|Minus David Ortiz, Red Sox plan new approach to beating shift — more bunting||02.15.17 at 2:04 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — With defensive shifts becoming so common they’re even used against pull-happy No. 9 hitters, the Red Sox plan to alter their offensive approach to beat them by going old-school and bunting.
Per Baseball Info Solutions, the Red Sox faced over 1,300 defensive shifts last year, seventh most in baseball. Almost a quarter of them (408) came against retired slugger David Ortiz, but he wasn’t alone. Jackie Bradley (224) was also shifted frequently, for instance, and manager John Farrell would like to see the team’s approach to such situations evolve.
“One of the things that we’ve really seen is that even with guys coming in the first part of their career, guys are really starting to get shifted against when we’re on offense,” Farrell said. “We’ve got some things that we’ll look to do to hopefully take back some of those lanes that are otherwise shifted away from. That’s just becoming more prevalent around the game. The bat-handlers that can work the ball the other way, or who are the guys that can more readily drop a bunt down to take advantage of that shift, that’s one thing that we’ll look to do more of.”
Before the stats-minded start howling reflexively about the evils of bunting, let’s make one thing clear — Farrell is talking about bunting for hits, not outs. The Red Sox recorded only eight sacrifices last year, and that approach is unlikely to change.
But it only makes sense that if the defense gives a hitter like Bradley the entire left side of the infield, a bunt in the vicinity of third base could equal a baserunner. That’s a shift in philosophy from Ortiz, who generally chose to swing away into the teeth of the shift for fear of costing himself and the team an extra-base possibility.
“The opposition may say, ‘Well, we’re fortunate we got a bunt so it’s working and we’re taking him out of his power swing,'” Farrell said. “But we’re seeing teams shift on guys that aren’t your prototypical power hitters. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit 25 [homers], but that’s kind of a breakthrough year for him. He’s a guy that, to me, we can look to take advantage of and work against the shift to hopefully open things back up for him.
“You’re seeing the shift on the bottom third of the order type hitters as well. So when it makes most sense, leading off an inning, late in a game when we’ve got to get something started, that’s the opportune time.”
|Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr. are Red Sox players named finalists for Gold Glove Awards||10.28.16 at 12:33 am ET|
The Gold Glove finalists were announced in each league on Thursday, and the Red Sox are well-represented.
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and right fielder Mookie Betts were each among three finalists at their respective positions.
Of the three, Pedroia probably has the best chance to win. The four-time recipient finished second in the AL with a .990 fielding percentage, committing just six errors in 613 chances. His .991 lifetime fielding percentage leads all active second baseman. According to Baseball Info Solutions, Pedroia saved 12 runs at second this year.
His competition for the award is two-time winner Robinson Cano of the Mariners, as well as Tigers standout Ian Kinsler, who seeks his first Gold Glove.
In center field, Bradley took a step back this year, particularly on some wild throws. He was still good enough to be a finalist against division rivals Kevin Kiermaier (Rays) and Kevin Pillar (Jays). Kiermaier won the award last year, but Pillar should win it this year — he graded as the third-best defensive player in baseball, according to FanGraphs, trailing only shortstops Brandon Crawford (Giants) and Francisco Lindor (Indians).
As for Betts, he’s up for the award for the first time. He has the misfortune of being matched up with Chicago’s Adam Eaton, the runaway favorite, as well as Houston’s George Springer. Betts is a solid No. 2 choice, but Eaton was worth 22 runs in right field this season, according to Baseball Info Solutions.
Winners will be announced on Nov. 8. For the complete list of nominees, click here.
|John Farrell explains reason for pinch-hitting Chris Young for Andrew Benintendi, not Jackie Bradley Jr.||10.10.16 at 11:29 pm ET|
John Farrell hadn’t made any glaring mistakes in-game over the course of the first two games of the ALDS against the Indians, until the seventh inning of Game 3.
The Red Sox trailed 4-2 and left-hander Andrew Miller was on the mound for the Indians. After Xander Bogaerts grounded out, Chris Young pinch-hit for Andrew Benintendi and not Jackie Bradley Jr. two spots after him, who at that point hadn’t recorded a hit in the series and was 0 for his last 19 dating back to the regular season.
Benintendi meanwhile was 1-for-2 with a double and 3-for-9 with a home run in the series.
Young walked and then Sandy Leon lined out and Bradley Jr. struck out.
“We were looking to matchup as best we can. Chris Young was brought in for that very reason against left-handed pitching. We’re looking to matchup to get the best advantage we can,” Farrell said.
The move of not pinch-hitting for Bradley came up again in the ninth inning with right-hander closer Cody Allen on the mound. Instead of potentially having Benintendi-Leon-Young due, it was Young-Leon-Bradley Jr.
Young and Leon were retired before Bradley Jr. singled to right and Dustin Pedroia walked, but Travis Shaw popped up to end the game and the season.
Farrell further expanded on his decision to pinch-hit for Benintendi and not Bradley Jr. back in the seventh.
“The number of pitches he’s thrown, if we wait to get to Jackie in that inning, we may never get there,” he said. “And then they are going to go to [right-hander Bryan] Shaw with the right-handers coming in the next inning. That’s the shot we took with him. He draws the walk, starts with the potential of getting something going. Either Benintendi or Jackie is going to get an at-bat if that inning gets extended. But if it’s not, not going to get left with the pinch-hit starting the next inning, and then they go to Shaw to lead things off.”
The explanation really doesn’t make much sense, but in the end Bradley Jr. did single in the ninth inning, so perhaps the move in the seventh inning didn’t matter in the end. Still, the decision will be something Red Sox fans will remember into the offseason.
A day after getting rained out the Red Sox and Indians will play Game 3 of their best-of-five series at Fenway Park with the Red Sox trailing 0-2.
Andrew Benintendi will bat seventh, while Jackie Bradley Jr. will bat ninth as the Red Sox look to avoid elimination.
Sandy Leon will catch Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.
Here’s the complete Red Sox lineup:
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Brock Holt, 3B
Mookie Betts, RF
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Sandy Leon, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Clay Buchholz, RHP
Here is the complete Indians lineup:
Carlos Santana, DH
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Francisco Lindor, SS
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jose Ramirez, 3B
Lonnie Chisenhall, RF
Coco Crisp, LF,
Tyler Naquin, CF
Roberto Perez, C
Josh Tomlin, RHP
|Closing Time: Hanley Ramirez continues hot streak, Clay Buchholz picks up win as Red Sox beat Yankees||09.16.16 at 10:24 pm ET|
The Red Sox appear to be in a good position for the final 15 games of the season.
Led by Hanley Ramirez and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, and Clay Buchholz on the mound, the Red Sox beat Yankees 7-4 Friday night at Fenway Park.
They now lead the Yankees by six games in the AL East and Orioles by two games as they came from behind to beat the Rays. The Blue Jays are playing the Angels late on the West Coast.
The Red Sox carried over their momentum from Thursday night into the first inning on Friday as they scored two runs. David Ortiz had an RBI single off the Green Monster, but was thrown out at second base and then Ramirez singled up the middle to make it a 2-0 game.
Ramirez kept his hot streak going as he crushed a solo homer in the fourth inning to almost the exact same spot as his walk-off on Thursday to put the Red Sox in front 3-0 at the time. Travis Shaw and Sandy Leon each added RBIs before Bradley Jr. hit a solo homer in the seventh.
Buchholz wasn’t perfect by any means, but was able to make key pitches when he needed to as he escaped a few jams. The right-hander went six innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out two. It was his seventh win of the year.
He’s given the team two outstanding starts in his last three outings with Steven Wright down and possibly out for the year.
The Yankees went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Robbie Ross Jr. (2/3 of an inning), Brad Zieger (1/3 of an inning), Koji Uehara (one inning) were excellent in relief as they didn’t allow a run in two innings of work, but Fernando Abad had issues in the ninth as he allowed a two-run homer to Billy Butler forcing Craig Kimbrel to come on for the final two outs.
Ramirez has six home runs in his last nine games, nine in his last 16, and 10 in his last 19.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win.
With there only being 16 games left in the regular season and the Red Sox with a good chance of making the postseason, it’s never too early to start thinking about a potential playoff roster and who will be on it.
The Red Sox bullpen has a 0.74 ERA in the month of September — the best in baseball — with a number of players stepping up to deliver strong performances.
Given the number of great individual outings and players performing better than earlier in the year, there will be a lot of competition for the final bullpen spots, but manager John Farrell said the remaining games will not be considered an audition.
“No, it’s about what to we need to do to win tonight,” Farrell said. “Not to short-circuit the answer, but I don’t anyone is looking beyond today. And honestly, that’s the mentally we have to maintain until the last out is made whenever and wherever that is.”
One of the pitchers who has made a name for himself is left-hander Robby Scott, who was added to the roster when rosters expanded on Sept. 1.
In two appearances, Scott hasn’t allowed an earned run over four innings, which included a three inning appearance Thursday night against the Yankees, which proved key to keep the Red Sox within striking distance prior to Hanley Ramirez’s walk-off home run.
Scott made his major league debut this month as the 27-year-old has had a long journey to the big leagues.
“It was, but yet the other day in that sim game we had him throw an inning just to tune him up, sharpen him up, just to get him on the mound,” Farrell said when asked if the team took an inning-by-inning approach on Thursday with him. “As he was going through that game last night — and even if you set aside the final outcome — those three innings were key just to preserve staying away from certain guys when you’re down on the scoreboard.
“Just an incredible personal story on his part from where he’s come from, the way he’s made adjustments this year to make himself even that much more unique — all credit to him for the work that he’s put in, but I think the thing that stands out is maybe that he’s starting in Yuma, Arizona and the Independent League trail that he’s followed, there’s no fear on his part. Just a good strike-thrower with maybe not the most overpowering stuff, but the change of angles and the fearlessness certainly plays out.”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
|John Farrell ‘confident’ Red Sox’ recent struggles with men on base will change||08.26.16 at 11:40 pm ET|
The biggest issue for the Red Sox of late hasn’t been their pitching staff, rather their lack of timely hits.
The trend continued Friday night in the Red Sox’ 6-3 loss to the Royals where they went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 12 men on base.
The top four spots in the order went 13-for-19, including Mookie Betts going 5-for-5, but the No. 5-9 spots went just 2-for-21 with 10 strikeouts.
“We continually do a great job of creating opportunities and I am confident this will turn,” manager John Farrell said. “I can’t say that we expanded the strike zone with men in scoring position or the bases loaded. [Ian] Kennedy challenged us and we came up empty with a number of scoring opportunities.”
With the loss, the Red Sox have now lost three straight games for the first time since July 27. They’ve also dropped four out of their last six games, overall.
In those six games, the allusive key hit just hasn’t been there. In those games, the team is batting just .233 with runners in scoring position. Overall, going into Friday, they were batting .286 for the season.
Friday was also a good example of how players at the bottom of the order are hurting them as the top of the order has been getting on base (evident by Betts and Dustin Pedroia going 9-for-9), but some of the players in the bottom half haven’t been producing to drive them in.
Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon and his .369 batting average keep moving up the lineup.
Leon is batting sixth Friday night, which is ahead of Jackie Bradley Jr. as the Red Sox go up against Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy in the first of a three-game series.
Other than that, it’s a standard Red Sox lineup against a right-hander with Travis Shaw at third base and Brock Holt in left field.
Leon will catch Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright, who is making his first start since Aug. 5.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Mookie Betts, RF
Hanley Ramirez, 1B
Sandy Leon, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Travis Shaw, 3B
Brock Holt, LF
Steven Wright, RHP
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
|Closing Time: Rick Porcello a winner in return to Detroit as Red Sox pummel Tigers||08.19.16 at 9:56 pm ET|
DETROIT — It’s not as if Rick Porcello can say he was out to prove the Tigers wrong, since the man who traded him away now runs the Red Sox.
But there’s no question Porcello took a little extra pleasure in beating his former team on Friday night as the Red Sox bounced back from one of their worst losses of the season with an overwhelming 10-2 victory.
The Sox tagged standout rookie starter Michael Fulmer with a career-worst six runs, and that was more than enough for Porcello, who allowed a two-run homer in the second and then silenced the Tigers en route to his 17th win of the season.
At 17-3 with a 3.22 ERA, Porcello strengthened his dark-horse candidacy for the American League Cy Young Award in a wide-open field. He allowed 2 runs (1 ER) on four hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA from 3.30 and joining Toronto’s J.A. Happ as the only 17-game winners in the big leagues.
“He’s putting himself in the conversation, there’s no doubt,” manager John Farrell said of the Cy Young race before the game. “Innings per start, efficiency, all that. He’s been our stopper, and has had one heck of a year for us.”
The Red Sox needed it on Friday after Thursday’s bullpen meltdown turned a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 loss.
|Jackie Bradley on hitting home run No. 20: ‘That’s the most I’ve ever hit at any level’||08.18.16 at 1:08 am ET|
Jackie Bradley’s dream season continues with a first he didn’t even achieve in Little League — 20 home runs.
Bradley blasted No. 20 in the third inning against the the Orioles on Wednesday night, breaking a 1-1 tie and propelling the Red Sox to an 8-1 victory.
“Twenty home runs,” Bradley said. “That’s the most I’ve ever had at any level, and what better than to do it at the top level.”
Bradley’s two-run shot to center off of Orioles starter Dylan Bundy opened the floodgates for the Red Sox, who got another homer from Sandy Leon in the fifth to put the game out of reach.
“I just try to attack the baseball, hit it hard,” said Bradley, who totaled 14 homers in his first three seasons. “I don’t try to put any I guess trajectory on it. I just try to square it up and let it do what it wants.”
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