|Shane Victorino: Gold Glove ‘a big surprise’; right fielder feels good after two-game layoff||10.30.13 at 7:14 pm ET|
Shane Victorino had won three Gold Gloves when he signed with the Red Sox last winter, but his fourth, the one announced Tuesday, is different. This one comes as a reward for his play in right field — Fenway’s right field, no less — in 2013, the first time he manned that position regularly since 2007.
“More than anything I think the magnitude of moving to right field, the magnitude of playing in Fenway Park, this was a big surprise,” Victorino said. “I took it as a surprise about how everybody talked about how hard Fenway Park in right field was to play. I’ve always worked hard on my defense. And I’ve always taken pride in my defense, just like Dustin [Pedroia] has and the rest of this team, collectively. I think there’s a lot of other guys that are deserving of a Gold Glove.”
The award does not come without merit. Victorino posted a 25.0 Ultimate Zone Rating, tops among right fielders in the American League and second in all of baseball behind Gerardo Parra of the Diamondbacks (26.6). The Athletics’ Josh Reddick (16.4) and the Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki (11.6), the other top right fielders in the league, were well behind Victorino by that metric, which calculates the number of runs a fielder saved as compared to an average defender at his position.
Anecdotally, of course, the banged-up outfielder stayed true to his “Flyin’ Hawaiian” nickname by making a habit of crashing into the short falls or diving full-extension to record the out whenever possible.
Victorino, however, was quick to credit those around him. He said having the defensively savvy Pedroia, who reeled in his third Gold Glove, Jacoby Ellsbury and even Mike Napoli — who impressed in his first full season as a first baseman — in his vicinity was significant.
“It’s not just myself out there,” Victorino said. “It was the [three] guys that surrounded me and the rest of the team. … We take pride in our defense, and it’s something that we’re going to continue to do and work hard at every single day.”
Pedroia, who edged the Rays’ Ben Zobrist in UZR (10.9 to 10), was similarly pleased.
“It’s definitely a huge honor,” Pedroia said. “There’s so many great second basemen in the American League. So to win that award it’s an honor. We play against them every night. You see them out there and you respect them so much the way they play the game, all of them. It’s a huge honor.”
OTHER RED SOX PREGAME NOTES:
– Victorino said he had been ready to go for Game 5, but he and manager John Farrell discussed the magnitude of the game, and given what happened the night before — Jonny Gomes hit a three-run, game-winning homer — they did not want to stray from that lineup.
|Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino win Gold Gloves||10.29.13 at 9:59 pm ET|
For the second time in the last 23 years, the Red Sox received recognition for defensive excellence in the form of multiple Gold Gloves. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia and right fielder Shane Victorino were recognized as 2013 American League Rawlings Gold Glove Awards at their respective positions.
From the press release announcing the awards for Pedroia and Victorino:
This marks Pedroia’s third Rawlings Gold Glove Award, as he also received the honor in 2008 and 2011. Since the award’s inception in 1957, he is the sixth player to win at least three with Boston, along with Frank Malzone (3 at third base), Carl Yastrzemski (7 in the outfield), George Scott (3 at first base), Fred Lynn (4 in the outfield) and Dwight Evans (8 in the outfield).
Pedroia led the majors while establishing club records with both a career-high 160 games and 159 starts at second base in 2013. According to Fangraphs, he topped all major league second baseman with 15 defensive runs saved and also led the American League with an .836 zone rating at the position. His .993 fielding percentage (5 errors/688 total chances) ranked second among AL qualifiers at second base, percentage points behind Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist (.9927 to .9928). Pedroia did not make his first error of the season until his 70th game on June 15, ending a club-record 69 errorless games at second base to begin the year.
For Victorino, it is his fourth Rawlings Gold Glove Award, tied with Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips for the second-most among 2013 winners behind the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina, who earned his sixth at catcher. He previously won Gold Gloves in three consecutive seasons from 2008-10 while with the Phillies.
In his first season with the Red Sox in 2013, Victorino made a career-high 106 starts in right field and appeared in 110 games overall at the position. He also made 11 starts and played in 15 games in center field. The Hawaii native tied for sixth in the American League with a team-leading 10 outfield assists, and his nine assists from right field tied for the AL lead and marked the most by a Red Sox right fielder since Trot Nixon recorded nine in 2005. He tallied the third-most putouts among AL right fielders (264) and his three double plays tied for second-most in the circuit at the position. According to Fangraphs, Victorino led the AL with 24 defensive runs saved in right field.
The Red Sox have multiple Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners for just the second time in the last 23 years (also three in 2011: Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez at first base and Jacoby Ellsbury in center field) and 11th time overall since the award began in 1957.
In addition to Boston’s 2013 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners, Jacoby Ellsbury was a finalist in center field but the award went to Baltimore’s Adam Jones.
The complete list of winners:
C – Salvador Perez, KC (AL), Yadier Molina, STL (NL)
1B – Eric Hosmer, KC (AL), Paul Goldschmidt, ARI (NL)
2B – Pedroia, BOS (AL), Brandon Phillips, CIN (NL)
SS – J.J. Hardy, BAL (AL), Andrelton Simmons, ATL (NL)
3B – Manny Machado, BAL (AL), Nolan Arenado, COL (NL)
LF – Alex Gordon, KC (AL), Carlos Gonzalez, COL (NL)
CF – Adam Jones, BAL (AL), Carlos Gomez, MIL (NL)
RF – Victorino, BOS (AL), Gerardo Parra, ARI (NL)
P – R.A. Dickey, TOR (AL), Adam Wainwright, STL (NL)
|Joe Buck on World Series: ‘These are two teams that don’t quit’||10.22.13 at 12:16 pm ET|
A baseball fan’s favorite date on the calendar sits only a day away.
After a seemingly never-ending season, America’s pastime enters its main event with the World Series. This year’s Fall Classic features two of Major League Baseball’s most storied franchises in the Red Sox and Cardinals. Both clubs led their respective leagues with 97 wins, and this marks the first time since 1999 that the top team in the National League faces off against the top team in the American League.
The voices of October remain the longtime pair of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Buck is calling his 16th World Series broadcast, which is miles behind McCarver, the Hall of Famer who is behind the microphone for his 24th World Series broadcast. This is the 16th World Series broadcast on Fox, and also the curtain call for the retiring McCarver. Both men spoke on a national conference call Monday, previewing the matchup between two evenly matched clubs.
Though Sox fans may not always agree with McCarver and Buck, all parties can agree these are the two best teams in baseball.
“That’s why this series is so exciting to me,” Buck said. “These are two teams that don’t quit, and they’re two teams who play the game fundamentally well. This is as exciting a matchup as we’ve had in the 16 times we’ve done it. With the way these two teams hammer away, nobody’s going to roll over. They just coming, and that’s what’s going to make this fun and a long series.”
“The list of really terrific players is on both sides,” McCarver marveled. “How can you respect anybody more than Dustin Pedroia? He told me that he thought about, with runners on first and third against the Tigers and nobody out in the sixth inning of Game 6, when he made the play on Victor Martinez and getting Prince Fielder in a rundown, that he thought about pulling off a triple play. I’ve never talked to any infielder who thought about a triple play before a double play happened. That, to me, is the type of player you’re getting with Boston. Pedroia is the blood and guts of this team.”
Both teams have won at least one championship at the expense of the other. St. Louis beat Boston in 1946 and (with McCarver catching) 1967, while the Sox swept in 2004.
“I don’t think anybody in baseball was going to beat the Red Sox in the World Series in 2004,” McCarver said. “Once they came back and won the Yankee series like they did, nobody was going to beat the Red Sox. But this year is different. The Cardinals can match them with their young pitchers and the bullpen.”
|A guide on how to beat Justin Verlander||10.15.13 at 12:13 pm ET|
DETROIT — The Red Sox know there is hope. They have June 23 to prove it.
It was on that day at Comerica Park the Sox made Justin Verlander throw 112 pitches over five innings, getting to the starter for four runs on seven hits and four walks.
“He’s tough,” said Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes. “At the same time, he’s a game over .500. He’s been beat. We just have to grind it out, like we’ve been doing.”
So, what did the Red Sox do to beat Verlander then, and what do they need to execute in order to get the better of the righty Tuesday?
The first thing that should be understood is that Verlander is a different pitcher today than he was back in June, and numbers suggest as much. Understand this: He had more swings and misses on his fastball (18) in his most recent start against Oakland than he did in the combined five appearances leading up to that mid-season meeting with the Red Sox (16).
“Now he’s like the old Verlander,” said one American League hitting coach. “Before he looked like he was reaching back for [velocity] that wasn’t there.
The Red Sox can take heart that in that June 23 game, Verlander was throwing hard. He maxed out at 98 mph, with a fastball that averaged just over 94 mph. They were numbers consistent with the start against the A’s.
But what he was able to do against Oakland was command his other pitches and get the A’s in a torturous guessing game.
Thirty-one of Verlander’s 64 pitches out of the strike zone ended up being strikes, including Oakland swinging and missing seven times at fastballs out of the zone. It’s a big reason while in Verlander’s last five starts hitters are managing just a .136 average against the ace’s heater.
“You can’t guess with them,” said the hitting coach. “And if you guess with them you better stay with a plan, not constantly changing it in the middle of the at-bat. You’ll always be playing catch-up.”
|Craig Breslow’s playoff blog: An experience I can’t entirely remember but will not forget||10.06.13 at 1:21 am ET|
Red Sox left-hander Craig Breslow will contribute regularly to this blog throughout his team’s postseason run. In addition to his work on the mound, the eight-year big leaguer is also the founder and executive director of the Strike 3 Foundation, a charitable agency that heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research. To learn more about the Strike 3 Foundation, and its new Play It Forward program, click here.
Saturday offered my first chance to pitch in a playoff game. What was it like? At one point, David Ross visited the mound before Ben Zobrist‘s at-bat. What did he say? Honestly, I don’t even remember.
Don’t let him know that.
To be perfectly honest, I can’t compare the feeling that I had on the mound — especially after Zobrist grounded into a double play to end the seventh — to any other experience I’ve had on a baseball field. Obviously we’re all aware of, cognizant of the stage we’re playing on, but when 37,000 people are getting behind you and you know exactly what’s at stake, I don’t think there can be anything that lives up to that except maybe as we kind of progressively move further on in this, if that happens.
Zobrist, a switch-hitter batting right-handed, hit a two-seam fastball that I was able to locate away. That was a pitch that I started to throw with confidence only in the middle of last season.
The driver behind developing the two-seamer was actually facing lefties. As a left-hander, that’s kind of a staple of your job — you come in to get lefties out and often times it’s going to be the one best left-handed hitter in the opposing lineup. And I felt like I had a pretty good breaking ball moving away from lefties and I could throw a four-seam fastball down and away pretty well.
But as that pattern got around the league, I felt like guys would start to lean out over the plate, and I was getting beaten on pretty good pitches with guys driving the ball up the middle or the other way. I thought, “I need to have something that’s going to keep them honest and open up the inside of the plate so that I can then go back away.”
So I developed it against lefties, and as I’ve thrown it, I’ve noticed that it’s a pitch that’s been successful for me to both righties and lefties. My confidence with it clicked about halfway through last year. It’s a big groundball pitch for me, so when I find myself in situations where it’s actually what I need, to keep the ball on the ground, it’s been pretty good for me. Even when I fall behind to a righty, I still feel like I can be aggressive and challenge him with the pitch to get weak contact. That held true in the sixth inning, when Sean Rodriguez grounded to Stephen Drew on a 1-0 two-seamer, and again in the seventh, when Zobrist hit the ball to Dustin Pedroia.
Dustin made a fantastic play even though the ball looked like it took an unpredictable hop. I’ve been saying for some time, this is as good a defense as I’ve ever pitched for. Maybe because guys aren’t the flashiest, it often gets overlooked. But they make all the routine plays and then some. You feel so confident that if the ball hits the ground and you see that in front of you, that it’s going to be converted to an out. They range so well that I know balls on the right side of me, Dustin is getting them or on the left side, Stephen is making plays up the middle. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox-Blue Jays series preview||09.20.13 at 10:33 am ET|
It’s official: the Red Sox are playoff-bound. The Sox clinched a ticket to the postseason on Thursday with a win over the Orioles. But the celebration awaits, as the Red Sox look to wrap up the division title Friday night in the opener of a three-game weekend series.
The Sox will welcome the Blue Jays for the final home series of the regular season. They look to bounce back from a tough series against the Orioles, the only AL East team that owns a winning record against them. The Orioles took two of three from the Red Sox, handing them their first series loss since Aug. 16-18 against the Yankees. Despite that, the Sox still are playing some of their best baseball of the season this month, going 12-5 in September.
The Red Sox own the best home record in the American League at 51-27, second only to the Braves. The differences between the 2012 team and this year’s squad are obviously bountiful, but the turnaround at Fenway Park is huge. The Sox posted a .420 winning percentage in Boston last year and already are 17 wins better than the 2012 club at Fenway.
The Orioles may be the one team in the AL East that has the Red Sox’ number, going 9-6 against the Sox with three games left to play. But the Blue Jays have been relatively pesky for the Sox as well, taking seven of the 16 games in the season series thus far, including two of three the last time the two clubs met.
The Blue Jays have had a disappointing season, to say the least. After a busy offseason in which they acquired the likes of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, the Jays will finish as the only AL East club not in the mix for a playoff spot, and the only team in the division that will come in under .500. Aside from Reyes, the Jays’ acquisitions have fallen well short of expectations. However, the Blue Jays can play spoiler to the AL teams still in the race; they just took two of three from the Yankees, pushing them 3½ games back in the wild card chase, and have upcoming series with the Orioles and Rays.
The Blue Jays spent just two days above last place since April 20 and have not been out of the cellar since June 23. They surged briefly in June, pulling above .500 for a couple of games, hitting their season-high mark of two games better than .500, but slipped back to a losing record on June 28 and haven’t recovered since. They’ve been eliminated from any chance at postseason play and sealed their fate as a last-place team this season, now sitting 22 games behind the Red Sox.
But just because they’re in last place doesn’t mean they can’t do some damage. The Jays actually have one of the best offenses in the majors according to OPS, ranking fifth in the majors and fourth in the American League. They’ve got plenty of firepower, hitting 93 home runs, good for third amongst all teams. They’ve even scored the fourth-most runs in the majors. It’s their pitching that has been very, very subpar. They come in with the third-worst staff ERA amongst major league teams, better than just the Astros and the Twins.
Here are the pitching matchups for the final three Fenway games of the regular season.
Friday: Jon Lester (14-8, 3.75) vs. Esmil Rogers (5-7, 4.47)
Saturday: Felix Doubront (10-6, 4.15) vs. Mark Buehrle (11-9, 4.17)
Sunday: Clay Buchholz (11-0, 1.51) vs. R.A. Dickey (13-12, 4.21)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• Craig Breslow again came through as one of the most reliable relievers on the team Tuesday when he came into a no-out situation with runners on second and third in a tie game, set to face the heart of a tough Orioles lineup. Breslow made quick work of the three, four and five batters, using just six pitches to escape the jam. The lefty, who has shown the ability to get outs against both righties and lefties, has allowed just one run and 10 hits in his last 22 2/3 innings, good for a tiny 0.40 ERA. Though Breslow doesn’t have overwhelming stuff (he’s averaging just under five strikeouts per nine innings this season), he’s proven to be one of the go-to options in late innings.
|Buster Olney on M&M: ‘Red Sox are the team to beat in baseball’||09.18.13 at 1:52 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and declared the Red Sox the cream of the crop in MLB as the regular season comes to a close.
“The Red Sox are the team to beat in baseball right now, I don’t think there’s any question about it,” said Olney.
With 10 games remaining, the AL East-leading Red Sox lead the Rays by nine games, and their 92-60 record ranks first in all of baseball.
“Their rotation is in excellent shape, you would probably take it over any other teams that are going to be in the postseason right now. So they would definitely be the team to beat,” said Olney.
The Athletics and Tigers lead their respective American League divisions, and Olney sees those two teams as the main threats to knock off the Red Sox in October.
“If you’re asking me which of the two teams do you not want to play, Detroit or Oakland, I know Detroit has the bigger names, but if you’re talking about how is Justin Verlander throwing right now, Id rather play Detroit, quite frankly,” said Olney. “And given all the physical issues you have with Miguel Cabrera and the defensive issues they have at first and third base, I think you have more opportunity when you play Detroit.”
Detroit leads Cleveland by six games in the AL Central, while Oakland is making a bid for its second straight AL West title, as the A’s lead Texas by 6½ games.
“I’ve talked to scouts about this, and they say the thing about Oakland that’s interesting is that every team seemingly at the back end, you know, players number 20 through 25 are guys who aren’t really that good, they’re just kind of filling out the roster. When you look at the Athletics roster, they’ve got 25 guys, none of them are superstars, there’s not a single superstar on that team, but you have 25 guys who are all good baseball players,” Olney said.
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- Help Wanted: Staff Editor, Scouts
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #48: The Slow Season
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- Luis Ortega traded to Brewers for reliever Burke Badenhop
- Red Sox re-sign infielder Brandon Snyder