Holt Grand Slam, Impressive Bullpen Leads Sox to Comeback Win

Bases loaded, 1 out.  Toronto led 7-2.  Then suddenly, Holt cracked it into right, and it was gone!!!!

The Red Sox came back to haunt the Blue Jays after trailing by five at the end of the fourth.  Their bullpen held the Jays to no scoring from innings 5-9, and their lineup produced 6 runs in the span of two innings.  Brock Holt had a monstrous game, going 2-3 with 5 RBI, 1 run, a double and a grand slam.  Xander Bogaerts added a 3 hit, 3 run game.

The Sox started off sloppy in the first inning with a 1-2-3 and a run given up by Joe Kelly.  Kevin Pillar hit a lead off triple and with first and third, Edwin Encarnacion hit the sac fly that scored the run.  By the end of the inning, despite two strikeouts, Kelly had given up a triple, two walks and a run off a sac fly.  The Red Sox turned things around in the next couple innings.  Hanley Ramirez got a single but was caught running to second.  Travis Shaw and Brock Holt made up for it with back to back doubles that scored a run for the Sox.  Starting Brock Holt and Travis Shaw rather than Panda and Castillo was worth it.  It didn’t end for them there.  Holt and Shaw had become a crucial part of the lineup.  A Xander Bogaerts single along with an impressive RBI double by Big Papi scored the 2nd run for the Sox in the 3rd.

Joe Kelly also had more control in the 2nd and 3rd, he had two straight innings with only 1 hit or walk, but no 1-2-3 innings.  In the 4th, Kelly just lost it.  With Kevin Pillar up, he had given up four straight singles and a 2nd run.  That’s when things just got worse.  He hit Pillar in the head, scoring another run!  Then Josh Donaldson, reigning AL MVP, came up to the plate.  He crushed one into right and there went a grand slam.  It was now 7-2 Blue Jays, Kelly had barely made it three innings, (he got pulled after the grand slam) and worst of all, it looked like the Red Sox could not win without David Price. Noe Ramirez even gave up two more hits before a third out in that same inning.

But in the 6th, the Red Sox began to prove everyone wrong.  Xander Bogaerts drove a double to left, and Big Papi walked.  When Hanley Ramirez grounded out, they both advanced a base.  Travis Shaw then walked to load the bases.  Guess who was back up?  Brock Holt.  Holt just barely got the grand slam to right.  It looked like he would have to settle for a double but just reached the bullpen.  The Sox had suddenly cut Toronto’s lead to just 1 run.

Meanwhile, the bullpen was impressing everyone.  The Blue Jays lineup was held to just 1 hit since the dreaded 4th inning.

In the 7th, the Red Sox went on a two run, four hit rally.  David Ortiz drove in run #1 of the inning on a base hit that drove in Pedroia.  Hanley Ramirez drove in the 2nd run with Big Papi on first and Bogaerts on third.  With that Bogaerts scored his third run of the game.  It was now 8-7, the Red Sox leading.  Junichi Tazawa additionally got the Boston bullpen their first 1-2-3 on the Jays.  They were trying their hardest to stay in control until Craig Kimbrel was ready to close the game.  After a quiet two innings for the Sox lineup, Kimbrel went out to finish the game on a 1-2-3.

After a game full of grand slams, rallying and big surprises, the Red Sox had come back to take down the Blue Jays 8-7.  If they keep playing like this, they could actually fight for a playoff spot.  Even if their rotation is iffy beyond Price, just as I said in my Opening Day Preview,  the powerful lineup and bullpen just need to stay consistent for a good season.  To go beyond getting a wild card, the Sox will need to be capable of outplaying the Jays head to head.  That could be their key to their first pennant in three years.  Catch game 2 of Red Sox @ Blue Jays on NESN.  The Bruins also play their final regular season game as they fight for a playoff slot. Things are looking up for Boston Sports this weekend.

 

Scouting Report: Boston Red Sox

 

After a 2013 World Series win, the Red Sox have been washed up earning themselves last place two years straight.  Hopefully, this off season’s moves finally did the trick.  The Red Sox have tried to make their team better but it’s been Murphy’s Law; all the players they sign have had horrible seasons in their first year on the team.  If things work out their second years will be better.  Also, hopefully guys they got this off season like David Price and Craig Kimbrel are a different story.

 

Off-Season Review

The Red Sox have had a pretty strong off season.  They filled their holes at starting ace and in the bullpen, but the lineup is a concern.  They didn’t focus on the lower rotation either.

The Red Sox started the off season relatively quiet.  In Mid-November, they boosted their bullpen by receiving Craig Kimbrel from the Padres for Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen and one other prospect.  Kimbrel is one of the premier closers in the league. Aroldis Chapman, the only better closer in the MLB, in my opinion and was traded to their rivals the Yankees.  However, he will miss 30 games due to taking PEDs.  Andrew Miller will continue to close until that is over.

They also exercised Clay Buchholz’s club option to save him his spot in the rotation.  However he looked crummy yesterday, which is fearful because of his even year struggles recently.  The rest of November was quiet, but rumors surrounding pitchers David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Darren O’ Day were in the air.  They were favorites to sign Price.  They finally reached a seven year, 217 million dollar deal in early December, just a couple days after the two-year signing of Chris Young, the ex-Yankees outfielder, not the Royals pitcher.

As the winter meetings came around they were trying to trade a lower rotation starter to save a rotation spot for either Joe Kelly or Henry Owens.  Despite bad starts to the year, they had a great run late in the season.  On December 7th, just a few days after the Price signing, the Sox traded Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Mariners for more bullpen depth in Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.  They filled their main needs, but they still had some minor ones afloat.

Besides minor league deals, the rest of the off season was relatively quiet, and they will have to figure out the rest in spring training.  Anthony Varvaro, Roman Mendez, Carlos Marmol, Sandy Leon, Ali Solis, Chris Dominguez, David Murphy, Ryan LaMarre and Brennan Boesch highlighted the minor league non-roster invitees.

Off Season Grade: B+

 

Spring Training Questions

 

Will Christian Vazquez be ready to go?

Don’t expect Vazquez to start the season in the majors.  He may need some more seasoning just to make sure he’s good to go, although in a Red Sox sim game, he said he was okay.  Vazquez underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2015. He is almost one year removed, but catcher Matt Wieters returned too early, and that’s never a good thing.  However, what other options do they have?

Unless Ryan Hanigan can stay at the majors level for an extended time again, Vazquez may be wanted as a backup catcher to Blake Swihart.  It’s a tough decision.

 

Will the back end of the rotation perform?

Guys like Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello have potential for a bounce back season, but Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly may be questionable.  I was very worried when E-Rod got hurt — all that potential gone but when he’s ready to pitch, he can emerge into an SP2 role.  Porcello had one bad year.  He’s still in his prime and he was once a mediocre SP3-SP4 in the league.  Buchholz also worried me on Sunday when he pitched badly.  But the back end of the Red Sox rotation can bounce back if they have enough good pitching to beat out the bad.

 

How will the young guys do?

I’m a little worried about JBJ and Rusney Castillo’s abilities to hit, but Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Rodriguez are a young trio of breakout candidates across the team.  Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi could crash the majors in 2016.  Deven Marrero and Travis Shaw looked like they could stay in the majors.  Henry Owens could start in a relief role, and eventually become a spot starter.

There is a lot of strong prospects high and low in the Red Sox system.  Between their non-roster invitees, younger starters, and minor league prospects on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox’s farm system is piled with strong players.

 

Will Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez adjust?

This is a tough one to answer.  These are two former all star sluggers that were good for a long period of time on just a couple of teams who signed with the Red Sox last off season.  In the end, Murphy’s Law; as soon as they joined the Sox, they suddenly sucked and Ramirez didn’t even have a place in the organization after a failed attempt to move to left field.

Hanley Ramirez reportedly looked good in fielding drills with Brian Butterfield at first.  He struggled in the first few exhibition games, but has bounced back recently.  Sandoval however, came in to camp in very bad shape, and is attempting to adjust back to switch hitting.  He made some decemy catches and plate appearances in some of the games, but has had a high number of errors in the games.

Right now it’s Hanley on an uptrend, Panda not so much, but that could change.  Panda did look good at the plate despite fielding and health issues.  Ramirez needs work at the plate, too.  Changing to first still could be a little rough though.  He may have hope if he can hit like he did early in 2015.  So, it could go either way with these two mysteries.

 

Red Sox Projected Roster

 

 

Rotation

 

David Price

Eduardo Rodriguez

Clay Buchholz

Joe Kelly

Rick Porcello

 

Bullpen

 

Craig Kimbrel (CL)

Koji Uehara

Junichi Tazawa

Carson Smith

Roenis Elias

Robbie Ross Jr.

Tommy Layne

 

Lineup

  1. Mookie Betts (RF)
  2. Dustin Pedroia (2B)
  3. Xander Bogaerts (SS)
  4. David Ortiz (DH)
  5. Hanley Ramirez (1B)
  6. Pablo Sandoval (3B)
  7. Rusney Castillo (LF)
  8. Blake Swihart (C)
  9. Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF)

 

 

Bench

 

Chris Young

Christian Vazquez**

Brock Holt

Travis Shaw/David Muprhy

 

**If Vazquez isn’t ready to go by Opening Day, it will be Ryan Hanigan in his place.

 

That’s all for today.  Check out my Cubs article coming soon.

 

Swihart Makes History, Red Sox Catch Mets

The Red Sox caught the Mets and beat them in extras 6-4.  In the 10th tied 3-3, Blake Swihart hit a ball that appeared to go high off the padding of the center field wall for an inside the park dinger by Swihart.  Even though replays later appeared to show the ball hit above the wall, the call stood making Swihart the first Red Sox player with an inside-the-park HR since September 9, 2011 and the first Red Sox catcher in over 70 years.  They weren’t done as JBJ singled and Mookie Betts doubled.  Josh Rutledge then hit a sac fly that drove in Bradley Jr.  5-3.  Mookie Betts scored when Xander Bogaerts singled in the next at bat.

In the bottom of the inning, Junichi Tazawa struggled after the first 2 outs.  He walked 4 straight, giving the Mets their 4th run.  Good thing the Sox got those insurance runs.  He appeared to hurt his back on a double play that stopped Wilmer Flores from advancing after a single.  Craig Breslow was the only Sox left in the pen and got Cespedes to fly out to earn the save.  Tommy Layne who pitched the 9th got the win.  Carlos Torres, who gave up the inside the park homer took the loss.

The Mets scored first off Henry Owens in the 4th inning.  The Sox rarely win when their opponents score first.  Wilmer Flores doubled and Travis d’Arnaud singled him in.  1-0 Mets.  In the 5th David Wright singled and Michael Cuddyer drove him in with another.  2-0.  But the Red Sox answered with a 7th inning rally.  Big Papi got it started with a solo shot to center and JBJ went deep to drive in Swihart, who had singled and stole second.  3-2 Red Sox.  The Mets tied it up in the bottom of the inning.  Yoenis Cespedes walked and David Wright singled him to second.  Ogando walked the next two batters for the first of two runs scored on walks by New York.

In the 8th, Sandoval hit a ball about 2 inches that was ruled in play for an easy out.  He was thrown out of the game for arguing the call.  Josh Rutledge took over second and Brock Holt moved to third.

Tommy Layne kept the Sox alive in the bottom of the 9th.  Then Swihart made history to spark the 3-run 10th.

Watch today’s game at 4:05 pm.  It’s Jacob DeGrom, the surprise ace for the Mets, and Joe Kelly for the Sox.  Kelly is undefeated in August, going 5-0 through 5 starts.  He hopes to continue his streak after an extremely disappointing first four months.

Home Runs Boost Red Sox Past Rays

The Red Sox hit 3 homers in their 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.  Justin Masterson made his first start of June, striking out six, and only giving up one run.  Masterson should keep his starting job over Joe Kelly, sent to Pawtucket recently.

In the second inning, the Red Sox had two solo blasts, by Pablo Sandoval and Alejandro De Aza, Panda’s seventh and De Aza’s sixth.  De Aza’s hit 3 for the Red Sox this season, and only the same amount in double that time with the Orioles.  Napoli also got ejected for fighting the call, and Deven Marrero took over second, moving Brock Holt to first base.  In the 4th, David Ortiz hit a 2 run homer to right, scoring along with Xander Bogaerts, coming from first base.  It was 4-0 Red Sox on only four hits!!!!!!  So far, nobody had been left on base.

In the fifth, Justin Masterson began to get tired and gave up his earned run.  Brandon Guyer reached on an infield single, and Asdrubal Cabrera singled Guyer in.  Guyer only had two bases to run, because he advanced to second Blake Swihart’s first of what would be two passed balls.

In the sixth inning, the Sox struck again.   Xander Bogaerts doubled.  He went to third on a passed ball.  It was first and third as Ortiz walked.  It was a fly ball hit by Sandoval, and it was caught, but Bogaerts came around to score on the sacrifice fly.  The Red Sox took a 5-1 lead.

In the seventh, Jonathan Aro, recently recalled from Pawtucket, made his second MLB appearance.  But he didn’t help, in fact he collapsed.  Guyer had doubled, and Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to score him.  On an error by JBJ, Cabrera advanced to third.  Then Sizemore singled him in.  It was 5-3, and technically, it wasn’t all Aro’s fault.  Tazawa came in to face Sizemore on his final pitch, and he was responsible for the third Rays run.

From there, it was quiet, and despite giving up a double to Sizemore with Longoria on deck, Koji Uehara earned the save for the Red Sox.  The Red Sox defeated the Rays 5-3, the home runs being the deciding factor.  Let’s just hope the Sox  keep on winning like they have.

Orioles Defeat Red Sox With Early Lead

Are you serious?  This is now my 2nd straight Fenway loss.  The Sox haven’t won when I’ve attended a 2015 game.  Well,it’s the Orioles lineup to blame.  Besides, according to a story I wrote at the start of the school year, my luck ended last year.  I’d made up a myth that somebody else brought the luck (AKA, My Monkey Story).  It’s worked against me since.

In the 2nd inning, it was bases loaded on three singles given up by Joe Kelly to Chris Davis, Travis Snider and J.J. Hardy.  Ryan Flaherty hit a sac fly to score Davis.  Then David Lough hit a bomb into the Red Sox bullpen and all of the sudden it was 4-0 Orioles.  Chris Parmeelee, a fairly new major league player, had also tripled in the first inning.

But for the Red Sox, things didn’t come together until the 3rd inning.  So far, Ubaldo Jimenez had only given up 1 hit and 1 walk.  But that would change.  Sandy Leon singled, and Mookie Betts doubled to make it 2nd and 3rd.  Then Pedroia grounded out, but Leon scored, and Betts went to third!!  Sadly, no more runs occured in that inning.  4-1 Orioles.

The Orioles had their moment again in the 4th inning.  Hardy singled, then David Lough gorunded into fielder’s choice and Hardy was out.  Lough reached first.  Machado singled, and it was 1st and 2nd.  Robbie Ross Jr. came in on long relief for Kelly.  He was responsible for the earned run as Jimmy Paredes singled Lough in.  5-1 Orioles.

In the 4th, the Sox also struck.  Ramirez singled.  He advanced to second on a wild pitch.  Then when Panda came up, he singled Ramirez in and it was 5-2.  The Red Sox were starting to come back.  In the 5th, it was first and second with walks by Pedroia and Ortiz. Ramirez singled Pedroia in.  5-3.  Were the Red Sox really coming back?    Nope.  Bogaerts ended it all with a strikeout, preventing any more runs from scoring.

In the 6th, Flaherty walked.  Lough sacrificed him to second, and when Alexi Ogando came in, Manny Machado doubled Flaherty home.  6-3 Orioles.  From there, it was pretty quiet.  Little to no hits every inning, up until the bottom of the 9th.  Betts walked, and Dustin Pedroia doubled as Betts crossed the plate.  6-4 Orioles.  But Big Papi ended it all with a line out to the shortstop and the Orioles won 6-4.  Joe Kelly just isn’t good enough for the Red Sox.  When Justin Masterson returns, hopefully in time for Kelly’s start, they should send Kelly to the bullpen and let Masterson take his place n the starting rotation.

Martin’s 11th Inning Homer Boosts Blue Jays Past Red Sox

The Blue Jays won their 10th straight while the Sox lost their 5th after Russell Martin’s 11th inning solo blaster, giving Toronto the 5-4 lead.  The Blue Jays scored first, right off the bat in the 2nd inning.  Encarnacion, Colabello and Martin singled back to back to back to load the bases.  Smoak struck out looking, put Kevin Pillar drove in a run and kept the bases loaded on an RBI single. Then Goins drove in another two runs with his base hit, and all of a sudden it was 3-0 Blue Jays.

They struck again in the top of the 4th. There were two outs.  Pillar and Goins singled.  1st and 2nd.  Then Jose Reyes singled and Pillar scored, just like that 4-3 Toronto, all with two outs, and Buchholz ready to strike out the side after striking out two.  In the bottom of the 4th, the Red Sox rallied.  It was 1st and 2nd, R. A. Dickey walked Big Papi and Ramirez got a base hit before it, and he now stood at second base.  Bogaerts singled to drive in Ramirez.  1st and 3rd, only one out.  Then Pablo Sandoval singled, and both Ortiz and Bogaerts crossed the plate.  4-3 Blue Jays.

Big Papi hit a leadoff solo shot into deep right field to tie the game in the 6th inning.  From there it was pretty quiet.  Toronto got stranded with bases loaded in the 7th and got no other hits.  The Sox were held to two hits.

4-4, top of the 11th.  Russell Martin leading off the inning.  Strike one.  Strike two.  Then, WHAM!!!!  Martin crushed the ball in to center field and it was gone. 5-4 Blue Jays.  The Blue Jays defeated the Red Sox in their 5th straight loss.  The lineup has been no problem, but Napoli has not been hot since June tipped off.  Maybe trade Napoli for cash considerations or a player to be named later.  Bring Holt or Hanley to first, and call up JBJ. I don’t exactly like the idea of it though.  Napoli is still a decent firstbaseman and we could use his help.  Besides, Iif the lineup is good, don’t make any major changes to it.  I’m starting to gain a liking for this lineup: Pedroia 2B, Betts/Holt CF/RF, Ramirez LF, Ortiz DH, Napoli 1B, Sandoval 3B, Bogaerts SS, Swihart C, Castillo RF/CF, except for the wacky ending.

Maybe it’s time to give Henry Owens a try, or try Justin Masterson again.  Joe Kelly is not worth keeping as a starter after what he did yesterday.  Trading Lackey for Kelly and Craig was a horrible deal.  Lackey’s a decent Cardinals starting pitcher.  Craig and Kelly have stunk this year.  It’s time to try something different, that’s all I know.  Be on the lookout for my post on today’s 1:30 game.  The Red Sox conclude the series against the Blue Jays.  Minus will just start calling them the Dead Sox, if they can’t meet their expectations or even come close.  They play the Braves who they’ve swept the last two times, including the dreadful 2014 season series.  Being just as bad this year, and Atlanta rebuilding, can they pull it of again?  I can’t be sure even if they’ll win at all for a while.

Red Sox Drop Another To Twins, 3 Errors Costly

           I left today’s game with my first loss attending Fenway, making my record 7-1, but it wasn’t a total loss.  Blake Swihart hit his first career home run. At the end of the 5th inning, I met Boston Herald editor and chief Joe Sciacca.  I also met Managing Editor Gustavo Leon and News Anchor Matt Fitzgerald, both from the Boston Herald.
                                                                                                                                                                                              The Sox loaded the bases in the 1st inning right off the bat, but had RISP troubles again.  Steven Wright also pitched well into the 5th inning.  The Sox scored with bases loaded in the second.  It started with a double by Mookie Betts, followed by Pedroia walking.  1st and 2nd 2 outs.  Ramirez singles to load the bases.  Then Big Papi reaches on an error by the shortstop and Napoli singled.  2-0 Sox just like that.  Swihart homered to break up a 1-2-3 3rd.  Swihart picked up the first major league home run of his career.  3-0 Red Sox.
                                                                                                                                                                                           Wright blew his 1-hitter in the 4th, and gave up a 3 run home run to Torii Hunter in the fifth.  After 6 okay innings and giving up a fourth run by an error sending Eduardo Escobar to second and scoring him on Kurt Suzuki’s 3rd straight hit, Wright was pulled and Junichi Tazawa came in.
                                                                 A couple guys were caught stealing or intentionally walked, but otherwise the game had no significant action until the top of the 9th after the Twins tied it in the 6th.  Brian Dozier led off the 9th with a base hit off Koji.  Torii Hunter then walked.  1st and 2nd.  Then Joe Mauer suprisingly attempted to bunt.   The bunt rolled only a few inches in front of home plate and Swihart threw to Pablo Sandoval on what should have been a force out, or maybe even a double play.  But no.  Sandoval fails to catch it, and Ramirez is left to grab it in the outfield.  They signed Sandoval and Ramirez big contracts, and they’ve struggled utterly along with Big Papi.  Nobody they’re paying a lot is doing much.  Could it be possible that the cheap guys are better than the multi-million makers?  Maybe.  The utter failure continued in the 9th as  Trevor Plouffe scored Hunter on a base hit, and it was 6-4 Twins.  Dozier had scored on the error.  Then Eduardo Escobar singled to make it first and third, then they walked the bases loaded intentionally with Suzuki.  Then Shane Robinson hit a sacrifice fly, and it was 8-4 Twins.  After a 1-2-3 inning for the Sox, the Twins had finished the comeback win.
             The Twins tied the series with the underperforming Red Sox.  With all these supposed big players, the Sox should perform like they have a monster lineup and rotation.  By July, I predict that Joe Kelly will be a reliever.  I think rotation will be: Miley, Porcello, Rodriguez, Wright, Buchholz.  Eddie Rodriguez will continue to perform, maybe even earn the No. 1 spot in the Sox rotation eventually.  It’s time for another new chapter for the Red Sox.