|Red Sox lineup: Jonny Gomes, Jonathan Herrera in against Cleveland lefty T.J. House||06.14.14 at 12:16 pm ET|
With lefty T.J. House on the mound for the Indians, the Red Sox will start Jonny Gomes in left field. Also in the starting lineup for the hosts is Jonathan Herrera, will man shortstop with Stephen Drew still nursing an injured oblique.
Brock Holt also gets his first start in right field.
Brock Holt RF
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
A.J. Pierzynski C
Jonathan Herrera SS
Jackie Bradley CF
|Red Sox closer Koji Uehara examines his future: ‘Every year I consider my last year’||06.11.14 at 12:15 am ET|
BALTIMORE — How long will Koji Uehara be doing this for the Red Sox?
When the reliever signed a one-year, $4.25 million deal (with a vesting option for 2014), it was thought that the acquisition wouldn’t mean anything more than seeing a solid veteran pitch for a couple of years with the Red Sox before leaving town as a 39 year old on the edge of retirement.
A complete calendar year of closing dominance has altered the conversation.
Uehara is pitching in the final year of his current deal, and the way he’s pitching living life without the Red Sox closer is difficult to fathom. Since becoming the team’s closer (including postseason), Uehara has converted 39 of 41 save opportunities while limiting opponents to a .131 batting average. He’s struck out 111 batters, walked six and still hasn’t allowed any hitter in the majors more than three hits.
Now he’s cruising through life as a potential free-agent-to-be, the second time in his Major League Baseball career the reliever has experienced such a distinction.
“I never think ahead,” Uehara said through translator C.J. Matsumoto prior to his latest outing during the Red Sox‘ 1-0 win over the Orioles at Camden Yards. “It doesn’t really affect me. If I could change how I perform based on my free agent year, I would. But I can’t so I’m just going to pitch how I can pitch.
“It doesn’t really affect me because I’m an older player. Every year I consider my last year.”
The conversation could get even more interesting when introducing the possibility of extending the righty a qualifying offer (which figures to be in the vicinity of $15 million). While taking the risk of paying a soon-to-be 40 year old reliever that kind of money for one year is unprecedented, so is this sort of scenario.
If the offer is extended, it would be difficult to imagine, A. Uehara not accepting it; B. a team sacrificing a draft pick in order to ink the righty if he chooses not to agree to the one-year deal.
And while it would seem like a huge overpay on the Red Sox‘ behalf to allocate that much money for any closer, the options to replace what Uehara would represent would seem to be uncomfortable. The argument that you could get two high-leverage relievers with that money might be true, but also offers no certainty (as the performance of a player like Edward Mujica might suggest).
Other than Jon Lester, the Red Sox also wouldn’t seem to be in line to offer any other player a qualifying offer, making such a chunk manageable for what promises to be an already very manageable ’15 payroll.
But how about the age?
Uehara had a bit of a shoulder hiccup earlier this season, but has bounced back to at least come close to his dominance of a year ago. The closer notched his 13th save in as many chances Tuesday night, having allowed just two runs in 27 2/3 innings.
He has obviously taken his prioritizing health to heart, as was evidenced when he immediately heading into the visitors’ weight room after his team’s Tuesday night win.
And then there is the continued quest for what some think might be unattainable — improvement.
“I don’t feel like I’m pitching up to my capabilities,” he said. “I know how the numbers look, but I think I can be better mechanically. I don’t feel like I’m mechanically there. There are certain mechanics I’m trying to achieve. Mechanically, I feel different every day, but there’s a mechanically fit way to pitch and I’m just searching for that. Then again, I’ve been trying to find the perfect mechanics for the past 16 years
“Jon Lester has simple mechanics that he can repeat. For me, mechanic-wise I’m adjusting every day and I’m constantly searching. Last year wasn’t perfect. I’m always striving for more.”
|John Farrell’s pregame team meeting receives rave reviews from Red Sox||06.09.14 at 4:20 am ET|
DETROIT — They don’t happen very often, so when they do come around the participants usually take notice.
Prior to the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Tigers at Comerica Park Sunday night, manager John Farrell called a team meeting. With the Sox entering the night riding a five-game losing streak, while sitting at seven games under .500 (27-34), Farrell wanted to make sure his players weren’t getting too down on themselves.
“Sure, it was well-timed. But it wasn’t like there was any panic or any scolding,” said outfielder Jonny Gomes. “It was just kind of to get us back on track.
“I think the vibe he was trying to get across that he appreciated how we were going about our business. We lost 10 in a row and we went through this stretch and no one has been benched for not hustling, not one has gotten benched for mental errors and nobody has been late to the field. It was just to acknowledge that we should keep playing the game right and keep grinding.”
While nobody was suggesting the meeting supplied the impetus for the Red Sox‘ 5-3 win over the Tigers, there did appear to be a sense of heightened focus in some areas. One example was the Sox’ ability to drive up the pitch count on Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez, the kind of plate discipline that had come and gone during the club’s recent skid.
The only other known team meeting this season came April 25 in Toronto, a day after the Red Sox had turned in one of their worst performances in a loss to the Yankees at Fenway Park. That get-together, however, was conducted within the routine of preparing for the three-game series against the Blue Jays.
It is believed the Red Sox didn’t hold a single team meeting throughout 2013.
“We had a little meeting with our manager and he made a clear point,” said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, whose three-run homer proved the game’s decisive blow. “We’ve been struggling trying to win ball games, but everybody is giving a good effort and everybody is busting their tails. Things aren’t going our way, but we still have four months of the season and things will change. We have a lot of good swings tonight, they were just right at people.
“John, he doesn’t do that many meetings, but when he has one with us it’s just to make sure we’re not struggling mentally just because we’re not seeing the results.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox, Jon Lester can’t keep pace with Tigers, drop fifth straight||06.07.14 at 10:52 pm ET|
Saturday night was another huge example of how things have changed since we saw the Red Sox take on the Tigers last October.
This was not the postseason of a season ago. There was no dominant Jon Lester, or Junichi Tazawa for that matter. Miguel Cabrera did his Miguel Cabrera thing, while the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup proved torturous for Red Sox pitching.
What it all added up to this time around was yet another Red Sox loss.
While the Sox were able to manage some offense off of Detroit starter Max Scherzer it wouldn’t be enough, with the Tigers handing the Sox their fifth straight loss, this time beating John Farrell‘s team, 8-6, at Comerica Park.
The problems started early with the Tigers jumping all over Lester, who wouldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. The Red Sox‘ lefty allowing five runs on 12 hits while not striking out a single batter. It was just the third time in the pitcher’s career he has failed to notch at least one punch-out.
While Cabrera continued to torture Lester, it was the far lesser-known Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez who took the starter deep. For Suarez it was his first big league home run.
But even with Lester out of the game, the Red Sox did manage to keep things close for a bit. It’s why Farrell decided to bring in Junichi Tazawa in the sixth inning for the first time this season. With the Sox within two, and Suarez standing on first with one out, Tazawa came on to face Ian Kinsler and Cabrera.
It was the kind of high-leverage situation the Red Sox reliever thrived in during last season’s series against Detroit. Things didn’t quite work out the same way this time around.
After falling behind, Tazawa allowed a RBI triple into the right-center field gap by Kinsler before watching Cabrera take a first-pitch, outside fastball the other way for a run-scoring single. The righty had got the better of the slugger all three times the two faced off during the ’13 playoffs.
The Sox did manage a threat in the ninth inning, scoring a pair against Detroit closer Joe Nathan, while putting Grady Sizemore and Daniel Nava on first and second with two outs. But Stephen Drew‘s fly out to center would end the really, and the game.
Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox, who remain 10 games out int he American League East:
WHAT WENT WRONG
– Jackie Bradley continued to strike out at an alarming rate, this time fanning two more times. He has now struck out seven times over his last five games. Bradley did manage an RBI single in the fifth, increasing his .286 batting average with runners in scoring position he began the night with.
– The usually reliable Red Sox bullpen had some bumps in the road, with Craig Breslow, Tazawa and Andrew Miller each giving up a run. It was just the 10th time this season the Sox relievers have given up as many runs.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
– Dustin Pedroia took a unique strategy, jumping on a pair of first pitches for positive results. Pedroia, who almost never swings at the first offering, first took at Scherzer 0-0 pitch over the left field fence for his third home run of the season before notching a first-pitch single. It marked just the 16th and 17th time this season the second baseman has put a first pitch in play.
– David Ortiz made Scherzer pay after the Tigers’ starter talked his manager, Brad Ausmus into allowing him to to stay in the game in the seventh inning. With two runners on and Ausmus appearing ready to bring in lefty Phil Coke to face the designated hitter, the Detroit starter clearly talked his skipper into allowing him to face the designated hitter. The result would be an RBI double on Scherzer’s last pitch of the game.
– Nava showed signs of life, reaching base four times (3 hits, one hit-by-pitch).
|Red Sox lineup: Jon Lester, David Ross team up against Detroit starter Max Scherzer||06.07.14 at 3:30 pm ET|
This will be the 10th time in his 13 starts that Lester has thrown to Ross, owning a 2.32 ERA when teaming up with the backstop this season.
Also back in the lineup for the Red Sox will be Stephen Drew allows the Red Sox four straight left-handed hitters (David Ortiz, Grady Sizemore, Daniel Nava, Drew) against Detroit starter Max Scherzer.
Here is the Red Sox’ lineup:
Brock Holt 1B
Xander Bogaerts 3B
David Ortiz DH
Daniel Nava LF
Stephen Drew SS
David Ross C
Jackie Bradley CF
|A.J. Pierzynski on ejection: ‘The timing was a little odd’||06.05.14 at 2:57 am ET|
CLEVELAND — It was the sixth inning, but by the time the Red Sox dropped their 7-4 decision in 12 innings to the Indians early Thursday morning, A.J. Pierzynski‘s sixth-inning ejection seemed like a lifetime ago.
(In reality, he wasn’t around for two at-bats.)
Pierzynski was tossed by home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott after a leadoff walk in the sixth by Red Sox starter Brandon Workman. Following the fourth ball, the Red Sox catcher exchanged words with Wolcott while asking for a new ball. Before the umpire could complete the exchange with Pierzynski, he had thrown out the Sox’ No. 5 hitter.
“I don’t know. It happens,” Pierzynski said after being replaced by David Ross, who went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. “Just the timing was rather odd. But you know, whatever. Stuff happens out there.
“I’ve been kicked out a couple of times in my career. I remember getting kicked out last year in a no-hitter. Stuff happens.”
When asked what was said, Pierzynski was non-committal.
“We didn’t agree on what time the game should have started,” he said sarcastically. “I said it should have started a little earlier, he said a little late. We just didn’t get along as far as that went.”
Later Pierzynski was a tad more forthcoming, saying, “Stuff happens. Sometimes you say the wrong thing, and they feel a need, and stuff happens.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell also had no desire to elaborate on the ejection after the loss.
“They weren’t seeing eye to eye on some things,” he said. “He threw him out.”
|Closing Time: Asdrubal Cabrera’s early-morning walkoff homer hands Indians sweep of Red Sox||06.05.14 at 2:05 am ET|
CLEVELAND — It started with a two-hour, 28-minute rain delay, mixed in with a bit of Johnny Manziel pregame preening (courtesy the first-pitch ceremony). And it all finished off with the Indians punctuating their three-game sweep of the Red Sox early Thursday morning.
The Indians claimed the 7-4 victory in the wee hours thanks to a 12th-inning rally against Red Sox reliever Edward Mujica.
Mike Aviles started things with a one-out, infield single, and was followed with another hit, this one from Michael Bourn who slid a grounder under first baseman Brock Holt‘s glove.
Then, with the Red Sox employing five infielders and just two outfielders, Asdrubal Cabrera launched a three-run homer over the right-field fence for the walkoff win.
“It was a changeup, high in the zone,” said Mujica, who hadn’t surrendered a run, and just two hits, over his previous five outings. “That situation right there, I’m looking for a ground ball. I want to throw my best pitch. The first one was pretty good and that one just ran a little bit inside and he put a pretty good swing on it.”
The game, which ended just after 2 a.m., took four- hours, 29 minutes to complete.
Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
— The Indians tied things up at 2 in the sixth inning when Jason Kipnis greeted reliever Chris Capuano with an RBI single up the middle, scoring Cabrera. Cabrera had drawn a leadoff walk off Red Sox starter Brandon Workman, with Michael Brantley following up with a single to bring on Capuano.
— David Murphy kept things going in the sixth by reaching out and placing a bases-loaded line drive just over the head of second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The hit — coming on a 1-2 pitch from Capuano — gave the hosts a 4-2 lead and drove the Sox lefty from the game.
|David Ortiz on ‘bigger than the game’ comments: ‘Who’s David Price?’||06.04.14 at 8:31 pm ET|
Following the incident in which Price hit Ortiz with a first-inning fastball, the Tampa Bay ace went on the Fox television broadcast and said, “Nobody is bigger than the game of baseball, and sometimes the way he acts out there, he kind of looks like he’s bigger than the game of baseball. That’s not the way it is, that’s not the way it goes.”
It was a claim Ortiz continues to take particular issue with. (To listen to the audio, click here.)
“That ain’t me. I never overlook the game, you know? There’s never going to be a player bigger than the game,” the DH told WEEI.com prior to the Red Sox‘ series finale against the Indians. “It doesn’t matter if you act like it, if you think you are or if people think that you are. It’s not true. Bigger than the game, nobody’s ever going to be. Know why? Because you come in, you play, you leave and the game continues.
“The one thing I can tell you about when he says that is he’s just trying to look for an excuse to get out of it. That’s a dumb-ass excuse, because whoever knows me knows I never act like I’m bigger than the game ever. He just doesn’t understand that he’s not going to win all the time. He’s carried that since last year when we whupped his ass. … It’s too bad that MLB sees the way he talked the day that he hit me and the way that he talked the next day and they still haven’t followed up with the rules. He basically said that he hit me on purpose, but I’m over that. I don’t really care about what he said. Who gives a [expletive]? Who is David Price? I don’t really care. I’m going to continue with what I do. Like it or not, it is what it is.
“I respect the game. I don’t think there’s a player in the game that can ever be bigger than the game. We’ve got guys that have done a lot of good things for the game, have put up crazy numbers, but we don’t give life to the game; the game gives us life. That’s why you’re never going to be bigger than the game.”
|Red Sox lineup: Daniel Nava gets start in left field; Stephen Drew returns||06.04.14 at 3:25 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — With Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber on the mound for the hosts, the Red Sox send an all left-handed hitting outfield out for the series finale. Daniel Nava gets the nod in left field, with Jackie Bradley in center and Grady Sizemore manning right.
Stephen Drew is also back in the lineup, playing shortstop after a day off.
Here is the lineup for the Red Sox, who will send Brandon Workman to the mound:
Brock Holt 1B
Xander Bogaerts 3B
David Ortiz DH
A.J. Pierzynski C
Stephen Drew SS
Daniel Nava LF
Jackie Bradley CF
|Closing Time: Red Sox drop second straight to Terry Francona’s Indians||06.03.14 at 10:14 pm ET|
The Red Sox starter allowed three first-inning runs to the Indians but settled down to leave with runners on first and second and one out in a 3-3 game in the seventh inning. But putting those pair of baserunners proved costly, as Michael Bourn greeted Sox reliever Andrew Miller with a one-out, two-run double over the head of left fielder Jonny Gomes.
Peavy had entered the seventh not allowing a run, and just two hits, after his first-inning issues. But he would kick off his final frame by first walking David Murphy before giving up a single to Yan Gomes. After a comebacker to the mound from Mike Aviles cut down the lead runner at third, the righty gave way to Miller.
The Red Sox had come into the game allowing the second-fewest inherited runners to score (17.8 percent) in the majors, with Miller not letting any of his 14 previous inherited runners to reach home plate. The odds were also in the Sox’ favor heading into the Bourn at-bat considering the lefty hitter came into the night with just a .188 batting average against southpaws. The caveat? Bourn had four hits in six at-bats against Miller.
“Obviously that’s something I pride myself on and you never want to give up somebody else’s runs,” Miller said. “It’s a terrible feeling, let alone in that situation, but that’s not the focus. It’s just one of those things I felt like I was behind in the count, he took a good pitch, and I think just wanted to put the ball in play.
“I knew he hit it off the barrel, but knowing who it was and seeing how high it was off the bat I thought it was going to be OK, but it wasn’t. He hit it as good as I think he can hit a ball in that direction, so it was certainly not the outcome I’m looking for, and do something different next time. But it seems like he’s had some success off me in the past. I need to go back and figure something different out because I know when I pulled up the replay I think he was 4-for-6 entering that at-bat and now he’s 5-for-7 off of me so I need to do something different. Like I said, when I saw the ball come off his bat that way, I felt he was in pretty good shape. It just didn’t work out.”
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