|Red Sox-Twins series preview||05.25.15 at 10:10 am ET|
After taking two out of three from the Angels over the weekend, the Red Sox leave the friendly confines to begin a three-game set with the Twins on Monday in Minneapolis.
The Red Sox are 5-5 over their last 10 games, and they sit at 21-23 on the season, good for third place in the cluttered AL East. They are 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Rays.
On the other hand, the surprise Twins are 25-18 and reside in second place in the AL Central, behind the Royals. They are 7-3 in their last 10 and 24-12 since their 1-6 start to the campaign.
The Twins are coming off of a five-game stretch in which they swept a two-game series from the Pirates and took two out of three from the division rival White Sox. Against Chicago, the Twins offense proved itself, beating last year’s AL Cy Young candidate Chris Sale for the second time this season Saturday, this time 4-3.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in here,” Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson said after the series-clinching 8-1 win Sunday. “We have been saying that even after the 1-6 start that we like our team and we like the leaders in here. And we fight. It’s what we do.”
With a largely young and unproven lineup, first-year manager and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor has molded the Twins into a potent run-scoring machine. Though they do not hit many home runs, they are the fifth-highest-scoring team in baseball this year, logging 4.58 runs per game. Meanwhile, the Red Sox score just 4.00 runs per game, the 21st-best mark in the majors.
|Unique story behind bat Mike Napoli used in monster weekend series||05.24.15 at 5:49 pm ET|
By now everyone knows about Mike Napoli‘s monster homestand — batting .429 (9-for-21), with six runs scored, five home runs and 10 RBIs — but what many might not know is the story behind the bat he used.
“Sometimes there are kids in the dugout and I go up and have them sign my bat,” Napoli said. “It was kind of crazy, the first home run I hit the other day was where he actually signed it. It was pretty cool. I appreciate where he signed it.”
“It’s pretty cool,” he added. “Everyone is always asking for my autograph so I think it’s pretty cool to go up to a kid and say, ‘Hey, give me your autograph.’ They love that and they write their name on the bat in squiggle.”
After homering on Tuesday against the Rangers, Napoli really picked it up over the weekend against the Angels — the team that drafted him in 2000. He went 5-for-9 over the three games with four home runs and eight RBIs. With hitting a home run in three consecutive home games he became the first player to do so since David Ortiz did in June of 2012 and no one had done it in three straight days at home since Jason Bay in 2009.
The first baseman owns the Angels, as prior to Sunday’s game Napoli had the all-time best slugging percentage (.716) and OPS (1.163) against them.
“I think there’s always a personal incentive when you go up against your original organization regardless of how things play out over time,” manager John Farrell said. “That’s pretty common for most players.”
What was even more impressive was Napoli’s hot streak came out of no where.
|Closing Time: Mike Napoli homers again, Wade Miley throws gem as Red Sox take series over Angels||at 4:13 pm ET|
Dare we say the Red Sox have turned a corner?
Following an unimpressive start to the homestand, dropping three of the first four games with barely any life, the Red Sox won the last two games of the series against the Angels, capping it off with a 6-1 win Sunday.
Wade Miley gave the Red Sox their second exceptional start in as many games, as the left-hander went eight innings, allowing one run on four hits, while walking one and striking out two.
He didn’t allow a baserunner until two outs in the fifth when he walked Chris Iannetta and then the next batter, C.J. Cron singled to left following a review of whether a pitch was a hit by pitch or foul ball that hit the knob of the bat.
Miley ended his outing in style, getting a double play to end the eighth inning, with Mike Trout standing on deck.
“It comes down to fastball command,” manager John Farrell said. “Even when he’s got a couple of guys on base. He hasn’t overthrown as we saw maybe back in April. He’s turned things around personally this month, that’s pretty clear. But he’s back to a quick pace but a comfortable one for him and he’s commanded his pitches.”
Mike Napoli continued his monster homestand as the first baseman crushed a two-run home run in the second inning to dead centerfield. It traveled 451 feet. Napoli finished the homestand 9-for-21 with five homers and 7 RBIs, and for his career has owned the Angels as coming in to the game he had the best all-time slugging percentage (.716) and OPS (1.163).
The Red Sox added another run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Dustin Pedroia, bringing in Brock Holt, who hit a ground rule double to open the inning. Sandy Leon had a perfect sacrifice bunt getting him to third.
They added three more insurance runs in the eighth when Napoli ripped a two-RBI double off the Green Monster and the next batter, pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval, delivered an RBI single.
“Having people on base when you’re hitting and feeling good, it’s a good feeling driving in runs and [being able to] contribute,” Napoli said.
Koji Uehara pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in a non-save situation.
As a team the Red Sox have now hit home runs in 18 of their 22 home games, which ties the Astros for most in the American League.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Miley. The left-hander was exceptional, as he gave the Red Sox their second straight outstanding start. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
|Red Sox notes: Mookie Betts gets second look, Mike Napoli hitting with ‘clear mind right now’||at 2:15 pm ET|
Sometimes bad luck can lead to good things.
In the case of the Red Sox, Shane Victorino leaving Saturday’s game against the Angels (and subsequently landing on the disabled list) opened a new opportunity for John Farrell and Mookie Betts. Specificially, it allowed Farrell to see what Betts looks like hitting behind Dustin Pedroia and it gave Betts a chance to hit between Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez in the order. Sunday marked just the second time this season Betts has batted in the No. 2 hole.
Betts went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in Saturday’s 8-3 win.
“I think it’s one of those things where hey, it worked, I’m not going to change it [with] as much change as we’ve been going through,” Farrell said. “Mookie put three swings on balls [Saturday] night as we’ve seen in a number of other games. He was given a little bit of heads up before the game started, be on-call here because you don’t know how far or how deep in the game he might be needed. It was unfortunately quick in this case. He put up three quality at-bats in the meantime. Credit to him.”
Then there’s the scorching hot Mike Napoli. He obliterated another pitch Sunday afternoon, launching a pitch from lefty Hector Santiago five rows deep to the bleachers in straightaway center for his fourth homer in three games and fifth homer on the six-game homestand. Saturday, he crushed a pair of homers of nemesis C.J. Wilson, including a two-run bomb to left that cleared the Monster and traveled an estimated 450 feet.
“It’s more timing,” Farrell said of Napoli‘s resurgence. “It’s not so much trying to take an approach to one side of the diamond because when the timing is accurate, they’re seeing pitches more clearly and they’re able to react to where pitches are on the plate. You see [Saturday] where in a 3-2 count, Nap gets a fastball on the inside part of the plate that he turns on. When they’re in a good hitting position, there’s a great ability to react to where balls are located in the zone.
“I can’t say there’s a different effort level in the swing. He’s a guy that’s going to impact the baseball and drive the baseball. That’s his calling card as a hitter his whole major league career. So in those [hitter’s] advantage counts, now that his timing is more consistent and more what he’s been accustomed to. He’s just in a better position to drive the baseball. Sometimes, whether it’s a pitcher or hitter, body mechanics can get disrupted by thoughts. More than anything, he’s hitting with a clear mind right now.”
With Victorino going on the disabled list Sunday, the Red Sox brought up infielder Jeff Bianchi from Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said there was no consideration to bring up Jackie Bradley Jr. since the organization felt he needed more regular playing time.
“At this point, he needed to get some regular at-bats,” Farrell said of Bradley, who was expected to travel to Louisville and be ready to play Sunday evening against the Bats, the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate.
Farrell also said righty Justin Masterson continues to make good progress after being disabled with right shoulder fatigue/tendinitis on May 14.
“He threw a bullpen [Friday],” Farrell said. “A pretty intense bullpen. He’ll have at least one more and we’ll probably get a total of three bullpens before we send him out on a rehab assignment but he’s making strong progress in terms of the intensity of the throws, the volume of throws. We don’t have a targeted date for his first rehab assignment but that’s coming in the near future.”
|C.J. Wilson on suddenly hot Mike Napoli: ‘He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware’||at 12:18 am ET|
When C.J. Wilson is paying Mike Napoli a compliment, you know he means it.
The two rivals from their bitter tweet dust-up of 2012 met again Saturday night, and safe to say, Napoli got the last laugh. He homered twice off the pitcher who took offense to Napoli proclaiming that he can’t wait to make the Angels pay.
Napoli homered in the second inning, a laser beam that literally hit a target sign hanging on the facade of the second row of Monster seats down the left field line. His second homer off Wilson came on a hanging curve that Napoli put over Monster seats entirely, snapping a 2-2 tie and putting the Red Sox ahead for good in an 8-3 win Saturday night at Fenway.
“He was teammate of mine,” Napoli said. “Yeah, it’s nice to have a good night. I’m glad I just had a good night and feel better at the plate. He has good stuff. He’s handed it to me before this night. It was nice to get him tonight.”
Revenge? “Nah. That was a long time ago,” Napoli said in taking the high road.
Napoli has three homers in the first two games against the Angels and four homers in five games on the homestand. His seven homers lead the club since April 25.
“He was really locked in tonight,” Wilson said. “Obviously, this is the guy tonight, or last two nights, was more like the guy I saw hit .300-plus or .325 in Texas, not the guy on the scoreboard hitting a buck-80 or whatever it is. He’s obviously a very talented hitter and everybody goes through slumps. He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware for the rest of the league for the rest of the season if he stays there.”
As for his relationship with Napoli, whom he played with in 2011, Wilson initially scoffed at the question before offering perspective.
“What does that have to do with anything,” Wilson added. “We only played together for one year so it’s not like we know each other that well. We played together for one season in Texas. He caught me. We had really great results with him catching me. But other than that, him and [Jered] Weaver are buddies but there’s guys that I’m friends with on other teams that I’ve never played with because we got to hang out at a video shoot or commercial or something like that. I’d say Nap and I have different interests on and off the field.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Closing Time: Mike Napoli homers twice, Steven Wright outstanding in Red Sox win||05.23.15 at 10:25 pm ET|
Losing two straight and four of five, the Red Sox offense, which came in averaging 2.45 runs per game in May, and team in general needed a spark — someone to insert some life into the group.
Mike Napoli to the rescue.
The first baseman hit two monster home runs, as the Red Sox beat the Angels 8-3 Saturday night at Fenway Park.
His second home run came in the sixth inning with two outs and Hanley Ramirez on first base as he took a C.J. Wilson offering and crushed it over everything in left, snapping a 2-2 tie at the time.
Napoli owns the Angels as he entered the game with the best all-time slugging percentage (.679) and OPS (1.120) against them. He has reached base in 14 straight games against them.
“I feel pretty good,” Napoli said. “This is a time that we’re out to maintain what I’m doing right now in the cage and my BP. I know where my hands have to get and it’s a good feeling to go in there and compete and not try to think what’s going wrong with my swing or anything. So I’m going to try to keep that muscle memory and be able to go in the game and compete.”
The Red Sox added to their lead in the seventh inning when Xander Bogaerts delivered a two-out, two-run single to right with the bases loaded. They struck for two more in the eighth when Blake Swihart and Brock Holt perfectly executed a hit-and-run where Holt scored from first on a ball that died in the outfield grass, and then Mookie Betts added a two-out RBI single.
Knuckleballer Steven Wright was terrific for the Red Sox, as after allowing two first inning runs he retired 18 of the next 19 hitters before walking Matt Joyce with one out in the seventh inning and manager John Farrell took him out of the game. Alexi Ogando retired the next two batters to get out of the inning with no damage.
Wright finished the night going 6 1/3 innings, allowing the two first inning runs on four hits, while walking one and striking out two to pick up his second win of the season. It was his first career win as a major league starter.
“For me, it’s just another day,” Wright said. “If you try and put too much pressure on yourself you’re just going to disappoint and you’re going to try and over do things, over work. For me, I am going to try and go in there and throw quality knuckleballs in the strike zone. They are going to put it in play, it’s a contact pitch. Today we were fortunate to get balls right at some guys, guys made some good plays. I went as deep as I could.”
After trailing 2-0, the Red Sox scored once in the third and once in the fourth. They got on the board in the third inning on a rocket of a homer by Napoli into the Monster seats. They then scored the following inning on an RBI single to left from Betts, who was pinch-hitting for Shane Victorino (more on that later).
Things didn’t start so well for Wright and the Red Sox as the Angels scored twice in the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun. The Red Sox have now been outscored 32-14 in the first inning this year.
Victorino, after missing the last two games, returned to the lineup, but left prior to his at-bat in the bottom of third inning with left calf tightness. That was part of what has kept him out the last two days.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Napoli. He put the team on his back with the two homers. He now has four home runs in his last five games and was his 14th career multi-homer game. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|Closing Time: Red Sox allow 9 runs in 5th inning as Angels roll to blowout win||05.22.15 at 10:46 pm ET|
How about some consistency?
After the Red Sox scored one run or less in four of their last six games and came in averaging 2.34 runs per game in the month of May, they finally had a good offensive night, scoring five runs, but it wasn’t enough as they couldn’t continue their string of strong games from the mound, as the Angels took the first game of the weekend series, 12-5.
Red Sox starter Rick Porcello just didn’t have it. He couldn’t control any of his pitches and the Angels made him pay, especially in the fifth — a half inning that lasted over 37 minutes, and saw three pitchers combine for 46 pitches and nine runs.
Porcello walked the first two batters, and then Mike Trout singled to short left on a ball that barely got by Brock Holt at third, but a second run scored when Xander Bogaerts tried to get Johnny Giavotella at third base and the throw went against the Angels dugout. Albert Pujols then grounded out, but Trout would steal third on a tremendous slide, eluding Holt’s tag (he was ruled safe after a video review). Kole Calhoun then singled to score Trout and David Freese doubled scoring the fourth run of the inning, which was Porcello’s departure.
Matt Barnes came in relief and was even worse. He walked the first batter he faced and then allowed a three-run homer to Chris Iannetta. Marc Krauss then hit a routine fly ball to right field that Rusney Castillo, in his first major league game of the season, dropped. Two batters later Erick Aybar hit a two-run homer sending Barnes to the showers.
Robbie Ross Jr. then came on and after a harmless Trout single retired the next two batters to mercifully end the inning. It was their worst inning of the season as their previous high in an inning was seven — when Clay Buchholz allowed seven in the first against the Yankees on April 12.
Adding insult to injury (literally), Hanley Ramirez left the game in the sixth, two innings after taking a pitch off the hand. The Red Sox announced he left because of left hand soreness. Every Red Sox starter recorded a hit, besides Ramirez.
For Porcello it was his shortest outing of the season, as his fine line was 4 1/3 innings, seven runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out four.
Trailing 11-3 going into the seventh, the Red Sox showed some fight scoring two runs, forcing Angels starter Garrett Richards from the game, and could have scored even more if it weren’t for Daniel Nava hitting into a double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Red Sox have now lost four of their last five games and fall to 8-12 at home this year.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Trout. The centerfielder put on a show, as besides going 3-for-6 at the plate, he made a tremendous throw from deep left center field to throw out Napoli trying to score from first in the fourth and had a great slide to avoid a tag at third on a stolen base attempt in the fifth. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
Here’s what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|Closing Time: David Ortiz, Mike Napoli homer as Red Sox take series opener over Rangers||05.19.15 at 10:01 pm ET|
Maybe all the Red Sox needed was to come home.
After struggling on their 10-game road trip, averaging 2.3 runs a game, including scoring just seven overall in four games in Seattle over the weekend, the Red Sox‘ bats awoke with 13 hits, including two home runs in their 4-3 win at Fenway Park over the Rangers Tuesday night.
Mike Napoli led the fourth inning off with a laser that hit the AAA sign over the Monster in left for his third home run of the season. Ortiz then ripped a solo homer into the Red Sox bullpen the next inning. It was his first home run at Fenway Park since the home opener. Napoli added an infield RBI single later in the inning to give the Red Sox a 4-0 lead at the time.
“Yeah, I thought we had a number of really good at-bats tonight,” manager John Farrell said. “Created multiple opportunities. We left a decent amount of guys on base tonight but it was good to see Nap timing his swing a little more consistent with what we’ve known Mike to be. David [Ortiz] with three well-hit balls tonight. Gets us on the board first with a base-hit in the first, a home run, lines out sharply to center field. Hanley [Ramirez] obviously with a number of base hits tonight. But just a good overall offensive approach up and down the lineup.”
Red Sox starter Wade Miley delivered his fourth straight solid start, as the left-hander went seven innings allowing two runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out seven. It marked the sixth straight start where the Red Sox starter allowed two runs or less.
Texas got to Miley in the sixth for two runs, but the defense behind him didn’t do him any favors. Thomas Field singled to left with two outs and Hanley Ramirez casually went after the ball and then over threw the cut off man when Kyle Blanks scored. The next batter Robinson Chirinos hit a deep fly to right where Daniel Nava took a poor route on it before it landed on the warning track for a RBI triple.
“I think Blake [Swihart] did a really good job of going over that lineup and getting a plan and we were able to execute it,” Miley said. “I didn’t throw a lot of breaking balls, just stuck with the fastball and it worked out good.”
Junichi Tazawa threw a 1-2-3 eighth, and despite allowing a lead-off home run in the ninth, Koji Uehara earned his 10th save of the season. The homer was the first base runner Uehara had allowed at Fenway all season, as he came into the game retiring all 15 hitters he faced.
Hitting two home runs Tuesday night means the Red Sox have now homered in 14 of their last 17 games at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox are now 10-3 in series openers to start the season, although it wasn’t all good news as Pablo Sandoval left the game in the seventh inning after being hit by a pitch in his left knee.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Napoli. The first baseman needed a breakout game and he got one going 2-for-4 with two RBI. It was his first multi-hit game since April 25 and his third overall this year. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|Closing Time: Pablo Sandoval homer lifts Red Sox over A’s in 11 innings||05.12.15 at 2:11 am ET|
Pablo Sandoval is like Two-Face in the Batman movies. From the left side of the plate, he represents goodness. From the right side, he is grotesque.
On Monday night in Oakland, he needed only one swing from the left side to make his mark, lining an Angel Castro offering over the right field fence in the 11th inning to give the Red Sox a 5-4 victory over the A’s in a game that didn’t look like it was being played by last-place teams.
The respective offenses grinded out rallies, matching runs in the fourth, fifth, and seventh. And both managers treated the game like a playoff affair, with Red Sox skipper John Farrell summoning closer Koji Uehara to keep a tie game that way in the ninth, while A’s counterpart Bob Melvin utilized five relief pitchers.
But the two sides might still be playing if not for Sandoval, who hit the type of home run that is becoming his trademark ‘ the low-trajectory line drive that leaves the park in a hurry.
Prior to the homer, Sandoval had had another rough night from the right side. He grounded into a double play, struck out, and grounded out against A’s starter Scott Kazmir. Sandoval began the night hitting just .071 (2 for 28) from the right side, vs. .386 with a 1.017 OPS from the left.
Those numbers only skewed even further on Monday.
Right-hander Rick Porcello struggled for the Red Sox, allowing nine hits and a walk in just five innings. Porcello, who was coming off two very good seven-inning starts, struggled with his location in this one, often missing the zone badly, particularly with his changeup.
It was hard to miss the impact of youth in the seventh inning. In successive at-bats, 22-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts, 23-year-old catcher Blake Swihart, and 22-year-old center fielder Mookie Betts all singled to plate a run and erase a 3-2 deficit. When Betts then took out shortstop Marcus Semien with a tough, legal slide on Dustin Pedroia‘s groundout, the Red Sox had a 4-3 lead.
It proves short-lived, though, because reliever Craig Breslow gave it right back.
This was a matchup of two of the colder teams in baseball. The A’s had lost five straight, while the Sox had dropped seven of nine.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Pablo Sandoval erased a tough start at the plate by drilling the game-winning home run in the 11th. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
|Closing Time: Red Sox comeback bid from 8-0 deficit falls short as Yankees complete weekend sweep||05.04.15 at 12:00 am ET|
With how powerful the Red Sox‘ offense is, they rarely are out of any given game, but when they have to make up an 8-run difference, that’s asking too much.
Red Sox starter Joe Kelly couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning as he allowed five runs before being removed with two outs in the fifth, as the Yankees beat the Red Sox 8-5 Sunday night.
The Yankees swept the weekend series — it was their first series sweep of three or more games at Fenway Park since August 21, 2006.
The right-hander went 4 2/3 innings allowing five runs on nine hits, while not walking a batter and striking out three. It was the second time over his five starts where he didn’t make it out of the fifth inning, and now four out of the five Red Sox starters can say the same.
“Tonight, once again Joe [Kelly] had very good stuff,” manager John Farrell said. “They fought off a number of pitches that were quality pitches within the strike zone. Anytime he made a mistake on the plate he paid for it with the two-run homer, two-run double. Once he got his curveball into the mix there were some seemingly easier innings for him and slowed them down quite a bit. But through the first three innings he had a hard time getting any secondary pitches over for strikes to get a hitter, their timing a little disrupted.”
Trailing 8-0, the Red Sox scored five times in the sixth inning to make it interesting, capped by a three-run home run by Mike Napoli. The homer cut the deficit to three at 8-5, and snapped a 1-for-11 slump, but that was the closest the Red Sox could get, although they did load the bases against Andrew Miller in the ninth.
The Red Sox couldn’t get much going off Yankees starter Adam Warren until the five-run fifth. Warren finished going 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on four hits. It was his third straight going 5 2/3 inning, the longest he’s gone in a start in his career.
“But I felt we showed tremendous fight, tremendous comeback,” Farrell said. “We scored five in the bottom of the inning after we’re down 8-0, right down to the final swing of the night. Load the bases against Miller and we kept battling back all the way through. We didn’t give any at-bats away. There’s still a strong competitive spirit in that room.”
Warnings were issued to both benches in the top of the eighth after Edward Mujica hit Jacoby Ellsbury with a pitch. This comes after Hanley Ramirez was hit in the top of the sixth. Ramirez took exception, walking slowly to first base with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson and firing his bat against the wall.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Ellsbury. The former Red Sox reached base six times as he went 4-for-4 with a walk and was hit by a pitch, while scoring two runs. Vote on the Rock Solid Performer of the week and enter to win a VIP Boston Baseball Experience at weei.com/rocksolid.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
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