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Final: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 30, 2013 07:18 PM

Game over: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7: Not the type of game you'd expect when Jon Lester is pitching, but the Sox lefty allowed six runs over six innings. He still had a chance to get the win when he left the game.

Edwin Encarnacion crushed a pair of two-run homers to pace the Jays' powerful attack.

Both teams made costly errors. Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw a pickoff attempt at first base into right field scoring two runs in the third inning. A defensive replacement, shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, threw away a routine, inning-ending double-play grounder in the seventh which led to a three-run double by David Ortiz to give Boston a brief 7-6 lead. Ortiz also homered.

Saltalamacchia explained after the game that his elbow hit the umpire's mask, which should constitute a dead ball. But home plate umpire Clint Fagan didn't see it that way even after the fact.

Encarnacion's second blast off Junichi Tazawa seventh proved to be the winning blow. The Jays scored an insurance run in the eighth off Joel Hanrahan.

Casey Janssen put the Sox away in the ninth to record his seventh save. The game was played in 3:14 before 22,915.

The Red Sox were 18-8 in April, one short of the team record for April wins.

Bottom 8th: Blue Jays 9, Red Sox 7: Colby Rasmus knocked in the insurance run off Joel Hanrahan, who was making his first appearance since April 13 (hamstring). He allowed a leadoff single to J.P. Arencibia, who was advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Maicer Izturis.

Top 8th: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 7: Lefty Darren Oliver, 42, who pitched for the Red Sox 11 years ago, walked leadoff man Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but then got the next three batters to preserve the one-run lead.

Bottom 7th: Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 7: - Edwin Encarnacion demolished a Junichi Tazawa fastball with a lined shot to center with Jose Bautista aboard to give the Jays the lead. Encarnacion's second two-run homer of the game, his ninth of the season.

Top 7th: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 6: What a brutal defensive team the Blue Jays are. John Gibbons brings Munenori Kawasaki in for defense at SS. Nava hits what looks to be inning-ending double play grounder and Kawasaki throws wide of second. Everyone safe. Two batters later, David Ortiz scorches a bases-loaded double scoring three runs to take the lead.

Bottom 6th: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 4: Lester retired the side.

Top 6th: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 4: Jonny Gomes pinch-hit for Mike Carp with lefty Aaron Loup on the mound and homered, his first.

Bottom 5th: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 3: Encarnacion hit a mammoth homer, only the 17th time a homer has been hit in the upper deck off Lester. Rajai Davis had singled.

Top 5th: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3: Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury with back-to-back singles to open the fifth. Pedroia knocks the run in with a single to center. Drew makes a nice slide to plate to beat the throw. Ellsbury was picked off second base in a horrible base-running play to end the inning.

Bottom 4th: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 2: Lester strikes out two in a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 4th: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 2: David Ortiz and Mike Carp unloaded for homers to right center. It was Ortiz's third and Carp's first as a Red Sox. Both came off Morrow, who had a four-run lead entering the inning. Great diving stop by Brett Laurie at third on Will Middlebrooks' scorching grounder which the Jays turned into an impressive double play.

Bottom 3rd: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 0: Lester loaded the bases with no outs (one via HBP and one via walk). Jarrod Saltalamacchia, throwing down to first base, misfired on location and the ball went into right field scoring two runs. Arencibia's two-out double scored the third Sox run.

Top 3rd: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Jacoby Ellsbury walked with one out, but Brandon Morrow got the next two batters.

Bottom 2nd: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Lester allowed a two-out single to Colby Rasmus as Dustin Pedroia made a tremendous diving stop, but Rasmus was too fast to allow a throw. Lester struck out Bonfacio to end the inning.

Top 2nd: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Morrow has struck out the last five Red Sox hitters. Throwing up to 98 mph.

Bottom 1st: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0: Jose Bautista launched a long drive to center that landed off the wall, about 400 feet, scoring the speedy Rajai Davis, who had walked and stole second base against Sox starter Jon Lester. Melky Cabrera stranded Bautista at second when he struck out on an 0-2 pitch.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0: The Red Sox threatened against Brandon Morrow with two baserunners (a walk to Jacoby Ellsbury and an infield single to third by Dustin Pedroia), but Morrow struck out David Ortiz and battled Mike Napoli who also struck out, but not after Morrow had thrown 27 pitches.

Hanrahan returns; Bailey to remain as closer

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 30, 2013 05:50 PM

TORONTO — Joel Hanrahan was activated off the disabled list Tuesday by the Red Sox. But Andrew Bailey is still the closer.

"Andrew will remain our closer right now," Farrell said. "A healthy Joel Hanrahan makes us a better team. Joel is very well aware there's the need for — and he's in agreement — that some appearances are needed to get under his belt to get him back in the flow of things."

Hanrahan said he understood the decision.

"I had a talk with Farrell for a little bit today," he said. "Obviously I've been out of the game for 15 days. So he's going to kind of work me back in. Bailey's been doing a heck of a job. I told him that I'm comfortable with whatever you want to do. The way the team is playing right now, I just want to fit in and do my part to help."

Farrell said he hoped to use Hanrahan in low-leverage situations at first. Hanrahan has not pitched in a major league game since April 13. He pitched in two rehab games for Pawtucket.

Bailey has allowed two runs on only six hits over 12.1 innings and struck out 20 with four walks. He has converted five of six save chances.

Farrell said he is not worried about a controversy. But having two closers can be a tough balance for a manager. The Red Sox named Hanrahan their closer when they traded for him in December and he lost the job after six games and an injury.

One factor: Bailey is under control for 2014 and Hanrahan is not. It's much easier to bruise the feelings of a player who may only be here one season.

Also:

• Shane Victorino took batting practice in the cage and did some light exercising. But he is not in the lineup for the fifth consecutive game and is unlikely to play in this series.

"There is some improvement continuing to be made," Farrell said.

By Thursday, Farrell indicated, the Red Sox will decide whether to place Victorino on the disabled list (retroactive to Thursday) or allow him to play against Texas.

"We get through this series and find out where he's at, whether he's back on the field at some point in this series or depending on how many days are needed at that point, that's probably the threshold where we might have to adjust," Farrell said.

The Red Sox hope to avoid what happened to the Yankees with Kevin Youkilis. He missed six games with a back injury, played in one and aggravated it, and now he's on the DL.

Game 26: Red Sox at Blue Jays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 30, 2013 02:30 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (18-7)
Ellsbury CF
Nava RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Carp LF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (4-0, 2.27).

BLUE JAYS (9-17)
Lawrie 3B
Davis DH
Bautista RF
Encarnacion 1B
Cabrera LF
Arencibia C
Izturis SS
Rasmus CF
Bonifacio 2B
Pitching: RHP Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.27).

Game time: 7:07 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Morrow: Pedroia 10-20, Ellsbury 8-18, Ortiz 6-14, Napoli 2-14, Salty 1-11, Carp 2-8, Drew 0-3, Gomes 1-3, Nava 1-3, Ciriaco 0-2.

Blue Jays vs. Lester: Bautista 10-45, Arencibia 6-29, Cabrera 9-27, Encarnacion 4-24, Lind 3-27, Davis 5-24, Izturis 8-16, Lawrie 2-14, DeRosa 2-8, Rasmus 2-9, Bonifacio 1-5, Blanco 1-3.

Stat of the Day: The Red Sox are 58-36 in games Will Middlebrooks has started the last two seasons.

Notes: The Sox are 9.5 games ahead of the Blue Jays already. The Sox have won five straight and the Blue Jays have lost four in a row. ... The Sox took two of three from the Jays from April 5-7 at the Rogers Centre, outscoring Toronto 19-9. ... Lester won the third game of that series, throwing seven shutout innings. He allowed five hits and struck out six without a walk. Lester is 12-7, 3.67 in 23 career starts against Toronto. ... Morrow is 1-3, 8.28 in 16 career appearances against the Sox, eight of them starts. He was 1-2, 12.32 in four starts last season. ... Toronto is hitting .229/.291/.399 as a team and has been outscored by 35 runs in 26 games. ... The Sox are 7-2 on the road. ... Ortiz has hit safely in all eight games he has played this season (16 of 31) with seven extra-base hits and 11 RBIs. He has a 20-game hit streak dating back to last July 2. ... Middlebrooks is 6 of his last 15 with three extra-base hits. ... Pedroia is 9 of his last 19 with four doubles. His OPS has climbed from .724 to .832. ... Victorino has missed six of the last nine games with strained lower back. ... Carp is 10 of his last 19 with seven extra-base hits and five RBIS.

Song of the Day: "Bird Flu" by M.I.A.

Pitching matchups for the Blue Jays series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 30, 2013 09:15 AM

Tuesday: LHP Jon Lester (4-0, 2.27) vs. RHP Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.27), 7:07 p.m., NESN

Wednesday: RHP Clay Buchholz (5-0, 1.19) vs.LHP Mark Buehrle (1-1, 6.35), 7:07 p.m., NESN Plus

Thursday: RHP Ryan Dempster (1-2, 3.30) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.86), 7:07 p.m., NESN

Red Sox voice support for Jason Collins

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 29, 2013 04:18 PM

The Red Sox tweeted out their support for Jason Collins today:

redsoxtweet.jpg

It's only a matter of time before active baseball players join Collins. Based on the overwhelmingly positive reaction today for Collins — athletes from all sports and other public figures have voiced their support — it's inevitable.

When you think about it, baseball has all sorts of different people. The Red Sox' 40-man roster has players from the US, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

There are two guys who graduated from Yale and others who probably haven't cracked a book in years. There are blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos. There are various religions, too. Mix it all up and they have the best record in baseball. If one of the players reveals that he is gay, how could that possibly matter?

Hopefully, we're at a place in society where all that matters is whether you can play.

David Ortiz, as an example, said Sunday that he is getting divorced and asked for privacy for his family. His personal business is just that -- his personal business -- and we should all respect that. The same is true for everybody, no matter what their personal business is.

Also:

• The Sox are off today. The team will fly to Toronto late this afternoon for a three-game series against the Jays that starts Tuesday. Then they're off to Texas for three games.

Toronto is 9-17 and in some serious trouble, according to Fangraphs.com.

As the Red Sox proved in 2011, gathering up a bunch of star players is no guarantee of success. The Dodgers (12-12) and Angels (9-15) may be examples, too.

Ask Nick: Was last summer's megatrade a bad deal after all?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 29, 2013 01:30 PM

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
The Red Sox are heading to Toronto to play the disappointing Blue Jays for three games starting Tuesday.

Seven of the Red Sox' 18 wins have come in sweeps of the Indians and Astros. They’ve had an outstanding month, losing series only to the Royals and Orioles, two teams over .500.

The Red Sox are 12-1 against sub-.500 teams, which means they’re taking care of business, dominating weaker teams as they should. Every once in a while, there’s that quirky situation where you can’t beat a bad team. No such problem so far.

Looks like Will Middlebrooks and Stephen Drew are hitting again, which means that even the bottom of the order could be troublesome for the opposition.

If Toronto plans on turning its season around, it had better start with the Red Sox. The Jays are turning into the Marlins before our eyes: a team with a lot of hype looking so bad. The Jays gave up a lot of talent for established players.

If Sox manager John Farrell was a bit uneasy about the big moves the Jays made after he left, he’s getting the last laugh now.

Here's this week's Q&A:

With Adrian Gonzalez hitting [.337], Carl Crawford hitting .307 (Punto at .400, as a part-timer), and Beckett being essentially a No. 3 or 4 starter, why is there no reflection on the wisdom of last year's trade from the Boston baseball writers? Although the team's hot start is encouraging, it seems to me the Sox would look like a real powerhouse if they still had those guys.
Bud, Atlanta
You can’t be serious, Bud. They unloaded these guys, in part, because they were a bad fit. Poor chemistry guys. They made a lot of money and were bad for team morale. Great trade. They unloaded $265 million and got two excellent pitching prospects in Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa.

I am a Red Sox fan who is terribly excited about young Allen Webster. Having said that, I wonder if the Red Sox all of a sudden have found themselves with a bit of a bottleneck for starting pitching (what a problem to have). So if everyone stays healthy -- and let's hope they do -- aside from spot starts, we might not see Allen or any of the young guys potentially for a while. They say you can't have too much good pitching, but what will the Red Sox do if that actually is the case?
Tyler, Charlottesville, Va.
They could trade Doubront, Dempster, or Lackey if they had such a problem, providing the trio are pitching well. Don’t think this will happen. No harm in keeping Webster in Triple A for a while.

Anthony Ranaudo is off to a great start with Portland. Given his injury history, how cautious will the Red Sox organiziation be with him this year?
Marc, Wicomico Church, Va.

He looks pretty healthy. No reason to baby him. Sure he’ll rise to Pawtucket in the not-too-distant future.

I'm a huge Red Sox fan living in Vietnam and see a handful of Sox caps being worn around here. Anyway, the start of this season is a bit of a welcome surprise, with close to solid pitching and patchwork hitting. Power numbers are way down, as we seem to be treading water playing small ball. Do you see this trend continuing throughout the season or do you see some sort of package thrown together to acquire a power bat around the trade deadline?
Bruce, Vietnam

Until I see a downturn in the offense or a significant injury, I don’t envision adding a power bat. Hard to find power hitters, period, in the post-steroid era. If Daniel Nava fades or Jonny Gomes doesn’t show the power they hoped, I could see an attempt to find someone like a Carlos Quentin or Alex Rios.

Click the full entry button for more Q&A

FULL ENTRY

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 29, 2013 12:31 PM

The Red Sox won again, beating the Astros, 6-1.

Nick Cafardo writes that John Lackey had a good return to Fenway Park.

The notebook has Daniel Bard being optioned back to Portland as Joel Hanrahan comes back.

------------

The On Deck blog has news on Garin Cecchini being named the Carolina League player of the week.

Red Sox option Bard back to Portland

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 28, 2013 05:32 PM

The Red Sox optioned Daniel Bard back to Double A Portland after the game today. He appeared in two games, allowing one run on one hit with two walks and one strikeout.

The Red Sox called Bard up on Tuesday to provide protection for the bullpen after Steven Wright threw 82 pitches in a relief appearance and was returned to the minors. With Joel Hanrahan expected to be activated on Tuesday, Bard was expendable.

Bard was not necessarily ready after making only eight appearances for Portland. But he was the only healthy reliever on the 40-man roster who was available at the time.

The Red Sox also have been impressed with the work righthander Alex Wilson has done. In six appearances, he has thrown six scoreless innings.

Hanrahan threw a scoreless inning for Triple A Pawtucket this afternoon, allowing a walk. He is on the disabled list with a hamstring strain and is ready to return.

Lefthander Craig Breslow also pitched an inning for Pawtucket. He allowed a run on a hit and two walks. Breslow did not pitch in spring training because of a shoulder injury and may need a few more appearances before being ready.

Final: Red Sox 6, Astros 1

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 28, 2013 01:37 PM

Game over: Red Sox 6, Astros 1: The Red Sox completed a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros with another easy victory.

The Red Sox are now 18-7. The Sox got an encouraging effort from John Lackey who went the first six innings and retired 13 straight batters during one stretch. Big offensive days for David Ortiz (two hits, two RBI), Stephen Drew (two-run triple), two hits from Daniel Nava and Mike Carp. Andrew Bailey got an inning of work in the 9th.

The game ended on a great diving catch by Daniel Nava in right. The game was played before a sellout crowd of 36,527 in 2:56.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 6, Astros 1 - Red Sox go down 1-2-3.

Top 8th: Red Sox 6, Astros 1 - Carlos Pena beat the Red Sox shift with a single to right center and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Koji Uehara, but that's as far as he got.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 6, Astros 1 - Sox took advantage of a Daniel Nava single, a balk and and an error, as David Ortiz doubled in the sixth Red Sox run. Ortiz is 2-for-4 with two ribbies.

Top 7th: Red Sox 5, Astros 1 - Red Sox pitchers did fielding practice before the game, but Marwin Gonzalez's tapper to the mound got through Clayton Mortensen's legs for an error. No matter, as Mortensen got out of the inning unscathed.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 5, Astros 1 - Nothing doing for Sox in this inning.

Top 6th: Red Sox 5, Astros 1 - Lackey loads the bases with three straight singles with one out, but gets the next two batters to end his outing. He went six innings, five hits, one run, two walks and four strikeouts. Not bad. Clayton Mortensen has taken over.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 5, Astros 1 - Dustin Pedroia drove in Daniel Nava, who had reached on two errors by shortstop Marwin Gonzalez on the same play. Gonzalez muffed the grounder, picked it up and threw it into the first base stands. Nava went to second base. Carp doubled off the wall scoring Pedroia.

Top 5th: Red Sox 3, Astros 1 - John Farrell hoped to get five out of Lackey today. He's got that. Lackey has retired 12 straight Astros.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 3, Astros 1 - The Red Sox got nothing to show for three straight hits to begin the inning. Mike Napoli blooped a single to right, but was nailed easily trying to go to second. After Carp and Saltalamacchia singled, Middlebrooks struck out, but Stephen Drew, who was 5-for-9 vs. Norris entering the game, tripled scoring two runs with a drive down the rightfield line and railing.

Top 4th: Astros 1, Red Sox 1 - Lackey has mowed down nine straight Astros.

Bottom 3rd: Astros 1, Red Sox 1 - Nava, Pedroia and Ortiz are retired by Bud Norris.

Top 3rd: Astros 1, Red Sox 1 - Lackey throws a pair of ground ball outs and a strikeout to the midlde of the Astros order.

Bottom 2nd: Astros 1, Red Sox 1 - Will Middlebrooks continued his good stretch with a single. He as erased at second on Jacoby Ellsbury's fielder's choice. Ellsbury was then caught stealing, his first in 12 attempts.

Top 2nd: Astros 1, Red Sox 1 - Lackey allowed a lead off single to Matt Dominguez, but then retired the next three batters.

Bottom 1st: Astros 1, Red Sox 1 - This series has seen a lot of busy first innings. The Red Sox answered the Astros' first run when David Ortiz singled in Daniel Nava, who doubled with one out. The Red Sox drew two walks in the inning but Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded out to first base to leave the bases loaded..

Top 1st: Astros 1, Red Sox 0 - John Lackey is making his first start since April 6 at Toronto when he hurt his right biceps and went on the DL. He retired the first two Astros, starting with a strike out of lead off hitter Robbie Grossman. He got Jose Altuve to ground out to short.

But then walked the next two batters - Jason Castro and Carlos Pena - before veteran SS Ronny Cedeno singled up the middle driving in Castro and sending Pena to third. Lackey got out of it when Fernando Martinez flied to right. Game time temperature was 60 degrees.

Game 25: Astros at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 28, 2013 09:45 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (17-7)
Ellsbury CF
Nava RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Carp LF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (0-1, 4.15).

ASTROS (7-17)
Grossman CF
Altuve 2B
Castro C
Pena 1B
Cedeno DH
Martinez LF
Dominguez 3B
Ankiel RF
Gonzalez SS
Pitching: RHP Bud Norris (3-2, 4.13).

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Red Sox vs. Norris: Drew 5-9, Victorino 2-5, Gomes 1-5, Pedroia 0-1, Ross 2-3, Salty 1-2.

Astros vs. Lackey: Pena 8-30, Cedeno 0-1.

Stat of the Day: Norris, at $3 million, is the highest-paid Astros player this season. There are 16 Red Sox players who will make more.

Notes: The Sox start the day with the best record in baseball and a two-game lead in the division. They have won four straight and five of six. ... Lackey returns to the mound for the first time since April 6 when he strained a biceps muscle. He pitched well that day (4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) before the injury. Lackey is facing the Astros for the second time in his career, the first time since 2007. ... Norris faced the Sox on July 1, 2011 and allowed four runs over six innings. He did strike out 10. ... The franchise record for wins in April is 18 (1998 and 2003). ... Ortiz has hit safely in all seven games he has played this season (14 of 27) and in 19 straight going back to last July (31 of 66). That matches the longest hitting streak of his career. Ortiz has nine RBIs in seven games this season. ... Middlebrooks is 5 of 11 with three extra-base hits in the last three games. ... The Sox are 10-5 at Fenway. ... The Sox were 11-14 after 25 games in each of the last three seasons. ... Pedroia is 8 of 16 in the last four games with three doubles. ... Sox starters are 14-4, 3.14. ... The Sox are 22 of 28 in steals. They leads the majors in swipes. ... The Sox have scored 22 runs in the series on 40 hits, 18 of them for extra bases. ... Sox pitchers have struck out 37 in the three games against the Astros so far. ... The Sox have 244 strikeouts this month. The major league record for strikeouts in a month is 264 by the 1964 Cleveland Indians in July. ... The Sox are 10-2 against the Astros all time. ... Remember when Napoli had bad hips and everybody was worried about how he would play in the field? He has played 195 of a possible 214 innings at first base so far this season and has one error. ...It's Autism Speaks Day at Fenway and Maine Day, too.

Song of the Day: "Back In The Saddle" by Aerosmith.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 28, 2013 09:30 AM

Felix Doubront had a rough start then settled down and beat the Astros.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Sox are taking advantage of the Astros.

The notebook has John Lackey returning to the mound today.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick writes that teams are trying to make early evaluations.

At 17-7, Red Sox continue their hot start

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 28, 2013 12:17 AM

The Red Sox are now 17-7. They have the best record in baseball and are off to their best start since 2002.

It doesn't feel like a fluke, either. The success has been built around good starting pitching, a balanced offense and solid defense.

“We’ve had a very good offensive approach, even on nights when we’ve only scored a few runs,” manager John Farrell said. “Our starting pitching has been very consistent. I think we’ve played very good defensively.

“There’s still room to improve in areas. But the fact is we’ve got three areas of the game where we’re operating pretty well right now.”

A few notes:

• Felix Doubront (3-0) allowed three runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He walked four — one after the first inning — and struck out eight. After throwing 31 pitches in the first inning, he needed only 64 over the next five.

“I don’t know what happened in the first inning. I was using more of my arm than my body. I was a little frustrated with what I was doing and thinking too much,” Doubront said.

“But after the first inning I really focused on the strike zone. I wasn’t thinking of my mechanics at all. Just throw the ball and get quick outs to go deep in the game. I’m so proud that I did that.”

• Will Middlebrooks was 2 for 3 with a walk. He is 5 of his last 11 with three extra base hits, raising his batting average from .165 to .200. He seems to be pulling out of his slump.

• David Ortiz was 2 for 3 with three RBIs. He is 14 of 27 with six extra-base hits and nine RBIs in seven games since coming off the disabled list.

“No,” Ortiz said when asked if he could explain it. “I’m just doing my thing.”

Said Farrell: “We’re all recognizing that he’s doing things that look to him to be very easy. But it’s hard to script out that he would come back and have this kind of performance given the layoff.”

• As expected, Ryan Lavarnway was optioned to Pawtucket after the game. He was here three days and did not play.

• The one sour note came in the eighth inning when Daniel Bard inherited a five-run lead and walked the first two batters on nine pitches. Farrell quickly went to Alex Wilson and the rookie held the Astros to one run.

Bard pitched well in an inning on Thursday. But this latest outing was a sign that he still has work to do to overcome the control problems that started last season.

“Right from the get-go, Daniel didn’t settle into a delivery," Farrell said. "We saw him cut a couple fastballs the first couple pitches he threw, then some pitches got away from him."

Bard wasn't close on many of his nine pitches. He seemed to be dragging his arm behind his body.

Bard is the seventh pitcher in the bullpen and could be back in the minors once Joel Hanrahan and Craig Breslow return. That would be as soon as next week. So his trials are not really a major factor.

Final: Red Sox 8, Astros 4

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 27, 2013 07:21 PM

Game over: Red Sox 8, Astros 4 Andrew Miller finished off the Astros as the Sox won their third straight against them and go for the sweep Sunday with John Lackey on the mound. Felix Doubront got the win to improve to 3-0. David Ortiz drove in three runs and is now hitting .519. Jacoby Ellsbury also drove in two runs. The game was played in 3:40 before 34,726 at Fenway.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 8, Astros 4 - The Red Sox went down in order.

Top 8th: Red Sox 8, Astros 4 - Daniel Bard couldn't find the strike zone and walked the first two batters and was relieved by Alex Wilson. Matt Dominguez drove in the Astros fourth run with a single.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 8, Astros 3 - A Jarrod Saltalamacchia one-out double and will Midlebrooks walk, set the stage for Stephen Drew's RBI single to center. After Ellsbury struck out, Nava singled off the wall to score Middelbrooks. Pedroia knocked in another run with a single to right.

Top 7th: Red Sox 5, Astros 3 - Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez is a good young player. He singled to right, moved to second on a tapper to the mound by Robbie Grossman and scored on Jose Altuve's grounder to third. Doubront 6-2/3 innings, allowed four hits and four walks, three runs with eight strikeouts.J unichi Tazawa came on.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - A couple of walks to Pedroia and Ortiz, but Napoli lined hard to shortstop into a double-play.

Top 6th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - Pace picking up in this very slowly played game so far. Doubront, who did not receive the quick tempo memo, has stepped it up with another clean inning.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - Will Middlebrooks stroked his second hit of the game, a single to center, but the Sox couldn't do more.

Top 5th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - Doubront rolling, a 1-2-3 inning.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - Daniel Nava started the inning with a double to left. After Dustrin Pedroia grounded out (moving Nava to third), Bard Peacock was removed and on came lefty Travis Blackley with Ortiz due up. Ortiz lined a sacrifice fly to left scoring the run. Mike Napoli singled to left field. But Mike Carp struck out.

Top 4th: Red Sox 4, Astros 2 - Doubront surrendered a one-out Marwin Gonzalez double, but he limits the damage.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 4, Astros 2 - The Red Sox get a Stephen Dew walk, but not much else.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 4, Astros 2 - Doubront finds himself, striking out the side (Carter, Cedeno and Corporan).

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 4, Astros 2 - The Red Sox put four on the board against Brad Peacock. Will Middlebrooks doubled high atop the left center field wall scoring Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who worked a one-out walk vs. Brad Peacock. Stephen Drew kept things alive with a walk and Jacoby Ellsbury hit a soft liner to left center that fell in scoring Middlebrooks. More damage was saved by Jose Altuve's nice diving play to rob Nava of a hit for the second out, but Pedroia kept the inning alive with a walk before David Ortiz stroked an opposite-field double to left scoring two more.

Top 2nd: Astros 2, Red Sox 0 - Doubront was a bit more efficient. While he walked Brandon Barnes, he struck out two in the scoreless inning.

Bottom 1st: Astros 2, Red Sox 0 - With two outs, the Red Sox started something they couldn't finish. Dustin Pedroia singled to right and David Oriiz singled to left center sending Pedroia to third on Robbie Grossman's throwing error. But Mike Napoli struck out on a called third strike after lining a ball down the left line just foul.

Top 1st: Astros 2, Red Sox 0 - Tough start for Felix Doubront who had trouble with location. He hit a batter, walked three, uncorked a wild pitch and gave up a lead off single to Jose Altuve. He walked Chris Carter with the bases loaded, allowed a sacrifice fly to Ronny Cedeno for the second run. He then reloaded the bases with a walk to Carlos Corporan with one out before getting Matt Dominguez to pop out to short and striking out Marwin Gonzalez.

Victorino out again for Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 27, 2013 05:27 PM

Shane Victorino is out of the lineup for the third consecutive game with a lower back strain. Manager John Farrell said there was only “slight” improvement and that the right fielder is on anti-inflammatory medication.

Daniel Nava is starting in right field with Mike Carp in left. With the team off on Monday, it is unlikely that Victorino will play before Tuesday, if then.

“If there’s no real significant improvement, we’ll probably take advantage of [Sunday] and the off day to try and get ahead of this,” Farrell said.

The Sox are in Toronto for three games starting on Tuesday. The Rogers Centre has hard artificial turf and Farrell said that could be a factor in determining when Victorino will play again.

In case Victorino does go on the disabled list, the Red Sox are preparing Jackie Bradley Jr. as a replacement.

Bradley has been playing center field since he was optioned on April 20. But he started in right field for Triple A Pawtucket on Friday and will play there again tonight at McCoy Stadium.

Also:

• Joel Hanrahan allowed a double and a two-run homer in his inning for Pawtucket on Friday night in Buffalo. But the right hamstring strain that landed him on the disabled list was not an issue.

“I was a little nervous going into the game. But once I got through that first hitter, which was a long at-bat, it was fine,” Hanrahan said. “Everything felt good. I felt good [Saturday] morning when I woke up, too.”

Hanrahan is scheduled to pitch an inning for Pawtucket on Sunday.

“I’ll go out this time and worry more about the results,” he said. “I’ll try to locate some pitches better. But ultimately my leg feels good and that was the main thing. I’ll throw more breaking balls this team and work on that. I was throwing almost all fastballs [Friday] night.”

Hanrahan hopes to be activated for Tuesday’s game in Toronto.

“Provided everything goes accordingly, there’s a real chance he’ll rejoin us on the road trip,” Farrell said.

• Alfredo Aceves reported to Triple A Pawtucket on Saturday as the Red Sox requested. He is expected to join the Paw Sox rotation on Thursday.

• Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales has been shut down because of a strained left pectoral muscle. He is not expected to start throwing again until Tuesday. Morales was already on the disabled list with a back injury. Morales had his rehab assignment stopped and would seem to be at least several week from pitching again. Morales ended last season with a shoulder injury. The assorted injuries could be related to his constantly changing roles last season. Morales opened the season as a reliever, became a starter for a month, went back to the bullpen for three weeks and then started four more games before feeling shoulder pain.

• Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was on the field early working on his throwing with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and bullpen coach Dana Levangie. Lavarnway was called up on Thursday and is expected to be optioned on Sunday to make room for Lackey on the roster.

Game 24: Astros at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 27, 2013 02:50 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (16-7)
Ellsbury CF
Nava RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Carp RF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Pitching: LHP Felix Doubront (2-0, 4.32).

ASTROS (7-16)
Altuve 2B
Barnes RF
Laird 1B
Carter LF
Cedeno DH
Corporan C
Dominguez 3B
Gonzalez SS
Grossman CF
Pitching: RHP Brad Peacock (1-2, 7.50).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Peacock: Victorino 0-3.

Astros vs. Doubront: Pena 1-8, Carter 0-1.

Stat of the Day: Ellsbury has hit safely in 20 of the 23 games this season.

Notes: The Sox have won three straight and four of five. They are tied with Texas for the best record in baseball. ... Doubront is facing the Astros for the first time in his career. ... Peacock is a 25-year-old rookie. He was acquired from Oakland on Feb. 4 as part of a package for Jed Lowrie. Peacock will be making his seventh career start, the fifth this season. He is 3-2, 4.40 in his career and will be facing the Red Sox for the first time. ... Red Sox starters are 13-4 with a 3.09 ERA. That's second in the AL to Texas (2.93). Sox starters are averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings. ... Ortiz is 12 of 24 with three doubles, two homers, six RBIs and six runs scored in six games since coming back. ... Pedroia is 6 of his last 13 with three doubles and two RBIs. ... Middlebrooks is 3 of his last 8 with a double and a homer. ... The franchise record for wins in April is 18 (1998 and 2003). The Sox gave three games left this month. ... The Sox are 9-2 against the Astros. ... The Sox have outscored the Astros 14-5 in the first two games of the season. The Sox have had 28 hits, 14 for extra bases.

Song of the Day: "Houston" by R.E.M.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 27, 2013 11:44 AM

Ryan Dempster was sharp again and won his first game for the Sox as they beat the Astros, 7-3.

David Ross enjoyed a career night with four hits including two home runs. Julian Benbow has the story.

The notebook has Dustin Pedroia looking to turn on the power.

Dempster has had striking success

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 27, 2013 12:11 AM

Ryan Dempster allowed two runs on four hits and struck out 10 against the Astros tonight. He has struck out 43 over 30 innings.

Dempster averaged 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings when he was with the Chicago Cubs last season. That figure rose to 9.1 when he was traded to the Texas Rangers in July, and is at 12.9 this season.

How is an older pitcher who spent the bulk of his career in the National League striking out more batters in the AL?

“I don’t know, I think maybe fastball command,” Dempster said. “When you can put your fastball where you want, you end up getting ahead in the count and expand off that. Strikeouts are overrated. I’m just trying to get outs.”

Dempster said his 12 starts for Texas last season taught him to focus on an entire lineup.

“There’s not that lull at the bottom of the lineup where maybe you can pitch around a No. 8 hitter to get to the No. 9 hitter, who’s a pitcher,” he said. “You have to continue to make pitch after pitch.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell has his own theory. He thinks the key is how Dempster has used his secondary pitches, mainly his slider and split-finger fastball.

“He’s able to go to any one of three pitches in a 3-2 count or in a two-strike situation,” Farrell said. “Hitters can’t sit on any one approach to finish a guy off. He’s done such a great job at that 3-2 count where he doesn’t give in. He uses the entire count when needed. We’ve seen some of his better sliders in 3-and-2 situations.”

Also:

• David Ross had a career-high four hits, two of them home runs. The 10 total bases were also a career high.

• Jonny Gomes on his diving catch in the fifth inning: "There's two L's in this game. There's leather and lumber. Hopefully you can try and bring both every day. But you definitely have to leave the yard with at least bringing one. It was nice to make that catch."

• More gold from Gomes. On his taking 46 plate appearances to drive in a run: “When the team’s winning, no one is in a slump. No one at all. I don’t consider myself in a slump. I just haven’t started yet."

• Joel Hanrahan, who is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, started a rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket. Pitching in Buffalo, he allowed two runs on two hits in the eighth inning and had a strikeout.

Hanrahan got two outs before Jim Negrych doubled. Eugenio Velez then homered. He threw strikes on nine of 14 pitches.

Farrell said that Hanrahan would make another appearance for Pawtucket on Sunday.

• Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow will join Pawtucket on Saturday. He is scheduled to pitch in back-to-back games before being evaluated again. Breslow is out with a sore shoulder.

• Alfredo Aceves, who was optioned Wednesday, is expected to report to Pawtucket on Saturday. Farrell said he did not know when Aceves would be starting.

Pawtucket announced its rotation for a four-game series against Columbus that starts on Saturday and Aceves is not scheduled to pitch. The Red Sox, major league sources have said for several days, are open to the idea of trading Aceves.

Meanwhile, guess who will be pitching against Pawtucket on Sunday? It’s Daisuke Matsuzaka. The erstwhile Red Sox righthander signed a minor league deal with the Indians and is 0-2 with a 4.58 earned run average through four starts for Columbus. He has walked 18 in 17.2 innings.

• Sox pitchers have 232 strikeouts, their most ever for a month.

• Bedard and Ryan Dempster were the first Canadian pitchers to oppose each other at Fenway.

• Daniel Nava will throw out the first pitch on Opening Day of the RBI League at Jim Rice Field in Roxbury on Saturday.

Final: Red Sox 7, Astros 3

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 26, 2013 07:02 PM

Final, Red Sox 7, Astros 3: It took him five starts, but Ryan Dempster finally gets his first win of the season, striking out 10 over six innings to push the Sox to their 11th win in the past 14 games.

Bottom of the eighth, Red Sox 7, Astros 3: With the bases loaded, the Astros brought the infield in and Marwin Gonzalez was able to make a big play.

He snagged a Jacoby Ellsbury liner, then looked to his right and made a quick throw to double up Will Middlebrooks at third, killing what could've been a game-sealing inning for he Sox.

Stepping to the plate with runners on first and second, Jonny Gomes was able to salvage what was left of what could've been a big inning with a single to left that scored David Ross.

Ross's single that inning gave him the first four-hit game of his career.

Top of the seventh, Red Sox 6, Astros 3: A mishap and some small ball allow the the Astros stay within arms reach.

Leadoff man Matt Dominguez reached when he was dotted by Clayton Mortensen fastball. Then Marwin Gonzalez dropped down a bunt single that made it first and third. After Mortensen fanned Robbie Grossman, Junichi Tazawa came on and gave up a Jose Altuve sacrifice fly that brought Dominguez in.

He's scored all three runs for the Astros tonight.

Bottom of the sixth, Red Sox 6, Astros 2: Jacoby Ellsbury's 11th stolen base of the season gave him the team's April record. It also gave him 200 for his career.

Top of the sixth, Red Sox 6, Astros 2: The sign was as slight as you could possibly imagine, but Ryan Dempster shook his right arm after striking out Brandon Laird and manager John Farrell came out to the mound to check on him.

They talked, and once it was all done, Dempster stayed out there.

After walking Carlos Pena, he struck out Chris Carteron three pitches and got Fernando Martinez to bounce out to third to end the innings.

It's the second time in his past three starts that Dempster's struck out 10.

Bottom of the fifth, Red Sox 6, Astros 2: David Ortiz gets in on the action with a long home run to straightaway center.

It's his second of the season, second in two nights. He saw another fastball he liked, and mashed it.

Top of the fifth, Red Sox 5, Astros 2:Even though only one of them led to outs, there were a couple of really nice defensive plays by the Sox.

On a fly ball to right, Daniel Nava nearly threw out Matt Dominguez tagging from third. The throw was perfectly online, but a blink too late.

Then, on a liner slicing away from him in left, Jonny Gomes laid out to make a nice inning-ending grab. He had to eat a little grass to come up with it, but it may certainly saved a run.

Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, is up to eight strikeouts. He's thrown 88 pitches, allowing just four hits and walking two.

Bottom of the fourth, Red Sox 5, Astros 1: Back-to-back homers by Will Middlebrooks and David effectively end Erik Bedard's night.

Bedard labored through his three-plus innings, throwing 91 pitches (59 strikes), giving up eight hits, three homers.

Ross and Middlebrooks have 20 hits between them, and nine of them are homers.

Bottom of the third, Red Sox 3, Astros 1: David Ortiz nearly slammed his bat after striking out for a second time. He swing and missed at a 92 mile-per-hour fastball in his first at-bat. He whiffed at a not-as-fastball this time, leaving Dustin Pedroia, who reached on a bloop ground rule double, stranded at second.

Mike Napoli would take care of things in the next at-bat, though. He ripped a double into the left-field corner to bring Pedroia around. It was Napoli's 17th extra-base hit this month and 12 double, setting team records for April.

Top of the third, Red Sox 2, Astros 1: The Astros cut the lead in half thanks to Matt Dominguez's leadoff double.

Mawin Gonzalez got him to third with a sacrifice fly to center, and he came home on Robbie Grossman's groundball.

Bottom of the second, Red Sox 2, Astros 0: By the looks of it, David Ross's moon shot managed to somehow avoid hitting any of the cars in the parking lot across Lansdowne.

He couldn't have been happier to see a fastball from Erik Bedard on 1-and-2. He has four hits this season. Two of them are home runs.

Top of the second, Red Sox 1, Astros 0: Add two more Ks to Dempster's total on the night.

He used the slider to get Carlos Pena and Chris Carter swinging. Pena was muttering something as he left the box.

Twenty-two of Dempster's 31 pitches have gone for strikes.

Bottom of the first, Red Sox 1, Astros 0: In the span of three pitches, Dustin Pedroia went from flinching at Erik Bedard's first curveball of the night to jumping to get out of the way of an errant fastball at the ankles to crushing the next fastball off the Wall for an RBI double.

Meanwhile, Erik Bedard can thank Mike Napoli for single-handedly running up his pitch count. He threw 33 in the first inning -- nine to Napoli. The battle ended with Napoli taking him to the right-field warning track, making Napoli 3 for 16 all-time against Bedard.

Top of the first, Red Sox 0, Astros 0: Ryan Dempster's been remarkable with using strikeouts to get himself out of jams.

Jose Altuve tagged him for a double to the gap in left-center. Dempster made things worse hesitating on a pick off and throwing it into center field, allowing Altuve to take third. But he struck out Jason Castro and Brandon Laird to get out of the inning.

He upped his strikeout total to 35, and 19 have come with men on, 11 with runners in scoring position.

Pregame:Welcome to Fenway where Ryan Dempster's on the mound again, still looking for his first win of the season. The Sox, are three wins shy of matching the team record for April wins with four games left this month. They've won 10 of their past 13.

Enjoy the game. Feel free to comment.

Red Sox lend a hand for autism awareness

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 26, 2013 06:10 PM

As part of Major League Baseball recognizing Autism Awareness Month, the Red Sox on Sunday will provide extra accommodations for families affected by autism.

During pregame ceremonies, children on the autism spectrum will act as honorary bat kids and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

The club worked with the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks and executive director Russ Kenn to provide families with tickets to the game and information about what they can expect and how to prepare. The club is also designating the new Champions Club, located behind right field, as a “quiet zone” for children with sensory issues.

“For many families in the autism community, the simple activities that typical families are able to participate in seem out of reach,” said Red Sox vice president Larry Cancro, the chairman of the board of the New England Chapter of Autism Speaks. “With the Red Sox’ help, families dealing with autism can enjoy Fenway Park the way other New England families do.”

Victorino may miss a few more days

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 26, 2013 05:57 PM

Shane Victorino is out of the lineup for the second day in a row with lower back spasms. There is no thought, manager John Farrell said, of the right fielder going on the disabled list.

“It’ll be based on how he continues to improve day over day and responds to the treatment," said Farrell. "We’re not any closer today to saying this is a DL situation. He’s still day to day."

The Sox are off Monday. They could give Victorino five consecutive days off to get healthy and not play him until Tuesday in Toronto.

“It’s a real possibility," Farrell said. "But how he feels is going to be the single most important thing in this.”

Also:

• Farrell said he is amazed at what David Ortiz has done since coming off the disabled list.

“Considering he’s missed eight months and only had 18 at-bats before coming back here to us, yeah, he’s doing an incredible job," Farrell said. "Just his timing. The way he’s come back in and the timing to pitches seen.

"Against lefthanders, he’s let the ball travel deep. He’s hit the ball the other way. He’s a very good hitter. I don’t mean to be at a loss for words here, but not trying to dissect it and explain it. It’s incredible the production he’s had in a short period of time.”

Farrell believes Ortiz has improved as a hitter in recent years.

“Across the field, you saw him with more of a willingness to use the Wall and stay inside of pitches," said Farrell. "He’s used the bigger part of the field. It’s allowed him to see the ball better and track the ball longer.

"He’s not afraid to get jammed. He’s not afraid to let the ball get deep. He’s so strong he can fight base hits off the other way, and when he gets a hanging breaking ball or a fastball that stays in the middle of the plate, he does what he did last night with it."

• Stephen Drew is getting a day off so Pedro Ciriaco can play against a lefthander. Farrell said Ciriaco could play again in the series. That could be for Will Middlebrooks, perhaps.

• Farrell on Mike Carp: “He’s done a great job of staying prepared. He went, I think, maybe the first 12 games of the season before he got an at-bat. Then he gets a spot start over in Cleveland, and much like we talked about the confidence, he gets a start and he gets three hits, three extra-base hits. It’s continued to carry over."

Game 23: Astros at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 26, 2013 03:09 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (15-7)
Ellsbury CF
Gomes LF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Nava RF
Middlebrooks 3B
Ross C
Ciriaco SS
Pitching: RHP Ryan Dempster (0-2, 3.38).

ASTROS (7-15)
Grossman CF
Altuve 2B
Castro C
Laird 1B
Pena DH
Carter LF
Martinez RF
Dominiguez 3B
Gonzalez SS
Pitching: LHP Erik Bedard (0-1, 6.17).

Game time:7:10 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Bedard: Ortiz 5-24, Gomes 4-23, Napoli 3-15, Pedroia 1-14, Saltalamacchia 1-9, Victorino 1-7, Drew 0-3, Ellsbury 0-2, Ross 0-2.

Astros vs. Dempster: Cedeno 6-17, Ankiel 2-16, Altuve 0-3, Castro 0-3.

Stat of the Day: The Sox franchise record for wins in April is 18. That was set in 1998 and equaled in 2003. They have 15 wins with four games to play.

Notes: The Sox have won three of four and two straight ... Dempster has pitched pretty well with not much to show for it in four starts. He is 0-2 and the Sox are 1-3 in those games ... Dempster is 6-12, 4.32, in 51 appearances against the Astros, 25 of them starts. He was 1-1, 3.98, in three starts last year ... Bedard is facing the Sox for the first time since June 8, 2008, when he was with Seattle. He is 5-4, 4.25, in 13 career appearances against Boston ... Bedard was acquired by Boston at the 2011 trade deadline and went 1-2, 4.03, in eight starts ... Ortiz is 11 for 20 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs in five games since coming off the disabled list ... Ellsbury has 199 career stolen bases ... Red Sox starters are 12-4, 3.10 ... The Sox are 12 for 25 with runners in scoring position the last two games.

Song of the Day: "White Lightnin' " by George Jones.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 26, 2013 02:03 PM

Led by a spry David Ortiz and the pitching of Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox beat the Astros on Thursday, 7-2.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox look believable.

The notebook has Alfredo Aceves on his way to Pawtucket.

The Minor League Notebook has an update on Anthony Ranaudo and his hot start. Julian Benbow has the story.

Clay Buchholz first to five wins

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 26, 2013 12:09 AM

Clay Buchholz allowed two runs on six hits over 7.2 innings for the win Thursday night. He walked two and struck out 10. Buchholz is the first pitcher in the majors to get to five victories this season.

“Things are going right right now,” Buchholz said. “When a ball’s hit, even a hard ball, it seems like it's right at somebody. That doesn’t happen like that all the time, so you have to savor it while it is.”

Buchholz has pitched at least seven innings in each of his starts and has yet to allow more than two earned runs. The last major leaguer to do that in the first five starts of a season was Livan Hernandez in 2002.

How unusual is Buchholz’s 1.19 earned run average after five starts? The last Red Sox pitcher to go lower was Roger Clemens, who was at 0.66 after five starts in 1991. The Rocket went on to win the Cy Young Award that season.

The return of John Farrell as manager has clearly made a difference. In the two years Farrell was away managing Toronto, Buchholz struggled early in the season. He had an 8.69 ERA after five starts last season, 5.33 after five starts in 2011.

“Past couple of years I’ve been a slow starter,” he said. “It feels good to get out there and following up spring training with a little bit of confidence and not feeling like there’s anything that I have to fix.”

Buchholz and Jon Lester are 9-0 with a 1.69 earned run average. The Sox have won all 10 games they have started. Led by their top two starters, the Red Sox have been in first place for 26 consecutive days. That is a team record to start the season.

Also:

• Daniel Bard pitched an uneventful ninth inning, allowing a two-out single before getting a grounder back to the mound in his season debut. He threw 18 pitches, 10 for strikes, and hit 96 m.p.h. with his fastball. “Aggressive,” Farrell said. “Attacked the strike zone. [Umpire] Tim McClelland notoriously has a pretty tight strike zone but he looked free and easy, looked confident. That was a good inning of work and a very encouraging one.”

• The Sox said 4,800 fans attended the game on free tickets given out by the team as a reward for those who sat through the rain on Tuesday or skipped that game entirely. In all, approximately 6,200 took the offer over two days.

• Mike Napoli has 16 extra-base hits this month, tying the April team record set by Jose Offerman in 1999.

• David Ortiz’s home run was his first since July 13 and his first at Fenway since last June 27.

David Ortiz on the run as Red Sox win again

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 26, 2013 12:02 AM

c14af8cb006f180e300f6a706700d96d.jpg

AP photo

David Ortiz was on first base in the fifth inning on Thursday night when teammate Mike Carp drove a single into center field.

Ortiz, running hard with two outs, hit second base and headed for third. The crowd at Fenway Park cheered like they were watching the 100-meter final at the Olympics.

As for the Red Sox dugout, “Everyone was screaming and yelling,” starting pitcher Clay Buchholz said after a 7-2 victory against the Houston Astros.

Going first to third on a two-out single is routine for most players. But not for a 37-year-old, 230-pound designated hitter who started the season on the disabled list recovering from a strained right Achilles' tendon.

“We need David and seeing him play like that had everybody smiling,” Buchholz said. “It’s huge for our team.”

Ortiz was 3 for 4 with his first home run, two runs batted in, and three runs scored in support of Buchholz. He is 11 of 20 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs in five games since being activated.

“It’s remarkable the timing that he’s displayed, particularly after the layoff that he’s had,” manager John Farrell said. “Even guys in the dugout are kind of marveling at what he’s been able to do. Not only contact, but driving the baseball.”

Ortiz didn’t play any games in spring training. His only preparation was six games and 18 at-bats with Triple A Pawtucket.

“I’ve been working to stay short and quick to the ball. Not try to do too much,” Ortiz said. “I always tell you guys, I’m old enough to know what it takes to be what I want to be.”

Ortiz’s home run was a booming shot to straightaway center field in the third inning off Houston starter Philip Humber. The ball landed several rows back, an impressive poke on an April night. Usually you don’t see that kind of carry at Fenway until the summer months.

“Crushed it,” said Ortiz, who has a17-game hitting streak dating to July.

But the best aspect of the game for Ortiz was how well he moved on the bases. In addition to his journey in the fifth inning, he scored from second on a single in the first.

If the 15-7 Red Sox are to contend into the heart of the season, a healthy Ortiz is a necessity. Thursday was the first time he ran without any apparent hesitation.

“It feels good. Those are the kind of tests that I’ve got to go through and get used to,” Ortiz said. “[His foot] feels fine. Once I do that, I get more comfortable and my mind realizes that I have to continue doing things like that.”

Final: Red Sox 7, Astros 2

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 25, 2013 06:45 PM

Game over: Red Sox 7, Astros 2: Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless ninth as the Red Sox took the first game of this four-game series before 30,093. It was the seventh straight game in which the Red Sox did not record a sellout. David Ortiz homered and knocked in a pair of runs. The Red Sox scored four runs in the first inning off Phillip Humber and cruised the rest of the way behind Clay Buchholz who improved to 5-0. The Red Sox are 11-0 when scoring first. The game was played in 2:59.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 7, Astros 2 - Jose Altuve singled off Buchholz and that ended his night with 109 pitches. Andrew Miller came on and retired Jason Castro.

Top 8th: Red Sox 7, Astros 2 - The Red Sox went down in order. Buchholz was out after 7-2/3 innings, two runs, six hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 7, Astros 2 - Mike Napoli hit a leadoff double, but the Sox went down in order after that.

Top 7th: Red Sox 7, Astros 2 - Buchholz gets through seven, strikes out two. Has retired the last eight batters. At 101 pitches.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 7, Astros 2 - Pedroia managed a walk, but Sox can't muster much this inning.

Top 6th: Red Sox 7, Astros 2 - Buchholz has a strong inning witha strikeout and two groundouts.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 7, Astros 2 - David Ortiz and Mike Carp each singled, but with runners at the corners with two outs, Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled up the middle to drive in Ortiz with the sixth Sox run vs. Phillip Humber. Will Middlebrooks followed with an RBI double into the left field corner. Humber has been removed.

Top 5th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - Buchholz allowed only a Rick Ankiel walk.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - A Stephen Drew walk is all the Sox could muster.

Top 4th: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - Matt Dominguez knocked into a 5-4-3 double-play after Fernando Martinez singled with one out.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 5, Astros 2 - David Ortiz launched his first home run deep to center.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 4, Astros 2 - Jason Castro knocked in Marwin Gonzalez (double) with the second Astros run. Buchholz not sharp tonight.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 4, Astros 1 - A double by Jacoby Ellsbury with one out was wasted, even after Daniel Nava walked for the second time. Dustin Pedroia knocked into an inning-ending double-play.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 4, Astros 1 - Buchholz allowed a double to Chris Carter, which Mike Carp misplayed in left and a Fernando Martinez single. The run scored on a double-play grounder by Matt Dominguez

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 4, Astros 0 - It all started with a one-out walk to Daniel Nava. Then came the passed ball by catcher Jason Castro. Then came Dustin Pedroia's RBI single to center, a stolen base, David Ortiz' single to right scoring Pedroia and a throwing error by Rick Ankiel allowing Ortiz to second. After Mike Napoli struck out, Mike Carp launched a double passed Carlos Pena at first, scoring the third run. Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled in the fourth run off Pena.

Top 1st: Astros 0, Red Sox 0 - The Astros went down against Clay Buchholz who is seeking his fifth win. Buchholz got Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve to strike out, walked Jason Castro, but got Carlos Pena to bunt back to him for an easy out.

Victorino is day-to-day with back injury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 25, 2013 04:03 PM

Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is out of the lineup after experiencing back spasms in the sixth inning Wednesday. It was the same condition that caused him to miss two games last weekend.

Manager John Farrell said Victorino is day-to-day, but the Sox will wait until he is symptom-free before playing him again.

Also:

• Ryan Lavarnway is here only temporarily. With Alfredo Aceves sent to Pawtucket, the Sox decided to use the roster spot to add a bench player for three days. Every indication is that John Lackey will be ready to start Sunday. Lavarnway would return to Triple A when Lackey is activated.

• Ideally, the Sox could use an outfielder, but Jackie Bradley Jr. is not yet eligible to return, as he was optioned April 20. Players have to be in the minors 10 days before they can come back.

• Farrell said Aceves took his demotion "like a pro" and that it was solely performance-based. Aceves will start for Pawtucket. He has 72 hours to report. The Sox told him to meet the team in Pawtucket Saturday. The PawSox are in Buffalo now.

Game 22: Astros at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 25, 2013 02:30 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (14-7)
Ellsbury CF
Nava RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Carp LF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (4-0, 0.90).

ASTROS (7-14)
Grossman CF
Altuve 2B
Castro C
Pena 1B
Carter DH
Martinez LF
Dominguez 3B
Ankiel RF
Gonzalez SS
Pitching: RHP Philip Humber (0-4, 6.63).

Game time: 6:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Humber: Ellsbury 3-9, Pedroia 1-7, Ortiz 2-7, Salty 3-8, Drew 0-4, Napoli 1-3, Middlebrooks 0-3, Nava 0-2, Ciriaco 0-2, Gomes 0-1.

Astros vs. Buchholz: Pena 6-33, Ankiel 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Ellsbury has 199 stolen bases. Only two players in Red Sox history have had 200. Harry Hooper had 300 from 1909-20 and Tris Speaker 267 from 1907-15.

Notes: Shane Victorino (lower back) is out of the lineup after coming out of Wednesday's game after the sixth inning. ... The Sox have the best record in the American League and the Astros the worst. Houston is in its first season in the AL. This is their first series at Fenway Park since 2003. ... The Sox are 7-2 against Houston. ... Buchholz is facing Houston for the first time in his career. ... Humber is 2-2, 7.33 in four career starts against the Sox. All four of those starts came from 2011-12 when Humber was with the White Sox. Humber allowed 11 runs on 14 hits over 11 innings in two starts against the Sox last season. ... Humber threw a perfect game against the Mariners last April 21. He is 4-9, 7.26 since with a 1.67 WHIP. ... Napoli has 15 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs in 21 games. The team record for RBIs in April is 31 by Manny Ramirez in 2001. ... The Red Sox bullpen in the last four games: 13.1 IP, 15 H, 12 ER, 9 BB, 20 K. ... Ortiz has a 16-game hit streak dating back to last July. ... Ryan Lavarnway was added to the roster today. He reached base in all 11 games he played at Pawtucket, hitting .310 with an .875 OPS.

Song of the Day: "New Kid In Town" by The Eagles.

Alfredo Aceves at another crossroads

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 25, 2013 11:00 AM

Alfredo Aceves played a big role in the Yankees winning the World Series in 2009. He appeared in 43 games and posted a 3.54 ERA. Aceves had 25 outings that lasted at least two innings.

The Yankees gave up on Aceves after the 2010 season, however. Aceves was released after breaking his collarbone in what he said was a bicycle accident. The righthander appeared in only 10 games that season and the feeling in New York was that he grew too comfortable with life on the disabled list.

The Red Sox picked up Aceves at a low cost just before the 2011 season and he was terrific for them, appearing in 55 games with a 2.61 ERA. He started four games and saved two others. On 21 occasions out of the bullpen, he went at least two innings.

Aceves started last season as a closer and lost the job in August. He is 1-5 with an 8.51 earned run average and three blown saves in 25 games since last August 1. Aceves acted unprofessionally on several occasions last season, to the point where he was suspended for three games in late August.

On Tuesday, after getting rocked by Oakland, Aceves blamed the umpire for a tight strike zone and wondered aloud why his teammates didn't hit as well as the Athletics.

Now he's at another career crossroads. The Red Sox optioned Aceves to Pawtucket on Wednesday and are trying to trade him.

His value is scant, but there is probably a team or two out there willing to give him a shot. Aceves is only 30 and undeniably talented. He can throw 97 m.p.h. or dazzle hitters with breaking pitches. He also wants the ball every day. There are tools there for a team willing to put up with the eccentric behavior.

But as he did with the Yankees, Aceves wore out his welcome with the Red Sox.

Aceves isn't selfish. He's actually so committed to the idea of winning that he stays in the dugout after coming out of games to cheer on his teammates, something few pitchers do. Aceves loves baseball to a point where he carries around a bat and occasionally takes grounders at shortstop.

Aceves said in spring training that he spent part of the winter playing for a local semi-pro team in Mexico, the Banditos. He picked up Banditos t-shirts for several pitchers on the Red Sox and they wear them around the clubhouse. The pitchers generally like him. The position players not too much.

Frankly, he can be fun to have around at times. Aceves wore a ski mask in the dugout during a game played in warm weather in Cleveland last week. In spring training he made a bed of bath towels in front of his locker and took a nap. He does yoga at his locker once in a while. Being a little kooky isn't a crime.

Pitching poorly is 80 percent of the reason he's gone. But disrespecting authority, annoying teammates and saying nonsensical stuff to the media was surely factored in. The Red Sox can't say they're serious about changing the atmosphere around the team and allow a player to act that way.

Aceves will be branded a bad guy by some fans and probably some in the media, too. He's probably more misunderstood.

But what he is sure is gone and probably gone for good soon enough. Play well and you can be quirky all day. But play poorly and that helps get you a one-way ticket somewhere else.

Pitching matchups for the Astros series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 25, 2013 09:45 AM

Thursday: RHP Philip Humber (0-4, 6.63) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (4-0, 0.90), 6:35 p.m., NESN

Friday: LHP Erik Bedard (0-1, 6.17) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (0-2, 3.38), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Saturday: RHP Brad Peacock (1-2, 7.50) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (2-0, 4.32), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Sunday: RHP Bud Norris (3-2, 4.13) vs. TBA, 1:35 p.m., NESN

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 25, 2013 08:05 AM

Andrew Bailey picked up a big save as the Red Sox beat the Athletics, 6-5.

Nick Cafardo writes that Jon Lester survived a tough day.

The notebook has Alfredo Aceves being demoted and Daniel Bard returning.

Victorino leaves game with stiff back

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 10:13 PM

Right fielder Shane Victorino left Wednesday's 6-5 Red Sox win over the Athletics after the sixth inning with a sore lower back, the same injury that caused him to miss two games over the weekend.

Victorino barely jogged to first when he grounded out in the sixth. He was working with physical therapist Dan Dyrek on his back before the game and was 1 for 3 with an RBI double before aggravating the injury.

Manager John Farrell said Victorino’s back tightened up but did not seem as bad as it was previously. He will be evaluated again Thursday.

Also:

• Jon Lester is 4-0. He didn't win his fourth game until June 16 last season. The Sox are 9-0 in games started by Lester and Clay Buchholz. The duo is 8-0 with a 1.61 ERA

• David Ortiz has an unusual 16-game hitting streak, his longest as a member of the Red Sox. It started in July, included one game in August, and now has gone four games in April. He is 8 of 16 since coming off the disabled list.

• Jacoby Ellsbury is 10 for 10 on stolen bases in 21 games. He had 14 in 74 games last season.

• Plate umpire Jerry Layne took a foul tip off his left hand in the third inning and left the game an inning later. Second base arbiter Mike Estabrook went behind the plate to start the fourth inning.

• Security officials at Fenway Park are closely examining all bags and checking fans with hand-held metal detectors in the wake of the Marathon bombings. Give yourself some extra time if you’re coming to a game.

• Special assistant to the general manager Jason Varitek is spending time with Single A Salem this week. The primary catcher there, Blake Swihart, is one of the organization’s best prospects.

• It was 64 degrees and sunny at first pitch. That was a big change from Tuesday night, when it was 42 and raining. The Red Sox offered free tickets to those fans who attended (or skipped) Tuesday’s sodden affair. The team said 1,399 took the offer on Wednesday. The offer was also good for Thursday.

Bailey comes to the rescue for Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 10:10 PM

The save can be an almost useless statistic. It is hardly an accomplishment for a pitcher to enter the game in the ninth inning with a three-run lead and not give up three runs.

Quite often, relievers working in the seventh or eighth inning record tougher outs that actually save a victory.

That was not the case for Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey on Wednesday.

The Oakland Athletics scored a run in the seventh inning and another in the eighth. They trailed the Red Sox by one run and had their best hitters coming up.

Bailey struck out the side, locking up a 6-5 victory.

“That,” pitching coach Juan Nieves said, “was a man’s save.”

With Joel Hanrahan on the disabled list, Bailey has converted five of six save chances for the Red Sox. The 14-7 Sox are 10-2 in the games he has appeared in.

Over 11.1 innings, Bailey has given up two runs on five hits and struck out 20.

“When you look at him, he looks like he’s pitching with his hair on fire,” manager John Farrell said. “But he’s out there with a definite plan and he’s able to execute it.”

Bailey’s fastball was 94-96 m.p.h. He also threw seven cutters. Three of them produced swinging strikes that finished off John Jaso, Seth Smith, and Jed Lowrie.

“When you can throw something else for a strike, especially late in the count, they can’t be sitting fastball,” Bailey said.

When Hanrahan returns, perhaps early next week, Bailey is expected to return to the eighth inning.

“When Joel is ready, he’ll be back closing I’m sure,” Nieves said. “But we’ve been privileged to have Andrew. He’s a great closer.”

Bailey was diplomatic about the idea of losing a job he has done so well.

“It’s not my decision to make,” he said. “My goal was to stay healthy and prove that I could pitch. I think I’ve proven that I can pitch. We’ll see what happens when he comes back.

“We’re all on the same page in terms of where we want to take this team. Whatever roles are, roles are.”

But there is no denying Bailey enjoys closing. Since this homestand started, he has entered games to “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” by Dropkick Murphys. That’s the song former Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon came out to.

Bailey said it’s a tribute to the people in Boston following the Marathon bombings

“We talked about it the first game back here. We decided it’s a Boston song and was a staple for this city for such a long time and the fans really enjoy it,” Bailey said. “It gets them pumped up, that’s what it’s all about.”

Bailey also is growing a scruffy beard, another hallmark for closers. Add it up and it’s working.

“He’s done an outstanding job of making a pitch in some key spots,” Farrell said.

See the Globe on Thursday for more on Bailey and the Sox.

Red Sox send Aceves to Pawtucket

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 09:00 PM

The Red Sox finally have grown weary of Alfredo Aceves, deciding Wednesday to option the righthander to Triple A Pawtucket.

The move came after a 6-5 victory against Oakland. No corresponding move was announced, but sources said the Sox would call up catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

Aceves’s spot in the rotation does not come up until Sunday. John Lackey is expected to come off the disabled list for that game.

Aceves has an 8.66 earned run average in five appearances, the latest coming Tuesday when he gave up seven earned runs over 3 1/3 innings against the Athletics.

Aceves blamed the strike zone of umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and wondered why his teammates didn’t give him any offensive support in the 13-0 loss.

“They got hacks. Why do we not hit? Same thing. It's just bad today. No matter what score it is, we've got to get back out there and give whatever we have, man,” Aceves said.

Before the game, manager John Farrell claimed he had no issue with what Aceves said.

“I don’t know if in that context Alfredo was calling out his teammates. I don’t believe he was. There was some frustration,” Farrell said.

Aceves is 1-5 with an 8.51 earned run average and three blown saves in 25 games since last Aug. 1. There also have been some behavioral incidents.

“The bottom line is just that, the bottom line,” Farrell said. “You’ve got to perform to continue to get opportunities.”

Lavarnway was hitting .318 with an .875 OPS in Pawtucket.

Final: Red Sox 6, Athletics 5

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 03:54 PM

Game over: Red Sox 6, Athletics 5: The Red Sox take the series as Bailey picks up his fifth save in six chances. He looked very good, setting down the side in order on swinging strikeouts. This game was a grind but the Sox found a way.

The Sox are 4-2 in one-run games and improve to 7-5 at Fenway. It was played before 29,274.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 6, Athletics 5: Young hit his second homer in the eighth inning off Koji Uehara. The Sox drew two walks off Grant Balfour before Pedroia grounded into a force to end the inning.

Andrew Bailey in to try and end this lengthy game.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 6, Athletics 4: Lowrie (3 for 4) doubled off Tazawa with two outs before Donaldson singled him in. Andrew Miller then came in and struck out Moss.

The Sox went quietly in the bottom of the inning outside of Nava's single. You get the feeling they may need an insurance run or two.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 6, Athletics 3: Lester loaded the bases on a double, a walk and a single. Tazawa then came in and got Crisp to fly to left to end the inning.

Lester allowed three runs on six hits and six walks, one shy of his career high. He struck out five. There were two home plate umpires in the game and Lester didn’t seem to like the strike zone either of them had. Jerry Layne had the first four innings before a foul tip off his left hand caused him to leave the game. Mike Estabrook replaced him. Lester threw 115 pitches, 74 for strikes.

The Sox went in order. Victorino barely jogged to first when he grounded out and then left the game. He was working with therapist Dan Dyrek before the game on his lower back and that is the likely culprit. Victorino missed two games over the weekend.

Top of the 6th: Red Sox 6, Athletics 3: Lester worked around a walk, his fifth of the game He had four in 26 innings coming in.

Then the Sox worked over Anderson. Ellsbury singled and stole second. He scored on a double by Victorino. It was a fine at-bat by Victorino, who fouled off three two-strikes pitches to the left side before driving the ball down the line in left.

Pedroia singled, as did Ortiz to drive in a run.That was it for Anderson as Chris Resop came in. His first pitch hit Napoli. Daniel Nava hit for Gomes against the RHP and grounded a RBI single through the hole into right field.

Middlebrooks popped to shallow left. Lefty Jerry Blevins came in to face Drew and struck him out. Ross then popped to right.

The Sox took the lead but also missed a chance to do serious damage. Now Lester, at 95 pitches, needs to persevere for another inning.

Top of the 5th: A's 3, Red Sox 3: Well that was a full inning. With a runner on first and one out, Moss singled up the middle. Drew could have made the play but the ball went off his glove. Young then homered to left.

The Red Sox quickly tied it up. Ortiz doubled to left with one out, turning on the jets (so to speak) and sliding in safely. When Napoli doubled to left, Ortiz misread the ball and retreated to second before making his way around to home.

After Gomes walked, Middlebrooks (5 of his last 52) grounded into a force. Gomes rolled into the shortstop like he was trying to drive him into left field to break up the double play. Drew then delivered a two-run triple to right. He had been hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Ross had a chance for more but struck out.

Top of the 4th: A's 0, Red Sox 0: Lester retired the side in order but needed 21 pitches to do it. He's at 65 already. Anderson, meanwhile, has retired six in a row.

Top of the 3rd: A's 0, Red Sox 0: Lester worked around a one-out walk by getting Wellsley's own Nate Frieman on a fly ball to deep center. He then fanned Parrino. The Sox got a leadoff walk by Napoli. But a trio of struggling hitters — Gomes, Middlebrooks and Drew — went down from there.

Top of the 2nd: A's 0, Sox 0: Lester walked two and allowed a single in the first inning. But two groundballs, one a double play, saved him from any damage. Pedroia doubled with two outs in the bottom of the inning — only his third extra-base hit of the season — before Ortiz struck out.

The Fenway shadows will help the pitchers for another inning or two. The ball is coming out of the sun and into a shadow that's about 25 feet in front of the plate.

Pre-game: Good afternoon from Fenway Park, where it's a beautiful day for baseball for a change. The Sox will have Jon Lester on the mound as they try to earn a series victory.

We'll have updates all game. Feel free to chime in with comments.

fenway.jpg

Daniel Bard ready to get going again

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 02:40 PM

Daniel Bard is back with the Red Sox, wearing No. 51 again. He looks and sounds pretty much the same, too.

The question now is how he will pitch once he takes the mound in a major league game.

Bard and the Red Sox were co-conspirators in an ill-advised plan to make him a starter last season. The scheme derailed his career, turning Bard into a pitcher who lost velocity, command and confidence in a span of a few months. He ended up in the minor leagues in June and pitched poorly when he returned in August.

The Sox optioned Bard to Double A Portland during the final days of spring training. He worked there with pitching coach Bob Kipper to find a delivery that was more simple and repeatable. Now, after a relatively short run of success against Eastern League hitters, he is back in the majors.

"It feels good to be here. It's been an interesting road," Bard said while sitting in the dugout after batting practice. "I think going to Portland for a little while was probably the best thing. I was with a good group of guys and I couldn't ask for more out of the coaching staff there. They were awesome. But it's always nice to see this place."

Bard said his delivery feels "easy" and that has been reflected in his recent outings.

In his last five games, Bard allowed one unearned run on five hits and three walks over six innings and struck out three.

"Kip was a great guy to work with. Kind of pounds things into your head, almost to where it gets annoying. But it's good," Bard said. "I think everyone agrees who has played for him, it sticks and he genuinely cares."

Bard worked with Kipper when he was coming up through the organization. The lessons he learned then were reinforced the second time around.

"I always had a good relationship with him. I don't think I ever really knew how much I valued him until this year," Bard said.

According to Sox manager John Farrell, Bard has been consistently 93-96 with his fastball, which is down from the 97-99 he showed as a late-inning ace from 2010-11. But that is certainly fast enough to have success. It's how well he commands that fastball that ultimately matters.

"It's been really good," Bard said. "Even if I come out of my delivery on a pitch I'm able to get back into it in one or two pitches rather than spend the whole inning trying to find it. I think that's come from simplifying things, shortening the leg kick a little. Everything's gotten a little more athletic, a little more rhythm to it."

Bard said he doesn't know what his velocity has been. But he can see the reaction from the hitters.

"I've been getting a lot of defensive swings on my fastball, righties and lefties. A lot of broken bats mixed in. That always tells you you're doing something right, that the fastball has a little life to it," Bard said.

Said Farrell: "Location is still the No. 1 element with any pitcher."

The Red Sox called Bard up out of necessity. Steven Wright threw 82 pitches over 3.2 innings on Wednesday and wasn't going to be available for at least four days. When he was optioned after the game, Bard was recalled.

Bard was the only reliever on the 40-man roster not in the major leagues or on the disabled list.

With Joel Hanrahan and Craig Breslow making their way back from injuries, is Bard with the Red Sox temporarily or can he reclaim his spot on the team?

"He's here to do just that, to perform and be a regular in our bullpen," Farrell said.

Bard, Farrell said, will be used in early inning situations. Farrell expects him to need time to get acclimated and gain some confidence.

Hanrahan set to start rehab Friday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 01:33 PM

A few notes from Fenway:

• RHP Joel Hanrahan is set to pitch for Pawtucket on Friday. He threw in the bullpen today.

• LHP Craig Breslow is set for back-to-back appearances with the PawSox on Saturday and Sunday. Then they'll see how he looks. His breaking ball and arm strength need to improve. Breslow faced four batters and didn't get an out in Portland Tuesday night when he started his rehab assignment.

• John Farrell was asked a lot of questions about Alfredo Aceves, both on the pitcher's performance Tuesday night and his comments after the game.

Farrell believes the comments were made in frustration and weren't necessarily critical of his teammates. Aceves, in case you missed it, wondered aloud why the Red Sox didn't do much against Bartolo Colon.

Farrell did say that if John Lackey were unable to start Sunday — which is what the Sox want — Aceves is not necessarily the starter. Allen Webster could start. That speaks volumes about where Aceves is now in the eyes of the team.

• Daniel Bard, Farrell said, will be used early in games, not in the later innings.The Sox have been heartened by his fastball command in recent appearances. His velocity has been 93-96.

• Mike Napoli had T-shirts made for the entire roster and staff. They say "617 Strong" on the back.

• LHP Franklin Morales is here and threw long toss. His lower back is fine but he has a sore left pectoral muscle. The Sox have not yet shut down his rehab. But it's uncertain when he will pitch again.

Morales has had a series of injury issues since the end of last season. That was his problem with the Rockies, too.

Game 21: Athletics at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 11:35 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (13-7)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Stephen Drew SS
David Ross C
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (3-0, 1.73).

ATHLETICS (13-8)
Coco Crisp CF
Derek Norris C
Seth Smith LF
Jed Lowrie SS
Josh Donaldson 3B
Brandon Moss 1B
Chris Young RF
Nate Freiman DH
Andy Parrino 2B
Pitching: LHP Brett Anderson (1-3, 5.95).

Game time: 4:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Anderson: Pedroia 5-14, Salty 3-15, Napoli 4-10, Ellsbury 0-11, Ortiz 4-13, Ciriaco 1-3.

Athletics vs. Lester: Crisp 2-5, Reddick 0-3, Young 1-2.

Stat of the Day: Alfredo Aceves and Steven Wright threw 162 pitches in seven innings on Tuesday. That's an average of 23.1 per inning.

Notes: The Sox have lost three of four but have Lester on the mound. He has allowed five earned runs over 26 innings. The lefty is 3-3, 4.15 in 10 career starts against Oakland. He held the A's to one run over 6.2 innings last July 3. ... Anderson is 5-2, 2.70 in eight starts against the Sox. He is coming off two rough outings. Anderson allowed 11 runs on 12 hits over 6.2 innings against the Tigers and Rays. He lasted only one inning against the Rays in his last start, giving up four runs and throwing 36 pitches before coming out with a sprained ankle. ... The Red Sox are 4-2 in series this season. ... After making two errors in the first 15 games, the Sox have four in the last five. ... Middlebrooks is 5 of his last 50 with 20 strikeouts. ... Of Pedroia's 22 hits, 20 are singles. ... The Sox have lost nine of their last 11 games against Oakland. ... Moss, who was with the Red Sox from 2007-08, is 14 of 22 with 10 runs scored, six extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and three walks in seven games against the Sox.

Song of the Day: "Into the Next Sun" by The Soundtrack of Our Lives.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 08:00 AM

Alfredo Aceves had a rough night as the Sox were hammered by the Athletics, 13-0.

Steven Wright made his debut with the Sox under adverse circumstances. Julian Benbow has the story.

The notebook has Daniel Bard on the way back to the Red Sox.

For Wellesley’s Nate Freiman, being picked up by the Athletics was an opportunity. Julian has that story, too.

Ask Nick: What's up with Middlebrooks?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 24, 2013 07:30 AM

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.
Despite a good start by the Red Sox, there are still concerns out there among our readers.

Among them are the slow starts of Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and how the bullpen will shake out with players returning from injuries — namely, John Lackey, Joel Hanrahan, Franklin Morales, and Craig Breslow.

Hopefully, we have a few answers. Here’s the mailbag.

What's up with Will Middlebrooks? He looks awful at bat -- very uncomfortable. And his contact is very weak. I don't know how to square what I've been seeing the past week with the multiple home run game earlier. What do you think?
Tom, Middlebury, Vt.
This question was asked prior to Middlebrooks's three-run homer Monday, but he’s a guy in his second year and pitchers are definitely not giving him much to hit after a good rookie season. All players have to make major adjustments as they go along to remain good hitters, and Middlebrooks is going through his growing pains.

How long do you think the Red Sox will wait before trying to add some pop to the lineup? Between the catcher position, third, and short, we're getting nothing. You would think something's got to give pretty soon, especially with Iglesias, no matter how much they're paying J.D. Jr.
Tod, Kennebunk, Maine
They’re committed to the players at all the positions you mentioned. Salty and Middlebrooks have power they feel will show up, and they’re paying Drew $9.5 million. Iglesias has slumped in Pawtucket. So right now, nothing will give.

Can you tell us more about the strike zone that appears on the screen on NESN with each pitch? Is it customized for each batter or is it a one-size-fits-all template? That could explain some of the frequent differences between the display and the umpire's call.
Larry, Wakefield
Umpires tell me that the "Amica strike zone" isn’t accurate. There are pitches that land outside the zone that look to be balls, but umpires call strikes on pitches that cross the plate as strikes.

It seems to me Sox pitchers and hitters have quelled their expressions of dismay on close (or bad) calls this season. Did Farrell take a look at last year's crybabies and lay down the law?
Glenn, Holliston
One of the first things he told Jon Lester: Stop your bellyaching.

How in the world did the Red Sox let Rich Hill go? He is one of the best lefty relievers in the game — 1.84 ERA over 20 innings when with the Sox, lights out now for Cleveland.
Dana, Los Angeles
He was a free agent, and they couldn’t guarantee him a major league deal. They had Miller, Morales, Breslow at the time, and he’s been hurt quite a bit.

FULL ENTRY

Rough rehab outing for Breslow

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 12:41 AM

Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow did not get an out in his rehab appearance at Double A Portland. He faced four batters in the first inning and allowed three hits and a walk. He was charged with three runs.

Only 12 of 23 pitches were strikes in cold and rainy conditions.

Breslow, who is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, returned to Fenway Park after the game and said he felt fine. It was more a matter of being rusty.

“Physically I felt pretty good. The results need to be better,” Breslow said. “The fact that I’m evaluating myself by baseball standards is probably a good thing for my health. But not getting anybody out is not going to cut it.”

Breslow is scheduled to pitch for Triple A Pawtucket this weekend, probably on Saturday.

Andrew Miller, who has struggled with his control all season, is the only lefthander in the Red Sox bullpen. That makes Breslow a potentially important addition.

A third lefthanded reliever, Franklin Morales, is on the disabled list recovering from a spring training back injury and recently missed an appearance because of a sore pectoral muscle.

Also:

• Jacoby Ellsbury was 0 for 2 with a walk, ending his hit streak at 12 games. He has hit safely in 17 of the 20 games this season.

• The Sox have lost 3 of 4 after a 12-4 start. Jon Lester (3-0, 1.73) will be pitching this afternoon.

• Wright joined Jackie Bradley Jr., Allen Webster and Alex Wilson as players who have made their major league debuts already this season. The Sox had three players make their debut all of last season.

• What is it about Oakland? The Red Sox are 2-9 against the Athletics since the start of last season, getting outscored 79-35. Last season included a 20-2 loss on Aug. 31 that was bad even for that sorry team.

Aceves accepts little responsibility for loss

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 12:36 AM

John Lackey is ready to come off the disabled list and will likely pitch for the Red Sox on Sunday against the Houston Astros. Alfredo Aceves, who filled in for three starts, will be out of the rotation.

Might Aceves soon be out of a job, too?

The eccentric righthander could not get through four innings against Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, giving up eight runs against a slumping team on a cold and rainy night at Fenway Park.

It was 13-0 before the umpires mercifully called the game after seven innings.

Aceves blamed the conditions, the mound, the strike zone of umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and, bizarrely, even his teammates for his performance. After a series of incidents, those comments will not sit well with the organization.

Aceves has an 8.51 earned run average and a 1.79 WHIP in his last 25 outings dating back to Aug. 1. While undeniably talented, Aceves is equally unreliable at this point.

He has been used as a closer, a long reliever and for the last three outings as a starter. There has been no consistency in any of those roles.

“It’s varied. I will say that,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “He’s healthy. He’s got the ability to manipulate the baseball as we’ve seen. You’d like to think that there would be known commodity in a given role, particularly in a starting role when you’ve got five days to prepare for the next outing.”

Oakland starter Bartolo Colon (3-0) didn’t seem to mind the conditions. He threw seven shutout innings.

“Maybe his strike zone was not that small for whatever reason,” Aceves said. “Also they got hacks. Why do we not hit? Same thing. It's just bad today. No matter what score it is, we've got to get back out there and give whatever we have, man.”

This from a player who argued with second baseman Dustin Pedroia on the field last season, confronted former manager Bobby Valentine and in spring training lobbed the ball during a session of live batting practice, drawing a reprimand from Farrell.

Farrell was asked if he had a problem with the effort Aceves gave against Oakland.

“I don’t know if I’d go into the effort level. There seemed to be a lack of focus given the way Alfredo has pitched this year for us,” the manager said. “It wasn’t a good night.”

See the Globe on Wednesday for more on Aceves.

Daniel Bard set to return to Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 24, 2013 12:34 AM

When the Red Sox optioned righthanded reliever Daniel Bard down to Double A Portland on March 28, it looked like a sign that he would be in the minors for at least several months working to regain his form after a disastrous 2012 season.

But Bard will return to the major leagues on Wednesday after only eight appearances with the Sea Dogs. He was informed on Tuesday night after the Sox optioned Steven Wright to Pawtucket.

Bard was 0-1 with a 4.00 earned run average in Portland. But his last five outings have been better. Over six innings, Bard has allowed one unearned run on five hits and three walks. He has struck out three.

Scouts have said his fastball command is better and that Bard is pitching much more like the relief ace he was before he was made into a starter last season. That led to a loss of velocity, command and eventually a return to the minors.

Portland pitching coach Bob Kipper, who was a good influence on Bard earlier in his career, helped him again.

“Just been simplifying everything,” Bard told the Portland Press Herald after being told of his promotion. “I think I’ve made some good strides through spring training and this was a chance to build on what we did.

”

“There was no better guy to do it with than Kip. He’s got a simple message. He preaches a simple delivery and a simply approach. It’s what I’ve been successful with in the past and it’s what I got locked into here the last few weeks.”

Bard pitched a scoreless inning for Portland on Tuesday against Binghamton, throwing eight of his 10 pitches for strikes.

Aceves lays some blame on the umpire

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 23, 2013 10:40 PM

Here is some of what Alfredo Aceves said tonight after the game:

What happened in the third inning? "Everything was fine. You can't do anything against the walks. Today, it was a bad day. It was a bad day. We'll have better days than this. We have to continue to work and get better results."

What happened on the play at first base when you didn't cover? "It was just a bad throw, you know? A bad throw by myself to home plate."

What about not covering the base? Were you late? "Yeah, it was my fault. That's only one play. It's also ... it's hard to explain to you guys. You guys just see the errors, the runs, the hits and whatever. Its really hard to ... to ... how can I explain? To get through that plate, you know? It can be for whatever reason. The strike zone gets small. Obviously you guys don't see it that way. You just like to see the runs. As a pitcher, man, it's not easy. The weather. Whatever the weather is we should be able to play, you know? It don't matter what the score is. We've got to have our backs. ... I'm not going to sit back and relax and think about the next game. There's no second game. I think we've got to have our backs."

(Aceves then spoke about the mound needing repair in the second inning because of the hole Bartolo Colon dug.)

"You keep it behind your mind, that stuff. I was trying to put myself and the team in the best position to have success."

Did you lose command in the third inning. Was it the conditions? "Yeah. Yeah. No doubt. No doubt. Not only that. Too many things like the strike zone got that small, you know? It's not one thing. It's a couple of things. For whatever reason it got that small. I can't explain it. It gets you like, 'I have to throw a ball in the middle.' Even when you throw a good pitch — I threw a good pitch to [John] Jaso on 3-2 [in the fourth inning] and he got a hit. I see no reason to throw the ball in the middle and get hacked. It's not good. It's not healthy for you; it's not healthy for the team. I'm a little upset over that of course because we lost. I'm upset about it. Hopefully we can get right and get some better results."

Did that affect your focus, being upset? "It's about my confidence. You can't to have confidence to make a swing, to make a play, to make a pitch, too. ... It's the big leagues you know? It is what it is."

Colon pitched well with the same strike zone and conditions Was he not facing ... " Maybe his strike zone was not that small for whatever reason. Also they got hacks. Why do we not hit? Same thing. It's just bad today. No matter what score it is, we've got to get back out there and do give whatever we have, man. I'm not complaining about the weather. In the end of the day you've got to do it. There's nothing you can do about it except just do it. It's the way it is."

Final: A's 13, Red Sox 0

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 23, 2013 06:23 PM

Final, A's 13, Red Sox 0: Persistent rain brings this one to an end early.

Bottom of the seventh, A's 13, Red Sox 0: The announced crowd amazingly is 29,006.

The rain obviously washed away a lot of those over the course of the night.

Right now, they're calling players off the field and rolling out the tarp.

Hello, 9:12 p.m. rain delay.

Top of the sixth, A's 13, Red Sox 0: With an RBI double, Josh Reddick's now 2 for 4 with two RBIS.

Meanwhile, Casper Wells hasn't played a game in a month, and A's manager Bob Melvin was still deciding whether it was better to wait and ease him in or throw him into the mix immediately.

This runaway made the decision easier. He pinch hit for Coco Crisp and flew out to center, and he'll stick around.

Top of the fifth, A's 12, Red Sox 0: There couldn't have been a more low-risk situation for Steven Wright to walk into for his debut.

Still, he's having a tough time. In 1.2 innings, he's given up four runs on three hits and two walks.

Top of the fourth, A's 8, Red Sox 0: Alfredo Aceves is done after far and away the worst start by a Sox starter this year.

His line: 3.1 innings, seven hits, eight runs (seven earned), four walks and three strikeouts. he gave up a a two-run homer to Seth Smith. He also committed an error and was charged with two balks.

Beyond that, it's only the second time a Sox starter has given up more than three runs. Before tonight, the Sox were the only team that hadn't had a starter give up more than four runs. The Sox rotation came in leading the American League with a 2.62 ERA.

Top of the third, A's 6, Red Sox 0: In a disastrous three-hit, three-walk, six-run inning Aceves found a way to do as much to hurt himself as possible.

The only thing he didn't do was hit a batter.

On Josh Reddick's RBI single, Aceves made things worse not only with a throwing error but by forgetting to cover first.

Obviously, the got a shower of boos to go with the already pouring rain.

Bottom of the second, Red Sox 0, As 0: The frigid conditions haven't affected Bartolo Colon's heater. He blew a 94 mile-per-hour fastball by Will Middlebrooks on a 1-and-2 count and dialed it up to 95 to fan Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who weirdly started off his at-bat with an unsuccessful bunt attempt).

Top of the second, Red Sox 0, A's 0: A Brandon Moss single and a Josh Donaldson walk, both with one out, made things a little uncomfortable for Aceves, but he popped up Josh Reddick and Chris Young to get out of the inning.

Bottom of the first, Red Sox 0, A's 0: Dustin Pedroia tapped one softly to the left of the mound and legged it out for a single, but that's all the Sox mustered.

Bartolo Colon threw 13 pitches (12 for strikes) to make his half of the inning brief as well.

Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves is doing a heavy investigation of the mound between innings, talking it over with umpires and the grounds crew. They appeared to resolve the issue. But Aceves did a lot of digging and stomping trying to to fix the dirt to his liking.

Top of the first, Red Sox 0, A's 0: Eight pitches, seven strikes and Alfredo Aceves is out of the inning.

He got Coco Crisp with a curveball. Mike Napoli made a great leap at first to snare a John Jaso liner, and Seth Smith stared at a cutter to end the inning in a hurry.

Pregame: God bless the folks that decided to bring ponchos and umbrellas and push through the weather. For that matter, god bless the grounds crew, which has earning every penny on a wet and ugly day at Fenway.

The Sox have won 10 of their last 14 but have dropped two of the first three in this home stand.

Alfredo Aceves is 3-1 in nine career relief appearances against Oakland, but this is his first career start against the A’s. They've hit him better than any other American League team (.297). Last year he gave up five runs (four earned) over 5.2 innings for a 6.35 ERA in four outings. But he's on the mound (in short sleeves!) ready to go.

Enjoy the game. Feel free to comment.

Lackey could return to rotation on Sunday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 23, 2013 05:08 PM

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It is 43 degrees and raining at Fenway Park. But Red Sox manager John Farrell seems to think there will be a baseball game tonight.

"Cold and wet is the forecast. But we fully expect to get tonight's game in," he said. "They're not calling for any heavy accumulations. But it's not going to be great, I can tell you that."

The Athletics have a game in Oakland Thursday, so a doubleheader on Wednesday wouldn't sit well with them.

As to other matters:

• John Lackey had a solid 3.2 innings for Double A Portland Monday night. He was back at Fenway Tuesday and is scheduled to throw in the bullpen Thursday. His next start will be Sunday, and it sounds likely that it will be against the Astros.

"Provided he comes out of that, which we fully expect him to come out of that OK, we'll have an update on where his next start would be, and the potential to start here for us is a real one," Farrell said.

Lackey said he hopes his next start will be in the majors. He thought his appearance in Portland was enough of a rehab. The righthander went on the disabled list after straining his right biceps in a game against Toronto April 6.

"I definitely wasn't throwing as hard, but location was pretty good," Lackey told reporters. "Felt like I got some swing-and-misses, which is a good sign. I felt like I was locating the ball pretty good. Arm strength will come with just some reps."

• David Ortiz is getting a day off and isn't injured, Farrell said. "Not hurting," said the manager. "Scheduled down day. Combination with the weather conditions. This was kind of a logical day."

Ortiz is 7 of 48 against Oakland starter Bartolo Colon with 15 strikeouts. Jonny Gomes is 5 of 13. That, too.

The Sox were never under the assumption that Ortiz would play every day.

"How he's feeling," said Farrell. "His guide in this and his involvement will go a long way in this. We've got to build in an occasional day off for him."

• Gomes is on the regional cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

• LHP Craig Breslow is scheduled for an inning with Portland tonight.

Game 20: Athletics at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 23, 2013 02:30 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (13-6)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Nava LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Saltalamacchia C
Gomes DH
Drew SS
Pitching: RHP Alfredo Aceves (1-0, 6.28).

ATHLETICS (12-8)
Crisp CF
Jaso C
Smith DH
Lowrie SS
Moss 1B
Donaldson 3B
Reddick RF
Young LF
Sogard 2B
Pitching: RHP Bartolo Colon (2-0, 3.32).

Game time: 6:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Colon: Ortiz 7-48, Gomes 5-13, Salty 3-12, Pedroia 1-10, Ellsbury 2-7, Napoli 3-8, Nava 1-2, Victorino 1-2, Ross 0-1.

Athletics vs. Aceves: Jaso 2-6, Crisp 1-3, Reddick 0-4, Lowrie 0-1, Moss 2-2, Smith 0-2, Norris 1-1.

Stat of the Day: Ortiz has hit in 15 straight games. Eleven of those games came in July, one in August and three in April. He has hit .451 in that stretch with six extra-base hits, eight RBIs and 14 walks.

Notes: The Sox have won 8 of 10. ... Oakland has dropped four straight. The A's have scored 10 runs in those four games and hit .175. ... Aceves is 3-1, 5.17 in nine career appearances against Oakland, all in relief. This is his third start of the season. He allowed five runs on 13 hits and six walks over 10 innings in the first two and struck out six. ... Colon is 8-11, 3.98 in 26 career appearances against the Sox. He faced them once last season, allowing one earned run over six innings on July 3. ... Ellsbury has a 12-game hit streak. He has hit a modest .308 (16 of 52) in the streak but has scored 11 runs. ... Napoli has 14 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs in 19 games. ... The Sox have struck out 99 times in the last 10 games. ... Andrew Bailey converted four of five save opportunities he had in Joel Hanrahan's absence, allowing two runs over six innings with two walk and nine strikeouts.

Song of the Day: "Change Of The Guard" by Steely Dan.

Coming to the defense of Stephen Drew

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 23, 2013 01:30 PM

Based on email, Twitter, and an occasional listen to sports talk radio, Stephen Drew is the subject of consternation among many Red Sox fans.

There are two reasons for this:

1. Drew is hitting .121 with a .388 OPS in 10 games since coming off the disabled list.

2. He has the nerve to be J.D. Drew's younger brother.

Let's look a little deeper at some of the aspects of this and try to figure it out.

Drew himself: Drew had only 18 plate appearances in spring training before he suffered a concussion. Nearly a month later, he got 16 plate appearances in four games at Double A Portland during a rehab assignment played in winter-like conditions. That's not much in the way of preparation.

From 2006 until he gruesomely fractured his right ankle in 2011, Drew hit .270/.330/.442. That was over 733 games. In other words, Drew was a productive major league player for six seasons. He went on the disabled once before he broke his ankle.

Drew was by no means a standout defensive player. But based on advanced fielding metrics, he had developed into a very good one. After playing to a negative UZR from 2006-08, Drew had positive UZR numbers until he came back from his ankle injury. Drew had, in fact, an 8.9 in 2010 and was at 8.4 in 2011 before he was hurt.

Drew is not remotely as good as Jose Iglesias in the field. But the idea that he is some slouch is wildly incorrect. Over the course of the season, the amount of runs Iglesias might have saved will likely not come close to the runs Drew will provide at the plate.

Drew was well above average offensively until his injury and better than average defensively. Judging this player based on 38 plate appearances over 10 games — about 6 percent of the season — is nonsensical.

The injury: Take a look at this video. Drew broke his fibula and tore ligaments. It's one of the worst injuries a baseball player has suffered in recent seasons.

So it's fair to discount how Drew played in 2012 given that he had missed a year recovering. His ankle is fully healthy now, and if you watch his movements at shortstop, he seems to be the player he was before the injury.

"It's all in the past as far as that goes," Drew said last week. "I feel good physically."

Setting the bar: The average American League shortstop hit .255/.306/.368 last season. The home run leader was J.J. Hardy with 22. The RBI leader was Alexei Ramirez with 73. Only eight players who were shortstops had 50+ RBIs in 2012.

This is 2013. MLB tests for performance-enhancing drugs now, and the days of shortstops being run producers have largely ended. Outside of Troy Tulowitzki, you're not going to see many shortstops high in a batting order. The position has evolved from the late 1990s and is back to what it once was. Nomar Garciaparra is not walking through that door, people.

If Drew approaches 80 percent of what he did in Arizona, the Sox will get more offensive value from the position than most teams in the league. That is why they signed him.

Regarding Iglesias: Jose Iglesias hit .450 in six games for the Red Sox before he was sent down. That is an indisputable fact. He was 9 for 20. Those campaigning for him point this out repeatedly.

But five of those hits never left the infield. Two were bunts and three were ground balls he beat out. Another hit, in Toronto April 7, was a bad-hop double off the artificial turf.

So six of the nine hits weren't exactly rockets. If you take away three of those, Iglesias was 6 of 20 and hit. 300. That's better than expected. But it's also 20 at-bats. Let's not get carried away.

Iglesias has hit .263/.317/.474 in 10 games for Pawtucket, which is better than he has done in the past. But it's important to remember this is a player with a career .633 OPS in 1,117 minor league plate appearances.

Anybody making the case that Iglesias is ready to play in the majors offensively is basing that more on wishes than facts. He does have a better approach at the plate and is stronger. Let's see what he looks like in a few months and then decide whether he can handle the job.

What could have happened: You can make the case that the Sox should have given Iglesias the job and signed a low-cost veteran as his caddie. The $9.5 million spent on Drew could have been invested elsewhere. That is a legitimate argument and, frankly, one I espoused over the winter. His defense really is that good, and maybe he could hit .240.

What did happen: The Sox signed Drew because they didn't think Iglesias was ready. They saw him hit .118/.200/.191 in 25 games last season and decided that wasn't enough. It's hard to fault that logic. Drew was amenable to a one-year deal, so he's not blocking anybody. He's also a quality, above-average major leaguer and that was something the roster was sorely lacking last season. They had the payroll flexibility and they made the move.

What happens now: Drew has a .190 batting average on balls he puts in play. In his career, that number has been .304, which is about the average. That means he's had a bunch of bad luck so far on balls he has hit.

Drew had a single and drew a walk Monday night, and based on the numbers and his history, his numbers are going to keep climbing. That's not a sure bet, but it's a good one.

If you look at the projections Bill James and others have done, Drew will end up around .260 with 10 homers and 50 or so RBIs. He'll mix in some triples and probably double 20-25 times.

That may not sound like much. But for a shortstop in 2013, it's gold.

It's April 23. You might want to give the guy a chance.

Mike Napoli finding Fenway to his liking

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 23, 2013 12:14 AM

For years, the Red Sox have searched for hitters with a swing that could best take advantage of the quirky dimensions at Fenway Park.

It is a quest that has met with varying degrees of success. In December 2010, when the Red Sox obtained Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres, they were positive he would flourish in Boston because of his history of hitting the ball powerfully to the opposite field.

Gonzalez hit .334 in two seasons at Fenway but only 19 of his hits were home runs before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The first baseman who replaced him, Mike Napoli, arrived with similar hopes. He was a .306 hitter at Fenway in his career with seven home runs, one every 8.9 at-bats.

Gonzalez left Boston muttering about the left field wall being too high for his line drives. But Napoli, who swings with a determined uppercut, seems to like it just fine.

Napoli’s grand slam over the wall in the fifth inning was the decisive hit Monday night as the Red Sox beat the Oakland Athletics, 9-6.

Napoli’s five RBIs gave him a major league-best 25 in 19 games for the Sox. He is 11 of 36 at Fenway this season with five doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBIs in 10 games.

Manny Ramirez, a hitter who flourished at Fenway, holds the team record with 31 RBIs in April. With seven games left, Napoli has a shot at it.

Napoli’s 14 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs are the most for a Red Sox player through 19 games going back to at least 1916.

“He’s doing exactly what we hoped he would do. It’s great to see that production in the middle of the order,” manager John Farrell said. “I’d hate to think where we’d be without him.”

Also:

• The fourth inning may have been an important one for slumping Will Middlebrooks, who hit a three-run homer with the Sox down 2-1. The third baseman had been 4 of his previous 44 with one RBI. But this time he belted a hanging slider and it quickly disappeared into the Monster seats.

“I’m still not where I want to be. But I felt like I put some better swings on balls today and stuck with my approach,” Middlebrooks said.

Middlebrooks now has five home runs and 10 RBIs on the season. Perhaps the buzz cut he got before the game changed his luck.

“I guess so,” he said. “I’m going to tip the barber a little better. I wore different shoes. I ate different. Anything you can think, I tried to flip-flop.”

• The 113 pitches Felix Doubront threw were a carer high as he got into the seventh inning. He had a stat-sheet filling night (3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 8 K, 2 WP) but got the job done with help from Junichi Tazawa, who left two runners stranded in the eighth inning after Clayton Mortensen faltered.

• Jonny Gomes spent the afternoon with his wife, Kristi, and joined the team just before game time. The couple had a daughter, Capri, on Monday.

• Six Watertown police officers were introduced after the third inning and received a thunderous ovation from a crowd appreciative of their bravery in the recent crisis.

• Napoli’s grand slam was the first for the Red Sox against Oakland since Sept. 5, 2000 when Manny Alexander connected off Kevin Appier.

• Jacoby Ellsbury has hit safely in 12 straight games, the longest active streak in the AL.

• Dustin Pedroia was 0 for 5, ending a streak of 28-games of reaching base safely dating to last season.

Final: Red Sox 9, A's 6

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 22, 2013 06:27 PM

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The Sox bounced back after dropping both games of a doubleheader with Kansas City Sunday with a 9-6 win over the Royals.

Fresh off being named American League co-player of the week, Mike Napoli continued his tear, smacking a fifth inning grand slam that busted the game open.

He went 2 for 4 with 5 RBIs, upping his team-high total to 25 runs driven in.

Felix Doubront went 6.2 innings in a much-delayed Fenway debut, giving up three runs on three hits and using eight strikeouts to work through minor turbulence.

Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hit streak to 12 games. David Ortiz (2 for 4) had another multi-hit game, and Andrew Bailey came on for to earn his fourth save of the season.

FULL ENTRY

Jed Lowrie healthy and hitting for Oakland

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 22, 2013 05:22 PM

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On Sunday, for the second straight game, Jed Lowrie went hitless. His 0-for-2 dropped his batting average all the way down to ... .382.

In his first season with the Athletics, Lowrie is feeling healthy and stronger than he did during the injury-plagued seasons he spent in Boston. He also is off to one of the best starts in the American League, with the third-best average. He is tied for second in doubles (8), third in multi-hit games (8), fourth in on-base percentage (.462), fifth in hits (26), sixth in runs (14), and seventh in slugging (.632) and RBIs (14).

Never feeling like himself as he battled through wrist injuries with the Red Sox, Lowrie said being healthy has been the difference.

"I feel all sorts of difference," he said. "I feel like I'm able to drive balls. For a couple of years here, I was dealing with a wrist injury. Broken wrist in 2008, then surgery in 2009 and didn't really feel 100 percent from that surgery until really late 2010. And, you know, hands and wrists in baseball is everything.

"So I dealt with those injuries for a long while. But I feel, when I'm 100 percent, I can drive through balls and I can execute my approach as a player.

In four seasons with the Sox, Lowrie hit .252 with 19 home runs and 117 RBIs, playing just 256 games. Since then, he has made stops in Houston and Oakland, and he tries not to think about what might have been in Boston.

"I think things play out for a reason, and for whatever reason, it didn't work out in Boston," Lowrie said. "I don't know why, but I enjoyed my time here. I enjoyed my teammates and the fans.

"But I feel like looking back on it might be a little bit of a waste of time because I'm here now and I'm focused on what I can do to help the Oakland As at this point."

Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick visit bomb victim at Children's Hospital

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 22, 2013 05:12 PM

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When Oakland Athletics first base coach Tye Waller came up to first baseman Brandon Moss and outfielder Josh Reddick and asked if they had any interest in visiting an 11-year-old boy who had been wounded in the Boston Marathon bombings a week ago, their responses were immediate.

“I said, '100 percent,’ ” Moss recalled. “Anything -- anything -- you can do to brighten especially a kid's day.”

Aaron Hern, a sixth-grader at Martinez Junior High School in California, was hit by shrapnel as he waited for his mother Katherine to finish the race, and he sustained a deep wound to his left thigh.

Hern has made great strides in his recovery at Children's Hospital, and in the meantime, supporters have organized fund-raisers to help his cause and First Lady Michelle Obama visited him.

For Moss and Reddick, the visit was powerful.

“Just an incredible kid, incredible family,” Moss said. “The way he's handling this whole situation, the circumstances he's been given, I don't think I've ever been more impressed by a kid or a family. They're amazing people, they really were.”

Moss and Reddick are part of a large pocket of players in the Oakland clubhouse with ties to Boston, having either played for the Sox or grown up here.

Designated hitter Nate Freiman, who grew up in Wellesley, was in the parking lot of the Oakland Coliseum when he started getting texts from relatives that there had been explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

“We had gone to the Marathon every year in Wellesley to see the runners goes by,” Freiman said. “We’ve never seen it from Boylston Street but we had been every year and I immediately got texts from my other family members saying that they were OK, but there were a lot of people that weren’t as fortunate to have their family be OK.

"I went inside, only a couple of people were there, and I turned on the TV and just couldn’t move.”

Like many, Freiman felt scared and confused, even from across the country.

“It was a really tough couple of days, and positives have come out of it,” he said. “It definitely makes me proud to be from this city and to see the way it’s brought out the best in so many people, and the way the city has handled it has been a huge inspiration, but the pain that was caused this past week hit really hard.”

So what's with the Red Sox start times?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 22, 2013 04:53 PM

The Red Sox are playing at 6:35 p.m. the next two days and again on Thursday. That's 35 minutes earlier than the usual start time for night games.

To find out why that is, we asked Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy. He said the team hopes the earlier start times will make it easier for people to bring their kids to games. The Sox also thought it would help make the chilly spring weather a little more tolerable.

Unofficially, this is also related to the Sox having 17 home games this month after a 69-93 season. Many of those games are against teams that aren't considered good draws (Kansas City, Oakland, Houston).

The early start times could entice a few more fans to midweek games. Unlike previous years, when all the Sox had to do was open the gates, some creativity is needed.

Joel Hanrahan gets back on the mound

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 22, 2013 04:07 PM

Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan threw 30 pitches in the bullpen today, his first such exercise since going on the disabled list with a sore right hamstring. He also did some agility work in the outfield, running at angles and changing direction to further test his leg.

"Felt good," said Hanrahan, who threw mostly fastballs and felt no pain in his leg. "It's getting better. Everything is feeling pretty good. I don't feel it right now."

Hanrahan is expected to throw a more intense bullpen session Wednesday, then start a minor league rehabilitation assignment after that. The tentative plan is for him to pitch in a game over the weekend.

Hanrahan said he is hoping to make one appearance before being activated.
"One, two appearances," said manager John Farrell.

Pitching coach Juan Nieves has been working with Hanrahan on some mechanical issues, too. Clearly the injury affected his delivery. But it was more than that that led to those shaky outings early in the season.

"Subconsciously it's in there and he felt something," said Farrell. "It's going to disrupt his focus on pitch to pitch. Some of things that he's working are to hopefully take some of the stress off that leg. He uses a pretty pronounced drop-and-drive approach. Not that we're looking to revamp his delivery, but to adjust to take some of the pressure off that hamstring."

Andrew Bailey has converted three of four save opportunities as the closer in Hanrahan's absence, allowing two runs over five innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Bailey and Mike Napoli were named the co-Players of the Week in the American League.

Once Hanrahan returns, will the Sox have a dilemma?

"I think we'll get through the rehab assignments and get [Hanrahan] back here before we address that," Farrell said. "I think it's probably a little bit premature to state anything along those lines."

When Stephen Drew went on the DL with a concussion, Farrell made it clear that he would be the shortstop once he returned regardless of how Jose Iglesias performed. So this is a little bit of a departure from that.

It's not going to be an issue for at least another week. But it's worth keeping an eye on.

Also:

• Shane Victorino is back in the lineup after missing Sunday's doubleheader with a sore lower back.

• Slumping Will Middlebrooks and slumping Andrew Miller got crew cuts. Can't hurt.

• RHP John Lackey is scheduled to pitch four innings for Portland tonight.

• LHP Franklin Morales will not pitch for Portland tonight because of a sore left pectoral muscle.

• Craig Breslow will start his rehab assignment Saturday with Pawtucket.

Game 19: Athletics at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 22, 2013 02:30 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (12-6)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Nava LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Pitching: LHP Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.50).

ATHLETICS (12-7)
Crisp CF
Young LF
Moss 1B
Lowrie SS
Norris C
Donaldson 3B
Reddick RF
Freiman DH
Parrino 2B
Pitching: RHP A.J. Griffin (2-0, 2.25).

Game time: 6:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Red Sox vs. Griffin: Salty 2-6, Napoli 0-4, Ellsbury 0-3, Nava 0-3, Ortiz 1-2, Pedroia 1-3, Ciriaco 0-2.

Athletics vs. Doubront: Reddick 0-3, Jaso 1-3, Crisp 2-2, Norris 1-2.

Stat of the Day: The Sox were 1-8 against the Athletics last season, getting outscored, 60-26.

Notes: The Sox are tied with the Rangers for the best record in the league with Oakland a half-game behind. But the Sox have lost two straight and the A's three straight. ... Doubront is 0-2, 12.86 in two starts against the A's, both coming last season. He allowed 10 earned runs on 12 hits over seven innings but did strike out 14. ... Griffin was 1-0, 2.08 in two starts against the Red Sox, both coming last year. Oakland is 3-0 in his starts this season. ... Ellsbury has a 11-game hitting streak. He is 15 of 49 (.306) in those 11 games with 11 runs scored and four extra-base hits. ... Napoli has 20 RBIs in 18 games and 13 in the last 10. ... Pedroia has reached safely via hit or walk in all 18 games. ... Ortiz has a 14-game hitting streak dating back to July 2. ... Middlebrooks is 4 for 43 (.093) in his last 11 game with one RBI. ... Drew is 3 for 30 since coming off the disabled list. ... Andrew Miller has allowed four hits and six walks in four innings of work. ... Ex-Sox update: Lowrie is raking with Oakland (.382/.462/.632) while Josh Reddick is struggling (.113/.226/.208).

Song of the Day: "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" by Bob Dylan.

Pitching matchups for the Athletics series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 22, 2013 09:30 AM

Monday: LHP Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.50) vs. RHP A.J. Griffin (2-0, 2.25), 6:35 p.m., NESN

Tuesday: RHP Alfredo Aceves (1-0, 6.28) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (2-0, 3.32), 6:35 p.m., NESN

Wednesday: LHP Jon Lester (3-0, 1.73) vs. LHP Brett Anderson (1-3, 5.95), 4:05 p.m., NESN

Webster lives and learns in first major league start

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 21, 2013 11:44 PM

Allen Webster admitted he had butterflies leading up to his first Major League start tonight in the second game of a doubleheader. But he also admitted that he learned a lot from missing location on pitches which cost him a chance to earn his first major league win.

Webster, who had drawn rave reviews from scouts covering the International League, allowed a pair of fifth inning homers to George Kottaras and Alex Gordon on fastballs that were left over the middle of the plate. He allowed three runs total, but only two earned over six innings.

Webster left leading 4-3, but Koji Uehara couldn't hold the lead when he surrendered a Billy Butler homer in the eighth inning. Webster, added as the 26th man (Major League rosters expand by one for doubleheaders), returned to Pawtucket knowing he had learned a valuable lesson.

The Red Sox eventually lost the nightcap, 5-4 in 10 innings.

“If you miss your spots, you’re gonna pay for it. Two home runs, so I paid for it,” Webster said..

Webster's first pitch — a 95-mph fastball to Alex Gordon — was sent to the wall in left field. The Royals did a lot of early count swinging.

“I wasn’t expecting a first-pitch swing,” said Webster. "But it happens. It was good to get my feet wet. Once he (Gordon) got on second I had to make my pitches and go from there.”

While appearing to have dominating stuff, one of the criticisms on Webster is he tends to throw too much over the plate. That was the case on 93-mph fastballs to Kottaras and Gordon.

Webster said he was buoyed by the crowd and the enthusiasm in the ballpark.

Webster was acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous August 25 trade when the Red Sox sent Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers. The Red Sox got back a few bodies, but two legitimate pitching prospects in Webster and Rubby De La Rosa.

De La Rosa is coming off Tommy John surgery and will come along slower, but he's capable of throwing 100 mph. Webster hit 98 on at least one pitch, but he was throwing his fastball from 93-95.

Final: Royals 5, Red Sox 4

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 21, 2013 06:57 PM

Final: Royals 5, Red Sox 4: Despite a strong debut from Allen Webster, the Sox fall in the second game of their doubleheader with the Royals, 5-4.

Top of the 10th, Royals 5, Red Sox 4: The Sox are in a hole going into their half of the 10th thanks to Andrew Bailey's two-out, four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Lorenzo Cain.

Bottom of the ninth, Red Sox 4, Royals 4: Mike Napoli, who has three huge hits already, came to the plate with two on and two out and hit another loud, tall fly ball, but ultimately it fell in Lorenzo Cain's glove in center.

The Sox will play extra's for the second time this season. It's the first time this year that the Royals will need more than nine.

Bottom of the eighth, Red Sox 4, Royals 4: Those screeches as Billy Butler's two-out laser blazed over the Wall? That was Koji Uehara's streaks of 18.1 scoreless innings and 22 scoreless coming to an end.

Butler, who dotted the wall in Game 1 for a single, did more damage, turning on Uehara's fastball for his third home run of the season.

Top of the seventh, Red Sox 4, Royals 3: After six innings, Allen Webster's night ends right on schedule at 84 pitches. He gave up three runs (two earned) struck out five and is in line for the win with Junichi Tazawa on in relief.

Bottom of the fifth, Red Sox 4, Royals 3: Mike Napoli keeps it going with an RBI single to put the Sox back up. It gives him a home run, a double and a single for the night. It's his 38th career three-hit game.

So, obviously about that triple?

He's got seven of them in his eight-year career. One, of course, came this season against the Indians.

Last year, he actually hit two in the same season. Weirdly, they were on consecutive days (May 10 and 11).

Top of the fifth, Red Sox 3, Royals 1: The Royals had their way with Webster's fastball. First George Kottaras took him for a ride. Then, after Webster struck out Elliot Johnson, Alex Gordon sent one to the Monster seats.

Still, Webster's been solid. The damage done by the home runs was minimal. He's struck out five over five innings and he's kept the Sox in the game.

Bottom of the fourth, Red Sox 3, Royals 1: Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain couldn't have been more visibly upset after some confusion with left fielder Alex Gordon turned a routine Mike Carp fly ball into a "Not Top Play." But the consolation was that the Sox weren't able to capitalize.

Consecutive groundouts by David Ross and Pedro Ciriaco left Carp stranded at third and made Gordon's error irrelevant.

Bottom of the third, Red Sox 3, Royals 1: Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a leadoff double.

When Dustin Pedroia drove him in with a one-out single, that made it seven straight games with a run scored for Ellsbury.

Mike Napoli sent another golden arch out to center for a double, but ended up in an inning ending 4-2-5-2-6 pickle.

Bottom of the second, Red Sox 2, Royals 1: Mike Napoli tatted 2-and-1 slider over the Wall and to the parking deck across Lansdowne to knot the game up.

The Sox took the lead when Mike "All He Hits Is Doubles" Carp's served up his usual and drove in Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a two-bagger. Of Carp's five hits this season, three are doubles.

Top of the second, Royals 1, Red Sox 0: Aside from Alex Gordon's double and Jeff Francoeur's pop up to second, it's been all ground balls and strikeouts for Allen Webster.

He's at 27 pitches. In his two starts for Pawtucket this season, threw 85 and 84 pitches.

Top of the first, Royals 1, Red Sox 0: Pedro Ciriaco committed the first error by a Red Spx infielder this season and it was costly. After making a diving stop on Alcides Escobars, he came up to make a tough throw but sailed it into the Sox's dugout.

Alex Gordon, who led the game off with a double, was allowed to score on the error, giving the Royals another early lead.

The Sox are 2-5 when opponents score first.

Pregame: The Sox dropped the first game of today's twinbill and will try to bounce back with 23-year-old Allen Webster on the mound.

Even though it's spot duty, there's a a fair amount of anticipation around this start with Webster being arguably the best pitching prospect in the Sox system.

Sox starters have been solid all year, and in a pinch (and with an extra roster spot), the Sox decided this was the time to give Webster his chance.

Enjoy the game. Feel free to comment.

David Ortiz gets positive reaction to comments

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 21, 2013 06:02 PM
A day after his infamous expletive, David Ortiz said he received many positive comments about it.

“A lot of positive comments,” Ortiz said. “It was something I said. I don’t know how emotional I get sometimes. What we’ve been through this week, that was my feeling. I was hurting like everyone else. That’s how I am.”

“That’s the most famous (bad word) of all time,” he kidded.

Ortiz ended a pregame address to the Fenway Park crowd Saturday by saying, “this is our (expletive) city." It was the Red Sox' first appearance at Fenway since the Boston Marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt for the suspects, and an emotional ceremony was held before the game.

Ortiz has been impressive at the plate, with five hits in his first two games, including three in a 4-2 loss to the Royals in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader. One was double, but when kidded about whether he’s become a singles hitter he said, “David Ichiro Ortiz.”

Ortiz, who was not in the starting lineup of the second game of the doubleheader, said he’s actually not happy with the way he feels at the plate and alluded to having some discomfort in the opposite heel from his Achilles' injury, perhaps due to overcompensating.

“I’m battling right now. Trying to do too much. Haven’t faced good pitching for months. I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t feel good at the plate right now,” he said.

So how has he managed five hits?

“I’ve been lucky,” Ortiz said. “I don’t feel yet the way I like to feel. Just getting to the point where mentally I’m just dealing with the injury I had last year and getting to the point where I’m 100 percent. Besides that, being able to sit on my legs and be where I like to be.”

How close to normal is he?

“It all depends. In my case right now, probably I’ve been doing good contact with the ball but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve only played a few games – five in Triple-A where they were pitching me like they normally pitch me. I was just trying to hit the ball and run. I was swinging at bad pitches. I ran couple of times and it feels good.

“But I’m not quite there. I was out too long. I wasn’t seeing pitches. You see the way they pitch me the last two days,” he said.

Ortiz said getting back all the way is both a mental and physical exercise.

“My injury is fine right now, but I’m having some issues with the other (right) side just from not being able to do what I can normally do from this side. Not bad, nothing crazy, I can deal with it. It’ll get better, that’s what the doctor said. I’m not gonna be concerned about it.”

Ortiz said it would have been hard to play two games.

“It’s hard. They don’t want me to have too much going on this early. Just coming back. They want to make sure I play through the season, We don’t want to risk it.”

He said he was available to pinch-hit.

Jonny Gomes's bat features tribute to Boston Marathon bombing victims

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 21, 2013 05:53 PM

Gomes bats.jpg

Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes paid tribute to the victims of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack by taking a specially engraved bat with him to the plate in the first game of the Red Sox' doubleheader with the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

The mantra "Boston Strong" was imprinted on the barrel of the bat along with the names Martin Richard, Lu Lingzi, Krystle Campbell, and Sean Collier, who all lost their lives in the past week as a result of the bombings at the finish line of the marathon and the manhunt that ensued in the following days.

His agent suggested the idea and they had four bats made. Gomes used them in his first two at-bats Sunday. He intends to have the other two signed by the team and auctioned off to raise money.

"Such a unique situation like that and how it touched all our hearts," Gomes said. "From just being scared and locked down to some people losing their lives, so I think everyone is up to something individually or as a team to help the community out. It's definitely not about me by any means, it's about who's on the bat and the cause that it's going to help out."

Game 18: Royals at Red Sox

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 21, 2013 05:12 PM

Good evening. Here are the lineups for the second game between the Royals and Red Sox today.

RED SOX (12-5)
Ellsbury CF
Nava RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Saltalamacchia DH
Middlebrooks 3B
Carp LF
Ross C
Ciriaco SS
Pitching: Allen Webster (first MLB start)

ROYALS (9-7)
Gordon LF
Escobar SS
Butler DH
Hosmer 1B
Cain CF
Moustakas 3B
Francoeur RF
Kottaras C
Johnson 2B
Pitching: Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.20 ERA)

Game time: 7 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN/WEEI

Red Sox vs. Guthrie:
Carp 3-6, Ciriaco 0-1, Ellsbury 15-39, Gomes 3-9, Napoli 3-13, Nava 1-2, Ortiz 13-38, Pedroia 14-46, Saltalamacchia 5-10, Victorino 2-6.

Royals vs. Webster: None have faced Webster in majors.

Notes: The Royals won the first game today, 4-2 ... Webster is 34-25 with a 3.38 ERA in 112 career games (86 starts) in the Dodgers and Red Sox farm systems ... Ellsbury needs four stolen bases to reach 200 for his career ... The Red Sox' special home whites used this weekend with "Boston" on the front instead of the traditional "Red Sox" will be signed by the players and then auctioned to benefit The One Fund for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing ... Webster is the third Red Sox player to make his MLB debut so far this season.

Read Nick Cafardo's story on today's Game 1 here. A box score can be seen here.

Final: Royals 4, Red Sox 2

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 21, 2013 01:30 PM

Final, Royals 4, Red Sox 2: The Sox go down 1-2-3 in the ninth and their seven-game win streak comes to an end.

Bottom of the eighth, Royals 4, Red Sox 2: The Sox had a true opportunity to threaten with the bases loaded and two outs. The Royals had given up on Bruce Chen (two hits in two-thirds of an inning) and brought right-hander Aaron Crow out of the bullpen.

But Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn't capitalize. He mustered a tapper that didn't even reach the mound. It easily ended the inning, got the Royals out of hot water and kept the Red Sox in a late hole. The Sox are 0-3 this year when trailing after 3.

Top of the eighth, Royals 4, Red Sox 2: Clayton Mortensen came on for the first time since April 16, when he threw two scoreless innings in relief of Felix Doubront, and he was effective.

After gett Billy Butler to bounce out to third, he used his slider to strike out Eric Hosmer and his changeup to get Lorenzo Cain.

Ervin Santana is done after seven innings. He gave up just two runs on six hits and struck out seven with no walks. Bruce Chen will pick things up.

Too of the sixth, Royals 4, Red Sox 2: With his pitch count up to 96, his innings up to six, and Clayton Mortensen warming up in the Red Sox bullpen, it looks like Ryan Dempster's day is likely done.

His issued a pair of one-out walks to Cain and Moustakas that turned out to be harmless one his struck out Jeff Francoeur (for the third time today) and got Salvador Perez to fly out to center.

Bottom of the fifth, Royals 4, Red Sox 2: Santana's retired 11 straight Sox with three of his four strikeouts over that stretch.

Will Middlebrooks is the hitter in the bottom half of the Sox's lineup with a hit. Everyone from Napoli down is a combined 0 for 8.

Top of the fourth, Royals 4, Royals 2: From the back-to-back singles to start it off to two scorching RBI doubles, there wasn't much pretty about that three-run inning for Dempster.

He toed a tricky line, getting into trouble then seeming as if he might be able to work his way out of it.

He couldn't.

Not with Lorenzo Cain continuing to rake. Cain ripped a line drive into the left-field corner for an RBI double that tied the game at 2 and added to his gluttonous numbers so far this series. He's 5 for 6 with three doubles, a homer, two RBIs and a stolen base.

Dempster struck out the next two batters he faced, but then with two on, he gave up a double to Salvador Perez.

For Sox starters, a three-run inning had been unheard of all year. No starter had even had a three-run outing before today.

Bottom of the third, Red Sox 2, Royals 1: For the first time today, the Sox go down in order.

Ervin Santana got Mike Napoli swinging at a fastball up and in.

Santana had to scrap through his last start against the Blue Jays in order for Kansas City to pull out a 3-2 win, according to the Kansas City Star:

While Santana wasn’t nearly as dominant as he was last Monday during the home opener, he consistently wriggled out of trouble, finishing with a no decision after he allowed two runs — one earned — in eight innings.

Santana, who scattered seven hits and three walks, recorded four strikeouts (all on sliders) including one against slugger J.P. Arencibia with two runners on to end the eighth inning in a 2-2 game.

“He was very stingy in terms of giving up runs and made big pitches when he needed to, especially in the eighth when he needed to get Arencibia,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Top of the third, Red Sox 2, Royals 1: The loud, long first-inning homer that Ryan Dempster gave up to Alcides Escobar is turning out to be just a blip. He's buzzed through two 1-2-3 innings.

After walking Alex Gordon with one out, he faced Esobar again and used his splitter to get a ground ball that started a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

He's thrown 46 pitches (29 strikes) through three innings.

Bottom of the second, Red Sox 2, Royals 1: Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hit streak to 10-games with his single to left. He's now hitting .310 over that stretch (13-42) with 10 runs scored, a double, two triples and three stolen bases.

Top of the second, Red Sox 2, Royals 1: Ryan Dempster keeps the Ks coming. He got Jeff Francoeur reaching for a slider and Salvado Perez chasing for a split to give him three for the game.

Bottom of the first, Red Sox 2, Royals 1: The Sox responded quickly stringing together quality at-bats to turn three singles into two runs.

Daniel Nava and Dustin Pedroia both came up with one-out singles. David Ortiz followed up with a liner to right-center that scored Nava. Mike Napoli then drove in Dustin Pedroia with a ground ball to second.

After going 2 for 4 with an RBI yesterday, Ortiz put together a solid at-bat to get the Sox on the board, working the count full, fouling off an Ervin Santana fastball down to then get a slider away that he roped to the outfield to cap the seven-pitch at-bat.

Top of the first, Royals 1, Red Sox 0: Alcides Escobar took the first pitch he saw from Ryan Dempster and drilled it over the Monster to put the Royals up early.

Dempster fed Escobar an 89 mile-per-hour fastball over the middle of the plate and he devoured it.

Escobar is now 5 for 13 on this road trip after going through an 0-for-15 slump.

Pregame: For as well as Ryan Dempster has pitched this season, his first win has been strangely elusive. Dempster’s 0-1 with a 2.65 ERA, and overall, the Sox are 1-2 in his starts this year.

Dempster4-21.jpg

“Wins are great,” he said after start last week against the Rays, when he left after seven innings with a 2-1 lead before Andrew Bailey let it slip away in the ninth. “I’d love to win as many games as I possibly can, but I've always said if I start 34 games in a season and we go 34-0 in my starts and I don't win one of those games, I'm totally, completely happy with that. I mean that. Any time I can start a ball game and we win that ball game that's all that matters.”

His 25 strikeouts have him at fifth in the American League. In each of his first three starts, he’s struck out at least seven. He’s second in the majors with 13.24 strikeouts per nine innings. But he’s also thrown 295 pitches over 17 innings.

“I like the one-pitch outs,” Dempster said “Those are a lot nicer than the strikeouts.”

To a pitcher who threw at least 200 innings from 2008 to 2011, efficiency matters. Starts like the one he had against the Rays, when he went deep into the game and left with the lead, are the ideal.

“I take a lot of in being able to go out there and throw innings, throw quality innings,” Dempster said. “I was able to not waste as many pitches [against the Rays] and able to get myself deeper in the ball game. Hopefully that's something I can continue to do.”

Enjoy the game. Feel free to comment.

Early notes for a long day ahead

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 21, 2013 11:27 AM

Good morning from Fenway.

Let's start with Shane Victorino. John Farrell reported Victorino's back issue was improving but that Victorino was out of Game 1 and would not commit his status for Game 2. Best bet is that he'll miss the day. Victorino felt tightness on his sac bunt in the 6th inning to advance Jacoby Ellsbury.

Farrell said it was likely that David Ortiz would not play two games. He's hitting cleanup in the first game.

Daniel Nava is up in the two-hole playing right field. He remains one of the best stories in baseball. His outfield play has improved dramatically in two years. Has a very accurate arm. And he certainly has the flare for the dramatic, as witnessed by his three-run homer Saturday.

All eyes will be on rookie righthander Allen Webster in the nightcap. The 23-year-old flamethrower has impressed everyone in baseball who watched him in spring training and in his first two starts in Pawtucket. Could be a special No. 1 type pitcher...

By the way, the Red Sox do not have to make a roster move for Webster. Under the new rules teams playing a double-header can add a 26th player. The Royals are adding lefty reliever Will Smith.

-- Farrell said Lorenzo Cain, who had four hits against the Red Sox Saturday, reminds him of Reggie Sanders....

-- The Red Sox have won seven straight. They're 10-0 when they score first.

-- Joel Hanrahan, Franklin Morales, Craig Breslow and John Lackey are all progressing well from injuries. By next week, the Red Sox will have some interesting roster decisions to make.

Game 17: Royals at Red Sox

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 21, 2013 10:00 AM

RED SOX (12-4)
Ellsbury CF
Nava RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Salty C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Gomes LF
Pitching: Ryan Dempster (0-1, 2.65 ERA).

ROYALS (8-7)
Gordon LF
Escobar SS
Butler DH
Hosmer 1B
Cain CF
Moose 3B
Francoeur RF
Perez C
Getz 2B
Pitching: Ervin Santana (1-1, 2.45).

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Santana: Ortiz 8-28, Pedroia 3-24, Carp 5-20
Ellsbury 6-21, Gomes 3-15, Napoli 6-15, Nava 0-6, Saltalamacchia 1-4, Ciriaco 1-3, Drew 2-3, Victorino 1-2, Ross 0-1.

Royals vs. Dempster: Tejada 8-28, Escobar 2-16, Francoeur 6-17, Getz 4-10, Kottaras 2-7, Butler 3-6, Gordon 2-6, Moustakas 1-6, Hosmer 1-4, Cain 0-2, Perez 1-3, Chen 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Three of Daniel Nava’s four home runs this season have come with the Sox either tied or trailing.

Notes: The Sox have won seven straight, their longest win streak since they won nine straight in 2011. Their 12-4 start is their best since they started the 2002 season with the same record. They are now 15-6 against the Royals at Fenway since 2008. … Despite a 2.65 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 17 innings, Dempster is still winless. As a team, the Sox are 1-2 in Dempster’s starts. He’s getting 3.4 runs worth of support … After his four-hit game Saturday, Lorenzo Cain has seven consecutive hits and is 9-for-12 in the first 3 games of the Royals road trip. He’s hitting .688 (11-for-16) over a 4-game hitting streak … Ervin Santana is three wins from 100. He’s 12-14 lifetime in April. For his career, he is 3-3 with a 4.13 ERA against the Sox … The Sox called up 23-year-old righthander Allen Webster for the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader … The Royals added lefthander Will Smith.

Song of the day: “Retrograde,” by James Blake.

Allen Webster to debut in doubleheader

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 06:23 PM

webster.jpg

At the very end of an emotional day, Red Sox manager John Farrell slid in a somewhat surprising move, announcing that the team would be calling up 23-year-old right-hander Allen Webster to pitch the second game of tomorrow's doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals. Needing a pitcher to make a spot start, though, Webster will make his major league debut after allowing just one run in two starts for Triple A Pawtucket.

"He’s a really good young pitcher, rested and he’s ready to go," Farrell said.

Webster was considered the steal of the blockbuster trade that sent Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He impressed in spring training and at the start of the season there was buzz that he could have possibly taken the place of the injured John Lackey. Both he and the Red Sox organization, however, said they would be patient.
Ryan Dempster will start Game 1 against Ervin Santana. Webster will face Jeremy Guthrie in the nightcap.

David Ortiz caps moving pregame ceremony at Fenway Park

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 02:59 PM

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David Ortiz brought the crowd to a roar. Not with a mammoth home run, or a walkoff base hit. Before his first game this season, Ortiz took the microphone at the end of an emotional pregame ceremony to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy and bellowed "This is our (expletive) city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong."

Ortiz started his comments by saying "This jersey that we wear today, it doesn't say Red Sox. It says Boston. We want to thank you Mayor Menino, Governor Patrick, the whole police department for the great job they did this past week. “

It was a climactic end to an incredibly emotional ceremony. It started with a video montage of the events at Monday's Boston Marathon accompanied by the song Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley, and captured the emotions of the participants and painfully emotional reactions by the crowd to the aftermath on the bombing. It then showed images of police efforts to find the bombing suspects and the final scene of capturing the suspect in Watertown.

For the national anthem, organ music began the song, but like at the Bruins' game on Wednesday and again Saturday, fans took over and finished it.

The big theme was resilience of Boston's people, as expressed with the tremendous oratory skills of Henry Mahegan, who announced the event.

Represented were officers from the Boston police department and Marathon volunteers, who came out of the center field area and lined up along the Green Monster.

The Sox paid tribute to Matt Patterson, an off-duty firefighter who was having dinner at Abe and Louie’s restaurant when he heard the blast and sprung into action, leaving the restaurant and immediately saved the life of a young boy.

There was survivor Steven Byrne, who showed scars on his face and a limp in his step after being hit with debris from the explosion and underwent surgery.

And there was a huge ovation for Boston Marathon wheelchair participants Dick and Rick Hoyt.

Sox players, sporting a B Strong emblem on their jerseys, shook the hands of the victims, the responders and police officers.

It was punctuated by Ortiz’ memorable and poignant statement.

Final: Red Sox 4, Royals 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 01:40 PM

Game over: Andrew Bailey struggles, gives up a homer to Lorenzo Cain, but holds onto one-run lead as Sox win on an emotional day to extend their winning streak to seven games. Clay Buchholz improves to 4-0.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 4, Royals 2 - Daniel Nava, who had been picked off second base earlier in the game, provided a dramatic three-run homer with two outs to give Boston a two-run lead. Jonny Gomes hit a leadoff double pinch-hitting for Shane Victorino and after Dustin Pedroia walked, David Ortiz knocked into a double-play. But Mike Napoli drew a walk allowing Nava to perform his dramatics on a 1-1 pitch from Kelvin Herrera.

Bottom 7th: Royals 2, Red Sox 1 - The inning started out promising with Nava being hit with a pitch and moving to second on Will Middlebrooks' single. But Nava got picked off second base. After Drew reached on an error by third baseman Moustakas, pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia fouled out to third and Jacoby Ellsbury popped out to right to end the threat.

Top 7th: Royals 2, Red Sox 1 - Lorenzo Cain has Clay Buchholz' number today. Cain sent his second double to left to start the inning. Buchholz almost got out of it with two outs, but Salvador Perez tripled around the railing in right to score the go-ahead run.

Bottom 6th: Royals 1, Red Sox 1 - David Ortiz comes up with a big two-out basehit to tie the game. Ellsbury led off with a single and was advanced on Shane Victorino's sacrifice bunt. After Pedroia grounded out, Ortiz, who had singled in his second at-bat against James Shields, sent a single up the middle to score the tying run.

Top 6th: Royals 1, Red Sox 0 - Buchholz did his best Houdini here. Alex Gordon led off with a double to left, but Buchholz retired Alcides Escobar on a tapper to Buchholz, got Billy Butler to line out to short and Eric Hosmer grounded out to second.

Bottom 5th: Royals 1, Red Sox 0 - Daniel Nava walked but was erased on Will Middlebrooks' double-play grounder. After Stephen drew singled, David Ross struck out.

Top 5th: Royals 1, Red Sox 0 - Lorenzo opened with a double to left, moved to third on Mike Moustakas' fly ball to center and scored on Jeff Francouer's single to left. Buchholz struck out the next two batters.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 - With two outs, David Ortiz, batting cleanup stroked his first hit of the season, a single to right. Napoli struck out to end the inning.

Top 4th: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 - Buchholz gets all three outs to the shortstop - two ground ball outs and a pop up.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 - Shields fans Drew and Ross and gets Ellsbury on a tapper to the mound.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 - A 1-2-3 inning for James Shields who throws two ground ball outs and a strikeout of Jacoby Ellsbury.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 -Mike Napoli walked but Daniel Nava knocked into a double play against James Shields.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 - Buchholz allows a one-out single to Lorenzo Cain, who also steals second, but Buchholz had two Ks in the inning including a called third strike to Jeff Francouer to end the inning.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 - With two outs Dustin Pedroia drew a walk, but in his first at-bat of the season after a long ovation, David Ortiz popped out.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Royals 0 - Dustin Pedroia turns a nifty double-play, fielding the ball and just beating Alcides Escobar to second base and then firing to first to double up Billy Butler. Escobar had singled off the wall. Nice play by Daniel Nava to keep it to a single and made a strong throw back to the infield. Nava is becoming a very good outfielder.

One of the most amazing tributes I've seen. Dr. Charles Steinberg and his staff knocked this one out of the park. Not a dry eye at Fenway Park. Tremendous oratory skills exhibited by Henry Mahegan. Great touch.

David Ortiz returns, Jackie Bradley demoted

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 12:22 PM

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Looking at his lineup card and seeing Will Middlebrooks hitting seventh speaks volumes to Red Sox manager John Farrell. Not about Middlebrooks. But about the impact of the 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound slugger who will return to the cleanup spot Saturday. After a rehab stint in Pawtucket, David Ortiz will make his regular season debut against the Royals, adding an additional dimension to the Red Sox batting order.

“Not only the ability of him as a player and a hitter,” Farrell said. “It’s having him in the lineup.”

Ortiz went 4 of 18 in Pawtucket. Last season, he hit .353 against the Royals with a home run and three RBIs. Watching him over the course of his career, Farrell said, he’s only gotten better as a hitter.

“He's done a much better job of letting the ball travel deeper in the zone. He's taking full advantage of the ballpark here. But even on the road, in other ballparks where they don't have the Wall, he's got the capability to drive the ball out of the ball park to left-center field. I think any hitter that's able to drive the ball to the opposite field gap, it just tells you that they're not afraid to get jammed.

“That they're seeing the ball all the way through the strike zone and that makes them that much more difficult to pitch to. They don't open up a side of the plate because they're a dead-pull hitter. David, for as good as he's been for a long time, has gotten better with age.

To make room for Ortiz, the Red Sox sent Jackie Bradley to Pawtucket. Though he shined in spring training, Bradley struggled early on in the regular season, hitting just .097 with 12 strikeouts in 31 at-bats, going nearly two weeks without a hit before finally being demoted.

Over the course of 20 hitless at-bats, it became clear how quickly pitchers had learned to pitch to Bradley. Seeing mostly fastballs (60.9 percent) and curveballs (11.2 percent), according to Fangraphs, he found himself swinging at nearly 42 percent of the pitches he saw. Pitchers loaded him with first-pitch strikes 63.2 percent of the time. He was dropped to ninth in the order at one point. At different times, Farrell chose to leave him out of the lineup.

"It should be a very good learning experience," Farrell said. "The understanding of the information that's out there and how quickly it circulates how he can become pitched to, but at the same time to know that he's a very important part of our organization and a very good player going forward.

“We fully expect and have the utmost confidence he's going to be a very good everyday player in time. Everybody goes through a transition period and hopefully this adds to that transition and makes it happen that much quicker for him. Players are going to fail and they're going to get challenged and the fact that Jackie got it early in his career, I think, will serve him well going forward.”

Red Sox to play two games Sunday

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 20, 2013 11:35 AM

Friday's Red Sox-Royals game, postponed because of the manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, will be made up Sunday night at 7 p.m., the team announced.

The teams will also play their regularly scheduled game at 1:35 p.m. on Sunday. The games are separate admission, and tickets from Friday's game will be honored at the Sunday night game.

The Red Sox also announced Saturday's pregame ceremonies will begin at 12:55 p.m., and fans are asked to arrive early to allow for extra time to pass through security.

Red Sox hope to help healing process

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 11:13 AM

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On the face of the Green Monster, a landmark as synonymous with the city of Boston as any, the Red Sox made a simple, yet strong show of support.

A sign with the Sox “B” logo above the the word “Strong.”

More than a hashtag or a slogan, it’s become a mantra for a city still processing the effects of the terror attack that rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

“It just means nothing can bring us down,” said third baseman Will Middlebrooks. “Everybody's going to pull together and stick together and no event or person or people can bring us down as a city.”

It was one of several gestures the Red Sox will make today as they play their first home game since the bombings. It's also an opportunity for fans to begin the healing process.

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The Red Sox have planned a pregame ceremony. They will wear special home white jerseys, wearing the name of the city across the chest rather than the team. With range of feelings fans will bring with them to the ballpark, they will offer fans a place to escape.

“Very, very emotional,” Middlebrooks said. “I’m sure there will be people here that were involved in some way, knew people involved. Hopefully it will kind of start the process of healing.

“We take a lot of responsibility. We know how big of a deal baseball is here. We know how passionate everyone is about it. We're just happy to get back out there and help the city heal.”

The scene at Fenway Friday, as law enforcement officials locked down the city in search of the one of the suspects in the Monday bombings that killed three people and injured more than 170, was surreal. Yawkey Way was empty. Ballpark gates were locked, with security not allowed to let anyone in. By outfielder Shane Victorino’s count, 10 players came to the clubhouse. Many stayed home. Eventually, around mid-afternoon, word came that the Sox’s series opener with the Kansas City Royals, who had been in town since Thursday, would be postponed.

“It was just weird to look out the window and not see any action, not see any cars, see any people,” Middlebrooks said. “It was like a ghost town. Everyone was on lockdown. It was pretty scary to know I was a couple miles away. I'm just happy it's over.”

For the players, getting back on the field is also a step toward returning to normal.

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said, “Just the fact that this city has come together like this at a time where we're at our weakest, it just proves how relentless this city is.”

Game 16: Royals at Red Sox

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 10:00 AM

Good morning. Here are today's lineups:

RED SOX (11-4)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Nava LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Ross C
Pitching: Clay Buchholz (3-0, 0.41 ERA).

ROYALS (8-6)
Gordon LF
Escobar SS
Butler DH
Hosmer 1B
Cain CF
Moustakas 3B
Francoeur RF
Perez C
Getz 2B
Pitching: James Shields (1-2, 3.43).

Game time: 1:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Shields: Pedroia 17-55, Ellsbury 11-49, Napoli 6-21, Saltalamacchia 0-14, Nava 2-8, Carp 1-4, Middlebrooks 3-3, Victorino 2-3, Drew 1-3, Ciriaco 0-3, Gomes 1-2.

Royals vs. Buchholz: Butler 2-9, Tejada 2-8, Gordon 3-4, Johnson 1-5, Getz 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Clay Buchholz has won his past three starts against the Royals and had a 0.96 ERA. His 2.19 career ERA against them is his lowest against any American League team.

Notes: The Sox’ six-game win streak is the second-longest active streak in baseball behind the Colorodo Rockies, who have won seven straight. The Sox haven’t won seven in a row since June 2011. ... David Ortiz is back in the lineup for the first time since last Aug. 24, when he re-injured his strained right Achilles' tendon. He was 4 of 18 in five games with Pawtucket during a rehab stint. He is a career .280/.373/.503 hitter against the Royals in 103 games. ... Jacoby Ellsbury is a major-league best 7 for his first 7 on stolen base attempts. ... The Royals have been in Boston since Thursday and were told to stay in their hotel amid the city's safety concerns. They will wear "B Strong" patches on their uniforms this weekend. … They have lost 7 of their last 10 at Fenway and were outscored 64-42 in those games … James Shields, who was the centerpiece of a seven-player deal with the Rays over the winter, is 2-9 at Fenway with a 5.86 ERA. ... Clay Buchholz is 3-1 all-time against the Royals but hasn’t seen them since April 2010, when he gave up two runs over five innings and earned the win. ... After going 2 for his last 30, Will Middlebrooks got the last day in Cleveland off. Last year, on May 7 against the Royals, he went 3 for 3 with a two home runs, a double and five RBIs … Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 0 for 14 all time against Shields with five strikeouts … The Sox are 10-0 when scoring first this season.

Song of the day: The Star-Spangled Banner," by Rene Rancourt and friends, live, Sabres vs. Bruins at TD Garden, Apr. 17, 2013.

Pitching matchups for the Royals series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 09:26 AM

Today: RHP James Shields (1-2, 3.43) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (3-0, 0.41), 1:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Sunday: RHP Ervin Santana (1-1, 2.45) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (0-1, 2.65), 1:35 p.m., NESN.

Sunday: RHP Allen Webster (debut) vs. Jeremy Guthrie (2-0, 3.20), 7 p.m., NESN (tentatively).

Note: Sunday is a separate admission doubleheader. Second game is the rescheduled game from Friday. Tickets from Friday are good for that game.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 20, 2013 09:15 AM

The Red Sox postponed their game against the Royals on Friday because of a city-wide manhunt.

Capture of suspect cheered across baseball

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 19, 2013 09:32 PM

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The capture of Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was celebrated around baseball tonight.

The news was announced at ballparks across Major League Baseball and greeted with loud cheers. Several Red Sox players posted comments on Twitter congratulating law enforcement personnel.

The Sox face the Royals at 1:10 p.m on Saturday at what is sure to be an emotional Fenway Park.

There is no word yet on whether there will be a doubleheader on Sunday. We will keep you posted.

Just an idea: How about a Duck Boat parade for the cops, medical personnel, first responders and other involved in this drama? Those are the real heroes.

UPDATE, 10:35 p.m.: The Red Sox will play one game on Saturday. The team is hoping for a doubleheader on Sunday but would first need approval of MLB and the MLB Players Association.

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Red Sox game has been postponed

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 19, 2013 03:03 PM

Red Sox players woke up Friday to a request from the team that they stay away from Fenway Park while law enforcement officials were hunting suspected Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“They told us to stay home,” third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. “I think everybody figured there wouldn’t be a game with everything that was going on in the city.”

By 3 p.m., the game against the Kansas City Royals had been postponed. It has not yet been rescheduled.

“This is unprecedented territory for us,” said Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy.

Kennedy said the Red Sox worked closely with officials from the office of Mayor Thomas M. Menino during the day. The team also consulted with the Bruins, who postponed their Friday night game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We’ve been in communication since [Thursday] with various public officials — federal, state, and city — and have been following their lead,” Kennedy said. “We were also in contact with the Bruins and we wanted to make sure we followed their lead and vice versa.

“We made the decision that the game needed to be postponed with everything that has been going on.”

The Red Sox told all of their team employees to stay home. The gates were locked at Fenway Park and security officers turned away any visitors.

A handful of players — Mike Carp, Pedro Ciriaco, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester, Franklin Morales, and Shane Victorino — were seen going into the park. But most stayed home.

“I was following the story on television and on Twitter. It’s all pretty hard to believe,” Middlebrooks said. “Obviously baseball is not very important on a day like this.”

The Red Sox also coordinated with Major League Baseball. Team president Larry Lucchino spoke with commissioner Bud Selig about the situation.

“Everybody was in synch,” Kennedy said. “We wanted to make sure we were following the lead of the various public officials and taking our direction from them.

“We had plenty of time to get the word out to out fans and staff. We knew we would be able to get the word out quickly.”

Kennedy said the team hopes to play Saturday’s 1:10 p.m. game.

“We’ll have to see where things stand and make a call from there,” Kennedy said. “I want to make it clear that we are not the story here. We won’t want any unnecessary attention on us. It could be another sleepless night watching the news.”

There are three options to make up the postponed game: a doubleheader on Saturday, a doubleheader on Sunday, or a game on July 1 when the teams have a mutual day off.

If a doubleheader is played, it is more likely to be on Sunday.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Clay Buchholz, who was scheduled to start Friday night, would pitch Saturday.

Kennedy revealed that the Red Sox hired a private security firm to sweep Fenway Park after the bombings at the Marathon -- which occurred only a mile from the park.

“The park is safe,” Kennedy said.

The Royals arrived in Boston Thursday and were told to stay in their hotel.

“We're just planning on it until we hear different, that's all we can do," Royals manager Ned Yost told the team website. “We're going to do like everybody else. We're just waiting it out and seeing what happens. They're not opening the ballpark right now until the situation is resolved.”

The Red Sox, who are off to an 11-4 start, have won six straight games. The team was eager to get back to Fenway Park and play in front of its fans for the first time since Monday’s attack.

“We just want to play, and I’m sure people would like to watch us play,” Middlebrooks said. “Everybody wants to get back to normal. This is a situation none of us expected to be in.”

Staff writer Julian Benbow, staff writer Nick Cafardo, and correspondent Seth Lakso contributed to this report.

Red Sox game on hold as manhunt goes on

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 19, 2013 12:26 PM

There has been no announcement from the Red Sox regarding the game tonight. Obviously the city of Boston is dealing with far more pressing matters.

Chief operating officer Sam Kennedy told Nick Cafardo a few hours ago that the team will follow the lead of the city.

As information becomes available, we will keep you updated.

UPDATE, 1:05 p.m.: Here is what the Red Sox just sent out via Twitter:

No word yet on tonight's game as of 1:00 p.m. We are taking the lead from our state and local officials.

Napoli on the run as the Red Sox win again

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 11:52 PM

CLEVELAND — Mike Napoli's hips were deemed so bad that the Red Sox pulled their contract offer off the table.

On Thursday night, he helped win a game with his base running.

Napoli had a triple in the second inning, taking advantage of a wind-blown fly ball to right field to get in position to score the first run of the game. Then came some fancier moves in the seventh inning.

It started with Jacoby Ellsbury singled off Nick Hagadone. Bryan Shaw then got Shane Victorino to ground to the right side. But second baseman Cord Phelps bobbled the ball for an error.

Ellsbury tagged up and went to third when Dustin Pedroia flied out to deep right field. Napoli followed with an RBI single to right.

Victorino went to third on the play and scored on Nava’s sacrifice fly to center field. An alert Napoli tagged up and took second on the throw to the plate.

Napoli took second initially hoping to distract the Indians from throwing Victorino out at the plate. Because center fielder Drew Stubbs has a good arm and had was breaking in on the ball, Napoli thought maybe he could deke the Indians into cutting the throw. He was willing to trade an out for the Red Sox building a three-run lead.

Instead, Napoli ended up on second and scored on a single by pinch hitter Mike Carp. He slid around the tag on a close play.

“We’re going to be aggressive on the bases,” Napoli said. “We’re not going to be crazy or try to run into outs.”

Being more productive on the bases was something the Red Sox talked often about in spring training, literally from the first day. It wasn't just talk.

"We’re going to put pressure on the defense and we’re going to run the bases smart,” Napoli said.

Meanwhile:

• Red Sox starters have yet to allow more than three earned runs in a game. It’s the longest streak to start a season since the 1981 Oakland Athletics went 16 games. Sox starters are 8-2 with a 2.32 earned run average.

• Jon Lester was done after seven innings and 115 pitches. He allowed two runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts. It speaks to how good his first three starts were that such a performance raised his earned run average from 1.42 to 1.73.

• Ellsbury (2 for 5) has hit safely in eight straight and 13 of 15 this season.

• It was 81 degrees at game time. But Alfredo Aceves sat in the dugout wearing a ski mask and holding a bat. Seriously.

• Stephen Drew (0 for 4) is 2 for 23. The Jose Iglesias Fan Club is up in arms.

• As we reported earlier, the Sox are sending Jackie Bradley to Pawtucket. John Farrell didn't exactly announce it after the game. But when asked if he had a roster move, he said they hadn't had a chance to speak to Bradley.

Good job, Mississippi State

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 10:10 PM

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CLEVELAND — Mississippi State, the school that sent Boo Ferriss and Jonathan Papelbon to the Red Sox, did a very cool thing on Thursday night.

The Bulldogs, ranked 10th in the latest NCAA poll, wore caps with a Red Sox "B" on the front to pay tribute to the people of Boston. MSU played Auburn on ESPNU.

The game was suspended by rain with the Bulldogs leading.

It has been great to see so many corners of the baseball world — from Yankee Stadium down to the minor leagues and college ranks — showing their support for Boston.

Thanks to @Dawgbot on Twitter for the tip on this.

Final: Red Sox 6, Indians 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 07:14 PM

Game over: Red Sox 6, Indians 3: Andrew Bailey recorded his second save in an as many nights with a 1-2-3 inning as the Red Sox earned a three-game sweep of the Indians. The Red Sox got another strong pitching effort from Jon Lester (3-0) who went the first seven innings and allowed two runs on four hits. Mike Napoli tripled and singled with one RBI while Jarrod Saltalamacchia stroked his third homer. Cleveland drew its biggest crowd of the series - 12,936 in 3:13.

Top 9th: Red Sox 6, Indians 3 - Red Sox done scoring for the night. They'll rely on Andrew Bailey to close it out.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 6, Indians 3 - Indians rally a bit. With Andrew Miller pitching, Drew Stubbs drew a one-out walk and Mickey Brantley singled. After Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a fielder's choice with the runner being cut down at third base, Miller was replaced by Koji Uehara. Carlos Santana geeted him with an RBI double.

Top 8th: Red Sox 6, Indians 2 - Sox go down 1-2-3.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 6, Indians 2 - Lester's final inning - retires the side in order. He goes seven, allows four hits, two runs, one walk, five strikeouts.

Top 7th: Red Sox 6, Indians 2 - Red Sox break it open with three runs. Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right field which brought reliever Brian Shaw into the game. Shane Victorino reached on an error by the second baseman Cord Phelps. After one out, Mike Napoli singled to right scoring Ellsbury. Nava then knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly. The red-hot Mike Carp came off the bench to single to right scoring the sixth Boston run. Carp now has four straight hits including three Wednesday night.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 3, Indians 2 - After a bunt single to third by Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana knocked into a double play and Nick Swisher lined out to center.

Top 6th: Red Sox 3, Indians 2 - The Sox go down 1-2-3.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 3, Indians 2 - Mike Aviles doubled to lead off the fifth and he scored on Drew Stubbs' groundball out.

Top 5th: Red Sox 3, Indians 1 - Ellsbury doubled deep to leftcenter, Victorino singled and Pedroia knocked in a run with a single.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 2, Indians 1 - Lester allows a two-out walk to Mark Reynolds, but in control nonetheless.

Top 4th: Red Sox 2, Indians 1 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia hits No. 3 on the season on a 3-2 pitch by McAllister down the right field line to give the Red Sox the lead.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 1, Indians 1 - Lester strong with two K's in inning.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 1, Indians 1 - The Red Sox drew a pair of walks by Pedro Ciriaco and Dustin Pedroia, but after Pedroia stole second base, Napoli struck out to end the threat.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 1, Indians 1 - Mark Reynolds sent a double down the third base line and scored on Mike Aviles' grounder with one out.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 1, Indians 0 - - Mike Napoli tripled off the right field wall on a high fly ball that kept drifting and hit the Horseshoe Casino horseshoe emblem in right field. He was driven in by Daniel nava's single to right.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Indians 0 - Jon Lester took the mound and go the first two outs until Carlos Santana singled to left field. Lester then retired Nick Swisher on a grounder.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Indians 0 - Righty Zack McAllister got off to a solid start with strikeouts of Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia in a 1-2-3 inning on a balmy night (81 degrees) here at Progressive Field. It's 35 degrees warmer than Wednesday night.

Slumping Middlebrooks gets a rest

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 06:17 PM

CLEVELAND — Will Middlebrooks doubled and hit three no-doubt home runs against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 7. In the eight games that followed, the Red Sox third baseman was 2 for 30 with one RBI.

Manager John Farrell decided on Thursday to give Middlebrooks a day off after watching him go 0 for 5 with two strikeouts on Wednesday. Pedro Ciriaco started at third base.

“He’s played every inning of every game. He’s had some games where he’s taken a hold of the game and had a huge impact and there’s been some times where he’s pulled off a little bit of times,” Farrell said.

The 24-year-old Middlebrooks said several times that he wasn’t concerned about the slump.

“I’m not going to get too down about it. It’s part of the game,” he said. “We’re 15 games in, 60 at-bats maybe out of about 600. I’m not too worried about it. I’m not going to change my routine; I’m not going to change my approach. I’m not going to change my bats.”

Middlebrooks has walked only three times in 59 plate appearances while striking out 18 times. Plate discipline is clearly an issue.

“He’s an aggressive hitter; we know that. I don’t want to say it’s as deep as pitch selection. I just think at times he might get a little over aggressive on occasion,” Farrell said.

Also:

• When David Ortiz is activated off the disabled list on Friday, rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. will be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket and play center field there, assistant general manager Mike Hazen said.

Bradley will play occasionally in the corners in case the Red Sox have a need at those positions later in the season.

Bradley is 3 for 31 with 12 strikeouts. But he also drew six walks, scored five runs and drove in three runs. Bradley got on base eight times in the first four games of the season, contributing significantly to three victories.

• John Lackey walked off the mound in Toronto on April 6 clutching his right arm. On Monday, he’s scheduled to throw four innings for Double A Portland.

What looked like a serious injury at first proved to be a strained bicep muscle and Lackey is ready to get back on the mound. He will throw in the bullpen before Friday’s game at Fenway Park and then start his rehabilitation assignment.

• Lefthander Franklin Morales will follow Lackey to the mound on Monday. He pitched three innings for Single A Greenville on Wednesday to start his rehab assignment. Morales is returning from a spring training back injury.

• Joel Hanrahan felt some soreness in his right hamstring when he pitched from flat ground on Thursday. So he will not get back on the mound for at least another few days.

David Ortiz returning to Red Sox on Friday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 05:56 PM

CLEVELAND — David Ortiz was 1 for 3 with a home run for Triple A Pawtucket today and will rejoin the Red Sox Friday, manager John Farrell said.

"All things are pointing to his return tomorrow when we get off this trip," Farrell said.

Ortiz was 4 of 18 in five games for Pawtucket with the one extra-base hit. He struck out six times without a walk.

"To have his presence in the middle of the order certainly speaks for itself for the number of years and success he's had," Farrell said. "He gives us the potential to lengthen our lineup even more. We're certainly looking forward to seeing him in the clubhouse tomorrow."

The Red Sox have used Jonny Gomes (seven games), Daniel Nava (five games), and Mike Napoli (two games) at designated hitter through 14 games. They have hit .289 with a .458 on-base percentage and a .511 slugging percentage.

"We have weathered some of that uncertainty," Farrell said.

Ortiz could need days off to deal with lingering pain in his right Achilles' tendon. Farrell said there is no plan in place.

"We'll use him as our guide," said the manager. "We'll have to balance getting him back into full shape as well as monitoring how much stress that heel can take."

Game 15: Red Sox at Indians

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 02:40 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (10-4)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Nava LF,
Gomes DH
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Ciriaco 3B,
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 1.42).

INDIANS (5-8)
Brantley LF
Cabrera SS
Santana C
Swisher 1B
Reynolds DH
Rayburn RF
Aviles 3B
Phelps 2B
Stubbs CF
Pitching: RHP Zach McAllister (0-1, 3.00).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. McAllister: Pedroia 2-7, Salty 1-6, Carp 1-4, Drew 0-1 (2 walks), Ellsbury 2-3, Gomes 2-3, Middlebrooks 0-3, Nava 2-3, Ciriaco 0-2.

Indians vs. Lester: Swisher 15-46, Cabrera 3-16, Reynolds 4-13, Giambi 2-6, Raburn 2-6, Santana 1-4, Aviles 0-4, Brantley 1-5, Gomes 1-3.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have 13 homers in 14 games. Eight of them came in Toronto from April 5-7.

Notes: The Sox have won five straight and have the second-best record in the American League to the 12-4 Oakland Athletics. ... The Sox are 6-2 on the road and start a 10-game homestand on Friday. ... The Indians have lost three straight and are 2-5 at home. ... Jon Lester is 5-1, 3.34 in 11 career starts against the Indians. In his last three starts at Progressive Field, Lester has allowed one earned run over 19 innings and struck out 28. ... Zach McAllister is 1-1, 3.60 in two career starts against the Sox, both coming last season. McAllister is 5-6, 4.95 in 17 starts in Cleveland, 2-4, 3.30 in 11 starts on the road. ... Red Sox starters are 7-2, 2.30. ... Mike Napoli has hit in six straight at 9 of 26 with five doubles and nine RBIs. ... The Sox are 9-0 when scoring first. ... Dustin Pedroia has reached base safely in 24 games going back to last season. ... Will Middlebrooks is 2 for 30 with 12 strikeouts, 1 run scored and 1 RBI in the last eight games. ... Jacoby Ellsbury has hit in seven straight and 12 of 14 games this season. ... Shane Victorino has either a hit, walk or RBI in every game this season. But while he has a .403 on-base percentage, his one extra-base hit has left him with a .352 slugging percentage. ... Stephen Drew is 2 of 19 since coming off the disabled list. ... The Sox have struck out 64 times in their last six games. ... The Red Sox bullpen has thrown eight scoreless innings and struck out 10 in this series.

Song of the Day: "Award Tour" by A Tribe Called Quest.

Ask Nick: Why does Ellsbury always fake a bunt?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 18, 2013 01:53 PM

Have a
question?

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With the Red Sox off to a good start, there’s a better feeling about the team.

We do have some lament about Jose Iglesias being returned to Pawtucket, but there are good feelings about the starting rotation, particularly Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, who may be the two most important players on the team.

Let’s get to your questions in this week’s Mailbag

Why does Jacoby Ellsbury habitually fake a bunt on the first pitch and then take the pitch – usually a strike because the pitchers are hip to it? Is this just a bad habit? If so, why doesn't a coach or the manager tell Jacoby to stop?
Steve, Sandgate, Vt.

No reason to stop. One of these days, he’ll actually bunt for a base hit. Might as well keep that in the back of the infielders' mind. Don’t see what harm it does.

Do you think the Sox will draft a pitcher or a position player? For this year, I would opt for the outfielder from Stanford since their pitching for the future appears to be better then in previous years.
Le, Wallingford, Conn.
I think they’ll always draft a pitcher, if he’s considered a top guy, over an outfielder.

When it comes to pitching so far, it seems that the top four starters (minus John Lackey, unfortunately), there has been a surprise in how well they have performed. Could this be John Farrell's background with this team, or is it the chemistry we sorely lacked the last two seasons?
Dan, Nashua, N.H.
I’m sure John Farrell’s familiarity with Lester and Buchholz has helped. It’s also the two guys finally taking responsibility for their careers. They want to be good. They want to make the big dollars. To do that, you have to be elite pitchers. So far this season, they are elite.

How much longer do you think John Farrell will stay with Jackie Bradley Jr. before he sends him to Pawtucket?
Malcohm, Boise, Idaho
It may very well be linked to David Ortiz’s return sometime soon.

FULL ENTRY

Random Red Sox thoughts from Cleveland

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 09:15 AM

CLEVELAND — The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will have a Rolling Stones exhibition starting on May 24. That doesn't do me much good on April 18. But no visit to Cleveland would be complete without walking around the Hall and trying to learn a little something about music.

But first, a few random observations about the Red Sox:

• Alfredo Aceves is an interesting cat. The protocol for starting pitchers when they come out of the game is to wait around until the inning ends then go in the clubhouse to get their arm iced.

Aceves, who doesn't ice, stays in the dugout for the entire game. Last night, he was in full uniform 35 minutes after the game, including his spikes, and was walking around the clubhouse bouncing a baseball. At least half the players had already showered, dressed and left.

• In case you are wondering, John Farrell has the same alcohol policy as last year. The players can have beer after games on the road and on the team charter but not on the charter when it's heading back to Boston.

It's a liability issue more than a moral one. Almost every team is cognizant of what a bad idea it is to provide free alcohol to players and then putting them behind the wheel of a car.

• The Red Sox were so damaged by injuries last season, it probably didn't much matter who the manager and the coaches were. That team wasn't going to get anywhere. But the petty bickering between Bobby Valentine and his coaches and the lack of pre-game preparation surely cost the Sox a few games along the way.

It's revealing to see how well organized the Sox are this season. Have you noticed, for instance, their defensive positioning? Or the general lack of mistakes when it comes to executing fundamentals? The pitchers are noticeably better at fielding their position.

• Andrew Bailey has said all the right things since the Sox acquired Joel Hanrahan. But it's clear now that he's closing again that he doesn't intend to give the job back without a fight. Bailey is throwing the ball as well as he did with Oakland, elevating his fastball by hitters and commanding the strike zone.

"My velocity’s back, my stuff’s back and my confidence is there," Bailey said on Wednesday. "When you’re coming back from an injury and you miss a bunch of months it’s tough, but you’ve still got to go out there and produce and I didn’t. So they acquired Joel, which I totally understand, and we’ll see what happens when he gets back."

The Sox are into Hanrahan for a year and control Bailey for two. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Relievers, by nature, are inconsistent. If Bailey is hot, the Sox might be wise to ride him as long as they can.

Hanrahan, who will be a free agent after the season, will surely be eager to show his worth once he returns from the disabled list.

• David Ortiz is 3 for 15 at Pawtucket with no extra-base hits or walks. He'll play for the Paw Sox again tonight and seems likely to be activated on Friday.

Big Papi hasn't swung the bat well at all. There's a chance being in the big leagues and seeing pitchers he knows will change all that overnight. That can happen with veterans. But you also could be looking at a few weeks more of his ramping up.

• The Sox have gotten strong production (.275/.463/.500) out of their DHs without Ortiz, by the way.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. has played his way into being optioned back to the minors. But the idea that being demoted could somehow bruise his confidence is way off. Here's what he told me on Wednesday afternoon:

“It’s still early in the season. I’m not going to let this — 30 at-bats or whatever — define me. It’s not a sprint; it’s a freaking marathon. This isn’t how my career is going to turn out," he said.

“If I happen to go down, I’ll know I sucked my first go-around but I’ll be looking forward to the next time I get the chance. I’ve been through some tough times but I’ll keep grinding all season. It’s 10 or 11 games out of a season. There’s a long way to go.”

• The idea of paying Shane Victorino $39 million over three years seemed a little nutty at the time the Sox did it. But he has had either a hit, walk or RBI in every game so far and played Gold Glove defense in right field.

"He's got one of the best outfield arms in the game. It's strong and accurate," Hanrahan said. "People underrate his arm."

Said Dustin Pedroia: "Hurts my hand every time I catch it. He has a gun."

• Koji Uehara is fun to watch. He throws strikes, works fast then runs in the dugout and wants to high-five everybody. Outside of Hideki Matsui when he was with the Yankees, I've never seen a Japanese player so universally liked by his teammates as Uehara is.

• Jonny Gomes is a classic case of not judging a book by its cover. You see the crazy beard, all the tattoos and the aggressive play and it's easy to wonder from afar what kind of guy he might be. But in getting to know him, he's a person who cares about the game a lot, cares about his teammates and wants to win.

That said, once Bradley goes down, will the Red Sox expose Gomes to playing the outfield and facing righthanded hiitters? He has played two innings in the field all season and had 14 plate appearances against righties.

• Jose Iglesias is 3 of 19 since going back to Pawtucket and has struck out seven times. You could see that coming a mile away given how disappointing it had to be for him to get sent down after playing well. You really have to wonder, will he be a fringe player all his career or figure it out?

• From the first day of spring training, Jon Lester has looked like a player bent on changing the story. He didn't necessarily lose a lot of weight, but he clearly got in better shape and it shows in his pitching. He also has taken it upon himself to be one of the team spokesmen.

Example: When reporters from Cleveland crowded into the Sox clubhouse on Tuesday to ask about the Marathon bombings, Lester stood at his locker and answered questions for 20 minutes.

He understood that as a veteran of the organization, it was his duty to represent the team at a time when people wanted to know what Red Sox players were thinking. It's the kind of thing that he would have let somebody else handle in previous years. But Lester knows he's one of the team leaders now.

• Stephen Drew is 2 for 19 and because of his last name, some knuckleheads will be bent on disliking him. I still think he's going to be OK. He's not getting much return on the contact he is making and that will turn.

• Hitting coach Greg Colbrunn has some work to do with Will Middlebrooks. The third baseman has power and with that will come strikeouts. But only three walks in 59 plate appearances?

• Fenway Park is sure to be an emotional place this weekend when the team gets home. The old ballpark is only a mile away from where the bombings were and security will be ratcheted up. Give yourself plenty of time to get into the park.

• Finally, you should know that a bunch of present-day and former Red Sox are reaching out to find ways to help victims of the attack, especially the children. They're contacting people behind the scenes and offering ways to help.

So be happy your squad is 10-4. But be prouder of that.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 18, 2013 07:50 AM

Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara bailed out Alfredo Aceves as the Red Sox won again, 6-3, in Cleveland.

Nick Cafardo writes that patience paid off for Mike Carp as he had a big night.

The notebook has Jackie Bradley Jr. dealing with a lack of playing time for the first time in his career.

Final: Red Sox 6, Indians 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 07:10 PM

Game over: Red Sox 6, Indians 3 Andrew Bailey gets the save (his first) as he preserves a three-run lead. The game was played in 3:24. Alfredo Aceves gets the win. The game was played before 10, 282.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 6, Indians 3 - Another strong showing by Koji Uehara as he retired the Indians.

Top 8th: Red Sox 6, Indians 3 - The Sox scored their sixth run when Ellsbury reached on an infield hit and eventually scored on Victorino's sac bunt and subsequent throwing error by pitcher Joe Smith.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 5, Indians 3 - Junichi Tazawa pretty tough in mowing down Tribe.

Top 7th: Red Sox 5, Indians 3 - A rare 1-2-3 inning for the Indians.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 5, Indians 3 - The Indians' offense came alive against a tiring Aceves. After he walked Santana, Nick Swisher homered. That was followed by a Jason Giambi homer. Aceves eventually came out in favor of Junichi Tazawa, who preserved the two-run lead. Aceves went five innings, allowed seven hits and three runs.

Top 6th: Red Sox 5, Indians 0 - Justin Masterson went five innings, allowed 11 hits, four runs with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw 101 pitches. Victorino reached base for the fourth time (single in the sixth) with an HBP and three singles. Napoli doubled and Nava singed to drive in the run.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 4, Indians 0 - Shane Victorino saved the day for Aceves with a nice over-the-shoulder catch in right to rob Asrdrubal Cabrera of extra bases with the bases loaded. Aceves retired the first two batters but then allowed a single to Chisenhall, a double to Stubbs and walked Brantley.

Top 5th: Red Sox 4, Indians 0 - With two outs, the Red Sox tacked on another run when Drew led off with a walk and came in on Carp's triple to center, his third hit of the game.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Aceves retired Santana, Swisher and Giambi.

Top 4th: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Mike Carp doubled to left, his second of the game. The Sox loaded them up on singles by Victorino and Pedroia, but Napoli struck out and Nava grounded out.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Lonnie Chisenhall singled to left but was thrown out trying to stretch to a double but Victorino made a nice throw to throw him out. Drew Stubbs walked. The Indians got a runner as far as second base, but Aceves got a nice play from Cabrera to get out of the inning.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Sox go down in order as Masterson begins to get into the groove.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Nick Swisher singled to right to lead off the inning but the Indians went down in order.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Sox offense was at it again. Mike Carp, making his first start at first base, doubled to the left field corner. Ellsbury reached on an infield hit to third which he beat out and Victorino singled to right to load them up. After Pedroia struck out and Napoli fouled out to third, Daniel Nava ended the threat with a fly out to left.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Alfredo Aceves, who was shagging fly balls in the outfield at 2 p.m., very unusual for a starting pitcher, came out strong with a 1-2-3 inning including a strikeout of Carlos Santana to end the inning.

Top 1st: Red Sox 3, Indians 0 - Justin Masterson's streak of 19-1/3 innings came to a screeching halt when the Red Sox had the first five batters reach, four with singles and one (Shane Victorino) was hit with a pitch. Jacoby Ellsbury, Victorino and Dustin Pedroia (single) loaded the bases. Mike Napoli singled in a pair, Nava followed with an RBI single before the Indians recorded their first out on Will Middlebrooks' slow grounder to shortstop. Jarrod Saltalamacchia's grounder to first was fielded by Mark Reynolds who gunned the run down at the plate.Drew, now 2-for-17 to start the season, struck out to end the inning.

Looks like another small crowd at Progressive Field, likely in the 9-10,000 range. Wind is blowing out to left field.

Lackey making progress with rehab

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 05:39 PM

CLEVELAND — A few pregame notes for you:

• RHP John Lackey (right biceps) played long toss out to 130 feet today. The plan is for him to pitch off a mound Thursday. From there, he would throw in the bullpen over the weekend. Game activity of some sort would start early next week. That could mean a simulated game or perhaps a minor league game.

"He's making very good progress," manager John Farrell said. "There's no symptoms remaining in the bicep area. He feels really upbeat and positive with the way things stand right now."

Farrell said there would have to be some kind of test before Lackey is activated off the disabled list. A definitive plan has not been mapped out.

"We want to do what's right for John from the health standpoint," said Farrell. "We'll take it start by start. We'd have to see how he responds and recovers."

• DH David Ortiz (right Achilles') will play for Pawtucket tonight and Thursday. "If all things go accordingly, there's a real possibility he could rejoin us on the homestand," Farrell said. "Optimistically, it would be at the start of the homestand."

• RHP Joel Hanrahan (right hamstring) played catch out to 90 feet. No date has been set to pitch off the mound, as Hanrahan would have to pitch from flat ground first. "No symptoms are reproduced from flat ground," Farrell said. "That's going to be intensity-related and the angle of the mound when it's incorporated."

The Red Sox have said that Hanrahan would be sent on a minor league rehab assignment before he comes off the disabled list. That woulds serve the dual purposes of testing his health and allowing him to work on his mechanics.

Will Hanrahan be the closer once he returns?

"I don't think we're sitting here today ready to make that claim," said Farrell. "I think we've got to get through some things first. Particularly how he responds with the hamstring. He's going to need a couple of of rehab appearances just to get himself going again.

"This is a bigger-bodied guy that is a power pitcher and we want to be sure that he feels comfortably physically before we bring him back to us. We'll work through that
at that time."

• LHP Franklin Morales (back) is scheduled for three innings and/or 50 pitches for Single A Greenville tonight as he starts his rehab assignment.

• LHP Craig Breslow (shoulder) pitched in an extended spring training game Tuesday and felt fine. He will pitch in an another extended spring training game Friday and then throw a bullpen session at Fenway Park Sunday before starting his rehab assignment with Double A Portland Tuesday.

• The Sox and Indians combined for 25 strikeouts and 15 walks Tuesday. That is the first time in major league history that has ever happened in a nine-inning game.

"Inconsistent strike throwing, in some ways. A lot of good stuff being thrown from the mound with the swing and miss that was totaled," Farrell said. "There's been a lot made of the strikeout rates climbing over the last couple of years. I can't pinpoint to a reason that's the case."

Two Red Sox minor leaguers suspended for drug violations

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 05:09 PM

This from MLB:

The Commissioner's Office announced Wednesday that two Red Sox minor leaguers have been suspended for violating baseball's minor league drug policy.

Righthanded pitcher Gerson Bautista, who is on the roster for the Red Sox' Dominican Summer League team, was suspended 50 games for testing positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid. His suspension is effective at the start of the summer league season.

Lefthanded pitcher Miguel Pena, who is with Single A Salem in the Carolina League, was suspended 50 games for a second positive test for "a drug of abuse," according to MLB. His suspension begins immediately. Pena was 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in three starts this season.

Pena had a 2.95 earned run average for low Single A Greenville last season and was part of a combined no-hitter. He was 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA for Single A Salem this season.

Pena, a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft, is generally listed among the top 30-40 prospects in the organization.

Game 14: Red Sox at Indians

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (9-4)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli DH
Nava LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS,
Carp 1B
Pitching: RHP Alfredo Aceves (0-0, 6.75).

INDIANS (5-7)
Brantley LF
Cabrera SS
Santana C
Swisher RF
Giambi DH
Reynolds 1B
Phelps 2B
Chisenhall 3B
Stubbs CF
Pitching: RHP Justin Masterson (3-0, 0.41).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Masterson: Napoli 4-15, Pedroia 1-13, Ellsbury 2-9, Salty 3-8, Drew 1-6, Carp 0-4, Victorino 0-2, Middlebrooks 2-3, Nava 1-1, Ross 0-3, Gomes 0-1.

Indians vs. Aceves: Reynolds 4-12, Swisher 3-9, Cabrera 0-2, Santana 0-1, Aviles 1-2, Bourn 1-2, Brantley 1-2, Kipnis 1-2.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have not been six games over .500 since the end of the 2011 season. Their high-water mark was five games over last season, the last time on July 1 when they were 42-37.

Notes: The Sox have won four straight and are 5-2 on the road. ... Red Sox starters are 6-2 with a 2.09 ERA. ... Ellsbury has hit in six straight and 11 of 13 this season. He leads the majors with six stolen bases. ... Pedroia has reached base safely in all 13 games this season and 23 straight going back to last season. ... Aceves is making his first career start against the Indians. He has a 2.35 ERA in six relief outings. ... Masterson, the former Sox prospect, is 3-1, 3.21 in five career starts against Boston. He has struck out 20 in 22 innings this season. ... The Sox have played only three games since 2001 before crowds of less than 10,000. All have been in Cleveland in April. Tuesday's game drew 9,143. ... Middlebrooks is 2 of 25 with 10 strikeouts in the last seven games. ... The Indians are 2-4 at home.

Song of the Day: "Into The Fire" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Red Sox face Justin Masterson tonight

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 12:43 PM

CLEVELAND - The Red Sox have always loved Justin Masterson and have tried to get him back a couple of times in deals.

They hated to give him up in a four-player deal with the Indians for Victor Martinez on July 31, 2009, but the Red Sox needed a major hitter at the time and so Theo Epstein sent Masterson, lefty reliever Nick Hagadone, who pitched against the Red Sox last night, as well as righty Bryan Price for Martinez.

Starting in 2010, Masterson has gone 6-13, 12-10 and 11-15 last season.

His best season was 2011 when he had his only winning record and a 3.21 ERA. He has started out strong so far this season – 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA. In three starts and 22 innings, he’s allowed just one run.

“Hopefully he won’t pitch like he did last time out (a 1-0 five-hit shutout over the White Sox), because it was a quick nine innings of work for him,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell, Masterson’s first major league pitching coach with the Red Sox.

“The one thing he’s done better job since coming to Cleveland through innings and through facing more lefthanded hitters, his attack plan against them. I think he’s got a better feel for when to stand on his fastball and get his best fastball. We’re seeing velocity ranges where he’s commanding his two-seamer early in the count to get ahead in the count and then look to give you his best fastball when he gets into advantage situations,” explained Farrell.

“The one thing Justin has always been even from the first start he made against Angels in 2008 (six innings, one run, two hits), he’s very composed and determined and a very good pitcher with two outstanding pitches,” Farrell said.

Masterson, who has labored against lefthanded hitters in the past, has held them to a .146 average this season. Lefties hit .296 against him last season and in his career they’ve got .289 against him.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 12:04 PM

The Red Sox beat the Indians, 7-2, on Tuesday as their thoughts were in Boston.

Nick Cafardo writes that baseball seemed like a trivial exercise.

The notebook has the Sox in a somber mood before the game.

In Pawtucket, David Ortiz is making progress. Mike Scandura has the story.

A few notes from Cleveland

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 12:31 AM

In case you missed it, many of the ballparks around the majors played "Sweet Caroline" Tuesday night, including Yankee Stadium.

Whether you like the song or not, it was pretty neat that other teams showed their support of Boston in such a way.

Here's hoping the Yankees get a nice cheer — at least at the beginning of the game — when they come to Fenway Park on July 19.

Meanwhile, here are a few notes before we close up shop:

• The Red Sox placed closer Joel Hanrahan on the disabled list, saying his right hamstring strain would need time to heal. Righthander Steven Wright was called up from Triple A Pawtucket.

“It was going to be total of 5-7 days recovery time for the hamstring,” John Farrell said. “So him going in the DL was pretty clear cut.”

Farrell said Hanrahan would make a few rehabilitation appearances in the minors, too. The righthander had a 11.57 ERA and a 2.36 WHIP in six appearances

Wright was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts for Pawtucket. The 28-year-old could make his debut against the Indians, the team that traded him to the Red Sox in July.

“It’s exciting to get to the big leagues,” Wright said. “Being in Cleveland makes it nice because I was here for so many years.”

Wright hasn’t worked in relief since he started throwing a knuckleball full-time in 2011. “That doesn’t bother me,” he said. “The only difference is the preparation.”

Wright asked for No. 35 to pay tribute to the late Frank Pastore, the pitching coach who taught him the knuckleball. Pastore died in December.

• The Red Sox gave Stephen Drew (2 for 16) a day off and started Pedro Ciriaco at shortstop

• John Lackey, on the disabled list with a strained bicep, threw out to 120 feet and is feeling better.

• Lefthander Franklin Morales, who is on the DL with a back injury, will start his rehab assignment on Wednesday with a start for Single A Greenville.

• Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. hitting .097 and hitless in his last 20 at-bats, was out of the lineup. He Bradley seems sure to return to the minors once David Ortiz is activated, which could be as soon as Friday.

• The Sox had only six hits in the game and struck out 16 times. But they drew nine walks. It was the most strikeouts in a nine-inning game since Sept. 21, 2007 when the Sox fanned 17 times against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the first time in history that the Sox struck out 16 times and walked nine times in a nine-inning game.

• Mike Carp is going to get a start at first base on Wednesday with Mike Napoli the DH.

Thanks to everybody for reading today.

Red Sox send a message home

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 17, 2013 12:24 AM

boston strong.jpg

CLEVELAND — As an organization, the Red Sox will find a way to help console the victims of Monday’s tragedy and honor the heroes. Plans are already being made within the offices on Yawkey Way.

But the players sitting in the visitor’s clubhouse at Progressive Field before Tuesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians wanted to do something on their own to send the message back home that their minds were on more than a baseball game.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia asked Jonny Gomes if he had any ideas.

“I’ve got this,” Gomes said before sketching out an idea they took to clubhouse manager Tom McLaughlin.

A spare jersey was dug out of the equipment trunk. Before too long it had 617 across the back along with the words “Boston Strong.” The players hung it in the dugout.

“We’re not robots,” Gomes said after the Red Sox beat the Indians, 7-2, for their fourth straight win. “We live in the city. Those are our fans who were attacked.”

Mike Napoli doubled twice in a seven-run second inning and drove in three runs. But what he will remember about this game was every Cleveland player who reached first base asking him about the bombing.

“The umpires were asking, too. It was all everybody was talking about,” he said.

Dustin Pedroia was somber before and after the game, his usual chatter and braggadocio muted for a night. But he did his part, getting on base twice and scoring a run.

“We know a lot of people are back home watching, trying to maybe forget something, take their mind off what’s happening there,” he said. “We’re going to come out and play as hard as we can and we’ll be home in a couple of days.”

Final: Red Sox 7, Indians 2

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 07:19 PM

Game over: Red Sox 7, Indians 2

Red Sox struck out 16 times and walked nine times, first time that's ever happened in a nine-inning game. But they won before 9,143 at Progressive Field. They scored seven runs in the second inning off Ubaldo Jimenez, who walked five in the inning, and that was it. In fact, the Red Sox scored more runs than they had hits. The game was played in 3:30.

Top 9th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: A Mike Carp sighting. He pinch-hit in the ninth for Daniel Nava, who had struck out four times. Carp also fanned. The Red Sox struck out 16 times and walked nine times.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: Alex Wilson gets an inning of work and retires the Indians in order.

Top 8th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: Sox go down 1-2-3.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: An embarrassing crowd of 9,143 at Progressive Field. A 1-2-3 inning for Mortensen.

Top 7th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: Daniel Nava struck out for the fourth time. we saw former Sox lefty Rich Hill, who throws over the top now.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: Clayton Mortensen came on to relieve Doubront and allowed a hit and walk before striking out Drew Stubbs to end the threat.

Top 6th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: A couple of Nick Hagadone curveballs did in Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli (strikeouts) after Shane Victorino walked.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 7, Indians 2: An all too-typical outing for Doubront - five innings 104 pitches, two runs, seven strikeouts and four walks. Just can't seem to economize. The Indians loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles and a walk. Doubront struck out Carlos Santana, but he seemed to cross up David Ross who missed a fastball that went off the top of his glove scoring the second Indians run.

Top 5th: Red Sox 7, Indians 1: Cody Allen struck out two Red Sox to complete a very good long relief stint for the Tribe.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 7, Indians 1: Doubront walked Mark Reynolds with one out, but pitched well out of the stretch to get Brantley and Aviles.

Top 4th: Red Sox 7, Indians 1: Dustin Pedroia managed a single, but that was all.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 7, Indians 1: Doubront struck out three in the inning, but also walked Asdrubal Cabrera.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 7, Indians 1: The Red Sox got hits from Gomes and Ross but couldn't add to their lead.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 7, Indians 1: The Indians put runners at first and third after a single to center by Nick Swisher and a single to right by Mickey Brantley with one out. former Red Sox Mike Aviles lined a sacrifice fly to left field to put the Indians on the scoreboard. Felix Doubront struck out Lonnie Chisenhall to get out of the inning.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 7, Indians 0: The Red Sox took advantage of Jimenez's control problems to score seven runs.

After Napoli led off with a double to the gap in right, Middlebrooks, Gomes and Ross walked to force in a run. Ciriaco lined to right and Middlebrooks tagged up and scored. Ellsbury followed with RBI single to center.

Victorino walked to load the bases. Pedroia then walked to force in a run and Jimenez was lifted by Terry Francona, who really had no choice.

Cody Allen came in and Napoli greeted him with a three-run double to center field that hit the wall.

Nick Cafardo will take over the updates from here.

End of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Indians 0: The Red Sox went in order on the grounders. The Indians also went in order but Cabrera hit a fly ball to the track in center. It will be interesting to see how Doubront handles 10 days of rest between starts. He missed a start because of the rainout last Friday.

Pre-game: Good evening from Progressive Field, where the tarp was down for a bit. But the game will start on time.

Here's hoping that following a baseball game will help take on your mind from recent events.

Indians pay tribute to Boston before game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 07:06 PM

CLEVELAND — The Indians have joined the Red Sox in wearing black arm bands on their uniforms for the game.

The teams were on the baselines for a moment of silence to remember the victims. The Sox also hung a jersey in their dugout that had 617 and "Boston Strong" on it.

As Ubaldo Jimenez warmed up, "Sweet Caroline" was playing at Progressive Field.

Red Sox players are somber after events in Boston

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 05:41 PM

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Photo via the Red Sox Twitter feed

CLEVELAND — The televisions in the clubhouse were on CNN this afternoon, not ESPN or some silly movie, which is usually the case. There was no music playing, either.

The mood here in Cleveland was somber, just as it is back home. None of the Red Sox are from Boston, but they're part of the fabric of the city, and Monday's events hit them hard.

The Sox were getting on the team bus Monday when they learned of the news. It came initially from a phone call placed to Will Middlebrooks from his father.

"I didn't believe it at first," said Middlebrooks. "But my dad was like, 'Will, this is serious.'

"It was just shocking. We've all walked on that sidewalk or had dinner in those restaurants. Our families and friends, too."

No Red Sox employees were injured, team officials said.

Jon Lester was angry.

"Whoever did this, make them realize that we don't take kindly to things like that," he said. "We have to be together, united, and stand up to this and show these people that this isn't going to break us."

Lester, who has spent his entire career with the Sox, said knowing that area of the city so well made the attack especially unsettling.

"It's weird," he said. "You see these things, it's like movies. For it to hit home like this, to be on that sidewalk plenty of times, eaten down at those restaurants plenty of times, it hits right at home. It's a scary deal.

"But you can't live in fear. You have to keep doing what you're doing and not let these people ruin our lives."

Dustin Pedroia, who always has so much to say, was sparse with his words and spoke in a quiet tone. He lives maybe a mile from the site of the bombings with his wife and two young sons.

"I was there actually the day before," said Pedroia. "You can't even describe how you feel. All of us, man, that bus side was silent. It's still hard to put together."

Pedroia said he takes pride in Boston and playing for the Sox.

"It's as tough a city out there," he said. "When we put our uniform on, it'll be that much more special every day."

The Sox are optimistic that baseball can somehow give people a diversion, however brief.

"Hope that it takes their mind off the situation for a second," Pedroia said. "What's going on there is the worst. I still can't put it all together.

"It's tough ... it's tough to deal with, man."

Terry Francona talks about the tragedy and facing his old team

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 04:52 PM

CLEVELAND — Here are some excerpts from Terry Francona on the Boston Marathon tragedy and other topics:

Asked whether the tragedy hit home because of his Boston roots, Francona said, "I'm not sure you have to roots in Boston to care about that. Obviously I do, as you guys do too. Just seems like when you turn the TV on and when you’re there it’s hard for everybody whether its personal or not. It seems like it gets personal. You turn on TV and you hear right wing and left wing. I wish there were no wings. Just wish people would get along. I don’t understand it I don’t pretend to. I hope there are people way smarter than me who are trying to somehow somehow someday try to figure this out so this stuff doesn’t happen.

"It’s hard enough to be an adult, can you imagine being a little kid growing up now? It’s hard. It just makes you feel bad."

Jon Lester said playing could take people's mind off it for a spell and help:

"I hope so. That would be terrific if it helps anybody at all. That would be terrific. I do think that is the case. Again, just from being there the time I was, that day is so special to the people in Boston. They’re so proud of that day. You have the Marathon, the game it’s a big deal. It’s a personal day for the city of Boston and New England. I don’t know how you quantify what happened, its unfair. Hope this game does help some people."

How did he find out?

"I was actually here at the ballpark doing something and one of my daughters…I saw I had a bunch of missed calls. I figured something was up and I called her back and that’s how I knew. I was really tied up for a while so I couldn’t get to anything. So then I turned the TV on and saw what ever it was. It’s personal for everybody. In some of those views I could see the church my daughter was married in. So it’s very unsettling for everybody."

How is to face the Red Sox?

"It’s OK. Just being as honest as I can be. We’re a year removed. Not being in Boston. I had mostly really good eight years. I didn’t script it the way it ended and you move on. Sometimes it’s time to move on and I’m really happy where I am here. I think it would be unfair for the players for me to have like a nostalgia week. Our job is to beat them. And it is them. It doesn’t take away from people I’m close to there but I like where I’m at and they like where they’re at so things are pretty good. I do think it will be harder when I got to Boston for me."

Has he ever had any fear of going to the ballpark?

"Fearful going to the park, but not for those reasons," he kidded. "Seen some of those Philadelphia pitchers out there. No, no. You kidding me? I can barely get to the ballpark as it is. I’m not afraid. I hope that’s never the case. That would be disappointing if that happened."

Did the year off help him deal with what happened (with the Red Sox) better?

"A ton and that’s what I was referring to. A lot. And the fact its in Cleveland helps me a lot too. I’m sure going back to Fenway bring back a lot of memories. This is my home and home team. It’s not just another series but at same time it’s not that I woke up and that’s all I thought about. The idea is to beat them and if we do, good."

He said he chatted with Dustin Pedroia and John Farrell for a minute.

"Went out and saw him (Pedroia) for a miniute, he didn’t get any better looking."

He said of Farrell, "The day he got hired the glass became half-full. I hope for the next three days everything goes wrong for them. But he’s one of my best friends in baseball and in life and they got a good hire."

Other teams pay tribute to Boston victims

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 03:10 PM

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CLEVELAND — Here's a photo of the flag at Progressive Field flying at half-staff to honor the victims in Boston.

And get this: The Yankees are going to play "Sweet Caroline" at the end of the third inning tonight. Now that is pretty cool.

Nice going, Yankees.

Game 13: Red Sox at Indians

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 02:17 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (8-4)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava LF
Gomes DH
Ross C
Ciriaco SS
Pitching: LHP Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40).

INDIANS (5-6)
Stubbs CF
Cabrera SS
Santana C
Swisher 1B
Reynolds DH
Brantley LF
Aviles 2B
Chisenhall 3B
Raburn RF
Pitching: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1, 6.97).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Jimenez: Drew 9-36, Victorino 6-16, Gomes 5-12, Pedroia 5-11, Middlebrooks 2-6, Nava 3-5, Saltalamacchia 1-6, Ellsbury 1-3, Ciriaco 2-3, Napoli 2-3, Ross 0-2.

Indians vs. Doubront: Swisher 4-13, Cabrera 1-6, Reynolds 1-6, Santana 2-6, Brantley 1-5, Kipnis 1-3, Raburn 0-3.

Stat of the Day: Red Sox starters are 5-2 with a 1.99 ERA, the lowest in the majors. They lead the majors with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

Notes: After a 4-2 homestand, the Red Sox have three games in Cleveland before going back to Fenway Park for a 10-game homestand ... The Sox will be facing Terry Francona as a manager for the first time since July 4, 2000, when he managed the Phillies. Francona was 8-5 against the Sox when he managed the Phillies ... The Indians have a few former Red Sox players (Mike Aviles, Justin Masterson, Rich Hill, Matt Albers) along with former Sox coach Brad Mills, who is Francona's third base coach. Kevin Cash, a former Sox catcher, is the Indians bullpen coach ... Doubront is 1-1, 4.35, in two starts against the Indians, both last year ... Jimenez is 1-1, 9.00 in three career starts against the Sox, two coming last year ... Jimenez is 13-22, 5.39, in 44 starts for the Indians since being being acquired from the Rockies ... The Sox are 13-13 against the Indians the last three seasons ... The Sox hit .201 and scored 20 runs in their six-game homestand ... Pedroia has reached base safely in all 12 games and 22 straight going back to last season ... Jackie Bradley Jr. is 3 for 31 in the majors, 0 for his last 20 with 10 strikeouts ... Stephen Drew (2 for 16) gets a day off.

Song of the Day: "Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M.

David Ortiz: 'It was a tough day yesterday'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 12:45 PM

Via our On Deck blog, here's what the Pawtucket Red Sox were saying about Monday's attack.

Manager Gary DiSarcina and outfielder Alex Hassan have Massachusetts ties. David Ortiz also spoke about the tragedy.

"At the time I got pretty angry, I couldn’t process anything through my stomach last night, especially watching the news. Why would people do things like that? I was watching the news last night, saw this 8-year-old kid that was right there with his mom and sister, waiting for his dad to cross the finish line and all I think about is, how can this happen?" Ortiz said.

"I’m very sad and got very emotional last night. This is a nation that is good at sticking up and staying together when things like this happen. All of us are behind it. I’m a person that I’m proud of this country. This country gave me and my family the opportunity to be who I am today. I always say that it’s an honor to be a part of this country and seeing things like this happen it’s getting on everyone's mind and your want to do something about it.

"I heard our President last night talking and he looked like he was struggling. To see what happened at [Newtown ] last year and a lot of students and people lost their life and then you see a day like yesterday. You have a lot of people sacrificing themselves to raise money and some [expletive] just come out with things like that, it’s not fair, man. It’s not fair. It was a tough day yesterday."

Ortiz is in the lineup for Pawtucket today.

Red Sox call up Wright; Hanrahan to disabled list

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 12:07 PM

CLEVELAND — The Red Sox have called up righthanded knuckleballer Steven Wright from Triple A Pawtucket and placed Joel Hanrahan on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain.

Wright was 1-0 with a 2.70 earned run average in two starts for Pawtucket. The 28-year-old could make his debut against the Indians, the team that traded him to the Red Sox in July.

Wright has not pitched often in relief since adopting the knuckleball. It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox use him. It would likely be in long relief.

Middlebrooks thinks about his city

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 11:01 AM

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Great sentiment by Will, who has embraced all that comes with living in Boston and playing for the Red Sox. He has been active in the community, great with fans and sincerely cares about where we live.

In spring training, when we sat down for an interview, Will mentioned at the end about wanting to buy a place to live in Boston because he hoped to spend his entire career here.

Baseball seems meaningless in the light of Monday's events, but the games will go on and we will report on them here. Hopefully the diversion will be beneficial in some way.

Please go check out the terrific journalism being produced on BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com.

The sites are free and my colleagues are doing amazing work. We'll have the lineups here later.

Red Sox postone Fenway Park Open House

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 10:36 AM

The Red Sox announced that light of the attack on Monday, the Fenway Park Open House scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.

The free event was to provide an opportunity during school vacation week for families and children to wander the concourses, see displays, and stroll on the warning track. It will be rescheduled for later this season.

“We all personally feel the grief of the horrifying tragedy that struck our community on Patriot's Day,” Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino said. “Our hearts are with our fellow Bostonians and visitors from around the world who were here for one of Boston's most spectacular and time-honored events. In the coming days, we will join with others to find ways to show the victims of this heartless, cowardly act our sincere support, and to demonstrate to all, our community's unity, strength, and resilience.

“Fan safety has been and will continue to be of paramount importance. The club's security personnel will continue to work vigorously with Major League Baseball security, and federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities to maintain and reinforce the high level of security already in place at Fenway Park.”

Pitching matchups for the Indians series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 09:30 AM

Tuesday: LHP Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (0-1, 6.97), 7:05 p.m., NESN

Wednesday: RHP Alfredo Aceves (0-0, 6.75) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (3-0, 0.41), 7:05 p.m., NESN

Thursday: LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 1.42) vs. RHP Zach McAllister (0-1, 3.00), 7:05 p.m., NESN

Red Sox react to Marathon bombings

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 16, 2013 01:50 AM

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CLEVELAND — The Red Sox, via Twitter, added their thoughts in the wake of the attack in Boston today.

The team was about to leave for Cleveland at the time of the incident and did travel here for a three-game series that starts Tuesday.

The Rays, who were staying in Copley Square, were able to travel to Baltimore for their next series.

Several Red Sox players — Andrew Bailey, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino among them — took to Twitter to express their thoughts about the attack.

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Many people connected with the Red Sox have run the Marathon in previous years and in the past players have gathered at the finish line to see family members and friends who run the race.

Final: Red Sox 3, Rays 2

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 15, 2013 11:03 AM

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Continuing a dominant run of starting pitching for the Red Sox, Ryan Dempster notched 10 strikeouts over seven strong innings but again didn’t factor into the decision in the Sox’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

With Joel Hanrahan nursing a hamstring injury, Koji Uehara came on to pitch a clean eighth, his 17th straight scoreless inning. Andrew Bailey, who had been more than reliable in 4.1 scoreless innings as a setup man (seven strikeouts, just one hit allowed) came on in the ninth for his first save opportunity of the year, but fumbled it.

He gave up a leadoff single to Desmond Jennings, who got himself into scoring position by stealing second. Then Ben Zobrist brought him around with a line-drive to left that Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn’t come up with.

The Sox needed a blast off the Monster by Mike Napoli to win in walk off fashion for the second time this season. It was the third walk-off hit of Napoli’s career. With Dustin Pedroia at first, he ripped 2-and-2 splitter for the game-deciding double.

The Sox swept the Tampa Bay for the first time since a 2010 series in Tampa. It had been four years since they took every game in a Fenway set with the Rays since.

The Sox jumped out to an early lead in the first thanks to a leadoff triple by Jacoby Ellsbury, who was then driven in by a Shane Victorino ground ball. Victorino, who came in hitting .566 with runners in scoring position, now has seven RBI on the year.

Challenged offensively, the only run Tampa Bay was able to muster up was Evan Longoria homer in the fourth. The Sox reclaimed the lead in the fifth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia smacked an 0-and-2 pitch over the Sox bullpen.

The Sox, who have won all four of their series to start the season, improved to 8-4, second in the American League behind the Oakland As.

FULL ENTRY

John Lackey to begin throwing program

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 15, 2013 10:33 AM

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After leaving his first start with tightness in his right biceps and being placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this week, Red Sox pitcher John Lackey will begin a throwing program Tuesday, said manager John Farrell.

"The symptoms have subsided," Farrell said. "So any kind of range of motion that he's going through or just a couple days where he felt a little bit of tightness in that bicep, that's gone. So we'll initiate that tomorrow.

Lackey lasted just 4.1 innings in his first start of the season April 6 against the Toronto Blue Jays before grabbing his injured arm.

Game 12: Rays at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 15, 2013 08:25 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups for Patriots Day:

RED SOX (7-4)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Gomes DH
Bradley Jr. LF
Pitching: RHP Ryan Dempster (0-1, 3.60).

RAYS (4-7)
Jennings CF
Zobrist RF
Longoria 3B
Joyce LF
Roberts 2B
Loney 1B
Escobar SS
Lobaton C
Johnson DH
Pitching: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 6.35)

Game time: 11:05 a.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Hellickson: Pedroia 5-22, Salty 5-18, Ellsbury 3-17, Middlebrooks 1-9, Nava 1-7, Carp 2-7, Ciriaco 4-6, Napoli 2-5, Drew 1-3, Gomes 1-3.

Rays vs. Dempster: Loney 3-19, Johnson 1-11, Escobar 1-9, Longoria 0-2, Roberts 0-0.

Stat of the Day: The Rays are 0 for their last 23 with runners in scoring position, 0 for 17 this series.

Notes: The Sox played the Rays on Patriots Day last season and lost, 1-0. ... The Rays have lost 5 of 6, hitting .160 with eight runs scored in those games and only seven extra-base hits. Tampa Bay has scored 33 runs this season, its fewest for the first 11 games of the season in franchise history. ... Red Sox starters are 5-2 with a 2.06 ERA. ... Dempster is 3-4, 4.24 in eight career appearances against the Rays, the last coming in 2008. ... Hellickson is 3-2, 4.47 in 10 career appearances against the Sox, nine of them starts. He was 1-1, 4.71 in five starts last season. ... The Sox leave after the game for Cleveland and a one-series road trip against the Indians and Terry Francona.

Song of the Day: "Long May You Run" by Neil Young.

18 consecutive scoreless innings for Buchholz

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 07:59 PM

A few Clay Buchholz notes:

• He has 19 strikeouts in his last two games, the best two-game total of his career.

• Buchholz has a 3.00 ERA in 27 starts dating back to last May 27.

• Buchholz is the first Red Sox pitcher to hold opponents to 1 run or fewer over at least seven innings in the first three outings of the season since once Pedro Martinez in 1998.

• Buchholz has thrown 18 consecutive shutout innings going back to the Yankees game on April 3. He has allowed seven hits and struck out 21 in those 18 innings.

Also:

• Dustin Pedroia (3 for 4 with a double) has reached base safely in all 11 games this season and 21 straight going back to last season. John Farrell said after the game that he thought it was the best Pedroia has looked at the plate.

• Stephen Drew is 1 for 13 since coming off the disabled list. He was credited with an RBI during that busy third inning, his first with the Red Sox.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. was back in the lineup and went 0 for 3. He is hitless in his last 17 at-bats with eight strikeouts and is down to .107 on the season. It seems inevitable that Bradley will be sent down once David Ortiz returns.

• The Sox have committed two errors all season, both coming in the outfield on Wednesday.

• The Sox have won 11 of their last 20 games against the Rays.

• Daniel Nava has reached base safely in 18 consecutive starts dating back to last Sept. 21.

• Players and coaches from both teams will wear No. 42 on Monday as Major League Baseball celebrates the legacy of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color line on April 15, 1947. The Sox also will wear 42 in Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians do not play on Monday.

• A group of 12 wounded veterans who will compete in the Boston Marathon on Monday in hand-cycled wheelchairs threw out the first pitch. The group, part of the Achilles Freedom Team, received a big ovation from the crowd and applause from the Sox players on the top step of the dugout as they left the field.

Buchholz settles for eight shutout innings

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 07:51 PM

Clay Buchholz was a 23-year-old rookie making his second start in the majors when he no-hit the Baltimore Orioles in 2007. He was so intimidated by catcher Jason Varitek back then that didn’t shake off even one pitch.

“I was scared of him,” Buchholz said.

On Sunday afternoon, as he stood on the Fenway Park mound in the eighth inning preparing to pitch to Kelly Johnson, Buchholz this time had the confidence to decide what pitch he wanted to throw.

And why not? Everything was working against the Rays, who Buchholz had no-hit for seven innings.

“It’s fun to go out there and pitch when you have all your pitches working. Doesn’t happen every day,” Buchholz said. “Probably five times a season it happens for a starting pitcher.”

The Rays knew what they were dealing with.

“I was certainly thinking he had no-hit stuff today even after my first at-bat,” Johnson said. “Guy was nasty.”

Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia called for a fastball and Buchholz shook his head slightly. He didn’t want a cutter, either. His choice was a curveball.

It was a decent pitch, a little more over the plate than Buchholz intended but still inside. Johnson swung hard and broke his bat. The ball landed softly on the grass in shallow right field.

“Didn’t quite get it there and he was able to put the bat on it. Just one of those things,” Buchholz said after a 5-0 victory against the Rays.

Now 28, Buchholz is smart enough not to bemoan eight shutout innings and a career-best 11 strikeouts. But if ever there was a day for him to become only the 31st pitcher with multiple no-hitters, this was it.

The Rays have struggling at the plate all season, scoring only 33 runs in their first 10 games. In the five games prior to Sunday, they had hit a collective .169.

Tampa Bay also has an odd predilection for being on the wrong side of history. They have been no-hit four times since the start of 2009 season.

Buchholz even had his wife, Lindsay, sitting right behind the plate cheering him on. Everything was lined up.

“I’ve been trying to do it again since that day and it hasn’t happened,” Buchholz said.

The crowd of 35,198 gave Buchholz an ovation after the hit. He allowed another hit before finishing off the inning. More applause greeted him on his way to the dugout.

“His performance pretty much speaks for itself,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “An outstanding outing on his part.”

Buchholz picked up strikeouts with his fastball (5), cutter (3), changeup (2) and curveball (1) as he spotted the ball to both sides of the plate. There were four walks along the way, which ran up his pitch count but did not detract from his performance.

Buchholz allowed the hit on his 101st pitch and finished with 109, four shy of his most this season. Would Farrell have allowed him to chase history at the expense of a high pitch count on a chilly day in April?

“I don’t think we’ll ever know, will we?” said the manager, who was likely relieved not to have to make that decision.

Buchholz is 3-0 and has allowed one earned run in 22 innings with 23 strikeouts. He and Jon Lester are 5-0 with a 1.10 earned run average in six starts. They stand as the biggest reason the rejuvenated Red Sox are 7-4.

Sox starters are 5-2 with a 2.07 ERA.

“Everybody's throwing the ball well. That's the biggest thing with us. We're just trying to keep our team in the game,” Lester said.

Ryan Dempster gets the unusual 11:05 a.m. Patriots Day start on Monday as the Sox seek a sweep.

“I wish Clay had done it,” Saltalamacchia said. “But we can’t complain with the way we’ve been playing.”

See the Globe on Monday for more on Buchholz's no-hit bid.

Final: Red Sox 5, Rays 0

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 01:30 PM

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Clay Buchholz made a strong bid to become the 31st pitcher in baseball history to pitch multiple no hitters, but saw it come to an end at the hands of Kelly Johnson and his broken-bat single in the eighth inning of 5-0 win over the Rays.

Buchholz's 5-5 all-time record against the Rays belied his overall dominance against them and he continued it Sunday, throwing eight innings giving up just two hits and ringing up a career-high 11 strikeouts.

Mixing a fastball that got up to 93 miles per hour with curveballs and change ups that kept hitters wobbly, Buchholz retired 15 of the first 17 batters he faced.

He got help in the fourth inning from both the Sox offense and the Rays defense.

With the bases loaded, Mike Napoli blasted a two-run double to deep center field. After that Rays starter Alex Cobb, who seemed to be shaky all afternoon, dotted Daniel Nava. Two batters later, after saving a run by fielding a come-backer and throwing it to the plate for a force out, he watched what would have been an inning-ended double-play turn into a disaster.

A wild throw by shortstop Yunel Escobar sailed near the Sox dugout and allowed Napoli and Nava to score, giving the Sox a 4-0 lead, and allowing Buchholz to pitch with with only the pressure of adding another no-hitter to the one he threw in six years ago in his second ever start.

On the season, Buchholz is now 3-0 with an 0.41 ERA.

FULL ENTRY

Ortiz (illness) scratched from Pawtucket start

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 01:17 PM

David Ortiz was scratched from his rehab assignment game today at Triple A Pawtucket due to illness.

Ortiz has played in two games for the Paw Sox, going 3 for 7 with three RBIs. Red Sox manager John Farrell said this morning that the designated hitter was doing well with his strained right Achilles tendon.

Ortiz is expected to get 20-30 plate appearances before rejoining the Red Sox.

Joel Hanrahan out with hamstring issue

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 10:48 AM

Red Sox manager John Farrell said this morning that righthander Joel Hanrahan has a sore right hamstring that has affected his performance on the mound.

Hanrahan struggled in his last three appearances, allowing six runs on five hits (two of them home runs) and four walks over 1.2 innings. He blew a save against the Orioles on Wednesday and on Saturday was pulled from the game after walking the only two batters he faced.

"We met with him this morning. The one thing that Joel has been dealing with is some right hamstring soreness," Farrell said. "It's a manageable situation but it's clearly had some effect on his ability to repeat his delivery. Something he felt in his second outing in New York (on April 3) and has been getting treatment on it the past week.

"Clearly the right hamstring soreness is in the back of his mind. Looking at some video again this morning, it looks like his right leg is collapsed a little bit in his delivery. It's caused him to work uphill or a little bit more side-to-side and not have that same effectiveness. He's day-to-day right now."

Hanrahan injured his right hamstring last April 15 while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the time, he attributed it to throwing 31 pitches in one inning against the Giants. This injury, he said, is in the same spot.

Hanrahan threw 32 pitches against the Orioles on Wednesday when he allowed five runs.

"It's kind of been there in the back of my mind. I was hoping I could get through it," Hanrahan said. "I've kind of pitched a couple of games through it and I've been doing some treatment on it. It's not anything terrible but it's something that's going to need a couple of days off, I think."

Hanrahan was out five days with the injury last season and was strong when he returned.

"We've got to let this settle down first before we get him back into game activity," Farrell said. "What that game activity is, that has yet to be determined."

Farrell said that Andrew Bailey would close until Hanrahan is ready. The Sox will stay away from Hanrahan "for the next couple of days" according to Farrell.

"It's something I've got to get right," Hanrahan said. "Everybody's got a little bump and bruise. At this point, I'm going to take a couple of days and get it right. It's kind of been there every game and progressively gotten a little worse. It's something that, if I keep running out there trying to do it, I'm going to hurt myself more and hurt the rest of the team. We felt like the best way was to take a couple of days."

Hanrahan said the injury has affected his mechanics.

"You not able to repeat your delivery when you're worrying about your hamstring, if it's going to pull or grab or going to twist. It's something that's in the back of your mind," he said.

Hanrahan has pitched in four games since April 3 and shown no decrease in velocity.

"Most importantly, this wasn't something that kept him from pitching," Farrell said. "He had been available. It's in the back of his mind enough to affect the concentration and the repeating of his delivery.

"You could tell from his strong outings in spring training to the first three saves that he converted here that he wasn't clicking."

Could Hanrahan land on the disabled list?

"Right now we're hopeful that's not the case," Farrell said. "That's not to speculate that it would. I think our starters working deep in the game will have some effect on that. As we mentioned to Joel, we'll put our heads together and map out what's best for all involved."

Hanrahan said it's frustrating for him to be dealing with the injury while trying to pitch.

"That's the main part because I know when I go out there I'm not 100 percent. The guy that's been out there the last couple of games, that's not Joel Hanrahan," he said. "I know that. I don't know if everybody, the fans here, they don't know much because they haven't seen me pitch much. That's not me, that's not the way that I pitch. I feel like once I get my legs underneath me I can be back to where I was."

Game 11: Rays at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 09:41 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (6-4)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Nava DH
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Saltalamacchia C
Bradley Jr. LF
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (2-0, 0.64).

RAYS (4-6)
Jennings CF
Zobrist 2B
Longoria 3B
Joyce DH
Escobar SS
Loney 1B
Molina C
Johnson LF
Fuld RF
Pitching: RHP Alex Cobb (1-0, 0.00).

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, TBS / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Cobb: Pedroia 0-6, Saltalamacchia 0-3, Ciriaco 0-6, Drew 2-3, Nava 1-4, Carp 1-3, Ellsbury 1-3, Napoli 1-2.

Rays vs. Buchholz: Zobrist 4-32, Longoria 7-29, Joyce 6-18, Molina 7-17, Escobar 3-12, Jennings 2-11, Rodriguez 3-10, Johnson 0-7, Duncan 0-3, Loney 0-2, Fuld 1-2, Roberts 0-1.

Stat of the Day: Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara has faced 15 batters and retired 13 of them while throwing only 43 pitches, 31 of them strikes. That's only 2.86 pitchers per batter.

Notes: Buchholz is 5-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 14 career starts against the Rays. He was 1-3, 3.99 in six starts last season. Buchholz has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 14 starts against the Rays.... Cobb is 2-1, 2.81 in three career starts against the Sox. The Boston native is 2-0 in two starts at Fenway, allowing two earned runs over 10 innings. Cobb is pitching on extended rest, having last started on April 6 against Cleveland. ... The Rays have been struggling at the plate all season. They have scored 33 runs in 10 games while hitting .221 with a .601 OPS. They are hitless in their last 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position and are hitting .169 in the last five games with eight runs. They are 3 of 36 (.083) with runners in scoring position in those games and have been outscored 26-8. ... The Sox haven't been bashing the ball lately, either. They are hitting .197 (25 of 127) in the last four games with 12 runs scored. ... Red Sox starters are 4-2 with a 2.35 in 10 games and have yet to allow more than three runs in a game. ... Pedroia has reached base safely in all 10 games this season and 20 straight dating back to 2012. ... The Sox were 111-58 (.656) against the Rays from 1998-2007. They are 40-51 (.439) since but have won 10 of the last 19. ... Sox closer Joel Hanrahan's first three appearances: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 HR. Hanrahan's last 3 appearances: 1.2 IP, 5 H (2 HR), 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 2 K. He has thrown only 31 of 59 pitches for strikes this season. ... The Sox have committed two errors this season, both in the outfield. ... Drew is 1 for 10 since coming off the disabled list.

Song of the Day: "Ready To Start" by Arcade Fire.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 14, 2013 09:26 AM

The Red Sox beat the Rays, 2-1, in 10 innings. A series of events led to the winning run.

For Koji Uehara and Joel Hanrahan, the ninth inning had different results. Julian Benbow has the story.

David Ortiz is making progress with his rehab assignment. Mike Scandura reports from Pawtucket.

The notebook has David Ross getting a big hit.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick Cafardo looks at why baseball isn't attracting more African-American players.

How pinch running by the Rays helped the Red Sox win a game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 07:33 PM

Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina, one of the slowest players in baseball, started the 10th inning on Saturday by legging out a double after hitting the ball down the line in right field.

That turned into the break the Red Sox needed to get a 2-1 victory.

Molina was replaced by pinch runner Kelly Johnson, who did not score when Junichi Tazawa retired the next three hitters. Rays manager Joe Maddon then sent Jose Lobaton out to catch the bottom of the inning.

When Jacoby Ellsbury singled with one out, Sox manager John Farrell had him on the run. Lobaton has caught only 18 percent of base stealers in his four-year career, none in five tries this season.

Brandon Gomes, a righthanded reliever with a deliberate delivery, also was unlikely to keep Ellsbury from getting a good lead.

“We had a real good opportunity to steal a base. Not just because of Jake’s base-stealing ability. But it felt like the combination there was something we might be able to take advantage of,” Farrell said.

Ellsbury stole second easily and took third when Lobaton’s throw ticked off the glove of shortstop Yunel Escobar and went into right field.

With Shane Victorino at the plate, the Rays pulled the infield in and brought left fielder Matt Joyce in to play third base. They had their other infielders shift to the right side.

The Red Sox had Ellsbury going on contact as Victorino hit the ball hard on the ground to the right side of the mound. Escobar dove to stop the ball but had no play from his knees.

The Sox (6-4) had a win thanks to a fortunate series of events.

“Put the ball in play and, hey, we won the ballgame,” said Victorino, whose jaw was sore after being accidentally smacked in the postgame pileup.

Also:

• Jon Lester allowed one run over seven innings and retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. Lester has given up three earned runs on 15 hits over 19 innings in his first three starts with three walks and 18 strikeouts. The Red Sox have won all three of those games despite facing Cy Young Award winners in CC Sabathia, R.A. Dickey and David Price.

“We fully expected Jon to get back to the levels that he’s pitched before,” Farrell said. “We stated in the offseason, he’s healthy, he’s got good stuff. There’s no reason he shouldn’t get back to that performance level and he’s doing that.”

Lester has shown better velocity, command and tempo under Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves.

“It’s been good,” he said. “Been able to make some adjustments from the first start and get a little deeper in the game. If we keep doing that, things will take care of themselves.”

• Dustin Pedroia has reached base safely in all 10 games this season and 20 in a row going back to last season.

• Lester’s five strikeouts gave him 1,078 in his career. That passed Luis Tiant for sixth place in team history. Lester needs 31 more to pass Josh Beckett for fifth.

• Middlebrooks broke an 0-for-14 skid with a single in the sixth inning.

• Ellsbury is 5 for 5 on stolen bases in 10 games this season. He was 14 of 17 in 74 games last season.

• Koji Uehara in five games this season: 4.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K. He wears a red t-shirt under his uniform that says "Uehara (19) Do My Best!" in English and Japanese. How great is that?

Uehara said the shirt is for sale in Japan. Somebody could make a lot of money selling that at Fenway Park.

• Daniel Nava has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games he has started going back to last Sept. 21.

• Red Sox starters have allowed three or fewer runs in all 10 games, their best such streak to start a season in team history.

• The Rays have dropped four of their last five games.

Joel Hanrahan struggling with mechanics

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 06:31 PM

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None of Joel Hanrahan's outings, not even his save in the Red Sox's home opener earlier this week, have been entirely pretty. He gave up a home run to Adam Jones that wound up being inconsequential in his first outing but foreshadowed the appearances he had ahead of him.

In the past two games, he's allowed nine of the 14 batters he's faced to reach base. After unraveling Wednesday in a blown save against the Orioles, Hanrahan came out in the ninth inning of a tie game today against the Rays and failed to record an out, walking the first two batters he saw (Evan Longoria on four pitches) before getting the hook.

Jokingly, he suggested the temperature was the issue. In seriousness, he pointed to issues with his delivery that he said he and pitching coach Juan Nieves had pinpointed the issue.

He said:

"I'm fighting some things with mechanics in my legs. It's just something I've got to work on. I guess I'm more of a warm-weather guy, I don't know. But it's just something we've got to fight through.

"It's something he did point out, but it's kind of obvious. If you look at where I'm missing the whole time, you know something's not right and we've got to fix it.

"I hope it's going to be pretty easy. I think Juan's kind of got it pinpointed out and then it's just finding the time to get out there and fix it."

With the game in the balance, Sox manager John Farrell didn't hesitate to bring in Koji Uehara after Hanrahan's free passes.

"Today, it was clear he was looking to command the ball down and away to the right-handers," Farrell said. "With Longoria he missed a couple of times obviously for the walk. I thought he regrouped a little bit after the first ball to [Ben] Zobrist, got back in the count. Looked like he's on his way in that situation. But after the 3-2 base on balls, felt like it was time to make a move right there.

FULL ENTRY

Final: Red Sox 2, Rays 1

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 12:45 PM

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It took an extra inning and help from an errant throw, but the Sox were able to scratch out a tough 2-1 win over in their series opener with the division rival Tampa Bay Rays.

After reaching with a one-out single, Jacoby Ellsbury stole second. Then, Jose Lobaton, a late sub for started Jose Molina, fired a wild throw that bounced off the glove of shortstop Yunel Escobar and into the outfield allowing Ellsbury to take third.

From there, it was almost academic that Shane Victorino would lay down a bunt to bring Ellsbury home and put the game away. But he tapped one for an infield single.

On a day when offense was scarce, the hits were huge.
Lester went 7 innings, allowing the one run on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk, dueling with the 2012 Cy Young award winner.

Although he struggled in his last early season start a year ago against the Sox and had gotten off to a rocky beginning in this season, giving up 11 runs in 10 innings, David Price was locked in, going six innings, giving up just the one run on four hits with eight strikeouts.

In the fifth inning, with the Sox trailing 1-0, David Ross blasted his first home run of the year over, launching a two-out, 3-and-2 pitch over the Monster.

Sox closer Joel Hanrahan, who had three days to shake off the save he blew on Wednesday to the Orioles, struggled again, walking the only two batters he’s faced. Of the 25 hitters he’s seen this season, 11 have reached base (9 of 14 in the past two games).

Koji Uehara was able to clean up the mess, coming in and retiring James Loney, Yunel Escobar and Ryan Roberts in order to hold the Rays scoreless in the ninth.

FULL ENTRY

Alex Wilson, he's been everywhere

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 12:16 PM

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Righthanded reliever Alex Wilson, who made his debut on Thursday, is on the second major leaguer born in Saudi Arabia.

His father, Jim, was a geologist in the natural gas industry and Alex spent the first year of his life there.

“I don’t remember anything about it,” Wilson said. “It just looks cool on paper.”

Wilson’s family then moved to Louisiana and from there to Tennessee and West Virginia.

“I consider West Virginia home because I went to high school there,” Wilson said

Wilson attended college in South Carolina (Winthrop) and Texas (Texas A&M) before being drafted by the Sox in 2009. He has since played in Massachusetts (Lowell), Virginia (Salem), Maine (Portland) and Rhode Island (Pawtucket).

That's nine states he has called home for at least a little while.

“I’ve been a little bit of everywhere,” Wilson said. "It has been fun."

Pregame notes from a chilly Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 11:04 AM

Greetings from Fenway Park. Dress warmly if you are headed this way. It's 37 degrees and breezy ... on April 13.

As for the Red Sox:

• Felix Doubront threw a two-inning simulated game on the field at 9:35 a.m. Friday's rainout led to his turn through the rotation getting skipped and the lefty will start on 10 days' rest in Cleveland on Tuesday.

"It was good, I was able to throw some pitches and see some hitters," Doubront said. "I should be fine."

Said manager John Farrell: "It served the purpose that we were intending. That's to get him some work, to keep him as sharp as we can."

• David Ortiz will DH for Pawtucket today in the first game of a doubleheader that starts at 12:05 p.m. "Hopefully get three to four at-bats," Farrell said

• Daniel Nava is 1 for 15 with seven strikeouts against David Price in his career. But he is in the lineup and Jackie Bradley Jr. is on the bench for the second time in four games.

Farrell said he took the history into account. But he also looked at how Nava is swinging the bat this season. He is 2 for 2 with a home run and two walks against lefthanders this season.

"We've talked about how confident Daniel is right now," Farrell said. "At some point in this game I think that the ability to break up those righthanders (in the Sox lineup) is going to be needed without too much pinch hitting or emptying the bench to strictly match up. That's where Daniel is in the middle of this.

"I realize he's 1 for 15 coming into today against Price. But I think overall he's put up very good at-bats consistently as anyone in our lineup on either side of the plate. ... Whether it's riding the hot hand or just playing on the momentum that he's started or generated himself with his own performance, we'll ride it as long as we're capable of."

• Meanwhile, Farrell is trying to balance what is best for the team and the best for the development of Bradley. When Bradley made the team, Farrell said it was with the intention of his playing every day.

Now, with Bradley slumping after a productive spring training, that has changed.

"It is a balance," Farrell said. "I think going up against a guy like Price or (Baltimore lefty Wei-Yin) Chen with some of the recent development with Jackie over the past three of days, (we're) still wanting to put the most competitive lineup we can on the field. We're not here to say that there are roster changes that are going to take place just because Jackie is not playing for the second time in four days. That's not what we're here about. We'll continue to find the right combinations and that would include Jackie in different scenarios as well."

The Sox face two righthanders on Sunday and Monday. Bradley is expected to start those games.

• Lefthander Franklin Morales, who is on the disabled list recovering from a back injury, threw two innings in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers on Friday. "No issues, showed good arm strength," Farrell said. "Back is of no complaint or issue with him."

Morales is scheduled for three innings and 50 pitches on Wednesday. That would set him up to start a rehab assignment on April 22 with Double A Portland. He would progress from there to a start with Triple A Pawtucket on April 27.

The Red Sox are building Morales up as a starter in case a need arises. The goal is to get him to 85-90 pitches over five or six innings. If at that point, no starter is needed he would transition back to the bullpen.

"If he does come back in the bullpen, ideally we start him out with some clean innings before just running him into situations where there's men on base," Farrell said. "We'll see how that unfolds."

• Lefthander Craig Breslow, on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, will throw a simulated game in Florida today. He is scheduled for an extended spring game on Tuesday.

• Righthander John Lackey (strained bicep) could start playing catch again in a day or two. "There's decreasing symptoms," Farrell said. "The tightness that he's felt in the bicep is gradually going away. I don't know that we have a template that we're going to exactly follow on this one. But certainly how he feels is the most important guide in all this."

Game 10: Rays at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 09:15 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (5-4)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava LF
Gomes DH
Drew SS
Ross C
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 1.50).

RAYS (4-5)
Jennings CF
Rodriguez 1B
Longoria 3B
Zobrist RF
Duncan DH
Escobar SS
Roberts 2B
Molina C
Joyce LF
Pitching: LHP David Price (0-1, 8.18).

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: FOX / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Price: Pedroia 10-31, Ellsbury 6-22, Napoli 5-17, Nava 1-15, Ciriaco 1-10, Salty 1-8, Gomes 3-9, Victorino 1-5, Middlebrooks 3-6, Ross 1-3.

Rays vs. Lester: Longoria 11-44, Zobrist 8-35, Escobar 7-23, Rodriguez 2-16, Molina 5-15, Duncan 4-13, Jennings 3-12, Johnson 0-8, Lobaton 0-7, Fuld 1-6, Joyce 2-3, Roberts 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Price is 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA in seven career starts at Fenway Park. He dominated the then-beleaguered Red Sox at Fenway last Sept. 25, going nine innings in a 5-2 victory and allowing two runs with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Notes: Two of the best lefties in the league meet up in a nationally televised game. ... Lester (12 innings, 2 ER) is off to an excellent start. Price (11 IP, 10 ER) not so much. Price allowed eight earned runs in five innings against the Indians last Sunday. Lester also pitched that day and threw seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays. ... Lester is 10-8, 4.30 in 22 career against against Tampa Bay. He was hit hard last season, going 0-2, 9.00 in two starts. Lester went 10 innings in two games allowed 10 earned runs on 10 hits. ... Price is 8-4, 3.08 in 15 career starts against the Sox. ... Lefthanders have hit .199/.258/.289 against Price in his career. Lester has held lefties to a .243/.303/.377 line. ... Pedroia has reached base safely in all nine games this season and 19 straight dating back to last season. ... Middlebrooks (0 for 12) and Bradley (0 for 14) are slumping for the Sox. ... The Sox and Rays split 18 games last season. ... The Rays are playing for the first time since Wednesday afternoon in Texas. They were off on Thursday and Friday's game was rained out. ... The Sox are 5-0 when scoring first, 0-4 when they don't.

Song of the Day: "Aces" by Suzy Bogguss.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 13, 2013 09:08 AM

Jackie Bradley Jr. is slumping but the rookie remains poised and confident that he'll find a way to adjust.

The notebook has the Sox getting rained out and Tim Wakefield getting a new position with the team.

Tim Wakefield embraces new role with Sox

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 12, 2013 07:52 PM

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The announcement that Tim Wakefield would return to the Red Sox as honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation as well as special assignment instructor in baseball operations meant another familiar face from the team's gilded age would walk the halls in the front office, with Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek already serving as special assistants to general manager Ben Cherington.

The thought of making that kind of crossover, Wakefield said, never crossed their minds as players.

"That was far from our mind at that point," said Wakefield. "Our goal was to win championships. Now that we're not playing anymore, it's a value to have us help the organization win more championships here for the city."

After taking time to decompress following his retirement last year, Tim Wakefield slowly started brainstorming ways to again become involved in the organization. The Red Sox, knowing the charitable work he did as a player (Wakefield won Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente Award for community service in 2010), worked to find ways to reconnect with him the way they did with Martinez and Varitek, who took on their new roles earlier this year.

"It's been the goal for John Henry, Tom Werner, our entire organization to bring back the entire trifecta and to get them reconnected to this team and making contributions on the field and off the field," said president/CEO Larry Lucchino.

"In Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, we think we have reassembled three of the pillars of this organization and can re-engage them in really productive, positive work going forward that will be in addition to the massive contributions they made to this team, this franchise on the field."

FULL ENTRY

Bradley: 'I’ll be just fine, I promise'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 12, 2013 07:42 PM

Jackie Bradley Jr. smiled a bit this afternoon when reporters gathered around his locker. He hasn't been in Boston long, but knows a rookie trying to fight his way out a slump is a story.

Bradley is 3 for 25 this season and by that measure, it would be easy to assume the 22-year-old feels overmatched. Instead, Bradley has a sense of perspective uncommon for a player his age.

“This is one of those periods. Every hitter goes through it,” Bradley said. “I’m willing to work through it. It’s definitely not going to affect me in the long run.

"The learning curve is always going to be there. I’d rather face adversity now. People will say, ‘He didn’t waver when he first started.’ "

Bradley is hitless in his last 14 at-bats with six strikeouts. Worse, he has not gotten the ball out of the infield in that stretch.

“It’s only been a few days. But It feels like an eternity,” he said.

Bradley was out of the lineup against Baltimore lefthander Wei-Yin Chen on Monday and was pinch-hit for in the seventh inning on Thursday with lefty Brian Matusz on the mound.

With Cy Young Award winning lefthander David Price on the mound for the Rays on Saturday afternoon, Bradley may not be in the lineup again.

John Farrell, who as a pitching coach made his living plotting against hitters, has spotted a trend that Bradley needs to adjust to.

“They’ve probably exploited the inside part of the plate on him a little bit more,” said Farrell, who also has noticed Bradley fouling back pitches early in the count that he hit hard in spring training.

A .120 batting average aside, Bradley is tied with Dustin Pedroia for the team lead with six walks. He also is seeing 4.13 pitches per plate appearance, 25th in the majors.

“The one thing that hasn’t changed is that he’s still fought his way back deep into counts. He’ll drive the pitch count up. But yet they’ve exploited the inside part of the plate on him,” Farrell said.

Bradley has faced 19 different pitchers. He has seen one legend (Mariano Rivera) and a few All-Stars (CC Sabathia, R.A, Dickey and Josh Johnson) along the way.

“I’ve seen high and in, high away, low away, up and in, down and in. I’ve pretty much seen it all,” Bradley said. “It’s too small a number to get a definite tell of what they’re trying to do.”

Bradley does not watch video of opposing pitchers in an attempt to anticipate what is coming. He prefers to trust his own eyes.

“I just try to play the game,” he said. “Of course I’ll check it out here and there. But it’s not something that I necessarily study. … I don’t want to get so tied up in video. I want to see it in person first and then maybe study it.”

Bradley’s slump underscores the fact that he has so far skipped over Triple A Pawtucket after playing 61 games for Double Portland last season.

“I don’t think he’s faced the consistency of command by pitchers on the mound at previous levels,” Farrell said. “That’s as much a factor in this as anything.”

The last 12 days have been a whirlwind for Bradley. After unexpectedly making the team, he has played eight games in three cities against three different teams.

He has dozens of ticket requests, family members to attend to and newfound celebrity. The Red Sox were selling t-shirts with his name and No. 44 on the back before he played his first game at Fenway Park.

“This is all just an adjustment period,” Bradley said. “I’ll be just fine, I promise.”

See the Globe Saturday for more on Bradley.

Game rescheduled for June; Doubront skipped until Tuesday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 12, 2013 04:28 PM

Tonight's game has been rescheduled as the first game of a day/night doubleheader on June 18. Tickets for tonight will be good for the 1:05 p.m. game that day. The park will then be cleared before the second game.

The rainout changed the rotation for both teams. Here is what it will be now:

Saturday: LHP David Price (0-1, 8.18) vs. LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 1.50), 1:05 p.m., Fox.

Sunday: RHP Alex Cobb (1-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (2-0, 0.64), 1:35 p.m., NESN, TBS

Monday: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 6.35) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (0-1, 5.40), 11:05 a.m., NESN.

Felix Doubront is set to start Tuesday in Cleveland. He will pitch a three-inning simulated game Saturday, as he will be going 10 days between starts. Alfredo Aceves will follow Doubront in the rotation, which will serve to split up the lefthanders.

Also: Triple A Pawtucket also was rained out Friday and will play a doubleheader Saturday. The plan is for David Ortiz to get four or five at-bats between the two seven-inning games.

"I think we'll look to get a total of five at-bats," manager John Farrell said. "Whether or not he maintains that looseness, which we fully expect, in between games, that'll be a game-time decision as far as he being in the lineup in Game 2."

Rays-Red Sox postponed by rain

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 12, 2013 02:56 PM

Tonight's Rays-Red Sox game at Fenway Park has been postponed because of rain. No makeup date has been announced.

No word on how the teams will set up their pitching for the rest of the series.

Pitching matchups for the Rays series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 12, 2013 09:30 AM

Friday: RHP Alex Cobb (1-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40), 7:10 p.m., NESN

Saturday: LHP David Price (0-1, 8.18) vs. LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 1.50), 1:05 p.m., FOX

Sunday: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (0-1, 6.35) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (2-0, 0.64), 1:35 p.m., NESN, TBS

Monday: RHP Roberto Hernandez (0-2, 6.08) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (0-1, 5.40), 11:05 a.m., NESN

Ortiz gets two hits in first rehab game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 12, 2013 01:17 AM

David Ortiz was 2 for 3 with an RBI in his first injury rehabilitation game for Triple A Pawtucket. Ortiz struck out swinging, singled to left and singled to right to drive in a run against Rochester.

Pawtucket won the game, 5-4. Jose Iglesias was 1 for 4 with a two-run homer.

Final: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 11, 2013 07:13 PM

Game over: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: The Orioles bullpen was very solid as they held on to their one-run lead for the win. Jim Johnson gets the save. The game was played in 3:15 before 27,704.

Bottom 8th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: Darren O'Day is pretty tough against righties with his submarine style and he retired Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks with ease and then got Daniel Nava, batting lefthanded, to pop to right.

Top 8th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: The Orioles had Chris Dickerson get on base with a sharp single to right center and he advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Junichi Tazawa was able to keep things right there.

Bottom 7th: Orioles 3. Red Sox 2: Victorino beat out an infield hit, but the Sox could do no more.

Top 7th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: The once invincible Koji Uehara surrendered a two-out double to left field to Adam Jones scoring Baltimore's go-ahead run.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2: Sox had a chance to take the lead. Napili and Nava singled with one out, but Lefty Brian Matusz came on to relieve Tillman and struck out Salty and Drew to end the threat.

Top 6th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2: Aceves is out of the game. He gave them a good effort with five innings of work, two runs, six hits, three walks and four strikeouts. He threw 79 pitches and has been replaced by Clayton Mortensen in the sixth. Mortensen retired the side.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2: Tillman mows down the Sox' top of the order, 1-2-3.

Top 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2: A one-out bunt single by Manny Machado wound up golden for the Orioles. He eventually scored on Adam Jones' two-out single.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1: The Red Sox managed a Stephen Drew walk, but nothing more against Tillman.

Top 4th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1: The Orioles left the bases loaded when Alexi Casilla took a called third strike from Aceves who had walked two and allowed a single to JJ Hardy.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1: -Stephen Drew reached by walk, Shane Victorino moved him to third with two outs with a single to right. Dustin Pedroia singled to right to tie the game. With runners at first and second and two out, Mike Napoli worked the count to 3-2 before sending a sharp lined rive single to left to score the go-ahead run.

Top 3rd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0: Aceves got three infield outs after allowing an infield hit to Nate McLouth with one out.

Bottom 2nd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0: Tillman retires the Red Sox (Middlebrooks, Nava and Salty) in order.

Top 2nd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0: Chris Davis homered deep to rightcenter on a 3-0 fastball right down the middle of the plate served by Aceves. Davis has been red hot. He has hit six homers.

Bottom 1st: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0: Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an infield single, but Chris Tillman retired the next three batters.

Top 1st: Orioles 0, Red Sox 0: Alfredo Aceves took the mound in his first start in place of John Lackey (DL, biceps strain). He allowed a double to the rightcenter gap to Manny Machado, who got a bit greedy and tried to stretch to three. The relay from Victorino to Pedroia to Middlebrooks cut down a key runner.

The game time temp was 45 degrees and right now the ballpark is not very full.

Farrell confident sending Alfredo Aceves to the mound

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 11, 2013 05:24 PM

By Julian Benbow, Globe staff

As many times as he's played the odds and won already in this short season, John Farrell is confident that sending Alfredo Aceves to the mound today for his first start since 2011 in fill-in duty for John Lackey is as solid a plan as any.

The numbers all check out. Aceves has seen the Orioles more times over the course of his career than any other team in the majors. He's 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 25 appearances against the Orioles. He hasn't thrown more than 3.2 innings in two years, but Farrell says he hopes Aceves will go at least six tonight.

"I think the way the game unfolds and the stress with the pitches that he throws will have a lot to do with when his night is over," Farrell said. "Hopefully, that later more than sooner. But we're confident with him going to the mound here. He did a good job in that role in spring training. Fifty-two pitches five days ago. So it's not that we're taking a guy that hasn't pitched recently and at least been stretched out to a certain extent. Without giving a hard number, we're hopeful that he's walking out for the sixth inning or beyond."

Even with the power throughout the Orioles lineup, pitching coach Juan Nieves said he wants Aceves to attack their hitters.

"We have a plan," Nieves said. "Pedal to the metal with him. Give us your best stuff for as long as you can. Once you get tired we'll pull you out. But I want him to attack the strike zone. That's a very good team, but we have a game plan and we're going to stick according with it."

Red Sox host open house on April 17

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 11, 2013 04:06 PM

This from the Red Sox:

The Boston Red Sox will once again open Fenway Park to the public for a free, day-long open house on Wednesday, April 17.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., fans can enter through all gates free of charge to view historical artifacts, memorabilia, and displays throughout the ballpark. The open house allows families to walk around Fenway Park at their own pace, discover behind-the scenes locations, and to learn more about Fenway Park’s history.

Fans will have an opportunity to walk the warning track, peek inside the Green Monster scoreboard, and visit other spaces within the ballpark not normally accessible to the public. Red Sox alumni will sign autographs throughout the day.

Fenway Park concession stands will be open, and the event will take place rain or shine.

The Red Sox held the first Open House as part of their 100th Anniversary celebration of Fenway Park in 2012, and nearly 54,000 people attended throughout the day. As it was last year, the event takes place during school vacation week.

Game 9: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 11, 2013 02:15 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (5-3)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava DH
Salty C
Drew SS
Bradley Jr LF
Pitching: Alfredo Aceves (0-0, 10.38 ERA).

ORIOLES (4-4)
McLouth RF
Machado 3B
Markakis DH
Jones CF
Davis 1B
Wieters C
Hardy SS
Dickerson LF
Casilla 2B
Pitching: Chris Tillman (0-0, 12.27).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Tillman: Pedroia 4-11, Ciriaco 1-6, Saltalamacchia 1-8, Ellsbury 1-6, Nava 1-4, Carp 1-3, Napoli 1-3.

Orioles vs. Aceves: Hardy 3-18, Jones 6-18, Markakis 4-16, Wieters 1-12, Davis 2-12, Reimold 1-10, Casilla 1-4, Flaherty 2-5, Teagarden 1-4, Machado 1-3, McLouth 1-3, Dickerson 0-0, Pearce 0-0.

Stat of the Day: The last time the Red Sox won the first three series of a season was 1952. The last time they won three straight series overall was last June.

Notes: Aceves is 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA in 25 career appearances against the Orioles. He's pitched in more games and has more innings, strikeouts and wins against the Os than any other team ... Daniel Nava has hits in each of his past 10 home starts going back to Aug. 21, 2012 ... Koji Uehara has a streak of 17 scoreless outings going back to last season ... Between Nolan Reimold (1 for 13), Steve Pearce (0 for 10) and Ryan Flaherty (0 for 3), Orioles DHs have the lowest batting average in the American League.

Song of the Day "Amnesia," by Blu.

The streak ending and other random thoughts

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 11, 2013 01:40 PM

It was very healthy thing that the Red Sox did on Wednesday when they finally put aside their creative accounting and admitted the Fenway Park sellout streak was over.

It was the latest sign that the organization — after several years of near delusional entitlement — finally gets it.

It started last August when they traded Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers. That was acknowledgment that making big headlines in December is not always a good way to build a good baseball team.

It continued when they fired Bobby Valentine and his coaching staff and replaced them with a group of professionals whose goal is to make the team better and not stab each other in the back.

Then the Sox spent their money wisely, remaking their roster with a large group of solid free agents instead of one or two big-name stars. They vetted those players carefully, too, recognizing that their market is different than others and that some personalities are better fits than others.

Along the way, GM Ben Cherington hired several long-time scouts (Eddie Bane and Tom Kotchman) and former players (Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez) to help advise him. It was a sign that he would factor in the opinions of experienced people instead of over-relying on statistical data.

Now the Sox are dealing with Fenway Park and hopefully turning it back to a place where people come to watch baseball instead of one more stop for tourists after they get done with the Freedom Trail.

The streak had become embarrassing instead of something to be proud of. Now, finally, the Sox are admitting that they can't sell every seat and sending a signal to actual baseball fans they they can show up Fenway on most any day if they feel like seeing a game.

You don't need to go to some on-line scalper, get a ticket from somebody at work or win a raffle. You can just go, and odds are you might even sit next somebody who really wants to be there, too.

You know what else would be healthy? The Sox should skip playing "Sweet Caroline" the next time they're getting thumped at home. Send another signal that winning games matters, not singing songs. The sellout streak was a relic from another time. So is that song. It's time to create new memories at Fenway and not cling to old ones.

The people who are showing up at Fenway Park now are there to watch baseball, not boast to their friends on Facebook that they were at the game. Folks like that probably do not want to sing some cheesy song when their team is getting cuffed around.

It would be a good message that every game is important and wins and losses do matter. Because for too long they really didn't.

The Sox and were resting on the glory of those two titles and assuming everything would be fine because they were so special. For several months now, they've been changing that attitude and it's refreshing to see. Being humbled can be a great cleanser.

The Red Sox aren't there yet. But they're sending a well-balanced, professionally run team onto the team who will play the game in front of fans who are there because they want to be there, not because it's cool to be there.

That's a heck of a lot better than what had been going on. And in the end, that will lead to a new streak.

Meanwhile:

• The big test for Jose Iglesias is what happens now. He can't go back to Pawtucket and pout his way to .220 with an occasional double. Iglesias needs to show the Red Sox every day that he's the shortstop of the future.

• The guess here is that Joel Hanrahan will be fine. But his struggles in two games at home are a sign that it was wise to keep Andrew Bailey around.

• In the end, the Jackie Bradley Jr. debate at the end of spring training will look foolish. He did exactly as hoped and helped the Red Sox win some games early. Then, predictably, the league caught up to him. Now he'll probably stick around until David Ortiz comes back and then return to the minors.

Bradley will have helped the Sox when they needed help, they won't lose a year of control and he'll be better for the experience. It'll work out fine.

And anybody who thinks that getting sent back to the minors will somehow damage Bradley's confidence has never met the man. He'll be OK.

• As Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston pointed out the other day, Ortiz has a clause in his contract that guarantees him $15 million in 2014 if he spends 20 days or fewer on the disabled list with his pre-existing Achilles injury. Otherwise he gets $11 million.

Wanna bet Big Papi is back before April 20?

Rest in peace, Dave O'Hara.

• Koji Uehara is on an all-time run. Here are his stats since last Sept. 1, counting spring training: 27 games, 24.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 34 K.

• Want to read something unique? Check out this terrific story on Mariano Rivera by former ProJo Red Sox beat writer Dan Barbarisi.

• Would love to hear the verbal jousting between Dustin Pedroia and Terry Francona when the Sox play in Cleveland next week.

• The amazing part of Daniel Nava's story is not that he was once the manager of his college team and was purchased by the Sox for $1 from his independent league team. It's that once he realized he wasn't good enough to stay in the majors, he made himself better.

Nava was not a good outfielder when he made his debut in 2010. He is now, to a point where the Sox would use him in right field if needed. Nava also improved how he hit from the right side and got a lot stronger, too.

The story now is not his unlikely path to the majors. It's that he's a legitimate player. Nava is 30, too. Most players are done with their development long before then.

• It has been great to see the number of comments on the blog increasing now that the season is here. Thanks so much for reading, it is appreciated.

Final: Orioles 8, Red Sox 5

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 07:15 PM

Game over: Orioles 8, Red Sox 5: Red Sox let one slip away when Joel Hanrahan had his first Red Sox meltdown by allowing five runs in the 9th to blow a 5-3 Red Sox lead. The game was played in 2:53 with a 41-minute rain delay before 30,862, ending the 794-game sellout streak. It was the lowest attendance since April 29, 2003 when 30,438 attended the Sox-KC game at Fenway.

Top 9th: Orioles 8, Red Sox 5: Horrifying inning for Joel Hanrahan who allowed two homers, two walks, a wild pitch and five runs to blow the save and lead. Chris Davis homered to lead off the inning. Hanrahan who loaded the bases by allowing a single and two walks, uncorked a wild pitch to score the tying run and then allowed a three-run homer to Manny Machado. He exited with two outs for Andrew Miller, who got the last out.

Top 8th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3: Andrew Bailey allows a leadoff walk to McLouth but retires the next three

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3: The Red Sox go down in order.

Top 7th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3: A 1-2-3 inning for Junichi Tazawa with two strikeouts.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 3: Daniel Nava homered into the Monster seats on a 1-1 count from Tommy Hunter after Hunter had struck out the previous two batters. It was the third straight game Nava has homered. That was followed by a home run by Jarrod Saltalamacchia into the right field bullpen, his first of the season, on a 1-2 pitch.

Top 6th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 3: Play resumed after a 41-minute rain delay. Koji Uehara replaced Ryan Dempster and retired the Orioles in order.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 3: A 1-2-3 inning for Arrieta.Pedroia took his second called third strike. Play has been stopped due to rain at 8:41 p.m. The tarp is coming on the field.

Top 5th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 3: Another strong inning for Dempster.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 3: Raining harder now. Sox wasted a misplayed double to right by Jarrod Saltalamacchia with one out. Drew and Bradley grounded out to thwart a potential rally vs. Arrieta.

Top 4th: Red Sox 3, Orioles 3: Nick Markakis hit his first homer to lead off the fourth vs. Dempster. Adam Jones singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Matt Wieters' single and error when Jackie Bradley let the ball get by him.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 3, Orioles 1: Jackie Bradley Jr., worked a walk from the No. 9 spot and came home on Ellsbury's triple to left on which McLouth made a dive for a ball that he had no chance to get to. The ball rolled passed him to the wall allowing Ellsbury to get to third. The Sox CF scored on Shane Victorino's sac fly.

Top 3rd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 1: -Dempster retired the Orioles in order.

Bottom 2nd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 1: -Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled in Daniel Nava (walk) with Boston's first run with two outs. The ball hit high atop the left-center field wall.

Top 2nd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0: Dempster getting the feel of things as Sox ground crew comes out to put some drying compound on the field.

Bottom 1st: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0: Strong inning for Jake Arrieta, a 1-2-3 inning. Dustin Pedroia took a called third strike.

Top 1st: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0: On the night the sellout streak ended at 794 consecutive games, light rain began in the first and it was no friend of the Red Sox.

Ryan Dempster, making his second start walked leadoff man Nate McLouth and then watched Jacoby Ellsbury drop a flyball that he ranged to rightcenter field for. Nick Markakis' ground ball out to first base got the first run in. Dempster got a key strikeout of Adam Jones with a splittter with Manny Machado at third base. AL Player of the Week Chris Davis, who has slumped to 1-for-9, struck out on a 91 mph fastball.

Red Sox confirm sellout streak is over

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 10, 2013 06:23 PM
The Red Sox confirmed that the longest sellout streak in professional sports – 820 consecutive sellouts at Fenway Park – ended Wednesday night.

The team revealed the news, which was widely anticipated, on its official Twitter account.

The streak, which included 794 regular-season games and 26 playoff games, began May 15, 2003. According to the Red Sox, an average of 36,605 tickets per game were sold during the nearly 10-year run.

“The streak is a reflection of a phenomenal period of baseball in Boston and of America's greatest ballpark,” Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry said via a team press release. “But more than that, it is a testament to the baseball passion of New England fans. As we close the book on this incredible era, we look forward to another with a renewed certainty that the next couple of generations of Red Sox fans will also be enjoying baseball at the ever magical Fenway Park.”

The Red Sox were able to sustain the streak despite many empty seats at times last season because Major League Baseball's definition of a sellout allowed them to include tickets distributed, including some given to charities or others.

609soxfenway.jpg

A view of Fenway Park taken at 6:44 p.m. Wednesday. (Steve Silva/Boston.com Staff)

Sox hope David Ortiz returns next week

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 06:22 PM
While an exact return date is still uncertain, David Ortiz's rehab assignment from a strained Achilles' tendon will be transferred to Pawtucket on Thursday with the intent to give him 20 to 30 at-bats, according to manager John Farrell, and the Red Sox are eying next week as a possible return for their slugger.

When asked if Ortiz would be ready by next Tuesday for a three-game series against the Indians, Farrell said he was "hopeful." Asked if the Kansas City Royals series, which starts next Friday, was feasible, general manager Ben Cherington said the same.

"We hope so. We hope at some point during that week or later on that week. We'll talk to him each day after he plays and see how he's feeling. He knows his swing and at this point, that's what it's about. It's about at-bats and timing and feeling good at the plate. And he knows how he feels better than anyone else does. So we'll read off him," Cherington said.

Cherington added that the team will continue to keep an eye on the injury, but at this point they feel like Ortiz has turned the corner.

"So this is really about baseball and game activity and getting at-bats. That's all," Cherington said.

Stephen Drew: 'I feel ready'

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 05:49 PM

Drew1.jpg

When Stephen Drew steps into a major league batter’s box Wednesday for the first time since a fastball to the head left him with a concussion more than a month ago, he said there will be no hesitation. It’s been two weeks since he’s felt any symptoms, a week since he was cleared to play in games by Major League Baseball and the steps he’s taken after going through examinations with a concussion specialist and successfully completing his rehab assignment have him comfortable as he prepares to make his Red Sox debut against the Orioles.

“I feel ready,” Drew said. “Now it's getting in there and getting back and playing the game that I always played. I'm looking forward to getting back with the guys and just help this team win. That's what it was about.”

The job that Jose Iglesias did as Drew's early season fill-in (9 for 20 in six games) appeared as if it would make handling Drew’s return complicated for Sox manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington. But Farrell said he met with Iglesias Tuesday to tell him he would be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket.

“To his credit he took it very professionally,” Farrell said. “I’m sure there was some disappointment in there, but he did everything that we could have hoped and he played exceptionally well for us. So he goes back to Pawtucket I’m sure with an increased level of confidence. Probably in his mind, he’s a major league player.”

Having signed Drew in December to a one-year $9.5 million contract, Cherington said Drew always figured to be a vital piece to the Sox lineup and that there was little consideration about sticking with Iglesias.

“We signed Stephen this offseason and felt like he was an important part when we were putting together our team, adding a lefthand presence in our lineup and a steady performer at shortstop. He was consistently one of the best shortstops in the National League before the ankle injury and we felt like we were getting him at the right time and fully healthy.

“Unfortunately, he got hit in the head with a fastball in spring training and had to recover from that. During that time, Iglesias did a terrific job, both in spring training and early in the season here. I think it's clear that Jose's taken a step forward, but at this point in the season, we've got two capable shortstops that both need to play and Jose's going to do that in Pawtucket right now. But it's a good situation for us.”

Barring a huge walkup, Sox streak to end

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 03:07 PM
Unless there's a huge walk-up for tonight's game vs. the Orioles, the Red Sox' sellout streak should end.

Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy said Monday afternoon that the Red Sox had sold just under 33,000 seats for tonight's game. Kennedy commented that unless there's a mad rush at the ticket windown between now and game time, the streak will end.

Game 8: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 03:00 PM


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Dempster.jpg

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (5-2)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava DH
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Bradley Jr LF,
Pitching: Ryan Dempster (0-1, 5.40 ERA).

ORIOLES (3-4)
McLouth LF
Machado 3B
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Davis 1B
Wieters C
Hardy SS
Flaherty 2B
Reimold DH
Pitching: Jake Arrieta (0-0, 9.00).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs. Arrieta: Pedroia 4-11, Ellsbury 2-5, Nava 3-5, Napoli 2-5, Middlebrooks 2-3, Victorino, 3-3, Ciriaco 0-1, Ross 2-2, Saltalamacchia 1-2, Gomes 0-1.

Orioles vs. Dempster: Hardy 2-27, McLouth 6-20, Markakis 1-3, Davis 0-3, Jones 2-3, Machado 0-3, Pearce 1-2, Wieters 0-3.

Stat of the Day: Along with his struggles against Dempster, JJ Hardy is 4 for 25 in his last six games against the Sox with just two extra base hits and one RBI.

Notes: Ryan Dempster (1-0 all-time against the Orioles with a 1.35 ERA) went 13 years between his two starts against the Orioles. The first was in 1999. The most recent was last September ... Arrieta is winless in four starts against the Sox (0-4, 6.00 ERA) ... Shane Victorino has reached base in every game this season ... So has Adam Jones, who’s done it with five multi-hit games. He’s hit seven home runs in 43 career games at Fenway and his 20 RBIs at Fenway are the most he’s driven in at any visiting ballpark.

Song of the Day: "Let's Start Over," by Miles Jaye.

Red Sox add Drew and Wilson; Lackey to DL and Iglesias optioned

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 01:51 PM

The Red Sox made four roster moves this afternoon:

RHP John Lackey: Placed on 15-day disabled list (retroactive to April 7) with right bicep strain.

SS Jose Iglesias: Optioned to Triple A Pawtucket.

SS Stephen Drew: Activated off 7-day concussion disabled list.

RHP Alex Wilson: Recalled from Triple A Pawtucket.

Iglesias was 9 for 20 in six games filling in for Drew at shortstop. He had two doubles, scored three runs and drove in a run. The 23-year-old played very well and this demotion is undeserved. But Drew was signed to a one-year, $9.5 million deal because the Sox felt he was a better choice and they're not abandoning that idea because he suffered a concussion and Iglesias played well in six games.

Wilson, 26, has never been in the majors before. The former second round pick was a starter for three seasons before the Red Sox converted him to the bullpen last season. He pitched well in spring training (6 games, 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K). He has appeared in two games for Pawtucket, allowing three runs on four hits over 2.2 innings.

Wilson would become only the second major league player to have been born in Saudi Arabia. Craig Stansberry, who played for the Padres from 2006-09, was the first. Wilson is the son of a geologist who was working in Saudi Arabia at the time of his birth.

Lackey strained his bicep on Saturday in Toronto. He would be eligible to return on April 22. He will miss at least three starts. Alfredo Aceves has been put in the rotation in place of Lackey.

Drew was 2 for 13 in a four game rehab assignment with Double A Portland.

Red Sox will start Aceves on Thursday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 12:06 PM

The Red Sox announced today that Alfredo Aceves will start against the Orioles on Thursday night, not Felix Doubront.

Aceves has a 2.31 ERA in 25 career appearances against the Orioles, all in relief. He also has good statistics against their hitters.

Doubront will presumably be pushed back to face the Rays on Friday night in place of John Lackey. Doubront is 2-1, 3.91 in seven career appearances against the Rays, four of them starts. He was 2-0, 4.32 in three starts last season.

So for now, the rotation likely looks like this:

Wednesday vs. Baltimore: Ryan Dempster
Thursday vs. Baltimore: Alfredo Aceves
Friday vs. Tampa Bay: Felix Doubront
Saturday vs. Tampa Bay: Jon Lester
Sunday vs. Tampa Bay: Clay Buchholz
Monday vs. Tampa Bay: Dempster

Pregame Today debuts tonight

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 10, 2013 10:55 AM

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 7.01.04 PM.pngBoston.com will launch a new video series tonight before the Red Sox take on the Orioles in the second game of the year at Fenway Park.

Pregame Today will focus on the key story lines leading into each Red Sox weekday home game. It will include commentary from Boston.com and Globe reporters, lineups, and pregame interviews.

Look for it on Boston.com's homepage, sports and Red Sox pages, and Red Sox video page between 5 and 5:30 when the Sox play a home game on a weekday.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 10, 2013 10:25 AM

Wade Boggs wants the Red Sox to retire his number. Stan Grossfeld has the story.

For the Red Sox, their 5-2 start is all about pitching.

The notebook has the Fenway Park sellout streak expected to come to an end.

WEEI Red Sox pe-game and post-game host Jon Rish resigned his position when asked to take a pay cut.

Fenway sellout streak likely to end Wednesday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 9, 2013 05:26 PM

Red Sox officials said Tuesday that unless something unusual happens, the team’s sellout streak at Fenway Park will come to an end Wednesday.

The vaunted streak reached 794 games (820 counting the postseason) on Monday when the Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles, 3-1, in their home opener. But a crowd of around 30,000 — about 7,000 short of capacity — is expected Wednesday.

The streak is the longest in baseball history. The record for major league sports teams in the United States is 814 by the Portland Trail Blazers from 1977-95.

The Sox last failed to sell out a home game on May 14, 2003, when a crowd of 32,485 saw a victory against the Texas Rangers. Outside of David Ortiz, every active Red Sox player has played only before sellout crowds at Fenway.

The issue of what constituted a sellout arose in recent seasons when hundreds of empty seats were apparent at games. The Sox said last year that they base their attendance on the number of tickets distributed, not actual attendance at the game.

That number includes 800 complimentary tickets donated to charities or given to others. Standing room tickets also are counted. This is common practice around baseball.

Also:

• David Ortiz played in an extended spring training game for a second consecutive day in Fort Myers, Fla., and was 2 for 4 with two singles. Ortiz is expected to play in a third game Wednesday before starting an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket Thursday.

• RHP Matt Barnes, one of the organization's top pitching prospects, made his Double A debut Monday and pitched only one inning. He allowed two runs on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Because he threw 33 pitches in that one inning, Barnes was taken out of the game because of an organizational rule designed to protect young pitchers from injury when they exceed 30 pitches in an inning.

• Jon Rish, who filled in on Red Sox broadcasts on WEEI and hosted and pregame and postgame shows, resigned from the station Monday rather than take a pay cut. Here's the story from Chad Finn.

Pitching the key for Red Sox so far

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 9, 2013 12:05 PM

Sometimes baseball can be hard to figure out. But often times, it's really simple.

Why are the Red Sox 5-2 and enjoying a beautiful spring day off in Boston? It's all about the pitching:

American League ERA leaders
1. White Sox 2.41
2. Athletics 2.86
3. RED SOX 2.95

American League K/9 leaders
1. Royals 10.53
2. RED SOX 10.18

American League xFIP leaders
1. Royals 2.85
2. Rangers 3.05
3. RED SOX 3.26

American League starters ERA leaders
1. RED SOX 2.45
2. White Sox 2.72

American League starters K/9 leaders
1. RED SOX 10.49
2. Texas 10.26

American League starters xFIP leaders
1. Royals 2.81
2. RED SOX 3.03

(What is xFIP you ask? It's an interesting metric that measures the things a pitcher can control.)

Obviously seven games are a very small sample size and plenty can change in a game or two. But the bigger point is that this season, unlike last, the Sox have the makings of a good rotation. The 2012 Sox were 13-28 in games started by Aaron Cook, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Daniel Bard and Zach Stewart. None of those pitchers started this season in the major leagues.

Factor in Josh Beckett and that record was 18-39. In other words, 35 percent of the games started last season were by pitchers the Red Sox no longer have on their roster.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 9, 2013 10:25 AM

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Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Red Sox came home and beat the Orioles, 3-1, behind Daniel Nava and Clay Buchholz.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that baseball captures the heart of Boston every time.

Chris Gasper writes Buchholz was brilliant as good pitching continues to carry the Sox.

Nick Cafardo writes that Nava continues to write a great story.

The Red Sox bullpen closed the game out successfully. Julian Benbow has that story.

The Orioles saw a new Red Sox team and were impressed. Mike Vega has that story.

The Red Sox celebrated 60 years with The Jimmy Fund in touching pre-game ceremonies.

The notebook has the Red Sox tabling a decision on John Lackey.

The Iglesias dilemma approaches

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 08:38 PM

Jose Iglesias was 0 for 3 in today's 3-1 victory against the Orioles, dropping his batting average to a paltry .450 after six games. The 23-year-old shortstop has given the Red Sox much more than expected filling in for the injured Stephen Drew.

But Drew, who has recovered from a concussion suffered in spring training, is expected to rejoin the team Wednesday. He played his fourth injury rehabilitation game for Double A Portland tonight and homered in his third at-bat.

John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington have said that Drew, who was signed to a one-year, $9.5 million deal, would not lose his job. That could mean Iglesias is headed for Triple A Pawtucket.

“If it turns out that that’s the move, then much like any player who has gotten off to a good start, it would be hard to swallow it,” Farrell said.

“But there has to be an understanding of where he’s at, and personal and organizational goals aligning. And sometimes that isn’t always at the same time.”

Iglesias said he isn’t letting the situation worry him.

“It’s not something I can control,” he said. “All I can do is come here and play and if I go to the minors, I will play there. I’m glad we’re winning games.”

Also:

• David Ortiz was 2 for 4 with a double in an extended spring training intrasquad game in Fort Myers. The designated hitter is expected to play two more games in Florida before joining Triple A Pawtucket for a rehab assignment on Thursday.

• Farrell received a big cheer from the crowd when introduced, a stark contrast to his weekend visit to Toronto. Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. also received a loud ovation. Even John Lackey, once reviled and now reformed, received warm applause.

• The Red Sox have set a team record with seven consecutive errorless games to open the season.

• Major League Baseball reversed a scoring call in the April 3 game against the Yankees. Shane Victorino was credited with a double in the ninth inning instead of an error being charged to shortstop Eduardo Nunez. Victorino, by the way, has reached base safely in all seven games.

• The Blue Jays claimed first baseman/designated hitter Mauro Gomez off waivers from the Sox. Gomez was designated for assignment March 31 to make room for Bradley on the 40-man roster. The Blue Jays optioned Gomez to Triple A Buffalo.

• Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, was introduced to the crowd after the sixth inning. The 83-year-old stood up and proudly showed off the red shirt he was wearing.

• Farrell had a chance to talk to former Sox infielder Rico Petrocelli before the game. “A cool moment,” he said. He also made sure to soak in the ambience of the home opener at Fenway. “You look at the numbers that are retired on the board and some of those people are standing there in person,” he said. “It brings to light the magnitude of the organization. That really stood out to me.”

• The Red Sox are 46-31 with Will Middlebrooks in the starting lineup.

Farrell's faith in Nava is rewarded

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 08:27 PM

As the Red Sox were preparing to leave Toronto Sunday night, manager John Farrell had bench coach Torey Lovullo tell Daniel Nava that he would be starting in left field for the home opener Monday.

Nava was a little surprised, as he knew the Baltimore Orioles would be starting lefthander Wei-Yin Chen. Nava is a switch hitter but has been much better against righthanded pitchers in his career.

“Of course it gave me confidence,” Nava said. “John and Torey have done a great job of communicating with us about whether we’re playing the following day. The opportunity to mentally prepare is huge.”

Asked how much difference that can make, Nava smiled.

“I had a lot of confidence knowing my manager had my back,” he said. “You saw what happened in the game.”

With the afternoon shadows falling on Fenway Park, Nava came to the plate in the seventh inning with the chance to reward Farrell’s faith in him. The Red Sox, stifled all day by Chen, had runners at second and third base and one out in a scoreless game.

Nava drove an inside fastball so far out of the old ballpark that it crossed Lansdowne Street. The shot gave the Red Sox a 3-1 victory before a sellout crowd of 37,008.

Prior to the game, Farrell said he wanted Nava in the lineup instead of rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. because he has seen improvement in Nava's plate approach batting righthanded.

“He puts up a consistent at-bat. Numbers bear it out that he’s had more success lefthanded. But I think just in general he’s been a confident offensive player,” the manager said.

It was the right button to push. Nava walked, singled and hit a home run that will long be remembered. Nava homered and drove in two runs on Sunday.

“It’s been an amazing couple of days,” said Nava, who until this season had never been on an Opening Day roster. “Just to get this chance with this team means a lot to me. When you’re here for the home opener and everything that goes on, that’s pretty special.”

Nava has the humility you would expect from a player who was once cut from his college team and became an equipment manager. But as he watched the ball fly, he flipped his bat just a little and pumped his fist as the crowd roared.

Final: Red Sox 3, Orioles 1

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 01:29 PM

nava.jpg

John Farrell had a hunch and went with it. With the Orioles sending lefty Wei-Yin Chen to the mound, he wanted to sit his young, fresh face Jackie Bradley Jr. In his place, he put Daniel Nava, who last year hit .185 against lefties.

For a day, Nava defied the numbers.

He went 2 for 2 with a three-run home run in the seventh inning that blew up what had been a tense pitchers duel between Chen and Sox starter Clay Buchholz and pushing the Sox to a 3-1 win in their home opener.

For the ninth straight season, the Sox came out victorious in their Fenway starter. This time they rode Buchholz, who went seven strong innings, striking out eight while giving up just three hits.

Despite giving up a loud ninth-inning home run to Adam Jones, Joel Hanrahan made his Fenway debut and picked up his third save.

FULL ENTRY

A few home opener notes . . .

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 01:02 PM

A few random notes on the opener:

• The Sox have won eight consecutive home openers, the longest active streak in the majors and longest in team history. Their last loss in a home opener was in 2004, 10-5 against Toronto. But that season turned out OK in the end.

• The Red Sox are 16-4 in their last 20 home openers.

• Joel Hanrahan is the only player on the active roster never to play at Fenway.

• The Red Sox will recognize their 60th anniversary of being involved in the Jimmy Fund in the pregame ceremonies.

• Curious about the clubhouse? Jackie Bradley Jr. got the locker next to the door that was J.D. Drew's for five years before Ryan Sweeney had it. Stephen Drew will be next to him.

Shane Victorino is down at the other end, in the corner locker that has belonged to assorted veterans over the years, Kevin Youkilis included. Jonny Gomes, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, and Will Middlebrooks are all in a row in the middle.

Good deal for the season at BostonGlobe.com

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 12:50 PM

BostonGlobe.com is offering a good deal, 32 weeks for $1.01 a week. Go here to sign up.

You'll get all our Red Sox coverage including the columnists and the Sunday baseball notes package and updated stories all day. The site is designed to adapt to any device and the iPad application is fantastic. It's like reading the actual paper and a full edition downloads in less than a minute.

Minor league updates from the On Deck blog

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 12:43 PM

If you aren't already, make sure you bookmark and read the On Deck blog by Craig Forde. It's all about the minor leagues, both Red Sox affiliates and New England teams.

Today, there's a preview of the pitching matchups including Matt Barnes making his first start for Portland.

Red Sox waiting to make decision on Lackey

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 11:32 AM

John Lackey remains on the Red Sox roster. But it's unclear for how long.

The righthander, who left the mound in the fifth inning on Saturday with a bicep strain, is "unlikely" to make his scheduled start on Friday according to manager John Farrell. But beyond that, the Red Sox offered little information.

"He's improved," Farrell said. "He's still on a 48-72 hour recovery period. There's no roster move to announce of any kind right now. The most encouraging thing though [is] following the MRI, it showed some inflammation in the bicep. That's been it."

Farrell said there is no tear in the muscle. Lackey will be examined again today. Then the Sox will figure where they go from there.

Because of the day off on Tuesday, the Sox would not need a fifth starter until Sunday.

Farrell said that before Lackey gets back on the mound, he would have to go through "a good test of some sort." That could be an extended bullpen session or a simulated game.

If Lackey cannot start on Sunday, Farrell indicated that Alfredo Aceves would be the choice.

Also:

• David Ortiz will play in an intrasquad game in Fort Myers, Fla., today. He is expected to play three games in Florida before joining Pawtucket on Thursday to start a rehab assignment.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. is out of the lineup for the first time as Daniel Nava starts in left field against Orioles' lefty Wei-Yin Chen.

Nava is a switch hitter. But he has hit only .191/.302/.318 batting righthanded in his career. Bradley, a lefty hitter, is 1 for 6 against lefties this season.

"Over the last couple of three games, he's been getting pitched to pretty consistently," Farrell said. "Felt like against another very good lefthander, it was a chance to get Nava's righthanded bat in there along with [Jonny Gomes] as the DH. That's where we are on that."

• LHP Franklin Morales (lower back) is scheduled for an inning in an extended spring training game on Tuesday. He will pitch in three extended games before starting a rehab assignment.

• LHP Craig Breslow (shoulder) is scheduled for a one-inning stint in extended spring training this weekend.

Game 7: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 09:45 AM

newbunting.jpgGood morning. Here are the lineups for the home opener:

RED SOX (4-2)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava LF
Gomes DH
Ross C
Iglesias SS
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (1-0, 1.29)

ORIOLES (3-3)
McLouth LF
Machado 3B
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Davis 1B
Wieters C
Hardy SS
Flaherty 2B
Pearce DH
Pitching: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 3.18)

Game time: 2:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI-FM.

Red Sox vs.Chen: Pedroia 3-8, Gomes 1-4, Middlebrooks 3-6, Ellsbury 2-4, Ciriaco 1-2, Ross 1-3, Saltalamacchia 1-3,

Orioles vs. Buchholz: Markakis 4-31, Jones 5-21, Wieters 6-25, Davis 3-14, Hardy 6-13, Casilla 3-5, Flaherty 3-5, Teagarden 0-5, McLouth 1-4, Machado 1-2, Reimold 0-3.

Stat of the Day: Red Sox were 5-13 against the Orioles last season,

Notes: Bradley is out of the lineup for the first time this season. He is hitting .143 (3 of 21) after six games and was 1 for 11 against the Jays.... Buchholz is 7-3, 3.64 in 14 career appearances against the Orioles, 13 of them starts. He was 2-0, 4.50 in four starts last season. ... Chen is 2-0, 2.50 in three starts against the Sox. ... Victorino has reached base safely in every game this season. ... Chen has much better splits against lefthanded hitters (.229 with a .675 OPS) than righthanders (.261 with a .750 OPS). ... Sox reliever Koji Uehara has not allowed a run in 16 consecutive appearances dating last to last season. His line: 13.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 21 K.

Song of the Day: "Come Home to You" by John Hiatt.

Pitching matchups for the Orioles series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 08:00 AM

Monday: RHP Clay Buchholz (1-0, 1.29) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 3.18), 2:05 p.m., NESN.

Wednesday: RHP Ryan Dempster (0-1, 5.40) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (0-0, 9.00), 7:10 p.m., NESN.

Thursday:LHP Felix Doubront (0-0, 5.40) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (0-0, 12.27), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 8, 2013 07:45 AM

Led by Will Middlebrooks and his three home runs, the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays and finished off a successful road trip.

Nick Cafardo writes that Middlebrooks put on a jaw-dropping performance.

The notebook has the Sox hoping for good news on John Lackey.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that the new-look Red Sox have it clicking as they open at home.

Adam Jones: Orioles want to 'shut up' the fans Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 7, 2013 07:37 PM

TORONTO — The Orioles are 3-3 after losing to the Twins on Sunday and have dropped two straight one-run games. That had center fielder Adam Jones fired up about playing the Red Sox on Monday.

“It’s important,” Jones told reporters in Baltimore about the team's need to platy well at Fenway Park. “You’ve seen the last couple days, you look on the scoreboard today. They had 13 runs and they put them up quick, too. I think they are swinging the bats. We’ve got to go out there ... and spoil their Opening Day."

That Fenway will be sold out matters not to Jones.

"The more people, the more you want to shut them up. That’s how I look at it. I don’t care, they can stand up the whole game. They do anyway. But when you can silence 40,000 people, it’s pretty cool," he said.

Red Sox waiting for further news on John Lackey

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 7, 2013 06:37 PM

TORONTO — There's a plane to catch and a house to see for the first time since Feb. 4. But here are a few notes:

• As of Sunday night, the Red Sox were waiting to get the results of John Lackey's MRI further interpreted. General manager Ben Cherington said the exam showed Lackey having a strained bicep muscle.

“We’ll sit down with John [Monday] and map out what our plan is and what is in his best interests,” manager John Farrell said.

Lackey was scheduled to start on Friday. But it seems likely that he is headed to the disabled list for at least two weeks.

“First and foremost is John’s well-being,” Farrell said. “Given all that he’s come through, or in this case just the fact that a pitcher walked off the mound in the midst of an at-bat, we’ve got to be cautious with this.”

The Sox haven’t said who would start in Lackey’s place if needed. Alfredo Aceves followed him to the mound on Saturday and threw 3.2 innings.

“I feel good and if I need to start, I can start,” Aceves said on Sunday. It’s like a wave, the way you build up. I’m on a good wave.”

With the day off on Tuesday, the Sox could simply skip that spot in the rotation for one turn.

• Stephen Drew, who is on a rehabilitation assignment after recovering from a concussion, was 0 for 4 with a walk for Portland in Sunday’s 9-7 loss against Trenton and played eight innings in the field. He is 1 for 10 in three games.

Drew was expected back on Monday. But Portland’s game on Saturday was postponed by the cold.

“Just talking with him late [Saturday] afternoon, he felt an additional 8-10 at-bats would be helpful,” Farrell said. “He’s starting to feel much more comfortable.”

Drew is scheduled to play the entire game for Portland on Monday.

As Drew recovers, Jose Iglesias is 9 of 17 filling in for him. He was 2 for 5 with a double on Sunday. But the Sox have said all along that Drew will play shortstop once he is ready.

• Rookie left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .143 (3 of 21) after six games, albeit with a .333 on-base percentage thanks to five walks. He was 1 for 11 against the Jays.

“They attacked him on the inside part of the plate a little bit. They did a good job. They mixed up some breaking balls for strikes,” Farrell said. “They spread the zone away from him. I don’t think he expanded [his strike zone] that much. He saw some fastballs at the belt and above I don’t think he’s seen all that much of. He’s learning.”

Bradley has played every inning of the season in left field and had a direct role in contributing to three of the four victories.

“Any level you go to, you need to adjust,” he said. “I’m seeing what they’re doing with me. I’ll be OK.”

• The Red Sox have yet to commit an error. Pedro Ciriaco was unjustly charged with a throwing error in the ninth inning before the scorer reversed his call.

• Daniel Nava started at first base for the first time and played seven seamless innings. He also was 1 for 3 with a home run, a sacrifice fly and a walk. “The game moves fast on the infield,” said Nava, who as a professional had played only the outfield. “It was fun, actually.”

• Mike Carp became the last Red Sox player to get in a game when he pinch hit in the eighth inning and lined to shortstop.

• The Red Sox were out-homered 8-2 by the opposition before Sunday. Now it’s 8-8.

• Red Sox pitchers have 58 strikeouts and only 15 walks.

For Middlebrooks, a day to remember in Toronto

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 7, 2013 06:33 PM

TORONTO — The Red Sox will throw open the gates of Fenway Park on Monday afternoon for the first game of the season. Yawkey Way has been scrubbed clean, the grass is perfectly green after a bitter New England winter, and the pristine white uniforms are hanging in the lockers.

Will Middlebrooks is guaranteed to hear perhaps the loudest cheers from the faithful after belting three home runs to lead the increasingly interesting Red Sox to a 13-0 thrashing of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.

At 4-2, the Sox returned to Boston after the game feeling even better than they did leaving spring training.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava also homered for the Red Sox, who had 15 hits. Jon Lester threw seven impressive innings.

“It’s a good feeling to be going home because we’re playing well and it should only get better at Fenway,” Middlebrooks said. “That’s huge, having that momentum.”

The 24-year-old Middlebrooks had an historic day. He hit a solo home run off R.A. Dickey in the first inning, then doubled and scored in the third inning.

Middlebrooks led off the fifth inning with another home run off Dickey and started the seventh with a shot off Dave Bush.

Middlebrooks is the first player in the majors with three home runs in a game this season and the first Red Sox player to do it since Dustin Pedroia against the Rockies on June 24, 2010.

Middlebrooks also became one of six players to accumulate 14-plus total bases in a single game in Red Sox history. Fred Lynn (16), Pedroia (15), John Valentin (15), Carl Yastrzemski (14) and Norm Zauchin (14) are the others.

Hall of Famer Ted Williams hit three home runs in a game three times but never had more than 13 total bases.

“Yeah, but he did plenty of other things,” Middlebrooks said. “Let’s not go crazy.”

Middlebrooks had a chance to make history in the eighth inning when he came to the plate facing Bush again. Middlebrooks hit a curveball deep to left but it was caught on the warning track.

“I thought it had a chance, just the way the ball flies here,” Middlebrooks said. “I was blowing it running down the line but it didn’t have enough steam.”

Middlebrooks is 6 for his last 10 with four home runs, two doubles and five RBIs. Farrell, ever the manager, pointed out that the third baseman also made two nice plays in the field.

Middlebrooks faced Dickey in a spring training game on Feb. 25. It was only one at-bat but it gave him a sense of how Dickey threw his knuckleball.

But Middlebrooks also noted the advice of some veteran players that Dickey will try a fastball to get ahead in the count. The first home run came on a first-pitch fastball. The second home run was on a 3-and-2 fastball.

“I thought we had a very good approach against Dickey,” Farrell said. “We laid off some tough knuckleballs at the bottom of the zone.”

Final: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 0

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 7, 2013 01:07 PM

Game over: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 0 Do they need a mercy rule in baseball? The Red Sox just pummeled the disappointing Jays with six homers, three by Will Middlebrooks. There were seven strong innings by Jon Lester.

The Sox leave Toronto to head back home with a good feeling after taking two out of three against the team favored to win the AL East.

Top 9th: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 0: Newsflash: Red Sox are out in the ninth.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 0 - Clayton Mortenson came on. Jose Reyes singled to leadoff the inning, but that was all.

Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 13, Blue Jays 0: Ellsbury homered into the second deck in right. Pedroia walked and then Napoli homered into the second deck in center. A rocket. Middlebrooks swung at the first pitch and hit it well but the ball was caught at the warning track. There goes his bid for history.

Lester is done after seven shutout innings. He allowed five singles and struck out six without a walk.

Middle of the 7th: Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 0: Middlebrooks and Nava go back to back off David Bush. That's three for Middlebrooks, the first Red Sox player to do that since Pedroia against the Rockies on June 24, 2010. No Red Sox player has ever hit four in a game.

Middlebrooks is now one of now six players with 14-plus total bases in Red Sox history. Fred Lynn (16), Pedroia (15), John Valentin (15), Carl Yastrzemski (14) and Norm Zauchin (14) the others.

Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 0: Middlebrooks homers again, this time deep to left. Dickey then walked Bradley with two outs and was reliever by David Bush.

His line: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.

His season line: 10.2 IP, 15 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 9 K, 3 HR.

Top of the 5th: Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 0: Iglesias (9 of 14 this season) doubled to left and scored on a single to left by Ellsbury when Cabrera sailed the throw over the catcher. Victorino walked but Pedroia struck out and Napoli grounded back to the mound.

Lester, meanwhile, is cruising along with a three-hit shutout and five strikeouts. Only 50 pitches through four innings, too.

Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 0: Middlebrooks doubled down the line in left (he's using all the field as hitting coaches like to say) and moved up on a passed ball. In the dugout, Salty must have nodded his head and remembered catching Tim Wakefield. Nava then delivered a sac fly. So adding him to the lineup has worked out so far.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 0: Lester had a perfect, eight-pitch first inning. Dickey allowed an infield single by Iglesias (8 of 13) then retired the side, striking out Victorino and Pedroia.

Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 0: Wow, that escalated quickly.

Ellsbury: Line drive double to left.
Victorino: Single to center
Pedroia: RBI single to right
Napoli: Long two-run double to the gap in left.
Middlebrooks: Line drive home run down the line in right.

19 pitchs, 5 hits, 5 runs.

Nava and Salty hit long fly balls that were tracked down on the warning track. Bradley then struck out. What a start for the Sox. Lester must be thrilled.

Pre-game: Good afternoon from the Rogers Centre, where the Red Sox will take on the Blue Jays.

The Sox are 3-2 and trying to head home with a winning record. Jon Lester faces R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball. We'll have updates here all game. Please feel free to leave your comments, too.

Ortiz starts playing in games on Monday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 7, 2013 11:28 AM

TORONTO — Red Sox DH David Ortiz, who is on the disabled list recovering from a right Achilles' tendon injury, will play in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers on Monday and could start a rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket as soon as Thursday.

Pawtucket starts an eight-game homestand on Thursday. Ortiz has said he would like 25-30 at-bats at Pawtucket before returning to the Sox.

Let's say that's six or seven games. Barring any setbacks, that would have Ortiz with the Red Sox by April 17 or 18.

Keep in mind that this process will hinge on how Ortiz feels on a given day. Theoretically he could play nine or 10 in a row and declare himself ready to go. But he also could mix in a day off or two in there.

Also:

• Shortstop Stephen Drew will remain with Double A Portland for two more days and rejoin the Red Sox on Wednesday. The Sea Dogs had their game postponed by cold weather on Saturday and Drew would like to get two days of at-bats before returning to the majors.

Drew has had seven plate appearances with Portland in two games.

• John Lackey is back in Boston and getting checked out this morning. The Sox are hoping to get some news during the game.

• Jose Bautista (right ankle) remains out of the Toronto lineup.

• Bobby Doerr, the Hall of Fame second baseman and Red Sox legend, is 95 today.

Game 6: Red Sox at Blue Jays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 7, 2013 09:20 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (3-2)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli DH
Middlebrooks 3B
Nava 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Bradley Jr. LF
Iglesias SS
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (1-0, 3.60).

BLUE JAYS (2-3)
Reyes SS
Davis RF
Cabrera LF
Encarnacion 1B
Arencibia DH
DeRosa 5
Izturis 2B
Blanco C
Bonifacio CF
Pitching: R.A. Dickey (0-1, 4.50).

Game time: 1:07 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Dickey: Victorino 5-19, Ellsbury 1-6, Napoli 2-5, Pedroia 1-5, Ross 1-5, Gomes 0-2, Ciriaco 1-1.

Blue Jays vs. Lester: Bautista 10-45, Arencibia 5-26, Lind 3-27, Cabrera 9-24, Encarnacion 4-21, Davis 5-21, Izturis 5-15, Rasmus 2-9, DeRosa 2-6, Reyes 0-3, Bonifacio 0-2.

Stat of the Day: The Sox are 2 of 27 (.074) with runners in scoring position in their last three games.

Notes: The Sox send their ace to the mound to try and capture the season and send the team home to Fenway with a winning record. ... Lester is 11-7, 3.86 in 22 carer starts against Toronto. He was 1-3, 7.27 in four starts last season against the Jays. ... Dickey is facing the Sox for the first time since two relief appearances for the Twins in 2009. He allowed four runs (three earned) in his first start this season, that coming against the Indians. ... Sox pitchers have struck out 48 and walked only 15. ... Napoli is 3 of 23 with 9 strikeouts and no walks. ... The Sox have hit two home runs and allowed 10. ... Victorino has reached base safely in all five games. ... The first two games of the series drew 91,125 fans.

Song of the Day: "Dear John" by Hank Williams.

Baseball coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 7, 2013 09:08 AM

John Lackey was pitching wellbefore an injury knocked him out of the game on Saturday.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox will have their depth tested.

The notebook has Jose Iglesias feeling better but not in the lineup.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick writes that some in Montreal want baseball to return.

John Lackey: 'A little scary when it happened'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 05:05 PM

TORONTO — Here is what John Lackey said after the game:

How do you feel? "It felt like a pretty good cramp. It's all in the bicep, wasn't elbow. Pretty frustrating, a little scary when it happened for sure."

Feeling better about it now? "It's sore. But hopefully not too serious."

Did you feel something on the pitch before? "Felt a little something tight on the pitch before. But it grabbed me pretty good on the last pitch."

Arm was dangling as you walked off. Was there pain? "My hand didn't go numb or anything like that like I've had with the elbow stuff. It was pretty much right in the belly of the bicep."

How encouraged were you with how you were pitching? "I felt really good. Really made one mistake. I was pounding the strike zone pretty well, had some strikeouts. Felt like my stuff was pretty good."

How concerned are you? "I don't know. I'll just see what happens tomorrow when I checked out."

What went through your mind initially? "A year and a half of getting to this point and having to do it again. Yeah."

Worried muscle might be torn? "The tests they ran on me here today looked pretty good. So hopefully get a picture of it tomorrow we can get after it and hopefully it's nothing too crazy."

How long afterward did it feel better? "It got better when I got inside. It kind of loosened up. Like I said, felt like a pretty good cramp. Like a hamstring kind of thing I've had before. I would liken it to that."

Farrell: Initial diagnosis on Lackey is hopeful

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 04:39 PM

TORONTO — Here's what John Farrell had to say about John Lackey:

"Strained right bicep. Felt kind of a cramping sensation. Obviously we took him out immediately. But once he was in the clubhouse here, he iced it down [and] that cramping went away. The strength test, at least in the training room, showed to be positive in terms of full strength. But we're going to get him back [to Boston] and get a full exam, likely tomorrow."

Lackey seemed to be flexing his arm before he got hurt: "Saw the movement. At the time he didn't feel like it was anything to be alarmed by. He did acknowledge that he felt just something there. Nothing compared to what that last pitch he threw. Obviously when he grabbed it as he did it was a clear sign we had to get him out of there."

Anything with his elbow? "No, elbow is fine. This is in the belly of the bicep. So it's kind of, I would say, an abnormal area for a guy to feel that grabbing sensation on one pitch. I think the encouraging thing is as he came out of the game, the soreness and the cramping feeling have subsided."

How tough was that to see happen? "Particularly in his case, what he has gone through. But any time you see a pitcher on one pitch grab it, it's obviously not a good sign. So hopefully through the testing that he'll go through, we'll get certainly more information. At least following the game there's some positive that's coming out of it with the symptoms as they've decreased."

About how Lackey pitched: "He looked sharp. He had good action to his secondary stuff. The velocity was probably the best we've seen to date. He was free and easy. He threw all his pitches for strikes. He gets a cutter up in the zone to Arencibia. Well aware of what he can do with a pitch that's up in the strike zone. Other than that, he pitched out of a couple of jams with some men on base. I think into that [fifth] inning, overall, he was pitching as [well] as we could have ever anticipated or hoped."

How was Lackey when he came off the field? "Any time a pitcher walks off in the middle of an at-bat, there's always concern. We've just got to get all the information we can tomorrow."

Who would replace him in the rotation? "I think it's probably best at this point, we've got to get through tomorrow and then factor everything in that we do get information from."

Still concerned about the severity of the injury? "Well, he came out of the game. So we've just got to get every test and run him through the appropriate exam. We'll put out heads together once we get all that information. He'll have an MRI."

Given how it looked, is the initial diagnosis positive? "In the testing that he went through in the training room after some time elapsed, the manual testing in here showed good strength, almost full strength. So there is some initial positive signs here. But we can't rule anything out and that's why the exam will take place. ... As he described, it's almost like he had what guys feel in their hamstrings when they get tight or cramp up. That's the sensation he felt in the bicep. ... We'll see what transpires."

John Lackey suffers biceps strain, leaves game

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 02:36 PM

TORONTO — Red Sox pitcher John Lackey walked off the mound in the fifth inning on Saturday clutching his right arm with what appeared to be a significant injury.

The Red Sox announced in the seventh inning that Lackey suffered a right biceps strain.

Lackey is scheduled to return to Boston Sunday to receive an MRI. Both manager John Farrell and Lackey indicated after the game that the symptoms had subsided after Lackey iced. Initial strength tests conducted by the trainers in the clubhouse saw Lackey with decent arm strength.

"Felt a little something tight on the pitch before. But it grabbed me pretty good on the last pitch," Lackey said.

Asked if he had any other sensations he said, "My hand didn’t go numb like I've had with elbow stuff. My strength is pretty good."

Lackey threw a curveball to Reyes on which he felt the tightness.

The next pitch was well inside and nearly hit Reyes. Lackey immediately grabbed his arm above the elbow and walked off the mound in the direction of second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Manager John Farrell and head athletic trainer Rick Jameyson rushed out to the field and escorted Lackey back to the dugout.

Lackey had struck out Emilio Bonafacio for his eighth strikeout and was pitching very well with no signs of problems before Reyes stepped in. He had allowed a two-run homer to J.P. Arencibia in the fourth inning.

Lackey was making his first start since Sept. 25, 2011. He missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Lackey was replaced by Alfredo Aceves.

He was asked what went through his mind when he felt the cramp.

"Year and a half have to do it again," he said, referencing the rehab he underwent after the surgery. "The tests they ran on me here today looked pretty good. So hopefully get a picture of it tomorrow we can get after it and hopefully it's nothing too crazy."

Lackey said the arm started to feel much better as he left the game and was inside the clubhouse being worked on.

Teammates Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester came over to him for support, and the two pitchers felt much better about what they saw after Lackey settled their fears.

"It got better when I got inside. It kind of loosened up. Like I said, felt like a pretty good cramp," Lackey said. "Like a hamstring kind of thing I've had before. I would liken it to that."

Final: Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 01:07 PM

Game over: Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 0: Bad day all around for the Red Sox. They were limited to two hits (Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff double in the first inning and Dustin Pedroia's two-out infield hit in the ninth) and lost John Lackey to a biceps strain in the fifth inning while making his first appearance since Sept. 25, 2011 after missing all of 2012 with Tommy John surgery.

He left the game clutching his right arm. He had pitched well to that point, allowing a two-run homer to J.P. Arencibia, but Alfredo Aceves came on and allowed a three-run bomb to Colby Rasmus to put the game out of reach before 45,707 at Rogers Centre.

The game ended on a great catch against the center field wall by Rasmus, robbing Mike Napoli of extra bases.

Bottom 8th: Jays 5, Red Sox 0: Aceves allowed a one-out double down the left field line to Arencibia. He struck out Mark DeRosa but got Rasmus to ground out.

Top 8th: Jays 5, Red Sox 0: Sox still have only one hit.

Bottom 7th: Jays 5, Red Sox 0: Better inning for Aceves with two Ks.

Top 7th: Jays 5, Red Sox 0: Delabar pitching tough, Sox retired 1-2-3. Napoli has struck out for the third time. Attendance today is 45,797 as Blue Jays fever is pretty high.

Bottom 6th: Jays 5, Red Sox 0: How's the audition going for the No. 5 spot in the rotation now that Lackey has been injured? Not well for Alfredo Aceves. He allowed a three-run homer to Colby Rasmus. Ouch.

Top 6th: Jays 2, Red Sox 0: Sox finally get Happ out of the game after he walked Shane Victorino with one out. Happ allowed one hit, three walks and pitched very well. he struck out six. He was replaced by Steve Delabar who retired the Sox.

Bottom 5th: Jays 2, Red Sox 0: Bad news as John Lackey leaves the game clutching his right arm after an errant 2-2 pitch to Jose Reyes' legs. Lackey had stretched his arm as if experiencing discomfort on the pitch before. He was replaced by Alfredo Aceves, who received all the time he needed to warm up.

Top 5th: Jays 2, Red Sox 0: Happ has retired seven straight with his second 1-2-3 inning. Really hitting his spots well with his 92-93 fastball. Happ replaced Ricky Romero in the rotation as the Jays' fifth starter.

Bottom 4th: Jays 2, Red Sox 0: Arencibia showed his tremendous power with a two-run homer that cleared the fence in straightaway center on a 2-0 pitch that Lackey left over the plate. Adam Lind singled with one out on a low breaking ball that he reached out and stroked to center. Lackey ended the inning with his seventh strikeout - Rasmus.

Top 4th: Red Sox 0, Jays 0: Happ strikes out the side (Napoli, Middlebrooks, Gomes) and now has matched Lackey's six strikeouts.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 0, Jays 0: Lackey struck out Rasmus, his fifth and then retired Emilio Bonafacio on a grounder to first. But he allowed back-to-back singles to Jose Reyes (who else?) and Rajai Davis before he struck out Melky Cabera, for his sixth strikeout.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 0, Jays 0: Sox had two runners on base vs. Happ. Pedro Ciriaco, subbing for Jose Iglesias, who has a right arm contusion after being HBP Friday, drew a walk. He stole second base and went to third on an overthrow by Arencibia. On Ellsbury's grounder to first base, Encarnacion gunned Ciriaco down at the plate. Victorino walked, but Pedroia fouled out to third.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0: Lackey looking good. Two more K's. Has four through two innings.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0: Happ retires Middlebrooks, Gomes and Ross, two of them on ground balls to Reyes at short.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0: John Lackey, making his first start since September 25, 2011, got out of the first inning with two strikeouts after Jose Reyes led off with a single and stole second base.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0: Things started out promising, eh? Jacoby Ellsbury slapped a double down the third base line against J.A. Happ. But Happ induced a Shane Victorino pop up and a Dustin Pedroia strikeout. After Ellsbury stole third, Mike Napoli took a called third strike on a 93 mph fastball on the outside corner.

Greetings from Rogers Centre where the second game of this three-game series is underway - John Lackey vs. JA Happ. The crowd doesn't appear as vicious toward manager John Farrell as it was Friday night. But it's early.

Portland postpones game; Drew idle

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 01:03 PM

TORONTO — Stephen Drew was scheduled to play nine innings for Double A Portland today. But there will be no game at Hadlock Field.

It's 35 degrees in Portland with winds over 20 mph and the game last been postponed until July 2, when it will be part of a doubleheader.

Drew has played two games in his rehabilitation assignment and could play for the Portland on Sunday, weather permitting. The Sox were originally planning for him to play four games.

We'll find out later how today's postponement changes those plans, if at all.

Meanwhile, check out this post from our On Deck blog about Portland newcomer Kyle Kaminska.

Jose Bautista out of Toronto lineup again

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 11:56 AM

TORONTO — The Blue Jay were late posting their lineup because they wanted to see how Jose Bautista felt after testing the stability of his right ankle.

Bautista "didn't feel quite right" according to manager John Gibbons and is out of the lineup again.

The guy they call Joey Bats is 5 of 21 in his career off John Lackey with two home runs.

Also:

• Stephen Drew is scheduled to play nine innings for Double A Portland this afternoon. Drew is 1 for 6 with two RBIs in two games for the Sea Dogs.

• The Red Sox plan on being careful with how they use 38-year-old Koji Uehara. He has a lot of milage on his arm given the 1,549 innings he threw in Japan from 1999-2008.

Uehara has been a reliever since 2010. The Sox will use him only an inning at a time regardless of pitch count. They'll also try to give him days off between appearances.

"The tendency is going to be to call his name all the time," John Farrell said. "He loves to compete. You see the energy he comes off the field with after completing an inning. We're fortunate we've got the depth that we do and the quality that we do. We'll have the ability to spread some things out and Koji will be a guy that we'll factor all those things.

"We have to consider — not taking anything away from him — that he's had a long career and a very successful one and we've got to manage the physical side of that."

• Several of the players are sick. Mostly head colds and congestion. Dustin Pedroia was talking like Vito Corleone this morning.

• Farrell and several of the Red Sox players were talking about how impressed they are with Jays shortstop Jose Reyes, who was 4 for 5 with a home run and two doubles on Friday. He also used his speed to distract Will Middlebrooks from making a play in the first inning.

One thing to keep an eye on with Reyes: How the turf will affect his legs over the course of the season.

• The clubhouse opened to the media at 9:30 a.m. The place was loaded with players and music was playing. Given that Sox were playing a day game after a night game, it was was hard not to notice the energy.

Those in attendance included several of the new players — Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Joel Hanrahan — along with the usual suspects like Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks. Ross and John Lackey were going over the game plan at 9:45 a.m. with Clay Buchholz offering his ideas.

It's a long season and we'll see how it all plays out. But after the events of the last few seasons, there clearly is a different atmosphere around this team. It's impossible to know what that will mean in the standings. But no matter what your profession is, you probably do your job a little better when you don't mind going to the office.

Bailey pitching like the closer he once was

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 11:33 AM

TORONTO — Andrew Bailey threw 19 pitches in the eighth inning on Friday night. Thirteen were fastballs and three of those produced swinging strikes. All were between 95-97 mph.

Bailey put two runners on with one out then picked up two outs in a span of five pitches.

"He had great stuff, the best I've seen from him," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "That fastball was great."

Bailey was a closer in Oakland for three seasons and twice made the All-Star team. A thumb injury ruined last season for him, but now he looks like the pitcher the Sox thought they had when they acquired him from the Athletics.

"He's healthy," manager John Farrell said. "You look back to last year and missing three-plus months. That's extremely difficult to try and make up and jump back in the flow of things after you've missed that amount of time. But he's pitching with a lot of confidence and you that grow with each outing in spring training.

"Obviously it's a little bit of a luxury to have that type of pitcher in the eighth inning."

Jose Iglesias OK after being hit on the elbow

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 11:15 AM

TORONTO — Jose Iglesias was on the field at 10:15 a.m. playing catch with assistant athletic trainer Brad Pearson. Iglesias was catching the ball, flipping it behind his back and then throwing it back with his usual zip.

So, yeah, the Red Sox shortstop is feeling just fine after being drilled on the right elbow by a Josh Johnson fastball on Friday night.

"It's a little tight but I can play," Iglesias said as he came off the field. "I actually feel pretty good."

But Iglesias is out of the lineup today. Manager John Farrell said it was a planned day off to get Pedro Ciriaco in the game. Ciriaco was 2 for 4 subbing for Iglesias on Friday night.

"He's available if the need does arise," Farrell said. "It was encouraging that he came in and was pleading his case to get in today's lineup."

Iglesias is 7 of 12 this season with one double, one RBI and two runs scored filling in for Stephen Drew.

Iglesias said he expects to play on Sunday, something Farrell agreed with. Drew could rejoin the team on Monday from his rehabilitation assignment.

Game 5: Red Sox at Blue Jays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 09:15 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (3-1)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Gomes DH
Ross C
Bradley Jr. LF
Ciriaco SS
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (12-12, 6.41 in 2011).

BLUE JAYS (1-3)Reyes SS
Davis RF
Cabrera LF
Encarnacion 1B
Lind DH
Arencibia C
DeRosa 3B
Rasmus CF
Bonifacio 2B
Pitching: LHP J.A. Happ (10-11, 4.79 in 2012).

Game time: 1:07 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Happ: Gomes 0-8, Ellsbury 2-6, Pedroia 3-3, Salty 0-2, Victorino 1-2, Ciriaco 0-1.

Blue Jays vs. Lackey: Cabrera 12-33, Bautista 5-21, David 10-26, Lind 14-26, Encarnacion 5-17, Izturis 1-9, DeRosa 4-8, Arencibia 0-6, Blanco 1-6, Reyes 1-4.

Stat of the Day: Counting spring training, Koji Uehara has thrown 11.2 scoreless innings and put only six runners on base while striking out 14.

Notes: Lackey is making his first start since Sept 25, 2011. He had Tommy John elbow surgery after that season. ... Lackey is 5-7, 5.48 in 19 career starts against Toronto. ... Happ is 0-1, 6.92 in three career appearances against the Sox. ... Happ had a very strong spring training, posting a 1.90 ERA over 23.2 innings. ... The Sox have averaged 5.75 runs over their first four games despite being 13 of 53 (.245) with runners in scoring position and leaving 43 runners on base. ... Victorino is 7 of 20 in four games with four RBIs and three runs scored. ... Sox pitchers have struck out 35 and walked 12. ... The Sox are 102-83 at the Rogers Centre. ... Bradley has seen 77 pitches in 19 plate appearances.

Song of the Day: "Come Back" by The J. Geils Band.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 09:05 AM

The Red Sox had the back of their manager and beat the Blue Jays, 6-4, on Friday night.

Nick Cafardo writes that John Farrell received the wrath of the Toronto crowd.

The notebook has Fenway Park splitting the public address duties three ways.

Wrapping up a satisfying win for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 6, 2013 12:33 AM

TORONTO — A few takeaways from what was a passionate night of baseball at the Rogers Centre:

• Jonny Gomes on the crowd being all over John Farrell: “You get those little goose bumps going to the plate with the house going crazy. That’s a quick character check. We're starting to be tight-knit. Go booing any of our guys, we've got your back. Go booing our manager, we've got your back.”

• Gomes is known for mashing lefties and struggling against righties. But he drew a walk (and eventually scored the go-ahead run) off hard-throwing RHP Esmil Rogers in the eighth inning.

With the score 4-4, Farrell sent up Gomes to hit for Daniel Nava against Toronto reliever Brett Cecil. The lefthander had struck out four of the six batters he faced to that point.

Farrell expected Blue Jays manager John Gibbons to bring in Rogers. That was fine with him.

“I was wanting that matchup versus Cecil versus Nava in that situation,” Farrell said. “I’d rather have the righthander in the game than the lefthander.”

It worked. Gomes walked on five pitches and ended up on third base when Dustin Pedroia doubled to center. Mike Napoli hit a hard ground ball to third base. Maicer Izturis fielded the ball on his knees and did not have a play at the plate.

• Farrell: “It’s a great atmosphere, great game. For those who maybe only see our dugout on TV, the energy that’s in there, the amount of positive comments, guys pulling for one another — this is a very good group that’s coming together pretty darned quick.”

• Joel Hanrahan threw 16 pitches in the ninth inning. All were fastballs from 97-99 mph.

• Asked Koji Uehara what he yells when he comes back to the dugout. "I don't know. I'm just screaming," he said. Uehara has faced six batters in two appearances and retired them all on 14 pitches.

Do not expect to see the 38-year-old Uehara for more than one inning or on consecutive days too often. The Sox evaluated Uehara closely before signing him to a one-year deal and they feel strongly about making sure he is not overused.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. has been up 19 times and seen 77 pitches in four games. His contributions to date — 3 hits, 3 RBIs, 4 walks, 2 HBPs, 1 SB, 4 runs, 1 outfield assist, 1 tough catch that saved a run — have been significant.

• Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias left the game in the fourth inning with a deep bruise on his right forearm.

Iglesias was hit by a fastball from Johnson in the second inning. He walked away from the plate holding his arm and the crowd booed him. The boos got louder when Farrell came out to check on him.

Iglesias stayed in the game and made the best defensive play of the young season in the third inning.

With Jose Reyes on first base, Melky Cabrera grounded a ball into the third base hole. Iglesias ranged far to his right, backhanded the ball, and made a strong throw across his body to force the speedy Reyes at second.

But Iglesias felt his arm tighten and was pinch hit for in the fourth inning. His replacement, Pedro Ciriaco, was 2 for 4 with an RBI. Iglesias is day-to-day and will be further examined on Saturday.

There was no suggestion tonight that Iglesias would be replaced by Stephen Drew. But that seemed likely to happen on Monday regardless.

Final: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 07:00 PM

Game over: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4 Joel Hanrahan earned his second save with a scoreless ninth. He was throwing hard, getting several pitches to 99 mph.

Emilio Bonafacio committed three errors and struck out four times for Toronto. Bad day at the office. Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer in the fifth and Will Middlebrooks also homered in the ninth to extend Boston's lead.

Great bullpen work by Koji Uehara in the sixth as he came on with J.P. Arencibia at second base and struck out two of the next three batters.

The bad news was the right arm contusion injury to Jose Iglesias when he was hit with a Josh Johnson pitch in the second inning and came out of the game, but not before he made a most spectacular defensive play at short ranging deep into the hole on a Melky Cabrera grounded in the second inning to force a runner at second.

The Red Sox left 15 runners on base. The Jays left nine.

Top 9th: Red Sox 6, Jays 4: Will Middlebrooks lined a solo homer over the left field fence off righty Jeremy Jeffress to give the Sox some breathing room. The Sox put three more baserunners on but Jackie Bradley was gunned down at the plate on the one ball Emilio Bonafacio was able to field cleanly. He's made three errors including Pedro Ciriaco's grounder in this inning.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 5, Jays 4:Andrew Bailey gets his turn to shine out of the Sox bullpen. He struck out Arencibia, but then allowed a leftcenter gap double to Rajai Davis. After a walk to Colby Rasmus on a 3-2 pitch, Bailey got two fly ball outs to center from Adam Lind and Maicer Izturis to wiggle out of the jam and preserve the one-run lead.

Top 8th: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4: Brett Cecil struck out four batters in his 1-1/3 innings including Jacoby Ellsbury to open the inning. Farrell pinch-hit Jonny Gomes for switch-hitting Daniel Nava with righty Esmil Rogers on to pitch. Gomes walked. Pedroia then launched a long double to center field, but Gomes had to stop at third. With the base open, the Jays liked the Rogers-Napoli matchup. Napoli, fooled on a curveball and unable to catch up to a 95 mph fastball, managed to get wood on the ball and grounded to third where the Sox caught a break when Maicier Izturis stumbled while fielding the ball and was forced to throw to first when he could have had Gomes at the plate. The go-ahead run scored.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 4: Jose Reyes, great player, great bat speed, homers to right field with one out vs. Junichi Tazawa. Now 4-for-4. Melky Cabrera grooves a pitch almost in the dirt on 0-2 to the right center gap for a triple with two outs. encarnacion hit a hard liner, but Ellsbury vaught it for the final out.

Top 7th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays: Relief wars: Brett Cecil rebounds from a leadoff walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a double by Will Middlebrooks to deep center to strike out Victorino, Bradley and Ciriaco.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Koji Uehara just pitched a game-saving inning. After Doubront allowed a double to Arencibia, he came out to strike out Davis and Rasmus and got pinch-hittter Adam Lind to fly out to center. Davis was unable to lay down a bunt to move the runner.

Top 6th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Johnson not on his game tonight but he delivered a big strikeout on Mike Napoli to end the inning with two runners on.Ciriaco doubled and Pedroia drew a 3-0 intentional walk with two outs. Johnson has had to go long because Jays pen a bit tired.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: An opposite field homer by Mark DeRosa and an RBI double by Jose Reyes pull Jays to within one run. Reyes was thrown out at third trying to stretch his double. Bad move, costing the Jays a big run as Bonafacio singled right afterward.

Top 5th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1: Mike Napoli sent a two-run homer to rightfield with Dustin Pedroia (single) aboard against Josh Johnson. Napoli's first homer as a Red Sox. Victorino musters his second hit of the game but no more damage against Johnson.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1: Doubront strikes out two of the three batters in a dominating inning.

Top 4th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1: Two huge errors by second baseman Emilio Bonafacio, one on a wide throw to first on a Shane Victorino grounder, and another on a bobbled grounder hit by Jackie Bradley Jr., led to a run off Josh Johnson when Pedro Ciriaco, who pinch-hit for the injured Jose Iglesias (contusion right elbow) singled to left scoring the run.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 1: Sox went in order. In the bottom of the inning, Reyes led off with a single. Doubront struck out Bonifacio. Cabrera than grounded a ball into the hole at short. Iglesias ranged over, backhanded it and made a strong throw while off balance to get the speedy Reyes. Incredible play. Doubront then struck out Encarnacion looking.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 1, Blue Jays 1: Another eventful frame. One-out singles by Victorino and Bradley preceded Iglesias getting hit on the right forearm. Farrell was savagely booed when he came out to check on his injured player. Iggy stayed in the game. Ellsbury singled to drive in a run but Nava bounced into a double play.

The Jays tied it when Davis singled, Rasmus doubled and DeRosa had a sacrifice fly. Victorino made a strong throw to the plate despite going toward the line and not being able to square his body. But it was over Salty's head.

Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0: Lots going on in the first inning. Ellsbury walked and went to second when Nava singled sharply up the middle. Ellsbury went to third base when Pedroia lined to right. But Johnson struck out Napoli (2 for 15) swinging and Salty swinging.

Reyes led off the bottom of the inning when a booming double to the gap in left. Doubront struck out Bonafacio, but not before a wild pitch moved Reyes to third. When Cabrera grounded to third, Reyes danced off the bag. Middlebrooks tried to look him back but Reyes stayed off the base. Middlebrooks ran at him and Reyes got back to the base.

Encarnacion grounded to third. Middlebrooks bobbled the ball for a second then gunned a throw to second. Pedroia made a quick turn and the Sox had a double play by an eyelash.

Pre-game: Good evening from the Rogers Centre and the gathering of the We Hate John Farrell Club.

Farrell, who managed the Jays for two seasons before jumping ship for the Red Sox, was booed when introduced and there were a few signs in the crowd. A few leather-lunged fans yelled at him during batting practice, too.

Farrell took the lineup card out, was booed loudly then tipped his cap on the way back. Pretty funny.

Hang out for updates and please feel free to leave comments. Even if you are an angry Canadian.

Drew, Ortiz stay on track with rehabs

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 06:31 PM

TORONTO — The local media had the dastardly John Farrell surrounded today. But the Boston press got a few queries in.

So ...

• Stephen Drew is expected to play seven innings tonight for Portland and remain on track to rejoin the Sox on Monday.

• David Ortiz did not run the bases in Florida today because of wet conditions. But he is still scheduled to play in an extended spring training game on Monday.

Red Sox split up Fenway Park PA job

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 05:40 PM

The Red Sox will use three public address announcers at Fenway Park this season.

Dick Flavin will handle the home opener and most day games. Henry Mahegan has been assigned most of the night games, and Bob Lobel will be at the microphone most Saturdays.

The team said other Boston and baseball personalities will make guest appearances at the microphone from time to time.

Flavin, Mahegan, and Lobel were chosen after an extensive search that began in January. A total of 342 people tried out for the public address duties this offseason. All three helped fill in for the late Carl Beane last season.

Flavin, 76, spent 20 years in Boston television, primarily at WBZ and won seven regional Emmy awards. The Quincy native was enshrined in the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2011. His one-man show about Tip O’Neill, “According to Tip,” has played more than 50 times in Massachusetts since its debut in 2008.

Flavin drove Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio to Florida to see their lifelong friend Ted Williams in a trip immortalized in David Halberstam’s book “The Teammates."

Mahegan, 31, teaches civics and United States history at Charlestown High. The Marblehead native assisted in the Red Sox media relations department before embarking on his teaching career in 2010.

Lobel, 68, was a fixture at WBZ Radio and TV for nearly 30 years. He has won awards for his sportscasting and for his community efforts with the Genesis Fund and Boston Children’s Hospital. He currently hosts a daily show on WTPL FM in Hillsboro, N.H.

Follow the Portland game on Boston.com

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 05:35 PM

Craig Forde, who runs our On Deck minor league blog, is at Hadlock Field tonight and running updates on the game there.

Brandon Workman is pitching and Stephen Drew is playing shortstop.

. . . And Red Sox fans wanna puke

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 02:53 PM

Kevin Youkilis hit his first home run as a member of the Yankees today, taking Doug Fister deep in Detroit. The call by Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling was, "It's a nuke ... from Youk!"

Youkilis is 6 for 15 for the Yankees so far.

Game 4: Red Sox at Blue Jays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 02:45 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (2-1)
Ellsbury CF
Nava DH
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Victorino RF
Bradley Jr. LF
Iglesias SS
Pitching: LHP Felix Doubront (11-10, 4.86 in 2012).

BLUE JAYS (1-2)
Reyes SS
Bonifacio 2B
Cabrera LF
Encarnacion 1B
Arencibia C
Davis RF
Rasmus CF
DeRosa DH
Izturis 3B
Pitching: RHP Josh Johnson (8-14, 3.81 in 2012).

Game time: 7:07 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Red Sox vs. Johnson: Victorino 12-38, Gomes 2-8, Ross 1-3, Pedroia 1-2, Salty 0-3.

Blue Jays vs. Doubront: Bautista 2-12, 2 HR; Encarnacion 5-9, 1 HR; Rasmus 4-11, 1 HR; Davis 1-10, Arencibia 1-7, 1 HR; Lind 0-6, Reyes 3-6, Izturis 0-0.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have yet to hit a home run. This is the longest they have gone to start the season without a home run since 1993, when the first one came in the fourth inning of the sixth game. It was hit by Mo Vaughn against Kevin Brown of the Rangers.

Notes: Red Sox manager John Farrell was 154-170 in two seasons with the Jays before he returned to Boston. His desire to return to the Red Sox rankled the Blue Jays, their fans and some in the media in Ontario. Farrell will be booed loudly all weekend. ... Doubront is starting the season with a game in Toronto for the second straight season. He was 1-2, 5.91 in four starts against the Jays last season but pitched well in two starts at the dank Rogers Centre, allowing four earned runs in 11.1 innings. ... Johnson was one of the too-expensive Florida Marlins the Blue Jays were able to obtain in November for seven prospects. Johnson faced the Sox last June 11 and allowed one run over seven innings. ... Napoli is 2 for 14 and has yet to drive in a run.

Song of the Day: "Public Enemy No. 1" by Public Enemy.

A 'scoundrel' returns to Toronto

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 11:40 AM

TORONTO — John Farrell should probably stick with room service this weekend. He's not very popular here.

Two nice folks riding the ferry from Billy Bishop Airport to downtown said Farrell was the biggest Toronto sports villain since Vince Carter left the Raptors in 2004 after requesting a trade.

Then a fellow on television referred to Farrell as "a scoundrel" and encouraged fans to boo him this weekend. Of course that came after a look at the NHL playoff race.

In Boston, Farrell's departure from the Jays wasn't a big part of the story last fall when he became manager of the Red Sox. But in Toronto, he is seen as disloyal, if not treacherous, for leaving the Blue Jays after only two seasons to return to the organization he came from.

Toronto fans aren't generally known for being surly, certainly not when compared to the angry mobs in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. But this weekend has a chance to be pretty ugly.

Was Farrell wrong? He was under contract and he asked to leave for another team, so it's easy to see why Blue Jays fans are mad. If that happened in Boston, people would want blood.

But we all make decisions to benefit ourselves and our families and having a high-profile job doesn't preclude that. Farrell knew when he left the Jays there was going to be backlash but the lure of going back to Boston outweighed that significantly. He'll handle the boos and in time, they'll fade away.

Pitching matchups for the Blue Jays series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 06:45 AM

Friday: LHP Felix Doubront (11-10, 4.86 in 2012) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (8-14, 3.81 in 2012), 7:07 p.m., NESN

Saurday: RHP John Lackey (12-12, 6.41 in 2011) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (10-11, 4.79 in 2012), 1:07 p.m., NESN

Sunday: LHP Jon Lester (1-0, 3.60) vs. R.A. Dickey (0-1, 4.50), 1:07 p.m., NESN

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 5, 2013 06:07 AM

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a chance against Mariano Rivera at the end, but the closer was too much for the rookie and the Red Sox dropped their first game, 4-2.

Nick Cafardo writes that Rivera and Andy Pettitte recaptured past glories.

Julian Benbow writes that David Ross made a big impression in the game.

Julian also has Felix Doubront ready for his first start of the season.

The notebook has John Farrell set for a cold reception in Toronto, where he used to manage.

Bradley Jr. learns a lesson: Rivera gets the corners

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 11:33 PM

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NEW YORK — Jackie Bradley Jr. was born on April 19, 1990, about two months before Mariano Rivera pitched his first minor league game for the Yankees.

Their lives did not intersect until the top of the ninth inning on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Rivera needed one out to get the 609th save of his career and Bradley represented the tying run.

Three pitches later, the game was over as Bradley struck out and the Yankees had a 4-2 victory. The graying legend had bested the promising rookie.

“He really knows what he’s doing,” Bradley said.

Rivera threw Bradley three cut fastballs, his signature pitch. The first was inside and off the plate, but umpire Mike DiMuro called it a strike. Bradley fouled off the second one then took the third one, which was a little outside.

Bradley prides himself on knowing the strike zone. But DiMuro called him out and the Yankees exhaled, having avoided a three-game sweep.

“Too close to take,” Bradley said, his tone suggesting he had learned a lesson. “Too close to take.”

It was the first appearance for Rivera since undergoing knee surgery last May and missing the remainder of the season. He inherited a 4-1 lead from fellow throwback Andy Pettitte and walked Dustin Pedroia.

Mike Napoli popped out but Jonny Gomes doubled down the line in left field and Pedroia went to third. Will Middlebrooks, facing Rivera for the first time, grounded to second and a run scored. Then Bradley had his chance with Gomes on third.

“We did a good job of coming back,” Sox manager John Farrell said.

Also:

• Stephen Drew started at shortstop for Double A Portland and played five innings in the first of what the Red Sox are planning on being a four-game rehabilitation assignment. Drew suffered a concussion on March 7. He drove in a run with a ground out in his first at-bat. He then lined to shortstop and struck out. The Sox are hopeful that Drew will rejoin the team for the home opener on Monday.

• David Ortiz was not at Yankee Stadium for the game. He returned to Fort Myers, Fla., and is expected to go through base-running drills on Friday. He remains scheduled for an extended spring training game on Monday.

• Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales threw a 25-pitch live batting practice on Wednesday in Fort Myers. He is coming back from a strained lower back and the Red Sox plan to stretch him out to be used as a starter, if needed.

• Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow (shoulder) is throwing in the bullpen in Florida. His rehabilitation assignment has not yet been scheduled.

• For the final time, Mayor Thomas M. Menino will visit Fenway Park on Friday to view improvements made during the offseason and taste new menu offerings. The event has been an annual one for Menino.

• Players on both teams were wondering why the Yankees scheduled a night game when they face the Tigers at 1:08 p.m. in Detroit on Friday.

• Rivera has played in parts of 19 seasons for the Yankees, a franchise record he will share with Derek Jeter once the shortstop returns from the disabled list. Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle held the old record of 18 seasons.

• The Sox have yet to hit a home run. The last time they started the season with three homer-less games was in 1993, when they went five games before hitting one.

Final: Yankees 4, Red Sox 2

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 07:00 PM

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NEW YORK -- The Red Sox were eying their first opening-series sweep since 1999. Andy Pettitte made sure it didn’t happen.

Pounding the strike zone, Pettitte buzzed through the Sox lineup, scattering eight hits over eight innings and ending the Yankees early woes before they became a bona fide streak with a 4-2 win.

Lyle Overbay (1 for 3) had a two-run double in the second to get things started for the Yankees, and Brett Gardner (2 for 3) and Francisco Cervelli (1 for 2) both homered. Mariano Rivera made his first appearance of since last May to record the save.

After scoring 15 runs the first two games, the Sox struggled to muster any offense against Pettitte. Jackie Bradley Jr. upped his RBI total to three with a run-scoring double in the seventh. Otherwise, the Sox were relatively quiet. With the Sox trying to rally late against, Bradley Jr. struck out on three pitches in his first ever at-bat against Rivera.

Still, for the first time since 2008, the Sox won their season opening series.

FULL ENTRY

John Farrell readies for return to Toronto

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 05:38 PM

NEW YORK — John Farrell pitched 116 games in the major leagues. He then worked as a college assistant coach before returning to professional baseball as a player development executive, a pitching coach, and then a manager.

Farrell will take on a new role on Friday, that of the villain.

Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays have been angry with Farrell since he left the team in October to return to the Red Sox as manager. Farrell spent two years managing the Blue Jays and jumping to a division rival was viewed as disloyalty.

Now Farrell returns to the Rogers Centre for a three-game series and is sure to hear it from the crowd.

“People are going to have their own opinions and I respect that,” Farrell said on Thursday before the Red Sox faced the Yankees. “I think it goes along with the heightened interest in the Blue Jays and a lot of the changes that they’ve made. There’s a lot of excitement there.

“In this case, with how things unfolded, the unique set of circumstances that surround the change both in Toronto and in Boston, I can fully appreciate that they might have those feelings and what might come out of it, we’ll see starting [Friday]. But we’re looking forward to going up there and looking forward to competing against them.”

Farrell was traded to the Red Sox for shortstop Mike Aviles on Oct. 21 after informing the Blue Jays that he wanted to manage the Red Sox. Since then, the usually cheerful people of Ontario have not been very fond of him.

“Villain or the bad guy, whatever it might be, I can only say we look forward to the challenges that lies ahead of us,” Farrell said.

Toronto is 0-2 under manager John Gibbons after making a series of high-profile additions during the offseason. The Red Sox are 2-0 under Farrell.

"Definitely looking forward to it. They’ve got a good team. We’re looking to compete against them," Farrell said. "I’m sure the excitement that surrounds the Blue Jays because of the changes that they’ve gone through in the offseason, this will be a very good challenge for us.”

The Red Sox will pitch Felix Doubront, John Lackey, and Jon Lester against Josh Johnson, J.A. Happ, and R.A. Dickey.

Watch: Kevin Millar talks Red Sox

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff April 4, 2013 03:36 PM

Kevin Millar, who is co-host of the MLB Network's Intentional Talk program weekdays at 5 p.m., joined Boston Sports Live to discuss his former team and how things are shaping up for the 2013 season.

Watch the replay of the segment in the player above. You can replay Thursday's full episode of Boston Sports Live on the show's video page.

Game 3: Red Sox at Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 02:47 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (2-0)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Gomes DH
Middlebrooks 3B
Bradley Jr. LF
Ross C
Iglesias SS
Pitching: RHP Ryan Dempster (12-8, 3.38 in 2012).

YANKEES (0-2)
Gardner CF
Cano 2B
Youkilis 3B
Hafner DH
Wells LF
Suzuki RF
Nunez SS
Overbay 1B
Cervelli C
Pitching: LHP Andy Pettitte (5-4, 2.87 in 2012).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network, YES / WEEI, WCBS.

Red Sox vs. Pettitte: Pedroia 9-40, Gomes 8-22, Ellsbury 8-20, Napoli 6-14, Victorino 6-14, Ross 4-12, Carp 0-3, Saltalamacchia 0-3, Nava 1-2.

Yankees vs. Dempster: Overbay 2-7, Suzuki 2-6, Cano 1-4, Wells 3-6, Gardner 1-4, Francisco 0-3, Nunez 1-3, Stewart 0-3, Youkilis 0-3, Hafner 0-1.

Stat of the Day: The Red Sox are 19-19 against the Yankees at the new Yankee Stadium.

Notes: The Sox are trying to get to 3-0 for the first time since a 5-0 start in 1999. ... Dempster is 0-4, 7.65 in five career starts against the Yankees. But only two of those starts have come since 2001. Dempster faced the Yankees last Aug. 13 and allowed eight earned runs in six innings. ... Pettitte is 18-10, 3.91 in 37 career starts against the Red Sox. Tonight will be the first since Oct. 2, 2010. No players in the Red Sox lineup tonight played in that game. ... The Red Sox' 7-9 hitters were 10 of 24 with eight runs in the first two games. ... The Sox had 15 runs on 26 hits with 11 walks in the first two games. ... Bradley has seen 48 pitches in 10 plate appearances and been on base five times.

Song of the Day: "All The Small Things" by Blink-182.

Red Sox had their turn; are the Yankees next?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 10:45 AM

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NEW YORK — When the Red Sox fell apart last season, some fans in Boston were astounded. The Sox had not had a losing record since 1997 and the idea that their team could finish in last place was hard to accept.

Consider all that it took to make that happen: A record-setting amount of injuries, a series of poor choices made in building the team and picking a blasting cap named Bobby Valentine as manager. But it was inevitable, too. Teams in all sports, no matter how successful, get a boulder dropped on them at some point.

The Sox were lucky. The Dodgers absolved them of their sins by taking Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez off their hands and John Farrell was willing to come back and attempt to fix the whole mess. If you look at the Sox payroll, their young talent in the majors and the players in Triple A and Double A, they're in an excellent position for the future.

It may not result in the playoffs this season, but a downward trend years in the making has shifted.

After two days of watching the Yankees, you have to wonder how that will happen here.

Joe Girardi is not the problem. But it's amazing to see a Yankees lineup that goes from Robinson Cano hitting third to Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay. If this were 2007, that would be pretty good. But it's 2013.

Derek Jeter may not be back to May and he needs to be able to play shortstop to be of value to the team. At 38 and coming off a broken ankle, can he do that?

Mark Teixeira is not expected back until late May or early June. He remains a capable player, but his OPS+ has declined three years in a row.

Alex Rodriguez may or may not be back this season after hip surgery and could face a suspension as MLB pursues its investigation of the Biogenesis matter. Even if he does return, he's a hugely expensive player in sharp decline.

No team, not even the Dodgers, will take A-Rod. Jeter is not going anywhere and has a player option for 2014.

Curtis Granderson will come back from a broken arm and will certainly improve the lineup. But his 84 home runs the last two seasons also have come with a 364 strikeouts and last year a .319 OBP.

Andy Pettitte, the No. 3 starter, is 40 and has not thrown more than 129 innings since 2009. CC Sabathia remains formidable. But Red Sox batters were remarking on Monday at how much he used his changeup and avoided challenging them with fastballs. Sabathia is signed through 2016 with a vesting option for 2017.

The Yankees have talent in the lower reaches of their farm system. But there is no position player prospect seemingly ready to make a significant contribution this season. Until they get their stars back, the Yankees have to patch up their lineup and hope for the best.

Brian Cashman is one of the best general managers in the game and the Yankees have resources that can change the look of their team in a hurry. But there does come a time, as the Red Sox proved last season, when a step back becomes inescapable.

The Yankees have not had a losing record since 1992 and it would be foolhardy to predict that will happen this season based on two games. But so far a lot has gone wrong for New York and the hole is getting deeper.

Minor league season gets started today

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 10:32 AM

The minor league season starts today.

Please check out the good work Craig Forde is doing on our On Deck blog. he has previews of all the Red Sox farm teams.

There's a lot of great information there.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 09:50 AM

With Clay Buchholz banishing some demons, the Red Sox beat the Yankees again.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that these Red Sox have been a team worth watching.

Nick Cafardo writes that Jose Iglesias is caught in a rundown with Stephen Drew coming back.

Julian Benbow writes that Ryan Dempster is nice and loose as he readies for his first start with the Red Sox.

The Yankees are looking for answers after losing two games.

The notebook has David Ortiz and Stephen Drew making progress in their return.

Jackie Bradley Jr. picks up a souvenir

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 12:43 AM

NEW YORK — Jackie Bradley Jr. had his first career hit, a single to center that drove in a run in the third inning. He has been on base five times in his first 10 plate appearances for the 2-0 Red Sox and made several nice plays in the field.

That's why the Sox kept him. Bradley is a player who can make a difference.

“It’s a big thrill. You always want to get the first one out of the way. I’m glad I did it,” Bradley said of his RBI single in third inning. “It was a big opportunity right there and I got an RBI out of it, too. It was pretty sweet.”

The ball was tossed into the Red Sox dugout and ended up on the shelf in Bradley’s locker. He didn’t know it was there until a reporter pointed it out.

“There it is,” said Bradley, whose parents were at the game. “I didn’t even know. It snuck up there.”

Pedroia checked out by doctor; stays in lineup

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 4, 2013 12:39 AM

NEW YORK — Dustin Pedroia was in the Red Sox lineup on Wednesday despite a sore right hand, the product of his diving headfirst into first base in the ninth inning of Monday’s game. He was checked out by a team doctor on Tuesday.

The Red Sox were concerned enough to have Triple A infielder Brock Holt in New York in case Pedroia had to go on the disabled list.

“I’m OK. They checked me out and it’s fine,” Pedroia said. “It was bothering me but I can play.”

Pedroia tore a muscle in his right thumb last May and missed six games. The same injury put him on the disabled list in July.

Pedroia ended the season with a torn ligament in the pinky finger on his right hand that required surgery and a broken ring finger on his left hand. Diving into first base, or any base for that matter, may not be the wisest move for him.

Pedroia was 2 for 5 in a 7-4 victory against the Yankees and played all nine innings.

Also:

• As he said he would in spring training, John Farrell dropped Shane Victorino in the lineup against a righthander. Victorino hit seventh with the Yankees starting Hiroki Kuroda. Daniel Nava hit second and was the designated hitter, and Jonny Gomes was the bench.

Victorino and Nava are switch hitters. But Victorino is better hitting righthanded and Nava lefthanded.

It worked out well as Nava was 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI, and was hit by a pitch. Victorino was 2 for 5 and drove in a run.

Gomes, a righthanded hitter, has been much better against lefties in his career. But the Red Sox will give him opportunities to face righthanders and believe he can improve.

“I thought he swung the bat well in spring training against righties,” Farrell said.

Farrell does not see the DH spot as necessarily a platoon until David Ortiz returns. He plans to mix in other players.

“Until we get in a stretch of everyday games, who might need a [day] at the DH slot to get them of their feet for a day remains to be seen,” Farrell said. “That would be the intent as we go through six, seven to eight consecutive games.”

• It was 43 degrees at first pitch and fell six degrees from there and Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias took the field with his much face encased in a hood and hand warmers in his pockets. “I hate the cold,” said the 23-year-old native of Cuba. “But I had to get used to it.” Iglesias said the 2010 season he played in Portland was the toughest on him. “It snowed in Binghamton (N.Y.) one time. I had never really seen snow before,” he said. “But I’ve learned how to deal with it. It’s part of the game when you play here.”

• Will Middlebrooks, who played with a 102-degree fever on Monday, was feeling better after a day off and a steak dinner. He was 0 for 4 but hit the ball hard twice in his final two at-bats and made a nice bare-handed play on Brett Gardner’s bunt attempt in the first inning.

• Koji Uehara turned 38 on Wednesday. He is the oldest player on the team.

• For Joel Hanrahan, the save was his first against the Yankees in his career.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. is the first Red Sox player to score multiple runs in his first two major league games since Sam Horn in 1987.

• Mike Napoli's infield single in the sixth inning was his first hit with the Red Sox.

Final: Red Sox 7, Yankees 4

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 07:00 PM

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees had never been kind to Clay Buchholz, last season especially. He lost both times out, giving up 15 hits, 13 runs and eight homers. Overall, he was 2-5 against the Bombers.

But, coming away confident after a strong spring, this was the team he wanted to face in his first start of the season.

For seven innings, he was in complete control, feeding the Yankees lineup heavy doses of the hard stuff and occasionally chasing it with beautiful breaking balls to help him earn his first win over the Yankees in two years, 7-4.

Over seven strong innings, he struck out four and gave up just six hits. His only blemish was a solo home run to Travis Hafner in the fourth inning.

He was able to pitch with a lead from the time he took the mound, thanks to Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2 for 5) who had an RBI single in the first inning.

Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda lasted just 2.1 innings. He was buzzed in the hand by a Shane Victorino line drive back up the middle in the second inning.

The effects were obvious as he hit Jackie Bradley Jr. walked Jacoby Ellsbury on four pitches then dotted Daniel Nava to plate Bradley Jr.

But he came back out in the third and struggled before being lifted for Cody Epply who gave up four runs over 1.1 innings. Kuroda would later be diagnosed with a right middle finger contusion.

Between Jacoby Ellsbury (1 for 4, 2 RBIs and a run) Daniel Nava (2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI and a run) and Dustin Pedroia (2 for 5 with an RBI) the top of the order fueled the Sox, who improved to 19-19 at the new Yankee Stadium.

FULL ENTRY

Dempster anxious for first start

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 06:24 PM

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NEW YORK -- Over 15 seasons, Ryan Dempster has carved out a niche for himself almost largely because of his reliability, consistency and work ethic. He's won at least 10 games eight times in his career, including each of the past five seasons. He's thrown at least 200 innings seven times.

But when asked what his aims were for this season, he said, "I'm thinking -- I would love -- my goal is 30 wins. If I can get 30 wins, I"m going to take that. I won't get greedy. I won't get greedy, I won't ask for 33 or 34, I'm just going to try to do that."

He was joking, as he's known to do. But he said he was anxious to take the mound tomorrow for the first time for the Red Sox, knowing that he'll be counted on to be a dependable arm in the middle of the rotation.

"I've always tried to be consistent, whether that's throwing innings, making my starts, giving us a chance to win and I pride myself on that," said Dempster. "I work really hard and that's the reason I do, so when I do go out there and pitch our team has a chance to win that day."

In five starts against the Yankees going back to 1998, Dempster is winless. Last season was especially tough. He had just joined the Texas Rangers, he was three games into his American League adjustment, and the Yankees rocked him for eight runs on nine hits. Rude welcome aside, he said he's more comfortable now since switching leagues.

"You've just got to continue to make pitches, just make as many quality pitches," Dempster said. "The biggest adjustment is you're facing a bona fide middle of the lineup hitter instead of a pitcher. So that just requires making more quality pitches, but other than that, the game's all the same. You face hitters whether it's American League or National League and you just go out there and make pitches."

David Ortiz could return to the Red Sox by the middle of this month

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 05:47 PM

NEW YORK — Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will travel back to Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday and is tentatively scheduled to play in an extended spring training game on Monday at Fenway South

Manger John Farrell said Ortiz could return to the Sox by the middle of this month.

Ortiz missed most of spring training while recovering from a right Achilles' tendon injury suffered last July, and started the season on the disabled list. But he has made rapid progress in the last week.

The question now is how much game action Ortiz would need before he can rejoin the Red Sox.

"In talking with David, I think he'd feel comfortable with 25-30 at-bats, likely to be taken place at [Triple A] Pawtucket. When that rehab assignment begins remains to be seen,"
Farrell said.

It's uncertain how much time Ortiz will need in extended spring training before he starts his rehabilitation assignment with Pawtucket.

"We're going to gauge that on him and when he's ready to take that next progressive step," Farrell said. "But I think it's most important to note that he continues to move along the prescribed plan that's in place. I know with each passing day he feels better about himself with the intensity ramping up with his running. So, we'll get a better read when he returns to Florida."

Ortiz will start base-running drills on Friday. He has been running in the outfield at Yankee Stadium.

"Good. I'm doing fine," Ortiz said during a brief encounter with reporters.

Stephen Drew ready to start rehab assignment in Double A

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 05:37 PM

NEW YORK — Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew played four innings in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday and will start a rehabilitation assignment with Double A Portland on Thursday.

Because Drew is on the seven-day concussion disabled list, a rehab assignment can last only five games. The Red Sox are planning on Drew playing four games. That would line him up to rejoin the Sox for the home opener on Monday against Baltimore.

Drew has played in extended spring training games two days in a row.

Drew suffered a concussion when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch on March 7.

Game 2: Red Sox at Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (1-0)
Ellsbury CF
Nava DH
Pedroia 2B
Napoli 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Victorino RF
Bradley LF
Iglesias SS
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (11-8, 4.56 in 2012).

YANKEES (0-1)
Gardner CF
Ichiro RF
Cano 2B
Youkilis 3B
Hafner DH
Wells LF
Overbay 1B
Nunez SS
Stewart C
Pitching: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (16-11, 3.32 in 2012).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, YES, ESPN2 / WEEI, WCBS

Red Sox vs. Kuroda: Victorino 4-18, Ellsbury 5-15, Pedroia 6-14, Ciriaco 3-12, Salty 2-11, Nava 2-8, Gomes 0-8, Carp 2-6, Napoli 1-5, Iglesias 1-3, Middlebrooks 0-3.

Yankees vs. Buchholz: Wells 5-26, Overbay 6-22, Cano 12-25, Boesch 3-18, Gardner 2-11, Suzuki 2-8, Cervelli 3-6, Hafner 2-6, Nix 0-5.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have not been 2-0 since 1999 when they opened at Kansas City.

Notes: The Sox are 18-19 at the new Yankee Stadium. ... Buchholz is 2-5, 7.19 in nine career starts against the Yankees, 0-2, 15.26 in two starts last season. ... Kuroda is 2-1, 3.43 in six career starts against the Sox, 2-0, 3.60 in five starts last season. ... The Yankees have won 16 of the last 23 games against the Sox. ... Pedroia has hit in five straight games dating back to last season. ... Napoli is hitless in 16 consecutive at-bats going back to last season, including the AL wild card playoff game.

Song of the Day: "I Second That Emotion" by Smokey Robinson.

Will Lester be in line for a mega deal?

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 12:44 PM

NEW YORK – What is the incentive for Jon Lester to have a great season? CC Sabathia, Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright, Tim Lincecum, who have all signed silly money deals.

If Lester continues to have a strong season, the Red Sox will have to take the big dip. It’s the dip they probably don’t want to take, but it’s the dip that teams around baseball have decided they need to take to keep their No. 1 starter on their team for the foreseeable future.

Lester has entered that timeframe.

To his credit, he knows he’s coming off a terrible 2012 and has to re-establish himself. When asked about those other big contracts he said, “If I pitch the way I did last year, I can’t even think about that.”

And he’s right.

But if he rebounds, oh baby.

He’s 29 years old and a lefthander. He’s already earning $11.25 million this season and there’s a team option for $13 million for 2014 with a $250,000 buyout. If Lester finishes first or second in Cy Young balloting he can void the option.

If he’s that good, the Red Sox would have to void it anyway because Lester’s contract will be torn up at the point and he’ll earn one of these mega-pitcher contracts.

If you don’t think he’s as good as some of the previously mentioned pitchers, well he’s not far of, either.

If he has a season where he wins 15-20 games, he’ll have won 15 or more in five of his eight full major league seasons. At that point you would have to say he deserves to be in the same class as the aforementioned.

We know he’s not Verlander, but is he Sabathia? Is he at least as good as Greinke or Hamels or Wainwright? The answer is yes.

Lester is 86-48 (.642 winning percentage) with a 3.76 ERA which is higher than most of the others, but some of the others are National Leaguers where the ERAs are lower. While it’s not fashionable to go by wins anymore, we give you a very fair measure of a pitcher – WHIP. Lester’s is also higher than the others at 1.307.

He’s had seasons of 16-6, 15-8, 19-9 and 15-9. His one aberration was last season when he was 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA and he had a high WHIP. He was not a No. 1 pitcher last year or during the September collapse. So really, for a season and a month he’s left us wondering is he a No. 1?

So if he can re-establish himself as an ace and the leader of this pitching staff, the sky is the limit on his next contract.

Let’s see where he compares.

1. Greinke, Dodgers: He is also 29, has a Cy Young. He’s 91-78 with a 3.77 ERA, but he has a 1.247 WHIP. He’s won 15 or more four times in nine seasons. His Dodgers contract is 6 years at $147 million.

2. Hamels, Phillies: Hamels is 29 with a 91-61 (.599) record and a 3.36 ERA. He has a low 1.140 WHIP over eight seasons. He has two 15-plus win seasons. He received a 7-year, $144 deal.

3. Cain, Giants: Cain is 28. He’s 85-78 (.521) but with a 1.172 WHIP. He’s won 15 games once but has six, 200-plus inning seasons. He earned a 6-year, $127.5 million deal.

4. Wainwright, Cardinals: The 31-year-old righty is 80-49 (.620) with a 1.214 WHIP. Twice he’s won more than 15 games and won 20 once. The Cardinals recently agreed to a 5-year, $97.5 million extension.

5. Lee, Phillies: The former Cy Young winner, is 125-78 (.616) with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.211 WHIP. He’s had three 15-plus win seasons and one 20-win season. Last year he won six games for the Phillies. Lee earned a 5-year, $120 million deal. Lee is 34 and in the second year of his deal.

6. Lincecum, Giants: Lincecum, 28, has already won two Cy Youngs, but the fear is that his best days are already behind him. He too had a poor 2012 when he went 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA. The difference between he and Lester is, Lester still has his velocity and stuff, Lincecum has lost some of his. The diminutive righty is in the final season of a 2-year, $40 million deal being paid $22 million this season. He can’t be a free-agent (unless he’s released) until after 2014. Lincecum is 79-56 (.585) over his career with a 1.231 WHIP. Three times he’s won 15 or more games.

7. Sabathia, Yankees: CC is 191-103 (.650) with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP. Eight times, the Cy Young winner, has won 15-plus games. He’s 32 years old. His extension last year was seven years at $161 million.

8. Hernandez, Mariners: At 26, the youngest of these pitchers. He’s 99-76 (.566) with a 3.20 ERA. He has a 1.209 WHIP. He’s won a Cy Young. He recently signed a 7-year, $175 million deal.

9. Verlander, Tigers: Verlander is probably the best pitcher on the planet, so he’s above and beyond. At age 31, he’s 125-65 (.658) with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.173 WHIP in nine years. He has a Cy Young and MVP award. His recent contract is 8 years for $180 million with an option to make it a $200 million deal.

The next giant pitching contract we’ll be adding to this is Clayton Kershaw, who may surpass Verlander’s deal given the way the Dodgers hand out money. It would appear the Rays may be thinking about tying up David Price long term, though he’s in their control until 2016.

But what’s clear is that teams aren’t letting their best pitchers go. It’s one reason why the Red Sox wouldn’t give up Lester in a deal for Kansas City’s Will Myers but because the Rays knew they couldn’t re-sign Shields long-term they let him go in a multi-player deal for Myers.

The Royals still have a $14 million option on Shields for next season, but he too could be in line for one these huge contracts.

Toronto’s Josh Johnson is a free agent after this season and if he has a big year the Jays would likely tie him up before he can become a free-agent. Matt Garza and Roy Halladay (if the 2014 option isn’t picked up or it doesn’t vest for $20 million) will also be free-agents. Halladay is in the final year of a 3-year, $60 million deal.

Where the Red Sox are from

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 11:15 AM

NEW YORK — Here's where the 25 players on the Red Sox and five on the disabled list were born:

United States (21)

California (4): Carp, Nava, Pedroia, Gomes.
Florida (3): Miller, Napoli, Saltalamacchia.
Texas (3): Buchholz, Lackey, Middlebrooks.
Georgia (2): Drew, Ross.
New Jersey (2): Bailey, Kalish.
Connecticut (1): Breslow.
Hawaii (1): Victorino.
Idado (1): Mortensen.
Iowa (1): Hanrahan.
Oregon (1): Ellsbury.
Virginia (1): Bradley.
Washington (1): Lester.

Other countries (9)

Dominican Republic (2): Ciriaco, Ortiz.
Japan (2): Tazawa, Uehara.
Venezuela (2): Doubront, Morales.
Canada (1): Dempster.
Cuba (1): Iglesias.
Mexico (1): Aceves.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 3, 2013 11:06 AM

Clay Buchholz, a good spring training behind him, is eager to face the Yankees for his first start of the season.

Jacoby Ellsbury likes that the Red Sox can put some pressure on opposing defenses. Julian Benbow has the story.

The notebook has Stephen Drew back in action in Florida.

Drew plays in extended spring training game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 2, 2013 05:24 PM

NEW YORK — Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew, out since March 7 because of a concussion, was cleared to play by Major League Baseball and had three plate appearances in an extended spring training game in Florida on Tuesday.

He was 1 for 3 with a double and played three innings in the field.

It was a major step forward for Drew, whose spring training came to a halt when he felt dizzy and had problems with his vision after being hit in the head with a pitch.

Drew was cleared to start baseball activities on March 17 but needed further testing to get in games.

Because Drew had only 18 plate appearances before he was injured and will likely need at least a week of games to get prepared. He is eligible to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list on Wednesday.

Jose Iglesias started at shortstop on Opening Day for the Red Sox and had three infield hits. Iglesias has shown great improvement this season at the plate. But Drew, who was signed to a one-year, $9.5 million deal, will be the starter once he is deemed ready.

Ask Nick: Optimistic about Iglesias

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff April 2, 2013 12:55 PM

Have a
question?

100x150asknickmugshot.jpg Submit your question here to be considered for the next edition of Ask Nick.

A nice variety of questions from fans across Red Sox world. Some optimism has returned after an impressive 8-2 win on Opening Day but there are still a lot of issues on your mind, including David Ortiz’s health, Jacoby Ellsbury’s future, Jackie Bradley Jr.'s arrival, Jose Iglesias’s plight, and retired numbers.

On this off-day in New York, let’s get right to your questions:

What do the Red Sox do if Jose Iglesias shows that he can actually hit? He had a go showing in the opener (three hits) and maybe he is actually starting to show improvement at the plate. Would the Sox really send him back to Triple A even though this is exactly what they wanted? But at the same time they cannot have so much money in Stephen Drew sitting on the bench.
-- Randy, La Canada Flintridge, California

As you know, my opinion is he should be the permanent shortstop, period, end of story. If he beats out infield hits and bunts and move runners along, with that defense – he may be the best shortstop defense in baseball – why would you make the change? The Red Sox don’t need to worry about paychecks and who is making what. They need the best players on the field. Drew is a very good player when healthy, but I know he’s not better than Iglesias defensively. If you need more offense from your shortstop then your lineup probably isn’t that good.

Only one game has gone by but John Farrell has already changed what we expected from the bullpen. What does it mean having Junichi Tazawa be the setup man while Andrew Bailey come in before him for one batter? Should we not look into this too deeply as it is one game, or could Farrell be doing something like having Bailey be the any important situation guy where having a closer pitch there would be best, yet also having a dominant set-up man in the eighth?
-- Randy, La Canada Flintridge, California

Normally I try to avoid answering two questions from the same person, but in this case I'll make an exception because this is a great topic. It was interesting to see the sequence used in the bullpen in Game 1. It appears they’re trying to legitimize Andrew Bailey’’s role, pretty much giving him the role that Daniel Bard used to have where he comes in in a big situation late in the game, whether it’s the sixth or seventh or eighth inning. Tazawa has been nothing but consistent and dominating with 96 mph heat. I’m sure there will be mixing and matching going on depending on who’s hitting, but we thought the bullpen would be a strength. After one game, affirmed.

Since Bradley is starting the season with the Red Sox, I am reading he needs to be in the minors 20 days for the team to keep the extra year of control. Is there anything stopping them from just sending him down on off days during the year to accrue those 20 days?
-- Tony, Salado, Texas

It has to be 20 consecutive days. If he slumps a little they may do it after David Ortiz returns.

What is your scouting report on Daniel Bard for this spring? I was surprised that he didn't make the final roster, and expected him to be right back in his old setup role by mid season.
-- Stephen, Niceville, Florida

I asked John Farrell the question of whether he was surprised that Bard couldn’t get straightened out with a full spring training. You could tell there was some surprise. But they sent him a message by optioning him to Portland that his problems aren’t a quick fix. He needs to get his act together mechanically and re-commit to the delivery that made him so successful. The decision to make him a starter is maybe one of the single worst decisions made. They should have listened to Bobby Valentine and kept him in the bullpen.

FULL ENTRY

Red Sox see slight uptick in season-ticket sales

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff April 2, 2013 12:07 PM

NEW YORK -- Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy said season-ticket sales are now lagging about 8 percent behind last season's pace after spending most of the offseason 10 percent down.

"Season ticket renewals have picked up a bit," Kennedy indicated via text. "We have seen a bump the past week."

Despite the slight uptick, Kennedy still anticipates the 793-game sellout streak, which began on May 15, 2003 and is the longest in Major League history, to end sometime in April.

The Red Sox open their home schedule April 8 vs. Baltimore and play the Orioles for three games before Tampa Bay comes in for four games through Patriots Day.

After a three-game series in Cleveland, the Red Sox will then be home to host Kansas City, Oakland and Houston to close out the month.

After a September collapse in 2011 and a 69-win, last-place finish in '12, the Red Sox have anticipated that some fans would fall off the bandwagon. The Red Sox have tried to gets fans back by keeping ticket prices status quo and also reducing food prices at concessions.

An encouraging 8-2 win over the Yankees on Opening Day probably hasn't hurt either.

Will baseball's new economy affect the Red Sox?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 2, 2013 11:21 AM

NEW YORK -- A number of standout players -- Felix Hernandez, Buster Posey and Justin Verlander among them -- have signed contract extensions in recent months.

It's part of a trend, teams realizing that paying out huge deals makes much more sense to players you developed and know well rather than showering money on free agents you don't. Teams flush with television money are tying up their homegrown stars.

The Sox avoided expensive free agents over the offseason, filling the gaps with two-year and three-year deals, none worth more than $39 million. That was by design.

Then came the news on Tuesday that Robinson Cano has left Scott Boras and signed up with CAA Sports, the agency fronted by Brodie Van Wagenen and associated with Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports.

CAA players, in general, sign extensions and do not hit the market. The Yankees, obviously, must be thrilled with this development. Cano could be the next player to sign a big-money extension.

Will this trend affect the Red Sox? Jacoby Ellsbury, a free agent after the season, has not shown any interest in signing an extension with the Sox to date. He is a Boras client and seems committed to the idea of free agency.

But Jon Lester could be a candidate for an extension. He is signed through the end of this season and the team holds an option for 2014. Dustin Pedroia, although signed through 2014 with a team option for '15, also could be in that line. The same will be true for Will Middlebrooks if he has a strong season.

It's far too early to speculate on what the future holds for Jackie Bradley Jr., a Boras client. The Sox will probably find a way to send him down for the 20 days needed to delay his free agency.

But who's to say what Bradley thinks his right for his future?

Worth noting: Jered Weaver, a Boras client, agreed to an $85 million extension in 2011. While Boras does encourage his clients to find their worth in the market, it is ultimately up to the player.

A few other off-day thoughts:

• Pedroia missed 111 games from 2010-12 because of assorted injuries that were largely out of his control. He fouled a ball off his left foot in June of 2010 and missed all but two games the rest of the season. Pedroia tore a muscle in right thumb last May and missed six games. Then the same injury put him on the disabled list in July.

Pedroia ended the season with a torn ligament in the pinky finger on his right hand that required surgery and a broken ring finger on his left hand. The point is that the Red Sox second baseman, while durable for much of his career, is not bulletproof. Yet there he was in the ninth inning on Monday, with the Sox up by six runs, diving into first base. He was out.

Pedroia was spotted talking to Red Sox medical staffers afterward about his right hand. He said he was fine and he did stay in the game for the bottom of the ninth inning. It's uncertain to what degree he was injured, if any.

The larger point is that diving headfirst into first base is almost never a good idea because it slows you down. Unless you are avoiding a tag, it's a bad play and puts a player in danger of injury. Pedroia knows better than to be reckless like that. If not, he should.

• The Red Sox woke up today in first place. The last time they were in first place? Sept. 1, 2011.

• Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked three times on Monday. That has happened twice in 475 games for him.

• The Sox scored eight runs on Monday. They scored seven runs in the three games against the Yankees that ended last season.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 2, 2013 11:01 AM

The Red Sox and their new manager opened up with an 8-2 victory against the Yankees that was satisfying on many levels.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that it was a full first day for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Sox did all the little things right against their rivals.

Julian Benbow writes that Jon Lester hung in there and got the Red Sox a victory. He's putting last season in the past.

The notebook has Andrew Bailey picking up a big out and David Ortiz feeling spry.

From a closer, a memento for his manager

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 08:28 PM

NEW YORK — The baseball was scuffed after being put in play and the seams had a little dirt on them. But there it sat on the desk, carefully wedged between the telephone and computer keyboard so it would not roll away.

It was one of the best gifts John Farrell had ever received, a memento of his first game as manager of the Red Sox and Monday’s 8-2 victory against the Yankees.

Joel Hanrahan gave Farrell the ball after he threw the final pitch of the game and got Brett Gardner to foul out.

“I thought he might like it, this being his first win as the Red Sox manager,” Hanrahan said. “I hope there’s a lot more.”

Farrell, who arrived at Yankee Stadium at 7 a.m., sat back in his office chair later on and said he appreciated the gesture. It was just one game in a long season, but it was one worth remembering.

“Today was a very good day in a number of ways,” Farrell said.

The Sox, so lifeless last season in losing 93 games, played with passion and a sense of purpose. They had 13 hits and drew eight walks. Five relief pitchers combined on four scoreless innings, allowing only three Yankees to reach base.

The Sox also ran the bases aggressively and made several nice plays in the field.

“Nothing complicated. Just playing hard,” said Jonny Gomes, who scored from second base on an infield single in the ninth inning and popped up pumping his fist after sliding across the plate. “You saw today how to win a game.”

Veteran Shane Victorino, who struggled in spring training, had two hits and drove in three runs. Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. made an impactful debut, drawing three walks, scoring two runs, driving in another, and saving a run with a running catch.

Jacoby Ellsbury, missing for much of last season, had three hits and drove in two runs. Jose Iglesias did more with his bat than his glove, collecting three infield hits and driving in a run.

The Sox became a new team after general manager Ben Cherington remade the roster. They played like it. The team that ended last season with losses in 22 of its final 29 games is no more.

“The personality of your manager kind of plays out with the personality of the team” said Jon Lester, who allowed two runs over five innings for his first victory as an Opening Day starter. “He’s a very positive, upbeat guy. He’s always prepared, always full of information if you need it. That trickles down to the coaching staff and to us.

“I think a lot of us felt embarrassed about what happened last year. We’re busting our butts to try not to let that happen again.”

Bailey delivers in a big spot for Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 08:22 PM

NEW YORK — By the time the torn ligament in his right thumb had healed and Andrew Bailey joined the Red Sox last season, the team was 11 games out of first place and on the verge of falling apart.

Bailey appeared in 19 games and it’s fair to say none were particularly compelling.

But that was not the case on Monday when he took the mound in the seventh inning. The Yankees, down 5-2 against the Red Sox, had runners on first and second with two outs and cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis at the plate.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was intending to save Bailey for the eighth inning. But this was the point where the game would be won or lost.

Bailey got ahead of Youkilis 0-and-2 with a fastball that he took and a curveball he missed. After Bailey threw a curve down and away, he came back with two 95-m.p.h. fastballs.

Youkilis fouled off the first and swung through the second. The threat was over and the Red Sox went on to an 8-2 victory.

“Throw the ball as hard as you can,” Bailey said when asked his approach for Youkilis. “That’s all I do anyway. We know him pretty well. Couple of curveballs, let him swing over it and then elevate it. I was able to execute that that.”

For Bailey, a former closer, it felt good to be in a tight spot again.

“All it changes is the inning you’re throwing in. For me, it was nice to start this year off a lot better personally than it was last year,” he said.

Farrell took Bailey out for the eighth inning, going to Junichi Tazawa.

“With a closer one-inning mentality, didn’t want him to come back out which would be, I think, foreign for him,” Farrell said. “He came in, did his job, and shut off that seventh inning.”

The Red Sox bullpen dominated the Yankees over four innings.

“It’s a great group. Power arms and closer-type stuff,” said closer Joel Hanrahan, who worked the ninth in a non-save situation. “It’s not always going to be that perfect. But we’re going to be tough.”

Koji Uehara had the best inning, getting three popups in the sixth on five pitches, all strikes.

“I need nice,” he said in English, pretending his arm hurt.

Also:

• The clean-shaven look is new for Youkilis, who was 1 for 4 in his Yankees debut. And, as he pointed out before facing the Red Sox for the first time in pinstripes, so were many of the faces in Boston’s clubhouse.

So the Opening Day reunion with the team he helped win two World Series was less emotional and more businesslike.

“I think it's just different,” said Youkilis, who signed a one-year deal with the Yankees after becoming a free agent. “There's a lot of new guys on the Boston Red Sox, but there'll be a few guys there that I played with. It's cool.

“So it's just another game. You've got to treat it like it's another game, and just like any other team. You've just got to try to stay even keeled and just treat it like another game because you've got 162 games to go.
While he said there are still fans in New York that will hate him and fans in Boston that will love him — “I call that society,” Youkilis said — he’s embracing being a Yankee while still holding on to the contributions he made in Boston.
“I can't negate my history,” Youkilis said. “I’ll always be a Red Sox. I'll always be a White Sox and I'll always be a Yankee now. We are who we are and every team we play for is who we are and that defines us. When you step in and play for these teams you've got to have a lot of heart and you've got to take in all the traditions. I did it with the Red Sox, I did it with the White Sox now I'm doing it with the Yankees and I'm going to enjoy it.”

• David Ortiz jogged to the third base line when he was introduced before the game. It’s a sign of things to come for the injured designated hitter. “I’m feeling really good,” said Ortiz, who did not play in spring training because of an injured right Achilles' tendon. “I ran hard today with [team medical officials] watching. I'm going to do that a couple of more days, then I'm going to Florida.”

Ortiz will stay with the Sox through Thursday then return to Fort Myers. He hopes to start playing in extended spring training games at that point. He thinks he can be ready in 10 games, the last few with Triple A Pawtucket.

“I’m at the point right now that it’s more stable than what it used to be,” Ortiz said. “That’s good, seems like we’re moving forward.”

Ortiz missed his first Opening Day since 2002, when Jeremy Giambi was the choice to DH.
“Opening Day’s the one time that you want to be good to go, and be ready for the season, definitely. It’s just a weird feeling,” Ortiz said.

• Dustin Pedroia, who ended last season with a broken finger on each hand and a torn muscle in his right thumb, dove headfirst into first base in the ninth with the Sox up by six runs. He spent some time with the trainers and a team doctor after the game but claimed he was OK. Pedroia, who was 2 for 6, has hit safely in seven straight Opening Days.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. was the first major league player to walk three times in his debut since Danny Ardoin of the Twins in 2000. He also was the first Red Sox player to debut on Opening Day against the Yankees since Tony Conigliaro in 1964. Bradley was the first Sox player to reach base in his first major league player appearance on Opening Day since Joe Lahoud in 1968.

• The Sox are 55-57-1 on Opening Day … The Sox snapped an eight-game losing streak dating to last season and a five-game streak against the Yankees.

• Jon Lester is the first lefthander to start and win on Opening Day for the Red Sox since Gary Peters in 1970, also against the Yankees … Derek Jeter, who was at the team facility in Florida, missed his first Opening Day for the Yankees since 2001.

Lester hopes to set tone with first win

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 06:34 PM

lester.jpg

NEW YORK -- The second he stepped on the mound Monday at Yankee Stadium for his third straight opening day start, Jon Lester was joining a very small club of Red Sox pitchers.

The last Sox pitcher to make three straight opening day starts was Pedro Martinez, who did it each of his seven seasons in Boston. The last lefty to make three straight opening day starts was Mel Parnell nearly 60 years ago. The only other lefty to do it was Babe Ruth. No left-hander had won an opening day start for the Sox since Gary Peters did it in Yankee Stadium 43 years ago.

That included Lester, who had taken the mound to start the year the past two seasons only to come away empty handed each time.

So getting his first ever opening day win was historic but it was also a relief.

"It's big," Lester said. "It's obviously nicer than the past couple years to be on top 1-0 instead of going through a whole road trip without a win again. So it's big for us to come in here and just try to get on a roll and set the tone early."

Leaning on his fastball and cutter, Lester went five innings, striking out seven, and giving up just two runs on five hits. His only rough patch was a 34-pitch fourth inning, during which got himself into a bases-loaded jam and then gave up a two-out, two-run single to Francisco Cervelli.

"I would've liked that ball Cervelli hit to go foul or pop it up and roll it over," Lester said. "It was a pretty good pitch. He did a pretty good job of keeping it fair. I think with one out, bases loaded, giving up two runs is not ideal, but we'll take it. It was good to get out of it and get on to the next one."

Last season, Lester's only losing year in his eight major league seasons, it took him four starts to earn his first win. This year, he said, he can breath easier without having the cloud hanging over him.

"I think that's the biggest thing, to have the W," Lester said. "Regardless how good bad or ugly it is, when you win, everything's a lot happier. It's good, especially after the last few years to get that one off our back and come back on Wednesday and get a win."

Final: Red Sox 8, Yankees 2

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 01:09 PM

Game over: Red Sox 8, Yankees 2: The Red Sox ended last season at Yankee Stadium in disarray, the players trudging home after the worst showing for the franchise in nearly 50 years.

The manager was replaced, the roster turned over and there was renewed optimism when the team took the field in the Bronx on Monday afternoon to face the rival Yankees.

The new-look Sox were successful, rolling to an 8-2 victory before a sellout crowd of 49,514.

Shane Victorino drove on three runs in his first game for the Sox while rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times, scored two runs, drove in a run and made a run-saving catch. Jacoby Ellsbury was 3 for 6 with a triple and two RBIs. The Sox had 13 hits.

After Jon Lester went five innings, the Sox used five relievers to go the last four innings. They did not allow a run.

The Sox are 1-0 for the first time since 2010. They were 0-6 to start the 2011 season and 0-3 in 2012.

Middle of the 9th: Red Sox 8, Yankees 2: The Sox scored three runs off Joba Chamberlain in the ninth inning. Saltalamacchia walked for the third time before Gomes singled and Bradley walked again.

Ellsbury reached on an infield single to the right side. Saltalamacchia scored and Gomes alertly kept coming and caught the Yankees sleeping. Victorino then singled in Bradley.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 5, Yankees 2: Tazawa allowed a single by Hafner. But he got Ichiro to ground into a double play. Interesting that he was the set-up man and Bailey saw one batter.

Middle of the 8th: Red Sox 5, Yankees 2: Shawn Kelley dispatches of the Red Sox in order.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 5, Yankees 2: Miller had an Andrew Miller inning, at least the 2011 version. He walked two then came back to strike out Nunez and Cano with major heat. Bailey was next and he fanned Youklis with an elevated 95-mph heater.

Middle of 7th: Red Sox 5, Yankees 2: Middlebrooks and Salty walked. Middlebrooks took third when Gomes flied to right. Boone Logan came in to face Bradley, who squared to bunt three times ended up driving in a run with a groundout. 0 for 2 with two walks, an RBI and a nice catch for the kid so far.

Miller in for the Sox.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2: Five pitches, five strikes, three pop-ups for Koji Uehara. All the guy does is get outs.

Middle of the 6th: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2: With David Phelps in for Sabathia, Ellsbury led off the inning with his first triple since Sept. 14, 2011. But the Sox could not score. Victorino grounded to second with the infield in. Ellsbury was then thrown out at the plate when Pedroia grounded to third. Napoli (0 for 4) flew to left.

Lester is done after five innings.

Top of the 6th: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2: Lester handled the Yankees in the bottom of the inning. He is at 96 pitches.

Middle of the 5th: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2: With two outs, the Sox loaded the bases. Salty doubled before Gomes was intentionally walked and Bradley was unintentionally walked. But Iglesias popped to first. Sabathia is at 102 pitches.

Top of the 5th: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2: Youkilis doubled to start the inning before Wells walked. Ichiro's soft single to center loaded the bases with one out. Nix fanned for the second out but Cervelli ripped a two-run single to left on an 1-2 pitch. Gardner then lined to right.

Lester at 84 pitches after four. Way too many.

Middle of the 4th: Red Sox 4, Yankees 0: Bradley struck out. Iglesias bunted for a hit and Ellsbury singled. But Victorinop grounded to the mound and Pedroia grounded to shortstop.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 4, Yankees 0: With two outs and a runner on second, Cano hit a blast to left that went over Bradley's head. But Bradley went back and made a terrific catch at the warning track to save a run.

Farrell has been saying that Bradley will make them a better team purely on what he does in the field. That was an example right there.

Consider this: Until about a week ago, Bradley had never played left field.

Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 4, Yankees 0: Sabathia strikes out Middlebrooks and Salty and gets Gomes to pop to shortstop. No messing around that inning.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 4, Yankees 0: Lester walked Francisco with one out and worked round it as Ichiro grounded into a force and Nix fanned looking. Big to follow up the four runs with a zero.

Middle of the 2nd: Red Sox 4, Yankees 0: Salty walked with one out before Gomes singled off the glove of Nix at third. Bradley was next and in his first MLB appearance, he fell down 0-2 and worked a seven-pitch walk. Iglesias then delivered a single to left to score a run. Ellsbury grounded to first and Gomes was out at the plate. But Victorino (7 of 21 against Sabathia) singled in two with a rip to left. Pedroia then made it 4-0 with a sharp single to center. Napoli ended the inning with a fly ball to deep center.

Sabathia threw 34 pitches in the inning.

Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0: Lester dispatched of the Yankees on 17 pitches. Cano struck out swinging but reached on what was called a wild pitch. Youkilis then lined to right on a 1-1 pitch.

It's weird hearing Yankees fan "Yooooouk."

Middle of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0: Ellsbury popped weakly to shortstop and Victorino struck out on a 3-2 changeup before Pedroia singled sharply to center. But Sabathia then fanned Napoli on four pitches, the last three swinging.

ysphotood.jpgPre-game: Good afternoon from Yankee Stadium and Opening Day. It's 62 degrees and sunny here in the Bronx.

The pre-game ceremony included a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown tragedy. As both teams stood on the baselines, the scoreboard showed a slow scroll of all the names. It was sobering.

The players are all wearing Newtown patches and there are two Newtown town crests painted on the field.

Alex Rodriguez says recovery going well

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 12:54 PM
NEW YORK – The pregame introductions weren’t the most immediate thing on the mind of Yankees manager Joe Girardi as he prepared for opening day.

But he admitted, when it came to Alex Rodriguez, he was a little bit curious.

He hadn’t seen his injured and embattled third baseman since January when he went through surgery to repair a torn labrum and an impingement in his hip.

The media hadn’t heard a peep from Rodriguez all year, his profile obviously low as his name was among several mentioned in a Miami-based performance enhancing drug scandal.

He knew Rodriguez was at Yankee Stadium, but he wasn’t sure if Rodriguez would tip his cap before the first pitch.

“I’m anxious to see,” Girardi said. “I want to see how he's kind of moving around in a sense, because I haven't seen him since probably the end of January, when he was just starting to ride a bike. So what he chooses to do today is his prerogative and I'm fine with whatever he wants to do. But I'm anxious to see.”

Rodriguez passed on being introduced with his teammates.

“I don't need to be introduced to feel like I'm a part of this team,” Rodriguez said. “I tell you what. When I get introduced, I want to get on the field and not look back.”

Rodriguez said his recovery is coming along well and that he has gone through workouts in New York. Although there’s a strong possibility he’ll sit out through the All-Star break, and growing concerns that he could miss the entire season, Rodriguez said he intends to take the field at some point this year.

“I think we're at the very beginning, I would say Stage 1 of this recovery,” Rodriguez said. “The recovery's going very well. I've been devoting 100 percent of my time and focus to getting back and playing and helping this team win a title. So we'll definitely leave it to the doctors for that, but right now I think it's too early to determine.”

A more pressing concern, however, is allegations of PED use, which first emerged in a January report by the Miami New Times. In a statement issued earlier this year, Rodriguez denied purchasing anything from the clinic Biogenesis. He said he has been in contact with the players union but stopped short of elaborating on the situation.

Asked if he was concerned about a possible suspension, Rodrigues said, “I’m not. But I'm not going to further discuss this."

Early Opening Day for John Farrell

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 12:19 PM

NEW YORK — John Farrell arrived at Yankee Stadium at 7 a.m. for his first game as the manager of the Red Sox.

"Every Opening Day is memorable and met with a lot of anticipation," said Farrell said, who woke up at 3 a.m. and fell back to sleep only briefly. "Today is a great day around the game, particularly here."

On a beautiful day in the Bronx. Here are a few notes:

• The Sox are still working through the paperwork of getting shortstop Stephen Drew cleared to play after his concussion. The process involved approval from Major League Baseball and the Players Association.

Drew is ready to play in extended spring training games.

• The players from both teams will wear patches with the town of Newtown crest to honor the victims of that tragedy.

• According to USA Today's survey of Opening Day payrolls (the 25-man roster), the Sox are fourth highest in the game. The Yankees ($228.83 million) are first with the Dodgers ($216.59 million), Phillies ($165.38 million), Red Sox ($150.65 million) and Tigers ($148.41 million) following.

• All 10 players on the Red Sox Opening Day starting lineup are 32 years old or younger for the first time since 2003.

• Not in action today: David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. "I think this series has always been dominated by [those names]. This game will always be about the players," Farrell said. "While the names have changed I don't think you can completely look past the history that these two teams have with one another. I know everyone in our clubhouse is certainly looking forward to it regardless of the status of individual guys. From across the field, we don't take anything for granted. ... This is still a spectacle and a series that draws a lot of attention."

Pomp and circumstance at Yankee Stadium

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 12:19 PM

NEW YORK — Here's what's on tap here:

12:42 p.m.: Introduction of the players.

12:52 p.m.: Giant American flag unfurled in the outfield by West Point Cadets.

12:53 p.m.: Presentation of the colors by an honor guard of Newtown first responders.

12:53 p.m.: Moment of silence for the victims of Newtown.

12:56 p.m.: National Anthem by Constantine Maroulis.

1:03 p.m.: Umpires and mangers to home plate.

1:06 p.m.: Yankees take the field; first pitch by Lou Piniella.

1:08 p.m.: CC Sabathia faces Jacoby Ellsbury.

Game 1: Red Sox at Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 08:15 AM

newbunting.jpgGood morning. It's baseball season and here are the lineups:

RED SOX (0-0)
2 Jacoby Ellsbury CF
18 Shane Victorino RF
15 Dustin Pedroia 2B
12 Mike Napoli 1B
16 Will Middlebrooks 3B
39 Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
5 Jonny Gomes DH
44 Jackie Bradley Jr. LF
10 Jose Iglesias SS
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (9-14, 4.82 in 2012).

YANKEES (0-0)
11 Brett Gardner CF
26 Eduardo Nunez SS
24 Robinson Cano 2B
36 Kevin Youkilis 1B
12 VernonWells LF
45 Ben Francisco DH
31 Ichiro Suzuki RF
17Jayson Nix 3B
29 Francisco Cervelli C
Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia (15-6, 3.38 in 2012).

Red Sox vs. Sabathia: Pedroia 11-43, Ellsbury 6-28, Gomes 5-24, Napoli 5-22, Victorino 6-19, Ross 4-13, Saltalamacchia 3-14, Ciriaco 2-7, Nava 2-7, Carp 0-5, Iglesias 0-2, Middlebrooks 1-2.

Yankees vs. Lester: Cano 13-57, Wells 6-36, Suzuki 11-36, Overbay 9-25, Nix 7-21, Francisco 3-16, Boesch 3-13, Nunez 2-8, Gardner 1-6, Cerveli 1-4, Stewart 1-2, Youkilis 1-2.

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, YES, ESPN / WEEI, WCBS

Stat of the Day: The Yankees have won 11 straight home game games on Opening Day dating back to 1986. Their last loss at home on Opening Day came in 1982

For openers: The Sox are 55-57-1 on Opening Day with losses in their last two. ... The Sox have opened on the road for the last three seasons and in 15 of the last 18 years.

The Sun Devil: Pedroia is starting at second base on Opening Day for the seventh time. Only Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr (13 times) has made more Opening Day starts at second base for the Sox. ... Pedroia has hit in six straight openers at 9 of 22 with two doubles, two homers, two walks, and four RBIs.

Missing them: Jonny Gomes will DH for the Red Sox. The last Opening Day DH who wasn't David Ortiz? Jeremy Giambi in 2003. ... Derek Jeter (ankle) is not starting on Opening Day for the first time since 2001.

The lefties: Sabathia is making his 10th Opening Day start and Lester his third. ... Lester is 10-17, 4.90 in 39 starts dating back to September of 2011. ... Lester was 1-1, 3.90 in five starts against the Yankees last season. ... Lester is the first lefty in Sox history to start three straight openers since Mel Parnell from 1952-54. ... Lester is 7-2 in 12 career road starts against the Yankees, including six wins in 11 starts at the new Yankee Stadium. No other visiting pitcher has more than four wins at the ballpark.

It's been a long time: The last Red Sox lefty to win on Opening Day was Gary Peters against the Yankees in 1970.

Bad memories: The Sox ended last season losing eight straight, 12 of 13, 22 of 29, and 42 of 58. ... The Sox have lost 17 of their last 24 games against the Yankees, 13 of 18 last season.

Welcome aboard: Bradley, 22, is the youngest position player to start on Opening Day for the Red Sox since Donnie Sadler in 1998. Sadler also was 22.

Old rivals: This is just the third season-opening game between these two teams over the last 21 seasons beginning in 1993, but the third in the last nine years. ... The Red Sox have taken six of their last eight Opening Day contests against New York since 1964 and are 11-16-1 in 28 previous season-opening games against the Bombers.

Song of the Day: "Chemistry Class" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

What's to come for the Red Sox? A few ideas

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 07:45 AM

NEW YORK — So what can we expect from the 2013 Red Sox?

Let's get to the point right away, probably 82-84 wins and a third- or fourth-place finish. If that doesn't sound too exciting, consider they were 69-93 last season. The franchise is headed in the right direction but they have a long way to go.

Best-case scenario (90 wins): Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz pitch like All-Stars ... David Ortiz comes back in May and is himself. ... Mike Napoli hits 25 home runs and drives in 90 runs. ... Jacoby Ellsbury plays to 85 percent of what he did in 2011. ... Dustin Pedroia stays healthy. ... The bullpen is the best in the division. ... Ryan Dempster starts 33 games, pitches 200 innings and wins 13 games. ... John Lackey goes 13-10. ... Joel Hanrahan is a lock-down closer. ... Will Middlebrooks picks up where he left off last year. ... Jonny Gomes mashes lefties and Shane Victorino has a bounce-back season. ... Stephen Drew recaptures the form he had for Arizona. ... John Farrell is just what the team needs. ... Ben Cherington makes a helpful trade in July. ... Fenway fills up come the summer.

Worst-case scenario (78 wins): Lester and Buchholz are better but have ERAs around 4.30, not 3.30. ... Ortiz is never himself and struggles with his foot all year. ... Napoli wears down because of his hips and hits .240 with occasional power. ... Ellsbury shows again that 2011 was the outlier for him. ... Pedroia keeps getting banged up. ... Hanrahan blows a few saves early and fans clamor for a change. ... Dempster struggles in the American League. ... Lackey goes 10-13. .. Middlebrooks strikes out 130 times and hits .263. ... Gomes costs them three wins with plays in left and Victorino has numbers like he did for the Dodgers. ... Drew gets off to a slow start after missing most of spring training and never recovers. ... Farrell overmanages way too often. ... Cherington gets fleeced by Oakland again. ... Fenway has more empty seats than filled ones some nights.

Things to like: The starters seem to have a sense of purpose and Lester and Buchholz clearly respond well to actually getting coached as opposed to coddled. ... The bullpen is legit. ... Napoli is going to love Fenway. ... Middlebrooks looks like a good, solid No. 5 hitter and his defense is much better. ... Jackie Bradley Jr. will play Gold Glove defense for as long as he's around. ... There are prospects pitching at AAA, not assorted hangers-on. ... The overall team defense is much better. ... Farrell is well-organized, the coaches are hard workers and there is a clear sense that, unlike last season, everybody is going in the same direction.

Things not to like: It's fair to be concerned about Ortiz. He had a 154 OPS+ in 2011 and was at 171 last season when he got hurt. At his age and coming off that injury, can he return to those levels of production? ... The onset of the Jackie Bradley Jr. Era coincided with Shane Victorino hitting .178/.275/.289 in spring training, worse if you factor in the WBC. Are the Red Sox going to regret that $39 million deal? ... You also have to wonder whether the $9.5 million spent on Drew was a good deal given the clear improvements made by Jose Iglesias.

On to the total guesses predictions ...

AL East: Rays, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles.

AL Central: Tigers, Royals, Indians, White Sox, Twins.

AL West: Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Athletics, Astros.

AL wild cards: Blue Jays and Rangers.

AL award winners: Evan Longoria (MVP); Felix Hernandez (Cy Young), Aaron Hicks (Rookie), Ned Yost (Manager).

NL East: Nationals, Braves, Phillies, Mets, Marlins.

NL Central: Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Pirates, Cubs.

NL West: Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Padres.

NL wild cards: Dodgers and Braves.

NL award winners: Joey Votto (MVP), Stephen Strasburg (Cy Young), Jedd Gyorko (Rookie), Bruce Bochy (Giants).

World Series: Tigers over Reds in six games.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff April 1, 2013 07:19 AM

Will Middlebrooks doesn't just want to be good. He wants to be the best. Here's a deeper look at his journey to the Red Sox.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that Jackie Bradley Jr. offers Red Sox fans hope.

Nick Cafardo writes that Jon Lester must stand tall for the Red Sox.

The notebook has Kevin Youkilis on a different side of the rivalry.

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