|Closing Time: Travis Shaw (5 runs, 4 hits, 2 home runs) paces Red Sox offense in win over Rays||08.01.15 at 5:14 pm ET|
After a sluggish start offensively following the All-Star break, the Red Sox offense has turned a corner.
Coming out of the break the Red Sox averaged 1.77 over the first nine games, but since they have scored at least seven runs in five of their last seven games, including Saturday’s 11-7 win over the Rays.
It was the Red Sox’ third straight win, their first three-game winning streak since their four-game win streak that ended July 8.
“Just an outstanding day,” manager John Farrell said. “Quality at-bats up and down the lineup. Starts off with Brock leading off the game with a base hit and we were able to get on the board early, extend the lead, and enough to hold on.”
The Red Sox scored early and often against Rays left-hander Matt Moore. They scored a run in the first and exploded for four in the second before adding another in the third to make it a 6-0 game after three innings.
Travis Shaw, who was called up Saturday morning, paced the offense going 4-for-4 with a walk with two home runs, a double and three RBIs — finishing a triple shy of the cycle. He recorded his first career extra-base hit and then he followed with his first career homer. He also scored five runs, which is the most by a Red Sox player since August 12, 2008.
It was his third professional two-homer game, as he had two in the minors.
Boston’s offensive took advantage of going against Moore, who entered with a 7.61 ERA. Moore lasted just three innings and allowed six runs on nine hits.
Although the Sox jumped out to a 6-0 lead, the win didn’t come easy.
Red Sox starter Joe Kelly got off to an excellent start, as after allowing a single to John Jaso to open the game, he retired the next nine batters until falling apart over the next three innings.
In the fourth, Kelly allowed the first four batters to reach, but did settle down to limit the damage to only two runs. Then in the fifth, after allowing four straight batters to reach and two more runs, he retired the final two with runners on first and third to escape. He allowed another run in the sixth, which ultimately ended his day.
Kelly finished the game going five-plus innings, allowing five runs on nine hits. Justin Masterson came on in relief and allowed an inherited runner to score and a run of his own to make it a 7-6 game at the time.
The Sox added some insurance runs in the sixth as Rusney Castillo drove in two with an RBI single to right and then two more in the eighth on Shaw’s second homer of the day.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox’ win:
|Closing Time: Joe Kelly, Red Sox relievers roughed up in loss to White Sox||07.27.15 at 11:06 pm ET|
It certainly wasn’t the best played game, but at least it provided some mild entertainment.
After three lead changes and three ties, the White Sox outlasted the Red Sox, 10-8 Monday night at Fenway Park. The Red Sox now haven’t won two straight games since their seven-game win streak ended July 8.
With the game tied at seven in the seventh, the White Sox scored two runs off Red Sox reliever Robbie Ross Jr. He had allowed a run in the sixth as well, as he finished allowing three runs over two innings of work to take the loss.
Tommy Layne allowed another White Sox run in the ninth. The Red Sox scored one run in the ninth — a Pablo Sandoval single — to make it a two-run game, but that was all they could get as they had the tying run on first base.
Chicago jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Red Sox even stepped into the batters box. Joe Kelly allowed four first inning runs, as the first six batters of the reach reached base, including three extra-base hits (back-to-back triples) to open the game.
The Red Sox battled back and tied the game at four after two innings. David Ortiz hit another home run in the first inning, a two-run shot (his third in two games) and then Jemile Weeks and Mookie Betts each had RBI singles in the second.
Kelly allowed another run in the third inning, which would ultimately be his last, as the right-hander went 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits, while striking out two. It was the second time in his last three starts where he failed to make it out of the fourth inning.
“Rough outing,” manager John Farrell said. “A lot of elevated pitches in the strike zone. There were strikes, but the command within the strike zone was lacking. A lot of hard contact early. We come right back after a couple of innings and tie things up. We’re going through the third time and it was time to make a move to the bullpen. Bottom line in this game, we couldn’t put up enough zeros.”
But once again the Red Sox fought back, taking the lead in the fourth inning. Betts had an infield single and they scored another when third baseman Tyler Saladino booted a Hanley Ramirez grounder.
Craig Breslow allowed a run in his only inning of relief of Kelly, which allowed the White Sox to tie the game at six at the time. The teams then traded runs, as the Red Sox scored an unearned run in the fifth and the White Sox scored a run off Ross Jr. in the sixth making it a 7-7 game until Ross allowed the two seventh inning runs.
The two teams also combined for three errors.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|Red Sox-White Sox series preview||at 9:17 am ET|
With their first series win of the second half taken care of in an 11-1 victory over the Tigers on Sunday night, the Red Sox will move on to the White Sox for a four-game set beginning Monday evening. The second act in a three-series homestand, Chicago comes into Fenway Park on a four-game winning streak.
But like the Red Sox, the White Sox started the second half on a bit of a skid, though Chicago lost five of its first six compared to Boston’s seven straight. The Red Sox managed to right their stumbling with a 2-1 walkoff win on Friday in their first game with Detroit off a single from Xander Bogaerts.
“Much needed, that’s for sure,” Bogaerts said after the game. “We had a tough road trip. We have a long homestand right now — just try and win as many games as possible and you never know what can happen.”
Not including Sunday’s rout, the Red Sox have struggled to score runs over the past 10 games, averaging 1.78 per contest in their first nine tilts back. Their 27 runs in those games puts them at the fourth fewest in the majors during that span. The White Sox, on the other hand, have scored 44 runs since the break — eighth most in the league — 4.4 per contest. During their winning streak, they’ve averaged 6.5 runs per game.
“We have to win ballgames,” pitcher John Danks said Wednesday after Chicago’s most recent loss. “There’s not really any time left. We have to go. I feel like we have played better than our record shows this first week, but at the end of the day it’s all about wins and losses.”
Still four games under .500 and 12 1/2 games behind the first-place Royals, the White Sox have a ways to go. They’re five games back of the wild card spot and are situated fourth in the division, trailing the third-place Tigers by one game. And though Chicago swept the Indians in Cleveland, the White Sox‘ 22-28 road record doesn’t necessarily bode well for their slate with the Red Sox.
|New year, new player: Xander Bogaerts continues to perform in clutch||07.25.15 at 12:25 am ET|
What a difference a year makes for Xander Bogaerts.
Maybe the last player the Red Sox would want up in a key situation last year, he’s now the player they want up the most this year.
Bogaerts continued his impressive season with a walkoff single in the 11th inning in the Red Sox’ 2-1 win over the Tigers, which snapped an eight-game losing streak.
After batting just .153 with runners in scoring position last year, Bogaerts is hitting .410 with runners in scoring position this year, which leads the American League. Furthermore, since June 7 he’s hitting .513.
“He’s grown up a lot,” manager John Farrell said. “He’s learning from the challenges of a year ago, he’s learned about himself and the confidence has certainly come back to allow him to be the player that maybe some lofty expectations last year held over his head. He’s playing a very good game right now.”
Bogaerts stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning with Mookie Betts at second base and one out with the struggling Pablo Sandoval on deck against Tigers reliever Blaine Hardy.
With the count 2-2, Bogaerts got a changeup that he was able to send up the middle and into center field to score Betts. It was the previous pitch (a changeup) and Bogaerts’ development as a hitter which played a part in the second walkoff hit of his career.
“I thought he wasn’t going to throw me any good pitches,” Bogaerts said. “I was a bit aggressive early on in the count swinging at bad pitches. I mean, with that 2-1 pitch, he told me what he was going to do with the next pitch. I was ready for it.”
Overall for the season, he’s batting .310 with three home runs and 47 RBis.
The 22-year-old has come into his own this season and has some of his teammates marveling.
|Closing Time: Joe Kelly allows 3 home runs in Red Sox’ 7th straight loss||07.22.15 at 10:57 pm ET|
It was not the return to the big leagues Joe Kelly or the Red Sox were looking for.
Making his first major league start since June 23, Kelly returned from Pawtucket and allowed three home runs on the way to taking his sixth loss of the season, as the Astros beat the Red Sox 4-2 Wednesday night in Houston. It was the seventh straight loss for the Red Sox, which ties a season-high.
Preston Tucker homered as the second batter of the game against Kelly to put the Red Sox in a quick 1-0 hole. Then in the fourth, Evan Gattis hit a solo homer and Tucker hit his second homer in the fifth, a two-run shot, which gave the Astros a 4-0 lead.
Kelly finished the game going 5 1/3 innings, allowing the four runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out six. His ERA is now 5.74 on the year.
“I thought [Kelly] made some big pitches with his fastball,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He gets a couple of called strikes looking. I thought he changed eye level with some fastballs. but a couple pitches out over the plate. And in an unforgiving ballpark such as this, it makes you pay for it. but I thought he made some big pitches. He was down in the strike zone more consistently than when he left here. Threw some fastballs in to righties and lefties, which we had hoped to get accomplished. But in the end, we’re on the wrong side of it.”
Trailing 4-0 entering the sixth, the Red Sox scored two runs — the first courtesy of an RBI double from Dustin Pedroia and the second on a Xander Bogaerts single. The Sox had a chance for more with runners on second and third with one out, but Hanley Ramirez struck out and Alejandro De Aza flew out to left to end the threat.
The Red Sox also had the first two batters reach in the seventh, but failed to score.
The home run ball hasn’t just been an issue for Kelly. Red Sox pitchers have allowed 13 home runs in the last six games, which accounts for 18 of the 34 runs allowed.
The Red Sox now reside 11 games out of first-place in the American League East, and 11 games under .500.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
The Red Sox have torpedoed to the bottom of the American League standings with a six-game losing streak. The team has not yet won since returning from the All-Star break. According to O’Brien, the rest of the season should provide opportunities for the Red Sox to field auditions and take stock of which players in the organization can help them compete in 2016 and beyond. That includes established players like Joe Kelly.
“This is the time to do it, you’ve got 68 games remaining and you’re already starting to see that. Johnson was one of those guys. Unfortunately, a lot of those guys were already here or have been here and played. And this is, by the way, another reason you’re seeing Joe Kelly [start Wednesday night]. You’ve got to find out what you’ve got in Joe Kelly,” O’Brien said.
Brian Johnson had his own such audition Tuesday night with a start against the Astros, lasting 4 1/3 innings and allowing four runs (two earned).
“I thought Johnson looked all right, he wasn’t overwhelming, he wasn’t throwing 95 like Eddie Rodriguez, but you could see there’s upside there. … He dropped in some nice curveballs once the game got going and it looked like he was locating a little bit better. It was hard to tell, it was only 4 1/3 innings,” O’Brien said.
|Closing Time: Astros spoil Brian Johnson’s major league debut as Red Sox lose 6th straight||07.21.15 at 11:13 pm ET|
At this point in the season, it seems the Red Sox are inventing new ways to lose each night.
Things were looking promising for the Red Sox leading 3-1 in the fifth, but the Astros tied the game without even putting the ball in play, as they went onto win the game, 8-3 and in the process handed the Red Sox their sixth straight loss.
After not pitching in 15 days, Brian Johnson didn’t pitch poorly, but showed some rust in his big league debut. The 24-year-old left-hander went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits, while striking out three and walking four. He settled down after allowing a run in the first, retiring eight in a row at one point before things unraveled in the fifth.
The Red Sox led 3-1, but the Astros tied the game without even putting the ball in play and then scored two more runs to take a 5-3 lead after five innings.
With runners on first and third, Jake Marisnick stole second and the throw hit him on the shoulder and shot into left field, allowing him to come around to score the tying run. It was a freak play as Ryan Hanigan’s throw wasn’t a bad one, it was just the way the ball hit off Marisnick and how deep left fielder Hanley Ramirez was playing, which allowed the two runs to score on the play.
After a walk, Johnson was lifted from the game and Justin Masterson entered, but allowed an RBI double to Carlos Correa (the run was charged to Johnson) and then an RBI groundout, which allowed the Astros to take the 5-3 lead.
Masterson allowed a two-run homer the following inning to Chris Carter, his 16th of the year. The Astros added another run in the eighth off Junichi Tazawa.
After scoring only four runs in four games against the Angels, the Red Sox scored three runs in the third inning. Mookie Betts’ check-swing flare down the first base line that went for a double scored two runs and then Xander Bogaerts’ single up the middle plated the third run. Betts’ double snapped an 0-for-20 skid.
Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss:
|Tom Verducci on MFB: ‘I don’t think [the Red Sox] are a playoff team’||07.14.15 at 1:20 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Red Sox‘ strategy at the trade deadline and the strength of their young players. To hear the full interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.
With the trade deadline just around the corner after the All-Star break, Verducci doesn’t know which way the Red Sox are leaning, but he does have a benchmark for them to reach before buying.
“It’s really an interesting question isn’t it?” Verducci said. “It’s a critical time for the Red Sox, with [Clay] Buchholz going down it makes it even more critical and who knows how long it will be, but he won’t be coming out for the next two weeks. I’m not sure which direction they would go. I don’t take a team seriously until they’re .500 and they still have to get there. But Kansas City last year was 50-50 after 100 games and they wound up with the tying run on third base in Game 7 of the World Series. Being around .500 is OK but you’ve got to get there.
“Coming out of the break it’s a tough trip to begin with, the schedule’s not in their favor, but they’ve got to come out with a winning record these next couple of weeks and probably a few games over [.500] before we can say, ‘We need to go out there and trade for the one piece that’s going to get us into the postseason.’ Otherwise, it’s fool’s gold.”
Though Verducci does not think that John Henry micromanages the player personnel of the Red Sox, he believes Henry got involved in free agency.
“If you’re talking about complementary pieces on the club I don’t think [he’s involved],” Verducci said, “but when you’re talking about guys like [Pablo] Sandoval and [Hanley] Ramirez, of course. Those were big decisions. … You’re supposed to have those three amigos [David Ortiz, Ramirez and Sandoval] in the middle of the lineup just creating havoc.
“Now, you’ve got Sandoval, whose OPS has gone down four straight years. You signed him to be a switch-hitter — I understand he hasn’t been great right-handed but it’s not a good sign to abandon one side of the plate. And with Ramirez, you look at someone playing the outfield and I know it’s a transition, you give somebody time and all those things, but you want to see something that makes you believe that that learning curve is not going to be that long. I thought from day one of spring training, there was no indication that he was going to get left field quickly.”
As young players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts come into their own, Verducci believes the Red Sox will be one of the strongest teams in the AL East for years to come.
“I look at the Red Sox as we sit here today and I don’t think they’re a playoff team,” Verducci said. “They could change my mind if they go crazy these next few weeks, but I don’t see it. You alluded to [Brian] Johnson and [Eduardo] Rodriguez, you’re going to have to take your foot off the pedal with those guys at some point in the second half of the season. … I love Rodriguez. I was really impressed with the way he beat the Yankees, it was actually with his fastball and I know he’s got a great changeup.
“The strength up the middle with Betts and Bogaerts, I mean Mookie Betts right now is probably one of the 20 best players in the game and he’s getting better and just learning center field. The upside is really good … and they’re very, very close to being a good team. If it’s not this year, they’re certainly right back in the mix next year and I do love the young core of the team.”
Verducci commented on Rick Porcello’s struggles, citing them as a function of a rotation without a veteran presence.
“Rick is really a student of the game,” Verducci said. “He was famous in Detroit for sitting next to Max Scherzer on the bench, who’s another really analytical mind on the mound. [He’s] always looking at what needs to get better. I think one of the biggest things not just with Rick but with the entire staff has been the lack of an experienced catcher and the injury to Ryan Hanigan. I can’t underestimate how big that has been. I know when we did the game Saturday on Fox, the Red Sox were 14-9 with Hanigan behind the plate, probably well below .500 otherwise.
“In today’s day and age, with all the information that’s out there, you really need somebody to distill that information, come up with a game plan and call the game. I asked Rick about it, and he said, ‘No offense to any of the younger catchers because we all love them, but there’s no substitute for experience. With runners on base, when the difference in a ballgame is those one or two pitches that you have to execute and what those pitches are and the conviction the catcher has with those pitches. There’s just no substitute for a guy that’s been back there before.'”
|Manny Machado: Xander Bogaerts deserved to be an All-Star||07.13.15 at 5:10 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — The Red Sox only have one representative for the 2015 All-Star Game, but many feel like they should have had another in Xander Bogaerts.
The shortstop has a slash line of .304/.338/.411 this season with his .304 average the third-best among shortstops in all of baseball. Orioles All-Star third baseman Manny Machado is one of those people who feel Bogaerts should be in Cincinnati this week.
“He’s awesome. It’s great to watch,” Machado said. “He’s exciting. I think he should have been here. I think he deserved to be an All-Star. It’s just one of things he needs to keep playing the game. He’s very exciting to watch.”
Machado is a talented player in his own right, making his second All-Star appearance this week, and hitting .298 with 19 home runs this season. A few years ago he was in the same shoes Bogaerts is in now — a talented, up-and-coming star.
“The way he plays the game I think he has that natural ability that he can play that natural shortstop,” Machado said of what stands out most about Bogaerts’ game. “We haven’t seen that much lately in the game that you have that natural shortstop who can hit, that can field. He’s an exciting guy to watch.”
The two players beating out Bogaerts at the position were the Royals’ Alcides Escobar, who was voted as a starter by the fans and the Tigers’ Jose Iglesias.
“That’s a good player,” Escobar said. “I think that guy. He can hit, he can field, he can run Any other year he would be in the All-Star Game. He’s a good player and a future All-Star.”
Iglesias was also complimentary of his former teammate in Boston.
“I mean, he’s a great young player. A lot of talent. Really happy for him. He’s been playing well.”
|Mike Moustakas wins American League All-Star Final Vote, Xander Bogaerts 4th||07.10.15 at 6:51 pm ET|
The Red Sox will have just one representative next week in Cincinnati.
MLB announced Friday Mike Moustakas won the American League Final Vote with 19.3 million votes and he will earn the final roster spot. The Twins’ Brian Dozier finished in second, followed by Yoenis Cespedes and Xander Bogaerts. Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner was removed from the ballot on Thursday after being named to the team as an injury replacement.
“I know how much the fans tried, the Red Sox organization, they tried really, really hard,” Bogaerts said. “Fans here and also back at home in Aruba really tried. Kansas City fans this year have been pretty crazy for their players. I mean I appreciate all the help folks gave me.”
The final vote numbers for the non-winners were not released. In the National League, Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals won with 14.1 million votes.
Utility man Brock Holt will represent the Red Sox.
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
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