|John Farrell, Ben Cherington take stock of Andrew Bailey’s struggles||06.19.13 at 8:42 pm ET|
The Red Sox claimed a doubleheader sweep against the Rays on Tuesday, yet there remained an element of uneasiness to the team’s victory in the nightcap. While a ninth-inning walkoff from Jonny Gomes gave the Sox a 3-1 win the Game 2, the blown save by Andrew Bailey in the top of the ninth offered some cause for pause by the Red Sox.
Prior to Wednesday night’s contest against the Rays, manager John Farrell praised the work of his middle relievers, heaping accolades upon the work of bullpen arms such as Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller. But . . .
“We recognize there’s still work to be done with guys closing out games,” said Farrell.
The Sox entered Wednesday with nine blown saves, tied for the fourth most in the AL. The team has converted just 13 of 22 opportunities, a 59 percent success rate that is the second-worst in the AL (ahead of only Cleveland).
Bailey is 8-for-11 in save opportunities, with his three blown saves tied for the fifth most in the AL. Of the 15 pitchers in the AL with at least five saves this year, Bailey’s 73 percent conversion rate is worst in the league. Read the rest of this entry »
ESPN baseball columnist Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, following the Red Sox’ doubleheader sweep of the Rays on Tuesday.
In Game 2, closer Andrew Bailey surrendered the tying run in the ninth inning before Jonny Gomes hit a two-run walk-off home run. It was Bailey’s third blown save of the year.
“He certainly at this stage is not looked at as an elite closer,” Olney said. “I’m sure that the Red Sox will be asking the internal questions that all teams are this time of year, is: Do we have spots where we can look for an upgrade? What can we go get? But as we talked about in recent weeks, there’s just not going to be a lot out there for bullpen help. Jesse Crain of the White Sox, maybe. Jonathan Papelbon, if the Phillies decide to sell — but you’d be taking on a lot of money and probably reduce flexibility with other part of the team.
“So, you can understand why the Red Sox are giving him a long leash. They needed to work with him.”
The Sox have been boosted this season by their depth, as players have shuttled up from the minors to help when regulars have gone down with injuries.
Said Olney: “It really is, let’s face it, a byproduct of that great trade they made last summer, which is going to go down in history as one of the greatest trades of all-time, the deal they made with the Dodgers. Because the flexibility it gave them to go out and build the depth, on top of what they had in the farm system, to go get two more terrific pitching prospects in the way that they did.
“And if you look at the sport in general, a lot of the teams, the more progressive teams, are looking for that flexibility. A team like the Oakland Athletics, probably the primary reason why they’re winning is because of the flexibility and the depth. That’s what the Rays’ advantage has always been in recent years, because they’ve always had a lot more options, a lot more pitching, and let’s face it, because they’ve had cheaper options.
“So, I agree with you, I think the Red Sox deserve a whole lot of credit for building the depth that they have. And it all started, to me, with the Dodger deal.”
Looking at the American League East, Olney said he expects the Orioles to eventually overtake the Sox for first place.
“I think the Red Sox are certainly better than I thought they would be. I picked them third at the beginning of the year. … I picked the Blue Jays fourth. I know they’ve had a great run; I still have my doubts as to whether or not they can hold it together. The Yankees have far outplayed what I thought, given what they have. I still think they’re headed for a drift. …
“Before the year began, I picked the Orioles to win the division. I still think they’re going to. I think they also have a lot of depth in their organization. I think they just have to have some of the young pitchers in their rotation pull it together.”
|John Farrell on Andrew Bailey: ‘He’s our closer’||06.18.13 at 11:52 pm ET|
It has been an ugly and costly stretch for Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey, though certainly, it could have been worse.
For the third time in four outings, Bailey — who was entrusted with the ninth inning of a game in which the Sox led the Rays, 1-0 — gave up a homer, this one a game-tying shot by Kelly Johnson that nearly wasted the career-best outing by starter Felix Doubront. Bailey avoided further harm, and so the closer’s teammates were able to offer their support in the form of a bottom-of-the-ninth, two-run, walkoff homer by Jonny Gomes. It marked the second time in four outings that Bailey had blown a save only to have the Sox recover to claim a victory.
Still, while the Sox enjoyed an opportunity to celebrate and Bailey expressed his gratitude for the backing of his teammates, his recent struggles represent obvious cause for concern. He’s permitted five runs in his last four innings (11.25 ERA) after yielding just three in his first 18 1/3 frames this year (1.47 ERA).
“They’re squaring up baseballs. I’ve got to pitch better. That’s the bottom line,” said Bailey. “I’m throwing the ball down the middle. I’ve just got to keep grinding through it and focus a little more. I’ll get through it. I’ve been pitching in this league for a couple years now and had success. I’ve got to get back to doing that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Red Sox relievers rebound behind Alfredo Aceves as Sox beat Rays, 2-1||06.12.13 at 10:33 pm ET|
Two nights earlier, the Red Sox’ bullpen had nearly proved the team’s undoing. While the team recovered to eventually claim a 14-inning, 10-8 victory, Andrew Bailey‘s blown save ravaged the team’s bullpen in a fashion that required a reconfiguration of the roster.
On Wednesday night, there was redemption. In support of an outstanding — if Jekyll-and-Hyde — spot start by call-up Alfredo Aceves, the bullpen delivered the goods in the last three innings, navigating a one-run tightrope en route to a 2-1 win over the Rays in the rubber match of the three-game set.
Junichi Tazawa offered the first line of defense, delivering a dominant 1-2-3 seventh inning that featured two punchouts. Craig Breslow — whose reliable strike-throwing ability may have allowed him to displace Andrew Miller as the team’s go-to left-hander in the late innings — followed by striking out the first two batters he faced in the eighth before yielding a two-out double.
On came Koji Uehara, who authored the game’s pivotal sequence — a three-pitch strikeout of Evan Longoria on three straight splitters (the first two called, the third in the dirt) to strand the game-tying run at second. Bailey came on to record his seventh save in nine attempts in the ninth. Though he had to work around a leadoff single and a stolen base, this time, Bailey shut the door, punching out two in a scoreless ninth.
With the win, the Sox improved to an AL-best 20-12 (.625) on the road while increasing their AL East lead to 2 1/2 games, pending New York’s contest.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– The only reason why Alfredo Aceves was in the big leagues on Wednesday was dire necessity. Yet the right-hander continued to make his case as an invaluable form of rotation depth by delivering an outstanding, six-inning effort to earn the victory. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox activate Andrew Bailey, send Jose De La Torre to Pawtucket||05.20.13 at 4:06 pm ET|
In a confirmation of what they’d been suggesting for several days, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Andrew Bailey has been activated from the 15-day disabled list. To clear a spot on the big league roster for the closer, right-hander Jose De La Torre was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket following Sunday’s game against the Twins.
Bailey was placed on the DL on May 6 (retroactive to April 29) due to a right biceps strain. Prior to the injury, he’d been dominant en route to a 1-0 record, five saves, a 1.46 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. The 28-year-old struck out two batters and allowed one run in one inning during a rehab appearance with Pawtucket on Saturday.
De La Torre, who was called up on May 9, made the first two big league appearances of his career. The 27-year-old gave up two runs in two innings and struck out a pair. The 27-year-old has appeared in 10 games for Pawtucket this season, all out of the bullpen, going 1-0 with one save, a 1.56 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings.
For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.
|Red Sox minor league roundup: The uniqueness of Mookie Betts; Anthony Ranaudo strong in struggle; Garin Cecchini’s standout year continues||05.19.13 at 11:29 am ET|
Daily Feats of Mookie: Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with a homer (his seventh of the year and fifth in his last 11 games) and a walk for Single-A Greenville. During his current 13-game hitting streak, he’s now hitting .429/.533/.837 with 10 extra-base hits (five homers, five doubles). On the year, he’s now hitting .256/.413/.488.
The run remains singularly shocking, since prior to the streak, Betts had shown excellent excellent plate discipline but no real ability to drive the ball. He had just four extra-base hits in his first 25 games this year after collecting nine (with no homers) in 71 games in 2012 with the Lowell Spinners. So, in his last 11 games, with those 10 extra-base hits, he’s nearly matched his total from his previous 97 games as a professional.
The out-of-nowhere power-hitting stretch is even more impressive since it has occurred without Betts selling out his characteristically disciplined approach at all. During his hitting streak, he’s walked 11 times (including once in each of the last four games) and struck out just four times — meaning he has more than twice as many extra-base hits as strikeouts.
Context: Here’s the complete list of players in the minors with at least seven homers and at least as many walks as strikeouts:
Since 2001, the only player in the big leagues with at least seven homers in a season and twice as many walks as strikeouts has been Barry Bonds. The last player to do it who wasn’t Bonds was Mark Grace, who did it in 2000. The people who accomplished the feat in the 1990s: Tony Gwynn, Gary Sheffield, Wade Boggs, Eric Young, Mark Grace, Lenny Dykstra, Frank Thomas.
It remains to be seen what this remarkable run means for Betts. After all, he didn’t hit a home run all of last year. But for now, Betts is performing as a player with a profile that does not currently exist in pro ball, and that few have displayed in the last 25 years.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-3 LOSS VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)
– Franklin Morales yielded three runs while giving up three hits, a pair of homers and walking three in four innings. Despite the walks total, he was aggressive in the strike zone, throwing 43 of 65 pitches (66 percent) for strikes. However, he didn’t have overpowering stuff, as he elicited just four swings and misses in his four innings of work. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox pregame notes: John Farrell trying to avoid creating ‘uncertainty’ with lineup shuffles||05.15.13 at 7:10 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s been a period in which productivity has been glaringly absent. The Sox have now scored three or fewer runs in eight of their last 12 games, with their average of 3.3 runs per game in that span ranking 13th of the 15th teams in the American League.
So how to fix it? Manager John Farrell was asked whether he’d contemplated tinkering with the lineup. While he acknowledged considering the possibility of such a measure, he decided that he’d rather show more faith in a group that roared to one of the best starts in franchise history.
“I have given it some thought. And yet the one thing that I don’t want to create in there is more uncertainty,” said Farrell. “And I think at a time when you could understand if some frustration starts to filter in, I want there to be some stability and some continuity to the work that we’re doing. That includes they understanding that there’s a lot of belief and trust in them as players and we didn’t go to 20-8 at one point with a completely different set of players.
“We’re not going to run from them. I really like our team,” he added. “This is a group that’s talented and going to be very successful.”
Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury has been a considerable part of the team’s early struggles. He’s hitting just .256 with a .321 OBP and .363 slugging mark. In May, those numbers dip to .200/.290/.255.
The Sox recognize that Ellsbury is a singularly impactful member of their roster when he reaches base. But he’s been doing that so rarely that it seemed reasonable to ask Farrell if he might consider moving from his familiar spot as a leadoff hitter.
“Certainly there’s a track record in which to refer to. I know he’s working diligently to get back on track, particularly his timing at the plate,” said Farrell. “I do know this — when he does get on base, it changes our entire [complexion] — not only to start or lead off a game, but throughout the course of a given game, when he’s on base. Whether or not he’s in the leadoff spot, that’s one time. That’s the first at-bat. After that, I don’t want to say that we’re not creating opportunities for ourselves, but, to me, the more glaring thing is how we’ve created those opportunities and yet the ball hasn’t fallen our way.” Read the rest of this entry »
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