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Closing Time: Jon Lester’s excellence doesn’t go to waste thanks to Red Sox’ 9th-inning rally 04.17.14 at 11:04 pm ET
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The Red Sox once again didn’t come away with a bunch of hits Thursday night, but David Ross made sure the one he claimed counted.

With one out in the ninth, Ross ripped a double to right field, scoring Mike Napoli and paving the way for a 3-1 win over the White Sox.

The Red Sox had entered the ninth with just one hit before Napoli delivered an infield single against Ronald Belisario. Mike Carp followed with a pinch-hit single, with the Red Sox catcher then coming through with the go-ahead RBI.

After an intentional walk to Daniel Nava, Jonathan Herrera greeted Scott Downs with a perfectly executed bunt single, handing the visitors an insurance run.

Both Red Sox starter Jon Lester and his White Sox counterpart, Chris Sale, saw no-hitters broken up with one out in their respective half of the sixth inning. For Lester, the Tyler Flowers single — just out of the reach of shortstop Xander Bogaerts — ended a perfect game.

In the visitors half of the sixth, Bogaerts broke up Sale’s no-hit bid, rocketing a solo home run over the left-field wall. The homer was the first surrendered by the lefty this season, and the rookie’s first of his 2014 campaign. Prior to giving up the long ball on his 95th pitch, Sale had struck out nine batters through 5 1/3 innings.

The Red Sox’ lead was short-lived, however. Leury Garcia followed Flowers with a ground-rule double over the head of Nava. Adam Eaton proceeded to knot things up with an infield hit, beating Lester to the bag on a grounder to Napoli.

Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox cut down the potential go-ahead run in the seventh inning thanks to a stellar relay from Nava to second baseman Dustin Pedroia to Ross. The play came as a result of an Alejandro De Aza liner into the right field corner, with Adam Dunn coming all the way around from first base. Dunn would be tagged out by Ross on a close play at the plate, ending the seventh.

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Read More: chris sale, David Ross, Jon Lester, Koji Uehara
Buster Olney on M&M: Dustin Pedroia’s wrist injury ‘a concern’ 04.16.14 at 1:17 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN’s Buster Olney made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni to talk about the Red Sox‘ slow start and other MLB news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Red Sox are 5-9 after dropping three straight games, including Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the White Sox in frigid Chicago. Coming off last year’s World Series title, the Red Sox have been hurt by injuries and their inability to make key plays.

“I think it’s a combination of both,” Olney said. “When you start with [Dustin] Pedroia‘s situation, you go from there. That’s obviously a concern. I talked to David Ortiz over the weekend and he talked about the effort to get his timing back. The offense, which was so dominant last year, just hasn’t gotten on a roll yet, obviously. One of the Red Sox players mentioned to me over the weekend, ‘We’re still trying to find our identity.’

“The good thing is that the rest of the division is pretty much in the exact same boat. So if you’re in the Red Sox clubhouse, you might not necessarily be feeling great about what’s happening now. But you look at the Yankees, their infield situation is a complete mess. Tampa Bay’s rotation is in tatters. The Orioles have rotation issues. Toronto, as you know, a lot of questions about their rotation. Given the range of problems you might have, at least if you’re the Red Sox, you’re probably feeling better overall about your situation than some of the other teams are.”

The Red Sox have lost their last two games by one run (3-2 to the Yankees and 2-1 to Chicago), putting a spotlight on their offensive woes.

“Going into their game on Sunday night, their offense, which outscored every other team in baseball last year by 57 runs, ranked 17th in runs scored,” Olney said. “That, day in and day out, gives them so much margin for error. It did last year. They have to get that going.”

Even if Pedroia does not miss any more time with his wrist injury, it could be a serious blow to the Red Sox’ hopes if he has to play through a problem.

“I’m going to be really curious to see how he does going forward. I’ve talked to so many players through the years — how troublesome wrist injuries can be for a hitter. And sometimes they just don’t go away during the year. Because what it really needs in a lot of cases is out-and-out, flat-out rest. And he’s not going to have an opportunity to do that.”

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Read More: buster olney, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, xander bogaerts
Why not Garin Cecchini? 04.06.14 at 3:21 pm ET
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Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

Garin Cecchini led all of the minors in on-base percentage in 2013. (Salem Red Sox)

With Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list, the Red Sox elected to call up Brock Holt — who likely will serve as a utility backup man, with Jonathan Herrera assuming primary duties at third base — from Triple-A Pawtucket. In a vacuum, the decision makes sense. The Sox need a versatile infielder, preferably one on the 40-man roster, in a world where Herrera is at third. But of course, the Sox did have another option: third baseman Garin Cecchini.

In a perfect world, calling up Cecchini is less than ideal. After all, the 22-year-old has played just three games above Double-A, having opened this season in Pawtucket by collecting five hits and walking twice in 11 plate appearances, good for a robust .556/.636/.667 line. That said, there have been other instances where inexperience in Triple-A has not prevented the Sox from promoting a position player, such as in 2009 when the team summoned Josh Reddick to the big leagues from Double-A, at the start of 2013 when Jackie Bradley Jr. opened the season in the big leagues without ever playing in Pawtucket, and when both Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Kalish were promoted with less than two months in Triple-A.

And in the case of Cecchini, there is an offensive maturity and polish to his approach as a hitter that suggest a player capable of being fast-tracked to the big leagues. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brock Holt, garin cecchini, Jonathan Herrera, Will Middlebrooks
Red Sox-Brewers series preview 04.04.14 at 11:20 am ET
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It’€™ll be a special day at Fenway on Friday afternoon as the reigning World Series champions return home for the first time since beating the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 Fall Classic.

The rings will be distributed, the banner will be displayed and the Red Sox will kick off the first home series of the season, taking on the Brewers.

The ceremonies are set to begin at 1 p.m. and include a helicopter flyover from the U.S. Coast Guard, a performance by the Dropkick Murphys and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, and of course, the ring ceremony, as well as a tribute to the fallen firefighters who died in the nine-alarm blaze in the Back Bay on March 26.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be emotional,” first baseman Mike Napoli told MLB.com. “Boston knows how to put on a good ceremony. I’ve seen it before. I imagine the atmosphere is going to be amazing and the fans are going to be going nuts. It’s going to be a fun day. I’m looking forward to it.”

First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m., with the Brewers coming to Fenway for the first time since 2011.

The Red Sox opened the season on a positive note, taking the final two games of the series against the Orioles after dropping the opener. The Brewers, on the other hand, dropped two of three to the Braves despite solid performances from their starting pitchers. This is the earliest in the season the Brewers have ever faced an American League opponent in interleague play. The Red Sox have won seven of the nine interleague contests between the two clubs.

Here are the pitching matchups for the first home series of 2014.

Friday: Jake Peavy (0-0, 0.00) vs. Marco Estrada (0-0, 0.00)

Saturday: Clay Buchholz (0-0, 0.00) vs. Wily Peralta (0-0,0.00)

Sunday: Jon Lester (0-1, 2.57) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-0, 0.00)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

Xander Bogaerts isn’€™t having much trouble adjusting to his role as the team’s everyday shortstop. The 21-year-old has reached base in eight of his 11 plate appearances, going 5-for-9 with a double and drawing three walks in the opening series. Batting out of the 5-hole in the rubber match with the Orioles on Thursday, Bogaerts went 3-for-4 and scored twice. While he’€™s batted either fifth or seventh in the lineup so far, he’€™s making a case for a shot at an audition in the leadoff spot, since there seems to be some uncertainty at the top of the order.

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Read More: daniel nava, Jonathan Lucroy, mike napoli, Ryan Braun
Red Sox lineup: Jonny Gomes leads off, Grady Sizemore sits 04.03.14 at 3:16 pm ET
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Jonny Gomes

Jonny Gomes

With the Red Sox facing their first left-handed starter of the year in Orioles southpaw Wei-Yin Chen, Jonny Gomes will lead off in a game for just the third time in his career and the first time since August 26, 2007. Grady Sizemore, who played the first two games of the season, will get a day off with the Brewers set to throw three straight right-handed pitchers at the Red Sox during the weekend series in Boston and the Sox having committed to not starting Sizemore in more than three games in a row.Chen has enjoyed more success against lefties (.228/.286/.398) than righties (.270/.320/.442) in his two big league seasons, helping to explain not only the off-day for Sizemore and Gomes’ place in the leadoff spot but also the presence of Xander Bogaerts in the fifth spot in the lineup, the highest he’s hit in a big league game. Will Middlebrooks will bat seventh, while Jackie Bradley Jr. — getting his first start of the year — will play center field in Sizemore’s absence and bat ninth. David Ross will be behind the plate for left-hander Felix Doubront. Ross will be hard-pressed to follow this performance.

Dustin Pedroia has destroyed Chen in 21 career plate appearances, posting a .579/.619/.895 line against him. Doubront, meanwhile, has an excellent track record against Orioles center fielder Adam Jones (.118/.167/.118) but has struggled against both Chris Davis (.400/.471/.667) and Nelson Cruz (.500/.625/.667).

For complete batter vs. pitcher matchups, click here. For comprehensive Red Sox coverage visit weei.com/redsox.

RED SOX LINEUP Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: felix doubront, Jonny Gomes, Wei-Yin Chen, xander bogaerts
Xander Bogaerts on long-term deals and following the footsteps of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia as long-term Red Sox 03.24.14 at 8:27 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts (AP)

Xander Bogaerts (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — In a way, the idea is preposterous. As good as Xander Bogaerts was in helping the Red Sox to win a World Series, as highly regarded a prospect as he is, it seems absurdly premature to contemplate much beyond the idea that the 21-year-old is poised to become the Red Sox‘ youngest Opening Day position player since Dwight Evans in 1973, and their youngest Opening Day shortstop since Everett Scott in 1914.

Yet in another way, the idea is not so ridiculous. The Astros reportedly offered prospect George Springer a seven-year, $23 million deal last September — before he played in the big leagues. Evan Longoria signed a six-year, $17.5 million deal (with options that pushed it to nine years and $44 million) in his first days in the big leagues.

And so, at a time when the Red Sox have signed Dustin Pedroia to a deal that should keep him in Boston through 2021 while retaining David Ortiz on a contract that is expected to cover the remainder of his career, Bogaerts was asked, has he considered the possibility of a long-term deal with the Red Sox?

“That’s definitely not a decision I make. That’s front office and those guys. I just go out there, play and really try to focus on the game,” Bogaerts said on Monday morning. “But now, especially now, with all these young guys, you hear a lot of rumors about extensions. Being one of the young guys, you never know if there’s a possibility for that, but I’m always just focusing on the game, trying to get better and help the team win a World Series. When you help the team win, there’s a lot of good stuff that can happen to you. … I’ve never talked to anyone about that, but it’s definitely a possibility with the way the game is changing now and a lot of long-term deals. Time will tell, you know?” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, spring training 2014, xander bogaerts
Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford on Grady Sizemore, Craig Breslow and Xander Bogaerts 03.19.14 at 5:02 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Rob Bradford detail Wednesday’s news on Grady Sizemore, which includes Red Sox manager John Farrell announcing that the outfielder will play three straight games this weekend and five in six days as he makes a move to win the starting job in center field.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Craig Breslow, grady sizemore, Mike Petraglia
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