|Closing Time: Jon Lester helps Red Sox to sixth straight win, another sweep||04.18.13 at 10:18 pm ET|
Jon Lester continued to help the Red Sox’ starting pitchers make history.
The lefty made it 15 straight games in which a Red Sox starter has allowed three or fewer runs, this time resulting in the Sox’ sixth straight win, a 6-3 decision over the Indians in Cleveland. Lester finished his fourth start of the season allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings.
The Lester outing, which dropped his ERA to 1.73, included five strikeouts an a walk. It gave the Red Sox’ starters the longest streak of a rotation allowing three runs or less in the American League since the 1981 Oakland A’s run of 16 straight stellar starts.
The win also handed the Sox their first back-to-back series sweeps since they rattled off three-straight sweeps from June 3-12, 2011. The victory also helped the Red Sox match their win total for the entire month of April a season ago.
Here is what went right (and wrong) for the Red Sox:
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit his third home run of the season, taking McAllister deep. All three of the catcher’s homers have come while hitting left-handed. Of Saltalamacchia’s 25 homers in 2012, all but one came as a lefty hitter.
- Mike Napoli continued to produce out of the cleanup spot, this time tripling to leadoff the second inning and then coming home with the game’s first run on Daniel Nava’s single. Napoli then delivered with an RBI single in the seventh, marking the fifth straight game he has claimed an RBI. John Farrell’s team has the second-most RBI out of the cleanup spot (thanks to Napoli) in the majors.
- Napoli even showed off his baserunning skills, first tagging up to second base on Nava’s run-scoring sacrifice fly in the seventh, and then scoring via Mike Carp’s RBI single.
- The Red Sox came away with three steals, one from Jacoby Ellsbury (who has seven) and two out of Dustin Pedroia. The Sox now have 15 stolen bases, tied with Oakland for most in the majors. They lead the big leagues with 21 steal attempts.
- The Ellsbury/Pedroia combination teamed to produce the Red Sox’ third run in the fifth, as Pedroia singled in Ellsbury after the leadoff hitter had notched a one-out double. Ellsbury finished with a pair of hits, one against the righty McAllister, and the second vs. lefty reliever Nick Hagadone. The centerfielder came into the game just 3-for-24 against left-handers
WHAT WENT WRONG
- Former Red Sox infielder Mike Aviles contributed to both the Indians’ runs, driving in Mark Reynolds with a second-inning ground out. He then helped the hosts draw within a run by doubling high off the left field wall, and eventually scoring on Drew Stubbs’ ground out.
- Stephen Drew continued to struggle since joining the Red Sox, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is now 2-for-23 on the season.
- Andrew Miller ran into some issues in his outing, allowing a hit, a walk and a run in his 2/3 innings. Koji Uehara did give up the run charged to Miller score via a double off the bat of Carlos Santana in the eighth, but rallied to fan Nick Swisher (the potential game-tying run at the time.)
|Will Middlebrooks on early struggles: ‘I’m beating myself’||04.18.13 at 4:53 pm ET|
Talking to reporters prior to the Red Sox’ series finale in Cleveland, Will Middlebrooks discussed not being in the lineup against right-hander Zach McAllister.
It is the first day off for Middlebrooks, who is hitting .182, having struck out 18 times while drawing three walks.
“Of course I want to play. I don’t like sitting out,” the third baseman told reporters. “But I can see where this could help to clear my head and get back at it. The team’s done great. The team’s picked me up. The pitching’s picked me up. I tell the guys, ‘I’ll go out there and play defense for you guys. Just keep hitting.’ They’ve had my back. They’ve picked me up. I’m just doing whatever I can to help us out.”
Since his 4-for-5, three-home run game in Toronto April 7, Middlebrooks is 2-for-30 with one RBI.
“I’m just not hitting the ball, man,” he said. “I’m not going to get too down about it. I understand it’s part of the game. We’re 15 games in. … I’m not too worried about it.”
He added, “I’m not going to change my routine. I’m not going to change my approach. I’m not going to change my bats. It’s’ 30 at-bats. I’m not worried about it. … I don’t see anything. I think that’s when you dig yourself into a deeper hole, when you start trying to change things – especially mechanics. I’m not even going to worry about that.”
Middlebrooks has totaled 322 major-league at-bats, hitting .270 with an .804 OPS. Perhaps most impressive is that the Red Sox are 53-36 with him in the lineup.
“I’m not overmatched,” he said. “I’m not getting beat by pitchers. I’m beating myself. It’s just something I’ve got to get through.”
Pedro Ciriaco replaces Middlebrooks in the starting lineup, hitting ninth.
|Closing Time: Red Sox solve Justin Masterson, Indians for fifth straight win||04.17.13 at 10:31 pm ET|
The Red Sox jumped all over one of the best pitchers in this young season, Cleveland’s Justin Masterson, and never looked back.
The Sox saw their first five hitters of the game reach base on the way to a three-run first inning. When it was all said and done at Progressive Field, the Red Sox had come away with a 6-3 win over the Indians on Wednesday night.
The win was the fifth straight victory for the Red Sox (10-4), the longest such streak since June 16-21, 2012. The Sox are six games over .500 for the first time since 2011.
The first-inning runs were the first given up by Masterson in 19 innings, with the former Red Sox hurler having not previously allowed an opponent to cross the plate since April 2. The 15 hits by the Red Sox matched a season high, having pounded out an equal amount in their April 7 win in Toronto.
Here is what went right (and wrong) for the red-hot Red Sox.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
• Alfredo Aceves stretched the streak of Red Sox starters allowing three runs or less to 14 games to start the season. Aceves finished his five-plus innings giving up three runs on seven hits, throwing 106 pitches.
• Mike Carp’s three extra-base hits (2 doubles, triple) matched the total number of extra-base hits surrendered by Masterson in the pitcher’s previous three outings.
• The Red Sox hitters came out the gate taking the ball the other way against Masterson, with eight of their 11 hits against the right-hander going to the opposite field.
• Daniel Nava rebounded from his four-strikeout game Tuesday with a pair of hits and two RBIs.
• Shane Victorino had one his best games as a Red Sox, coming away with his second three-hit game of the season while making a few key defensive plays in right field. The most notable contribution with his glove came in the third inning when he threw out Lonnie Chisenhall trying to stretch a single into a double to lead off the frame.
• Junichi Tazawa cleaned up Aceves’ mess in the sixth inning, coming on to throw two perfect innings, striking out his last four batters.
WHAT WENT WRONG
• The Red Sox left 10 men on base, It was the fourth time this season the Sox have left 10 or more on base, though John Farrell’s team has won all four. The Sox squandered some golden opportunities early on, not scoring despite loading the bases in both the second and fourth innings.
• Aceves wore down in the sixth, allowing back-to-back homers to Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi to cut the Sox’ lead to two.
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s own unfortunate bouts with social media mistaken identity||04.17.13 at 12:00 pm ET|
It was an unappetizing reminder for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
While in Toronto for the Red Sox’ recent series, the catcher discovered that yet another fake Twitter account had been made using his name. It wasn’t the first time, and probably won’t be the last. In this case, after informing team officials, @JarrodSalty39 was taken down.
But that was hardly the worst social media controversy Saltalamacchia has had to weather.
The incident surfaced in 2005, just two years into his professional baseball career, when the catcher’s parents got a call from a woman.
“I can’t believe your son’s not answering my daughter’s phone calls and answering her back on Facebook,” she said. The woman went on to tell John Saltalamacchia that her daughter was sick and dying. “I don’t want her to go through this,” she said.
The problem was, as Saltalamacchia’s father told the woman, that his son didn’t even have a Facebook account.
“I felt bad because the person was portraying me to this girl and she was sick and dying,” Saltalamacchia remembered. “It’s sad that somebody would actually do that to someone. That’s her memories of her last few weeks, months or years, whatever it was. It’s sad. I hate for that to happen to anybody it’s reality.”
The Saltalamacchia family and the catcher’s team at the time, the Braves, informed Major League Baseball security and the account was taken down. (The player isn’t sure what happened to the person running the site.)
Saltalmacchia did dive back into social media for a short time, creating a Twitter account during the 2011 spring training. The account — @Jarrod_Salty39 – was an attempt to, as he put it at the time, “Connect with fans at a bigger level.” He added, “We’re at the field and nobody understands when we’re done with the day we have family to go home to. If we have time to sign or talk, we do it, but if we don’t we go home. It’s kind of a way to get out to the fans a little bit and thank them.”
But the account came and went, although the supposed presence on Twitter didn’t go anywhere.
The fake accounts (even declaring themselves as the “official” ones for the player) have come and gone, leaving Saltalamacchia with wary eye when it comes to the medium.
“It’s sad that happened because it can be great way of interacting with your fans. But it turns people off because of stuff like that,” he said. “I work hard at being a good person, and being the person I can be, and being a leader for my family. If my kids start getting into that scene on the computer and they see stuff like that it’s going to look bad on me. So I try and stay straight and go ahead and worry about one thing, and that’s supporting my family.”
|David Ortiz: News of bombing, Martin Richard death ‘devastated me’||04.16.13 at 5:08 pm ET|
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — The news hit home for David Ortiz, in more ways than one.
First came word of Monday’s bombing, near a place he had been just hours before. Then something came the next wave of emotion — a boy the same age as his own son, 8-year-old D’Angelo, had been killed.
“Last night I had problems sleeping just thinking about it and this morning I woke up, watching the news and I heard about this 8-year-old kid waiting for his dad at the finish line … dying … his sister getting hurt and his mom having surgery today. That devastated me,” said Ortiz following his rehab appearance with the PawSox at McCoy Stadium Tuesday afternoon.
“I put myself in the same place. It’s horrible. It’s horrible. It’s a beautiful nation and I think our President will get to the bottom of this and make sure this country goes back to what it’s always, been, a safe place to be and what everybody wants it to be, a happy place like all of us know.”
Upon hearing the news regarding Dorchester’s Martin Richard – who was killed waiting for friends to finish the Boston Marathon (initial reports mistakenly indicated he was watching his father run) — Ortiz immediately called all members of his family. D’Angelo was on Cape Cod with family friends, while the designated hitters’ wife, Tiffany, was with his daughter, Alex, on a missions trip for Unicef.
“When I was watching the news I definitely called all of them,” he said. “I heard my son’s voice on the phone and, man, just thinking about how that went down. To hear about this 8-year-old kid, and my son is 8 right now, that just devastated me. I got very emotional. I had people calling me from my country asking me about this whole thing. My phone didn’t stop yesterday.”
An emotional Ortiz was clearly affected the events Monday afternoon, just more than 24 hours later. And, evidently, his had even spilled over to D’Angelo.
“He was concerned. They know,” Ortiz said of his son. “Today’s communication is very simple. They know and they get concerned about it, especially when they hear somebody their age is hurt. It was pretty bad. It’s going to take us some time to recover from that. The one thing I want to tell everyone is to stay together. This is a tough time that everybody needs to stay together. Yesterday was the biggest example of what this country is all about. That thing went off and you see nothing but everyone helping out each other. That’s why God bless America.”
Added Ortiz regarding the tragedy: “Horrible, man. Everybody knows that. It’s something that nobody expects and nobody wants to see. This beautiful nation going through a situation like that is something that will stay in our minds and is hard to process. Hopefully our President and everybody in charge with this gets to the bottom of this and stops people walking around the city freaking out, not feeling safe. I know our police department and everybody does a pretty good job about it. This is a beautiful nation. A day like yesterday, it’s a big day for all of us. That marathon we have going on, Patriots Day, it’s something that’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. People trying to raise money to help people out, it’s something that all of us, one way or another, are related with. I’ve been in Boston 11 or 12 years, and it’s a day everybody looks forward to. Going through a tragedy like yesterday is devastating. I’ve been pretty much very emotional with the situation and I just want to keep praying for those families affected by it and sending a message to stay strong, stay together. That’s all you can do.”
And while some are suggesting that the incident will put the Red Sox’ season in a different light, one with saddled with more importance to do the proximity of the organization, Ortiz insisted the two worlds should be separated.
“This is something I don’t relate what we do or anything else. This is something that is our nation,” said Ortiz, who became a U.S. citizen in 2008. “This is our country suffering a pain. It doesn’t matter how many games you win. It doesn’t matter how many homers you hit. It doesn’t matter what happens on the field. We’re suffering. It’s something that there are a lot of families out there struggling right now because of that and we have to be concerned about it. We’re humans.
“This is a great country. I’m very proud of being part of this country. Myself, my family, all of us. This country gives us the opportunity to give my family a better future and I love this country. I will do anything for this country. To see things struggling that way, it gets into your feelings. You’ve got family. You’ve got kids here growing up. You depend on everything that is going on. You don’t want to see anything like that.”
|Why Red Sox chose to call up Steven Wright||04.16.13 at 1:49 pm ET|
At first glance, the choice of Steven Wright as the player to replace Joel Hanrahan (who was placed on the 15-day disabled list) seemed curious.
Wright is a starting pitcher, a knuckleballer and someone who has started in 45 of his 50 appearances over the past two seasons. He pitched exclusively as a starter in both spring training and during his two appearances with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox this season.
The reason for the promotion — which will be the 28-year-old’s major league debut — has a lot to do with the state of the Red Sox’ 40-man roster than anything. With Tuesday night’s starter Felix Doubront having not pitched since April 5, and reliever-turned-starter Alfredo Aceves following up Wednesday, there may be a need a long-man in the coming days. So with the understanding the Sox would need somebody on the 40-man, the candidates to fill such a role realistically came down to Wright and Daniel Bard.
The Red Sox weren’t about to take prospects Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa or Drake Britton out of their routines to jump into the uncertain role with the big league club. That leads to the question of why not Bard?
When the right-hander was sent to Double-A Portland it was made very clear that part of the reason his destination was that level and not Triple-A because the Red Sox didn’t want Bard feeling that a quick promotion was in the works at the first sign of progress. Thus far with the Sea Dogs, Bard has been somewhat up and down, having allowed baserunners in each of his six one-inning appearances. In six innings, he has given up five runs (4 earned) while striking out three and walking three.
Bard is coming off a scoreless, hitless, one-inning outing against Binghamton, walking a batter. He extended what was a no-hitter by the Sea Dogs at the time, coming in to pitch the sixth inning after Anthony Ranaudo turned in five innings of hitless ball.
It should also be noted that after an uneven spring training, Wright had looked good in his two outings with the PawSox. The knuckleballer, who was supposed to start for Pawtucket Tuesday against Lehigh Valley, was coming off a six-inning outing in which he allowed one run on two hits. His first start of the season saw him give up two runs on four innings. Wright has struck out 11 and walked seven.
|Red Sox notes: David Ortiz scratched in Pawtucket due to illness||04.14.13 at 7:35 pm ET|
David Ortiz was scheduled to play in his third game for the Pawtucket Red Sox, Sunday, slotted in to hit third for the PawSox. But prior to the game at McCoy Stadium against Rochester, the designated hitter was scratched due to illness.
“There’s kind of a sinus funk traveling through our clubhouse,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell after his team’s 5-0 win over the Rays at Fenway Park. “He fell victim to it today, so he was a late scratch.”
Ortiz has gotten just seven at-bats with the PawSox during his four days scheduled to be with the Triple-A team, notching three hits. Pawtucket is home for the next four games, taking on Lehigh Valley. If all goes well, there would seem to be a possibility that the DH might join the Red Sox when they return home from a three-game road trip in Cleveland, Friday.
Ortiz’ salary for 2014 would drop by $2 million if he is still on the disabled list after Sunday. A clause in his contracts states that if he spends more than 20 days on the DL due to his Achilles tendon injury, his salary goes from $15 million in ’14 to $13 million.
- Besides Clay Buchholz – who possessed a no-hitter against the Rays until Kelly Johnson’s leadoff single in the eighth inning — Mike Napoli may have turned in the most notable performance.
Napoli struck the biggest blow for the Sox’ offense, one-hopping the 420-foot sign in center field in the third inning to plate the game’s first two runs.
“You see his timing becoming more consistent,” said Farrell off his first baseman. “Once the weather warms a little bit, we’ll see some of those balls carry a little further. He’s going to be a critical part of that middle of the order for us. In addition to the bases-loaded double, I thought today [Dustin Pedroia] really swung the bat well, particularly the double off the wall. We haven’t seen that too much yet. He swung with a lot more aggressiveness. But you can’t take away your four-hole hitter and the importance of him to our lineup.”
Napoli, who is carrying a three-game hit streak while totaling an OPS of .647 and a team-leading 10 RBI, lamented placing his game-changing, bases-loaded double where he did.
“I knew I hit it pretty well. Dumb hitting it, hitting it to 420. I could have hit is somewhere else,” he said. “I knew I hit it pretty good and was happy to get the ball in the air to get one run.”
Another continuing positive sign was Napoli’s defense at first base. Sunday might have presented him with his biggest test, for the sole reason that a no-hitter potentially hung in the balance of his every move.
“In my mind, I’m like, ‘I’m diving for everything.’ If there is a ball that is remotely close, make sure you dive at it,” said Napoli, who has yet to make an error this season. “That’s the only thing going through my mind. I still wanted the ball. If there is one down the line you’re making sure you’re leaving your feet to get to that ball. I wanted the ball. I was just making sure in my mind if there’s a ball far away from me to make sure dive to get there.”
- Some notes via the Red Sox media relations dept. regarding how good the team’s starters have been to this point:
Red Sox starters carry a 2.07 ERA with 74 strikeotus in 65 1/3 innings. Sunday marked the seventh straight start in which they have allowed two earned runs or fewer.
Sox starting pitchers ahve held opponets to three runs or fewer in all 11 games this season, extending the longest such streak to begin a season in club history. The previous longest stretch was the first nine starts in 1916. It is the best streak since the 1990 Brewers’ first 14 starts.
Buchholz has thrown 18 consecutive scoreless innings, dating back to the fifth inning of his first start of the season. It is the longest single-season scoreless streak by a Red Sox starter since Josh Beckett’s 19 1/3-inning stretch from April 27-May 19, 2011.
The Sox’ Sunday starter was the first Red Sox pitcher to hold opponents to one run or fewer over at least seven innings in each of his first three outings of a season since Pedro Martinez’s first three games as a member of the Sox (1998).
Buchholz’s career-high 11 strikeouts against the Rays marked the first time he has struckout eight or more in back-to-back contests.
In his last 23 starts, dating back to May 27, 2012, Buchholz carries a 3.000 ERA, while totaling a 2.53 ERA in 15 career starts against Tampa Bay.
- Cup of Coffee: Shaw, Haeger help Sea Dogs earn split
- Players of the Week, June 10-16: Keury De La Cruz and Anthony Ranaudo
- Red Sox reportedly sign 12th-rounder Jake Drehoff
- Wendelken added to South Atlantic League All-Stars
- Red Sox reportedly sign Bryan Hudson, Jantzen Witte
- Cup of Coffee: Spinners open season with 15-strikeout gem
- SoxProspects Video of the Week: A-Ball hitters
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #39.1: Mellen's Excellent Adventure
- 2013 Annual Drive - Help Keep SoxProspects Free!
- Cup of Coffee: Wright's bounce-back start lifts Pawtucket