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Andrew Benintendi explains how lights got in way of Red Sox win 08.11.16 at 11:13 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi

Andrew Benintendi

It was just two nights ago when Andrew Benintendi stood in front of the television in the middle of the Red Sox’ clubhouse answering questions after his team’s win. It is the spot usually reserved for players who have had the biggest impact on the game’s outcome, a description that certainly fit the rookie after his three-hit game.

This time, the get-together was under entirely different circumstances.

Benintendi offered 54 seconds of explanations for what was the pivotal play in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Red Sox Thursday night in the same very spot he stood 48 hours before.

“It went in the lights, but that’s no excuse,” he said. “I should have caught it.”

What the Red Sox’ left fielder was referencing was the Jacoby Ellsbury line drive hit virtually right at him in the eighth inning, bringing in two runs and giving the visitors a lead they wouldn’t surrender. (To see the play, click here.)

The play came with one out, the bases loaded, the Red Sox leading by a run, and reliever Brad Ziegler on the mound. On a 2-0 pitch, Ellsbury hit a ball that Benintendi had to move slightly to left. But at the last moment, the 22-year-old had the ball skip past his outstretched glove, resulting in what was ruled a double.

“I think it was just one of those things. Not much you can do about it,” Benintendi said. “I tried to put my glove up where I thought it was going to be. It just went right over my glove.”

He added, “I saw it off the bat, but as I made my way to the left the ball is coming back to me and it went into the lights.”

Read More: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox, Yankees,
Craig Kimbrel on knee after brutal outing: ‘It’s something I’m going to battle with until it’s all gone’ 08.10.16 at 12:30 am ET
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Red Sox manager John Farrell (right) lifts closer Craig Kimbrel (46) in the ninth on Tuesday. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox manager John Farrell (right) lifts closer Craig Kimbrel (46) in the ninth on Tuesday against the Yankees. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

After one of his worst outings of the season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel revealed that his surgically repaired left knee continues to give him trouble.

He certainly didn’t look right in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Yankees, walking four to force in a run before being lifted in favor of right-hander Matt Barnes, who nailed down the victory with a strikeout of Mark Teixeira to earn the first save of his career.

“I walked four guys,” Kimbrel said. “I mean, I was out there watching the same game y’all were. I didn’t have my best stuff tonight. In that situation I tried to make pitches to get strikeouts, I didn’t really want them to put the ball in play. Bad day, bad night. But, on the positive side, we still won the game. We put this outing behind us and we go into tomorrow.”

The performance wasn’t as concerning, in some respects, as what Kimbrel said after. He acknowledged that his knee continues to give him trouble, a month after surgery, though he stopped short of blaming it for Tuesday’s woes. He had never walked four batters in less than an inning.

“When you’re sore, does it affect you?” he said. “I wouldn’t say it affected me in my performance, but I definitely, it’s something I’m going to battle with until it’s all gone. I’m still four weeks out of surgery. I’m good enough to pitch, I’m good enough to play, but it’s not going to affect me each and every night.”

Barnes, meanwhile, got the job done, continuing a breakout season as one of manager John Farrell’s most reliable arms.

“With the two left-handers coming, just wanted the power, particularly against Teixeira where we’ve seen that power kind of works as a better matchup,” Farrell said. “And how he [Barnes] has been with men on base this year. He has been outstanding as far as stranding inherited runners. No more important time than tonight.”

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Read More: Craig Kimbrel, John Farrell, matt barnes, Red Sox
Rick Porcello won’t reveal what Chase Headley did to set him off, sparking near-brawl between Red Sox, Yankees at 12:09 am ET
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Rick Porcello won his 100th career game on Tuesday night. He became baseball’s third 15-game winner. He improved to 11-0 at Fenway Park.

But all anyone will want to talk about is the near-brawl he incited by barking at Yankees third baseman Chase Headley in the seventh inning of a 5-3 victory.

Headley led off with a double to center that took a funny hop off the scoreboard and briefly eluded center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who recovered to fire an off-balance strike to third with Headley attempting to stretch the play into a triple.

The perfect one-hop throw nailed Headley at the bag and he stayed down on the field, perhaps hoping for a replay challenge. Porcello advanced toward him, pointed toward his eyes and then behind him, the two exchanged words and the dugouts emptied.

So what prompted it?

“I don’t really have anything to comment on that,” Porcello said. “That’s baseball stuff. Happens down on the field, and just going to let it stay there between me and Headley.”

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Read More: brawl, Chase Headley, Red Sox, rick porcello
Closing Time: Andrew Benintendi, Rick Porcello, fracas highlight Red Sox win 08.09.16 at 10:23 pm ET
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Andrew Benintendi notched his second career three-hit game. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Andrew Benintendi notched his second career three-hit game. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Most knew this was probably going to have the feel of an important game.

For the Red Sox, the stakes of their showdown with the Yankees on Tuesday night were obvious. Coming off a 5-6 road trip, with the comfort of six home games staring at them, John Farrell’s team needed to get things going in order to keep pace in the playoff race.

And thanks in part to the electricity supplied by rookie Andrew Benintendi, another lock-down outing from Rick Porcello, and even a bench-clearing fracas in the seventh inning, the atmosphere didn’t disappoint.

The Red Sox kicked off a stretch of 23 games in 23 days with a spirited 5-3 win over the Yankees at Fenway Park, helping the hosts keep pace in the race for both the American League East and Wild Card.

Leading the way was Porcello, who improved to 11-0 at Fenway this season. The righty claimed his 15th win of the season, giving up just two runs on seven hits over eight innings. He also struck out six and walked just one.

It marked the first time in Porcello’s career he has totaled at least eight innings in three straight starts, having come off back-to-back complete games.

“Yeah, he was very strong once again,” manager John Farrell said. “Like many of his starts this season, he gets to that middle portion of the ballgame and really begins to settle in. I thought he had very good feel for his changeup and his curveball once again, sinker in the bottom of the zone. Eight strong innings. Just an outstanding job on his part. Two opportunities for shutdown innings, he continues to execute them very well.”

Spearheading the offense was Benintendi, who claimed his second three-hit game while putting his batting average at .500 (8-for-16) for his brief major league career.

“My job as the guy hitting in the nine-hole was to get on base and to flip the lineup, and that’s what my approach was today, and it worked out,” Benintendi said.

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Read More: Andrew Benintendi, brawl, Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
Yankees sign former Red Sox reliever Tommy Layne at 10:03 am ET
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Tommy Layne won’t have far to travel to join his new team.

The former Red Sox reliever, designated for assignment and then released last week to make room for fellow lefty Fernando Abad, signed a big-league contract with the Yankees, the team announced, and will be added to the 25-man roster with New York opening a three-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Layne, 31, went 0-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 34 appearances with the Red Sox. Outstanding against left-handed hitters last year (.148 average, .418 OPS), Layne took a step back in that regard this year (.259, .688), which made him expendable in favor of Abad.

Read More: Red Sox, tommy layne, Yankees,
Report: Yankees could release Alex Rodriguez before end of season 08.02.16 at 1:17 pm ET
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Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

The Yankees purged four veterans from their roster in the days leading up to the trade deadline, but they may set their biggest fish free before the end of the season.

According to a report in the New York Daily News, the Yankees are considering releasing controversial slugger Alex Rodriguez, whose playing time has disappeared along with his production.

The 41-year-old A-Rod, who sits four homers shy of 700 for his career, is owed the remainder of his $21 million salary this year, as well as a guaranteed $21 million next year. The Yankees are expected to try to move on from him over the winter, but they may accelerate their timetable. From the story:

While the more likely scenario still seems to be parting ways with A-Rod over the winter, a source familiar with the situation told the Daily News on Monday that there’s a chance releasing the slumping DH “could happen” before the end of this season as part of the team’s ongoing overhaul.

If the Yankees part ways with Rodriguez, it’s possible his career is over. As it stands now, he ranks fourth all-time in homers behind only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and Babe Ruth, and third in RBIs (2,084), behind Aaron and Ruth.

Read More: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees,
Indians acquire reliever Andrew Miller from Yankees to fortify bullpen 07.31.16 at 10:23 am ET
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Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller

The road to the World Series might suddenly pass through Cleveland.

The Indians, already in talks to acquire All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers, struck aggressively on Sunday morning, announcing that they had landed All-Star left-handed reliever Andrew Miller from the Yankees for four prospects.

The deal reunites Miller with manager Terry Francona, who oversaw the very start of his transformation from middling starter to dominant setup man in 2011 with the Red Sox.

It also makes the Indians, who lead the American League Central by 4 1/2 games, formidable contenders. Cleveland is 59-42, two games behind the Rangers for the best record in the American League.

Miller, 31, is in the midst of his best season. He’s 6-1 with a 1.39 ERA and 77 strikeouts in just 45 1/3 innings. He has matched or set career highs in strikeouts per nine (15.3) and strikeout rate (44.8 percent). He is signed through 2018 at $9 million annually.

Whether he closes or sets up for current closer Cody Allen, Miller gives Francona a dominant option at the end of games, as well as a weapon from the left side on an overwhelmingly right-handed staff.

The price was steep and points to the difficulty of completing deals in this current seller’s market. The Indians parted with outfielder and top-25 overall prospect Clint Frazier, as well as left-hander Justus Sheffield, and right-handers Ben Heller and J.P. Feyeresien.

Sheffield, the 31st pick in the 2014 draft, is considered a top-100 prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com.

Read More: andrew miller, Indians, MLB trade rumors, Red Sox
Closing Time: David Price falters, Red Sox bats go silent in loss to Yankees 07.17.16 at 11:39 pm ET
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Red Sox left-hander David Price leaves the mound after a disappointing performance vs. the Yankees on Sunday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Red Sox left-hander David Price leaves the mound after a disappointing performance vs. the Yankees on Sunday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — If David Price is planning to embark on a dominant second-half run, as he suggested to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford recently, it didn’t start Sunday night.

Once again tasked with protecting a slim lead, Price once again faltered against the Yankees. He allowed three runs in the fourth and generally struggling to put away one of the more pedestrian offenses in the American League in a 3-1 loss that snapped Boston’s six-game winning streak.

“The finishing pitch might not have been there as it was the last few times out for him but still, despite the combination of hits in that one inning, he kept the game very much under control,” manager John Farrell said. “He might not have been as sharp or as powerful as recent times out, but they string together 11 hits, got to go to the bullpen to shut things down and we did.”

Price needed to be perfect to outduel Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. After Dustin Pedroia gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the first, Price struggled right from the start, allowing a line drive to left by leadoff Brett Gardner that Brock Holt snared with a diving catch.

The Yankees peppered Price for 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings, including two each from Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran atop the order.

That said, the Red Sox carried a 1-0 lead into the fourth before Price faltered. Didi Gregorius started things with a one-out single and scored on Starlin Castro’s double to left. Price had a chance to keep the game tied, but after striking out Rob Refsnyder, he allowed RBI singles to Austin Romine and Ellsbury.

Price was lifted with two outs in the sixth after allowing singles to Gardner and Ellsbury, leaving the mound after a disappointing performance that left his ERA at 4.36 and at least temporarily dashed hopes that he’d start the second half the same way he finished the first, with eight strong innings against the Rays.

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Read More: David Price, Dustin Pedroia, Masahiro Tanaka, Red Sox
Closing Time: Eduardo Rodriguez, Sandy Leon lift surging Red Sox past reeling Yankees 07.16.16 at 7:07 pm ET
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Eduardo Rodriguez was in control for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Saturday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

Eduardo Rodriguez was in control for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Saturday. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — Eduardo Rodriguez was lost for the entire first half of the season. Might he finally be found?

He certainly looked that way on Saturday in a 5-2 victory over the Yankees, pitching seven effective innings and riding a three-run homer from Sandy Leon to a win his best start of the season.

His timing couldn’t have been any better, because he delivered seven innings of one-run ball with his future in the rotation on the line.

“It’s good because they gave me the chance to get back here and do what I do,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve got to say thanks to them to believe in myself.”

The Red Sox ran their winning streak to a season-high six games, while the Yankees dropped their second straight to open the second half, falling two games below .500 this late in the season for the first time since 1995.

This one was about the Red Sox battery. Rodriguez had struggled since injuring his knee in spring training, taking an 8.59 ERA out to the mound in his first start since June 27. His previous start might’ve been his worst, and featured a very public tongue-lashing from second baseman Dustin Pedroia on the mound in Tampa.

Rodriguez was supposed to spend a considerable chunk of time in Triple-A figuring out what plagued his delivery, but he rejoined the Red Sox after just one and a half rehab starts.

He delivered, in part by exhuming the slider he had abandoned for most of the season. He allowed four hits and one run, striking out one and walking two. He also featured a modified delivery out of the stretch with his hands starting higher in an effort not to tip pitches. It seemed to work.

“It was good, because now I’m not thinking about the tipping stuff,” Rodriguez said. “I just throw the ball right where I wanted.”

His only mistake came in the third on a solo homer to Brett Gardner. Otherwise, he controlled the game, inducing grounders and weak fly balls while outdueling former Cy Young Award winner CC Sabathia.

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Read More: Brett Gardner, eduardo rodriguez, Red Sox, Sandy Leon
John Farrell will not get credit for managerial moves that helped beat Yankees on Friday at 12:50 am ET
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Koji Uehara pitches during a 1-2-3 ninth to earn save in a 5-3 victory over the Yankees on Friday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Koji Uehara pitches during a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save in a 5-3 victory over the Yankees on Friday. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — We crush John Farrell when he gets something wrong, and conveniently ignore the decisions he gets right. Take Friday’s 5-3 victory over the Yankees.

With Steven Wright showing signs of fatigue after a three-run sixth, Farrell summoned Brad Ziegler for the seventh. Ziegler needed only seven pitches to escape the frame, leading to an obvious question — why not just send him back out for the eighth?

Farrell had no such plans, however. He instead called upon Robbie Ross and opened himself to a second-guess when switch-hitter Chase Headley led off with a single. There was nothing to fear, as it turned out, because Ross set down Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and then handed the ball to closer Koji Uehara for a 1-2-3 ninth.

“Given the performance of guys over a long period of time, where they’re best suited, it felt like that was the best combination we had available,” Farrell said.

So why did the moves make sense? A couple of reasons.

For one, the 36-year-old Ziegler spent the first half closing in one-inning stints for the Diamondbacks. He had pitched multiple innings just four times in 37 previous appearances, and those outings take a toll.

“It doesn’t affect me a whole lot in that instance, I can do it, but tomorrow I would feel more sore,” Ziegler said. “I haven’t done it a lot while closing. I’ve done it a couple of times, but I know that’s probably going to come up more here with the role that I’m in, so I’ll do what I can to prepare myself for it.”

Ziegler has also performed better against right-handed batters (.644 OPS) than lefties (.777 OPS) not just this year, but over the course of his career (.556 vs. .763). So giving him right-handers Alex Rodriguez and Starlin Castro made sense. The numbers even supported the matchup with lefty Didi Gregorius, who exhibits reverse splits — he’s hitting nearly 90 points higher (.360) vs. lefties this season.

In the eighth, the numbers were even more pronounced. Ross has dominated lefties (.162 average, .462 OPS, 1 extra-base hit). The eighth featured two lefties (Gardner, Ellsbury) and what turned out to be two switch hitters (Headley, Beltran).

Headley is a better hitter from the left side, so turning him around to bat righty (.646 OPS) favored Ross. Beltran represented the one trouble spot, since he has hammered lefties (.330-1.017), but Farrell trusted Ross, who delivered. The alternative was to call a righty like Matt Barnes, but Beltran is slugging over .500 against them, too.

In any event, Farrell played the matchups perfectly on Friday. Feels like something worth noting, given the scrutiny his moves often face.

Read More: Brad Ziegler, John Farrell, John Farrell managerial decisions, Koji Uehara
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