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Mike Napoli celebrates staying in Boston with game-winning HR: ‘I love my teammates’ 07.31.15 at 11:30 pm ET
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Mike Napoli (right) celebrates with David Ortiz after Napoli hit the go-ahead home run Friday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Mike Napoli (right) celebrates with David Ortiz after Napoli hit the go-ahead home run Friday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Talk about irony.

Mike Napoli spent the week leading up to Friday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline wondering. He was wondering if his hot streak of late meant his days (and games) in the city he’s grown to love were numbered. The Pirates were in need of a right-handed power bat and surely, they could swing a deal with the Red Sox for the power hitter with just two months left on a two-year, $32 million contract.

But 4 p.m. came and went Friday and Napoli never got that call into general manager Ben Cherington’s office.

The first baseman took a deep breath and prepared to play another game for the Red Sox. He went 1-for-2 and that one hit was certainly a memorable one. With the Red Sox trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh and David Ortiz at first after working walk, Napoli swung at a two-strike 97 mph neck-high heater from Tampa Bay lefty reliever Jake McGee and lofted a rain-making fly ball to left that came down on the ledge of the Green Monster and bounced into the seats for a go-ahead two-run homer. The homer was the difference in a 7-5 win over the Rays at Fenway.

What a way to mark staying in Boston. The slugger now has a .326 average, three homers, nine RBIs and seven walks since July 12.

“I was just trying to stay short to the ball. He throws hard. I calmed down my leg kick and just tried to get my barrel to it,” Napoli said.

“You face guys in your division so much,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “McGee is a guy that likes to elevate his fastball looks to get some chase. Nap was sitting on a pitch up in the zone and did a fantastic job with it. Finally, we had a break go our way.”

Napoli, the guy who had trouble in the clutch all season, the guy who couldn’t seem to catch up to a high fastball all year, clubbed a fly ball that was only a home run because it came at Fenway Park.

“Playing at Fenway to get that homer,” Napoli smiled. “It was just reaction. Just tried to calm my leg kick down. He throws hard.”

As for the relief that comes with the passing of the trade deadline, Napoli said it was just another day.

“I wasn’t worried about it,” Napoli said. “Like I said before, I just came to the park to make myself better. It’s something I can’t control. If it happened, it happened. But I wanted to be a Red Sox. I signed here. I love my teammates and I definitely have fun playing with them on the field.

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Closing Time: Mike Napoli’s 2-run home run leads Red Sox to comeback win over Rays 07.31.15 at 10:25 pm ET
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Alejandro De Aza had two RBIs in the Red Sox' over the Rays Friday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Alejandro De Aza had two RBIs in the Red Sox‘ over the Rays Friday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Friday night’s Red Sox-Rays game was a battle for the worst record in the majors over the month of July and it certainly looked that way, as it was a sloppy game with the teams combining for five errors and both teams blowing leads late.

In the end, the Red Sox rallied to beat the Rays 7-5 and will finish the month 10-15, while the Rays will finish 9-16.

With two outs in the seventh inning, David Ortiz and Rays reliever Jake McGee battled in an 11-pitch at-bat before the lefty slugger worked a walk to set the stage for Mike Napoli, who hit a towering home run to left field that just barely cleared the wall of the Green Monster. It was his second home run in three games and gave the Sox a 6-5 lead.

“Two fantastic at-bats in the seventh inning,” manager John Farrell said. “David with an outstanding at-bat. Just misses a double, able to work out the walk against probably a premium left-handed reliever and then Nap seemingly tomahawks a pitch that has just enough to get out of here. Sea-saw game back and forth. Great to see us respond with the two-run home run by Nap.”

Blake Swihart scored on a wild pitch in the eighth for an insurance run.

Junichi Tazawa got a double-play in the eighth to end a potential Rays rally and Koji Uehara pitched the ninth to close out the win.

The Red Sox grabbed a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning on Alejandro De Aza’s second RBI of the game, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it.

In the seventh inning Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a walk and hit another batter to set up runners on first and second with two outs before departing from the game. Tazawa couldn’t escape as he allowed a pinch-hit double to John Jaso, which scored two runs and gave the Rays the 5-4 lead.

Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t have the best command of his fastball, but made up for it with one of his better changeups of the season. The left-hander went five innings and allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out four. The issue was he walked four batters on the way to throwing a career-high 110 pitches.

“On a night where Eddie battled himself, never really got into much of a rhythm, but to his credit made some pitches with runners in scoring position to minimize the damage,” Farrell said.

The Red Sox scored three times in the first inning to take a 3-1 lead early on. De Aza singled home Xander Bogaerts and then Swihart came through with a two-run single to shallow left field.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:

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Read More: Alejandro De Aza, Brock Holt, David Ortiz, eduardo rodriguez
Ben Cherington admits being ‘wrong’ with beginning of year expectations for Red Sox 07.31.15 at 8:24 pm ET
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Ben Cherington admitted being "wrong" with the expectations for the 2015 Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Ben Cherington admitted being “wrong” with the expectations for the 2015 Red Sox. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

There were certainly high expectations for the 2015 Red Sox as going into the season with the acquisitions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval some thought the Red Sox offense could score 800 runs.

That’s been far from the case as the team has averaged 4.13 runs per game, 16th in the baseball. It’s not just the offense either, as overall the team is 45-58 and 13 games behind the Yankees in the AL East.

There’s plenty of blame to be thrown around, but speaking following the trade deadline pasing Friday, general manager Ben Cherington said he’s the person who should be blamed the most.

“Look, obviously the results are the results and that means the team we built is not as good as what we thought it could be. We’re all responsible. I’m more responsible than anyone for that, but we’re all responsible,” he said. “Players are responsible. The staff is responsible. I’m responsible. I’m more responsible than anyone. That’s how I feel. That said, I still look at the field and see a bunch of guys that are going to be part of a really good team in the near future. I don’t see this as a situation where we have to go and reverse in anyway. We have to keep building. We have to clear areas that need improvement.

“There are solutions out there too and we just have to find more. We have to find a way to get more out of some guys that are here. I think John [Henry] said, they’ll either prove us right or prove us wrong and it’s safe to say at the end of July we were wrong at the beginning of the season as to what this team could do. We’ve got to figure out, we’ve been in the process of trying to figure out why that is and we have to fix it and have to play better baseball.”

Speaking to reporters in Houston about a week before the trade deadline, Cherington was very complimentary of his manager John Farrell, saying, “I fully support John. He’€™s part of the solution.”

Friday, Cherington was asked if he wanted to see anything different from Farrell during the remaining two months of the season. While Cherington didn’t say anything definitive, it wasn’t the same tone as just over a week ago.

“As I’ve said, I think we are all responsible for being better,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is exempt from that. I know we believe in the people that are here, but we all have to find ways to perform and improve our performance. That’s up to us to work together, to help each other figure out what that is. Beyond that I can’t say anything more specific than that.”

Read More: ben cherington, John Farrell,
Ben Cherington didn’t field any ‘compelling’ offers, but was ‘productive week, nonetheless’ 07.31.15 at 5:57 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

The Red Sox were involved in many trade discussions this week, but ultimately the trade deadline passed without any major moves being made.

The team did acquire reliever Ryan Cook from the Athletics in a cash deal.

“We had a busy few days. We worked on a lot of stuff,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “Talked about a lot of stuff. Big, small, in between. In the end we didn’t find enough compelling to do much. It just didn’t come our way. Thought we had a really productive week, nonetheless. We know a lot more about what may or may not be in play for us going forward in the offseason.”

There certainly wasn’t the same buzz around this year’s trade deadline as last year’s when the team dealt away Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes, Jake Peavy, Stephen Drew and Andrew Miller.

This season the Sox had veterans with expiring contracts in Shane Victorino (who was traded to the Angels on Monday), Mike Napoli and Alejandro De Aza as the players who were rumored in trade talks the most.

“There was some interest [in team’s veterans],” Cherington said. “Again, it didn’t get to a level we felt compelled to do anything. Again, without getting into specific names or guys, there could be things that we look at in August along those lines. We just have to wait and see.”

The general manager said a few talks were further along than others, but nothing ever got really close to happening.

“There were probably a couple things that got a little closer. Not that I can be specific about, but as you guys know, this week you talk about hundreds of concepts, literally,” Cherington said. “There may have been a small handful of it that got a little traction. but again, didn’t get to a point that we felt like pulling the trigger now. We know what we want to do going forward.”

With the team currently 13 games below .500 and 13 games back in the AL East, the focus has shifted towards 2016. Cherington said there is still plenty of time before now and then to get better.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us to make real improvement between now and Opening Day,” he said. “We didn’t feel like it had to be this week and so we went into it with the mindset of we were going to pursue things that we think fall in line with improving in ways we need to improve to be [good] for Opening Day. If we find those things, we’ll do it now. We’ll pursue it. If not, we’ll wait and tackle it in the offseason.

“Like I said, we talked about all sorts of stuff. I think we learned a lot about our players, other players who could be available going forward and just the timing didn’t line up to make a lot of moves now. We know what we need to do going forward and we have more information to guide us.”

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, ben cherington,
Red Sox acquire reliever Ryan Cook from Athletics in cash deal 07.31.15 at 4:40 pm ET
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Ryan Cook

Ryan Cook

The Red Sox did make one move at the Friday’s trade deadline, although it certainly wasn’t a big one.

Manager John Farrell said the team received right-hander reliever Ryan Cook from the A’s in a cash deal. In four games with the A’s this season he has a 10.38 ERA. He was an All-Star in 2012 when he recorded 14 saves and had a 2.09 ERA with Oakland.

“We acquired him as a middle reliever. I don’t have the exact time he will arrive here. This is something that came down within the last few minutes,” Farrell said.

“This is a guy that has been a closer in the past,” he added. “Again, I know that there’s been some change of role out in Oakland and as we did with Jean Machi to come in and take a look at him. This will be a very similar situation.”

This year is his fifth season in the majors and overall he’s 13-12 with a 2.93 ERA over 212 appearances.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, Ryan Cook,
Buster Olney: ‘Speculation within the industry’ about 3-way blockbuster between Red Sox, Cubs, Padres 07.31.15 at 2:13 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

With the trade deadline ticking ever closer, ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney checked in with WEEI’s midday show to talk about deals that could be in the works before the clock strikes 4 p.m. on the East Coast. To listen to the interview, go to the Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

Olney tweeted Friday that there is “some speculation within the industry” about a three-way trade taking shape between the Red Sox, Padres and Cubs.

“I have nothing concrete in terms of what actually could be taking place,” Olney said, “I know there’s been a ton talk of talk between the Cubs and the Padres and we know that the Red Sox and Padres match up to some degree. The Red Sox really like [Padres starter] Tyson Ross, it would make some sense if they were to wind up somehow with [Padres closer] Craig Kimbrel.

“Besides the fact that he would be under contract for the next two years, he’s an excellent closer, but also they’d be able to keep him away from the Yankees, who are sitting there with a big safety net. If the Padres weren’t able to make another deal, [the Yankees] are positioned to get Kimbrel. There are a lot of different reasons they could potentially work something out.”

Olney added that another piece that could potentially fit in to a three-team trade is Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. Castillo has played only 30 games this season for the Red Sox and just four since recently being called up from Triple-A. He has a .256 average on the year and is signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract.

“What I got from some people within the Red Sox organization was … ‘Oh boy, we don’t know if [Castillo] can play,'” Olney said. “And if that’s how they feel, if that’s how the front office feels about it, then this potentially could present an opportunity to move some money because the Padres are trying to move some money, the Cubs are trying to move some money with Starlin Castro. Again, these are three teams with so many jigsaw pieces that fit in one way or another which is why people are anticipating that with these teams, there could be something there.”

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Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, buster olney, Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross
Source: 3-way deal between Red Sox, Cubs, Padres ‘unlikely’ 07.31.15 at 1:55 pm ET
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Tyson Ross

Tyson Ross

Do the Red Sox have something cooking with the Padres and Cubs?

According to multiple reports, the Red Sox are engaged with talks on a three-way deal involving the two clubs. The Red Sox, looking for young pitching, have been linked to Padres right-hander Tyson Ross, as well as closer Craig Kimbrel.

However, an official from one of the clubs involved said on Friday afternoon that a deal was unlikely.

That doesn’t mean the Red Sox couldn’t talk directly to the Padres about Ross, a 28-year-old former All-Star who’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season.

Ross comes with positives and negatives. On the plus side, he is striking out over a batter an inning for the first time in his career (9.7) while producing a historically outstanding ground ball-to-fly ball ratio of 1.74. Ross also keeps the ball in the park, as evidenced by his four homers allowed in 127 2/3 innings this year, or lifetime rate of just 0.6 home runs per nine innings.

However, he has also benefited from spending his career in big ballparks in Oakland and especially San Diego, where his home ERA of 2.57 in Petco Park is more than a run and a half lower than his lifetime road ERA of 4.24.

He also leads the National League in walks (61) this season, for a rate of 4.3 per nine that represents his highest total since his final season in Oakland, 2012, when he walked 4.5 per nine.

If the Red Sox can’t land Ross, they’re also expected to engage the Indians on right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. The trade deadline is Friday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Red Sox-Rays series preview 07.31.15 at 1:01 pm ET
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Evan Longoria has the Rays within striking distance of a playoff berth in the American League. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Evan Longoria and the Rays are in fourth place in the AL East but within striking distance of a playoff berth. (Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Any hope that the Red Sox could make a run to the playoffs has been expunged since the All-Star break. Since returning, the Red Sox have gone 3-11, including most recently dropping three of four to the White Sox.

The prolonged slump has brought the Red Sox‘€™ record to 45-58, placing them firmly in last place in the American League East, 13 games behind the division-leading Yankees. The Sox are tied for the worst record in the AL with the A’€™s.

“It [stinks]. Come here every day, work hard to go out there and try to execute as a team,” Mike Napoli said after a loss to the White Sox. “We’re not getting it done. It’s not fun. You need to come in, keep playing hard, play the game the right way and try to make things turn into good things, positive things on the field. Just got to keep going.”

The Sox will be taking on the Rays in a weekend series at Fenway. The Rays are fourth in the AL East. The team has a 51-52 record and is seven games back of the Yanks. The Yankees have started to separate themselves from the pack, as they hold a six-game lead over both the Orioles and Jays.

To stay in the hunt, and at least within reach of those Orioles and Jays, the Rays need to have success in this weekend’€™s series in Boston.

For the Rays, the problem has been on the offensive side. The team has scored 367 runs, placing it 26th in baseball. As a team, the Rays own a 27th-best .238 batting average and 24th-best .684 OPS.

On the mound, the team has been significantly more proficient. Tampa owns a 3.50 team ERA, which is third best in the American League. The Sox are a full run worse, with a 4.50 team ERA. The Rays have a .233 batting average against, which is tops in the AL. They have allowed the third-fewest runs in the league.

The Rays’€™ anemic offense has to some degree negated the effectiveness of their pitching staff, as the they have a minus-13 run differential that places them ninth in the AL.

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MLB trade deadline: Red Sox reportedly interested in pitchers Tyson Ross, Carlos Carrasco 07.31.15 at 10:19 am ET
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The 2015 season has been far from kind to the Red Sox. Their spot in the standings far removed from the playoff picture, forcing them not to consider trading for short-term rentals before Friday’s deadline. Instead, the team reportedly is interested in starting pitchers that are under team control long term.

That interest has taken hold in a couple young starters of note, including Carlos Carrasco of the Indians and Tyson Ross of the Padres.

In 21 starts this season, Carrasco has an 11-8 record and 4.03 ERA. The 28-year-old right-hander owns a 2.82 FIP, seemingly having pitched much better than his ERA would indicate. He is signed through 2018 to a four-year, $22 million contract that also includes $9 million and $9.5 million team options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The contract pays Carrasco well below market value for an above-average starter.

The right-hander Ross, 28, owns a 3.38 ERA and 7-8 record so far this season for the Padres. He becomes arbitration eligible in 2016 and the earliest he could hit free agency is 2018.

The Padres are firmly in the camp of sellers at this season’s deadline and own many movable players and contracts. One of those is flamethrowing reliever Craig Kimbrel, who has been linked to multiple teams, including the Red Sox.

The Yankees and Astros also are said to have shown interest in Kimbrel. The Padres reportedly were interested in Yankees shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo, who at one time had been viewed as untouchable.

Elsewhere, the Mets are interested in acquiring an outfield bat, particularly after their almost-trade with the Brewers for Carlos Gomez fell through. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mets are interested in the Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce.

Read More: 2015 Trade Deadline, Carlos Carrasco, Craig Kimbrel, Tyson Ross
Friday Red Sox Farm Report: Portland walks it off again at home on Aneury Tavarez blast 07.31.15 at 9:52 am ET
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A look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Thursday:

Allen Craig

Allen Craig

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX (42-63): L, 6-1, vs. Norfolk (Orioles)

— The Pawtucket offense had nine hits, eight of them singles, but finished just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and scored just one run. The lone PawSox run came in the ninth inning on an RBI single by right fielder Jonathan Roof, scoring DH Allen Craig. Pawtucket’€™s July record fell to 4-21, with an 0-8-1 record in nine series played during the month.

— Craig finished 1-for-3 with a walk, putting his season-long slash line at .263/.373/.338 with three home runs and eight doubles in 63 games played. After hitting .328 in May, Craig has connected at just a .240 (40-for-167) clip combined in June and July with two homers. The 31-year-old righty bat has particularly struggled against right-handed pitching this year, hitting just .227 on the season compared to .354 against lefties.

— Shortstop Marco Hernandez went 2-for-3 with a double, the lone Pawtucket extra-base hit, to put his average at .298 through 13 games played in Triple-A. It was the third multi-hit game for Hernandez since his promotion from Double-A Portland, where he led the Eastern League with a .326 average. The 22-year-old Dominican was charged with his third Triple-A error as he dropped a throw from pitcher Zeke Spruill at the second base bag after a comebacker in the third.

— Spruill took the loss (4-7, 4.54 ERA) despite allowing just one earned run through six innings of work. His final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO (96 pitches, 60 strikes). Spruill also hit two batters. The 25-year-old was making his seventh start of the season, after his first 18 came in relief. As a reliever, the 6-foot-5 Spruill had a 4.21 ERA in 36 1/3 innings pitched. As a starter, he is now 0-5 with a 4.88 ERA. Boston acquired Spruill in a December 2014 trade from Arizona; the Red Sox designated him for assignment and off their 40-man roster on July 3.

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Read More: Allen Craig, Andrew Benintendi, aneury tavarez, Ben Taylor
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