|Johnny Cueto tips his cap to Red Sox after allowing career-high 13 hits in loss: ‘They just beat me’||08.21.15 at 10:52 pm ET|
If that was an audition, Johnny Cueto may want to petition for a do-over.
The Royals ace acquired from Cincinnati on the Sunday before the trade deadline was racked for a career-high 13 hits and seven runs – six earned – over six innings in a 7-2 Red Sox win Friday night at Fenway Park. For some perspective, Cueto hadn’t allowed double figure hits in a single outing since June 21, 2013, when he was tagged for 11 hits and seven runs in a loss to the Diamondbacks. One outing later, Cueto headed to the disabled list for two months with a lat strain, derailing Cincinnati’s hopes of a division title.
Both Cueto and his manager Ned Yost insisted afterward this was a one-game blip and not a warning flag.
“[He looked] completely comfortable,” Yost said. “He kept competing his tail but just wasn’t really sharp. He never stopped competing but he just wasn’t exceptionally sharp. He was competing through it. He just got some pitches up and got slapped the other way. Pitches hit up the middle. It was one of those nights.”
Cueto, who appeared to be stretching his side occasionally on the mound, said the outing was more about the Red Sox batters than his ineffectiveness.
“First of all, they made adjustments to me,” Cueto said. “I didn’t leave too many [pitches] up. But the ones I did leave up, they put good swings on them. They just beat me today. Those guys are major league baseball players and they’re in a major league lineup and they just beat me.”
To Cueto’s point, Mookie Betts set the tone by taking a Cueto slider the other way to right-center for a double to open the Boston first inning. He didn’t score but it was one of three hits for Betts on the night off Cueto. Blake Swihart went the other way in his first two at-bats against Cueto for base hits. The big adjustment? Look for Cueto’s nasty off-speed stuff and go to the opposite field and up the middle. It worked all night for the Red Sox, who made Cueto sweat on a humid night in Boston.
The capper was Josh Rutledge crushing a pitch from Cueto over the Green Monster in the sixth for a two-run homer that salted the game away. It was the fifth hit in six career at-bats for Rutledge off Cueto.
“It just a bad outing. I’m going to keep my head up and get ready for the next start,” Cueto said.
Just on Thursday, Cueto, who turns 30 in February, said he would want to come to Boston in 2016 as a free agent because the Red Sox are a championship-caliber contender. Maybe Cueto is also aware of just how much the Red Sox have hammered other “aces” this season, with the likes of Sonny Gray, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez (2x), Chris Sale and Cole Hamels all going down to defeat to Boston.
|Todd Frazier wins HR Derby in dramatic fashion: ‘I can’t let [Pete Rose] down’||07.14.15 at 12:24 am ET|
CINCINNATI — Fans in Cincinnati finally have a hero they can really rally around.
Todd Frazier pulled off one of the more dramatic finishes in 30-year history of the Home Run Derby here in his home of homer-friendly Great American Ball Park.
Needing 15 home runs in the final round to beat Dodger rookie sensation Joc Pederson, Frazier tied Pederson with a home run late in the final round and hit his first offering from his nervous brother, Charlie, to left to become the first player since the Cubs’ Ryne Sandberg in 1990 to win the contest in his home park.
The Frazier line drive to left sent off loud fireworks and pandemonium in the stands of the win-starved Cincinnati crowd. The PA, sounding like Yankee Stadium after a Yankee win, played Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” for the New Jersey native and Cincinnati hero.
“I had no clue they were going to do that,” said Frazier, who has Sinatra’s “Send Me To The Moon” as his walk-up music. “That was pretty nice. I do enjoy that music. It’s a beautiful thing once you win something. To hear that makes it even better.”
With the threat of rain, storms and lightning late in the evening, Major League Baseball decided to shorten each of the three rounds by a minute, from five to four. Frazier, who seemed gassed at times in each of the three rounds, found new energy just in time in each round, beating two-time champ Prince Fielder, 14-13, in the first round, Josh Donaldson, 10-9, in the second and Pederson, 15-14, in the final.
“It made for a little more opportunity,” Frazier said. “It meant you were going to have to pick the pace up a little bit. You swing at everyting, really, once you’re down. I felt like a little kid out there sometimes, in the backyard, swinging at everything. It was pretty cool.”
The Great American Ball Park crowd played a huge role in Frazier’s heroics. Starting with the first round, when he beat two-time champ Prince Fielder on a last-second blast to left, the crowd roared every ball over the fence. Frazier beat Josh Donaldson on another last-second shot in the second round before clubbing 10 home runs in the final three minutes to come from behind and beat Pederson.
“Big-time impact,” Frazier said of the 43,587 in the park. “Just hearing the crowd roar, call my name, adrenaline. And those last minutes of each round really picked me up and drive the ball out of the park a lot more. It was a lot of fun. I appreciate that a lot.”
|MLB reminds Marlins, Carter Capps about the right way to deliver a pitch||07.08.15 at 11:50 pm ET|
After all the furor over whether what Carter Capps was doing Tuesday night was legal or not, Major League Baseball decided to issue a friendly reminder to the Marlins and Capps that they’re watching his unique delivery.
Speaking to WEEI.com after Wednesday’s 6-3 Red Sox win, Marlins manager Dan Jennings confirmed that MLB, courtesy of video from NESN, contacted the Marlins about their hard-throwing reliever and what they saw Tuesday night, when he was called upon to face Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the seventh and the bases loaded.
NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy made a very strong case that the crow-step that Capps was making to begin his delivery did not constitute a legal pitch. The interpretation that matters comes from Major League Baseball, and was confirmed by Jennings.
The issue is not leaping forward from the rubber but maintain contact with the ground with the toe of his right [back] foot. If any pitcher maintains contact, no matter how light, then it is legal.
“They sent to me the same heads up to make sure Carter has a drag line, which he does,” Jennings told WEEI.com. “It was a light drag line. Earlier, it was a little bit heavier. I know someone sent me some video. I think it was NESN. But they really focused on his foot. You can see it’s a light line, and that’s all he has to do, make sure there’s a drag line. We’ve been in compliance with MLB and the umpires. And the umpires have been great to help us.
“They sent us some video a month ago, right before we sent him down to work on it. We’ve been in compliance with what they say constitutes a legal pitch. The one thing you don’t want to do is change a kid’s mechanics and see a kid hurt his arm. As long as he’s dragging the drag line with his toe, then it’s good.”
Told that his manager was reminded of the proper mechanics, Capps said he has not specifically heard from anyone at MLB and plans to keep doing what he’s been doing on the mound.
One thing Jennings made very clear to WEEI.com was his appreciation of Red Sox manager John Farrell‘s comments in which he supported Capps. Farrell, a former pitching coach, noted after Tuesday’s game that Capps, like St. Louis pitcher Jordan Walden, have “unorthodox” but legal deliveries.
“We’re in it for the right reasons and no one wants to see a kid get hurt and I appreciate him saying that,” Jennings said.
|Xander Bogaerts wins battle with ‘really funky’ Carter Capps||07.07.15 at 11:17 pm ET|
The bottom of the seventh, down two runs and the bases loaded and two out. It’s the situation every big league hitter would salivate over.
But when a 6-foot-5 crow-hopping righty is throwing 100 mph on the mound, that excitement can wane just a bit. Just ask Xander Bogaerts.
Even after his rare three-run single propelled the Red Sox to a 4-3 win over Carter Capps and the Marlins Tuesday at Fenway, he admitted that it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to focus in and get the job done.
What makes Capps so unique is that after beginning his windup with his right [back] foot on the pitching rubber, he jumps forward in the middle of his delivery and his right foot is about two feet in front of the rubber when he fires the ball to the plate. There has been plenty of debate among those paid to observe the game for Major League Baseball as to whether it’s a legal delivery.
But MLB has ruled that Capps’ delivery, while unorthodox, is legal. Bogaerts was just trying to track Capps’ pitches at the plate to see what he was dealing with. He was lucky that Capps couldn’t find the plate and fell behind 3-0 before taking a strike and fouling off three straight pitches of at least 97 mph. Capps then threw a 99 mph fastball on his eighth offering to Bogaerts, who singled to right-center, scoring Travis Shaw, Ryan Hanigan and Mookie Betts.
“That’s really funky,” Bogaerts said. “I never faced that guy before. I’ve seen him a few times on TV pitching against other teams. I mean you don’t know to expect until you’re up there hitting. I was kind of tracking the first pitches. I’m lucky enough he threw balls so I could see him pretty good and then I put a good swing on the last one.
“A lot of guys would want to hit with bases loaded, for sure, but I’m not sure too many against that guy. Funky delivery, throws hard but we came out on top today.”
|John Farrell says ‘time will tell’ if Xander Bogaerts has earned his way onto A.L. All-Star team||07.04.15 at 5:55 pm ET|
Is Xander Bogaerts All-Star worthy?
It’s a question that may not have seemed very likely in the first two months of the season but as the game approaches July 14 in Cincinnati, the Red Sox shortstop has certainly put himself in the conversation when the reserves are announced on Monday evening.
Bogaerts, hitting again in the No. 3 hole in the order in front of David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez, went 2-for-4 Saturday in a 6-1 win over the Astros. He is 9-for-18 with four RBIs in a modest four-game hitting streak. He is also batting .351 with 21 RBIs in 32 games since the end of May.
But perhaps most importantly, he’s been the most consistent offensive player in a batting order that desperately needed consistent and productive parts. It’s why John Farrell felt comfortable moving him up from seventh to fifth to eventually third in the order, when Dustin Pedroia went down with his hamstring injury.
Bogaerts is hitting .302 this season, with respectable slugging (.416) and on-base (.340) numbers. He’s also looked much more steady at shortstop, which was no small feat considering his struggles in 2014 that played a role in moving to third base to take over for Will Middlebrooks when Stephen Drew landed back on the scene in Boston.
“I would hope that he gets some recognition for the first half that he’s had,” Farrell said after Saturday’s game. “He’s been a very consistent performer for us and has grown a lot from a year ago, both defensively and offensively. Whether or not that reflects or is acknowledged through an All-Star appearance, time will tell that one.”
“Absolutely I think Xander’s going to make the All-Star team,” added outfielder and teammate Mookie Betts. “He’s been playing great from the beginning of the season. I wasn’t there to see him develop. All I know is this Xander. This is all I’ve seen. For him to continue to do this for so long, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be in the All-Star Game.”
|MLB introduces new rules for Home Run Derby||06.29.15 at 1:21 pm ET|
The MLB announced changes to its Home Run Derby format on Sunday, nixing the 10-out set up and installing a five-minute timer for each batter. Balls hit within the field of play will no longer be counted as outs.
One of the primary reasons for the clocked rounds is time-certainty, a major advantage for television purposes.
The timer will begin counting down once the first pitch is released. Any home run hit during the final minute will stop the timer, which will then resume once a player swings and misses or hits a ball that does not land in home run territory.
Additionally, the Derby will seed the eight-man field according to 2015 home run totals through June 7, with the better seed batting second in each round. The winners of each bracket will meet in the final.
As an incentive for long homers, batters will receive a minute of bonus time if at least two balls in a round equal or exceed 420 feet and balls hit further than 475 feet will merit 30 seconds of extra time. Ties will be broken by a 90-second swing-off and if the batters remain tied, they will enter a three-swing swing-off.
This year’s Home Run Derby is scheduled for July 13 at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, a slugger’s paradise.
2015 Gillette HR Derby presented by Head & Shoulders introduces new format, featuring brackets & timed rounds. pic.twitter.com/e3sFa1qxBp
‘ MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) June 28, 2015
|Jonny Gomes shows how to play left at Fenway, offers Red Sox hope: ‘You would think it’s going to turn around’||06.16.15 at 8:17 am ET|
If Hanley Ramirez wanted help in how to play left field at Fenway, perhaps he should chat up Jonny Gomes.
The Braves left fielder not only robbed former teammate Dustin Pedroia of a sure double to open the bottom of the fourth Monday night, he explained the intricacies of the position after Atlanta walked away with a 4-2 win at a rain-soaked Fenway Park.
“That’s how you’ve got to play that outfield. It’s extremely risky,” Gomes said. “That exact play right there, you dive for it and get the out. Worst-case scenario, you dive for it and you’ve got the wall right there so it could be a double. Or take the angle and give him the double. So it worked out.”
Because Gomes was playing in and because he certainly wasn’t afraid to lay out on the wet grass, he was able to time his dive for the ball.
“I actually found myself diving a bunch here because a normal fence is about 340 feet down the line, play about 60 feet in front puts you at about 280,” Gomes said. “But 310 here, 40 feet in front, you’re playing at about 270 feet, which a lot of people don’t realize when that ball gets on you hot, it’s kind of like that one. You’re diving all over the place.”
“Losing sucks flat out, at any level, any organization,” Gomes said. “I’ve played on some good teams, some bad teams. I’ve been there before. It’s not ideal but play this game long enough, you’re going to have stretches like that.
“You look at that team on paper, it’s a dangerous team. You would think it’s going to get turned around. I’d roll my dice with that roster. With that being said, I don’t wear that uniform anymore. Outside of ‘hang in there,’ I don’t have much input. I’m focused on the Braves.”
|John Farrell marvels at switch-pitcher Pat Venditte: ‘That was truly amazing’||06.06.15 at 1:47 am ET|
On Friday night at Fenway, Oakland’s Pat Venditte became the first major league pitcher since Greg Harris on Sept. 28, 1995 to pitch with both arms in a major league game.
Then, Harris was with the Montreal Expos and accomplished the feat in the ninth inning of a game against Cincinnati. That was a year after he left the Red Sox, where he pitched from 1989-94.
On Friday, the ambidextrous Venditte was not only pitching from both sides, he was doing so in his major league debut after toiling seven years in the minors waiting for his chance.
Venditte entered the game pitching left-handed. He retired Brock Holt on a grounder to first, featuring an 83 MPH fastball and a slider between 72-76 MPH. Hanley Ramirez followed by grounding a slider into left for a single but Venditte quickly rebounded by getting Mike Napoli to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
“This game is all about helping the team and I just want to come here and be able to do that,” Venditte said after the Red Sox‘ 4-2 win over the A’s. “And if I can do that, that’s all I care about, and whatever attention comes with that is fine. But we’re here to win games. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if I’m pitching with both hands or one, it’s for one effort.
“Tonight, I felt comfortable out there. I was able to get ahead for the most part. I fell behind a couple guys but I felt good out there.”
Venditte had a perfect eighth inning, getting Xander Bogaerts to ground to short and Mookie Betts to fly to right, before striking out switch-hitting Blake Swihart. A very impressive debut for the switch-pitcher. Farrell was jokingly asked why he can’t teach his pitchers to throw with both arms as successfully.
“Our hands are full with one arm,” Farrell conceded. “That was truly amazing tonight. To watch Venditte, it’s a remarkable thing to see what one person’s body is capable of doing. The coordination, even guys in the dugout were marveling. This is a very unique thing and a very cool thing.”
|Brett Lawrie thinks netting needs to be improved at Fenway, doesn’t blame maple bats||06.05.15 at 11:22 pm ET|
After Friday’s horrific bat accident in the stands behind the A’s on-deck circle, the scrutiny of controversial maple bats is likely to intensify.
But Brett Lawrie, the A’s batter whose bat shattered in the top of the second inning and struck a woman two rows deep in the box seats, sees a much different issue.
“I don’t think so,” Lawrie said when asked about MLB addressing the safety of maple bats. “I just think the netting [needs to be addressed]. I don’t think it’s necessary for the bats to change. You come into a game, you see I don’t know how many foul balls fly into the stands every game and for the most part, everyone is fine all the time, and these things are coming in at 100 miles an hour. And then when one bat flies into the stands at a low [speed], and if you’re not paying attention, it’s just one of those things where it was some bad luck. There’s really no time to react behind the dish.
“I really don’t feel like it’s necessary to change bats or anything like that. It’s just one of those things that’s part of baseball and unfortunately, everything is so close behind there and there’s limited netting. Yeah, it’s really important to be heads up back there.”
“First and foremost, our thoughts and concern and certainly our prayers go out to the woman that was struck with the bat. A scary moment certainly. Our concern is with her and her family,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “All you can think about is a family coming to a ball game to hopefully get three hours of enjoyment and unfortunately, with how close our stands are to the field of action, an accident like this is certainly disturbing. Our thoughts and concerns are with her and her family.”
Lawrie was using a Tucci model maple bat that was sawed off at the handle on a 94 MPH cutter from Wade Miley when Lawrie swung and grounded out. The barrel of the bat helicoptered into the stands, striking the woman and causing severe head trauma and bleeding in the stands.
The protective netting behind home plate at Fenway stops just shy of the on-deck circles on both the first and third base sides. Lawrie pointed to that as his biggest concern for fans as a visiting player at Fenway.
“You’ve got limited netting here in Boston so when you’re behind home plate and you’re along the third base side or first base side, you’ve really got to be heads up for foul balls or anything coming into the stands because it’s so close. There’s really no time to react,” he said.
Lawrie said he’s seen plenty of scary situations of foul balls and bats flying into stands but nothing in his career that approached what happened Friday.
|C.J. Wilson on suddenly hot Mike Napoli: ‘He’s obviously found his stroke, so buyer beware’||05.24.15 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 »
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