|Buster Olney on MFB: Red Sox have ‘most fixable problems’ of AL East teams||05.27.15 at 1:49 pm ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox, their status within the American League East and how they can improve. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Last week, with the Red Sox seeming to heat up, Olney said that the team had a great opportunity to take advantage of a relatively weak AL East. Since then, the Sox offense has sputtered and the team has lost five of seven. However, Olney maintains that the Red Sox still have the best chance of any team in the division to turn things around.
“When you look at what they have as their list of potential solutions, it’s just a lot longer than, say, a team like Tampa Bay or the Yankees, where they’re pretty much stuck with the guys that they have, and it’s part of the reason why I think going forward [the Red Sox] have a chance to get better,” Olney said.
While the Red Sox have struggled this season, Olney said, “They have the most fixable problems and the most resources to fix them with,” as compared to other teams in the AL East.
One change Olney recommended is to move the lineup around based on day-to-day matchups rather than each player’s pedigree. The Sox, for example, moved the struggling David Ortiz down to fifth in the order for Tuesday and Wednesday’s games.
“That feels like the first step in what has to happen next in fixing the 2015 team, which is to get away from stature and past records and all that and just get back to picking the best lineup every day,” he said. “If you move Ortiz, who has the most stature on that team, you can probably do a lot of other things as you go.”
|Wade Miley on fast track to leading Red Sox turnaround: ‘We’re playing a lot better right now’||05.24.15 at 6:19 pm ET|
The Red Sox can only hope they copy the stunningly resurgent turnaround of Wade Miley.
The lefty has suddenly turned into the most reliable and consistent pitcher on staff. On Sunday, that encouraging trend continued when he allowed just four hits and one run over eight stellar innings in a 6-1 win over the Angels at a sun-splashed Fenway Park.
It was a perfect day for a game, and Miley gave fans a perfect start to their Sunday afternoon, retiring the first 14 batters he faced before walking Chris Iannetta on five pitches in the fifth. That was followed up by a single from C.J. Cron, who had been called back to hit after a pitch was ruled to have struck his bat by the umpiring crew.
Miley (4-4) has won each of his last three starts and is 3-2 with a 2.60 ERA in May. On Sunday he took just 45 minutes to race through four perfect innings. He needed just 35 pitches to get through four frames before a 23-pitch fifth. Where did Miley learn his fast pace?
“Probably college, my college coach was huge on that,” Miley said, referring to Southeastern Louisiana pitching coach Daniel Latham. “It’s kind of stuck with me.”
The Angels, who had never faced him before, were aiding the cause of Miley and catcher Sandy Leon by swinging early and often.
“They’re a pretty aggressive team and we kind of used that to our advantage and it worked out,” Miley said. “That’s the biggest thing, being able to throw the fastball. And what Sandy did, it felt like every time he put down a finger, it’s what I wanted to do. We were on the same page from the first inning on.”
|Red Sox notes: Mookie Betts gets second look, Mike Napoli hitting with ‘clear mind right now’||at 2:15 pm ET|
Sometimes bad luck can lead to good things.
In the case of the Red Sox, Shane Victorino leaving Saturday’s game against the Angels (and subsequently landing on the disabled list) opened a new opportunity for John Farrell and Mookie Betts. Specificially, it allowed Farrell to see what Betts looks like hitting behind Dustin Pedroia and it gave Betts a chance to hit between Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez in the order. Sunday marked just the second time this season Betts has batted in the No. 2 hole.
Betts went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in Saturday’s 8-3 win.
“I think it’s one of those things where hey, it worked, I’m not going to change it [with] as much change as we’ve been going through,” Farrell said. “Mookie put three swings on balls [Saturday] night as we’ve seen in a number of other games. He was given a little bit of heads up before the game started, be on-call here because you don’t know how far or how deep in the game he might be needed. It was unfortunately quick in this case. He put up three quality at-bats in the meantime. Credit to him.”
Then there’s the scorching hot Mike Napoli. He obliterated another pitch Sunday afternoon, launching a pitch from lefty Hector Santiago five rows deep to the bleachers in straightaway center for his fourth homer in three games and fifth homer on the six-game homestand. Saturday, he crushed a pair of homers of nemesis C.J. Wilson, including a two-run bomb to left that cleared the Monster and traveled an estimated 450 feet.
“It’s more timing,” Farrell said of Napoli‘s resurgence. “It’s not so much trying to take an approach to one side of the diamond because when the timing is accurate, they’re seeing pitches more clearly and they’re able to react to where pitches are on the plate. You see [Saturday] where in a 3-2 count, Nap gets a fastball on the inside part of the plate that he turns on. When they’re in a good hitting position, there’s a great ability to react to where balls are located in the zone.
“I can’t say there’s a different effort level in the swing. He’s a guy that’s going to impact the baseball and drive the baseball. That’s his calling card as a hitter his whole major league career. So in those [hitter’s] advantage counts, now that his timing is more consistent and more what he’s been accustomed to. He’s just in a better position to drive the baseball. Sometimes, whether it’s a pitcher or hitter, body mechanics can get disrupted by thoughts. More than anything, he’s hitting with a clear mind right now.”
With Victorino going on the disabled list Sunday, the Red Sox brought up infielder Jeff Bianchi from Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said there was no consideration to bring up Jackie Bradley Jr. since the organization felt he needed more regular playing time.
“At this point, he needed to get some regular at-bats,” Farrell said of Bradley, who was expected to travel to Louisville and be ready to play Sunday evening against the Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.
Farrell also said righty Justin Masterson continues to make good progress after being disabled with right shoulder fatigue/tendinitis on May 14.
“He threw a bullpen [Friday],” Farrell said. “A pretty intense bullpen. He’ll have at least one more and we’ll probably get a total of three bullpens before we send him out on a rehab assignment but he’s making strong progress in terms of the intensity of the throws, the volume of throws. We don’t have a targeted date for his first rehab assignment but that’s coming in the near future.”
|C.J. Wilson on suddenly hot Mike Napoli: ‘He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware’||at 12:18 am ET|
When C.J. Wilson is paying Mike Napoli a compliment, you know he means it.
The two rivals from their bitter tweet dust-up of 2012 met again Saturday night, and safe to say, Napoli got the last laugh. He homered twice off the pitcher who took offense to Napoli proclaiming that he can’t wait to make the Angels pay.
Napoli homered in the second inning, a laser beam that literally hit a target sign hanging on the facade of the second row of Monster seats down the left field line. His second homer off Wilson came on a hanging curve that Napoli put over Monster seats entirely, snapping a 2-2 tie and putting the Red Sox ahead for good in an 8-3 win Saturday night at Fenway.
“He was teammate of mine,” Napoli said. “Yeah, it’s nice to have a good night. I’m glad I just had a good night and feel better at the plate. He has good stuff. He’s handed it to me before this night. It was nice to get him tonight.”
Revenge? “Nah. That was a long time ago,” Napoli said in taking the high road.
Napoli has three homers in the first two games against the Angels and four homers in five games on the homestand. His seven homers lead the club since April 25.
“He was really locked in tonight,” Wilson said. “Obviously, this is the guy tonight, or last two nights, was more like the guy I saw hit .300-plus or .325 in Texas, not the guy on the scoreboard hitting a buck-80 or whatever it is. He’s obviously a very talented hitter and everybody goes through slumps. He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware for the rest of the league for the rest of the season if he stays there.”
As for his relationship with Napoli, whom he played with in 2011, Wilson initially scoffed at the question before offering perspective.
“What does that have to do with anything,” Wilson added. “We only played together for one year so it’s not like we know each other that well. We played together for one season in Texas. He caught me. We had really great results with him catching me. But other than that, him and [Jered] Weaver are buddies but there’s guys that I’m friends with on other teams that I’ve never played with because we got to hang out at a video shoot or commercial or something like that. I’d say Nap and I have different interests on and off the field.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Red Sox allow 9 runs in 5th inning as Angels roll to blowout win||05.22.15 at 10:46 pm ET|
How about some consistency?
After the Red Sox scored one run or less in four of their last six games and came in averaging 2.34 runs per game in the month of May, they finally had a good offensive night, scoring five runs, but it wasn’t enough as they couldn’t continue their string of strong games from the mound, as the Angels took the first game of the weekend series, 12-5.
Red Sox starter Rick Porcello just didn’t have it. He couldn’t control any of his pitches and the Angels made him pay, especially in the fifth — a half inning that lasted over 37 minutes, and saw three pitchers combine for 46 pitches and nine runs.
Porcello walked the first two batters, and then Mike Trout singled to short left on a ball that barely got by Brock Holt at third, but a second run scored when Xander Bogaerts tried to get Johnny Giavotella at third base and the throw went against the Angels dugout. Albert Pujols then grounded out, but Trout would steal third on a tremendous slide, eluding Holt’s tag (he was ruled safe after a video review). Kole Calhoun then singled to score Trout and David Freese doubled scoring the fourth run of the inning, which was Porcello’s departure.
Matt Barnes came in relief and was even worse. He walked the first batter he faced and then allowed a three-run homer to Chris Iannetta. Marc Krauss then hit a routine fly ball to right field that Rusney Castillo, in his first major league game of the season, dropped. Two batters later Erick Aybar hit a two-run homer sending Barnes to the showers.
Robbie Ross Jr. then came on and after a harmless Trout single retired the next two batters to mercifully end the inning. It was their worst inning of the season as their previous high in an inning was seven — when Clay Buchholz allowed seven in the first against the Yankees on April 12.
Adding insult to injury (literally), Hanley Ramirez left the game in the sixth, two innings after taking a pitch off the hand. The Red Sox announced he left because of left hand soreness. Every Red Sox starter recorded a hit, besides Ramirez.
For Porcello it was his shortest outing of the season, as his fine line was 4 1/3 innings, seven runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out four.
Trailing 11-3 going into the seventh, the Red Sox showed some fight scoring two runs, forcing Angels starter Garrett Richards from the game, and could have scored even more if it weren’t for Daniel Nava hitting into a double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Red Sox have now lost four of their last five games and fall to 8-12 at home this year.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Trout. The centerfielder put on a show, as besides going 3-for-6 at the plate, he made a tremendous throw from deep left center field to throw out Napoli trying to score from first in the fourth and had a great slide to avoid a tag at third on a stolen base attempt in the fifth. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
Here’s what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|Xander Bogaerts can’t get over Red Sox’ terrible luck: ‘Are you kidding me? It’s weird’||05.21.15 at 11:41 pm ET|
The way things are going for the Red Sox they can’t win for losing, even when they try to do the right thing to end their misery with runners on base.
If there’s one play that sums up the perfect storm of bad luck and bad execution of the Red Sox with runners in scoring position this season it’s what happened to Xander Bogaerts in the fifth inning of Thursday’s latest anemic loss, 3-1, to the Rangers at Fenway.
With one out, Xander Bogaerts worked a walk. Then with Daniel Nava up, he took off for second base. Nava swung and hit it right into the hole vacated by the second baseman covering the bag. One problem: The right foot of Bogaerts. Namely, the bottom of his cleat. The ball grazed it just enough to change direction and by rule, instead of first and third with one out, Bogaerts was immediately out and Nava given credit for a single.
Sandy Leon struck out swinging to end the inning and the Red Sox still trailed, 3-1.
When things go bad.
“I guess you could say that,” Bogaerts lamented. “Again another tough loss tonight. Probably the play there when I tried to steal and that ball hit me. That was probably the game-changer. I never was aware that ball even touched me until when I came back down [in dugout tunnel] and I saw it on the video monitor. It just scratched the bottom of my cleat or something like that. I didn’t know that ball hit me at all.
“I could’ve bet anything I never felt that ball touched me at all. I was pretty surprised they called me out because I didn’t feel anything. But when you look at the video, you see the deflection of the ball but I had no clue that ball touched me at all.”
Bogaerts at least maintained his sense of humor and perspective when asked how for answers to how the Red Sox can break out of a 5-for-53 slump with runners in scoring position.
“If the ball stops hitting us,” Bogaerts said. “That was first and third right there. The baseball field is so big. What are the chances the ball is going to hit me on the bottom of my cleat? Are you kidding me? It’s weird.”
The Red Sox are now batting a measly .234 with runners on. Only Seattle (.232) and Cincinnati (.228) are worse in MLB. Put runners on and it’s even worse. The Red Sox are batting .199 in such cases and only the hapless Reds are worse at .189. Certainly, no one could’ve imagined this for a team that had such an offensive overhaul in the offseason. Read the rest of this entry »
If there was one person inside Fenway Park Wednesday who deserved a better fate Wednesday night, it was Joe Kelly.
On a night when he wasn’t feeling well to begin with, the Red Sox righty starter took to the mound and dug deep for seven quality innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits, working his way out of trouble and giving his team a chance.
All he got for his troubles was a bruise on the fleshy outside part of his right hand on a Shin-Soo Choo grounder back to the mound in the third inning and his third loss in four decisions this season in Boston’s 2-1 defeat to Texas.
“It’s a little bit sore but it didn’t affect the way I pitched out there,” said Kelly, who wore a white bandage over his wrist and hand after the game. “I’m definitely going to ice it and keep trying to get the swelling down. It feels fine.”
After his 108-pitch effort, manager John Farrell recognized what Kelly was able to accomplish after allowing solo runs in the second and third innings.
“After the third inning, he settled in. He used his curveball a little bit more,” Farrell said of his hard-throwing starter. “He started to elevate his fastball for some strikeouts. And on a night when he wasn’t completely healthy in terms of an illness he was dealing with. He threw the ball exceptionally well. He takes the one-hopper off the hand that really, after the initial sting went away, didn’t affect the way he threw the baseball. He got a couple of big strikeouts with men in scoring position. A well-pitched game.”
It was a well-pitched game using mostly his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, his two best pitches. Of Kelly’s 108 pitches, 79 were fastballs. He velocity improved as the night wore on, reaching 99 on his final pitch of the night to end the seventh with a strikeout of Thomas Field. As a matter of fact, Kelly was able to fan Chirinos and Field back to back after Leonys Martin doubled with one out.
“My fastball was working for me,” Kelly said. “My offspeed, I was giving up a lot of hits on those. My slider wasn’t breaking like it normally does. I couldn’t really throw a changeup over the plate but I made some pitches when I had to and commanded my heater.”
In the last two starts, Kelly has been not only been overpowering, he’s been in command for the most part. Heading into his start last Thursday in Seattle, he allowed 21 runs and 26 hits over a stretch of four straight starts. Last Thursday, he yielded just one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 win. Ironically, Wednesday night, he was on the wrong end of a 2-1 score.
|Closing Time: Steven Wright solid, but Red Sox’ struggles against lefties continue in loss||05.17.15 at 6:41 pm ET|
The Red Sox fell 5-0, despite receiving a good start from Steven Wright, starting in place of Justin Masterson, but the offense finished with just five hits. The teams split the four-game weekend series.
In the four games the Red Sox faced three left-handed starters and managed just two total runs against them. As a team they are hitting just .193 against left-handers this season, by far the worst in the majors.
Seattle got on the board with two runs in the second — the first when Kyle Seager scored on a passed ball, and then another on an RBI single by Mike Zunino. The Mariners added another run in the fifth when Brad Miller ripped a solo home run.
Seager crushed a two-run home run off Craig Breslow in the eighth to end any hope of a Red Sox comeback.
All things considered it was an average 10-game road trip, as the team finished .500, but things didn’t look promising at the start of the trip when they fired pitching coach Juan Nieves before departing to Toronto. New pitching coach Carl Willis seems to have gotten the staff back on track as the last turn through the rotation, starters have had an ERA of 1.65.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: James Paxton. The Mariners‘ left-handed starter shut the Red Sox offense down, going eight shutout innings, while allowing just five hits. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|Just how poorly have the Red Sox played at home in the last year-plus?||05.05.15 at 1:20 pm ET|
Once again, the Red Sox are off to a slow start to the season — 12-14 after 26 games, the same record as they were last season when they finished 71-91 and in last place in the AL East.
A major issue for last year’s team was their poor play at home, going 34-47. This year hasn’t been much better, going 6-8, including being swept last weekend by the Yankees.
That got us to thinking, just how poor have the Red Sox been at home in the last year-plus?
Since the start of 2014 season, the Red Sox have been swept nine times at home in series’ lasting three or more games. This is compared to Terry Francona‘s eight seasons from 2004-11, where those teams were only swept at home six times in such series’ — twice in 2010, once in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011 and zero times in 2004 and 2007.
After not losing more than three games in a row in any park in 2013, John Farrell has seen nine home sweeps in 95 total home games (going into Tuesday), while Francona saw a total of six home sweeps in 567 total home games, spanning eight seasons.
Bottom line, for the Red Sox to get back to winning, they need to be better at home.
“You like to think your home ballpark is going to be friendly to you and give yourself a chance for some late-inning push,” Farrell said Sunday night after being swept by the Yankees. “What we’ve had a couple times this year. Still, makes it awful difficult to go out and expect to win more games on the road. So yeah, playing at Fenway and taking advantage of the wall or taking advantage of just a comfortable place for us, that’s got to be more the norm.”
|Closing Time: Red Sox lose Hanley Ramirez, bats go silent in loss to Rays||05.04.15 at 10:21 pm ET|
Things just aren’t going the Red Sox‘ way right now.
On a night where Clay Buchholz overcame a tough first two innings where he allowed four runs, the right-hander settled down going 6 1/3 innings and allowing five runs, but the Red Sox‘ bats couldn’t come through as they fell to the Rays 5-1.
It was the second straight series opening loss for the team, who opened the year winning seven straight. The result wasn’t even the worst news of the night, as Hanley Ramirez left the game in the first inning after running into the wall with what the team called a left shoulder sprain.
With two outs in the top of the first James Loney lofted a ball down the left field line, which Ramirez ran hard after and simultaneously caught the ball and hit the padded wall jarring the ball out. The play went for a double and Ramirez immediately left the game. Evan Longoria followed with a double of his own, and then David DeJesus singled to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
“I felt good,” said Buchholz. “I felt good the first two innings. Left a change up up, it’s unfortunately with Hanley out there. Definitely don’t want to lose him for an extended period of time. Whenever things aren’t going good you don’t get breaks. We’re scuffling a little bit right now, but we have a lot of good players in here. Pretty confident we’ll bounce back.”
Joey Butler hit his first major league home run in the second inning, a two-run shot, putting the Rays up 4-0. Buchholz did settle down after that, as he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits, while walking two and striking out seven. In hindsight, if Ramirez could have held onto the ball, it would have saved Buchholz two runs.
“I felt like I settled in fairly decent,” said Buchholz. “There were a lot of pitches I didn’t feel like I got the benefit of the doubt on on the strike zone, but you can’t let that affect you. There’s going to be a lot of times thats the way you feel about it. For the most part I felt like I threw the ball well, the line doesn’t show for it and the loss is not good either.”
The Red Sox scored their lone run of the game in the second inning on back-to-back triples by Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts. Both were to right field, where Steven Souza Jr. had difficulty playing the ball.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Rays starter Jake Odorizzi. The right-hander went seven innings allowing one run on seven hits, while not walking a batter and striking out six. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
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