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Inconsistent defense proving an early obstacle for Red Sox 04.23.14 at 12:35 am ET
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Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

While the Yankees flashed some leather in both the infield and outfield, the Red Sox‘ subpar defense played a critical role in their 9-3 defeat on Tuesday night.

Though Jon Lester wasn’t necessarily the recipient of a tough luck loss, shaky defense behind him led to a total of five unearned runs on the evening.

“Errors are part of the game, mistakes are part of the game, and tonight that hurt us,” Lester said. “Other nights, we’ve been able to make up for them or we were able to play exceptionally well. I’ll never fault a guy for making an error, I know that the effort is always there.”

With two outs in the fifth inning, Mike Napoli missed a line drive off the bat of Brian Roberts that was hit his way, resulting in an error and allowing a run to score. Right fielder Grady Sizemore then collected the ball and threw to home (though it was off the mark) while Brian McCann, who advanced from first to second on the error, strayed away from second base towards the dugout. The miscues opened the floodgates for the Yankees, who took advantage of the second chance and scored three more runs thanks to a two-run double from Ellsbury and an RBI single from Derek Jeter.

Napoli made no excuses for the misplay, assuring that the finger injury he suffered last week was not a factor.

“I just didn’t make the play,” Napoli said. “It was a little weird…McCann was on first, and I kind of lost it for a second. I thought I was on it but I have to make that play. That was a key situation in the game…It kind of disappeared on me for a little bit. I have to stick with it and see it into my glove.” Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox likely to promote a pitcher, wait to activate Shane Victorino 04.23.14 at 12:07 am ET
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Right-hander Allen Webster could be brought up by the Red Sox on Wednesday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster could be brought up by the Red Sox on Wednesday. (AP)

The Red Sox thought that they might activate Shane Victorino from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday, following the third game of his rehab assignment in Triple-A Pawtucket (in which the outfielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts). But with the Sox having gotten just 2 1/3 innings from Clay Buchholz on Monday and 4 2/3 frames from Jon Lester on Tuesday, the team felt that a taxed bullpen that had worked a combined 11 innings over those two games might require reinforcements. As such, manager John Farrell said that the team might consider a pitcher instead of activating Victorino on Wednesday.

“We’ve got to take a look,” said Farrell. “We may have a pitching move because of how deep we’ve had to go in the bullpen the last couple of days, so Shane is not a given for [Wednesday].”

If the Sox make a move for a pitcher, an obvious choice would right-hander Allen Webster, who is the scheduled starter for Pawtucket on Wednesday. Webster is on the 40-man roster, and he has some experience in the big leagues as a reliever at the end of last year. He could provide the Sox with length if they endure another game that requires the services of the ‘pen. The other option would likely be Alex Wilson, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday to give him eight scoreless appearances (spanning eight frames) this year in Pawtucket. Wilson would be able to give more than three outs, though he’s unlikely stretched out to the point of being able to provide long relief if needed, at a time when both Chris Capuano and Burke Badenhop likely will be unavailable.

None of the other options on the 40-man roster seem to fit for a one-day callup. Drake Britton pitched on Tuesday, making him a less-than-ideal callup. Brandon Workman started on Monday, so would not be a consideration. Anthony Ranaudo has never pitched in relief, and he’d be pitching on three days’ rest. Rubby De La Rosa — the best pitcher in Pawtucket to date — started on Tuesday night.

As for a move to open a roster spot for a pitcher and then Victorino, the Sox haven’t announced any decisions, but outfielder Daniel Nava met with Farrell behind closed doors following Tuesday’s game. Nava’s endured a season-long struggle, hitting .149/.240/.269, and he’s been out of the starting lineup in two of the last four games, including Tuesday night against right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

“We’re trying to get him going offensively and [Jonny Gomes] gives us a little bit more of that right now,” Farrell explained before the game of the decision to start Gomes over Nava. “He’s probably swung the bat a little bit more earlier in counts than we’ve seen in the past and that might be maybe some reflection of the current level of confidence. When he’s squared up some balls, he hasn’t seen the fruits of that too much. Like all players, they go through a little bit of a peak and valley and we’re trying to get him out of that right now. Fundamentally I can’t say it’s any one thing that he’s breaking down from a swing mechanic standpoint.”

Nava has two options remaining, and so he can be sent down without exposing him to waivers.

Read More: alex wilson, allen webster, daniel nava, Shane Victorino
Jacoby Ellsbury gets much warmer reception than Johnny Damon in his return: ‘The fans were great’ 04.23.14 at 12:06 am ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Johnny Damon had warned Jacoby Ellsbury before the game Tuesday that he would find out just how vicious Red Sox fans could be for leaving Boston for the Yankees.

After all, when Damon signed with the Bronx Bombers prior to the 2006 season, he was roundly booed and excoriated every time he set foot inside Fenway Park. It didn’t stop when he left after winning a World Series in 2009 and played for Detroit, Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

But Ellsbury is no Johnny Damon. For whatever reason, Ellsbury was booed on Tuesday but no where near as fiercely as Damon when the original “Idiot” returned in 2006 for the first time.

[Click here to hear Jacoby Ellsbury rave about his return to Fenway Park Tuesday night.]

As a matter of fact, Ellsbury thought the Red Sox fans showed great restraint and respect. True, it’s a lot easier to say that when you triple to open the game, making a diving catch in the bottom of the first and knock out the opposing pitcher Jon Lester with a two-run double in the fifth, all part of a 9-3 Yankees cakewalk Tuesday night at Friendly Fenway.

“Anytime a win is a good game,” Ellsbury said. “I’m happy I could go out there and help the team win tonight. I thought the fans were great. I thought the reception was nice. The tribute the Red Sox gave on the video board [was] unexpected, and I thought it was very classy of them to do that.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, Johnny Damon, MLB
Closing Time: Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka lead Yankees to blow out over sloppy Red Sox 04.22.14 at 10:28 pm ET
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Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

The Red Sox did not so much lose to the Yankees as they committed an atrocity.

A number of defensive vulnerabilities were exposed in Boston’s 9-3 loss to New York that underscored the degree to which the team has been destabilized in the field by the departures of Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia along with the injuries to Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks. While starter Jon Lester was hit hard at times, the unraveling of the game was primarily the fault of the fielders behind him.

Some noteworthy instances:

  • A.J. Pierzynski had a passed ball in the first inning that convinced Derek Jeter to advance to second; Pieryznski’s throw was significantly off line, resulting in an error. The two-base gaffe resulted in an unearned run.
  • Brian Roberts grounded a single to left off the glove of a diving Xander Bogaerts in the top of the second.
  • Mark Teixeira blooped a double down the right field line in the top of the third on which Grady Sizemore wasn’t able to close the ground to get near the catch. On the next play, Brian McCann lined a ball to left-center on which Jonny Gomes didn’t have the range to track it down, resulting in an RBI double.
  • Later in the third, Sizemore got a bad break on a soft liner to right by Roberts and his attempt at a diving catch came up short, clanging off his glove for a single.
  • In the fifth, Mike Napoli failed to glove a liner off his glove, with the ball landing in right for a run-scoring single (with two outs). On that same play, McCann thought the ball had been caught and so started running back to the dugout. Had right fielder Sizemore realized that, he would have been able to force out McCann at second. Instead, Sizemore threw home, allowing McCann to scurry safely to second, as shortstop Xander Bogaerts held his hands on top of his head in observance of the missed opportunity for an inning-ending force. The Yankees tacked on three more runs when the next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, rocketed a double to left-center and, after a pitching change, Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single up the middle.

The Sox’ defensive limitations played a major role in at least six runs (five of which were unearned), and also hastened Lester’s exit from the game after 4 2/3 innings and 118 pitches, resulting in more work for a bullpen that had been taxed one day earlier by Clay Buchholz lasting just 2 1/3 innings. The Sox, it is worth noting, ranked as the fourth-worst team in the majors in defensive efficiency entering the day, having converted just 68.2 percent of balls in play into outs. The limitations of the left side of their infield and their outfield corners have been felt often, and that remained true on Tuesday.

With the loss, the Red Sox are now 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. They’ve lost four of five so far to New York.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX Read the rest of this entry »

Jacoby Ellsbury gets mixed reception then delivers a reminder to Fenway fans 04.22.14 at 8:06 pm ET
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That didn’t take long.

Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Fenway Park for the first time since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees and received a mixture of boos and cheers in the lineup introductions about 15 minutes before first pitch.

He received more boos as he was announced as the first batter of the game.

Then Ellsbury, as was often the case in his time in Boston, quietly showed off his multiple talents as a way of exacting revenge.

In the first at-bat of the game, he drilled a Jon Lester pitch high off the center field wall, so high that a fan wearing a Bruins jersey nearly fell over the 17-foot high barrier and onto the warning track below.

He was awarded a triple on fan interference and scored on a Derek Jeter single to center.

Ellsbury didn’t stop there. Grady Sizemore, brought in to help fill his void at the top of the order, led off the first for the Red Sox. Ellsbury ranged over 30 feet to his right to make a sliding, tumbling grab of a sinking liner for the first out. The play would be significant as Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to left field.

Before the top of the second, the Red Sox paid tribute to Ellsbury with a montage of his days in Boston, featuring highlights in the field from 2013, capped by his appearance on the Duck Boats in Rolling Rally after the World Series win last October. The montage was produced with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing underneath.

For good measure, Ellsbury knocked old friend Jon Lester out of the game in the fifth when he drilled Lester’s 118th pitch to left-center for a two-run double, making it 7-2 Yankees.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB, New York Yankees
Jacoby Ellsbury ready for return to Fenway Park: ‘I’m excited for the second part of my career’ 04.22.14 at 6:33 pm ET
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After nine years, seven big league seasons and two championships with the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury is back at Fenway Park as a New York Yankee for the first time on Tuesday night.

Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million pact with the Yankees over the offseason, while the Red Sox chose to go in a different direction. Ellsbury, in a pregame session with the media, said that his time with the Red Sox ultimately influenced his decision to sign with the Yankees, in an indirect way.

“œWhen you get a taste of winning and you experience that…I was fortunate to experience that in ‘€˜07, you always want to get back there, and when the Yankees let me know that they were interested, I was excited because of the opportunity to win again and to play on a team that is committed to fielding a team each and every year that has potential to win.”€ Ellsbury said. “€œNew York was right there…first-class. I think of the championships, I think of the history, I think of the passion that they have for the game…a lot of the same things the Red Sox have, but they gave me the opportunity to play seven more years in the big leagues. I’€™m very blessed that they gave me the opportunity to play the game I love, and I’€™m excited for that.”

Yet just because he has changed sides in the rivalry, Ellsbury is not severing his connection to his experience in Boston. The 30-year-old spoke repeatedly of his appreciation for the seven years he spent in the big leagues in Boston and his nine years in the Red Sox organization after he was taken in the first round of the 2005 draft. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury,
Red Sox lineup: Grady Sizemore leads off, Jonny Gomes in left, Daniel Nava sits vs. Yankees 04.22.14 at 3:30 pm ET
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As the Red Sox prepare to face Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for the first time, the team will feature Grady Sizemore in the leadoff spot. Sizemore will play right field, with Jonny Gomes in left and Daniel Nava sitting. A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate to catch Jon Lester.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Jonny Gomes, LF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Brock Holt, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jon Lester, SP

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