Sox Lineup Delivers After Slow Start

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Pedroia on first.  Bogaerts at the plate.  He hits it high into left, will it be enough?  GONE!!!! Xander Bogaerts nails a homer over the Green Monster and the Red Sox are on the board!  

The Red Sox got the job done, beating the Rays 4-1.  Rick Porcello pitched 7 strong innings, giving up just 1 run.  He is now 11-2 on the season!  I was at the game, starting a new winning streak as a fan at Fenway.  I am now 8-3 when I go, the 3 losses all coming last season.  

I’d like to give a shout-out to David Gagne for giving us the tickets with a great view in the right field box near Pesky Pole!  

The Red Sox couldn’t find their groove in the first three innings.  Porcello’s home run issues continued as he gave up a moonshot over the monster to Brad Miller in the first. Porcello gave up 3 hits and let one batter into scoring position in the next 3 innings.   There was also a throwing error by Xander Bogaerts on a routine ground ball in the 4th but Souza Jr. was caught stealing to end the inning.

The Sox offense was quiet in the first 3 innings other than a Mookie Betts blooper robbed by Oswaldo Arcia with a miraculous sliding catch.

Things changed for the Sox in the bottom of the 4th.  For the first three innings Moore was efficient with his pitches and only faced 10 Sox batters.  Matt Moore had less than 40 pitches through 3 innings.  But Pedroia led off the inning by working an 8 pitch walk.  That was the turning point of the game.  Moore struggled terribly after that.  Bogaerts launched a badly located 2 strike fastball for a 2-run HR over the monster seats.  Moore escaped the inning but not before walking Ortiz and giving up a single to new Sox Aaron Hill.

It looked like Porcello would fail to hold to the lead as he missed location on a 3-2 fastball to Nick Franklin.  The Rays left fielder started the inning with a double off the wall.  According to quora.com, 60% of the time at least one run scores after a leadoff double!

But Porcello got what he needed to get out of the inning without letting Franklin score.  He struck out the 8th and 9th batters, Arcia and Casali.  Then Bogaerts flashed his glove with a diving stop of a Forsythe one hop liner.  Shaw helped finish the play with a nice scoop of Xander’s 1 bounce throw.  And the Sox and Porcello escaped the top of the 5th still holding a 2-1 lead.

And the Sox kept their momentum going in the next inning.  Sandy Leon got things started with an infield single.  Mookie Betts then lined a shot to the center field gap that Souza Jr ran down but he took his eye off it as he almost ran into the wall.  He dropped it! A costly error put Betts and Leon into scoring position.  Pedroia made the Rays pay with a hard base hit to left and just like that it was 4-1 Red Sox.  Pedroia hit it so hard but Betts’ aggressive base running helped him beat the off-line throw and Pedroia took second.  The Sox would not score again but the damage was done.  

The next inning, Porcello got in another jam.  He gave up back to back singles with one out.  But Steven Souza Jr’s bad day continued as he grounded into a routine double play to short.   

Things settled down after that.  Matt Moore was pulled after 6 innings as the Sox got his pitch count up to 107 pitches after rough 4th and 5th innings.  Porcello went for one more inning before calling it a day, giving up only 1 earned run through 7 innings, doing what he needed to do to earn a victory.

Both bullpens shut down the sides through the 7th and 8th.  Dylan Floro did get in a bit of a pickle in the 8th when JBJ doubled and the Sox had 1st and 2nd after an intentional walk to Shaw.  Then Forsythe bobbled what should have been an inning ending double play ball hit by Bryce Brentz.  Brentz was called out on a fielder’s choice.  John Farrell challenged the play because replays showed what appeared to be a tie to the runner.  But the call was too close to overrule and then Sandy Leon struck out to end the inning.

Koji Uehara, the acting closer, came in to pitch for the 2nd straight day a go for his 2nd straight save.  A difficult task for a pitcher Koji’s age.  

Farrell had no choice but to use Koji as Craig Kimbrel is having knee surgery and will be out 3-6 weeks.  Dombrowski traded 2 prospects to Arizona for their closer Brad Ziegler but Ziegler couldn’t make it in time for the game as the trade was made just before midnight in San Francisco where Arizona was playing.  

So Koji Uehara took the closer role and got the job done anyway.  He gave up a lead-off single but settled down to strike out the last two batters, the 1st looking on a questionable call and the last batter on a splitter in the dirt.

The Red Sox got the job done as they begin to gain in the division.  Can they lock up the sweep before the All Star Break despite the Orioles winning?  Can David Price pitch the way he’s supposed to and will the Red Sox go into the break in good shape and come out of it as playoff hungry buyers?  Today’s 1:30 game decides it all and a 7-2 homestand before the break would feel much better than 6-3.  Go Sox!

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JBJ, Red Sox Stay Hot, Soar Past Rockies

 

He hits one high into the outfield, it’s over his head.  He’s going for two, for three!  And two runs score!

The Red Sox topped the Rockies 8-3 in the series opener.  David Price pitched 7 innings with 3 earned runs and 6 strikeouts.  As usual, the Red Sox started strong.  Pedroia got it started with an infield single after Trevor Story made an amazing throw to get Mookie Betts.  Xander Bogaerts doubled and Pedroia headed for third.  David Ortiz drove them both in on a base hit, and already it was 2-0 Red Sox.

The Rockies struck back next inning.  With a man on first, Gerardo Parra hit a triple into left.  Ryan Raburn came home and was originally ruled out, but the Rockies challenged and the call was overturned.  JBJ added to his tremendous hitting streak with a double in the bottom of the 2nd.  He is now halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game streak that shattered records.  Christian Vazquez hit a triple to center field to score him.  He scored on a Mookie Betts sac fly.  In the top of the 3rd, Charlie Blackmon nailed a homer to right field.  At the end of the 3rd, it was 4-2 Red Sox.

In the bottom of the 4th, the Red Sox rallied in three more runs.  David Ortiz got is 2nd and 3rd RBI on a double, knocking in Bogaerts and Pedroia, who walked back to back.  Hanley Ramirez hurt his foot after being hit, but he stayed in the game until the end of the inning.  With men on 1st and 2nd, Chris Young hit an RBI single to score Big Papi.

After Jorge De La Rosa left the game, David Price and the Rockies bullpen both settled down.  There was no more scoring until the 7th inning, when Carlos Gonzalez tripled and Gerardo Parra knocked him in on a sacrifice bunt.  Koji Uehara made sure that was the end to the Rockies scoring.  7-3 Red Sox.  In the bottom of the 8th, Mookie Betts got his first hit of the night, an infield single to Trevor Story, who had thrown him out earlier.  He was determined not to let that happen again.  On Dustin Pedroia’s single, Betts went to third and scored on a throwing error.

Matt Barnes continued what Koji started, and the Red Sox went on to win 8-3.  JBJ and Xander Bogaerts now have the two longest hitting streaks in the league, at 28 and 17.  They ahve a chance to keep that up in Game 2 at 7 tonight.

Napoli, Red Sox Edge Rays

The Red Sox edged over the Rays in a 7-5 win last night.  Mike Napoli’s 7th inning home gave the lead back to the Red Sox after losing it.

The Rays scored first, walking and then singling into first and third.  Then a walk by Logan Forsythe loaded the bases. Joey Butler grounded into a force out and lead runner Brandon Guyer scored.  Evan Longoria made it safely to third, but Forsythe was out at second.

In the bottom of the 1st, Xander Bogaerts reached on a fielding error, by Logan Forsythe.  Bogaerts went to second on Erasmo Ramirez’s wild pitch.  Tim Beckham made another fielding error that made it first and third.  Mike Napoli walked the bases loaded, and De Aza kept it that way with an RBI single.  1-1.  Rusney Castillo then grounds into a force out, getting Ortiz at the plate.  Blake Swihart knocked 2 runs in on a single the next at bat.  3-1 Sox.

The game stays action packed as recently called up Mikie Mahtook doubles.  With two down, Brandon Guyer struck out, but on a wild pitch sending him to first and Mahtook to third.  Steven Souza Jr. singles a run in.  Then Evan longoria walks the bases loaded, but it doesn’t do it to tie things up.  That inning, the Sox blow it with Brock Holt on second.

In the 3rd, Asdrubal Cabrera singles, and Mikie Mahtook singles him in.  1 run, 1 RBI for 2015 debuting Mikie Mahtook.  the Red Sox struck again in the 5th.  Holt singled, and Bogaerts advanced him to second.  Then Napoli walked, and De Aza singled Holt in.  In the 7th, the Rays struck.  With 1st and second, John Jaso pinch hit doubled Mikie Mahtook in for his second run of the night.  Joey Butler also scored from first, and Jaso went to third on a Blake Swihart error, and just like that it was 5-4 Rays.  In the bottom of the inning, big Papi hit a ball just foul that could ave gone for a double.  He ended up walking.  Napoli hit his dinger to give the Sox a 6-5 lead.

For the most part, it was a quiet game after that.  Blake Swihart douled, and scored on a wild pitch off Brandon Gomes followed by a Josh Rutledge single to extend the lead to 7-5, but that was it.  Uehara got the save.  The Red Sox beat the Rays 7-5, Junichi Tazawa the winning pitcher, Jake McGee the losing pitcher.  Tampa Bay had 3 errors and the Red Sox had 2.  A win today and it a winning streak. A 6-0 lead and Travis Shaw’s first career dinger after 4 innings looks good.

After Deadline: Sox Moves and Starters for 8/1

I did an article a week ago about the Red Sox, as BUYERS.  Look, the Sox are sellers again, lets face it?  But what should they do?  Well, lets start with who to sell.

Napoli needs to find a new team, or get released.  I still think you should sell Napoli and Koji in one deal, but for a young right handed pitcher. I liked the move with Victorino.  Maybe also sell De Aza, but not without an interested team willing to give you wicked good prospects.  They should have some luck finding one after what De Aza’s done.

Well, what do they do without Victorino, Napoli, Koji and maybe De Aza?

Well, lets start with the starting nine.  In the outfield, I’d try a Bradley Jr./Betts/Castillo outfield.  It’s better to experiment now then realize it won’t work next March.   Nava?  If this outfield isn’t reasonable for 2016, bring in Nava to replace the struggling youngster next year.

Now onto the infield.  Keep Panda at third.  Even though first is an easy position, he’s made so many errors, and changing positions could just cause more.  Bogaerts fits great at short.  Pedroia’s got second covered, but while he’s on the DL and Holt’s day to day, try Josh Rutledge at second.  Rutledge was acquired for Victorino.  Holt can also play it when he returns.  First is another issue.  Holt, Shaw, Big Papi, I’d try Big Papi again at first, but if he doesn’t hit well with it, then it’s only temporary.  Train Ramirez at first.  Start the Hanley at first experiment now.  We all know that when Papi retires Ramirez will be best at DH.  The Sox already said they signed him for his hitting, not his fielding.

At catcher, it’s a no-brainer.  Don’t change anything.  Swihart, and Hanigan for now, but Vazquez and Swihart next year.  And Big Papi is a lock at DH, as long as he wants to keep playing.  When Holt comes back, he’s a lock at second by the way.

Here’s my lineup for them.  If Castillo hits well, try him earlier in.  But, really, not much change is required.

Betts CF

Holt 2B

Bogaerts SS

Ortiz DH

Ramirez 1B

Sandoval 3B

Castillo RF

Bradley Jr. LF

Hanigan C

Now for pitching.  The rotation needs a fix.  First up should be Eduardo Rodriguez.  He’s a young starter of the future that needs to be treated like the ace now, with Buchholz on the DL until most likely September.  Second, Wade Miley.  He still has been decent throughout the year, and you have to be able to count on him.  Third, I regret it, but you’re stuck with Porcello.  Pay him $22 million for nothing, and that’s just what happens. Fourth, I’d call up Henry Owens, starting super-prospect.  However he’s doing in Pawtucket, give him a try.  Maybe he’ll be the next Eddie Rodriguez. Give Johnson another try to wrap up the rotation.  But that would be four lefty pitchers.  If that doesn’t work, option Johnson down, and replace him with Steven Wright or the young righty you get for Koji.   The young knuckleballer has a long career ahead of him, and if he can adapt to a complete MLB environment, he might go down as a famous knuckle ball pitcher someday.  And whoever that guy is, you need to consider him.  When Buchholz returns, likely not till mid-September as he was transferred to the 60 day DL, maybe not for the rest of the season, bump everyone down a spot, and send either Wright or Owens to the bullpen.

Lastly, the bullpen.  Justin Masterson, Craig Breslow, Robbie Ross Jr. and Tommy Layne are your everyday relievers.  Then you have Junichi Tazawa, your set up man, Alexi Ogando, a speed thrower, and Joe Kelly, a possible minor leaguer.  Kelly can’t start, but he can pitch an inning or two decently.  Make him the closer.  If he stinks at closer, try out Ogando closing.  Why Ogando?  One, he has an 100 mph fastball, two he’s a former Rangers starter, so it’s not a big move.  If they make those moves, the future is very bright for the Sox in 2016, maybe not until 2017 or 18 if they need a couple developmental years, but the future is bright, with plenty of prospects you can count on waiting to be recalled from the farm system.

Ramirez Does It Again, Red Sox Defeat Yankees

The Red Sox tied up their weekend series versus the Yankees by winning 5-3 last night.  E-Rod gave up one of his two earned runs in the 1st.  A-Rod faced E-Rod, and he homered again over the monster, just like he did off Clay Buchholz.  But after that, things went diferently as the Sox lineup struck.

In the 3rd inning, De Aza simply singled.  Then he stole second, the ball went off hsi helmet, and he just kept on going to third base.  It was a throwing error by catcher John Ryan Murphy.  Hanigan did his job and grounded out to score De Aza and tie the game at 1.  The Sox had blown a 2nd inning first and third off a Big Papi double and Hanley Ramirez single, though. Panda and Napoli blew it, with a pop out, then a double play.  In the bottom of the 4th, Ortiz, Ramirez and Sandoval were due up, their best three.  Ortiz singled.  Then Hanley gave the Sox a 3-1 lead with a 2 run home run, his 19th of the season.  Ramirez is tied for 8th in AL home runs and has as many as Orioles star third baseman Manny Machado.

In the 5th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury homered for the Yankees just like he did at Fenway with Boston, every once in a while, to make it 3-2 Red Sox.  They secured their lead in the seventh inning.  De Aza singled, and he went to second on a ground out by Hanigan.  2 down, 1 on.  What are the chances of scoring two runs in the inning?  Not so high, but the Red Sox went out and did it.  Adam Warren came in, and Mookie Betts tripled off him.  A home run, which was doubtful, and he had the cycle.  Holt then walked.  1st and 3rd.  And Betts scored on Xander Bogaerts’ infield single that made it 5-2 Red Sox, 1st and 2nd, 2 outs.  The Yankees third pitcher came in.  Unfortunately, he was enough to settle down the Sox hitters, even though Big Papi walked the bases loaded.  Ramirez was a strike out victim with bases loaded.  He could of hit a grand slam, for 20 homers and a 9-2 lead.  RISP trouble stopped him and it didn’t happen.  There were two outs though, so what do you expect.  There’s about a 50-50 chance another run will score.  Grand slam?  Like a 1 in 50 chance.  Or, okay, maybe more like 1 in 10, 1 in 15 or 1 in 20.

Rob Refsnyder was debuting at second for the Yankees and didn’t get a hit, so he wasn’t a help when they scored in the 8th.  Yes, the Yankees cut the lead short in the 8th, making it 5-3 on Jacoby Ellsbury’s infield single, and a double by Brett Gardner to score him.  Koji came in.  He gave up a double, but retired the rest of the batters.  The Red Sox tied the series at 1-1 with a 5-3 win.  For some reason, they aren’t on Sunday Night Baseball because they aren’t that great of a match-up anymore.  The Cardinals and Pirates fighting for the NL Central are.  They play the finalke at 1:30.  Don’t miss it, or my recap on it.