|Red Sox lineup: Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli get day off in series finale||07.20.14 at 11:43 am ET|
Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli will get the day off from the starting lineup as the Red Sox look for the three-game sweep of the Royals against hard-throwing righthander Yordano Ventura. Shane VIctorino is playing in his second straight game with Boston, and fourth consecutive overall, dating back to the start of his brief rehab stint with Pawtucket on Thursday. He is scheduled to have the day off Monday when the Red Sox open a series in Toronto.
For a complete batter vs. pitcher breakdown, click here.
RED SOX LINEUP
Brock Holt 3B
Daniel Nava LF
David Ortiz DH
Mike Carp 1B
Stephen Drew SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Jon Lester SP
|Mike Napoli preserves Red Sox’ hot stretch with clutch round-tripper||07.19.14 at 11:47 pm ET|
One of the staples of last year’s championship season for the Red Sox has once again become a recurring theme over the first two contests of this brief three-game homestand against the Royals: Contributions from up and down the Boston roster.
Whether it be Xander Bogaerts’ and Jonny Gomes’ clutch home runs Friday night or Mike Napoli‘s sixth-inning go-ahead solo shot Saturday, the Sox are suddenly benefiting from different players stepping to the forefront of individual games en route to wins.
“That’s what we did last year,” Napoli said after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Kansas City. “That’s how you win ballgames. It can’t just be one guy doing it, so everyone is going to have to contribute and we all know that and we’re going to take it one day at a time.”
Comparisons aside, the Red Sox‘ recent stretch of clutch hitting has been a key factor in sustaining a run that has seen Boston win three in a row and six out of its last seven games.
With the game deadlocked in a 1-1 score Saturday, Napoli strode to the plate to face off against Royals southpaw starter Danny Duffy, who had only surrendered three hits over his first 5 1/3 innings of work.
After forcing the count to 3-1, Napoli turned on a high fastball from Duffy and clobbered it over the Monster and into Lansdowne Street for his 11th home run of the season, giving Boston a 2-1 lead that it would not yield in the following innings.
Entering Saturday’s game against the Royals, the Red Sox had only scored two runs over starter Rubby De La Rosa‘s last four starts, equaling out to an unsightly 0.73 run support average.
Boston was able to double that run total on Saturday night, and while two runs isn’t much, it was enough for De La Rosa, who spun seven brilliant innings of one-run, five-hit dominance en route to a 2-1 Red Sox victory.
Boston has now won two-straight series while also earning their first series victory against a team over .500 since the team took two out of three games from the Yankees on June 27-29. Boston’s last eight wins at home have all been decided by one run.
De La Rosa has now allowed three runs or less in five of his seven starts on the year while improving his ERA at home to 1.53 in four starts (4 earned runs/26 innings).
The game remained knotted at 1-1 until the sixth inning, when Mike Napoli took a 92 mph fastball from Royals starter Danny Duffy and deposited it over the Green Monster to give the Sox a one-run lead.
Shane Victorino, playing in his first game with Boston since May 23 after battling hamstring and back injuries for almost two months, was solid at the plate, going 1-for-3 while showing no limitations both in the field and on the basepaths.
With the win the Red Sox move to 45-52 on the year and have now won six of their last seven games.
|What did Red Sox do during All-Star break?||07.17.14 at 12:40 am ET|
With Jon Lester and Koji Uehara the lone All-Star representatives in Minnesota for the Red Sox (besides the coaching staff), many members of the team had a chance to relax before the grind of the second half of the season gets underway. Some decided to share their activities on social media.
First baseman Mike Napoli had dinner with some long-time friends in the North End.
‘ Jen Royle (@Jen_Royle) July 16, 2014
|John Farrell on ‘idiot’ comment: Mike Napoli, Red Sox have ‘utmost respect’ for Masahiro Tanaka||06.29.14 at 6:51 pm ET|
Napoli approached the dugout beaming in celebration and shouted boisterously, “What an idiot! What an idiot!” (In the clubhouse postgame, Napoli acknowledged his surprise that Tanaka threw him a fastball in that situation.) Yet instead of remaining incomprehensible to all but lip readers, the exclamation to teammates was caught by the microphones of the FOX broadcast of the game.
|Mike Napoli, Yankee punisher, makes Masahiro Tanaka pay for mistake||06.28.14 at 11:55 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Through eight innings of a 1-1 tie, it had been a difficult night for Mike Napoli at the plate. The first baseman had stepped to the plate three times against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka without putting a ball in play. He walked once and struck out twice, both times on splitters.
That preface suggested that Napoli was in trouble when he fell behind Tanaka, 1-2, with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. But after Tanaka got back-to-back swings and misses from Napoli — one on a slider, one on a splitter — to put him on the defensive, the dazzling rookie opted for an ill-fated change of course. Instead of attacking with one of his secondary offerings, Tanaka let loose a 96 mph fastball that sailed up and to the outer part of the plate in the strike zone.
“He had me where he wanted me. I don’t know, I was just looking, I was just hoping he would hang the split. Usually he doesn’t,” said Napoli. “I was pretty surprised, but I was down to two strikes. I was just trying to see something up. My mind was saying, ‘Hang a splitter,’ but I just got something up in the zone that I could handle.”
Handle it he did. Napoli pulled the trigger, whipping his barrel through the zone and managing to send a dart whistling through the air, just over the right field fence and into the first row of seats for an opposite-field homer, his 10th of the year, that offered the decisive margin in the Sox’ 2-1 victory. It was Napoli‘s third homer of the year in a two-strike count, a situation in which he’s hitting .225 with a .355 OBP and .319 slugging mark — all well above the American League averages of .180/.251/.269 with two strikes.
|Jackie Bradley offers reminder that his arm isn’t close to slumping||06.13.14 at 1:48 am ET|
The ball was well struck off the bat of Indians center fielder Michael Bourn, but Jackie Bradley Jr. initially did not see it that way. In fact, from Bradley’s vantage point, a shade toward left-center field, the center fielder thought that the 92 mph fastball from Jon Lester jammed Bourn.
Bradley took a step in, thinking that the ball would end up short of him in center. But he quickly realized that he made a mistake.
The ball was going to end up near the Green Monster. The territory was familiar for Bradley: Just two weeks ago, the 24-year-old took a ball off the face in nearly the same spot, with the play ultimately ending up as an inside-the-park home run for the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier. Despite the misread, and his recent history with fly balls near the Green Monster in left-center field, Bradley did not panic.
Instead, he began to count.
“I pretty much counted my steps before going up for it,” Bradley said. “I didn’t think I had too much to worry about.
“It was one of those plays where I didn’t want to give up on it. I was going to make the best attempt I could, even if I had to get hit the face again.”
Once Bradley made the leaping catch against the wall, the outfielder saw, out of the corner of his eye, second baseman Dustin Pedroia waving his arms like a giant windmill fan. Immediately, Bradley knew he had a chance to get Mike Aviles at first base. Bradley glided into the Monster, bounced back off the wall and uncorked a Bo Jackson-esque throw that looked like a cannonball flying toward first baseman Mike Napoli.
Immediately, Napoli knew that the throw was not heading toward Pedroia, the cutoff man.
“I thought he was going to try to hit the cutoff,” Napoli said. “I know he has a good arm and he can reach me, but for me, I’m always just reading the throw no matter what, so when I saw the height of the ball, I made the reaction to it.”
Said Bradley: “I thought about throwing to [Pedroia], but I figured that he’s pretty far off the base. I’ll let the big dog eat.”
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