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Closing Time: Jake Peavy, Jackie Bradley Jr. help lead Red Sox back to respectability with win over Blue Jays 04.25.14 at 10:04 pm ET
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TORONTO — Whatever wake-up call John Farrell gave his team, it evidently worked pretty well.

Prior to the Red Sox‘ series-opening game against the Blue Jays Friday night, Farrell offered a reminder to his team regarding the importance of playing the right way (particularly defensively). The result was striking, with the Sox winning the first game of a series for just the second time this season, trouncing the Blue Jays, 8-1, at Rogers Centre.

Earning the win was Jake Peavy, who turned in a stellar seven-inning outing in which he allowed one run (a Juan Francisco solo homer) on five hits. With the seven-strikeout performance, Peavy lowers his ERA to 2.87.

Conversely, another former White Sox pitcher, Mark Buehrle, didn’t fare as well. The Toronto starter snapped his string of four standout starts to begin the season (not allowing more than a run in any of them), giving up seven runs on 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Helping key the offense was Jackie Bradley Jr., who came away with a pair of doubles and a triple. A.J. Pierzynski also chipped in with three of the Red Sox’ 16 hits.

Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- Pierzynski jumped on the first pitch he saw, flying to center field for a sacrifice fly and the game’s first run. The fly ball scored Mike Napoli, who had led off the second inning with a walk. The catcher has swung at more first pitches (40 percent) than any player on the Red Sox.

- Will Middlebrooks made the most of his first at-bat since coming off the 15-day disabled list, looping a broken bat, opposite field single to right field, scoring Xander Bogaerts with the game’s second run in the second. The hit was the first in 22 at-bats against Buehrle in which the lefty hadn’t given up a hit with runners in scoring position.

- Dustin Pedroia capped off the four-run second inning with his second hit of the game, a single that plated both Middlebrooks and Bradley, who had reached via an opposite field double. Pedroia did end the inning by getting tagged out trying to stretch the hit into a double, but not before both runs had scored. The four runs in one inning matched a season-high for the Red Sox.

- David Ortiz kept the momentum going in the third inning, lining a solo homer to right field for his fifth homer of the season. It was the 75th career at-bat for Ortiz against Buehrle, the most at-bats the DH has had against any lefty. The Red Sox finished with a 5-0 lead after three innings. They had entered the night with an American League-worst 24 total runs in the first three innings this season.

- Pierzynski threw out his third baserunner of the season, gunning down Jose Bautista trying to steal third base in the fourth inning.

- Middlebrooks came away with a multi-hit game thanks to a run-scoring double in the sixth inning, scoring Pierzynski. The third baseman how has five games with two or more hits in 12 total contests played at Rogers Centre.

- Mike Napoli notched his 35th bases-loaded RBI as a member of the Red Sox, most by any player during that stretch. This one came as a result of a sixth-inning walk.

WHAT WENT WRONG

- The Red Sox first stab at a rally ended in the first inning when Shane Victorino followed up Pedroia’s leadoff single with a double play grounder. It increased the Sox’ major league lead in twin-killings, marking their 25th of the season.

Red Sox lineup: Will Middlebrooks makes his return 04.25.14 at 3:52 pm ET
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Will Middlebrooks

Will Middlebrooks

TORONTO — Playing in his first game since straining his calf muscle April 5, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks will hit eighth against Blue Jays’ starter Mark Buehrle.

Here is the rest of the Red Sox lineup for their series opener at Rogers Centre:

Dustin Pedroia 2B

Shane Victorino RF

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Jonny Gomes LF

Xander Bogaerts SS

A.J. Pierzynski C

Will Middlebrooks 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Jake Peavy P

For all the matchups, click here.

Joe Girardi, Michael Pineda, Brian Cashman react to ejection of Yankees starter due to presence of pine tar 04.24.14 at 12:26 am ET
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Following the Red Sox‘ 5-1 win over the Yankees, the majority of the conversation centered on New York starter Michael Pineda being ejected  in the second inning after being caught with pine tar on the right side of his neck.

With Pineda’s April 10 start against the Red Sox still fresh in most everyone’s mind — with the righty having been seen with a glob of pine tar on his wrist before removing the substance in the fifth inning before the Red Sox could act — there was little room for interpretation.

After the ejection, Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Pineda and New York general manager Brian Cashman didn’t question the ruling, or the objection made by Red Sox manager John Farrell. Here is what they had to say:

GIRARDI

Did you know he had it on?: “I did not. He did not have it on when the game started. I guess from what I understand he had a hard time gripping the ball and put it on in the second inning. Obviously that’€™s a problem and we’€™re going to have to deal with the circumstances and Michael’€™s going to have to deal with it and we’€™ll get through it.”

Did you see it on him? “No, I did not, I never saw it on Michael, so. I didn’€™t look at Michael. Gerry told me he did, said he had something on his neck and I just said, ‘€˜OK,’€™ got Phelpsie ready and worried about trying to keep the score the same.”

Michael Pineda is examined for pine tar by home plate umpire Gerry Davis. (AP)

Michael Pineda is examined for pine tar by home plate umpire Gerry Davis. (AP)

What about the April 10 game? “Obviously we have discussions with all our pitchers on things they’€™re dealing with, that’€™s what we do. We don’€™t ignore situations, we handle situations and something Michael chose to do after the first inning, he had a hard time gripping the baseball. Conditions are not conducive to gripping a baseball. Unknown to us he put it on and went out there.”

Surprised at his judgement?: “I mean, it’€™s a young kid. I don’€™t think he’€™s trying to do anything to cheat, I think he’€™s trying to just go out there and compete. It’€™s unfortunate it happened but like I said we’€™ll deal with it we’€™ll get through this, it’€™s a little bump in the road and we’€™ll be all right.”

Upset?: “I’€™m not going to get mad at him. The kid’€™s doing the best he can, he’€™s trying to compete, and that’€™s what he’€™s trying to do. I don’€™t think he’€™s trying to get an edge on anyone. He’€™s a young man that’€™s been through a lot, been through a lot of rehab and has worked his tail end to get off to this start and he made an error in judgment.”

Where do you go from here?: “It’€™s something we have to deal with. There are other things that are going to come up in the course of the year that we’€™ll find a way to get through it.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Pineda ejected from game in second inning for apparently using pine tar 04.23.14 at 8:00 pm ET
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Yankees starter Michael Pineda was ejected from his start against the Red Sox Wednesday night after home plate umpire Gerry Davis determined the pitcher had what appeared to be a significant amount of pine tar on the right side of his neck.

Davis was alerted to the substance by Red Sox manager John Farrell  with two outs and Grady Sizemore at bat, with the righty having already thrown 40 pitches and given up two first-inning runs. The umpire proceeded to come out to the mound, checking Pineda’s glove and hand before identifying the pine tar on his neck.

Cameras showed Pineda did not have the substance on his neck in the first inning.

Rule 8.02 of in the Major League Rulebook states: ‘€œThe pitcher shall not apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball.’€ (Click here for the rule.)

Pineda had come under scrutiny in his previous start against the Red Sox (April 10), possessing what appeared to be a significant amount of pine tar on his wrist. (For a recap of that incident, click here.)

Farrell had said after the previous appearance that the Red Sox didn’t notice the discoloration until it was too late, with Pineda having cleaned off the substance when coming on for the fifth inning.

Michael Phelps replaced Pineda, striking out Sizemore to end the second.

Xander Bogaerts reflects on why he sat this one out 04.19.14 at 11:10 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts. (AP)

It was another first for Xander Bogaerts: a day off.

The Red Sox shortstop wasn’t in the lineup for the Red Sox’ 4-2 win over the Orioles Saturday afternoon. While it was an understandable respite, Bogaerts hinted at an ailment that might have finally pushed him to the bench.

“I felt fine. I was starting to swing the bat pretty good lately. The day off is just to get some rest and let my body recover,” he said. “I mean I got hit twice in Chicago.”

What Bogaerts was referring to were two separate occasions in Chicago, when he was plunked in both the left and right calves.

While he wouldn’t use the injuries as an excuse, the sore legs might have contributed to the shortstop’s defensive issues of late.

“I like to play every day. I really don’t like days off. But especially with those two hit by pitches, it’s been tough,” Bogaerts said. “Hopefully I’ll be in there tomorrow.

“I wouldn’t blame (defensive issues) on that, but a bit, a little bit. You get sore down there and your legs are your most important part. I should have reached some of the balls I would have reached if I had everything set.”

Bogaerts said of the two hit-by-pitches, the first, coming in the Red Sox’ series opener against the Whit Sox, was the worst, hitting just above his left ankle.

“Really during the game you don’t feel it that much,” he explained, “but after the game, that’s when it starts kick in.”

Offensively, Bogaerts has been one of the Red Sox’ most consistent performers, carrying a team-best .411 on-base percentage while claiming hits in all but five of his 17 games. Starting in his place Saturday was Jonathan Herrera, who came through in the seventh inning with a run-scoring bunt single.

“All the games are really important, especially with how we started so far,” he said. “We need to pick back up and get back on the right track. It’s good to watch the game and get a win.”

David Ross on bench-clearing dust-up: ‘I probably shouldn’t have yelled at the pitcher’ 04.19.14 at 5:46 pm ET
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The moment spiced things up for a moment, but that was about it.

When both benches cleared in the Red Sox‘€™ 4-2 win over the Orioles Saturday afternoon, it sent a buzz through the Fenway Park crowd. The game was still tied at the moment, Mike Carp was at first base with nobody out and David Ross was the hitter.

After three pitches from Bud Norris flew up and in to the Red Sox catcher –€“ who was attempting a sacrifice bunt on each offering — Ross took exception, yelling out at the Orioles pitcher. Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters and Ross proceeded to get in one another’€™s face, leading to the brouhaha.

But after the game, it was thought (at least in the Red Sox clubhouse) to be much to do about nothing.

“I think the guy at the time he kind of lost control of the strike zone a little bit. A couple pitches got away from him,” said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. “It’€™s a lot of adrenaline going on at the same time and my boy Rossy. He’€™s always a little hyper. The good thing is nothing happened; we stayed right there. The situation could have gotten worse. It happens. It’€™s part of the game.”

Said manager John Farrell: “There were three pitches that I think got away from Norris that ended up close to the head. I think that’€™s where the location of pitches that close up and in is where it might draw some reaction, which obviously it did. I’€™m not surprised we’€™re going to support and have each other’€™s back on the fight. Nothing really escalated from it but just a competitive moment.”

Ross went on to explain why he had the continued reaction he did, getting in the face of Wieters.

“Yeah, I was telling him where I was at, and he was telling me where he was at,” Ross said. “I definitely don’€™t think it was on purpose, just a natural reaction, three balls at my head. I probably shouldn’t have yelled at the pitcher.”

Added Ross: “I think I’€™m sensitive to balls around my dome after having two concussions last year and missing two months. That may have been part of it. I think looking back, I’€™m usually not a guy who does that too often, but balls at my head — plus it was tough to see, late in the ballgame with the shadows. I think all that stuff, trying to get down the bunt probably played into it. We’€™ll turn the page and get after them tomorrow and try to win.”

Ross would ultimately strikeout, but Brock Holt ended up picking the catcher up by launching a run-scoring triple into the right-center gap on the very next at-bat.

Read More: David Ross,
Closing Time: Brock Holt, Felix Doubront lead the way in Red Sox win over Orioles 04.19.14 at 4:24 pm ET
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Brock Holt turned in quite a game Saturday afternoon. (AP)

Brock Holt turned in quite a game Saturday afternoon. (AP)

It’s just been two games, but Brock Holt is certainly making his presence felt.

The newly-promoted third baseman followed up an impressive Friday night with the biggest hit of Saturday’s tilt between the Red Sox and Orioles at Fenway Park. Holt rifled a one-out triple into the right-center field gap in the seventh inning, scoring Mike Carp with the go-ahead run from second.

Holt proceeded to race in for the Red Sox’ fourth run on a perfectly executed bunt single down the first base line, getting in under the tag of Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters.

The end result was a 4-2 win for the Red Sox.

Earlier in the seventh, there was some spice added to the day when the benches cleared after David Ross took exception with Orioles pitcher Bud Norris coming close to his head on three bunt attempts. Neither collection of players got near each other, with Ross ultimately striking out two pitches later. The next batter up, Holt, however, offered the ultimate payback for the Red Sox.

Felix Doubront bounced back and gave the Red Sox a solid start, allowing two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings. Doubront threw 106 pitches after tossing 33 in the first inning in the seven-strikeout, two-walk outing.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ eighth win of the season:

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- The Red Sox knotted the game at 1-1 thanks in part to the Jonathan Schoop mishandling a grounder off the bat of Mike Napoli. If fielded cleanly, the Orioles might have been able to execute a 5-4-3, inning-ending double play. Instead, Dustin Pedroia — who drew his fourth walk in the last four games — came across to score.

-Holt continued to play stellar defense, this time charging and short-hopping a slow roller off the bat of Steve Lombardozzi to end the second inning.

- David Ortiz launched his third home run of the season in the fourth inning, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. The blast curled around the right field foul pole and marked the designated hitter’s second hit of the day, having singled off the left field wall in the first.

- Pedroia reached base three times via a single, double and walk. It marked the third time this season the second baseman has reached that many occasions.

- The bullpen came through again for the Red Sox, with Junichi Tazawa holding the Orioles hitless through 1 1/3 innings and Koji Uehara picking up the save, striking out the side.

WHAT WENT WRONG

- Doubront allowed his first first-inning run of the season, giving up a two-out RBI single to Nelson Cruz, scoring Nick Markakis. After reaching via a leadoff singled, Doubront has allowed the leadoff hitter to face seven of 10 times.

- Doubront was cruising after the first until the sixth inning when the Orioles knotted the game at 2-2. Initially it appeared as though the lefty might escape his bases-loaded, two-out jam. But Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter was successful in his first challenge of the season, disputing Nelson Cruz initially being called out on a close play at first after his grounder down the third base line. It was the second RBI of the day for Cruz.

Read More: Brock Holt, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, felix doubront
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