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Time to question bullpen again after late collapse costs Red Sox in Detroit 04.07.17 at 5:15 pm ET
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Steven Wright wasn't great, but the bullpen was even worse Thursday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Steven Wright wasn’t great, but the bullpen was even worse Friday. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Let the questions about the Red Sox’ bullpen begin anew. After 7 2/3 scoreless innings of relief through the first two games of the season, it all came crashing down in spectacular fashion in the eighth inning of Friday’s 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

A five-run top of the eighth, capped by a three-run homer off the bat of Pablo Sandoval, had given the Red Sox a 5-4 lead. Boston called on Heath Hembree to start the eighth and it appeared the bullpen’s success was going to continue, as he struck out Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera to start the inning.

But then he issued back-to-back walks to Victor Martinez and Justin Upton, and John Farrell elected to call on Robby Scott to face lefty Tyler Collins, who was then lifted for a pinch-hitter in Mikie Mahtook. Mahtook proceeded to double to left to tie the game.

Then it was Joe Kelly’s turn, and he didn’t fare any better. He walked James McCann to load the bases, then gave another free pass to JaCoby Jones to walk in the go-ahead run.

The Red Sox had a chance to tie the game in the ninth, as a Dustin Pedroia single and Mitch Moreland double off Francisco Rodriguez put runners on second and third with two outs. But it wasn’t to be, as Chris Young popped out to end the game.

The late collapse spoiled the Red Sox offense’s own eighth-inning heroics, as Boston came back from a 4-0 deficit to take a 5-4 lead. Young registered an RBI double and Jackie Bradley an RBI single before Sandoval launched his first home run since Aug. 15, 2015.

In his first start of the season, Steven Wright allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. Michael Fulmer went six shutout innings for the Tigers.

Shattering Perceptions Game Note Image

Mitch Moreland singled and doubled in his final two at-bats of the game after starting his Red Sox career 0-for-12.

Read More: heath hembree, John Farrell bullpen, Red Sox, steven wright
Derek Jeter announces he will retire after 2014 season 02.12.14 at 2:29 pm ET
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Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced in a statement on Facebook that he will retire after the 2014 season. Jeter, who will turn 40 in June, played just 17 games last season while battling through a variety of injuries.

“Last year was a tough one for me,” Jeter said in the statement. “As I suffered through a bunch of injuries, I realized that some of the things that always came easily to me and were always fun had started to become a struggle. The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward.

“So really it was months ago when I realized that this season would likely be my last. As I came to this conclusion and shared it with my friends and family, they all told me to hold off saying anything until I was absolutely 100% sure.

“And the thing is, I could not be more sure. I know it in my heart. The 2014 season will be my last season playing professional baseball.”

In 19 seasons with the Yankees, Jeter has compiled a .312 average, 3,316 hits, 256 home runs, 1,261 RBIs and 1,876 runs scored. He is a 13-time all-star and he’s finished in the top 10 in MVP voting eight times.

The Yankees end the 2014 regular season at Fenway Park on the final weekend of September, meaning Jeter’s last game could potentially come at the home of his longtime rivals.

To read Jeter’s full statement on Facebook, click here.

Read More: spring training 2014,
Alex Rodriguez’s suspension reduced to 162 games 01.11.14 at 12:26 pm ET
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Alex Rodriguez‘s 211-game suspension has been reduced to 162 games by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, Major League Baseball announced. Assuming that the full-season ban remains in place, it would not only prevent Rodriguez from playing in 2014 (the suspension encompasses the entire regular season and postseason) — in his age 38 season — but also would liberate the entirety of his salary from the Yankees‘ payroll, thus giving New York considerable latitude in its effort to round out its roster this offseason even as the team attempts to stay below the luxury tax threshold of $189 million.

Rodriguez has completed six seasons of his record-setting 10-year, $275 million contract signed with the Yankees following the 2007 season. He was due to make $25 million in 2014, but for practical purposes, his suspension gives the Yankees $33.5 million in payroll flexibility that it wouldn’t have had — both the $27.5 million average annual value of the contract, as well as the $6 million bonus he would have received in the likely event that he hit six homers to reach the career total of 660 (the number hit by Willie Mays in his career).

Rodriguez missed most of 2013 while recovering from hip surgery, but made it back to the field for 44 games down the stretch, hitting .244 with a .348 OBP and .423 slugging mark — his worst career marks since his age 19 season in 1995.

Alex Speier contributed to this report.


John Farrell on Salk & Holley: Clay Buchholz is ‘ready to go,’ will start Game 3 or 4 10.23.13 at 3:09 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell shot down reports that Clay Buchholz may not be healthy enough to pitch in the World Series, telling WEEI’s Salk & Holley on Wednesday afternoon that Buchholz is “ready to go” and will start either Game 3 or 4 in St. Louis, with Jake Peavy starting the other.

“I know there’s been a lot of buzz about Clay’s physical condition,” Farrell said. “Where is he at? What’s taken place the last couple starts? He’s ready to go, and he will start.”

Questions over Buchholz’ health began to pop up during Tuesday’s workout at Fenway Park when Felix Doubront threw a simulated game with Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington looking on. Doubront then threw a side session with pitching coach Juan Nieves.

Even after Farrell said during his Tuesday press conference that “everything is OK” with Buchholz and that he planned to start the right-hander in Game 3 or 4, reports surfaced saying Buchholz’ status was in doubt.

Farrell told Salk & Holley that Buchholz is healthy, and that if there were any issues that could potentially be made worse by pitching, he wouldn’t hesitate to shut Buchholz down.

“Is he healthy? Yeah,” Farrell said. “If he wasn’t healthy, and it was to the point of a detriment, either current or long-term, we wouldn’t even hesitate. We’d pull the plug on it and go in another direction. But he’s ready to start.”

Buchholz didn’t make it out of the sixth inning in either of his two ALCS starts. He allowed just one run in innings one through five of those starts, but surrendered six in the two sixth innings he pitched. Farrell said there won’t be any set pitch count or innings limit in the World Series, though.

“The game will dictate the restrictions,” Farrell said. “We don’t go in with a hard, fast number that he’s capable of. The one thing we have seen is that when he started to tire, it has happened relatively quickly. That’s what we have to remain aware of.”

Jon Lester gets Game 1 start, John Lackey in Game 2 for Red Sox 10.02.13 at 5:19 pm ET
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In his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Salk & Holley, Red Sox manager John Farrell announced the team’s starting rotation for the American League Division Series.

Game 1: Jon Lester

Game 2: John Lackey

Game 3: Clay Buchholz

Game 4 (if necessary): Jake Peavy

Game 5 (if necessary): Jon Lester

Farrell had said for the last few weeks that he had a pretty good idea who his Game 1 starter would be, but that he wasn’t ready to announce it in case something changed.

On Sunday, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reported that Buchholz and Peavy would be pitching in Wednesday’s simulated game, indicating that Lester and Lackey would start Games 1 and 2.

Farrell confirmed that Lackey’s home-road splits were taken into account. Lackey went 6-3 with a 2.47 ERA and 1.03 WHIP at home this season, but he was just 4-10 with a 4.48 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the road.

Red Sox clinch home field with Athletics’ loss to Mariners 09.28.13 at 7:10 pm ET
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With the American League East already locked up, the only thing left for the Red Sox to accomplish during the regular season was clinching the AL’s best record.

That happened Saturday night, just as the Red Sox’ game against the Orioles was getting underway, when the Athletics’ 7-5 loss to the Mariners went final. With the best record comes home field throughout the playoffs, as the AL gets home field in the World Series thanks to an All-Star Game victory.

The Red Sox will host the winner of Wednesday’s wild card play-in game in the American League Division Series, while the Athletics will host the Tigers. Both series are set to begin on Friday.

The Indians have clinched at least a wild-card tie, as they sit one game ahead of the Rays and Rangers with one day to go. If the season is to end that way, the Rangers would host the Rays in a tiebreaker game on Monday, with the winner traveling to Cleveland for Wednesday’s wild card game.

Should all three teams finish tied, it would take three games to decide the wild card. The Indians would host the Rays on Monday, with the winner advancing to Wednesday’s wild card game. The loser would travel to Texas to play the Rangers on Tuesday. Then the winner of that game would play the winner of Monday’s game on Wednesday.

Red Sox call up Brock Holt, Brayan Villarreal, Steven Wright 09.17.13 at 3:51 pm ET
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The Red Sox called up infielder Brock Holt and pitchers Brayan Villarreal and Steven Wright on Tuesday.

Holt has played 23 games for Boston this season, hitting .203/.275/.237 with 11 RBIs in 23 games. He provides depth at second base, third base and shortstop.

Villarreal has faced just one batter for the Red Sox since coming over in the Jake PeavyJose Iglesias trade — a walk-off walk against the Giants on Aug. 20. Villarreal had a 1.69 ERA in five appearances for Pawtucket.

Wright has made four appearances for the Sox this season, including one start, recording a 5.40 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. He had a 3.46 ERA in 24 starts for Pawtucket.

Read More: Brayan Villarreal, Brock Holt, steven wright,
Jon Lester reaches 200-inning goal while continuing to roll 09.14.13 at 5:59 pm ET
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Jon Lester‘s number one goal every year is to pitch 200 innings. He figures that if he can do that, it means he’s been a dependable starter. It means he’s been the innings-eater the Red Sox expect him to be. On Saturday, in yet another dominant performance, Lester reached the 200-inning mark for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

“That’s the one goal, individual goal, that I set every year for myself,” Lester said. “Make every start that I can and go 200 innings. When you’re on a good team like this, the rest of it takes care of itself. That’s really all you can control, is the innings. It’s something I take pride in. It’s something I work towards every year.”

While 200 innings is a benchmark pretty much every starter strives for, it doesn’t mean nearly as much if they’re not a good 200 innings.

Take Lester’s 2012 season for example. He tossed 205 1/3 innings on the year, but had a 4.82 ERA and 1.38 WHIP — both worse than the league average. Although those innings still carried some value and spared other arms, Lester wasn’t always giving his team a chance to win.

That hasn’t been the case in 2013. Sure, there was that rough patch from mid-May to early July, but Lester has made sure that stretch didn’t turn into another rough season.

Since July 13, Lester has posted a 2.52 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 12 starts. Eleven of those 12 outings have been quality starts, and he’s gone seven innings or more in seven of them. And Lester has only gotten better the deeper the season has gone. Following his eight-inning, one-run performance in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Yankees, Lester now has a minuscule 1.86 ERA over his last eight starts.

“Above and beyond [the number of innings], they’ve been outstanding innings pitched for the better part of his career,” said manager John Farrell. “I think every starter goes into a season thinking 200 innings is a minimum that you’d like to get to. That proves you’ve put in the work, been consistent, stayed healthy.

“[Saturday] was probably an example of the bulk of his career that we’ve talked about. He was powerful. He had good command inside the strike zone. He pitched in effectively to both lefties and righties. Just a very solid, very good eight innings of work.”

A lot of the credit for Lester getting back on track in July has been given to the fact that he was given 10 days of rest in the middle of the month to recharge and refocus.

While Lester didn’t want to talk about things that happened two months ago — he said he’s trying to just stay focused on the present — Farrell said there was more to Lester’s turnaround than just the rest.

“I can’t say that’s the only reason,” Farrell said. “At the time, it was needed. But what he’s done since the All-Star break has been consistent with how he started the season, and that’s been a front-line starter. That’s who Jon Lester is.”

Part of being that front-line starter is being confident. Farrell said he’s seeing Lester have the type of confidence he had earlier in his career, when he was one of the top pitchers in the league from 2008 until the infamous September 2011 collapse.

“When Jon is executing pitches, it gives him clarity on the mound,” Farrell said. “What I mean by clarity is, there’s no indecision with pitch selection. He’s got confidence to go to a given pitch when he needs to get a strike. It’s more about him having confidence in his pitches.

“That’s what reduces the frustration with him and allows him to not carry the previous pitch into the next one. That frustration is eliminated. And that’s where he’s been for pretty much the whole year, with the exception of that month stretch where things were a little hit and miss with him.”

Now Farrell and the Red Sox are hoping Lester can stay there into October. Two months ago, it wasn’t too far-fetched to imagine a playoff rotation that didn’t include the struggling Lester. Now he has a strong case to be the team’s Game 1 starter.

Read More: Jon Lester,
Closing Time: Jon Lester continues to dominate as Red Sox beat Yankees, 5-1 09.14.13 at 3:50 pm ET
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Jon Lester continued his recent dominance, holding the Yankees to three hits and one run over eight innings to lead the Red Sox to a 5-1 win on Saturday. He now has a 1.86 ERA over his last eight outings, all of which have been quality starts. Saturday marked the fifth time during that stretch that he’€™s surrendered one earned run or fewer.

Lester was perfect through the first three innings before giving up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson in the fourth. Granderson wound up scoring, but then Lester allowed just four more baserunners the rest of the way.

Offensively, the Red Sox continued their 2013 dominance of CC Sabathia. They got to him for nine hits, four walks and five runs over six innings, forcing him to throw 110 pitches before departing. Sabathia now has a 7.22 ERA and 1.88 WHIP against the Sox this season. The Red Sox scored each inning from the second through fifth.


Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes — batting fourth and fifth in the order — each reached base all four times they went to the plate. Napoli singled and scored in the second, singled in the third, walked and scored in the fifth, and walked in the seventh. Gomes walked in the second, lined an RBI single to center in the third, doubled in the fifth, and walked in the seventh. Napoli now has a .386 average and .500 on-base percentage over his last 18 games, while Gomes is at .343 and .385 over his last 12.

-A little small ball paid off with a pair of runs in the early innings. Daniel Nava moved two runners over with a sacrifice bunt in the second, and Napoli scored from third one batter later on a Will Middlebrooks groundout. The next inning, Shane Victorino moved Dustin Pedroia to second with a sacrifice, and Pedroia scored one batter later on a double by David Ortiz.

David Ross reached base twice, walking in the second and singling and scoring in the fourth. Ross is now 6-for-18 (.333) with three walks over his last six starts.

Franklin Morales pitched a perfect ninth. He’s allowed just one run over 8 1/3 innings since returning from injury.

Alfonso Soriano was a late scratch for the Yankees due to a sprained right thumb. Soriano was hitting .278/.333/.595 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs over his last 31 games. He is considered day-to-day.


-Victorino got all kinds of turned around in center field on Granderson’€™s triple to lead off the fourth. It might have been a tough catch even if Victorino had taken a good line, but once he got spun around, he had no chance. Victorino has played plenty of center field throughout his career, but had just 58 innings there this season going into Saturday’€™s game. Granderson scored on a groundout two batters later.

-Middlebrooks continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He’€™s now gone 17 straight at bats without reaching base. Middlebrooks did register an RBI on his groundout in the second, though.

Read More: Alfonso Soriano, C.C. Sabathia, David Ross, Jon Lester
Red Sox pregame notes: Felix Doubront likely to return to rotation next weekend 09.14.13 at 11:28 am ET
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Felix Doubront will likely return to the Red Sox rotation next weekend against Toronto after being skipped this time around, manager John Farrell said before Saturday’s game. Doubront had lasted four innings or less in four of his last six starts before being given some rest.

“This was more about, we felt like, a need just from the physical standpoint,” Farrell said. “There wasn’t anything glaring inside the last five or six starts that he made. It was just a lack on consistency. To me, that looked like fatigue.”

Farrell said Doubront will throw a side session on Sunday and a simulated game on Tuesday in preparation for his next start. The exact day of Doubront’s return hasn’t yet been determined.

Doubront is seven innings away from matching the career-high 161 innings he pitched last season. Farrell said that could be part of the reason for Doubront’s fatigue, but for his part, Doubront recently told WEEI.com that he hopes to throw 20-30 more innings this season.

Whether or not Doubront pitches for the Red Sox in the postseason remains to be seen. In that same interview, Doubront told WEEI.com that he doesn’t see himself as the best choice for a bullpen role.

But with Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy all pitching well, and Clay Buchholz looking strong in his first start back, Doubront’s only chance to make the playoff rotation would be if someone got hurt. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, felix doubront, franklin morales, Jacoby Ellsbury
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