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Power isn’t everything to John Farrell when it comes to a good bullpen 04.18.15 at 7:18 pm ET
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Edward Mujica

Edward Mujica

As the Red Sox assembled their 2015 bullpen over the winter, there were some questions as to whether they had enough “power” arms in the back end of games.

Power bullpens have become all the rage among those teams who fancy themselves World Series contenders. Kansas City is the most classic example, as the Royals rode a trio of 98-plus arms to the Fall Classic last year. Detroit has had success in the past employing a similar formula. In the National League, St. Louis has had a great deal of success with pitchers who overpower batters at the end of games, led by Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez (now a starter).

But the Red Sox saw a different way. With Matt Barnes the only true power arm in camp with a shot at the roster, and with names like Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Edward Mujica already with spots on the club, the Red Sox decided to go in a different direction. The Red Sox added Anthony Varvaro, Alexi Ogando and perhaps the hardest thrower of the bunch, Robbie Ross Jr.

The results have not been bad so far. Entering Saturday, in 42.2 innings, they’ve allowed 33 hits and walked 14 for a 1.10 WHIP. The ERA is 2.74 and they allowed four of 12 inherited runners to score. They’ve had just two save chances and converted one, with Mujica’s blown chance in New York being the only missed opportunity.

If Red Sox relievers have proven anything, they’ve shown you don’t have to overpower batters to get good results, including strikeouts, recording 37 so far in 2015 before Saturday.

“Location is important but I think what we have are a number of relievers that use an assortment of pitches rather than rely on arm strength and velocity,” Farrell said. “Bottom line is outs. How they get them, the ability create some mishits. Sure, strikeouts are good but we have guys capable of strikeouts, even though they’re of average major league velocity.”

Another trait Red Sox relievers have is experience. And with experience comes adjustments. Mujica threw mainly fastballs on April 10 in New York before Chase Headley timed one and tied the game. Friday night, he opened with seven straight splitters and recorded a key strikeout of Manny Machado to bail out Joe Kelly.

“His last two, three outings, he’s gone to that pitch a little bit more than the night in New York where there were a high number of consecutive fastballs,” Farrell said of Mujica. “That’s not to say he doesn’t have confidence in his fastball. He’s not afraid to throw it for a strike and put a hitter away with it.”

That was followed by scoreless performances from Tazawa and Uehara, both masters of the split-fingered fastball.

“Well, it says in those games, our bullpen has pitched very effectively, and that was certainly the case [Friday] night,” Farrell said. “We had a lot of experience last year in one-run games. Unfortunately, it might not have always been to our advantage. We have veteran players that made good decisions in moment on the field.”

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Edward Mujica, junichi tazawa, Koji Uehara
Shane Victorino scratched with sore ribs, Daniel Nava starts in RF at 3:24 pm ET
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Looks like Shane Victorino did pay a price for going after that fly ball in right field Friday night.

Victorino was scratched an hour before Saturday’s game with sore ribs. He was replaced in right field by Daniel Nava, batting seventh.

The Victorino situation appeared encouraging at the start of the day when the outfielder was in the starting lineup, one day after he had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right. Victorino made a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night.

He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and was penciled in the lineup for Saturday before the late scratch.

(Update: Here is what Red Sox manager John Farrell said regarding Victorino after the Red Sox’ 4-1 loss to the Orioles – “When he hit the wall, he made a great effort to try to bring back a home run. The left rib area was sore here today. He was no go. We’€™ll check him in the morning on his availability.”

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

Here is the adjusted lineup for the Red Sox:

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Daniel Nava, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, daniel nava, MLB
Red Sox pregame: John Farrell on Mookie Betts (.209): ‘His batting average isn’t the reason he’s not in lineup’ at 3:11 pm ET
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For as red hot as Mookie Betts was to start the homestand and the season, he has cooled off quite a bit in the last three days. He’s is hitless in his last seven at-bats and just 4-for-17 on the homestand. His average has slipped to .209 on the season and facing a tough right-hander in Chris Tillman, with a heavy sinker and good breaking ball, doesn’t figure to be the right medicine to get him better at the plate fast.

Enter Brock Holt. The super utility man, batting .533 (8-for-15 in five games) made his fourth start Saturday, including his second in center. Holt is also 3-for-5 against Tillman while Betts is 1-for-6.

“A way to get Brock in the lineup,” Farrell said. “He has swung the bat well in limited looks against Tillman and our goal, and my personal goal, is to get Brock [in the lineup] and keep him in the mix as much as possible. That’s his role. We try to do that to the best of our abilities and as frequent as possible. We also have a very deep roster. He accepts his role. He excels at it, and the versatility he provides is a real good fit, given David is our everyday DH on our team.

“I think we’ve seen that so far. He’s hit first. He’s hit seventh. He’s hit ninth. What really stood out last year with Brock is that when we put him in a new position he had never played before, he embraced it. He didn’t make too much of it, in terms of the fact that he didn’t have any previous experience there. It wasn’t any big deal to him. It’s almost the same way he goes about his approach at the plate, regardless of his spot in the order.”

As for Betts, Farrell said he’s still very happy with the way the second-year outfielder is swinging the bat of late.

“He’s squared up some balls that have gone for naught and his approach at the plate hasn’t changed,” Farrell said. “His batting average isn’t the reason why he’s not in the lineup today. This is a matchup I like the way it suits us. Mookie has hit into some tough luck at times. That was more evident in the Phillies series. Still, he is our center fielder.”

The Red Sox are also facing a pitcher in Tillman who controls the bases when runners do get on.

“He does a great job of controlling the running game,” Farrell said. “When you look at the combination of pitches he does have, a guy with a sinking fastball and a good top-to-bottom curveball is a rare combination so he’s unique in that way. He’s pitched for a team that has had airtight defense. So that the combination of all that makes him a pretty complete pitcher.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, mookie betts,
Red Sox starting lineups Saturday: Mookie Betts sits, Brock Holt gets the call in center at 1:56 pm ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

John Farrell chose Saturday to give Mookie Betts his second off day of the season.

Starting in center Saturday in place of Betts will be Mr. Super Sub, Brock Holt, getting his second start in center this season and leading off. In addition to two starts in center, Holt has started one game at short and one at third base.

The rest of the lineup remains basically in tact, including right fielder Shane Victorino, who will bat seventh.

The Victorino news is encouraging after the outfielder had one of his trademark collisions with the short wall at the Pesky Corner in right, making a futile attempt to catch Caleb Joseph’s solo homer in the fifth inning Friday night. He was shaken up and on the warning track for nearly a minute before getting back to his feet. He stayed in the game and apparently had no ill effects overnight.

Ryan Hanigan will catch right-hander Clay Buchholz, who was beaten up by the Yankees in his last start last Sunday in New York. Baltimore will counter with right-hander Chris Tillman.

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

1. Brock Holt, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
6. Mike Napoli, 1B
7. Shane Victorino, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Clay Buchholz, RHP

Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Chris Tillman
Closing Time: Red Sox walkoff against Orioles on Xander Bogaerts’ bloop single 04.17.15 at 10:27 pm ET
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Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Joe Kelly went 5 2/3 innings allowing two runs on four hits taking a no-decision. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Friday’s Red Sox-Orioles game had a tense moment early on, and a thrilling moment at the end, as the Red Sox picked up their first walkoff win of the year.

Xander Bogaerts’ bloop to shallow right field with one out in the ninth inning scored Mike Napoli, as the Red Sox beat the Orioles 3-2.

Napoli started the inning off with a walk, and got to second base on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Daniel Nava.

“He’€™s doing it in a way where he’€™s not susceptible to any one side of the plate,” manager John Farrell said of Bogaerts. “When Xander has been in good streaks, even in the minor leagues, he’€™s using the whole field. We saw it in Philadelphia in the first series, again tonight. Saw it in New York. He’€™s in a pretty good place offensively.”

Koji Uehara earned the win with a scoreless ninth.

Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected from the game in the fourth inning with a no-hitter intact after he hit Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval in the back of the shoulder by home plate umpire Jordan Baker. There were no warnings issued beforehand.

The Orioles may have been upset with Sandoval for going hard into second base to break up a double play in the second inning. Jimenez had only allowed base runners on three walks over the first 3 2/3 innings.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Bogaerts. His hit gave the Red Sox the win, and he also had a hit earlier in the game. He became the youngest Red Sox player with a walk-off RBI since Jim Rice in 1975.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Joe Kelly, Ryan Hanigan,
Ben Cherington on D&C: Red Sox starting rotation has to ‘execute a little better’ 04.16.15 at 9:38 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington checked in with Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the first nine games of the season, particularly the starting rotation, which has struggled the second time through. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The first time through the rotation went very well, but it’s been almost the opposite the second time around. In four games through the second turn through, Red Sox starters have allowed 28 runs in 18 1/3 innings. Cherington isn’t concerned, but acknowledges the starters need to go deeper into games.

“The first time through the rotation went well. Everyone threw well,” Cherington said. “The second time through the rotation has not gone as well, aside from [Rick] Porcello’s outing on Monday. Watching the games, I don’t see anything in the stuff — the raw stuff — that is any different than the first time through the order. It’s really just been a matter of execution, command, that hasn’t been as good the second time through. That has to be better. The key for our group is to get deeper in the season. I know as a group the guys feel good physically, confident and just have to execute a little better.

“I think with our team one of the things that helps us win is we’re not going to have perfect outings, perfect innings all the time, but minimizing damage and being able to get through those dirty innings get deeper into games — that is something Porcello did well on Monday and we did very well the first time through the order. That lines up our bullpen, gives our bullpen a chance to line up, gives our offense a chance to click and leads to wins.”

Outfielder Rusney Castillo opened the year in Pawtucket and injured his shoulder making a diving catch in the third game of the year. He’s expected to be sidelined for a bit, but the prognosis is “really good.” Cherington expects him to have an impact with the big league club at some point this season.

“Once [he gets healthy] I think clearly given the investment, and more importantly given what we’ve seen from him since we’ve signed him, over the summer, last winter and into spring training we feel like this guy is going to be a very good major league player,” said Cherington. “So it is just a matter of opportunity and we don’t know exactly when that opportunity is going to open up, but inevitably it will. It is the way it works in the game. Good players get an opportunity sooner or later and inevitably that will happen. Assuming he’s healthy and on the field he’s going to make a contribution this year, but I don’t know when.”

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Read More: ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, rick porcello, Rusney Castillo
Closing Time: Red Sox can’t overcome Wade Miley’s poor start, Nationals avoid sweep 04.15.15 at 4:47 pm ET
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Wade Miley allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings, the third-shortest outing of his career. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Wade Miley allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings, the third-shortest outing of his career. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

One turn through the Red Sox‘ rotation couldn’t have gone much better. As for the second one — not so much.

The first time through the rotation Sox starters allowed eight runs over 31 1/3 innings. Through four games the second time around they’ve allowed 28 runs in just 18 1/3 innings.

Wade Miley was the latest to fall, allowing seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings, leading to the Red Sox‘ 10-5 loss to the Nationals Wednesday afternoon. Washington avoided a three-game sweep with the win.

“Things unraveled pretty quick on him,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “As sharp as he was in New York, he was almost the flip side of it, as was the whole turn through the rotation this time through. They squared up some fast balls to the opposite field. A couple of sliders that didn’t get to the spot. One to [Ian] Desmond, one to [Wilson] Ramos. As quick as he works, that third inning kind of sped up on him and sped up on us.”

The Red Sox scored five runs against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, but the hole they were put in was too big to overcome. But, even down by six runs in the third inning, the Red Sox offense did show they will rarely be out of any game this season, as they have the ability to score runs in bunches at any time.

After seeing their lead fall to 8-5, Tyler Moore belted a two-run home run in the seventh inning to extend the Nationals lead to 10-5, thus putting the game out of reach.

Despite the loss, the Red Sox have won the first three series’ of the season for the first time since 1952.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Wilson Ramos. The Nationals catcher went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, while also scoring two runs. It was his best game of the season, as he came into the game batting just .167 on the year.

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, hanley ramirez, wade miley
Emotions high in tribute to Boston Marathon bombing victims and Jackie Robinson at 1:08 pm ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell has seen so many highs and lows over his two-plus years in Boston.

Wednesday afternoon, on a perfect sun-splashed day at Fenway, he and everyone else at Fenway Park will take time to recall one of the tragic lows. At 2:49 p.m., the Red Sox and Nationals will stop what they’re doing and pay tribute to the exact moment two years ago when hundreds of lives were permanently altered and devastated by the Boston Marathon bombings.

“We’re fortunate that we play in front of a fan base that is so in tune with every team,” Farrell said. “The way they not only pay attention but react positive or negative. They’re passionate. We as Red Sox are so fortunate to be a part of the fabric of this city and the connection that was even galvanized further two years ago, I think it’s an extremely worthy pause in today’s game, whatever that will be. Whether it’s in the midst of an at-bat or between innings, wherever 2:49 falls on, I think we’ll all pause at that moment and recall where we were at that specific moment.”

It is ironic that the same passion for unity and community will also share the stage with Major League Baseball‘s annual tribute to the day 68 years ago that Jackie Robinson broke the sport’s color barrier. The effort today, according to Farrell is to expose more of the African-American community to the sport.

“I think there are some initiatives being taken,” Farrell said. “That’s through the RBI program, for one. But I think we all recognize there are a tremendous amount of athletics that are migrating towards football and basketball. To create more space in the inner city is one possible way to do it. I think we have to continue to find ways to make our game appeal to young people across all walks of life. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Marathon, Boston Marathon bombing, Boston Red Sox, Jackie Robinson
Matt Williams sick to his stomach over Nationals terrible start: ‘It doesn’t taste very good’ at 2:32 am ET
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Matt Williams

Matt Williams

Give Matt Williams this much. He sure knows how to weave a metaphor.

The Nationals manager has watched his team – picked by many experts to represent the National League in the World Series – self-destruct in the opening week. The first two games at Fenway Park this week represent a glaring example of all that has gone wrong in Washington’s start.

They allowed two high, lazy fly balls to drop on the outfield grass in a four-run third inning for the Red Sox. They committed one fielding error in the infield, allowed a passed ball and watched as Jordan Zimmerman plunked Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in back-to-back at-bats. They were humiliated 9-4 in the Red Sox home opener.

Their ace pitcher was on the mound Tuesday to try and stem the tide. Stephen Strasburg instead allowed 10 hits and five runs and lasted just 5.1 innings. Still, he left with the lead after his team scored six in the fifth. But then the National League powerhouse turned into little leaguers in the seventh, committing three errors on routine plays and allowing the Red Sox to steal an 8-7 win.

It’s only eight games in but these Nationals are 2-6 and national nightmare to watch, for fans and manager alike.

“It’s the same recipe,” lamented Williams. “If you put all the ingredients the same way every time, you’re going to get the same meal,” That’s what we’ve been getting. There’s nothing to be said that hasn’t already been said. We got the pitches we wanted to get and didn’t make the plays. That’s the same recipe. That’s all I’ve got for you.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Matt Williams, washington nationals,
Super sub Brock Holt does it again: ‘I come to the field every day ready to go’ at 1:35 am ET
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Brock Holt

Brock Holt

The irony of the situation Tuesday was not lost on Brock Holt.

When he came to the ball park on Tuesday, he was informed that he was the starting shortstop because Xander Bogaerts was getting the day off to rest his knee, tweaked rounding third base in the home opener Monday.

“Xander gets taken out of the lineup, it’s going to be me playing short,” Holt said. “I just got ready to go. I come to the field every day ready to go. I check the lineup, if I’m in, great. If I’m not, just be ready. Saw that I was playing short and got ready to go. My job is to be ready to play every day and wherever that might be, it’s fine with me. Just be ready to play, play the game. I saw I was in there today and was ready to go.”

But midway through Tuesday’s 8-7 win over the Nationals, third baseman Pablo Sandoval left with a left foot bruise after getting hit by a Stephen Strasburg breaking ball. Hanley Ramirez was called upon to return to his natural position of shortstop. But Ramirez, watching Holt all spring and seeing how comfortable he looked at short, actually deferred to Holt and chose instead to play third.

“It’s huge, especially a guy with his tenure and his stature,” Holt said, with a tone of appreciation. “He could’ve easily said, ‘Nah, I don’t want to do that.’ But he did because we needed it and I think that speaks volumes to the guys we have in this clubhouse. I think everyone is rooting for each other and pulling for each other and everyone wants to win, and that showed tonight.

“I’ve kind of gotten comfortable at all the positions. If I were to have to move over, I don’t think it would’ve been too big of an adjustment. Just move over to third and try to make the plays over there.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt,
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