|Matt Williams sick to his stomach over Nationals terrible start: ‘It doesn’t taste very good’||04.15.15 at 2:32 am ET|
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 »
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 »
|Closing Time: Late Red Sox rally leads to wild come-from-behind win over Nationals||04.14.15 at 9:33 pm ET|
Five hit batters, four errors, and four lead changes made for a crazy night at Fenway Park.
In the end, the Red Sox were able to come away with a 8-7, come-from-behind win over the Nationals. They’ve now won both games in the series.
The win did come with a cost, as already without Xander Bogaerts (knee), the Red Sox lost Pablo Sandoval in the game after being hit by a pitch on his foot (left foot contusion).
Trailing 7-5 in the seventh inning, the Red Sox were able to load the bases against Nationals relievers. No. 8 hitter Ryan Hanigan hit a slow roller in front of the mound and Nationals pitcher Blake Treinen misplayed it trying to get the out at home. Then, making matters worse he threw the ball into the stands allowing another run to score and the Red Sox to tie the game at seven. He was charged with two errors on the play.
The next batter, Brock Holt recorded an RBI groundout to short, scoring pinch-hitter Allen Craig for the eventual game-winning run.
“Well we got some extra outs,” manager John Farrell said. “We talked about this yesterday. When you give a Major League team an extra out or two, it may end up leading to multiple runs inside of an inning. I thought offensively we did a very good job from start to finish tonight. We didn’t give in. Took advantage of some miscues in that seventh inning. Koji [Uehara] comes out and done what he’s done so many times for us. Just a good team win here tonight. Clearly, coming back multiple times, it was a sea-saw game, hard-fought, but I like the way our guys responded to challenges.”
Leading 5-1 going into the fifth inning, Red Sox starter Justin Masterson fell apart allowing six runs in the inning, as the Nationals sent 10 batters to the plate. Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond each had two RBI singles, while Wilson Ramos added an RBI ground out and Michael A. Taylor ripped a two-RBI triple.
Masterson was pulled in the inning in favor of reliever Alexi Ogando.
The fifth inning spoiled an impressive first few innings for Red Sox hitters against Washington starter Stephen Strasburg. Through the first two times through the order, eight of the nine Red Sox starters recorded a hit — a pretty impressive feat against a pitcher of Strasburg’s caliber.
But, as good pitchers do, Strasburg battled and despite throwing 41 pitches in the first two innings, grinded out 5 1/3 innings, allowing the five runs, while not walking a batter and striking out five.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win:
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Dustin Pedroia. The second baseman seems to have found his stroke again. He lined a solo home run into the Monster seats in the fourth inning — his third homer of the year after hitting two on Opening Day. He finished 3-for-4 in the game, and now has three multi-hit games through the first eight of the season.
|Closing Time: Mookie Betts, Rick Porcello power Red Sox over Nationals in home opener||04.13.15 at 6:14 pm ET|
Mookie Betts is quickly becoming a Boston fan favorite.
The Red Sox‘ center fielder achieved for what for some may take the entire season in the first two innings in the Red Sox‘ 9-4 win over the Nationals in the home opener. The Red Sox have now won nine of their last 10 home openers.
In the top of the first inning he robbed Bryce Harper of a home run to right center field. Then, after leading off the bottom half of the inning with a walk, he stole second base and with the Nationals shifting David Ortiz, alertly swiped third base too with no one covering the bag on the same play.
Washington challenged both, but Betts was ruled safe at both second and third. He scored on the next pitch — an RBI single to left by Ortiz.
Betts wasn’t done there as when he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second with two runners on and lined a three-run homer into the Monster seats. It was his second home run of the season.
Jordan Zimmermann struggled for the Nationals allowing eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits while walking one, hitting two and not recording a strikeout in just 2 1/3 innings. He was the victim of some horrid defense behind him as the visitors committed an error, but allowed two fly balls to fall between two outfielders and another misplayed ball in the infield.
The offense also gave Porcello plenty of support, belting out 13 hits in the win.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Betts. He finished 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and two stolen bases. He became the first Red Sox leadoff hitter to record at least a home run, four RBI, and two stolen bases in a game.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win:
|Closing Time: Clay Buchholz’s poor outing dooms Red Sox in blowout loss to Yankees||04.12.15 at 11:32 pm ET|
Maybe thinking Clay Buchholz is back to his 2013 pre-injury form was a little premature.
After dominating the Phillies on Opening Day, the Red Sox‘ right-hander struggled out of the gates allowing seven first inning runs (six earned) en route to allowing a career-high 10 runs in the Yankees’ 14-4 win Sunday night to avoid a series sweep.
The Yankees batted around in the first inning as Buchholz allowed a lead off walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, followed by a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Brett Gardner with Ellsbury advancing to third. Carlos Beltran then hit into a fielders choice for the Yankees’ first run. Then, following a Mark Teixeira walk, Brian McCann reached on a Mike Napoli error, as he bobbled the ball on a play going to his right, which loaded the bases.
Alex Rodriguez would clear the bases with a double to left center field, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead, and things would only get worse for Buchholz.
He then allowed back-to-back home runs to Chase Headley and Stephen Drew to close out the first inning scoring.
In a normal situation, without a depleted bullpen following Friday’s 19-inning game and the inability to recall a pitcher, Buchholz may have been removed from the game, but he needed to take some heat off the bullpen. He actually settled down retiring seven of the next eight batters after the first, but struggled again in the fourth, allowing three more runs and thus being removed from the game in the inning.
Buchholz finished by going 3 1/3 innings, allowing 10 runs (nine earned) on nine hits, while walking two and striking out three. It was his shortest outing since going just three innings May 26 in Atlanta last season, and he went on the disabled list after the start. It’s also worth mentioning the right-hander failed to back up the bases on a few occasions in the fourth inning.
Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka breezed through the first three innings, but had trouble in the fourth, throwing 38 pitches and allowing three runs. He finished the night going five innings, allowing four runs on four hits, which was enough to earn the win.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: The Yankees’ bats broke out in a big way by totaling 16 hits and were led by Headley, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI, including the first inning home run.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ second loss of the season:
|Larry Lucchino on D&C: Rick Porcello’s contract extension shouldn’t come as surprise||04.09.15 at 9:34 am ET|
Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan Thursday morning to discuss the open of the 2015 season, and also the recent contract extension of pitcher Rick Porcello. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Porcello inked a four-year extension for $82.5 million on Monday. The right-hander is 26 years old, and a major reason for the organization extending him now was to get a pitcher in his prime years, as opposed to signing a pitcher closer to age 30.
“I think it shouldn’t surprise you, we’ve been talking for really for years of the prime time [of] pitchers in their 20s,” Lucchino said. “There are a lot of very good reasons for this contract. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out, as there are no guarantees in this game, but Rick has the right stuff in both personality and character and pitching. He has a track record. He’s a guy that our pitching evaluators and our health evaluators are very strong opinionated about. He is 26 years old. I would also say you might have to step back a little bit and look at the entire portfolio of contracts that we have.
“We don’t have many long-term contracts and with this four-year extension we will have Rick for five years and we gave up a very good player to get him in [Yoenis] Cespedes. We will have Rick Porcello around for some time and that will give us a longer term contract that balances out the portfolio of contracts so you just don’t have all short-term contracts or too many long-term contracts. We have a pretty healthy balance in our player contract portfolio.”
As part of announcing his extension on The Players’ Tribune website, Porcello had a number of positive things to say of the Red Sox organization, including their Winter Weekend at Foxwoods in January.
“I did read that and I did think that was a very thoughtful and positive piece,” said Lucchino. “In fact I made sure it was distributed to folks in our front office to get a sense of it because there was a lot about it that was positive — his general view of how much we care about winning, the steps we take to make sure our players can be at their best. It was one little footnote to it that we enjoyed — we had our Winter Weekend for the first time this year and it was at that Winter Weekend that Rick got to know some of his teammates and he made specific reference to it as a way that he saw how this organization is set up and the personalities of his teammates and got a sense of both comfort and confidence from that Winter Weekend. For us that Winter Weekend was an experiment in late January to bring some baseball fever to our fans and it was enormously successful. It had a very important team building element to it.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|Tim Kurkjian on MFB: Rick Porcello’s contract extension ‘worth the money in the end’||04.07.15 at 1:46 pm ET|
ESPN baseball reporter Tim Kurkjian joined Middays with MFB Tuesday afternoon to talk about Opening Day and also the contract extension for Rick Porcello. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Porcello and the Red Sox agreed on a four-year, $82.5 million extension on Monday. The right-hander was traded to the organization in the offseason, and has yet to pitch in a meaningful game, but the team wanted to lock up the 26-year-old while they could, as he was going to become a free agent at the end of the year.
“He’s still a young guy with a pretty darn good track record,” Kurkjian said. “He started so early. I think he showed signs he grew last year being the pitcher everyone thinks he can be. Seems like a lot of money to a guy who maybe is not proven for that amount, but it’s right in line with what everyone else is making, so I certainly didn’t have a problem with it. He’s a great kid and you know he’s not going to get out of shape or try hard enough. I think it was worth the money in the end and if you can lock your pitchers up it’s always a good idea.”
“I have them second in the East to the Orioles just because the Orioles won so easily last year and returned every pitcher except Andrew Miller,” he said. “I think Manny Machado and Chris Davis coming back healthy and everything is going to partially make up for he loss of Nelson Cruz and to a lesser degree Nick Markakis. But, the Red Sox, if they find a starting [pitcher] or they make a deal for one, or they find it from within they might win the division because they are going to hit their way to all sorts of things.
“We all know they are little short on starting pitching from what everyone can see at this point, but stranger things have happened. If you send Rusney Castillo to the minor leagues, that is a pretty strong team. And when Mookie Betts can have a day like he did on Opening Day — boy, every time I watch that kid from the first time last year, spring training this year, and again yesterday, boy, it gets more impressive every single time.”
|For Red Sox to have success in April, offense will need to lead the way||04.04.15 at 1:19 pm ET|
Going into the 2015 Red Sox season the general consensus with the team is the offense is going to need to carry the much of the load.
This will be tested right out of the gate, as historically the pitchers in the starting rotation don’t get off to strong starts. On the other hand, the team has some hitters who have been known to put up some pretty impressive April numbers.
Aside from his blistering start to the 2013 season when he started 9-0 before being sidelined with a neck injury and going 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA in April, Clay Buchholz has struggled in first month of the year. He has a 4.53 career ERA in the month and besides 2013 he’s had issues of late, going 1-2 with a 6.66 ERA in 2014 and 3-1 in 2012, but with a 8.69 ERA.
The other two pitchers who will be starting in Philadelphia this week — Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson — also haven’t had much success to open seasons. Porcello for his career is 9-12 with a 6.12 ERA in April, while Masterson is a little better at 11-8 with a 3.84 ERA, but has had ERA’s over 4.84 in two of the last three April’s.
The best performers to start the season in the Red Sox rotation are the last two in Wade Miley and Joe Kelly (assuming he’s ready to start April 11 in New York). Miley is 7-3 with a 3.47 ERA and opponents are hitting just .221 against him in the month, the lowest of any month during the season. In 2012 and 2013 he went a combined 5-0 with an ERA less than two. Kelly has only made three starts in April over the course of his career, as he was a reliever to start the year up until last year. In three starts last April he allowed just one earned run.
With the starters not having great success to open season’s, and the importance of getting off to a good start, the Red Sox‘ offense will need to step up.
For the most part Red Sox hitters do get off to good starts, and no one gets off to better starts to the season at the plate than Mike Napoli. The Red Sox first baseman for his career hits .253, but over the last three seasons he has totaled 16 home runs and 46 RBI in the first month of the year.
Also, getting off to hot starts to open the year is David Ortiz. For his career he’s a .273 April hitter, hitting .250 last year, but in 2013 he hit .500 with three homers in just nine games and hit .405 with six homers in 2012.
Although Pablo Sandoval is hitting .300 overall in April’s, he had a very disappointing opening month last season — hitting just .177 with only two home runs and striking out 22 times. If he does struggle again, there are other players in the lineup who can pick him up. Dustin Pedroia has hit at least .270 the past three April’s, including .337 in 2013 (his best month for average that year) and .301 in 2012.
Starting the season at or below .500 after the first month in 2012 and 2014 and finishing those years in last place, and then going 18-8 in 2013 leading to a World Series, there is no denying the importance of getting off to a good start to the year, and with this Red Sox team the hitters will be leading the way.
|Observations from Red Sox’ rout of Twins: Mike Napoli clubs broken bat homer, offense explodes, Justin Masterson commands||03.30.15 at 10:31 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As spring training games go, Monday night’s 14-2 pummeling of the crosstown Twins was about as good as it gets for the Red Sox.
Exactly one week before the season opener in Philadelphia, John Farrell rolled out a lineup that fans can expect to see against the Phillies (and hopefully most of the season). And that lineup produced just as Red Sox management hoped when they put together the new offense over the winter.
Leadoff hitter Mookie Betts continued his scorching spring with two more hits, including an RBI double high off the Monster in a six-run fourth. He scored twice and is now batting .467 on the spring.
Mike Napoli looks as comfortable as anyone in the lineup not named Betts. He has also carried a blazing bat in spring, even when he’s breaking it in half and homering as was the case in the fourth. He muscled up and clubbed a solo homer that carried over the Monster. The barrel of the bat wound up in the dirt next to the third base bag and he ran around it as he circled the bases on his fourth homer of the spring.
“It’s never happened before,” Napoli said of the broken bat round-tripper. “I think I broke it on my at-bat before when I hit the ball to right. I wasn’t sure but I thought I hit it on the barrel. It was just a weird feeling. The bat exploded and I was just kind of sitting there. It’s a weird feeling anytime you do that. I don’t know. I can’t really explain it.
“I was just kind of running around the bases like, ‘What just happened?'”
Napoli, with two hits Monday, is now batting .433 with an .867 slugging percentage in 13 games.
“I feel good. My hands are getting stronger,” Napoli said. “My timing is getting good. Just working hard every day in the cage and my BPs and just trying to take it into the games.”
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