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Red Sox notes: Plan in place for Shane Victorino while Brock Holt continues to shine 07.20.14 at 1:30 pm ET
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Where would the Red Sox be without Brock Holt?

That is certainly a fair and legitimate question to ask as the Red Sox approach the second half of the season and try to work their way back into a reasonable chance for the playoffs.

The leadoff hitter has provided a vital anchor at the top of the batting order as the Red Sox searched desperately for a consistent leadoff hitter. He comes into Sunday hitting .325 with a .369 OBP and a .826 OPS. Holt has started all 63 games this season, batting leadoff in 52 of them. As the leadoff hitter, his number are nearly identical to his overall numbers, .326/.364/.825.

Of course, he’s been incredibly versatile in the field, playing seven of the nine positions while earning the name “Superman” from some Red Sox fans. The only two positions he hasn’t tried yet are pitcher and catcher. On Sunday, he’s starting at third as the Red Sox give Xander Bogaerts the day off against hard-throwing righty Yordano Ventura.

“With Brock Holt moving around the field and going up against a right-hander in Ventura, we just wanted to get another left-handed bat in there,” skipper John Farrell said.

“We’re probably at the point in the year where it’s less of a concern than when he was playing right field for the first, or left field for the first time, or first base for the first time. There have been a lot of firsts this year. And the way he’s handled each position defensively, now we’re finding ways to keep his bat in the lineup and not reluctant to change the position by the day.”

What’s truly remarkable is that, as late as early April, Holt wasn’t even considered an option as a leadoff hitter to replace Jacoby Ellsbury.

“He wasn’t in the conversation, either in the offseason or as we got through camp but to the level in which he’s hit at and performed at, and the consistency against left-handers and right-handers, it’s been invaluable, the continuity he’s created at the top of the lineup,” Farrell said.

The left-handed hitting Holt is actually hitting 20 points higher against lefties (.336) than righties (.316), a testament to his ability to hang in against southpaws.

“I think when you see a guy be able to use the whole the field as much as he does and how he you see him handle left-handers, he can track the ball so deep into the zone that he doesn’t overcommit early to breaking balls from left-handers that run away from him,” Farrell said. “And because it is a compact swing, his pitch recognition can be a little better than others because he doesn’t have to start the swing early in the flight of the pitch to home plate.

“I think it’s [just] a trait of really good hitters, regardless of the spot in the lineup. The more compact, the less you may get fooled on certain type of pitches. They’re more difficult to pitch against because he has the ability to take a really good pitcher’s pitch and fight it off and foul it off as he gets deeper into some counts and I think it’s a direct reflection of why you see him hit at the average he is at currently and what he’s done throughout his minor league career.”

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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt, Dustin Pedroia, kansas city royals
Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz explain being thrown out on bases in 1-run loss to Orioles 07.06.14 at 9:11 pm ET
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With the Red Sox‘ 7-6, 12-inning loss to the Orioles on Sunday, Boston has lost 19 one-run games this season — the most in the American League.

In close losses, players always look back on a few plays here or there that could have gone differently and changed the outcome in the game. A few of those plays occurred for the Red Sox on Sunday, especially on the bases.

In a 6-6 game with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, Dustin Pedroia lined a single to right-center. With David Ortiz up, Pedroia attempted to steal second base and was thrown out on a close play by catcher Caleb Joseph. The Red Sox challenged the call but lost.

“In that situation [Pedroia] probably slid a little bit early,” manager John Farrell said. “I think, in that situation, we’€™re trying to be aggressive, trying to add 90 feet. We had a key on [Brad] Brach, the pitcher on the mound at the time. Unfortunately we came up a half a hand short.”

There were some questions asked after the game if attempting to steal was the right decision, as if Pedroia reaches second base the Orioles could have intentionally walked Ortiz with first base vacant.

“I’€™m trying to score, man,” Pedroia said. “If they walk David, whatever. Trying to get into scoring position to win the game, that’€™s it.”

Farrell also defended the move, noting the club was just trying to get a runner into scoring position for the game-winning run.

“No guarantee of a base hit in that situation, but we’€™re trying to get a man in scoring position when we’€™re in the middle of the order,” Farrell said.

Ortiz then walked and Mike Napoli struck out to end the inning.

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Red Sox-Cubs series preview 06.30.14 at 1:11 pm ET
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The Red Sox will look to build off of a series win over the Yankees when they return to the friendly confines of Fenway Park to take on the Cubs in a three-game series.

It's been another rough season for the Cubs, who head to Fenway in last place in the NL Central. (AP)

It’s been another rough season for the Cubs, who head to Fenway in last place in the NL Central. (AP)

This is just the fourth regular-season series between the two clubs, despite the fact that they have played organized baseball for a combined 257 years. The last time Boston hosted Chicago at Fenway was on May 20-22, 2011, with the Red Sox taking two of three games.

After kicking off a 10-game road trip with a dismal 1-5 record, the Red Sox righted the ship by taking three out of their last four games to finish 4-6.

The Red Sox lineup finally got going in the team’s last game Sunday against the Yankees, scoring eight runs on 12 hits en route to an 8-5 victory. Prior to that game, Boston had scored three runs or less in 12 of its last 14 outings.

“Any time you win a series on the road, particularly where we are in the standings and who’s ahead of us, these are key,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Despite being at the end of June, with where we’re at in the standings, every series is critical for us.”

It’€™s been another trying season on the North Side of Chicago for Theo Epstein‘€™s Cubs, as Chicago has the worst record in the National League Central with a 34-46 record.

The Cubs are coming off of a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Nationals, losing by a combined score of 10-2. Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija was roughed up in the second game, surrendering six runs in five innings of work.

“[Samardzija is] a guy who wants to grind it out and stay in there and keep getting after it, but today just wasn’t his day,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said after the game. “There were a lot of seeing-eye hits today that found some holes, and I thought it was just best to go ahead and shorten it up for him. He wasn’t too happy — he wanted to stay in there and he wanted to help us, but today was not his day.”

Here are the pitching matchups for the three-game series.

Monday: Jake Peavy (1-6, 4.93 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (4-1, 2.05 ERA)
Tuesday: Clay Buchholz (3-4, 6.75 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (5-8, 5.22 ERA)
Wednesday: Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.27 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (7-6, 4.52 ERA)

WHO’S HOT: RED SOX

– It seems like everyone has been waiting all season for Dustin Pedroia to get into one of his signature hot streaks. While Pedroia has been underwhelming in his eighth year in Boston, he has posted two three-hit games in a row, boosting his batting average from .262 to .275 and his OBP from .334 to .345.

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Read More: cubs, Dustin Pedroia, Jake Arrieta, Red Sox
Dustin Pedroia on The Bradfo Show: ‘I started to feel better and the results weren’t there’ 06.27.14 at 9:25 am ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined The Bradfo Show to discuss his adjustments at the plate this season. To hear the interview, go to The Bradfo Show audio on demand page.

While the numbers may say otherwise — he’s hitting .265/.338/.377 through 77 games this season — Pedroia said he’s a better hitter now than he was in his 2008 MVP season.

“I think that early in your career pitchers don’t know you as well,” he said. “They come at you with a lot of fastballs in the inner part of the plate to see if you can hit it. Obviously if you start hitting them they stop doing that.

“So I think there’s more thought into the way they approach hitters, not only me but other guys, too. You try to stay away with the scouting they have, you try to stay away from a guy’s power area. That eliminates a lot of mistakes that they make on the inner part of the plate. You’ve just got to be smart and wait for the pitch you want and drive it.”

In the middle of his eighth full major league season, Pedroia said the way pitchers throw to him differs each day, which forces him to adjust his approach based on what he’s up against.

“My first couple years in the big leagues, I think pitching is a lot better [now],” he said. “You see a lot of guys throwing harder. You take two strikes on the outer half, you don’t really want to be down 0-2 on a guy who throws a 100 mile an hour fastball because if he doesn’t throw it where you want, you’re going to strike out.

“So sometimes you’ve got to make adjustments and be looking to hit the ball the other way instead of trying to get your pitch in and do damage with it.”

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Dustin Pedroia on MFB: ‘We plan on turning this thing around’ 05.27.14 at 1:34 pm ET
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Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia joined WEEI’s new Middays with MFB show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Sox snapped their 10-game losing streak on Monday with an 8-6 come-from-behind win over the Braves, something Pedroia hopes will be a turning point in what has been a difficult start to the season.

“It was a big win for us. We’ve definitely been grinding lately,” Pedroia said. “It’€™s a step in the right direction. We’ve got a long way to go, and we plan on turning this thing around and winning a lot of ball games.”

Pedroia attributed much of the Sox’ struggles over this stretch to a series of misfortunes.

“It’€™s been tough. All the guys, we’€™re in it together,” he said. “We’€™re family. We’€™re on the flight together talking about how to pull ourselves out of it, try any way we can. We have a lot of things that didn’t go our way during the 10 games. The couple of games in Tampa, a couple of balls that go over [Brock Holt'€™s] head, a bloop single over my head and one mistake leads to three, four runs, and that kind of stuff had been happening throughout.

“You look at the big picture, there’€™s 162 games and guess what, those breaks are going to change. One of these games I’€™m going to chop a ball at home plate and it’€™s going to go over the third baseman’€™s head for a double and then [David Ortiz] is going to hit a home run. We’€™re going to start getting the breaks and it’€™s going to start turning around. We got to believe in that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Middays with MFB, Red Sox,
Red Sox minor league roundup: Travis Shaw moves up; Mookie Pedroia; Blake Swihart’s power surge; Anthony Ranaudo, Christian Vazquez have work to do at 10:14 am ET
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First baseman Travis Shaw was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. (Salem Red Sox)

First baseman Travis Shaw was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. (Salem Red Sox)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 WIN VS. GWINNETT (BRAVES)

(BOX)

– First baseman Travis Shaw, 24, went 1-for-3 in his Pawtucket debut following his promotion from Double-A. Shaw delivered a dominating performance in Portland, hitting .305/.406/.548 with 11 homers, 29 walks and 23 strikeouts while showing the ability to destroy right-handed pitching (.333/.458/.635 with seven homers, 22 walks and 11 strikeouts) and hold his own against lefties (.272/.337/.444 with four homers, seven walks and 12 strikeouts).

Shaw’s dominant performance in Portland this year followed a season of struggle at the same level last year, when he hit .221/.342/.394 with 16 homers but 117 strikeouts (22 percent of plate appearances). But after the season, Shaw worked with his father — former All-Star closer Jeff Shaw — to stay back on the ball and regain the all-fields approach that characterized his career as an amateur through an impressive 2012 full-season debut. Shaw carried that into the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .361/.452/.705 with five homers in 17 games, and maintained his swing and approach through the offseason entering this year.

His reward was a long-anticipated goal — after spending parts of three years in Portland (following an August 2012 promotion to Double-A from High-A, the entirety of 2013 and the beginning of this year), he is finally one step from the big leagues.

‘€œI was definitely on a mission to show that I could handle Double A because there have been questions that I couldn’€™t hit consistently at that level for the past year-and-a-half,’€ Shaw told the Pawtucket Times. ‘€œI feel that I’€™m in a good place mentally and physically. It’€™s also nice to be out of Portland. I wanted to prove myself and get out of there as soon as possible.’€

– Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo continued an overpowering run, firing 6 2/3 shutout innings. He’s now allowed just one run in his last three starts spanning 19 1/3 innings (0.47 ERA). The 24-year-old gave up four hits (two singles, two doubles) and struck out four. However, he also threw a relatively modest 64 of 106 pitches (60 percent) for strikes, and for the fifth time in his 11 starts this year, he walked four batters. While Ranaudo has minimized hard contact (opponents are hitting .225 against him with 0.5 homers per nine innings) and is showing the ability to handle a considerable workload (he’s logged at least 104 pitches in each of his last four outings, with a 1.38 ERA from the fourth inning on), his 4.9 walks per nine innings suggest a pitcher who has been searching for his fastball command over the course of the season and who, despite an impressive 2.90 ERA, requires refinement before he’ll put himself in consideration for a spot in a big league rotation. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, blake swihart, christian vazquez, Dustin Pedroia
On 7-game skid, Red Sox have ‘no time to be down in the dumps’ 05.22.14 at 9:36 pm ET
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When you’re the defending World Series champions and you lose seven straight, there’s some patience and latitude given. But after Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays, the urgency of a turnaround is becoming more and more apparent in the Red Sox clubhouse.

“There’s no time to be down in the dumps,” A.J. Pierzynski said after the Red Sox completed just the second 0-6 homestand in their 114-year history. “There’s a long way to go, over 100 games to go, so there’s plenty of time to turn it around. We just need to do it [Friday]. We can’t waste any more time. [Friday] is a new day in Tampa and hopefully we go down there and play well, win the series. That starts [Friday].”

Manager John Farrell echoed those sentiments and added that John Lackey – Friday’s starter at Tampa Bay – needs to step up and pick up a starting rotation that was shelled during the series sweeps at the hands of the Tigers and Blue Jays.

“Everyone in our uniform is aware of what’s taking place currently,” Farrell said very matter-of-factly, in a business tone devoid of any panic. “We have to remain positive in our daily work and our approach. The guy that takes the mound [Friday] night, John Lackey, we’re going to look to him to set the tone and stabilize things.”

David Ortiz, one of the hottest hitters in the American League when the Red Sox were 20-19 last week, went hitless in four at-bats Thursday, extending his hitless streak to 17 at-bats and capping a 2-for-22 homestand that included four walks.

‘€œIt’€™s just one of those times where we go through a bump in the road and you just have to bounce back tomorrow and execute better,” Ortiz said, speaking to both individual and team struggles.

What’s his take on the attitude in clubhouse after a seventh straight loss?

‘€œI don’€™t know, but I can tell you about mine and I am going to come back tomorrow and kick some ass,” he said.

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Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia
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