning, however, due to right calf tightness.

The victory completed a sweep of the Phillies, marking the Red Sox‘ fourth series sweep of the season, and second in a set of three or more games.

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Allen Craig among those promoted by Red Sox 09.01.15 at 1:34 am ET
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Allen Craig

Allen Craig

With the roster expanding for the final month of the regular season, the Red Sox will add four players to their clubhouse prior to Tuesday’s game against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Included in the group who will promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket are first baseman Allen Craig, pitchers Ryan Cook and Noe Ramirez, and catcher Sandy Leon.

For Craig, it will be his first trip back to the major leagues since he played in a May 9 loss to Toronto. In 24 games with the Red Sox, the 31-year-old hit just .135 with a .430 OPS.

While with Triple-A Pawtucket, Craig was hitting .274 with a .718 OPS. He managed four home runs and 14 doubles in 93 games.

Both Ramirez and Cook figure to get semi-regular action of the Red Sox bullpen, with interim manager Torey Lovullo suggesting before Monday night’s win over the Yankees that any player called up would be relied on to contribute for the final month.

Leon returns the Red Sox after playing in 26 games with the PawSox, having been sent down to Triple-A after clearing waivers. The backstop had been designated for assignment by the Sox on July 20.

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Red Sox trade Alejandro De Aza to Giants for lefty pitcher Luis Ysla 09.01.15 at 1:20 am ET
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Alejandro De Aza

Alejandro De Aza

Alejandro De Aza will have his shot at playing in the postseason.

The Red Sox and Giants narrowly beat Monday night’s midnight waiver trade deadline, with the Sox dealing De Aza, along with cash considerations, to San Francisco for minor league lefty pitcher Luis Ysla.

The Red Sox will pay the Giants $650,000 in the deal, with De Aza owed $930,000 the rest of the season. When the Sox dealt for the outfielder from the Orioles June 4, however, they only took on $1 million of De Aza’s $5 million for the 2015 season, meaning San Francisco’s financial commitment in acquiring the 31-year-old is virtually nothing.

The Giants are 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West, and five games out of the final wild card spot.

De Aza, who is eligible for free agency after this season, proved a valuable player for the Red Sox. The lefty hitter finished his stint with the Sox hitting .292 with an .831 OPS in 60 games.

In return the Red Sox are getting an intriguing prospect.

The numbers for the 23-year-old Ysla while playing for San Jose of the California League (Single A) haven’t been encouraging, with the southpaw totaling a 6.33 in 33 outings (9 starts). He has, however, struck out 95 batters in 79 1/3 innings, walking 41.

Ysla finished 2014 as the Giants’ 21st-ranked prospect, having turned 6-7 mark with a 2.45 ERA in 23 starts for Single-A Augusta in the South Atlantic League. That season he also managed an impressive strikeout rate, fanning 115 in 121 1/3 innings.

The Venezuela native was identified by Baseball America as having the SAL’s best changeup after his ’14 campaign. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, he also has a fastball that can tough 97 mph.

He signed relatively late for an international prospect, signing with the Giants for just $7,500 at the age of 20.

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Hanley Ramirez talks year of health frustrations, status of shoulder 08.31.15 at 5:16 pm ET
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Interim Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo said he would feel comfortable playing Hanley Ramirez in a game at first base if his health was up to par.

Now Ramirez and the Red Sox have to figure out if his body will cooperate.

Ramirez, who took grounders at first base for the fourth time in six days, was slated to have his injured right shoulder looked at by the Red Sox medical staff. The righty hitter explained that the injury had been bothering him for a while after making a throw more than a month ago. It then cropped up again during the team’s recent homestand.

“I made one throw here at home. I don’t remember what month it was. And I hurt something but I played through it,” Ramirez said. “And then it happened again last homestand here. Since then it wasn’t feeling right and I was playing through it. But it got to the point where I took it to the manager and the trainer and they understood and they didn’t want me to go out there if I wasn’t 100 percent. That’s what we’ve been dealing with right now. I’ve just been waiting to get back to Boston to get it checked out with a doctor.”

He added, “I was missing some pitches I normally don’t miss. But I didn’t say anything until the last game in Detroit. This is not me. I’m such a good hitter and I can’t look like that on the field. But I didn’t want to say anything because I wanted to play.”

Ramirez, who first dealt with left shoulder injury in May, said that the injury had primarily led him to his struggles at the plate was the lingering hand ailment. His left hand remains swollen, having been hit by a line-drive on June 24.

Since returning from the injury Ramirez has hit .193 with four homers and a .556 OPS. He hasn’t hit a home run since July 11.

“Since that happened nothing has been the same,” he said. “You can see my hand, it’s still not the same. I don’t have the same grip that I had the first month. Some things happens that you can’t control, like being hit by a line-drive. That can happen, what? One out of a 100. Without me we’ve been playing great and that’s the thing that makes me feel a little bit comfortable, when you see your team winning series even we’re not in the lineup. That makes you feel better even a little bit.”

Asked if he harbored any frustration that the public was unaware of his physical limitations during his recent struggles, Ramrirez suggested as long as the organization understood that was the priority.

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Jake Arrieta throws no-hitter for Cubs against Dodgers 08.30.15 at 11:12 pm ET
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Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta

While the Cubs are paying Jon Lester to be their ace, another starter has emerged as their true No. 1. On Sunday night Arrieta punctuated the notion that he was the top dog in the Chicago rotation, and perhaps the best pitcher in baseball right now.

The righty threw his first career no-hitter in the Cubs’ 2-0 win over the Dodgers, striking out 12 and walking just one while throwing 116 pitches.

The 29-year-old Arrieta struck out the side to complete the feat, fanning Joc Pederson to end the game.

The former Orioles hurler lowered his ERA to 2.11 with the effort, and carries an 11-1 mark with a 1.07 ERA in his last 14 starts.

Arrieta was acquired by the Cubs on July 2, 2013, along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.

For more on the no-hitter, click here.

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Closing Time: Blake Swihart’s inside-the-park home run leads Red Sox past Mets 08.28.15 at 11:11 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

There haven’t been a ton of memorable moments for the Red Sox this season, but Friday night certainly supplied one.

The disappointment that came with blowing a one-run lead in the eighth inning would be erased for the Sox thanks in large part to a most unusual play — Blake Swihart’s 10th-inning inside-the-park home run.

The blast would go a long way in helping the Red Sox claim a 6-4 win over the first-place Mets, at Citi Field in New York.

Swihart managed the feat — the first Red Sox’ inside-the-park homer since Jacoby Ellsbury‘s race around the bases in 2011 — by launching a drive off the center field wall. The ball took what appeared to be an enormous ricochet off the padding, forcing Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada to venture out to retrieve the carom. By the time he reached it, however, the catcher was trucking around third and on his way to scoring fairly easily.

Replays showed, however, that the ball may have hit the wall just behind the padding, forcing the aggressive bounce back toward the infield. There would be no review, leaving it in the books as an inside-the-park job.

It was the first inside-the-park home run by a Red Sox catcher since Hal Wagner’s in 1946.

The Red Sox went on to score two more runs on a sacrifice fly from Josh Rutledge and Xander Bogaerts’ RBI single. They would need them.

Junichi Tazawa once again struggle trying to close out the game, this time failing to get out of the 12th after walking in the Mets’ fourth run with his fourth free pass of the inning. He would be lifted after throwing 28 pitches (11 strikes) and getting his only two outs on a 1-6-3 double play.

Craig Breslow would come on to get Yoenis Cespedes on a fly ball to center field for the save. Breslow was the last Red Sox’ reliever available, with the Sox also out of position players.

The Red Sox had been able to negate a stellar outing by Mets starter Matt Harvey, who allowed just two hits and not a single run over his six innings, striking out eight.

The first pitch thrown by a Mets reliever was turned into the Red Sox’ first run, with David Ortiz taking Logan Verrett over the center field wall to kick off the seventh inning for the designated hitter’s 493rd career home run.

Ortiz’ homer (his 27th of the season) closed the visitors’ deficit to a run. That would quickly become a one-run lead for the Sox thanks to Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-run homer. The blast also cleared the center field wall and scored Swihart.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the lead wouldn’t last long thanks to Alexi Ogando’s wildness. The righty came on, retired just one batter while giving up a hit and walking three, including Travis d’Arnaud to force in the game-tying run.

Red Sox starter Henry Owens kept things close, but lasted just five innings. The lefty finished surrendering two runs on five hits, striking out six and walking four.

For a complete box score, click here.

Closing Time: Rick Porcello makes triumphant return in Red Sox win 08.26.15 at 10:41 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

CHICAGO — Whatever Rick Porcello did during his time away, it worked.

Making his first start since July 29 — when he allowed six runs on 10 hits in just two innings to the White Sox — the righty befuddled Chicago for seven innings Wednesday night on the way to leading the Red Sox to a 3-0 win at U.S. Cellular Field.

Porcello, who was coming off the 15-day disabled list after a battle with triceps soreness, didn’t allow a run or walk while giving up five hits and striking out five. It was the second time in the pitcher’s Red Sox career he got through his start without giving up a run, having pitched seven shutout innings against Tampa Bay May 5.

The effort lowered Porcello’s ERA to 5.47, having come into the game at 5.81. It was also just the starter’s second win since May 16.

As it turned out, what Porcello did do during his hiatus was make a commitment to resurfacing the pitcher he had been prior to this season — relying heavily on his two-seam fastball and staying down in the zone.

“I thought about it a lot and the more and more I thought about it, the more and more frustrated I’€™d get with myself for getting away from what I’€™ve done,” Porcello said. “Just had some success with it and kind of got carried away, that’€™s the best way you can describe it. But I learned from it and it’€™s over with now and I know where I need to be and just stay disciplined with that.”

The time of reflection, and revamped strategy, paid off.

“Pinpointed inconsistencies that led to inconsistently locating the fastball,” he said. “My delivery, kind of going back and forth with the four seamer and sinker, found it hard to get a groove with one pitch. It wasn’€™t anything that I could foresee happening. I was throwing some pretty good four-seam fastballs early on in the year and it was a viable weapon for me and in turn it kind of led to me getting away from doing what I do well, which is sink the ball. I kind of came to the realization that I need to throw sinkers primarily and then occasionally throw a four-seamer. Not 50-50 or anything like that. That’€™s what we talked about a lot and just trying to get back to keeping the ball down and then have timely, elevated fastballs.”

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With Hanley Ramirez at first, Jackie Bradley Jr. getting his big chance 08.26.15 at 12:38 pm ET
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Jackie Bradley Jr.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

CHICAGO — The sight of Hanley Ramirez working out at first base Tuesday made it official: Jackie Bradley Jr. has found his way back.

Just a few years ago, the outfielder had made such an impression that the entirety of the 2013 spring training seemed to revolve around controlling Bradley’s service time. He was perceived as a no-doubt piece of the Red Sox‘ future.

Flash forward to the end of the 2014 season and the narrative had moved 180 degrees.

Bradley ventured into last offseason riding a 1-for-36 clip with the Red Sox, officially leaving him out of the conversation for part of the solution for ’15.

“Obviously, especially when you know what you’re capable of doing as a ballplayer,” he said when asked about his frustration. “And as a young ballplayer you want to make that impression right away. Sometimes everybody has a different path, and this is just the way my path has gone.”

Now, Bradley Jr. is back in the Red Sox’ outfield of the near future, and the guy they paid $88 million for is forced to find a new position (and seems OK with it).

“I think with me at first, we’re going to have a better team on the field, competing every day,” Ramirez said.

“We’ve got a guy [new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski] out there, he’s trying to put the best pieces on the field,” Ramirez added. “He was like, ‘If you put this guy over here and put this guy in left field, how would the team look?’ And I was thinking about that, too. I was thinking, ‘Yeah, we’re a way better team with me on first and with Jackie and Mookie [Betts] and Casty [Rusney Castillo] on the field.’ Hopefully, we can do it and they can keep doing what they’re doing — playing great outfield and keep hitting, because we’re going to need that.”

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