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Red Sox-Yankees series preview 08.31.15 at 8:31 am ET
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Though at opposite ends of the division standings, the Red Sox and Yankees have both seen the momentum shift their way in the past week and will clash at Fenway Park for a three-game set starting Monday.

The Red Sox are 60-70, good for last place in the overachieving AL East. However, since July 24 and their post-All-Star break hangover, they’ve turned in a respectable 18-16 record. And in their last 12, they’ve gone 8-4.

The Sox are fresh off a series win against the first-place Mets, who own the fourth-best team ERA in baseball (3.31). While the lineup couldn’t get it going early in games, the Sox showed resiliency late in taking two games after the sixth inning. In the first game of the series, Matt Harvey held Sox batters scoreless through six, but Boston snagged three runs in the seventh and three in the 10th off the bullpen to earn the 6-4 win. In the second game it took five innings, but the Sox finally figured out Jacob DeGrom when Pablo Sandoval doubled home Mookie Betts. They would tack on two more runs and emerge victorious by a 3-1 score.

“All around we’re playing good baseball,” Joe Kelly said after holding the Mets offense to one run over 7 1/3 innings in Saturday’s squeaker. “Defensively, offensively, guys are making good swings and staying with their approaches and, like I said, top to bottom we’re playing good baseball. It’s fun to watch coming to the ballpark winning more than losing, obviously. We’re not in it right now, but watching the way everyone is playing, it’s pretty fun.”

In 12 meetings this year, the Sox have gone 4-8 against the Yankees. Their most recent encounter left the Red Sox reeling. After getting pounded 13-3 by the Bronx Bombers in the opener of a three-game set at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 4, the Sox turned around a stole a 2-1 victory from their rivals the next day, beating rookie phenom Luis Severino in his major league debut. However, the last game of the series proved the most damaging. With one out in the seventh in a 1-1 deadlock, Jacoby Ellsbury laced a home run down the right-field line off lefty Eduardo Rodriguez. That would be all the offense the Yankees would need as their top-notch bullpen shut down the Sox lineup the rest of the way.

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees,
Red Sox-Yankees series preview 08.04.15 at 10:23 am ET
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Alex Rodriguez leads  the Yankees with 24 home runs this season. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez leads the Yankees with 24 home runs this season. (David Banks/Getty Images)

One of the premier rivalries in sports will resume Tuesday when the Red Sox head to the Bronx to face the first-place Yankees for a three-game set.

Less than a month ago, the Red Sox sat just five games out of first in the AL East and were preparing to host the Yankees for a pivotal three-game series at Fenway Park before the All-Star break. Now, after losing 2-of-3 to New York and 12-of-17 since the series, the Red Sox have fallen back to double-digit games out and the Yankees have taken control of the division.

The Red Sox have won three out of their last four games as their offense powered them through their last series against the Rays. The Sox scored 20-plus runs in a three-game set for the third time this season en route to their second series win since their last meeting with the Yankees. They are now 47-59 and 13 games out of first in the division.

Over their last seven games, the Red Sox offense owns the MLB’s sixth-best WAR (1.5). As a team, they have slashed .295/.349/.443 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs. The corner infield spots have all of a sudden become home to the Red Sox hottest hitters as Mike Napoli and Travis Shaw combined to hit .333 with four home runs and eight RBIs in the last week. Shaw has been especially impressive as he went 4-for-4 Saturday with two longballs, a double and three RBIs.

“I feel pretty good at the plate,” Shaw said after the game, an 11-7 Red Sox victory. “Just trying to not do too much, just stick with what I’€™ve done down there. I’€™ve been successful down there and trying to carry that up here.”

“I try and control what I can control,” Shaw added. “Each day that I am in the lineup up here try and make the most of and hopefully that speaks for its self.”

While Shaw and the Red Sox offense have streaked of late, so has the Yankees’. During the last 14 days, the Yankees have had the best lineup in baseball, scoring 94 runs and logging a .305/.372/.533 team slash line on the backs of Mark Teixeira (six home runs), Alex Rodriguez (five home runs) and Chase Headley (12 RBIs).

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Read More: Luis Severino, New York Yankees, travis shaw,
Cuban Missile Aroldis Chapman blows away Brock Holt, AL stars in remarkable show 07.15.15 at 1:35 am ET
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Aroldis Chapman of the Reds fires a pitch in the ninth inning against the American League during the 86th MLB All-Star Game. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Aroldis Chapman of the Reds fires a pitch in the ninth inning against the American League during the 86th MLB All-Star Game. (Elsa/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — The Cuban Missile was deadly Tuesday night.

In the ninth inning of the American League‘s 6-3 win over the National League at Great American Ball Park, Reds closer Aroldis Chapman showed why he is one of the most feared pitchers in baseball, firing 14 pitches, averaging just over 101 mph.

Of the 14 pitches he threw, only two were below the century mark. He struck out the side in the ninth, starting out with Brock Holt, followed by Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas and capped off by a flame-throwing performance against New York Yankee Mark Teixeira.

“I feel really happy. I can’€™t describe it but I feel like I had so much fun,” Chapman said through an interpreter. “I want to do this. I’€™m happy I threw the ninth. I had a chance to show the fans and everybody else what they’€™re used to seeing every night, pitching the way I do.”

The opposing batters may not have felt the same way, at least not Holt, who was making his first career All-Star appearance in the batter’s box.

“As soon as I made the team, I kind of figured I would face Chapman,” Holt said. “I was trying to get mentally prepared for that about a week ago. It still didn’t help me out. I knew I would probably get an at-bat late and he would be throwing late. He’s not fun to face. You want to face the best and he’s one of them. It was fun.”

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Read More: 2015 All-Star Game, aroldis chapman, Boston Red Sox, Brock Holt
How rest of AL East views Red Sox at All-Star break: ‘I hope they don’t figure it out’ 07.14.15 at 7:25 pm ET
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Zach Britton (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Zach Britton’s Orioles are in the hunt for another postseason bid. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — All is not lost for the 2015 Boston Red Sox. Just ask the best players from their competition in the AL East.

When the Red Sox return from the break in Anaheim on Friday, they’ll do so with a 42-47 record, 6 1/2 games behind front-running New York in the division.

They sent just one player to the Midsummer Classic, and he was a utility player in Brock Holt. Certainly Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez could have all made cases, and even Manny Machado thinks Bogaerts should’ve been here.

But when the team reassembles on Friday, those players will be together and have 73 games to figure things out.

The Yankees are 48-40, with a 3 1/2-game lead on second-place Tampa Bay. The Orioles, the defending division champs are treading water at 44-44, four games back in third. Toronto, which blazed to an 11-game winning streak, has cooled mightily since, posting just an 11-16 mark and heading into the break at 45-46. They are 4 1/2 games back.

Then there are the Red Sox.

“I think they’re a good team,” Red Sox killer and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson told WEEI.com Tuesday. “Obviously, they have pieces there that are well thought of. Honestly, I hope they don’t figure it out because I want my team to figure it out.

“What’s cool about it is every team has a lot of talent. But on the other side of the coin, teams have weaknesses. Certain teams in our division match up better against other teams. With that being said, I feel like it’s going to be one of those things that comes down to the wire. It’s going to be a war of attrition, whoever can stay the healthiest. Everybody is kind of right there in the mix. Every team has the capabilities of going on their stretches, too.”

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Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Josh Donaldson, Mark Teixeira
Mark Teixeira on Alex Rodriguez: ‘Playing well cures all things’ at 5:34 pm ET
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Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates his home run with Mark Teixeira #25 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park last Friday.  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates his home run with Mark Teixeira #25 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park last Friday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — The Yankees are in first place in the AL East and Mark Teieira says embattled teammate Alex Rodriguez is one of the biggest reasons why.

Teieira is one of three Yankees at the All-Star Game and he said before Tuesday’s 86th Midsummer Classic that A-Rod has been exactly what the Yankees needed in the middle of their order.

Rodriguez is batting .278 with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. Only Teixeira has more homers (22) and RBIs (62) on the team, which is leading the Rays by 3.5 games at the break.

“He’s been huge,” Teixeira said. “Without Alex, we’re not in first place. There’s no doubt. What he’s done in the middle of our lineup kind of solidified the DH spot for us. We really appreciate what he’s doing for our team.”

The Red Sox can certainly attest to that. He belted first-inning homers Friday and Saturday nights, with Friday’s coming in a 5-1 win. Rodriguez had an RBI double and scored Sunday in an 8-6 New York win that put the last place Red Sox 6.5 games back.

Rodriguez is certainly among those under consideration for Comeback Player of the Year at the halfway point of a season that comes on the heels of his one-year suspension for his Biogenesis PED transgressions.

“Playing well cures all things,” Teixeira said of Rodriguez. “If he were struggling right now, you can imagine the hoopla surrounding him. It would’ve been a mess. But when you play well, that means that your team is playing well and your teammates are appreciating what you’re doing. It’s worked out for him.

“He’s a great teammate. He’s always been a great teammate. I said that in spring training. We’ve never had a problem with Alex as a teammate. He’s proven to everybody he hasn’t changed as a teammate or as a baseball player. When he’s healthy, he’s as good as it gets out there.”

Read More: 2015 All-Star Game, A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez, Boston Red Sox
Jonathan Papelbon thinks both Pete Rose, Alex Rodriguez ‘100 percent’ belong in HOF 07.13.15 at 5:55 pm ET
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Pete Rose (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Pete Rose (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

CINCINNATI — Jonathan Papelbon has faced Alex Rodriguez many times in his career. He’s never pitched to Pete Rose.

He thinks both should eventually have a place in Cooperstown.

The subject of Pete Rose and his 1989 lifetime ban from baseball for betting on games as a player-manager is again front and center this week here in his hometown. This past March, Rose formally reapplied for reinstatement. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he was open to sitting down with Rose to discuss it. Some took that willingness to reopen the case as a sign that reinstatement might be around the corner.

ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” reported two weeks ago that there was new evidence that Rose bet on Reds’ games in 1986. Still, there is speculation that Manfred might be willing to listen to the argument for reinstatement and maybe, just maybe, that will lead to a discussion on whether he should be inducted in Cooperstown, which would have to come via the Veterans Committee.

The last time the All-Star Game was here in Cincinnati (1988), Rose was the manager of the Reds. Just over a year later, he was banished from the game in Aug. 1989 by then-Commissioner Bart Giamatti. Tuesday night, he will be permitted to take part in ceremonies in the park he never played or managed in.

“Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, 100 percent, 100 percent,” Papelbon said. “If you don’t want to put him in as a manager, put him in as a player. He made mistakes as a manager but didn’t make mistakes as a player. Personally, I don’t think there’s no reason whatsoever why he shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame.”

Rodriguez was banned from baseball for the entire 2014 season for his role in the Biogenesis PED scandal. A-Rod is 5-for-17 in his career against Papelbon, including two home runs.

Papelbon, who will be in the bullpen for the National League on Tuesday night, was asked who should make the Hall first, Rose or Rodriguez?

“I would hope Pete Rose because he’s already waited long enough and Alex is still playing,” Papelbon said, before adding, “Alex is definitely a Hall of Famer for sure, 100 percent.”

Read More: A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez, Baseball Hall of Fame, Cincinnati Reds
Alex Rodriguez has some advice for his first-place Yankees: ‘Stay hungry and humble’ 07.11.15 at 12:21 am ET
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BOSTON, MA - JULY 10: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates his home run with Mark Teixeira #25 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 10, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates his home run with Mark Teixeira #25 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The mere thought of Alex Rodriguez giving advice on humility might make many laugh and crack a cynical joke or two.

But that’s exactly what the aging superstar did Friday night after he helped power the first-place Yankees past the Red Sox, 5-1, at Fenway Park.

“Yeah, it’s always important to get the first one out of any series, especially here,” Rodriguez said.

The Yankees are now 47-39, guaranteed of hitting the All-Star break in first place in the A.L. East. They’ve actually put some distance between themselves and the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays, all of whom have been slumping badly in the last week.

“This group has a good feel to it,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a hard-working group. It competes hard every night, and I think the key for us finishing the first half and also continuing into the second half is to stay hungry and humble.”

Rodriguez, still hearing the catcalls and boobirds loud and clear, homered in the first inning off red-hot starter Clay Buchholz to stake his team to 1-0 lead. It was his 17th round-tripper of the season, second only to the 22 of Mark Teixeira. While Buchholz had been showing ace stuff (two earned runs over his last four starts), it’s not a surprise that Rodriguez had success right off the bat against the Red Sox starter in the first inning. Rodriguez came in hitting .407 (11-for-27) lifetime with two home runs against Buchholz.

“He’s been dominant here the last three or four games,” Rodriguez said. “We know that. He came off a complete game. Clay’s always a great competitor. Just got a good pitch to hit and hit it well. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving. I can’t say that I feel all that well up there. The key with Clay is get a good pitch to hit. He has a number of a ways of getting you out. You don’t want to chase.”

In Rodriguez’s next at-bat he singled off Alejandro De Aza’s glove in right.

In his third plate appearance, Rodriguez showed he can be patient, too, working a bases loaded walk against Robbie Ross after the Red Sox spent the fourth inning kicking around the ball.

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Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Biogenesis, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz
Closing Time: Wade Miley goes 7 strong innings, but Red Sox offense goes quiet in loss to Yankees 05.02.15 at 4:19 pm ET
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Wade Miley allowed three runs over seven innings Sunday, his best start of the year. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Wade Miley allowed three runs over seven innings Sunday, his best start of the year. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

On most days Wade Miley’s start would be good enough with the Red Sox‘ powerful lineup behind him.

Unfortunately for him, the Red Sox‘ hitters couldn’t get anything going in their 4-2 loss to the Yankees Saturday afternoon. The Yankees have now taken both games to open the series.

Coming into the game with a 8.62 ERA and going 2 1/3 innings in two of his four starts, Miley threw his best game of the year tossing seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, while not walking a batter and striking out three.

Prior to the game he had walked at least two batters in every start this season, and had walked a total of 11 batters in his 15 2/3 innings to open the season.

“Obviously the last couple outings haven’t been the best, but I wanted to get deep in the game and give them a chance,” said Miley. “I was able to get through the seventh. Something good to build off of, for sure.”

It was his longest outing of the year, and going back to last season he had gone seven starts without pitching in the seventh inning. The outing could’ve been even better if one pitch was different in the fifth inning.

The Yankees snapped a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning with two outs. Miley was one strike away from getting out of the inning, but Brett Gardner lined a two RBI single to left. They added an insurance run in the eighth on a Chris Young solo homer.

“Much improved,” manager John Farrell said of Miley. “I think Wade today delivered what we anticipated and will anticipate going forward. I thought he did a much better job with keeping the pace that he works at a little bit more under control. Threw a number of breaking balls for strikes and a lot of strikes overall. The fifth inning, 2-2 breaking ball to Gardner is pretty much the difference in this one.”

Dustin Pedroia had the first Red Sox run — a solo home run in the fourth inning. They got their second in the seventh inning on a Mookie Betts RBI double off the wall scoring Blake Swihart, but Pedroia left the tying run in scoring position grounding out to short.

SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Miley. Despite the loss, the Red Sox left-hander posted his best start to the season and bounced back in a big way after Sunday’s terrible performance in Baltimore. He got back to his old habits of getting ground balls, proving effective. 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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Read More: Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, New York Yankees, wade miley
Red Sox lineup: Allen Craig starting in right field vs. CC Sabathia, Yankees 05.01.15 at 3:12 pm ET
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Allen Craig

Allen Craig

With the Red Sox going up against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, Allen Craig will get the start in right field in the series opener Friday night.

Daniel Nava is hitting exclusively from the left side this year, and the other option would be left-handed hitting Brock Holt, so manager John Farrell is going with the righty in Craig with Shane Victorino on the DL.

Otherwise it’s a standard lineup for the Red Sox with Mike Napoli fully recovered from his illness and starting at first base.

Ryan Hanigan will catch Red Sox starter Justin Masterson

For an extensive look at the matchups, click here.

1. Mookie Betts, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Hanley Ramirez, LF
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
7. Allen Craig, RF
8. Xander Bogaerts, SS
9. Ryan Hanigan, C
Justin Masterson, RHP

Read More: Allen Craig, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees,
Red Sox-Yankees series preview at 12:25 pm ET
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Alex Rodriguez is one home run away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on MLB's all-time list. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez heads to Fenway Park one home run away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place on MLB’s all-time list. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The Red Sox start a three-game series against the Yankees on Friday, New York’s first visit of the season to Fenway Park. Boston took two of three from the Yankees in their previous meeting this season, with 6-5 and 8-4 wins and a 14-4 loss. New York currently holds the top spot in the AL East with a record of 13-9. Boston is tied for second, one game behind.

Heading into the weekend series, the Red Sox pitching staff holds a major league-worst 5.04 ERA. It is 22nd with a 1.36 WHIP and 19th with a .259 batting average against. Through 22 games, Red Sox pitching already has given up 25 home runs. Joe Kelly is the only Boston starter with an ERA under 5.00, and he is hovering near that mark at 4.94.

The Red Sox offense has been too inconsistent to make up for the underwhelming pitching. It is producing runs at a good rate (113, which is third in baseball), but its subpar batting average suggests that this trend will not last long. Boston batters are hitting .245, putting them 15th in baseball. The Sox offense, which was expected to be one of the elite units in the league, has an OPS of .711, which puts it behind all other teams in the AL East except the Rays.

Just four Red Sox hitters have averages over .274 on the season: Brock Holt (.386), Pablo Sandoval (.312), Hanley Ramirez (.293) and Dustin Pedroia (.291). Over the last seven days, however, the offense has been heating up. Six hitters are batting over .300, six have OBPs of .370 or higher, and they have scored a total of 36 in six games.

Hanley Ramirez is tied for first in the majors with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs. He also boasts a .659 slugging percentage, which is good for fourth in baseball.

The Yankees are coming off four consecutive series victories, winning the majority of games against the Tigers, Mets and Rays (twice) since April 17. During that stretch, New York is 10-3 and has claimed the top spot in the division.

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