|Closing Time: Ryan Dempster drills A-Rod, but Rodriguez, Yankees get last laugh vs. Red Sox||08.19.13 at 12:19 am ET|
There has been little drama surrounding the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in recent years, but the teams’ series finale Sunday night at Fenway Park, an 9-6 Yankees win, featured a good-sized dose of it. And there is one, central character for everyone to thank: Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez — who before the game drew the ire of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, and who hired a lawyer who slammed the entire Yankees organization in a New York Times report Saturday, and who is appealing his 211-game suspension for connections to the Biogenesis scandal — stepped to the plate for his first at-bat of the night, donning the same what-did-I-do face he has so often of late. Right-hander Ryan Dempster gave him four straight fastballs: the first behind the knees, the second and third inside.
With the fourth, though, hitting 92 on the radar gun, Dempster found Rodriguez’ back. Home plate umpire Brian O’Nora immediately warned both benches, bringing a fuming Joe Girardi flying out of the Yankees dugout. He tossed his hat and was quickly ejected.
Both benches cleared and the bullpens emptied as Rodriguez stood near home and stared at the mound. No punches were thrown — indeed, the teams’ personnel didn’t get so close that they had to be forcibly separated — and order was quickly restored.
Four innings later, the story changed from beaning to beaming. Dempster threw Rodriguez (3-for-4) another fastball, and this time it was the controversial third baseman who didn’t miss. It landed 10 rows deep in the center-field seats, and with a fist pump around first and emphatic clap after stepping on home plate, Rodriguez began what ended up being a decisive four-run rally for New York.
The Red Sox loss, coupled with a Rays win on Sunday, left Boston with just a one-game lead in the AL East as the team embarks for its six-game trip to California. It also marks the third straight series loss for the Sox, who had dropped that many in a row just once previously this season (May 3-12 against the Rangers, Twins and Blue Jays).
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– A month of struggles continued for Dempster, who despite seven innings of one-run ball his last time out owned a 5.46 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in his last five starts entering Sunday night.
Early returns were positive, with Dempster getting Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki swinging to start things off. But after that things fell apart for the 36-year-old righty. He allowed seven runs on nine hits, one walk and that notorious hit-by-pitch in 5 1/3 innings. He finished with only one additional strikeout.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Mike Napoli late scratch with foot injury||08.17.13 at 2:32 pm ET|
John Farrell‘s original plan for Saturday’s game was to give Shane Victorino, who has been dealing with a hamstring issue, the day off. That plan changed a few hours before first pitch when it became evident that Mike Napoli was not going to be able to play due to a foot injury. Farrell moved Victorino back into the lineup as a result.
Napoli has been dealing with a lingering “foot ailment” that he re-aggravated Friday night, Farrell said. When Napoli got to the park on Saturday, it was clear that he needed a day off to rest the foot. Farrell added that he doesn’t believe the injury is the reason for Napoli’s recent struggles.
“I can’t say that it’s caused his swing to be less aggressive, or it’s caused him to not hit from a more powerful base,” Farrell said. “It’s something that he’s been dealing with, but he has not expressed that as being a reason for some of the streaks he’s experienced.”
Farrell said Napoli had already been evaluated once before the game, and would be evaluated again later in the day.
As for Victorino, he could’ve used a day off, but it wasn’t needed. The right fielder left Friday’s game with a lingering hamstring issue — one that has forced him to stop batting lefty against right-handed pitchers — but didn’t feel any worse than usual on Saturday.
“Just kind of keeping the pulse of how guys are feeling physically, and just building in a day when needed,” Farrell said. “Sometimes that’s not afforded.”
Other than not being able to bat lefty, the sore hamstring hasn’t affected Victorino. His range and baserunning continue to be areas of strength for him. Batting righty against right-handed pitchers hasn’t hurt him too much, either. Although he has just one extra-base hit in 25 such plate appearances this season, he’s been getting on base at a .400 clip.
Victorino is in his usual two-hole in the lineup. Daniel Nava, who was playing right field and hitting second in Farrell’s original lineup, is now hitting sixth and playing left field. Mike Carp, who was originally in left, replaces Napoli at first base.
UPDATED RED SOX LINEUP
|Dennis Eckersley on M&M: Koji Uehara ‘magical’; Jon Lester not a No. 1 starter||08.08.13 at 12:15 pm ET|
NESN Red Sox analyst Dennis Eckersley checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday morning, and the former standout pitcher spoke highly of a number of Red Sox hurlers, most notably closer Koji Uehara.
Uehara pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save of the season in Wednesday’s 7-5 win over the Astros. Since taking over as closer, the right-hander is posting a 0.40 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings while limiting opposing batters to a puny .120/.143/.173 slash line.
“That guy is magical. He throws a fastball by guys like it’s 100 mph. It’s magic,” Eckersley said. “Aren’t you relaxed when comes in? I wonder if he’s going to punch out the side. And you’re talking about swinging and missing — I’ve never seen anything like it. … The game is over [when Uehara enters]. The game is absolutely over. Be careful with this guy. I just feel like he’s so precious — please don’t go down.”
Uehara is one of only a couple of rocks in a bullpen that still has a couple of question marks. Eckersley commended rookie left-hander Drake Britton, who has given up one run in 11 1/3 major league innings, and said Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa could offer a lot as relievers.
Still, their transition from starting to coming out of the ‘pen won’t necessarily be smooth, according to Eckersley, who himself switched from being a starter to reliever midway through his 24-year career.
“If they’re not going to go out and get a relief pitcher, they have to figure this thing out,” Eckersley said, later adding on De La Rosa, “I’m not quite sure if he has the makeup yet. You have to go out there a few times. You can’t be throwing him out there in September. You have to get his confidence up, put him out there three or four times.”
Eckersley was also confident in the team’s rotation, particularly with the addition of Jake Peavy, who he compared to right-hander David Cone, a 17-year major league veteran who played for the Red Sox in 2001.
|Red Sox pregame notes: Brandon Workman headed to the bullpen as relief arms start to stack up||07.31.13 at 9:32 pm ET|
Tuesday, Brandon Workman collected his first major league win. Wednesday, he was officially relegated to the bullpen.
With the acquisition of Jake Peavy, right-handed Workman — who allowed five runs in 18 1/3 innings in his three starts — was squeezed out of the rotation and sent back to the role that the Red Sox originally called him up for, pitching in relief.
So even though they did not acquire a right-handed reliever to bolster their bullpen, as they had reportedly been interested in doing, the Peavy acquisition allows the Red Sox to add a new arm to their relieving corps anyway.
And manager John Farrell expects Workman to adjust just fine.
“If you start to prioritize the characteristics of a successful reliever, strike throwing, and he has shown that, even in his only relief appearance,” Farrell said. “He’s shown the ability to get some swing and miss to his fastball. Last night was the best curveball he’s had in the three starts he’s made for us. I don’t know that you can pinpoint any one thing because the one thing that stands out probably the most is the demeanor on the mound and the composure and the mound presence.
“Even when he’s been pitching with some traffic behind him or guys on base, he’s not trying to overthrow and come out of his delivery. He’s done a very good job.”
|Drake Britton, Pedro Beato show poise in tight spot for Red Sox||07.22.13 at 4:19 am ET|
Drake Britton and Pedro Beato do not have a lot of experience, but they had to remain cool under pressure in Sunday night’s extra innings affair between the Red Sox and Yankees.
Britton took the 10th and Beato took the 11th, and there was not much behind either of them. The only other reliever on the staff that could have pitched was Jose De La Torre. However, each of the youngsters held the Yankees scoreless for an inning, giving Mike Napoli a chance to hit his walk off home run in the bottom of the 11th.
For Britton, the path was not an easy one. The 24-year-old lefty issued a six-pitch walk to the first batter he faced — speedster Brett Gardner. With him on the basepaths, Britton had to worry about a base stealer on first on top of facing the 2-3-4 hitters in the Yankees lineup with nobody out. Britton forced Ichiro Suzuki to fly out, but then allowed a base hit to Robinson Cano, leaving a runner in scoring position with cleanup hitter Lyle Overbay at the plate.
The pressure was high for Britton, who was not only in his second career game, but also pitching against a heated division rival on national television while trying to help Boston hold its slim lead in the American League East. However, Britton had a brief meeting with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and went back to the mound, where he induced an inning-ending double play with a 93-mph fastball.
“It was huge,” Saltalamacchia said, “especially coming with a situation like that. It was only the second time out there against a good club and against a rival in Boston.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts moves up; Deven Marrero trying to do the same; Drake Britton’s Triple-A debut; Xander Bogaerts is precocious||07.10.13 at 12:38 pm ET|
A brief look at Tuesday’s action in the Red Sox farm system, on a day perhaps most noteworthy for the callup of Brandon Workman. For more on Workman, and why one man who coached both him and Justin Masterson sees a number of similarities between the pitchers, click here.
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-1 LOSS AT LEHIGH VALLEY (PHILLIES)
– While the final line appears unimpressive, left-hander Drake Britton impressed in stretches in his Triple-A debut. The 24-year-old worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the third inning with a pair of punchouts, and held his opponents scoreless through four innings. He ended up giving up five runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings, but he struck out five, walked one and showed an impressive determination to attack the strike zone (59 of 85 pitches for strikes — 69 percent) while getting a lot of swings and misses (14). Lefties were 0-for-2 with one strikeout against Britton.
– Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 and has now reached base in 11 straight games. During the run, he has a .371/.488/.457 line, with marks of .269/.364/.430 in 26 games since his promotion to Triple-A. Given that the league average line in the International League is .259/.334/.397, it would appear that Bogaerts has been performing at an above-average level over his first month in Triple-A, despite being the youngest player in the league. In other words, his offensive transition has met if not exceeded expectations to date.
– Right-hander Brock Huntzinger continued his strong showing in Pawtucket, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He allowed a hit and a walk. The 25-year-old now has a 1.80 ERA with 17 strikeouts and six walks in 15 innings for the PawSox.
DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: OFF DAY
HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 8-6 WIN VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)
– Feats of Mookie: Getting promoted. Mookie Betts went 1-for-4 with a double in his High-A debut. The 20-year-old forced his way to Salem by hitting .296/.418/.477 with 24 doubles and eight homers in 76 games with Greenville. His OBP ranked fourth in the South Atlantic League. The 2011 fifth-rounder was dominant over his final two months with the Drive, hitting .353 with a .451 OBP, .557 slugging mark and 29 extra-base hits over a 53-game stretch that started on May 5. Betts was also successful on 18 of 20 stolen base attempts prior to his promotion.
– Shortstop Deven Marrero went 3-for-5 with a pair of stolen bases, continuing what has been an excellent second half. In 17 games since the All-Star break, the 2012 first-rounder is now hitting .348/.430/.420 with nine walks, eight strikeouts and nine steals in as many attempts. On the year, Marrero is 16-for-16 in stolen base attempts while hitting .274/.351/.355 and playing excellent defense at short. Given that the Sox viewed him as an exceptionally advanced player when they drafted him — even going so far as to invite him to big league camp this year — there would appear a reasonable chance that Marrero could earn a promotion at some point to Double-A Portland.
– Outfielder Brandon Jacobs likewise continued his second-half push towards a possible promotion, going 2-for-4 with a double and driving in three. He’s hitting .310/.412/.563 with 10 extra-base hits (four homers, six doubles) in 19 games since the break. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox minor league roundup: Will Middlebrooks goes off; Jackie Bradley’s power building; milestone for Garin Cecchini; Keury De La Cruz cruising; Manuel Margot holding his own||07.04.13 at 1:47 pm ET|
A quick look at Wednesday’s action in the Red Sox minor league system:
TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 11-5 WIN VS. SCRANTON/WILKES-BARRE (YANKEES)
– Third baseman Will Middlebrooks had a milestone day in Pawtucket, going 4-for-5 with two homers (one down the left field line, one to right-center) and a double (to center) while matching a team record by driving in eight runs. In seven games since being sent down, Middlebrooks now has a .333/.375/.767 line with four homers and 13 RBI in 32 plate appearances.
– Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is on a home run binge of his own, having gone deep three times in his last two games after going 2-for-4 with a double, homer and walk on Wednesday. The characteristically patient Bradley appears to be amidst an intriguing stretch of more aggressive plate appearances in which he’s impacting the ball with frequency. In his last nine games, he has just two walks (against nine strikeouts) while having gone deep four times and producing 10 extra-base hits.
In 2012, splitting his year between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland, Bradley had nine homers and 55 extra-base hits in 128 games. In 61 games this year (just less than half the contests he played in last year) split between Triple-A and the majors, Bradley has eight homers and 31 extra-base hits.
– Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 with a single and a walk. More notably, he played his first career minor league game at a position other than shortstop, serving as the Pawtucket third baseman on Wednesday as the Sox try to get him experience at different positions in order to broaden the number of avenues for him to reach the majors. Bogaerts only had one fielding chance on the night, a pop-up that he caught without incident.
– Outfielder Alex Hassan continues to produce, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. In 15 games with the PawSox, he’s hitting .340/.435/.547 with nine extra-base hits (eight doubles). Read the rest of this entry »
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