|Mike Napoli celebrates staying in Boston with game-winning HR: ‘I love my teammates’||07.31.15 at 11:30 pm ET|
Talk about irony.
Mike Napoli spent the week leading up to Friday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline wondering. He was wondering if his hot streak of late meant his days (and games) in the city he’s grown to love were numbered. The Pirates were in need of a right-handed power bat and surely, they could swing a deal with the Red Sox for the power hitter with just two months left on a two-year, $32 million contract.
But 4 p.m. came and went Friday and Napoli never got that call into general manager Ben Cherington’s office.
The first baseman took a deep breath and prepared to play another game for the Red Sox. He went 1-for-2 and that one hit was certainly a memorable one. With the Red Sox trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh and David Ortiz at first after working walk, Napoli swung at a two-strike 97 mph neck-high heater from Tampa Bay lefty reliever Jake McGee and lofted a rain-making fly ball to left that came down on the ledge of the Green Monster and bounced into the seats for a go-ahead two-run homer. The homer was the difference in a 7-5 win over the Rays at Fenway.
What a way to mark staying in Boston. The slugger now has a .326 average, three homers, nine RBIs and seven walks since July 12.
“I was just trying to stay short to the ball. He throws hard. I calmed down my leg kick and just tried to get my barrel to it,” Napoli said.
“You face guys in your division so much,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “McGee is a guy that likes to elevate his fastball looks to get some chase. Nap was sitting on a pitch up in the zone and did a fantastic job with it. Finally, we had a break go our way.”
Napoli, the guy who had trouble in the clutch all season, the guy who couldn’t seem to catch up to a high fastball all year, clubbed a fly ball that was only a home run because it came at Fenway Park.
“Playing at Fenway to get that homer,” Napoli smiled. “It was just reaction. Just tried to calm my leg kick down. He throws hard.”
As for the relief that comes with the passing of the trade deadline, Napoli said it was just another day.
“I wasn’t worried about it,” Napoli said. “Like I said before, I just came to the park to make myself better. It’s something I can’t control. If it happened, it happened. But I wanted to be a Red Sox. I signed here. I love my teammates and I definitely have fun playing with them on the field.
Friday night’s Red Sox-Rays game was a battle for the worst record in the majors over the month of July and it certainly looked that way, as it was a sloppy game with the teams combining for five errors and both teams blowing leads late.
In the end, the Red Sox rallied to beat the Rays 7-5 and will finish the month 10-15, while the Rays will finish 9-16.
With two outs in the seventh inning, David Ortiz and Rays reliever Jake McGee battled in an 11-pitch at-bat before the lefty slugger worked a walk to set the stage for Mike Napoli, who hit a towering home run to left field that just barely cleared the wall of the Green Monster. It was his second home run in three games and gave the Sox a 6-5 lead.
“Two fantastic at-bats in the seventh inning,” manager John Farrell said. “David with an outstanding at-bat. Just misses a double, able to work out the walk against probably a premium left-handed reliever and then Nap seemingly tomahawks a pitch that has just enough to get out of here. Sea-saw game back and forth. Great to see us respond with the two-run home run by Nap.”
Blake Swihart scored on a wild pitch in the eighth for an insurance run.
Junichi Tazawa got a double-play in the eighth to end a potential Rays rally and Koji Uehara pitched the ninth to close out the win.
The Red Sox grabbed a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning on Alejandro De Aza’s second RBI of the game, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it.
In the seventh inning Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a walk and hit another batter to set up runners on first and second with two outs before departing from the game. Tazawa couldn’t escape as he allowed a pinch-hit double to John Jaso, which scored two runs and gave the Rays the 5-4 lead.
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez didn’t have the best command of his fastball, but made up for it with one of his better changeups of the season. The left-hander went five innings and allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out four. The issue was he walked four batters on the way to throwing a career-high 110 pitches.
“On a night where Eddie battled himself, never really got into much of a rhythm, but to his credit made some pitches with runners in scoring position to minimize the damage,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox scored three times in the first inning to take a 3-1 lead early on. De Aza singled home Xander Bogaerts and then Swihart came through with a two-run single to shallow left field.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|Closing Time: Rick Porcello, Red Sox keep on sliding with another loss to White Sox||07.29.15 at 11:03 pm ET|
First innings have become the Red Sox‘ worst nightmare of late. For the third consecutive game, they gave up at least two runs in the initial frame, harpooning their chances the rest of the way.
The misery may have begun in the first, but it didn’t end until just after 11 p.m. Wednesday when the White Sox sealed their 9-2 victory. The Red Sox now have dropped the first three games of their four-game set with Chicago, and 13 of their last 16 dating back to July 10.
It didn’t take long for the White Sox to get started, as Adam Eaton planted his fourth leadoff home run of the season just inside the Pesky Pole on the sixth pitch of the game. Four batters later, Adam LaRoche lined a shot off the Monster sending Melky Cabrera to third and resigning Red Sox starter Rick Porcello to a troublesome, but manageable scoring threat. However, on the throw in to second from left fielder Hanley Ramirez, super-utility man Brock Holt missed the short hop and with no backup to be found, allowed Cabrera to cross home plate easily, spotting the White Sox a 2-0 advantage right from the get-go.
A 2-0 deficit quickly ballooned to 5-0 in the second inning. After retiring two of the first three batters he faced during the frame, Porcello allowed three consecutive base-knocks, leading to two more Chicago runs. By the end of the inning, the right-hander had loaded the bases with a walk and hit LaRoche, sending the game further out of reach.
“Some of the mechanical issues that I’ve had in the past this year kind of came back tonight,” Porcello said. “You get out there in the heat of the moment and all you’re thinking about is competing and doing whatever you can do to get out of that situation.”
Leading off the next inning, Alexei Ramirez mashed a shot over the wall in left after falling behind on an 0-2 count to Porcello. A double and a single later, and Red Sox manager John Farrell indulged the crowd, yanking his starter.
Following 4-0 and 5-0 first-inning deficits overseen by Joe Kelly and Wade Miley, respectively, the Red Sox certainly hoped for a better showing from Porcello. Coming into the game with a 2.50 ERA and a .641 opponent OPS over his last three starts, he was knocked around early and often in his 200th career start. Holt’s error started his night off on a sour note and he never bounced back.
“I had a bad game,” Porcello said. “I elevated some pitches, fell behind some guys, [had] a couple walks, put some runners on base [which] put me in some tough spots and I didn’t recover.”
|John Farrell: ‘Guys are fully aware that the deadline is fast approaching’||07.28.15 at 5:31 pm ET|
It’s no secret there will be more Red Sox players traded in the coming days.
With the Red Sox 13 games back of the Yankees in the AL East and 12 games below .500, there will be some movement as the team begins to shift its focus towards 2016.
Manager John Farrell noted there is a little different feel than last year, as there were many names rumored in trade talks — notably Jon Lester. There isn’t that one premier player or rumor this year.
“The difference between this year and last year is I think you see a lot of rumors surrounding individual names, precipitating in trades,” Farrell said. “That rumor hasn’t been nearly as strong surrounding guys last year. It is that time of year. Guys are fully aware that the deadline is fast approaching. I don’t think it’s as prevalent in the minds of the guys here and the lack of that rumor. If there’s anything that is kind of leaning that way, we try and give guys a heads up as best possible, but that’s not the case.”
One player who has been rumored in trades after Shane Victorino was dealt yesterday is Mike Napoli. After struggling much of the season, the first baseman has turned it around of late. Over his last 10 games he’s hitting .355.
“It’s something that’s out of my control,” Napoli said of possibly being dealt. “I come here, work hard every day to get myself better. Go out there, play hard and try to help us win that day. It’s something I don’t really think about. I come here and get my work in and do what I can.”
The Red Sox first baseman did speak of how much he loves Boston, but didn’t want to get into much about how sad he would be if traded.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll answer that if it happens,” he said. “I love this place. I bought a place here, I live here. Love this city, love the people here. I’ve really enjoyed it. If that time comes, I’ll touch on my thoughts then.”
With the Victorino trade on Monday, Farrell himself admitted it says the team is focusing now on the future. The manager didn’t want to get into what that would mean for the team overall until after Friday’s deadline has passed.
“I think it’s probably best we get through these next few days,” Farrell said. “It’s kind of a mark on the calendar that you — I think there are some things that are obvious and if it affects an individual then that’s when a sit down 1-on-1 comes down a little more regularly.”
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
|Mike Napoli ejected in 1st inning after striking out||07.27.15 at 7:45 pm ET|
The first baseman was ejected after striking out looking in the first inning by home plate umpire Toby Basner.
Napoli dropped his bat and helmet and the helmet bounced and hit Basner, likely unintentionally, and it was then Basner ejected the Red Sox first baseman.
Prior to Monday, he had reached base in nine straight games, while hitting .367 in those contests.
Napoli has been rumored in trade talks as Friday’s deadline nears.
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|MLB Trade Deadline: Pirates reportedly ending hunt for first baseman, out on Mike Napoli||at 5:55 pm ET|
According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the Pirates are telling teams they’re likely to keep Pedro Alvarez, which would effectively end their hunt for other first baseman upgrades. So connecting the dots it would mean they are no longer interested in Napoli.
The Pirates are currently six games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central, but lead the NL Wild Card.
Napoli has reached base in nine straight games, while hitting .367 in those contests.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 27, 2015
|Report: Pirates have shown interest in Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino||07.26.15 at 7:16 pm ET|
According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates have “looked into” both Napoli and Victorino.
The Pirates are currently six games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central, but lead the NL Wild Card.
‘ Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) July 26, 2015
|Red Sox lineup: Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino starting vs. Tigers||07.24.15 at 4:25 pm ET|
The Red Sox will look to snap an eight-game losing streak, coming off there winless seven-game road trip out of the All-Star break.
Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.
Here is a complete Red Sox lineup:
|Closing Time: Jose Altuve’s walkoff homer stretches Red Sox losing streak to 8 games||07.23.15 at 11:49 pm ET|
HOUSTON — There was seemingly no other way to punctuate this road trip.
Seven games. Seven losses. Outscored 39-13. Eight-game losing streak. Twelve games out of first place. Twelve games under .500.
It was a stretch that saw the Red Sox hit .204 with just three home runs, striking out 51 times and drawing 13 walks. Their ERA was 5.37 (6.29 for the starters), with Sox pitchers giving up 16 homers.
And then there was the finale.
The latest loss would come courtesy a walkoff, solo homer from Jose Altuve in the ninth inning against Craig Breslow, giving the Astros a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park.
“It was a fastball down,” Breslow said. “Probably got a lot of plate. But in a 3-1 count, I wanted to throw the ball over the plate, didn’t want to give him a chance to get on base via the walk. He’s obviously a fast guy, base-stealer, so that presented a different host of problems. But once I fell behind, I needed to make sure the ball was in the strike zone.”
Altuve’s blast just cleared the left-field fence (coming in Breslow’s second inning of work), and spoiled the Sox’ eighth-inning comeback, which had been led by Mike Napoli.
The Red Sox first baseman notched three hits, including a solo home run and a line-drive RBI double in the eighth that tied the game at 4. The last hit — coming with two outs — plated Hanley Ramirez, who had followed Ortiz‘ leadoff homer with a single and stolen base.
In the end, however, the latest defeat came courtesy an overall bullpen meltdown, with the combination of Alexi Ogando and Junichi Tazawa proving unable to protect another gem from Wade Miley. The pair of relievers allowed three seventh-inning runs to the Astros, blowing the win for the starter.
|Red Sox lineup: Mike Napoli, rest of regulars back in for Game 2 of doubleheader||07.20.15 at 8:45 pm ET|
After falling 11-1 to the Angels in Game 1 of the doubleheader, the Red Sox are going with their regulars once again for Game 2. The Red Sox are currently 8 1/2 games behind the first place Yankees in the AL East.
After going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in Game 1, Mike Napoli is back at first base as the Red Sox go up against Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney.
After being activated early in the day on Monday, Blake Swihart will catch knuckleballer Steven Wright.
For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.
Here is the complete Red Sox lineup:
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