|For championship-less veterans, World Series title especially sweet||10.31.13 at 4:13 am ET|
Jake Peavy cried.
It was the top of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the World Series, and the Red Sox held a commanding 6-1 lead over the Cardinals. Koji Uehara was entering from the bullpen. The Lansdowne Street fireworks were ready. The game — the season — was all but over.
A lifetime of preparation, the last dozen years of which were spent in the majors, was about to culminate in a celebration and feeling of glory unlike any other.
“Just something that I’ll never forget, that we pretty much had it wrapped up there, especially with our guy Koji coming in,” Peavy said. “Really the ninth inning, those emotions come out of me and I had tears rolling down my face thinking about, just flashing back on 12 years and beyond. … It was very, very surreal.
“It’s what I’ve played for since I’ve played [as a kid] — to be a champion. To do it here, in this city, with this group of guys, with this fan base. It’s unbelievable.”
Peavy is one of a group of veterans on the 2013 Red Sox who despite lengthy big league careers had never reached the sport’s pinnacle, until Wednesday. Until Wednesday, Peavy, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, Mike Napoli and David Ross and had combined for 59 major league seasons — 3,441 games — without winning it all.
|Ryan Dempster on D&C: ‘We’ll find a way to scrap together something’ offensively||10.15.13 at 10:38 am ET|
Pitcher Ryan Dempster joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, as the Red Sox prepare to face the Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.
The Red Sox are coming off a dramatic 6-5 victory in Game 2, breaking through late after struggling offensively for the first 16 innings of the series.
“Good pitching is always going to neutralize good hitting. That’s just reality,” Dempster said. “You see last year the way in the World Series, look at the way the Giants pitched against a really good hitting ballclub, these guys, the Detroit Tigers. If you can execute pitches …
“The thing about this team is we’ll find a way to scrap together something. We did it in Tampa in the clincher there, the way we scored on a wild pitch and an infield single. I think it definitely helps. I think just as important as that bottom of the eighth inning was the sixth inning, where we gave up a four-spot and went out and answered back and scored a run off of Max Scherzer.
“That, to me, was just as important of any inning in the whole entire game, because it just let them know like, ‘Hey, that’s great, you guys got a lead. We’re going to continue to chip away and do what we need to do. And if you don’t execute pitches, we’re going to score some runs.”
That said, Dempster downplayed the emotional carryover from the Game 2 win.
“You just put yourself in a position where you’re not as far down,” he said. “Every game is a game where you’ve got to go out and win in the playoffs. We could have been in a situation [down 2-0], but thankfully we’re not. ‘Just one game’ has kind of been our motto all year. We go out there and we play. Just today, let’s just worry about playing today’s game. Not a series, not best-of-seven, not, ‘Let’s win four.’ Let’s just win today’s game. That’s how we approach it.
“So, I think it’s just one game. We’re at 1-1 and we’ve got a big game today. Obviously we’ve got a huge task with Justin Verlander. But the confidence we’re feeling from last game, and having [John Lackey] out on the mound, we like our chances.”
|Red Sox-Rockies series preview||09.24.13 at 10:55 am ET|
The American League East has been decided, and for the first time since 2007 the Red Sox have wrapped up the division title, completing their worst-to-first turnaround. All that’s left for the Red Sox to do is secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Sox own a 95-62 record, just one game better than the A’s (94-63).
The Red Sox continue to play good baseball in September, going 6-3 on the just-completed homestand, the last of the regular season. Although their streak of consecutive series wins was broken by the Orioles, who took two of three last week, they’ve still won five of their six series this month and have gone 14-6 since the start of September.
While the Sox might be looking to rest some players before the postseason, it doesn’t mean the lineup for the upcoming two games in Colorado will look like one for an intrasquad game in Fort Myers.
“We want to win out — we want to win 100 games,” Will Middlebrooks said. “And we want to have home-field advantage, too. It’s a close record for the best record. Oakland is right behind us. That’s important to us. A lot of starters are still playing. I’m sure they have the option to have the off time. But guys don’t want it. Guys want to play, and that’s pretty cool to see.”
The Sox dominated the Rockies in the two games against the interleague opponent at Fenway back in June, scoring a total of 16 runs off of Rockies pitching. The Rockies are 4-14 in interleague games this season.
It’s the pitching that’s been the biggest issue for the last-place Rockies. The Colorado staff has the worst ERA in the National League at 4.39. Both the relievers and the starters sit in the bottom third of just about every pitching category. And at 71-86, the Rockies occupy the cellar of the NL West, 19½ games off the pace set by the Dodgers.
The Rockies are coming off a game in which the staff allowed a season-high 13 runs, causing them to slip to a season-low 15 games under .500. It’s been a rough September for the Rockies, who have won just seven of their 20 games. However, with a decent offense, the Rockies could be a threat to any team visiting Coors Field. They own a 44-35 record at home as opposed to a dismal 27-51 mark on the road.
Here are the pitching matchups for the two-game set.
Tuesday: John Lackey (10-12, 3.44) vs. Tyler Chatwood (7-5, 3.36)
Wednesday: Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.02) vs. Roy Oswalt (0-6, 7.71)
WHO’S HOT: RED SOX
• The streak is broken and it’s been proven that Koji Uehara is in fact human, and not some strike-throwing pitching machine. But Uehara has shown very impressive resiliency. After a triple broke his club-record streak of consecutive batters retired at 37 and a sacrifice fly brought ended his streak of scoreless innings at 30 1/3, Uehara settled down and got the next two outs without a hitch. Since taking the loss in that game, Uehara has thrown 3 2/3 innings, giving up a couple of hits and earning two saves. The 38-year-old still is being used on a consistent basis and has yet to show any signs of fatigue. He’s racked up a total of 21 saves this season.
|Buster Olney on M&M: ‘Red Sox are the team to beat in baseball’||09.18.13 at 1:52 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday and declared the Red Sox the cream of the crop in MLB as the regular season comes to a close.
“The Red Sox are the team to beat in baseball right now, I don’t think there’s any question about it,” said Olney.
With 10 games remaining, the AL East-leading Red Sox lead the Rays by nine games, and their 92-60 record ranks first in all of baseball.
“Their rotation is in excellent shape, you would probably take it over any other teams that are going to be in the postseason right now. So they would definitely be the team to beat,” said Olney.
The Athletics and Tigers lead their respective American League divisions, and Olney sees those two teams as the main threats to knock off the Red Sox in October.
“If you’re asking me which of the two teams do you not want to play, Detroit or Oakland, I know Detroit has the bigger names, but if you’re talking about how is Justin Verlander throwing right now, Id rather play Detroit, quite frankly,” said Olney. “And given all the physical issues you have with Miguel Cabrera and the defensive issues they have at first and third base, I think you have more opportunity when you play Detroit.”
Detroit leads Cleveland by six games in the AL Central, while Oakland is making a bid for its second straight AL West title, as the A’s lead Texas by 6½ games.
“I’ve talked to scouts about this, and they say the thing about Oakland that’s interesting is that every team seemingly at the back end, you know, players number 20 through 25 are guys who aren’t really that good, they’re just kind of filling out the roster. When you look at the Athletics roster, they’ve got 25 guys, none of them are superstars, there’s not a single superstar on that team, but you have 25 guys who are all good baseball players,” Olney said.
|Tuesday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Ryan Dempster-Scott Feldman||09.17.13 at 8:33 am ET|
With just 11 games remaining until the postseason, Ryan Dempster has only a few opportunities to define a role for himself on the Red Sox going forward.
His first chance comes Tuesday night when the Orioles come to town for a three-game series at Fenway Park. Dempster will face fellow right-hander Scott Feldman at 7:10 p.m.
Dempster, acquired via free agency this past offseason, comes off a no-decision against the Rays last Wednesday. He allowed one run, four hits, five walks and one earned run in five innings, to go with seven strikeouts in the 7-3 win at Tampa Bay.
Boston acquired Dempster (8-9, 4.70 ERA) with the hopes that he’d be a stabilizing force in the back end of the rotation. Instead, his season has been marred by inconsistency. For example, Dempster threw a seven-inning, one-run gem against the Blue Jays on Aug. 13. But he followed that outing with a seven-run catastrophe in 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees in his next start.
The control issues that plagued Dempster in the early part of his career — he walked a MLB-high 112 batters in 2001 — have resurfaced. His 4.1 BB/9 is the highest since he posted the same number as a closer for the Cubs in 2007.
He’s also allowed home runs at an alarming rate in 2013. In 162 2/3 innings, opponents have raked 25 home runs for a 1.4 HR/9 ratio – the worst ratio in his career.
With Clay Buchholz pitching like Pedro Martinez, Jon Lester on a recent run of success, and Jake Peavy and John Lackey providing solid innings, Dempster may not have a spot in the rotation during the postseason.
He can only help his case with a strong performance against the Orioles, who he’s already faced three times. He’s 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.278 WHIP in 18 innings against Baltimore.
Feldman, always a favorite of the sabermetric community because of his solid strikeout and walk ratios since 2011, despite a career 4.57 ERA, finally broke out this season.
After a fantastic first half with the Cubs, when he posted a 3.46 ERA, Feldman (12-10, 3.54 ERA) was shipped to the Orioles for relief pitcher Pedro Strop and starter Jake Arrieta. At the time, the O’s needed starting pitching help to keep them in the race for a playoff spot, and that’s exactly what Feldman has provided.
|Closing time: Mike Carp’s blast propels Red Sox to yet another last at-bat victory||09.11.13 at 11:25 pm ET|
Mike Carp swung the bat only once in Wednesday night’s game, but it was the biggest swing of the night.
With the game knotted at three in the top of the 10th inning and the bases loaded with one out after three walks, Carp delivered the crushing blow to the Rays with a pinch-hit grand slam, the first pinch-hit grand slam for the Red Sox since Kevin Millar did it in 2003, and the first grand slam in extra innings for the Red Sox since Dwight Evans clubbed one in 1989.
The Red Sox now have won a mind-boggling 22 games in their last at-bat, and are 10-5 in extra inning contests.
Carp was pinch-hitting in place of Jonny Gomes, who had pinch-hit the previous time through the order for Daniel Nava. The Red Sox bench has proven to be extraordinarily deep, with different players consistently coming up big in late innings. Carp’s blast was his first home run since June 15 (his ninth long ball of the season), but is just one of the big hits Carp has come up with for the Sox this season. In just 211 plate appearances, Carp has driven in 37 runs and clubbed 25 extra-base hits.
With their 89th win of the season, the Red Sox have improved to 20 games better than their 2012 record, representing the biggest turnaround from season to season since the 1967 Impossible Dream Red Sox, when they went 92-70 after finishing 1966 with a 72-90 record. The victory also clinched the 31st series win for the Red Sox and their seventh series win in a row, their longest streak since 2009. The Sox move to a season-high 9½ games ahead of the Rays in the division, and sit 31 games above .500 for the first time since Aug. 31, 2011.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Koji Uehara set a new Red Sox record with 33 consecutive batters retired, passing Ellis Kinder‘s 1952 mark of 32. Uehara tossed a perfect ninth inning against the top of the Rays lineup, striking out the first two batters he faced and getting Ben Zobrist to ground out to end the frame, bringing his total to 34 consecutive batters retired.
– Ryan Dempster didn’t factor into the decision, but he quieted the Rays offense, limiting it to only one run on Wednesday night. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Dempster, however, as he gave up only four hits on the evening, but three of those four hits went for doubles. His biggest issue was his command; although he did record seven punch outs (six of them swinging strikeouts) for the second start in a row, he issued five walks, the fourth time this season he’s given out five or more free passes. Some of those walks got Dempster into trouble, and he was forced to work out of bases-loaded jams in both the third and the fifth innings.
The right-hander was also rather inefficient, throwing 106 pitches (58 strikes) on the night through just five innings of work. It was the first time since July 11 that Dempster failed to last into the sixth inning.
Clay Buchholz is back and picking up where he left off in June, and Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy look like locks to make the rotation in the playoffs. That leaves Dempster as the odd man out of the rotation — and perhaps the playoff roster — at this point. Dempster has been unable to string together multiple impressive starts on many occasions, and has compiled a 6.05 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of August.
– Mike Napoli continued his scorching month of September with a bases-loaded double in the third inning to drive in two of the Red Sox’ three runs on the evening. Napoli’s double wasn’t necessarily a deep drive; he lined a fastball into right field for what looked like a single, but a misplay from rookie right fielder Wil Myers led to extra bases (Myers looked as though he was trying to decide between making a diving attempt or playing the ball on a hop, and the ball skipped away from him).
The Rays intentionally walked David Ortiz to load the bases for Napoli, an interesting choice for a few reasons. Prior to tonight’s game, the first baseman was 10-for-20 with 29 RBI, three doubles and three home runs in bases-loaded situations this season. Napoli is by far the league leader when it comes to bases-loaded RBI with 31 on the season (Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips ranks second with 24). In fact, his 31 RBI with the bases juiced are the most by a Red Sox player in a single season in over 60 years, since Vern Stephens drove in 32 in 1950.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. laced a two-out double to deep center field for his fourth double of the season and his sixth extra-base hit in 67 major league at-bats. Bradley has exhibited a considerable jump in his power numbers this year with 26 doubles and 10 home runs in 80 Triple-A games this season. Since taking over the center field job in the absence of Jacoby Ellsbury, Bradley is 3-for-9 with two walks and two strikeouts.
– With one run in already, the bases loaded and Dempster struggling with his command after hitting Evan Longoria in the forearm and walking Matt Joyce, Stephen Drew turned in a spectacular diving play to record a 6-4 forceout, end the inning and save at least one run. It’s just more of the same from Drew, who has played an excellent shortstop throughout the entire season. In this case, the run saved proved pivotal, given that the Sox ended up needing extra innings for the win.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Manager John Farrell has shown faith in rookie Brandon Workman, putting him in high-pressure situations over the past couple weeks. That faith has not been rewarded in Workman’s last two outings, however.
Workman, who inherited a 3-1 lead in the seventh inning, let the Rays get within a run in his first inning of work, issuing a two-out walk to Zobrist and subsequently allowing an RBI double to clean-up hitter Evan Longoria. He escaped the jam without allowing any further damage, striking out Matt Joyce to end the inning. But Workman came back out for the eighth, and could not preserve the lead in his second inning of work. With one out in the inning, James Loney launched a 2-2 curveball from Workman into the right field bleachers, knotting the game at three apiece.
The Red Sox are currently dealing with a vulnerability when it comes to the effectiveness of seventh and eighth inning relief pitching, and Workman looked to be a solid option for late-inning work. The experiment with Workman in a set-up role has gone awry as of late. His rough outing on Wednesday night was not his first; he also received the loss in his last appearance, when his wild pitch in the ninth inning of a tie game in the series finale in New York allowed the Yankees to walk off with the victory. The Red Sox pitching staff has allowed just seven runs in the last three games, with Workman responsible for three of them.
Workman has been effective at times, and even with his recent struggles in the set-up role, his ERA is under 4.00 (3.77) in his last 11 appearances. Workman’s strikeout numbers have also been impressive; with four strikeouts in two innings in his latest outing, he brings his average to over 11 1/2 strikeouts per nine innings when pitching in relief. But Workman has proved to be shaky in late innings. Although the sample size is small (five appearances), Workman’s ERA is over 7.00 in the eighth inning as well as in the seventh inning.
– Facing Alex Cobb for the first time, David Ross had trouble figuring out the righty. Ross killed a rally in the second inning, hitting into a 6-4-3 double play with two on and one out in the second inning and striking out in his second at-bat. Ross finished the evening 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
– Will Middlebrooks went 0-for-5 and left four runners on base. He was almost the victim of a triple play, when he hit a ball on the ground to Longoria, who touched third and threw out the runner going to second. Middlebrooks beat the relay at first by just a step or two. After collecting multiple hits in five straight games last week, Middlebrooks is now 0-for-8 in the series against the Rays, having yet to reach base in the series.
Looking to further extend their lead in the AL East, the Red Sox will send out Ryan Dempster on Wednesday night to take on Alex Cobb and the Rays in the second game of a three-game series in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Dempster will be starting in place of Felix Doubront, who will skip his spot in the rotation due to the return of Clay Buchholz.
After a rough August in which Dempster posted a 6.75 ERA in five starts, he has improved over his last two starts by allowing three runs in 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 30 against the White Sox and four runs in six innings last Wednesday vs. the Tigers, earning the win in both contests.
Demspster did not have to do much in his last start, as the Sox offense erupted to the tune of 20 runs, giving Dempster his eighth win of the season.
Dempster was saddled with the loss in his last start against the Rays, which came on June 19, despite posting a solid line of three earned runs over six innings of work. In 10 career starts against the Rays, Dempster is 3-5 with a 3.94 ERA.
Cobb has rebounded well after missing more than two months due to him being hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer on June 15. In his five starts since returning from the DL, Cobb (8-3, 2.99 ERA) has only allowed more than two runs once.
Cobb received no decision in his last start against the Mariners on Friday after allowing four earned runs in six innings in what ended up being a 6-4 Seattle victory.
Cobb was roughed up in his last start against the Red Sox, as the Boston native surrendered six earned runs over four innings and took the loss in what was a 10-8 Boston win on June 10.
Cobb is 2-2 with a 4.09 ERA in six career appearances against the Red Sox.
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