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It’s time for Red Sox to give Mookie Betts a try 06.22.14 at 8:30 am ET
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The Red Sox are 75 games into the season.

Why is that so important? Because we are now officially deep enough into 2014 to make clear decisions as to what is going to work, and what isn’t.

If some of the key Red Sox were producing to last year’s levels, the conversations might be different. You could carry Jackie Bradley’s bat. You might be able to supplant A.J. Pierzynski with a more defensive-minded backstop. Heck, Grady Sizemore could even still be given some rope while returning to the majors.

But the reality is that these Red Sox have to put their best foot forward — whatever that may be — yesterday.

There simply aren’t going to be a whole bunch of changes on this team even with the mandate to act now. Mike Napoli (he of the .196 batting average with runners in scoring position) is at first base. Dustin Pedroia (3-for-32 with runners in scoring position and two outs) is at second. Stephen Drew (hitting .158 with a .200 on-base percentage) mans shortstop. Xander Bogaerts (the worst on the team with runners in scoring postion, .141) will be riding out his current slump at third base.

And even though Pierzynski is totaling just a .659 OPS, the narrative is that his subpar ability as a receiver has to be overlooked because of his offensive potential (particularly against right-handed pitching).

David Ortiz is doing his David Ortiz thing (despite a .249 batting average), leading the team with an .820 OPS.

In the outfield, Daniel Nava has shown signs of life. Brock Holt is changing the way we look at baseball. And Jonny Gomes allows for a much-needed threat vs. lefty pitching.

That brings us to Bradley and Mookie Betts.

Prior to the Red Sox‘ loss Saturday, Sox manager John Farrell offered unsolicited praise for Betts, the infielder/outfielder who is rocketing through the minors while offering the organization its greatest positional hope.

“I don’t have a real update on that as of yet,” Farrell told reporters when asked about Andres Torres’ progress. “I know Mookie Betts is swinging the bat well.” The manager then added, “I’m not suggesting anything, other than we recognize and watch what he’s doing daily. The fact that he’s in Triple-A, he’s clearly on the radar.”

Radar shouldn’t even be needed anymore. There should be an arrival.

According to a scout who has seen Betts quite a bit of late, the 21 year old, “has impressive plate discipline and surprising pop,” going on to qualify it by comparing the Triple-A performance to what Bradley produced with the PawSox last season. Betts is currently hitting .319 with an .875 OPS and five steals with Pawtucket.

Regarding his work in his newfound home in the outfield, another scout said Betts has been getting turned around a bit on fly balls in the outfield, but his speed has been making up for the miscues.

So, why leap ahead and call-up Betts well before anybody projected when presenting a timeline earlier this season? He is what is best for this team.

Bradley most likely will be a good major leaguer. He just isn’t one right now, and the Red Sox can’t afford to hit this period of the season with such an offensive liability. With last season’s bats? Maybe. But Bradley has become a player who they can only match up against pitchers without decent fastballs, while hoping his defensive acumen will make up for one of the worst offensive showings of any regular position player in the majors this season.

(A quick note on Bradley: he is actually hitting .348 when putting the first pitch in play, just .146 after falling behind 0-1.)

At this time last year, the lowest OPS of any regular was Drew’s .681. That is just about 1oo points higher than what Bradley is toting (and better than half of this season’s team).

Betts impressed the Red Sox coaching staff in spring training with his poise while playing with the big leaguers, and his ability to make contact. His speed is another bonus, allowing Farrell to ease back toward the way he likes to play, with aggression on the basepaths.

He is a right-handed hitter who has shown the ability to hit any sort of pitchers (having actually drawn all 10 of his walks in Pawtucket off of righty hurlers).

Shane Victorino could return soon, but judging by his recent physical setbacks more answers need to be explored. Betts isn’t a savior, but he does represent a much-needed step in the right direction. The Red Sox could use a bunch of those kind of steps right about now.

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Closing Time: Coco Crisp, Oakland hand Red Sox another 1-run loss 06.21.14 at 7:15 pm ET
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Another day, another one-run loss for the Red Sox.

Coco Crisp‘s RBI single off Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara with one out in the 10th inning handed the Sox a 2-1 loss to the A’s Saturday afternoon. The Crisp hit came on the first pitch delivered by Uehara, who came on for Edward Mujica after Alberto Callaspo reached second.

It was the 17th time this season the Sox have suffered a one-run loss.

Two innings before, there was some optimism for John Farrell‘s club.

With the Red Sox trailing by a run with two outs and runners on first and third in the eighth, Mike Napoli clearly swung and missed at a Luke Gregerson slider for appeared to be a threat-inning third strike. But home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott ruled Napoli had fouled the ball without catcher Stephen Vogt catching the ball.

But replays showed that Napoli didn’t foul the ball, and Vogt caught it cleanly. After a brief argument by Oakland manager Bob Melvin, play resumed with Gregerson proceeding to throw the next pitch in the dirt. The wild pitch — which bounced out in front of the plate —  allowed Pedroia to race in from third with the tying run, just beating the tag.

Melvin would be ejected by the 27-year-old Wolcott after Napoli ended the half-inning with a fly out to right field.

Pedroia had reached third after David Ortiz swung at a 3-0 offering, blooping a two-out single into center field in front of Coco Crisp.

For most of the game, the Red Sox‘ offense continued to be non-existent, potentially ruining another solid pitching performance by the team’s pitching. This time it was starter Rubby De La Rosa who almost saw his efforts wasted.

De La Rosa was fantastic, allowing just one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking one over seven innings. The outing follows up a seven-inning start in which he didn’t surrender a run and just one hit.

The problem for much of the game was that Oakland starter Jesse Chavez was just a tad better, not giving up a run over his seven innings. Helping the A’s righty (who now has a 2.71 ERA) were the Red Sox continued issues of hitting into double plays and not getting runners in from scoring position. The Sox hit into two more double plays, while going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

The Sox have now gone eight straight games in which they have scored three or fewer runs. During that stretch, the Red Sox are 4-for-46 with runners in scoring position.


- The struggles continued for shortstop Stephen Drew, whose batting average dropped to .158 after an 0-for-4 performance. He is 0-for-14 over his last four games.

- With his eighth-inning fly out, Napoli dropped under .200 for the year when hitting with runners in scoring position, now going 4-for-25 when at-bat with two outs in such situations.


- Brock Holt continued to impress in right field, this time making a diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Alberto Callaspo in the third inning. The hit did score the game’s only run, with Stephen Vogt coming in from third after his leadoff triple.

- Holt also reached base four times, notching three hits and a walk to raise his batting average to .329.

Red Sox lineup: Slumping Xander Bogaerts starts day on bench 06.21.14 at 12:47 pm ET
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With right-hander Jesse Chavez on the mound for the A’s, Xander Bogaerts will start today’s game between the Red Sox and A’s in Oakland on the bench. Bogaerts is in the middle of a horrific slump, going 4-for-42 over his last 12 games (striking out three times Friday night). Jonathan Herrera gets the start at third base.

Here is the Red Sox‘ lineup with Rubby De La Rosa on the mound:

Brock Holt RF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Daniel Nava LF

A.J. Pierzynski C

Stephen Drew SS

Jonathan Herrera 3B

Jackie Bradley CF

For all the matchups, click here.

Closing Time: Andrew Miller, Red Sox succumb to another late loss 06.21.14 at 1:39 am ET
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Andrew Miller and the Red Sox walked off with sour tastes in their mouths once again.

The Red Sox reliever suffered his fifth loss of the season (tied with J.J. Hoover for most of any reliever), allowing a game-deciding RBI single from Coco Crisp with two outs in the eighth inning, handing the A’s a 4-3 decision over the Sox in Oakland. It was the Red Sox‘ major league-leading 16th one-run loss.

After retiring his first batter of the eighth, Miller proceeded to hit both Kyle Blanks and Alberto Callaspo. After fanning Nick Punto, the Sox lefty surrendered an opposite field line-drive to Crisp. Red Sox right fielder Brock Holt came up firing, but saw his throw go just enough up the third base line to let Blanks come across with the go-ahead score.

Regarding the hit batsmen, Miller told reporters, “I was just trying to throw a breaking ball in the same spot to Blanks. He had chased the first one and I was trying to throw one a little bit lower to get him to chase again. Just a little bit too far with that one. The second one was just a bad pitch. It was 90-plus where I wanted to go, but you just can’t afford to hit those two guys in that part of the lineup right there.”

Then there was the pitch to Crisp.

“Fastball away. Hindsight, wrong pitch,” the reliever said. “I felt like it was away. It wasn’t down enough, but at the same time 2-2 pitch, we want to go right after him. Hindsight, we should’ve thrown a breaking ball or thrown something in.”

It is the second straight loss for the Red Sox, who had entered their four-game set against the A’s riding a three-game winning streak. It has now been more than a week since the Red Sox scored more than three runs.

“I don’t know that we’re struggling. We just swept the Twins,” Jonny Gomes told reporters after the loss. “It’s not about how many hits or how many runs; it’s about wins. I’m perfectly OK with winning a 1-0 ballgame. The rest of the way, we can win them 1-0. We’ve just got to find a way to score one more run than them, whether it’s one or 10.”

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


- Stephen Drew continued to struggle mightily, going 0-for-4 while stranding five runners. The shortstop is now batting .176. A.J. Pierzynski also stranded five runners, going 0-for-3.

- Drew was also doubled up in the second inning when Oakland’s Craig Gentry robbed Brock Holt with diving catch and subsequent throw into second to get the Sox baserunner and prevent what would have been a Red Sox’ lead.

- Also coming up empty offensively was Xander Bogaerts, who ended the game with his third strikeout of the game. The rookie is now just 4-for-43 over his last 12 games.

- While the Red Sox did manage to get Oakland starter Brad Mills out of the game after just four innings, they couldn’t manage much offensively when it counted the most. The visitors failed to notch a single hit after David Ortiz‘ single with nobody out in the fifth inning.


- Felix Doubront returned off the 15-day disabled list and immediately turned in a solid performance. While the lefty got off to a rough start — allowing a first-inning, three-run home run to Josh Donaldson — he settled down nicely to not allow another hit the rest of his outing. Doubront finished his night going 4 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking four while throwing 90 pitches.

- Having entered the night going two for their last 32 with runners in scoring position, the Red Sox managed to break through against Mills in the second. With the bases loaded and one out, Jackie Bradley singled up the middle to score a pair of runners, cutting the hosts lead to a run.

- The Red Sox took advantage of Mills’ wildness in the third inning, with David Ortiz plating Bogaerts with an RBI single after the Sox’ third baseman kicked off the inning with a walk. Coming into the night, the Red Sox hadn’t drawn a free pass since Monday. They would draw four walks against Mills, who only lasted four innings while making his first start since 2012.

Red Sox lineup: Jonny Gomes, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt in outfield against Oakland 06.20.14 at 7:42 pm ET
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With left-hander Brad Mills on the mound for the A’s Friday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell starts Jonny Gomes in left field, hitting him  in the seven-spot. (Mills is the pitcher recently acquired by Oakland from the Brewers for just reportedly just one dollar.)

Here is the Red Sox‘ lineup with Felix Doubront on the hill for the visitors. (Doubront was activated from the 15-day disabled list, with third baseman Garin Cecchini being sent back to Triple-A):

Brock Holt RF

Xander Bogaerts 3B

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

A.J. Pierzynski C

Jonny Gomes LF

Stephen Drew SS

Jackie Bradley CF

For all the matchups, click here.

Joe Torre scolds David Ortiz via statement 06.20.14 at 6:50 pm ET
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Major League Baseball executive vice president Joe Torre made it perfectly clear how he felt about David Ortiz’s very public disagreement with official scorer Bob Ellis’ ruling during Wednesday afternoon’s game — he didn’t approve.

Reacting to Ortiz’ in-game gestures, and postgame comments, following Ellis’ decision to call an Ortiz’ seventh-inning grounder an error, Torre released the following statement:

“Official scorers have a job to do, and by their very nature, their decisions don’t make everyone happy. But everyone in our game deserves respect. I hope that David will meet that standard going forward, because I don’t share the same views that he expressed.”

Regarding Ortiz’ proclamation that scorers should take care of the home team, Torre said, “Official scorers should never give any benefit of the doubt to the home team. We want their best judgment, based on the rules. We have a process to review the decisions that our scorers make. Even when there are inevitable disagreements, we expect everybody to act professionally and respect the game and the integrity of the scorers.”

To read more about the incident involving Ortiz, click here.

To hear Lou Merloni’s take on players’ view of official scorers, listen to his appearance on ‘The Bradfo Show,’ by clicking here.

Clay Buchholz dominant in rehab outing with PawSox 06.19.14 at 4:54 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz turned in a solid outing in his second rehab outing with Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday afternoon in Rochester, New York.

Buchholz finished with six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while fanning five. The righty didn’t allow a single hit until the fifth inning, finishing up with 87 pitches.

The starter, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, told ‘€˜The Bradfo Show€™ he will join the Red Sox in Oakland, although it is unclear when he might be activated.

The outing was a step up from Buchholz’€™ previous start for the PawSox, in which he allowed three runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings.

For more from Buchholz, listen to ‘€˜The Bradfo Show’€™ podcast by clicking here.

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