May 20, 2013 by
Dustin Pedroia scores from a Jonny Gomes sac fly Friday night.
Last week at this time the Red Sox were losers of five of six and heading to Tampa Bay for a three game set with the pesky Rays. After losing to Matt Moore on Tueday the Red Sox have not missed a beat. Wednesday’s game David Price left early with an injury and the Sox pounced on the Rays bullpen winning 9-2 highlighted by a Stephen, don’t call me J.D. Drew grand slam. Thursday’s game was much more drama filled as the Sox were down to their last strike with the bases loaded and Will Middlebrooks drove a Fernando Rodney pitch to the left field wall to clear the bases and win the game 4-3. Getting to the Tampa Bay bullpen is not an easy task. They always seem to develop great young arms and stockpile them in the bullpen if their rotation is full of other young guns. The Red Sox scored off the bullpen and took the series. Winning series has taken upon a bigger role this season I feel with the Sox. If you can take two of three from a good team you are a good team.
This weekend the Red Sox traveled to Minnesota and had some lengthy games to say the least. All games were over three and a half hours. All games were won by the Red Sox though. Friday night’s game was won 3-2 by a game winning sac fly from Jonny Gomes scoring Dustin Pedroia in the 10th inning. Alex Wilson got his first major league win in relief and Koji Uehara got his first save in a Red Sox uniform. The Red Sox have made Vance Worley owner of a 6.02 ERA look like a Cy Young candidate twice in the last week only being able to get four runs off him in two starts.
Saturday’s game was a game of offense as the teams combined for 25 hits in a 12-5 Red Sox win. David Ortiz homered twice bringing his season total to seven. Daniel Nava also added his sixth homer of the season with a late inning insurance run. Ryan Dempster however only lasted 4 and two third innings walking six. Dempster has had some stinkers lately but, he has been a beneficiary of good run support. Craig Breslow got his first win of the season in relief and has looked good after the first month on the disabled list. Of late him and Andrew Miller have combined to look great out of the pen from the left side and if Franklin Morales comes back as a reliever the Sox will pack some punch in the late innings.
Sunday’s game was interrupted by a three hour rain delay in the seventh inning with the Red Sox leading 3-1. I for one would hate to see my team lose after a three hour rain delay. There were probably less than 400 fans at Target Field when the game resumed. The Sox got some insurance runs after the rain delay from a Dustin Pedroia two run home run off of left fielder Josh Willingham’s glove in the top of the ninth that scaled the wall and just got over and the Sox took the game 5-1 and finished off the sweep. John Lackey gave up only one hit in his six innings of work and got his second win on the season. He admitted to wanting to pitch longer only having 84 pitches after the six innings but when the rain delay struck the Sox weren’t going to throw him back out there after three hours which is the right decision. Lackey won’t have starts like this all the time giving up only one hit but, he has looked good since being sidelined early with a forearm injury.
Fresh off the sweep the Red Sox head to Chicago for a three game set with the White Sox. Andrew Bailey will be activated in time for tonight’s game and expect him to retake that closer role back from Junichi Tazawa. Manager John Farrell does not expect to use Bailey in back to back games right away however until he feels more comfortable. Tazawa will go back to his role of middle relief which is where he was greatly effective early on in the season. If the team needs a big out in the 6th of 7th now they can go to him, without fear of needing someone for the 9th.
Junichi Tazawa will relinquish the closer role back to Andrew Bailey on Monday.
Jon Lester gets the ball tonight opposite of righty Dylan Axelrod. Lester is looking to go 7-0 on the season. Tomorrow is a big start for Felix Doubront. The team is having Franklin Morales pitch in rehab games as if he is a starter. This of course points out that the team might not have too much faith in Doubront. Doubront is 3-1 on the season however he has a 6.02 ERA. Wins and loses don’t always tell the story about a pitcher. Doubront will face fellow lefty Jose Quintana. The marquee matchup of the series is on Wednesday as Clay Buchholz will oppose White Sox lefty Chris Sale. Both have pitched like aces this season and runs will be hard to come by on Wednesday night.
What a difference a week makes as the Sox went from losers of five of six to now winners of five of six. They get their closer back tonight and will look to continue on with a successful road trip. The offense has looked good since John Farrell said he was sticking with his lineup and it was not time to panic. Showing faith in the team must have gave the players some confidence to work with. Every team slumps but it’s how you get out of those slumps that matter. This week the Sox want to finish this road trip the way they started.
May 06, 2013 by
After a sizzling month of April when the Boston Red Sox came within a game of the franchise’s best first month of the season, the Sox picked up a couple of games in Toronto.
Then it was onto Texas.
The ballpark at Arlington was not as friendly to the BoSox as had been the parks they played in during the month of April. This weekend, Boston lost all three contests to the AL West leading Rangers. Red Sox pitching was hammered to the tune of 16 runs and Sox bats could only muster 4 runs in return.
The series as a whole was a statistical abberation as compared to the rest of the Sox 2013 season to date: Leading RBI man Mike Napoli was held to one hit over ten at bats in the series (no RBI’s). Dustin Pedroia produced the same batting average as Napoli over the set (.100) while scoring a run and stealing a base. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 1/8 over the weekend, Shane Victorino was 1/7; as was Will Middlebrooks.
Pitching did not fare well either in the series: Felix Doubront kicked things off on the wrong foot Friday, going 3.2 innings, allowing 12 hits and 6 runs with 1 walk and 2K’s. John Lackey pitched well enough to put his team in a position to win on Saturday (5.0IP 6H 3R 3BB 4K) but ultimately took the loss. On Sunday, Jon Lester gave a quality start (6.0IP 5H 3R 3BB 7K) but did not factor in the decision as Clayton Mortenson gave up a walk-off hit to Adrian Beltre to seal the deal for Texas.
But all was not lost this weekend. David Ortiz went 3/11 with a home run, 2RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Jacoby Ellsbury was a decent 4/14 with a steal in the series. David Ross hit a home run in one of his two at bats this weekend.
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April 09, 2013 by
Will Middlebrooks after hitting another home run on Sunday.
The openers are over Red Sox fans. Now that the team is 5-2 and ready to focus on just the games this offense has looked pretty good. They have beaten up on pitchers C.C. Sabathia, Josh Johnson, and R.A. Dickey. Those pitchers are Cy Young caliber. Dickey, adjusting to being back to the American League, has not fared too well in his two starts but still he is a good pitcher. Jumping on him for five runs in the first inning is what Red Sox fans love to see. In recent memory Red Sox pitchers are the ones getting jumped on in the early innings where the offense can’t seem to catch up. With Jon Lester on the mound Sunday the Blue Jays offense had no answers for the lefty.
Sunday Will Middlebrooks had a career day going 4-5 with 3 home runs and a double. He also flew out to deep left in his last at bat sending Red Sox fans to the edge of their seats to see if he could hit a fourth home run. Middlebrooks is the youngest Red Sox player to hit 3 home runs in a game and is in the company of Jim Rice who also hit 3 in a game at the age of 24. So far this season we have seen Middlebrooks bat fifth and sixth in this Red Sox lineup. With David Ortiz out for the next few weeks Middlebrooks could be making a statement that he shouldn’t be moved down in the order when Ortiz returns. Power in the middle of the lineup seemed to be a question mark for the Red Sox this spring training with Ortiz out and Napoli seeming to be the only real threat. Napoli has done a nice job with 2 home runs of his own with a low average as expected. Napoli and Middlebrooks batting 4 and 5 in the lineup can be good because they have great swings but they do strikeout a lot so they may be broken up with Ortiz hitting 5th and Middlebrooks moving down in the order or possibly up to third with Pedroia taking the second spot if Victorino is moved down against a righty.
Middlebrooks is still only 24 which is great for the future of the Red Sox. Having him in the middle of the lineup will truly help out the whole offense especially if he develops more power which I think he will. Last season combined between Pawtucket and Boston he hit 24 home runs. He did that missing the least two months of the year with a broken wrist. He certainly has thirty home run potential which is perfect for this day of baseball. Long are the days where 50 home runs leads the league. Last year Miguel Cabrera on his way to a triple crown lead the majors with 44 home runs. Cabrera has arguably been an MVP candidate since he stepped on the field in 2003. His second season in the majors he hit 33 home runs. I’ll hold the comparisons between Middlebrooks and Cabrera for now, after all Middlebrooks has not even played 100 games yet. Expecting 30 home runs should not be a stretch for Middlebrooks if he can stay healthy.
Power can sometimes be a tough skill to achieve in baseball and a rare one now past the steroid era. Two seasons ago we saw Jacoby Ellsbury hit 32 home runs and be the runner up for MVP. Ellsbury hadn’t hit over 9 in a season before 2011. That was one of the only seasons Ellsbury has been fully healthy for in a Red Sox uniform and he produced. He was 26 during the season and coming off an injury in 2010. Much can happen in an offseason at Athletes Performance in Arizona. Many Red Sox players go to Arizona to work out including Dustin Pedroia. This offseason Will Middlebrooks joined Pedroia which could be a good sign. I know it has only been seven games and he has 4 home runs but so far I like what I see and other Red Sox fans do too. Middlebrooks has 30 home run potential which could be scary for the AL East opponents.
April 01, 2013 by
Lester needs to pitch like an ace for the Sox this year
The Boston Red Sox will not start the season 0-6. They have won their first Opening Day in three years as they defeated the New York Yankees 8-2. Jose Iglesias picked up three hits while Jackie Bradley Jr walked three times and drove in a run.
In the second inning Yankees starter CC Sabathia fell apart as Shane Victorino drove in two runs, Iglesias drove in Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Jon Lester had his usual rough inning but unlike last season, he got out of it with minimal damage allowing two runs in the fourth inning.
He threw 96 pitches through five innings, something you would like to improve, but when you have a better day than Sabathia it’s hard to complain. Bradley was another bright spot showing a terrific eye at the plate with three walks, including a big one in the second inning to extend a rally.
Bradley also made an incredible catch in left field in the third inning. He drove in a run grounding out to second base and he also struck out. Meanwhile, Iglesias had some positives with three infield singles including a bunt single and he drove in a run. He played pretty soundly at shortstop as well.
The bullpen is all it was cracked up to be it appears. Koji Uehara got three outs on five pitches in the sixth inning before Andrew Miller came in. He walked two batters but struck out the next two and then Andrew Bailey entered with a strike out of his own. Junichi Tazawa picked up a scoreless inning and then Joel Hanrahan closed it out with a clean inning of his own.
There were two negatives of this game; Mike Napoli went 0-5 and Dustin Pedroia appeared to jam his thumb sliding into first base. He stayed in the game but it’s something to watch for. Clay Buchholz is on the mound Wednesday night as the Sox face right handed Hiroki Kuroda.
April 01, 2013 by
Opening Day is finally upon us. It’s been a long off-season for Red Sox fans as they try and wash off the stink that was the Boston Red Sox 2012 Season. The predictions thus far from the main outlets have been a mixed bag. Some see a work in progress for the Red Sox but others think that their pitching can bounce back and put them back into contention quickly. Here is a look at what our Boston Sports Then & Now Red Sox team predicts for the upcoming season:
New manager John Farrell hopes to turn the page with the Red Sox
Ryan Kuketz: Where They’ll Finish- 91 Wins, 2nd Place in the A.L. East; Why they’ll finish there - This is not the A.L. East we’ve come to know and expect in the past 10 years. In fact the A.L. East appears to be a fairly weak division, and although the Red Sox only won 69 games last year, this is a brand new team in a weakened division. The Yankees are injured and old and surprisingly seem to be in worse shape than Boston with A-Rod possibly out for the year and Teixeira expected to miss a lengthy amount of time. With all due respect to Dan Duquette, and the Orioles I just don’t see them having anywhere near the success they had last year. For the Blue Jays, I’ve heard about teams before, and never have a seen a “Super-Team” win in their first year together. Plus Toronto is basically the 2012 Marlins with Jose Bautista and RA Dickey. The only standout team in the division that I truly expect to be at the top of the standings are the Tampa Bay Rays. With John Farrell at the helm this year expect the pitching staff to back on track and be able to win games, something that hasn’t happened consistently since Farrell left for the Blue Jays three years ago.
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March 30, 2013 by
It’s a transition year for the Red Sox and with the loss of guys like Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez as well as the injury to David Ortiz it’s time for some other guys to step up and help carry the club to playoff contention. So which player will step up and have the biggest impact on the club? Which player has to step up to get the Red Sox to where they want to be, in the thick of the pennant race? Our all-star team of Red Sox writers at Boston Sports Then & Now each answered the question.
Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz
Ryan Kuketz – Clay Buchholz, Starting Pitcher - Almost everybody around the Red Sox believes Jon Lester will have a bounce back year, but what good will that be if he’s the only pitcher to come up big. I expect Buchholz to follow Lester’s lead this season, and have a season like he did in 2010. Last year Buchholz was the best starter on the squad (which doesn’t say much), with an ERA over 4, and with 11 wins. I think Buchholz could have 15 wins or more, and if that’s with Lester pitching well too, the Red Sox should be in good shape. If Buchholz puts up similar numbers, the Red Sox will be doomed, because its very difficult to be a good club with just one solid starter.
Daryl Velez – Koji Uehara, Relief Pitcher- I am always reluctant to say that a reliever will have a huge impact on a season. However, here’s the logic: Koji Uehara will save pitchers from overextending themselves. If players can stay healthy and on top of their game by not overextending themselves, the team will ultimately be more successful. It is true that Uehara will not be securing many actual saves as he will work in probably all late innings excluding the ninth, but he will not leave ducks on the pond for newly minted Sox closer Joel Hanrahan or for set up man Andrew Bailey. Farrell will be able to give Uehara the ball in the middle to late innings with ultimate confidence. Starters will benefit in that the leads that they hold will not be blown as often, and should a starter get tired, Uehara is one of many stoppers in the ‘pen who can get the job done. Koji might not be the flashiest option for the guy with the most impact on the roster, but he will be the glue that holds things together. The mortar is often more important than the brick. With the team the Sox had last year, anybody who can hold the team together — through morale or otherwise — is a welcome addition.
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