|Yankees 3, Red Sox 0: Will the Red Sox please please pretty please score a run for Chris Sale?||04.27.17 at 9:32 pm ET|
One day, the Red Sox will score a run for Chris Sale. And when they do, that day will be glorious.
But until that day comes, we’re left with nights like Thursday, when Sale was nearly perfect until the ninth and it didn’t matter, because the Red Sox offense turned Masahiro Tanaka into . . . Chris Sale.
The Red Sox had averaged one run of support with Sale on the mound in his first four starts, and they didn’t even reach that number in Thursday’s 3-0 loss.
Sale reached 10 strikeouts for the fourth straight start. He reached 98 mph with his fastball. He didn’t walk anyone. He froze hitters with sliders and blew them away with heat while working at his trademark relentless pace, lowering his ERA to 0.72 through eight innings before coming back out for the ninth and allowing three straight hits and a run. An inherited runner later scored, leaving his final line at eight innings, eight hits, two runs. His ERA climbed to 1.19.
His only “mistake” until then, such as it was, was crossing up catcher Sandy Leon with a slider that ended up sailing practically through Leon and to the backstop, advancing Aaron Hicks to third, where he’d score the game’s only run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Otherwise, Sale was practically untouchable. He recorded seven strikeouts in the first three innings and left the Yankees feeling like contact counted as a moral victory.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox had even less success with Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who matched Sale zero for zero while allowing only three hits in the complete-game shutout. Tanaka barely broke 91 mph, but it didn’t matter against the punchless Red Sox, who didn’t even benefit from the return of second baseman Dustin Pedroia atop the order.
This marks the fifth time in their last seven games that the Red Sox have failed to top two runs, and the third time in that span they’ve been shut out — one each by division rivals Toronto, Baltimore, and now New York. They began the night ranked 13th in the American League in runs, and their ranking didn’t improve.
The thing is, Tanaka didn’t even enter the game on some kind of epic run. He was 2-1 with a 6.00 ERA, though he has gotten progressively better since allowing eight runs on Opening Day against the Rays.
But with the Red Sox ranked dead last in home runs and basically reduced to a singles-hitting team, Tanaka went to work by throwing first-pitch strikes. The Red Sox started the night leading the American League in average and on base percentage, but ranked only 10th in slugging, and that ranking didn’t improve.
Will this problem fix itself with the arrival of warmer weather? Maybe. But David Ortiz is retired and that’s not going to change, which means if this is to flip, it will have to come from within.
|Red Sox notebook: Carson Smith suffers setback, newcomer Chase d’Arnaud will help address lack of infield depth||at 5:33 pm ET|
Carson Smith’s return from Tommy John surgery has suffered another setback.
The right-handed reliever hasn’t thrown off a mound in two weeks because of soreness in his surgically repaired elbow, manager John Farrell said. It’s his second setback since the start of spring training.
Smith underwent Tommy John last May 24. He began throwing in spring training, but had to back off after feeling soreness. He resumed throwing from a mound earlier this month, but once again had to draw back.
“Once he got on the mound with some aggression and good intensity, he was throwing the ball well,” Farrell said. “As a result, there’s been some soreness that has reared its head. We’ve had to back him off, back into long toss. We’re hopeful that in the very near future that mound progression resumes.”
The hope had been that Smith would be ready to return by June, but that assumed a perfect progression in his rehab. He was instead moved to the 60-day disabled list on Thursday to make room for new addition Chase d’Arnaud.
The Red Sox claimed the infielder/outfielder off waivers from the Braves, who had recently designated him for assignment. The 30-year-old is a lifetime .231 hitter, but he has experience at second, third, short, and all three outfield spots. He also bats right-handed.
Farrell said d’Arnaud would serve in a utility role. With Dustin Pedroia (knee) banged up but returning to the lineup, and Brock Holt (vertigo) on the 10-day DL, the Red Sox have a need for infield depth.
“Given the injuries that we’ve sustained of late, some temporary situations with other guys that are — there’s some maintenance involved,” Farrell said. “We feel like his versatility to move around the infield, it gives us a little bit more flexibility in-game if that situations does arise. A guy that’s served in this role for a few years at the big league level, more than anything just to create some depth and overall versatility”
|Dustin Pedroia once again out of Red Sox lineup with swelling in ankle, knee, and will undergo further tests in Boston||04.23.17 at 1:16 pm ET|
Manny Machado’s hard slide into Dustin Pedroia on Friday night continues impacting the Red Sox.
Pedroia was out of the lineup for a second straight day with the Sox preparing to face the Orioles in Baltimore, and manager John Farrell told reporters at Camden Yards that the second baseman is sore with a little bit of swelling in his ankle and knee.
“When we get back to Boston, he’ll go through some further imaging tomorrow just to rule anything out,” Farrell said. “So with some of the swelling that still exists, he’s not available for today.”
Pedroia was injured Friday when Machado, the Orioles third baseman, spiked him in the side of the left knee while sliding into second on a force play. Farrell was asked if he’s any more concerned.
“No, I wouldn’t say more of a concern, there were was legitimate concern in the moment it took place,” Farrell said. “But the fact that he still has the symptoms he does, we’re going to rule everything out. His importance to us speaks for itself and with any of our players, you get into a situation like this, you give it a 24-48 hour period to see how it responds, and at this point it warrants a further look.”
With Pedroia out, Marco Hernandez will play second. Here’s the lineup:
SS Xander Bogaerts
LF Andrew Benintendi
RF Mookie Betts
DH Hanley Ramirez
1B Mitch Moreland
CF Jackie Bradley
C Christian Vazquez
3B Pablo Sandoval
2B Marco Hernandez
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start.
|Red Sox 7, Rays 5: Pablo Sandoval, Mitch Moreland help Sox show scrappy side in comeback||04.16.17 at 6:17 pm ET|
Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland leading the Red Sox offense — just the way they drew it up this offseason.
That was the case on Easter Sunday, with Sandoval delivering a two-run homer and the red-hot Moreland stroking the game-winning single in a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Rays.
With starter Drew Pomeranz delivering a bipolar performance that included 10 strikeouts but only 13 outs, the Red Sox found themselves in need of a rally. Sandoval got it started with a two-run blast in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4.
Moreland then finished it off with a two-run single in the seventh to turn a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 lead.
When the Red Sox signed Moreland this winter in the same 24-hour span that netted ace Chris Sale and reliever Tyler Thornburg, the defending Gold Glover looked like the lowest impact of the acquisitions. He’s instead hitting .356 with a league-leading nine doubles.
“The one thing coming out of spring training that he showed us was that in RBI situations he didn’t panic, he used the whole field, he had a pretty good plan at the plate, he wasn’t overaggressive, and that was the case again today on a cutter from Cedeno that stayed up,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We’ve seen him go the other way multiple times, no bigger than today. He’s put together a number of quality at-bats of late, particularly.”
He probably would’ve had double No. 10 on his game-winning hit, but Hanley Ramirez injured his hamstring while rounding second and was removed from the game. Farrell described his injury as a cramp and said the hope is that he returns to the lineup for Monday’s Marathon matinee.
“It started to loosen up once he got off the field,” Farrell said.
Moreland’s heroics helped erase a middling outing from Pomeranz, who walked the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-run triple to Brad Miller that Andrew Benintendi misjudged near the center field fence.
“At first I thought it wasn’t going to get to the wall, so I thought I had a bead on it,” Benintendi said. “I guess it picked up. Might have caught a burst of wind or something. At that point, I was just trying to time the jump. That’s a ball I probably should have caught.”
The win was the 500th of Farrell’s managerial career.
The Red Sox lineup, starved power, could be getting a 26-homer hit back in the near future.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is scheduled to join Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday in Charlotte and start in center field. The plan, manager John Farrell told reporters at Fenway Park before Sunday’s game against the Rays, is for Bradley to play five innings on Tuesday, nine innings on Wednesday, and then rejoin the Red Sox on Friday for the start of their weekend series in Baltimore.
Bradley was placed on the 10-day disabled list last Saturday after spraining a ligament in his right knee vs. the Tigers while rounding the bases.
He’s not the only injured player nearing a return. Infielder Josh Rutledge, who opened the season on the 10-day DL with a hamstring injury, will join Bradley on the Triple-A rehab assignment, though Farrell said that he’ll need a little more time.
“He’ll need more at-bats and more of a progression defensively getting back on the field,” Farrell noted, adding, “so all are making very good strides here of late.”
Bradley, a Gold Glove-caliber center fielder and 2016 All-Star, hit 26 homers last year and the Red Sox could use his power. They currently rank last in the American League with five homers as a team.
Rutledge, meanwhile, potentially gives Farrell a right-handed bat to platoon with struggling third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who’s hitting just .132.
In other Sox news . . .
— David Price reported no ill effects after Saturday’s bullpen session. Sunday is a scheduled day off.
“I will say this past week is a step in the right direction in terms of the overall volume and intensity, so we’ll get a better read tomorrow on what the next steps are going to be,” Farrell said. “Whether that’s another bullpen, whether that’s BP, that’s all dependent on how he continues to advance.”
— Knuckleballer Steven Wright is working to make sure his ball doesn’t over-rotate after allowing eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings of his last start, against the Orioles.
“The maintenance for a knuckleballer is to try and deaden spin, and that’s where the focus and emphasis has been,” Farrell said. “As I mentioned the other day: any time spin creates on a knuckleballer, it’s going to be a challenge for him, and a tough day. And it was for Steven he last time out.”
|Hanley Ramirez on Red Sox role: I can’t be like David Ortiz||04.14.17 at 10:08 am ET|
Hanley Ramirez sits in David Ortiz’s old locker, fills his old position of designated hitter, and bats in his old cleanup spot. On Thursday, he even made like his retired teammate by clubbing the game-tying double in the eighth inning to spearhead a 4-3 comeback victory over the Pirates.
But Ramirez wants to make one thing abundantly clear: he’s not Ortiz.
“Not at all,” Ramirez said. “Not at all. I’m one of those students from David. I learned a lot from him, that’s it, but I don’t try to be like him. What he did in the game and off the field is something hopefully somebody one day can do, but it’s got to be far because David is David. David is David, and much love that I have for him and respect, but at the same time, it’s not easy to be him. You just have to be you and, like I say, let things go out there and learn from him.”
One aspect of Ortiz’s persona that Ramirez is willing to try to fill — sounding board for younger teammates.
“This is going to be my 13th year in the big leagues, so I learned a lot through all those years,” he said. “I just try to pass it out. I got a couple of guys asking me already — I don’t want to throw names out there — what are you trying to do against this pitcher? What are we going to try to do today? That’s good. That’s exactly what I did when I was young. Always ask Manny [Ramirez] when I was here, and David, what are you trying to do in this situation, and what are you trying to do against this pitcher? So that’s how you learn.”
|Red Sox 4, Pirates 3: Offense comes alive in nick of time to complete delayed sweep behind Hanley Ramirez, Xander Bogaerts||04.13.17 at 5:24 pm ET|
The Red Sox are getting their team back from the flu, and on Thursday it belatedly translated into runs.
Shut down for seven innings, the Red Sox finally broke through in the eighth, with Xander Bogaerts’ clutch two-out single driving in Hanley Ramirez with the go-ahead run in a 4-3 victory.
The Red Sox had done nothing offensively to that point, but they finally pieced things together in the eighth to overcome a 3-1 deficit. Two walks and a single loaded the bases with one out for Ramirez, and the DH responded with a blast to deep center that eluded Pirates outfielder Starling Marte.
Dustin Pedroia scored easily, but Andrew Benintendi had retreated to second to tag up. Mookie Betts, running right on Benintendi’s heels, tried to elude the tag of catcher Chris Stewart at the plate and was originally ruled safe before the call was overturned.
That set the stage for Bogaerts with two outs, and he responded by lining a single to right.
Craig Kimbrel then closed it out in the ninth, aided by catcher Christian Vazquez gunning down the potential tying run trying to steal.
For most of the afternoon, it didn’t look like the Red Sox would manage anything offensively. Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl shut them down for 6 1/3 innings and Andrew McCutcheon’s two-run homer in the first appeared to be all the offense the Pirates would need.
Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez came out flat, walking leadoff hitter Jordy Mercer before McCutchen launched a first-pitch fastball over the Monster in left.
Gregory Polanco and David Freese followed with singles before a visit from pitching coach Carl Willis calmed Rodriguez, who struck out Josh Harrison and Josh Bell to escape further damage in the 33-pitch frame.
E-Rod was on point from there. He ended up striking out eight over 5 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and three runs (2 earned).
Meanwhile, other than Mitch Moreland doubling in his team-record seventh straight game, the Red Sox mustered little offensively. Their first run came in second, when Moreland doubled and scored on a Marco Hernandez single.
With a day game following a night game, Red Sox manager John Farrell mixed things up with his starting lineup, subbing Marco Hernandez for struggling third baseman Pablo Sandoval and inserting Brock Holt into left field instead of Chris Young.
When Vazquez caught Starling Marte stealing in the second inning, it left Red Sox catchers a perfect 5-for-5 nabbing opposing thieves on the season. That run came to an end in the sixth, however, when Gregory Polanco stole third on Vazquez and then scored when the throw sailed into left field.
|Here’s why Red Sox demoted effective rookie reliever Ben Taylor to make room for Robbie Ross||at 11:59 am ET|
Ben Taylor did nothing to justify a demotion to the minor leagues on Wednesday night. Pitching in relief of ineffective knuckleballer Steven Wright, Taylor tossed 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Orioles, allowing three hits and a run.
He struck out three over the course of 66 pitches, saving the Red Sox bullpen in advance of Thursday’s makeup matinee against the Pirates.
But with left-hander Robbie Ross recovered from the flu and ready to come off the 10-day disabled list, somebody had to go, and Taylor was the odd man out.
For one, the rookie has options, which makes it easy to return him to the minors. For another, having thrown those 66 pitches a night earlier — a pitch count he only reached twice last year at Single-A — he wouldn’t be available for a few days, anyway.
“He’ll be back,” promised manager John Farrell before the game.
That goes without saying. Taylor impressed in his first action above Double-A, striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings and posting a 1.69 ERA.
Ross, meanwhile, returns after a debilitating battle with the flu. He has yet to appear in a game this season.
Here’s the Red Sox lineup, with Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound vs. right-hander Chad Kuhl.
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Andrew Benintendi CF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Marco Hernandez 3B
Christian Vazquez C
Brock Holt LF
|Tigers 2, Red Sox 1: Chris Sale masterful, but Red Sox offense once again sickly in loss to Tigers||04.10.17 at 4:31 pm ET|
The Red Sox acquired Chris Sale to be an ace, and he’s delivering. Only problem is, the guy he faced on Monday was pretty good, too.
Squaring off against former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, Sale looked to be every bit as worthy of that honor himself. The two staged an old-fashioned duel that saw Sale outlast his rival by pitching into the eighth, but ultimately leave with the loss after Tigers scratched out a run to complete their 2-1 victory.
With travel delays keeping regular shortstop Xander Bogaerts out of the lineup and the flu still sidelining Hanley Ramirez, the makeshift Red Sox offense did almost nothing with Verlander, recording only three hits.
It for a bit like the one run they managed would be enough, however. Sale was nearly untouchable until the sixth, when Ian Kinsler reached him for a game-tying solo homer off a mislocated changeup. Sale ended up allowing five hits and two runs, striking out 10 in 7 2/3 innings.
The Red Sox had their opportunities vs. Verlander, particularly in the second when Mitch Moreland led off with a double, Pablo Sandoval walked, and Chris Young reached on an error.
The Red Sox scored one run when Brock Holt grounded into a double play that possibly could’ve been averted, except Holt stumbled out of the box. The inning then ended with red-hot catcher Sandy Leon lining out to third.
After that, baserunners became scarce for both sides. Andrew Romine hit a ground-rule double down the left field line for Detroit’s first hit in the third. The Red Sox wasted another leadoff double from Moreland in the fourth and the two pitchers combined to set down 17 in a row before Kinsler’s homer.
Romine’s second double, over and off the glove of a sprawling Holt with two outs in the eighth, gave Kinsler a chance play the hero again, but Sale, whose fastball still touched 98 mph in the at-bat, walked him.
Nick Castellanos followed with a sharp single to left that plated Romine to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead and end Sale’s afternoon.
Moreland (3-for-4), who has become a hit machine since starting the season 0-for-12, led off the ninth with a single through the shift against Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez, but the Red Sox failed to take advantage and K-Rod struck out Holt to end it.
Sale may be one of the most dominant pitchers of this decade, but if there’s one guy he hasn’t figured out, it’s Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez. V-Mart went 1-for-3 against him and saw his lifetime average against him fall to .429.
|Red Sox left-hander David Price takes another step towards return with bullpen session in Detroit||at 12:11 pm ET|
Red Sox left-hander David Price threw a 20-pitch bullpen on Monday in Detroit and is progressing toward facing hitters as he returns from an elbow injury that halted his spring training in early March.
“He threw the ball well,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Detroit. “The biggest thing is that the intensity increases in throwing, the volume as it’s increased, he’s responded well physically to it. That’s the hopeful goal of tomorrow, coming in, feeling as consistent as he’s been.”
If Price checks out physically, the next step will be throwing another bullpen on Wednesday, with the eventual goal of pitching to hitters in a simulated setting before beginning a rehab assignment.
For his part, Price told reporters in Detroit that he threw 20 fastballs. He’s taking it slow.
“It felt good getting back out there on the mound, throwing to a catcher this time,” he told reporters. “Steps in the right direction. I come out feeling good. I wanted to have a productive day today, but I want to feel good tomorrow. It’s kind of like spring training all over again.”
Drs. James Andrews and Neal ElAttrache told Price in March that were he younger, they’d probably recommend Tommy John surgery. However, the 31-year-old is hoping to manage his injury and return to the mound without going under the knife.
In that regard, he’s about where he expected to be.
“It feels really good right now,” he said. “So everything that’s happened the past couple weeks has all been good for my confidence and just the mental aspect of it, so it all feels good.”
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