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Red Sox will face Rays or Indians

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 30, 2013 11:46 PM

The Tampa Bay Rays are on their way to Cleveland for the wild-card playoff game after beating the Texas Rangers, 5-2. David Price went the distance, throwing 118 pitches.

The Rays will face the Indians in Cleveland on Wednesday at 8:07 p.m. The winner advances to the Division Series on Friday. It will be Alex Cobb against Danny Salazar.

Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday will be at 3:07 p.m. at Fenway Park. Game 2 will be at 5:37 p.m. on Saturday. Both games will be on TBS.

The Sox were 12-7 against Tampa Bay and 6-1 against Cleveland this season.

After the Red Sox beat the Rays on Sept. 12, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was undeterred.

“We’re really looking forward to playing them in the playoffs,” he said of the Sox.

He's one more win away from making that boast true.

Game 1 of Division Series at 3:07 p.m. Friday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 30, 2013 06:32 PM

Major League Baseball has announced the start times for the first two days of the Division Series.

The Red Sox will play on Friday at 3:07 p.m. Game 2 will be Saturday at 5:37 p.m.

Here's the playoff schedule for the first few days (all times Eastern):

TUESDAY
NL Wild Card: Red at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (TBS)

WEDNESDAY
AL Wild Card: Rays or Rangers at Indians, 8:07 p.m. (TBS)

THURSDAY
NLDS Game 1: Wild Card winner at Cardinals, 5:07 p.m. (TBS)
NLDS Game 1: Dodgers at Braves, 8:37 p.m. (TBS)

FRIDAY
NLDS Game 2: Wild Card winner at Cardinals, 1:07 p.m. (MLBN)
ALDS Game 1: Wild Card winner at Red Sox, 3:07 p.m. (TBS)
NLDS Game 2: Dodgers at Braves, 6:07 p.m. (TBS)
ALDS Game 1: Tigers at Athletics, 9:37 p.m. (TBS)

SATURDAY
ALDS Game 2: Wild Card winner at Red Sox, 5:37 p.m. (TBS)
ALDS Game 2: Tigers at Athletics, 9:07 p.m. (TBS)

TBS names announcers for Red Sox series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 30, 2013 03:13 PM

TBS has named the announcer team for the Division Series between the Red Sox and the Wild Card champion.

Brian Anderson will handle play-by-play with Joe Simpson and John Smoltz as the analysts. Rachel Nichols is the reporter.

Anderson calls Brewers games during the season. Simpson is part of the Braves broadcast crew. Smoltz has broadcast experience with the Braves, MLB Network and TBS.

NESN's Don Orsillo and Dennis Eckersley are working the Oakland-Detroit series for TBS.

Keith Olbermann will be the pre-game and post-game host with Pedro Martinez among those joining him.

Cubs fire Sveum, one-time Red Sox candidate

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 30, 2013 02:03 PM

New general manager Ben Cherington identified then Brewers coach Dale Sveum as the man he wanted to manage the Red Sox back in 2011.

Sveum emerged from a field of field of five candidates and was told to be in Milwaukee on Nov. 17 to interview with John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino during major League Baseballs GM Meetings.

Sveum had lunch with the team's power trio at Ward's House of Prime. Within minutes of that meeting ending, Lucchino said the search was being opened up. A day later, Sveum was hired by the Cubs and their new president, Theo Epstein.

Sveum was fired today after going 127-197 in two seasons. If there is any solace, at least he lasted longer than the manager the Red Sox did hire in 2011. Bobby Valentine was fired after a tumultuous 69-93 season.

Because of their connections to Epstein and the success of the Red Sox this season, Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and Triple A manager Gary DiSarcina could be candidates to replace Sveum.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is in the final year of his contract. An Illinois native who attended Northwestern and played for the Cubs, Girardi would seem like a natural fit in Chicago.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has said he wants to retain Girardi. But the Yankees are entering a period of uncertainty with the retirement of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, other star players aging, the potential loss of Robinson Cano to free agency and the continuing drama surrounding Alex Rodriguez.

Epstein believes the Cubs are headed for improvement despite a 66-96 record this season.

"Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level," Epstein said in a statement released by the Cubs. "The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward.

"In order for us to win with this group — and win consistently — we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level."

Epstein left the Red Sox after the 2011 collapse for a lucrative deal and far-reaching power with the Cubs.

Cherington has since remade the roster, hired John Farrell as manager and guided the team to the best record in baseball.

Umpires named for Division Series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 30, 2013 01:39 PM

Major League Baseball has named the umpire crew for the American League Division Series involving the Red Sox.

Dana DeMuth will be the crew chief. He will be joined by Eric Cooper, Paul Emmel, Chris Guccione, Larry Vanover and regular season crew chief Mike Winters.

Guccione will have the plate Friday with Cooper at first, DeMuth at second, Emmel at third, Winters in left and Vanover in right.

Also:

• Start times have not been released for the games. We will post them as soon they become available.

• Based on social media posts, Farrah and Jon Lester had their baby. Lester left Baltimore after he pitched on Saturday to be with his wife.

• The Rays play the Rangers at 8:07 p.m. tonight in Texas. The game is on TBS. It will be David Price against Martin Perez.

Based on that, Perez or Price could come back and pitch Game 2 of the Division Series on Saturday if either of those teams advance.

• The Red Sox are off today and will hold workouts at Fenway Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday's workout is controlled by MLB and involves both teams. The Sox are on their own Tuesday and Wednesday and will hold an intrasquad game on Wednesday.

John Farrell said Sunday that he has not decided how to split up the teams. The game is more to get the pitchers some work, specifically expected Game 3 starter Clay Buchholz.

Red Sox await the wild card winner

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 29, 2013 06:07 PM

BALTIMORE — The Red Sox are headed back to Boston to begin preparations for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday.

Three teams still have a chance to get to Fenway Park.

The Rays (91-71) and Rangers (91-71) won today and will meet on Monday at 8:07 p.m. in Arlington, Texas. The winner advances to the wild card playoff game on Wednesday in Cleveland against the Indians (92-70) at 8:07 p.m.

Final: Orioles 7, Red Sox 6

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 29, 2013 01:41 PM

Game over: Orioles 7, Red Sox 6 - The Red Sox have lost the final regular season game of the season here at Camden Yards this afternoon. The Red Sox pulled John Lackey from the start and basically went with a bullpen game with Allen Webster pitching three scoreless innings while Felix Doubront, Matt Thornton, Ryan Dempster, Craig Breslow, Rubby de La Rosa all got work in.

The Doubront/Thornton outings could determine their status on the postseason roster and neither pitched well. Webster had a rough first innings, walking three, but then settled down. Jacoby Ellsbury and Quintin Berry homered. The Red Sox rallied in the ninth against Jim Johnson. David Ortiz singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Mike Napoli's single. Mike Carp then singled to put runners at first and third and one out. But Will Middlebrooks knocked into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game and the season for the Orioles.

Johnson recorded his 50th save, the second time in as many years to accomplish the feat. The Red Sox ended the regular season with a 97-65 record while the Orioles were 85-77. The Orioles won the season series vs. Boston, 11-8. The game was played before a sellout 44,230 at Camden Yards.

Bottom 8th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 5 - With two outs. Nick Markakakis doubled to right against Koji Uehara. But Hardy grounded out to short to end the inning.

Top 8th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 5 - The Red Sox go down in order.

Bottom 7th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 5 - Danny Valencia singled to center with one out, but Clevenger knocked into a double-play. Tampa Bay has held on to beat the Twins, 7-6. Cleveland and Texas are both winning.

Top 7th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 5 - Mike Carp doubled with one out, but Middlebrooks and Lavarnway made outs to end the threat.

Bottom 6th: Orioles 7, Red Sox 5 - If this is audition day for lefties, Felix Doubront and Matt Thornton would have got the hook. Both lefties seem to be fighting for a final spot on the playoff roster and neither have put forth a good audition today. Thornton allowed a single to rookie second baseman Jonathan Schoop and a double to old second baseman (now DH) Brian Roberts. A run scored on Thornton's wild pitch with Nick Markakis up. That was it. With JJ Hardy due up, Ryan Dempster came on to pitch. Dempster retired Hardy with a grounder to shortstop as the runner held at third. But Ryan Flaherty doubled to right field to knock in the insurance run.

Top 6th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 5 - McDonald reached base for the third time with a walk and Berry beat out a bunt to put two runners on. But the Sox were unable to break the tie.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 5 - Well, if John Farrell wanted to find out whether Doubront could be effective out of his bullpen for the playoffs, he might have got his answer. Doubront allowed singles to Clevenger and Schoop to start the fifth, the first Oriole hits of the game. He struck out Brian Roberts, but walked Nick Markakis. JJ Hardy drive the ball to right field for a ground rule double scoring two runs.Ryan Flaherty, hitting in Chris Davis' spot after the wrist injury forced the slugger out of the game, allowed a bloop single to center scoring the third Orioles' run. After Steve Pearce walked, Nate McLouth lined a two-run double to right scoring two more. That was all for Doubront who was replaced Rubby de La Rosa. Napoli saved more runs with a nice grab of Valencia's hot shot. De La Rosa gets out of it.

Top 5th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0 - Mike Napoli walked and stole second base, but that's all the Red Sox could muster.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0 - The Orioles managed a walk from Steve Pearce, but Felix Doubront in to relieve Allen Webster retired the remainder of the lineup.

Top 4th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia started things off with single to right and advanced to second base on John McDonald's single to center. With two outs, Ellsbury hit a tapper near the left side of the mound which was fielded by catcher Steve Clevenger who threw toward first and hit Ellsbury in the ribs.Salty scored on the play, but first baseman Chris Davis had his wrist sprained when his glove side hand got jammed into Ellsbury. Davis had to come out of the game.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0 - Roberts, Markakis and Hardy go down quickly against Webster.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0 - Chris Tillman, who was going for his 17th win, finally had his quiet inning as Ortiz, Napoli and Carp went down.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0 - Webster settled down and retired the bottom third of the Orioles order.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 4, Orioles 0 - A combination you don't see too often - a John McDonald single to center and a two-run home run by Quintin Berry doubles Boston's lead.

Bottom 1st; Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - A tedious inning for the nervous Allen Webster. he walked three, including the first two batters. JJ Hardy struck out, but webster finally found something including the gift of Steve Pearce who swung at the first pitch after a Walk to Chris Davis and flew out to left field. Webster finally retired Nate McLouth on a ground ball out to shortstop to get out of the inning.

Top 1st: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - Welcome to Game 162. Jacoby Ellsbury homered midway up the rigthfield bleachers off Chris Tillman to lead off the game. With one out, David Ortiz hit a broken bat single to center and went to third on Mike Napoli's double to the 7-8 gap. Mike Carp's grounder to shortstop got Ortiz in from third.

Game 162: Red Sox at Orioles

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 29, 2013 09:50 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (97-64)
Ellsbury CF
Bogaerts SS
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Carp LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Saltalamacchia C
McDonald 2B
Berry RF
Pitching: RHP Allen Webster (1-2, 9.55).

ORIOLES (84-77)
Roberts DH
Markakis RF
Hardy SD
Davis 1B
Pearce LF
McLouth CF
Valencia 3B
Clevenger C
Schoop 2B
Pitching: RHP Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.62).

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Tillman: Pedroia 8-27, Nava 4-17, Salty 2-19, Ellsbury 4-18, Ortiz 0-13, Napoli 7-11, Victorino 4-11, Drew 3-9, Middlebrooks 0-11, Carp 1-8, Bradley 2-5, Gomes 0-3, Lavarnway 0-3, McDonald 0-2, Ross 0-2.

Orioles vs. Webster: No history.

Stat of the Day: The Sox will finish no worse than tied for the best record in baseball. They lead the Cardinals (96-65) by one game. The Sox last had the best record in the game in 2007, when they tied with Cleveland with 96 wins.

Notes: This is basically a scrimmage as the Red Sox have wrapped up everything than can be wrapped up before the Division Series starts on Friday. ... Webster was a late replacement for John Lackey once the game lost meaning. ... Tillman is 3-1, 1.95 in five starts against the Red Sox this season. The Orioles haven't had a 17-game winner since Mike Mussina was 18-7 in 1999. ... The Sox are 8-10 against the Orioles this season and 13-23 since the start of the 2012 season. ... Saltalamacchia takes a 10-game hit streak into the game. He is 15 of 37 with eight extra-base hits in the streak. ... The Sox are trying to win their 35th series of the season. That would be the most since the 1946 team won 37. ... Nava is 8 of his last 14. ... Drew is 16 of his last 48 (.333) with eight extra-base hits and eight RBIs in 13 games. ... The Sox have won five of eight and are 5-5 in their last 10 games.

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

Red Sox clinch best record then drop a game

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 11:57 PM

BALTIMORE — That the Red Sox lost, 6-5, against Baltimore was barely a topic of conversation after the game tonight. That they clinched home field advantage throughout the postseason was.

“It’s an advantage for us in a lot of ways,” shortstop Stephen Drew said. “Fenway is unique in a lot of ways, whether you’re the pitcher looking at that wall or somebody playing out there.

"Playing an extra game in front of our fans is big, too. That was a goal of ours, to keep on winning until we clinched that."

Dustin Pedroia pointed out that the Red Sox won Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at home in 2007 then lost Game 7 of the ALCS at Tampa Bay the following season.

“This sets us up nicely,” he said. “We’ve got to still go out and play well, obviously. It helps us that we get to hit last.”

A few notes from the game:

• Junichi Tazawa, who took the loss, has allowed six runs on 10 hits over 8.1 innings in 11 appearances this month. He has been a solid set-up man for much of the season but is somewhat of a question mark going into the postseason given his inconsistency.

Tazawa missed with two-strike splitters to Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia in the eighth inning. They had singles and that led to two runs scoring and the loss.

“The last three times out, his split has shown better depth,” John Farrell said. “Probably better suited for one inning.”

• Jon Lester was erratic in his final start of the regular season, giving up four runs on nine and two walks over five innings and 97 pitches.

Lester finished 15-8 with a 3.75 earned run average over 33 starts and a career-high 213.1 innings. His ERA was more than a run higher last season.

The Red Sox have not announced their rotation for the postseason. But Lester has a 2.57 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break and is expected to be the choice for Game 1. He returned to Boston after leaving the game. His wife, Farrah, is due with their second child.

• Daniel Nava (4 for 4) raised his batting average to .303. He is hitting .356 since Aug.

• Backup catcher David Ross started his first game since Sept. 21 and was 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. It'll be interesting to see whether he starts any games in the postseason.

• Pedroia has played in 160 games, his most in a season and a record for a Red Sox second baseman. He was 3 for 5 and drove in a run.

• Quintin Berry’s steal of second base in the ninth inning was the 38th consecutive successful steal for the Red Sox. It’s the longest streak in the majors since Toronto had 38 straight in 1993.

• The Sox have struck out 1,300 times, adding to their franchise record. But seven teams have more this season with the Astros whiffing a record 1,516 times.

Strikeouts have become a cost of doing business in baseball. The Red Sox have scored 847 runs and have a .349 OBP despite all those whiffs. Chris Davis of the O's has K'd 199 times. But he has 53 homers, 42 doubles, 138 RBIs and an outrageous 1.003 OPS.

Final: Orioles 6, Red Sox 5

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 07:15 PM

Game over: Orioles 6, Red Sox 5 - The Red Sox lost but clinched the best record in the American league with an Oakland A's loss. The Red Sox rebounded a couple of times from deficits to take the lead, but the Os scored two in the 8th overcome the Red Sox for good. Jim Johnson struck out Jonny Gomes with Quintin Berry at second base to end the game. Daniel Nava led the Red Sox with four hits, Dustin Pedroia with three hits and an RBI. The game was played in 3:21 before 36,556 at Camden Yards.

Bottom 8th: Orioles 6, Red Sox 5 - A two-run double by Steve Pearce overtook the Red Sox. The hit came off Franklin Morales after Weiters and Valencia started the inning wih singles off Junichi Tazawa.

Top 8: Red Sox 5, Orioles 4 - Sox hold onto one run lead; can't add on.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 4 - O's can't close the gap.

Top 7th: Red Sox 5, Orioles 4 - Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia were the table setters with singles and Gomes and Nava drove them both in.

Bottom 6th: Orioles 4, Red Sox 3 - John Farrell said he wanted to get Matt Thornton some work, likely to see if he should man a spot in the Sox pen for the postseason. Thornton had a 1-2-3 inning. Lester, by the way was out after five, throwing 97 pitches.

Top 6th: Orioles 4, Red Sox 3 - The inning began promising with a single by Nava and a double by Ross to pull Boston to within one run. Could have had more but Middlebrooks struck out and Victorino grounded out to first.

Bottom 5th: Orioles 4, Red Sox 2 - Singles by Hardy and Jones sandwiched a strikeout by Chris Davis. Wieters singled in Hardy and Valencia singled in Joines before Lester got a 6-4-3 DP ball from Markakis.

Top 5th: Orioles 2, Red Sox 2 - With one out, Stephen Drew stroked a double to right field and scored on Dustin Pedroia's single to center.

Bottom 4th:Orioles 2, Red Sox 1 - A Nick Markakis single to lead off the inning went for naught as Lester buckled in and retired the next three batters.

Top 4th: Orioles 2, Red Sox 1 - Gomes reached on an infield single and moved up on Nava's single to right. After Brandon Snyder struck out, David ross blooped s single to center to score Gomes.

Bottom 3rd: Orioles 2, Red Sox 0 - Brian Roberts homered. Lester walked two batters in the inning but limited the damage.

Top 3rd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0 - The top of the Red Sox order tonight is Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Dustin Pedroia. They were retired by Chen.

Bottom 2nd: Orioles 1, Red Sox 0 - Lester secured the first two outs, but Nick Markakis started a rally by reaching on an infield hit to second base. Steve Pearce knocked him in with a double. David Ross committed a passed ball to advance Pearce to third, but Lester struck out rookie outfielder Jason Pridie.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0 - Daniel Nava led off the inning with a single, but Wei-Yin Chen retired the last three batters.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0 - Have no idea how long Jon Lester will go now that the Red Sox have clinched the best record, but he allowed a single to JJ Hardy in the first inning but got out of it. It could be a 75-80-pitch game for Lester, who is likely to start Game 1 of the divisional series next Friday.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Mariners 0 - Before the end of the first inning, the Red Sox had captured the best record in the American League by virtue of Oakland's 7-5 loss to Seattle. The Sox stranded two runners and didn't matter.

Red Sox clinch top seed in the AL playoffs

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 07:10 PM

BALTIMORE — Seattle defeated Oakland, 7-5. The Red Sox have clinched the best record in the American League.

That means the wild card winner will play at Fenway Park on Friday in Game 1 of the Division Series. The Sox also have home field advantage for the entire postseason.

At 95-66, the Athletics cannot finish ahead of the Red Sox, who are 97-63 going into tonight's game against the Orioles. The game in Seattle ended three minutes after the first pitch here in Baltimore.

Thank Brad Miller. He homered twice and drove in five runs for the Mariners.

UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.: Here's the wild-card tiebreaker scenario via MLB:

In the event of a two-way tie between the Rangers and Rays for the second wild card berth, the tiebreaker game will be played on Monday at 8:07 p.m. (ET).

Texas holds the tiebreaker over Tampa Bay because of its 4-3 edge in the season series; thus, the Rangers would host a tiebreaker game against the Rays for the second wild card berth.

In the event of a three-way tie for both wild card spots, the first tiebreaker game, which would feature the Indians hosting the Rays, will be played on Monday at 4:07 p.m. (ET). The winner of Monday’s game would earn a wild card berth.

The second tiebreaker game, which would feature the Rangers hosting the loser of Monday’s game, will be played on Tuesday at 4:07 p.m. (ET). The winner of that game would earn the other wild card berth.

Home-field advantage in the wild card game would be determined by the winner of the head-to-head season series.

The AL wild card game will be played Wednesday at 8:07 p.m. (ET)

Ellsbury gets a planned day off

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 05:43 PM

BALTIMORE — Manager John Farrell said Jacoby Ellsbury being out of the lineup was planned and that the Red Sox intended from the start to play him every other day.

Ellsbury is scheduled to play all nine innings on Sunday.

Also:

• Just a day off for David Ortiz. Wonder if that would be the case if he still had 29 home runs?

• The Red Sox want to see Junichi Tazawa, Matt Thornton, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront out of the bullpen over the next two days.

• How long Jon Lester pitches tonight and John Lackey tomorrow will hinge on the significance of the games.

• The Red Sox have a variety of lefty relievers to pick from for their postseason roster. Craig Breslow is obviously on the team. But Doubront, Thornton and Franklin Morales are under varying degrees of consideration. The opponent in the Division Series will help determine that, Farrell said.

Game 161: Red Sox at Orioles

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 02:50 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (97-63)
Victorino CF
Drew SS
Pedroia 2B
Napoli DH
Gomes LF
Nava RF
Snyder 1B
Ross C
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (15-8, 3.67).

ORIOLES (83-77)
Roberts 2B
Hardy SS
Davis 1B
Jones CF
Wieters C
Valencia 3B
Markakis RF
Pearce DH
Pridie LF
Pitching: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 4.03).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Chen: Pedroia 9-16, Middlebrooks 6-14, Gomes 2-11, Ortiz 2-10, Ellsbury 3-10, Victorino 4-7, Napoli 3-8, Ross 1-7, Nava 2-5, Drew 1-4, Salty 2-5, Berry 1-4, Lavarnway 1-3, Snyder 0-3.

Orioles vs. Lester: Markakis 14-63, Jones 15-50, Roberts 9-43, Wieters 14-42, Hardy 6-24, Davis 3-22, Valencia 4-14, Casilla 0-8, Pearce 0-6, McLouth 0-6, Johnson 2-3, Morse 0-3, Snyder 0-3.

Stat of the Day: The Sox have 1,291 strikeouts, a franchise record. But six other teams have more strikeouts this season. The Astros lead the majors with a record 1,510.

Notes: The Sox are two games up on the Athletics in the race for best record in the American League with two games to play. Either a Red Sox win or an Athletics loss at Seattle gives the Sox home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a Division Series matchup against the wild card card winner starting on Friday. ... Lester is 7-2, 2.29 in 12 starts since the All-Star break. Lester is 15-3, 2.80 in 24 career starts against the Orioles but 1-3, 4.13 in his last four. ... Chen 2-2, 5.08 in six career starts against the Sox, 0-2, 8.04 in three starts this season. ... Napoli is 17 of 50 (.340) with 11 extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in his last 17 games. ... Drew is 14 of 43 (.326)with 10 extra-base hits in his last 12 games. ... The Sox haven't won 98 games since 2004. Only five teams in franchise history have won 98 or more games. ... The Sox are 8-9 against the Orioles with two games left. ... The Sox are 17-7 in September.

Song of the Day: "We Take Care of Our Own" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Pence deal good news for Ellsbury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 02:03 PM

BALTIMORE — Multiple reports have the Giants agreeing to a five-year, $90 million deal with right fielder Hunter Pence.

That would seem like excellent news for Jacoby Ellsbury.

Pence is 30 and has a career OPS of .814. He has played to a 4.2 WAR this season. Pence has shown consistent power (164 home runs over seven seasons) and has 22 stolen bases this season.

Ellsbury is 30 and has a career OPS of .788 and has played to a 5.7 WAR this season. He has shown little home run power outside of the outlier 2011 season but has consistent speed and is a better defender. He also plays a premium position.

If Pence can get an average annual value of $18 million without going into the market, Ellsbury will almost certainly be worth $20-21 million a year over six or seven seasons once he becomes a free agent.

Scott Boras, who represents Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, will control the market for outfielders this winter.

The Red Sox are in an advantageous position financially and also have an attractive fall-back solution in Jackie Bradley Jr. (also a Boras client, naturally). Would the Sox go nine figures on a player who has missed 263 games the last four seasons?

Boras correctly points out that Ellsbury's injuries have been the result of accidents. But he has missed an average of 66 games the last four seasons and will be asking for six or seven guaranteed years.

The Red Sox are 18-9 in games Ellsbury has missed this season. That's only 17 percent of the season, but it could be a factor in deciding against entering a bidding war.

Regardless of how it plays out, Ellsbury is sitting in a good spot. Going into the market paid off for Jonathan Papelbon two years ago and Ellsbury is walking the same path.

The perfect scenario for the Red Sox?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 01:40 PM

BALTIMORE — The Rays and Indians are 90-70 and tied atop the wild card standings in the American League. The Rangers are a game out at 89-71.

What happens if three teams tie? It could be a big break for the Red Sox.

The Rays would play the Indians in Cleveland on Monday. The winner gets a spot in the wild-card playoff game.

The loser hops a plane and goes to Texas for a game on Tuesday. The winner of that game gets a berth. The teams were seeded based on winning percentage against each other.

The wild card playoff game is Wednesday. Game 1 of the Division Series is Friday. If the Red Sox clinch the top seed, they would host the wild card winner.

At best, a team will have two games before flying to Boston on Thursday to face the well-rested Red Sox. At worst, a team could play three games in three days in three cities before going to Boston.

As those teams burn through pitchers, the Red Sox will be waiting.

If two teams tie for the final wild card spot, they would play on Monday for the right to play Wednesday.

For Ortiz, a milestone at the expense of a rookie

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 28, 2013 01:20 AM

BALTIMORE — David Ortiz had a special moment during Friday night's 12-3 victory against the Orioles. At the same time, he spoiled a special moment for Orioles rookie Mike Belfiore.

Ortiz came to the plate in the eighth inning with two runners on. The Orioles called in Belfiore, a 24-year-old lefthander who attended Boston College. It was his major league debut.

Belfiore fell behind 2-and-1 before throwing a fastball that Ortiz took the other way and lined over the wall in left field.

Ortiz has 30 home runs and 103 RBIs. He joined Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players with seven seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs.

"It's a huge honor for myself to be mentioned with one of the greatest that ever played the game in this organization," Ortiz said.

The home run also was the 431st for Ortiz, tying him with Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. for 45th place all-time.

“The Iron Man, that’s something special,” Ortiz said. “You keep on mentioning names and nothing but greater comes out. Mad respect.”

Ortiz was then told that his home run came off a player making his debut.

“Welcome to the big leagues,” he said with a chuckle. “I heard he’s from Boston. Damn. My boy, he already knows.”

Also:

• The Sox clinched home field for the first round of the playoffs. Game 1 of the Division Series will be next Friday at Fenway Park. The magic number to clinch the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the postseason is 1.

At 97-63, the Red Sox have their most wins since the 2004 team won 98 games.

• Clay Buchholz allowed three runs on seven hits and struck out four without a walk. He threw 113 pitches, his most in a start since late May.

“I thought Clay went out and pitched with a comfortable effort level,” manager John Farrell said. “It wasn’t his most overpowering, but he had to pitch. … It was more of the progression for him.”

Buchholz topped out at 92 miler-per-hour and sat at 89-90 over the course of his outing. He relied heavily on off-speed and breaking pitches. In his previous start, Buchholz was comfortably at 93-94.

Buchholz pinned the difference on a change in his routine. He usually plays catch and throws a dozen pitches off the mound the day before a start. But the Red Sox did not arrive at their hotel in Baltimore until close 6 a.m. on Thursday morning and the Orioles had a game that night at Camden Yards.

Baltimore offered the use of its bullpen in the morning. Buchholz elected to sleep in instead and was still tired a day later.

“My body felt a little lethargic. Felt it when I woke up that it might be a grinding outing for me,” Buchholz said.

That Buchholz was able to complete seven innings outweighed any concern about his velocity.

“He didn’t try to overthrow because he felt fatigued,” Farrell said. “I think it’s a sign of maturity more than anything and not anything physically restricting him. He’s answered the physical question for sure.”

• Stephen Drew had his eighth triple, tied the third-most in the AL. Only Brett Gardner (10) and Mike Trout (nine) have more.

Final: Red Sox 12, Orioles 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 27, 2013 07:20 PM

Game over: Red Sox 12, Orioles 3: The Red Sox continued their trek to the best record with a huge win over the Orioles tonight. David Ortiz hit his 30th home run, a three-run blast. The Red Sox scored five run in the first inning against Scott Feldman and never looked back. Clay Buchholz improved to 12-1 with seven strong innings, allowing two home runs. The game was played before 30,700 at Camden Yards.

Top 9th: Red Sox 12, Orioles 3 - Jonny Gomes lined a home run to left to extend Boston's lead. It was his 13th homer.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 3 - Orioles get nothing in the 8th.

Top 8th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 3 - Two walks with two outs by Bradley and Pedroia, paved the way for David Ortiz' three-run bomb, his 30th. Ortiz now has seven 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons in his career.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 3 - Buchholz's last inning goes 1-2-3.

Top 7th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 3 - Mike Napoli walked, but the Red Sox could not take advantage.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 3 - Chris Davis hit his 53rd home run on a changeup by Clay Buchholz, the second homer off Buchholz in this game which is as many homers as he'd allowed this season. Davis, with 138 RBI, leads Miguel Cabrera by one in that department. Davis also broke the record for most homers in Baltimore's home park with 28. Frank Robinson hit 27 in 1966 at Memorial Stadium.

Top 6th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 2 - Not much doing for Sox as David Ortiz, still searching for No. 30, grounded into a double play.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 2 - A single by Ryan Flaherty results in a 6-4-3 double play by Nick Markakis, who has never fully recovered from a groin injury.

Top 5th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 2 - A Jonny Gomes leadoff single is all the Red Sox could muster against Orioles lefty Zach Britton.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 2 - A one-out single by Hardy, but Buchholz got out of the rest of it.

Top 4th: Red Sox 8, Orioles 2 - Boston got a leadoff single by Pedroia, but the next three batters ran into outs. Orioles starter Feldman allowed eight hits and eight runs in 2-1/3 innings.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 8, Orioles 2 - Buchholz has been throwing his fastball mostly at 90 mph tonight. Adam Jones just hit one of those out of the park in straight away center field with Brian Roberts (single right) aboard.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 8, Orioles 0 - What a beating. Nava and Gomes singled and Saltalamacchia hit a long drive for a double. Umpires called it a home run but upon further review it went back to a ground-rule double, scoring one run.

With runners at second and third, Stephen Drew sent a ground ball up the middle scoring two more. Drew was caught in a rundown and called out. Will Middlebrooks continued the barrage with a single to left field. But the Sox were finally retired on Jacoby Ellsbury's ground ball out to first base. Ellsbury is 0 for 3.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0 - Buchholz retired Hardy, McLouth and Schoop in the second inning., Schoop could be Roberts' heir apparent when Roberts' contract expires in a few days.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0 - The Red Sox are retired by Feldman, who settled down after a chaotic first inning.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0 - The Orioles tried to mount their own first-inning rally vs. Clay Buchholz but came up short. Brian Roberts, who may not be back with the Orioles after this weekend, singled to right. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones flew out and Chris Davis singled. But Matt Wieters flew out to center,

Top 1st: Red Sox 5, Orioles 0 - The Red Sox sent nine men to the plate and five scored. Mike Napoli's double to deep right scored Dustin Pedroia (single). David Ortiz singled ahead of Napoli. Daniel Nava followed with a three-run homer to right field, his 12th. After Jonny Gomes walked and Jarrod Saltalamacchia popped out, Stephen Drew tripled to right scoring Gomes. All of the runs came against veteran righty Scott Feldman.

Get the latest Red Sox news in Extra Bases

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 27, 2013 06:00 PM

Victorino expected to return on Saturday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 27, 2013 05:47 PM

BALTIMORE — Shane Victorino is out of the Red Sox lineup because of the sprained right thumb he has been dealing with for 10 days or so. John Farrell said Victorino will be back in right field on Saturday.

Also:

• The plan tonight for Jacoby Ellsbury is four plate appearances.

• Mike Napoli is feeling refreshed after four games (and six days) off to give his plantar fasciitis a break. Napoli is in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 20.

• Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he will start Chris Tillman on Sunday if the game means anything to the Red Sox.

• Clay Buchholz has what amounts to a normal start tonight. There are no restrictions beyond the usual ones.

• Jake Peavy mentioned on Thursday that he could pitch in relief this weekend. Farrell indicated that was unlikely. The Red Sox have what he called "a punch list" of relievers to get work.

• Once the playoff roster is set, the Red Sox will send some of the extra players to work out in Fort Myers to stay fresh. A few spare parts (a catcher, an infielder, an outfielder, perhaps a pitcher) will stay around the team in case a roster change is needed.

• The Red Sox broke out some new t-shirts today. The front says "3 lines, 2 Chainz 1 goal" and the back has an image of a duck boat.

Three lines refers to the lines the players have shaved into the back of their heads. 2 Chainz is a hip-hop artist and a favorite of David Ortiz.

Watch: Looking back, looking ahead on the Red Sox season

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 27, 2013 04:00 PM

In this Sporting News video, Globe Red Sox beat reporter Peter Abraham reviews how the Red Sox got to where they are, and what lies ahead in the postseason.

Game 160: Red Sox at Orioles

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 27, 2013 03:05 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (96-63)
Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Nava RF
Gomes LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (11-1, 1.60).

ORIOLES (83-76)
Roberts DH
Markakis RF
Jones CF
Davis 1B
Wieters C
Hardy SS
McLouth LF
Schoop 2B
Flaherty 3B
Pitching: RHP Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.57).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Feldman: Napoli 11-27, Pedroia 6-15, Ortiz 2-10, Carp 4-11, Drew 3-8, Ellsbury 3-8, Victorino 0-5, McDonald 1-2, Middlebrooks 1-3, Nava 0-3, Gomes 0-1.

Orioles vs. Buchholz: Markakis 5-34, Jones 5-24, Wieters 6-27, Roberts 8-22, Davis 3-15, Hardy 6-16, Flaherty 2-8, McLouth 2-6, Casilla 3-5, Johnson 0-3, Pearce 0-3, Valencia 0-2,

Stat of the Day: David Ortiz has 430 career home runs. He needs one to tie Cal Ripken Jr. for 45th place all time. Ortiz also is one home run shy of joining Ted Williams as the only players in Red Sox history with seven seasons of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.

Notes: The Red Sox start their final series of the regular season with a two-game lead on Oakland for the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Athletics start a three-game series at Seattle tonight. The A's, oddly enough, are 6-10 against the Mariners this season. Felix Hernandez pitches for Seattle tonight against Bartolo Colon. ... Buchholz is making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list. He has allowed two earned runs over 17 innings. Buchholz faced the Orioles on April 8 and threw seven shutout innings. He is 8-3, 3.26 in 15 career appearances against Baltimore. ... Feldman is 1-1, 4.09 in 10 career appearances against the Red Sox, four of them starts. He faced Boston on Sept 17 and lasted only five innings, giving up two runs on two hits and six walks. ... Saltalamacchia has a nine-game hit streak and is 14 for 33 in the streak with seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. He is hitting .311 in September. Salty hit .180 last September and .162 in September 2012. ... Pedroia is 1 for his last 14. ... The Sox haven't won 97 games since 2007. ... The Sox are 7-9 against the Orioles, 36-21 against the rest of the AL East. ... The Sox are 43-35 on the road with wins in eight of their last 11 games.

Song of the Day: "Travelin' Band" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Mark of consistency for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 27, 2013 12:14 PM

BALTIMORE — Here's a statistic that captures the consistency, depth, relatively good health, talent and chemistry of the Red Sox this season:

They will finish the regular season without a four-game losing streak.

That hasn't been done in the majors since the 2005 St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards won 100 games that season and lost in the NLCS to the Houston Astros.

The Sox last went a full season without losing four in a row in 1903. That team won the World Series. Cy Young had a lot to do with that given his 35 starts.

The Red Sox don't have a Cy Young. But Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Jake Peavy have made 142 of the 159 starts this season and are on track to make 145 of 162.

So for 90 percent of the games this season, the Sox had a starter they felt pretty good about. There were dips here and there with Lester, Doubront and Dempster. But it never got to a point where the Sox had a real losing streak.

Consistent starting pitching is almost always the key to success and the Red Sox have had that.

Check back later for the lineups and Game 160 preview.

Pitching matchups for the Orioles series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 27, 2013 08:00 AM

Friday: RHP Clay Buchholz (11-1, 1.60) vs. RHP Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.57), 7:05 p.m., NESN.

Saturday: LHP Jon Lester (15-8, 3.67) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 4.03), 7:05 p.m., NESN.

Sunday: RHP John Lackey (10-13, 3.52) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.62), 1:35 p.m., NESN.

ALCS and World Series ticket information

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 26, 2013 07:15 PM

Registration for a random drawing for the chance to purchase tickets to any potential American League Championship Series or World Series games that may be played at Fenway Park started today. Fans may register for the drawing online at redsox.com until Monday at noon.

Fans will be notified of their selection for ALCS games via e-mail on October 2. Those chosen will have a chance to purchase tickets for that series on October 3 at noon.

For those not selected in the random online drawing, or those without internet access, a limited number of tickets will be sold via automated phone (888-REDSOX6) beginning at 2 p.m. on October 3. No tickets will be available at the Fenway Park ticket office.

There will be a 4 ticket limit per fan for the ALCS games. Ticket prices for that series range from $55 to $230.

Registrants not selected in the ALCS drawing or those who register after noon on Monday will be eligible for a possible World Series drawing. Sale dates for potential 2013 World Series games played at Fenway Park will be announced at a later date.

Rockies salute Helton — as does Jake Peavy

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 26, 2013 01:46 AM

DENVER — The Colorado Rockies started play in 1993. Todd Helton showed up in 1997 and never left. He's the best player in franchise history and there's no debate about it.

Helton has played the most games, had the most hits and played in front of millions of people at Coors Field for 17 seasons. That he's a borderline Hall of Famer doesn't much matter to the folks out here because he's their guy.

Helton didn't make a big deal about retiring. He told Denver Post beat guy Troy Renck earlier this month and that was that. Wednesday was his final game at Coors and the Red Sox happened to be the opponent.

That Jake Peavy was pitching was appropriate. Peavy and Helton had faced each other 51 times over the years and were old adversaries. They don't know each other particularly well, but there's mutual respect.

Helton homered in his first plate appearance on Tuesday, giving the crowd of 48,775 a thrill. He added a sacrifice fly in the third inning and nearly another homer in the fifth, lining a double off the fence in left.

Because the Red Sox won the game 15-5, Peavy was fine with that.

"It was a fun atmosphere," he said. "I thought the tribute to Helton was outstanding. They nailed it. Todd's a tremendous, tremendous competitor. Tremendous person, the little bit I do know. Congratulations on a wonderful, wonderful career. It was fun getting to compete against him tonight."

The Rockies had a low-key ceremony for Helton that hit the right notes.

After a highlight video, Helton was introduced to the crowd and tipped his cap to all corners of Coors Field before catching a first pitch thrown by one of his daughters, Tierney Faith.

The Rockies then presented Helton with a horse for his ranch. It was not just any horse, it was a champion American Paint Horse.

Helton took the lineup card out to home plate. When the Rockies ran out on the field, they held back and Helton went to first base alone. That merited another cheer from the crowd.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, Helton’s football teammate at the University of Tennessee and a close friend, was at the game. Manning and other teammates over the years filmed videos that were shown throughout the night.

In the final innings, Helton's family came out on the field and were given first base.

When the game ended, Helton took a lap around the field to wave at the fans one last time. Many of the Red Sox players stayed in their dugout, applauding Helton. Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn, who played with Helton, was there, too.

Peavy, up in the clubhouse, came running down and gave Helton a hug. That he was in his baseball underwear and a t-shirt didn't matter.

"I just wanted him to know how much I appreciate the way he went about things," Peavy said. "Me and Todd have had many, many matchups like we did tonight. I'm not not going to miss him in retirement on the baseball field.

"To play 17 years and to play the game as hard as he played it, to be the leader that he has been to these guys ... just the class that he always competed with, the respect that he always showed and voiced, I wanted him to know I appreciated that."

Helton was moved by what Peavy and the Red Sox did.

"That was ultimate class. What a class act. I'll never forget that," he said.

A few other Red Sox notes:

• The Sox have five grand slams this month (tying a major league record for September) and nine on the season, the most in the majors. Will Middlebrooks has had two slams this season. He has eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 38 games since returning from Triple A Pawtucket.

• The Sox finished 14-6 in interleague games, their best record since the 2006 team was 16-2. They outscored the National League teams 118-54.

• David Ortiz was 1 for 3 with two RBIs. He has 100 RBIs for the first time since 2010 and the seventh time his career. Only Hall of Famers Ted Williams (nine) and Jim Rice (eight) have had more 100-RBI seasons for the Sox.

• Jarrod Saltalamacchia was 4 for 5 with three RBIs. He's at .272/.338/.465 on the season with 39 doubles, 14 homers and 64 RBIs. He has set himself up well for free agency.

Ellsbury feeling good after return

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 26, 2013 01:23 AM

DENVER — The Red Sox took a big step toward claiming the top seed in the American League playoffs with a 15-5 victory against Colorado. Oakland's loss earlier in the day gives the Sox a two-game lead with three to play.

But the most important development of the night was the return of Jacoby Ellsbury from a 16-game absence due to a fractured bone in his right foot. Elllsbury was 1 for 2 with a walk and played three innings in center field.

“He came out of it feeling the same he did when he started. That was the most important thing,” manager John Farrell said. “Just to get him out on the field was a big step.”

Ellsbury said he expects to play on Friday in Baltimore and will talk to Farrell about how deep into the game he will go.

"I was just happy to get out there and play," Ellsbury said. "Run around, kind of did everything I needed to do. Sprinted down the line, ran for a ball in the gap. The plan was to get three ABs and we got them early. That was good."

Ellsbury said he saw the ball well and managed his at-bats the way he wanted to.

"Saw a couple of solid pitchers and felt pretty good out there," he said.

Ellsbury wore a shield on his foot to protect the navicular bone that was fractured. He had worn a shield throughout his career but there was a gap in the one he used and that's where the foul ball got him. Now he's using a different model.

Ellsbury also has orthotic soles in his cleats to gives his feet some extra cushion.

For Elllsbury, getting back in time to play the final four regular season games was ideal. It went just as the doctors predicted it would.

"That was important to me, to get back as soon as possible and get in some games before the postseason starts. Definitely very pleased," he said.

Final: Red Sox 15, Rockies 5

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 25, 2013 08:41 PM

Game over: Red Sox 15, Rockies 5: The Red Sox ruined Todd Helton Night with a shellacking of the Rockies but more importantly they went two games up on Oakland for the best record in the American League with three games to play.

The Red Sox will get a day off and then conclude the regular season with three games in Baltimore.

Big night for Will Middlebrooks with seven RBI (a grand slam and three-run homer). Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in three runs with four hits. Jake Peavy improved to 12-5 with the win. There were 48,775 on hand. The game was played in 3:38 minutes. Sox players stayed out after the game to pay their respects to Helton.

Top 9th: Red Sox 15, Rockies 5 - Game-long tribute to Helton, showing snippets of his career each inning and interviews from ex-teammates and managers etc. In the ninth, his children came out to kiss and hug him and took first base with them. Helton again acknowledged the 48,775 on hand.

Top 8th: Red Sox 15, Rockies 5 - A grand slam (off Roy Oswalt) by Will Middlebrooks to go along a three-run homer. 7 RBI.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 10, Rockies 5 - Nice appearance by Franklin Morales. He picked off Michael Cuddyer then struck out Helton.

Top 7th: Red Sox 10, Rockies 5 - Sox managed a two-out walk by pinch-hitter Mike Carp, but no more.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 10, Rockies 5 - A 1-2-3 inning for the Rockies.

Top 6th: Red Sox 10, Rockies 5 - Dustin Pedroia reached on a Troy Tulowitzki error, but the Sox couldn't do much vs. Drew Pomerantz as Ortiz and Nava struck out.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 10, Rockies 5 - Todd Helton missed a second home run by a couple of feet to left field (think Green Monster) to drive in the fifth Rockies run. But Peavy got a 5-4-3 double play to get out of further harm..

Top 5th: Red Sox 10, Rockies 4 - Will Middlebrooks drills a three-run homer (16) to right with Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia scoring ahead of him.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 7, Rockies 4 - Peavy preserves the three-run lead.

Top 4th: Red Sox 7, Rockies 4 - Shane Victorino smoked his 15th homer, a three-run shot to left field to break the tie. Jake Peavy doubled to rightfield with one out and Jacoby Ellsbury walked, setting the stage for Victorino's homer.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 4, Rockies 4 - A bases loaded sac fly by Helton and an RBI ground-rule double by Nolan Arenado had pulled the Rockies even off Jake Peavy. The Rockies are making solid contact against Peavy.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 4, Rockies 2 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia stroked his 39th double to drive in Daniel Nava.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 3, Rockies 2 - One of those dream scenarios - Todd Helton homered to rigthfield field. Later, Yorvit Torrealba doubled in Colorado's second run.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 3, Rockies 0 - Jhoulys Chacin, who is 14-9 with a 3.21 ERA got of to a poor start, but he got back to his old self retiring the Red Sox.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 3, Rockies 0 - Jake Peavy mows them down in the first. Also got a strikeout of Josh Rutledge.

Top 1st: Red Sox 3, Rockies 0 - With Oakland losing to Los Angeles, the Red Sox have taken full advantage of the opportunity to go two up in the best-record standings which will insure home field advantage. After Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the Red Sox lineup after missing 17 games, singled to lead off the inning and moved up on Shane Victorino's infield single. Both runners scored on David Ortiz' double to right, his 99th and 100th RBI. It was the 7th time Ortiz had eclipsed 100. He's also one homer shy of 30. Jarrod Saltalamacchia knocked in the third run with a single to left field.

Nice ceremony for Todd Helton before his final home game with the Rockies. Helton spent 17 seasons with the Rockies and was presented a horse as a parting gift form the team to match the horse he recently bought on his farm.

Peyton Manning, who he backed up at quarterback at Tennessee, was in the dugout before the game. Former Red Sox righty Aaron Cook was also on hand. Helton took out the lineup card. Boston sent their own No. 17, Torey Lovullo, to exchange lineup cards.

Red Sox twice tried to obtain Todd Helton

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 25, 2013 07:24 PM

DENVER — Tonight is Todd Helton’s last game at Coors Field before he heads into retirement after the season.

We are reminded of the two attempts Theo Epstein made to acquire Helton during his tenure as Red Sox general manager.

The first was in 2002 when Epstein tried to orchestrate a deal for Helton and Larry Walker that would have sent Manny Ramirez and other minor pieces to the Rockies. The deal never had enough traction.

Then in 2008, Epstein tried to trade Mike Lowell straight up for Helton, but that deal didn’t go, either.

Epstein always thought Helton would be a great hitter at Fenway Park, just as he was at Coors Field for 17 seasons.

The Rockies will have a ceremony in Helton's honor before the game.

Ellsbury returns to Red Sox lineup; Napoli will be next

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 25, 2013 07:03 PM

DENVER — For the first time since Sept. 5, Jacoby Ellsbury is in the Red Sox lineup.

Ellsbury was cleared to play Tuesday by Dr. Thomas Clanton, the Vail-based specialist who confirmed an original diagnosis of a broken navicular bone in the center fielder's right foot.

Sox manager John Farrell said the plan was for Ellsbury to get three at-bats and/or five innings tonight. He is not restricted from trying to steal bases.

With the team off Thursday, Ellsbury should be able to play over the weekend in Baltimore.

The Red Sox were 10-6 in Ellsbury's absence and averaged a healthy 5.38 runs per game.

Also:

• Mike Napoli is out of the lineup for the fourth straight game because of plantar fasciitis. Farrell said to expect him back Friday.

• The Angels beat the Athletics, 3-1, this afternoon. The Sox are up by 1.5 games for the best record in the American League. They have four games to play and Oakland has three. The Athletics start a three-game series at Seattle Friday. King Felix against Bartolo Colon.

• The Rockies will have a pregame ceremony for Todd Helton tonight. There is a big number 17 mowed into center field and 17's painted in front of the dugouts. Rumor has it that Peyton Manning will participate.

Helton was a two-sport athlete at the University of Tennessee and became the starting quarterback in 1994. When he injured a knee, Manning replaced him.

Game 159: Red Sox at Rockies

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 25, 2013 04:40 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (95-63)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz 1B
Nava LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: RHP Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.02).

ROCKIES (72-86)
Blackmon CF
Rutledge 2B
Tulowitzki SS
Cuddyer RF
Helton RF
Arenado 3B
Dickerson LF
Torrealba C
Pitching: RHP Jhoulys Chacin (14-9, 3.21).

Game time: 8:40 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Chacin: Drew 5-15, Gomes 1-5, Victorino 1-7, McDonald 0-6, Napoli 1-2, Nava 1-3, Pedroia 0-1.

Rockies vs. Peavy: Helton 16-46 (3 HR), Torrealba 7-29, Tulowitzki 7-20, Cuddyer 4-11, Blackmon 0-2, Gonzalez 0-3, Herrera 2-3.

Stat of the Day: Todd Helton has 2,515 hits, 591 doubles, 368 home runs and a .316 batting average. The only other player in history to reach those levels is Stan Musial. Helton is playing final home game with the Rockies tonight after 17 seasons with the team.

Notes: The Sox finish a brief two-game series tonight. The Rockies are skipping the ineffective Roy Oswalt (0-6, 7.71) and using Chacin on regular rest. Chacin has faced the Red Sox once in his career, on June 22, 2010 at Coors Field. He threw 6.2 scoreless innings. ... Peavy is 4-6, 3.92 in 18 career starts against the Rockies. He last faced them on June 30, 2011. Peavy is 3-1, 3.68 in nine starts against the Sox. The Sox are 4-5 in those games. ... The Sox are 13-6 in interleague games, outscoring the NL teams 103-49. That includes a 2-1 record against the Rockies. ... Red Sox pitchers are 0 for 23 with 11 strikeouts this season. ... Ellsbury is back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 5. He missed 16 games recovering from a fractured bone in his right foot. ... The Sox are 20 of 94 (.213) in the last three games with 10 runs scored, two walks and 27 strikeouts.

Song of the Day: "The Distance" by Cake.

The Red Sox have some roster decisions

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 25, 2013 12:38 PM

DENVER — John Farrell made it clear Tuesday that the playoff roster remains in flux for the Red Sox and that the last few games could determine a few spots.

A few issues at the forefront:

• Brandon Workman's last five appearances: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. The Sox shut him down for a week to rest, so Tuesday's erratic outing has an explanation. But Workman's spot may not be a lock. He said Tuesday that he felt fine physically and was just rusty.

Workman needs a good outing or two to restore some faith.

• Jackie Bradley Jr. is 6 of his last 13 and is working counts again. But that would not be reason to give him a spot. Given the physical questions with Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino, might the Red Sox want to keep Bradley around purely for defensive purposes?

If Victorino tweaks that hamstring again, having Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes flanking Ellsbury is not ideal defensively. If Ellsbury goes out, it would be preferable to have Bradley in center and keep Victorino in right.

• Felix Doubront has a legitimate beef if he's not on the roster. He's 11-6 with a 4.08 ERA and the Sox were 18-9 in his starts. Doubront's ERA is 3.49 since May 21. His ERA+ is 101, good for eighth on the team. Shouldn't that make him one of the 11 pitchers?

Doubront's comments about not wanting to pitch in relief didn't sit well with the decision-makers, and it appears he's on the outs. But would you rather start an inning with him or Matt Thornton?

Doubront should have taken the "I'll do anything for the team" approach that Ryan Dempster did.

• Mike Napoli missing the last three games because of plantar fasciitis adds value to Quintin Berry's pinch-running skills.

Lots to consider and only four games left to consider it.

Red Sox lose, as do the Athletics

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 25, 2013 01:02 AM

DENVER — The Red Sox didn't show much of a pulse against the Rockies on Tuesday night. But they didn't lose any ground in the race for the best record in the American League.

The Sox lost, 8-3, at Coors Field. The Athletics fell, 3-0, against the Angels in Anaheim. The Sox have a one-game lead with four to play.

The top seed will face the winner of the one-game wild-card playoff game on Oct. 2. The alternative is facing the Detroit Tigers, the likely No. 3 seed.

The top seed also gets home field advantage throughout the postseason.

"By the way we play at home and the way our guys embrace our environment, it would be a very good thing," John Farrell said before the game.

If the Sox and Athletics finish in a tie, the tiebreaker would go to Oakland.

The teams split six games this season, eliminating the first tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker is intra-division play, which would end up with a tie if the teams have the same overall record.

The third tiebreaker would be overall intra-league record. That also would be tied if the teams have the same record.

The fourth tiebreaker, and the deciding one, would be the second-half intra-league record. The A’s are 42-25 and the Sox 39-30.

Farrell hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“We’re also in a position where we control our own destiny,” he said.

Also:

• Jacoby Ellsbury was upgraded to "likely" for Wednesday night.

• John Lackey has a 4.48 ERA on the road and 2.47 at Fenway. If he starts Game 2, that's why.

• Sox pitchers are 0 for 23 this season. It's up to Jake Peavy.

• Brandon Workman hadn't pitched in a week as the Sox wanted to give the rookie some time off after he piled up 141 2/3 innings. He looked rusty in the seventh inning, facing five hitters and putting four of them on.

“My command wasn’t very good at all tonight,” Workman said. “That’s something I can obviously work on. I wasn’t very sharp tonight.”

Final: Rockies 8, Red Sox 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 24, 2013 08:36 PM

Game over: Rockies 8, Red Sox 3 - The Red Sox didn't elevate their game at Coors Field tonight in their quest to keep the best record in the American League in place. Whether it was the high altitude or just a bad night, John Lackey (10-13) allowed three home runs and Sox relievers were lit up for four more runs.Charles Blackmon, Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson all homered for Colorado. Boston's first run came in the 7th when Will Middlebrooks doubled to right and scored on a double-error by pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who the Red Sox weren't able to solve. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a home run in the ninth after David Ortiz singled (and was pinch-run for by Brock Holt). There were 32,315 on hand at Coors Field. The game was played in 2:40.

Bottom 8th: Rockies 8, Red Sox 1 - Rubby De La Rosa on for the Sox. DeLa Rosa allowed a walk and single, but no further damage in this one-sided game at Coors Field.

Top 8th: Rockies 8, Red Sox 1 - Victorino singled to right with one out, but that's all the Red Sox could manage.

Bottom 7th: Rockies 8, Red Sox 1 - Rockies doubled their lead with four runs rallying against Drake Britton, Brandon Workman and Franklin Morales. Pacheco doubled off Britton. Workman came on and he allowed a single to right moving Pacheco to third. After Blackmon walked to load the bases, LeMahieu singled in two runs. Tulowitzki grounded out but Michael Cuddyer singled in two more.

Top 7th: Rockies 4, Red Sox 1 - A double to right by Midldebrooks created a run when Chatwood committed two errors, first missing Todd Helton's toss to first on Jackie Bradley's grounder after Helton dove and made a nice play to stop the ball. Chatwood then over threw the plate where Middlebrooks came around to score. Middlebrooks broke an 0-for-9 with the hit.

Bottom 6th: Rockies 4,Red Sox 0 - The retiring Todd Helton singled with one out, but the Rockies do not do much else.

Top 6th: Rockies 4, Red Sox 0 - Nava, Pedroia and Ortiz go down vs. Chatwood.

Bottom 5th: Rockies 4, Red Sox 0 - Lackey retired the Rockies in order.

Top 5th: Rockies 4, Red Sox 0 - There's a single by Jackie Bradley and a stolen base with one out, but Lackey struck out and Victorino flew out to center.

Bottom 4th: Rockies 4, Red Sox 0 - Corey Dickerson homered with two outs as Lackey's woes continue.

Top 4th: Rockies 3, Red Sox 0 - Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield chopper, but the Red Sox couldn't muster anything else.

Bottom 3rd: Rockies 3, Red Sox 0 - Troy Tulowitzki homered to left center on a 1-0 pitch to increase Rockies lead.

Top 3rd: Rockies 2, Red Sox 0 - The Red Sox are 9-0-2 in their last 11 interleague series, but trail here as they go down in order against Chatwood.

Bottom 2nd: Rockies 2, Red Sox 0 - The Rockies ground out twice and strikeout (Chatwood) against Lackey.

Top 2nd: Rockies 2, Red Sox 0 - Drew, Middlebrooks and Bradley Jr go down against Chatwood.

Bottom 1st: Rockies 2, Red Sox 0 - Leadoff man Charlie Blackmon lofted a 1-1 pitch into the rightfield bleachers to give the Rockies an early lead off of John Lackey, who retired the next two batters before Michael Cuddyer doubled to deep right on a ball that Shane Victorino twisted and turned on and couldn't come up with. Victorino has been in a bit of a fielding slump lately. Cuddyer scored on Todd Helton's single to center.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Rockies 0 - The Red Sox left two men on base. Daniel Nava was hit with a Tyler Chatwood pitch and after two outs after Nava had taken off with the pitch and made it to second after Dustin Pedroia grounded out, David Ortiz was walked intentionally after the count went to three balls. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded out to short.

Ellsbury expected back on Wednesday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 24, 2013 06:43 PM

DENVER — Jacoby Ellsbury is going through batting practice at Coors Field Tuesday afternoon and is tentatively scheduled to play Wednesday. Red Sox manager John Farrell said the plan is for Ellsbury to start and play at least part of the game.

"We'll get through today's workout and if he checks out OK, we're hopeful that he can be in the lineup," Farrell said.

Also:

• None of the tiebreakers against Oakland would go their way, so if the Red Sox are to be the top seed in the American League, they have to hold their one-game lead over the Athletics. That explains why they're using their best five starters down the stretch. Farrell wants home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

"By the way we play at home and the way our guys embrace our environment, it would be a very good thing," he said.

• Farrell said he will not name a postseason rotation until the regular season is over.

• The Red Sox will have four days off before their first division series game on Oct. 4. As you might expect, there will be workouts and an intrasquad game. The schedule is for the players to take Monday off, then work out the next three days. The intrasquad game would be Wednesday.

"With the number of pitchers we have to get to the mound, yeah," Farrell said when asked if a game of some sort was needed.

The Sox have enough players on their roster to field two teams, more or less.

• There are a few spots open on the postseason roster. One factor, for instance, is how Ellsbury looks. That will affect the status of Jackie Bradley Jr. The opponent also could figure into it.

Farrell spoke about Matt Thornton being set back by going on the disabled list with an oblique injury. Sounded like he would not be on the roster.

• Felix Doubront will be available out of the bullpen Friday and Farrell said they'd like to see him pitch. But they also want to keep their regular relievers sharp. Farrell said it's a priority to get Ryan Dempster more relief appearances.

• Mike Napoli is out of the lineup for the third consecutive game. His plantar fasciitis was bothering him over the weekend. He is tentatively scheduled to be in the lineup Wednesday,

"It's one of those things where it makes sense to get a few days," Napoli said. "I could be playing, but the time off will help me."

• Dustin Pedroia played an intense game of Connect Four against Brock Holt before batting practice. Ellsbury, Napoli, and John McDonald were among the sideline analysts offering advice.

• Larry Lucchino will be inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame Nov. 2, along with Eddie Olczyk, Johnny Antonelli, Hank Lauricella, Steve Palermo, and the late Cus D’Amato.

Game 158: Red Sox at Rockies

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 24, 2013 04:30 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (95-62)
Victorino RF
Nava LF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Middlebrooks 3B
Bradley Jr. CF
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (10-12, 3.44).

ROCKIES (71-86)
Blackmon CF
LeMahieu 2B
Tulowitzki SS
Cuddyer RF
Helton 1B
Arenado 3B
Dickerson LF
Pacheco C
Pitching: RHP Tyler Chatwood (7-5, 3.36).

Game time: 8:40 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Chatwood: Napoli 2-5, Ross 2-5, Victorino 0-4, Carp 1-3, Ellsbury 1-3, McDonald 1-3, Ortiz 1-2, Pedroia 2-2.

Rockies vs. Lackey: Cuddyer 7-22, Torrealba 4-14, Gonzalez 4-12, Helton 4-10, Herrera 1-4, LeMahieu 0-4, Arenado 1-3, Rosario 2-3, Rutledge 0-3.

Stat of the Day: The Sox are 13-5 in interleague games. Only the Pirates (15-5) have more interleague wins. The Rockies are 4-14.

Notes: The Sox took two games from the Rockies at Fenway in June. But they trail the all-time series, 5-7, and are 2-4 at Coors Field. That does not include the 2007 World Series, however ... Lackey is 17-9, 3.08 in 36 career interleague games, 2-2, 2.48 in four starts this season. He beat the Rockies June 26, allowing two runs over seven innings and striking out 12 without a walk ... Chatwood is 0-6, 6.86 in five major league starts since July 31. He has not faced the Sox since April 21, 2011, when he was with the Angels ... The Sox are 14-6 in September. That matches the total number of wins they had in September 2011 (7-20) and 2012 (7-19) ... Colorado first baseman Todd Helton, who is retiring after the season, will play his final two home games against the Sox. In 17 years, he is a career .345/.441/.606 hitter at Coors Field and .287/.386/.470 on the road ... Will Middlebrooks is 4 of his last 35 over 10 games with one RBI and no extra-base hits ... Jackie Bradley Jr. is 5 of his last 10 with two extra-base hits ... The Sox have 36 successful stolen bases in a row.

Song of the Day: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross.

Random Red Sox notes from Colorado

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 24, 2013 03:40 PM

DENVER — Plenty of questions out there about the tiebreaker for best record in the American League. Here's where it stands and why it matters:

The Sox (95-62) lead the Athletics (94-63) by one game in the race for the best record in the American League. The winner gets to play the wild-card winner and then has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

With Detroit looking like the No. 3 seed, that's who the No. 2 seed would play. So finishing with the best record means you can avoid Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera, etc. That's a lot of incentive.

The tiebreaker is head to head. The Sox were 3-3 against the A's. The second tiebreaker is intradivision record. The Sox are 43-30 and the A's 42-29.

Here's a list of the other tiebreakers.

Also:

• The last time the Pirates were in the playoffs, in 1992, Tim Wakefield was a rookie. That's how long ago it was.

The Red Sox did a lot to help the Pirates this year. Mark Melancon is 3-2 with 16 saves and a 1.41 ERA over 71 appearances. He has a 0.91 WHIP.

Stolmy Pimentel appeared in four games after a solid minor league season. He has allowed two earned runs over 7.1 innings. They were the main pieces the Sox traded in the ill-fated Joel Hanrahan deal.

Catcher Mike McKenry was traded from the Sox to the Pirates in 2011. He has appeared in 41 games this season.

• Speaking of Hanrahan, he hasn't been around the Red Sox since his surgery, and that probably indicates he'll look to start over elsewhere once he's healthy. Andrew Bailey and Andrew Miller have been around. Both are arbitration-eligible. The Sox would seem likely to keep Miller, as he will be ready for spring training. Bailey looks like a non-tender, given that he may not return until next July.

• John McDonald is in line to receive playoff shares from the Indians, Pirates, and Red Sox.

• Does it strike anybody else as odd that Quintin Berry has attempted one stolen base since being activated Sept. 1? That's it, one. He has been used as a pinch runner seven times, too.

Dave Roberts was 5 for 7 in the 2004 regular season for the Red Sox. They picked him up on July 31 that season.

• The Red Sox sold 94.4 percent of seats to their home games. That's third in baseball behind the Giants and Cardinals. The Sox averaged 34,979 at home, down 2,588 from last season. So for all the carrying on about attendance, they did pretty well.

• Only an astute Red Sox fan will recall that the team briefly held the rights to righthanded pitcher David Carpenter.

When John Farrell decided to leave the Blue Jays for the Red Sox, the teams had to work out a compensation package. Last Oct. 21, the Red Sox traded Mike Aviles to Toronto for Carpenter, an undistinguished reliever who had appeared in 33 games during the 2012 season (30 for Houston, three for Toronto).

On Nov. 20, Carpenter was designated for assignment (along with Danny Valencia, Sandy Rosario, Ivan De Jesus, and Zach Stewart) so the Sox could open 40-man-roster spots for Alex Wilson, Christian Vazquez, Alex Hassan, Dan Butler, and Allen Webster.

The Braves claimed Carpenter off waivers on Nov. 30. The transaction went largely unnoticed at the time. But this year Carpenter has appeared in 54 games for Atlanta and has a 1.84 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP, and is averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

• There are 26 pitchers with more saves than Koji Uehara. Outside of maybe Craig Kimbrel, is there one you'd prefer on the mound over him right now?

• Mike Napoli buys Matchbox cars and tapes them to a column near his locker every time he hits a home run. There are 23 of them, all lined up.

• Daniel Nava is 13th among all outfielders in OPS. You would have to think the Sox won't do much to change how they handle left field next season.

• Here's betting Ryan Dempster gets some big outs in the postseason. Farrell has what seems like unshakable faith in Junichi Tazawa, but Tazawa might not have much rope.

• The Sox must be happy those pesky Baltimore Orioles won't make the playoffs. But they end the season with three games at Camden Yards, and Buck Showalter won't let his team lie down.

• Rays manager Joe Maddon said in a very confident tone of voice Sept. 12 that he was looking forward to seeing the Red Sox in the playoffs. One way or another, he'll probably be right.

• Thought the Red Sox ceremony for Mariano Rivera was fine, if a little bit too centered on his blowing a save many years ago. The best part of that day was seeing Rivera come in from the bullpen after the game was over and getting applauded by fans who had stuck around to do just that.

• My boss asked me to send him a list of the top 10 games this season. Feel free to email any suggestions you may have.

• Will the playoffs returning to Fenway Park give birth to the $75 parking space?

• Jacoby Ellsbury gets a qualifying offer for sure. But what of Jarrod Saltalamacchia? Even if he takes it, overpaying a catcher for one year isn't such a bad thing with Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart on the way.

• Dennis Eckersley was a resounding success on NESN filling in for Jerry Remy. He'll do the playoffs for TBS with Don Orsillo, too. Here's hoping they get the Red Sox series.

Fox should look at Eck to replace Tim McCarver. He's that good.

• The NBA is talking about putting player nicknames on jerseys for some games this season, like "King James" or "The Truth." Can't ever see baseball doing that. But a "Big Papi" Red Sox road jersey would sell, right?

• Speaking of souvenirs, Uehara wears a red Nike T-shirt under his uniform that says, "Koji Uehera (19) Do My Best!" in English and Japanese on the front.

Hey, Nike, sell this shirt at Fenway Park. People would line up for it.

• OK, time to head for the park. Thanks for following the journey this season. Lots more to come.

Martinez joins Turner Sports for postseason

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 23, 2013 09:10 PM

Red Sox great Pedro Martinez has joined Turner Sports (TBS) for the postseason.

Martinez will join Keith Olbermann and Tom Verducci throughout the MLB postseason. Verducci will continue to contribute to the network’s studio show while also serving as a reporter during the National League Championship Series.

Additionally, Dirk Hayhurst, a former Major League pitcher who currently provides analysis for the Toronto Blue Jays, will provide commentary and insights during TBS’ studio coverage.

TBS will offer extensive coverage of the 2013 postseason beginning with the National League Wild Card game on Oct. 1 and the American League Wild Card game on Oct. 2.

The announcer teams are:

• Ernie Johnson with Ron Darling and Cal Ripken. Verducci and Craig Sager will join them as reporters during the NLCS.

• Brian Anderson with John Smoltz and Joe Simpson.

• Dick Stockton with Bob Brenly.

• Don Orsillo with Dennis Eckersley and Buck Martinez. Orsillo and Eckersley were on NESN together this season.

Reporters for the LDS will include Sager, David Aldridge, Matt Winer and Rachel Nichols.

Pitching matchups for the Rockies series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 23, 2013 09:45 AM

Tuesday: RHP John Lackey (10-12, 3.44) vs. RHP Tyler Chatwood (7-5, 3.36), 8:40 p.m., NESN

Wednesday: RHP Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.02) vs. RHP Roy Oswalt (0-6, 7.71), 8:40 p.m., NESN.

Red Sox hold dress-up day for rookies

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 22, 2013 05:22 PM

As is baseball custom, rookies must participate in dress-up day before the team leaves on its final road trip of the season, and today was that day for the Red Sox' rookies.

The team posted the photo above on Instagram.

When players returned to their lockers after today's game, they found packages containing their attire – red Scottish kilts and hats. After putting them on – Steven Wright tried to wear a white undershirt but was ordered to take it off – the rookies joined veterans on the field for the Picnic in the Park event at Fenway Park.

A bagpiper was brought in to complete the theme.

The Red Sox close out the regular season this week with games at Colorado Tuesday and Wednesday before a final series at Baltimore Friday-Sunday.

Breslow's Strike 3 Foundation announces 'Play It Forward'

Posted by Staff September 22, 2013 02:38 PM
The Strike 3 Foundation, founded in 2008 by Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Breslow, announced the start of a new program called 'Play It Forward.'

The program is designed to help channel the passion of young fans and encourage them to be effective social entrepreneurs.

"We are incredibly excited to roll out this community initiative," Breslow said in a release. "We are able to broaden the impact of our organization, and most importantly encourage our children to become active participants in improving the lives of others battling cancer. Play It Forward teaches us all that we can begin today to help improve our communities."

Breslow founded the Strike 3 Foundation nearly 20 years after his sister was diagnosed with cancer. The organization's mission is to heighten awareness, mobilize support, and raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

The 'Play It Forward' initiative encourages children not to just excel on the baseball field, but also make a real difference in their world.

For more information, visit www.strike3playitforward.org or email the Play It Forward team at playitforward@strike3foundation.org.

Yaz statue unveiled at Fenway

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff September 22, 2013 01:55 PM

There's a new statue in town.

The Red Sox today honored Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski by unveiling a statue showing Yaz tipping his cap after his final at-bat in 1983.

"I'm deeply honored to stand before you today, seeing this statue in front of the place that I called home for 23 years," Yastrzemski said during the 30-minute ceremony outside the right field entrance of Fenway Park. "This statue means as much to me as being inducted into the Hall of Fame and having my number retired."

Yaz said the 2013 playoff-bound Red Sox compare favorably to his 1967 pennant-winning club, except he believes this year's team has better pitching.

"Oh, what a difference this year compared to last year," Yastrzemski said from the outdoor podium on Van Ness Street. "Ben [Cherington] puts a team together, and John [Farrell] pushed all the right buttons. I was talking to [Jonny] Gomes, [Daniel] Nava, and [Dustin] Pedroia a little bit before, and what a difference playing on a winner. I was telling them my first six years with the Red Sox, they were tough years, 25-30 games out by All-Star break. You lose the incentive. And then '67 came along and baseball was fun again. You guys made it fun here for the fans of Boston."

Former teammates celebrating the great No. 8 Sunday included Hall of Famer Jim Rice, outfielder Dwight Evans, Bill Lee and Luis Tiant. Current Red Sox players Dustin Pedroia, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, and manager John Farrell were also on hand.

An emotional Yastrzemski said after the ceremony that Evans and Tiant should be in the baseball Hall of Fame along with him. Yaz was inducted in 1989.

Mayor Tom Menino attended the event and proclaimed it "Carl Yastrzemski Day for the city of Boston."

The statue is the third outside Fenway Park, and is located between the statue of Ted Williams and “The Teammates” statue near the Gate B entrance. It was sculpted by Toby Mendez, who also created “The Teammates.”

Yastrzemski played his entire 23-year major-league career with the Red Sox. He had a career .285 batting average with 452 home runs and 1,844 RBIs.

Mobile users can watch video of the ceremony here.

Final: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2

Posted by Staff September 22, 2013 01:14 PM

Final: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2: Koji Uehara came in the 9th inning and earned his 21st save. He needed just nine pitches to retire the Blue Jays in order.

For the seventh time since 2003, the Red Sox picked up a 95-win season.

Doubront pitched seven innings and allowed just two runs to earn the win in his first start since Sept. 6.

Jackie Bradley Jr. and David Ortiz both homered off R.A. Dickey knuckleballs. Bradley Jr.'s was a three-run shot that cleared the Blue Jays bullpen, while Ortiz's solo home run cleared the 380 marker in right field.

Boston finished with an 11-8 record against the Blue Jays, winning the season series for the fifth time in the last six years.

Bottom of the 7th: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2 – The Sox go quietly after Lavarnway grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, and Bradley Jr. struck out. Franklin Morales is out to pitch the eigth inning. Doubront pitched a solid seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits. He retired nine straight and had two strikeouts, finishing with 97 pitches.

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2 – Drew showed great range on a ground ball up the middle, finished with a spinning throw to get Pillar. Since giving up the home run to Pillar, Doubront has retired nine straight batters. He only needed eight pitches to get out of the seventh inning.

Bottom of the 6th: Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 2 – Once again, one of Dickey's knuckleballs ends up over the right field fence. Ortiz turned on the first pitch, sending a towering shot over the 380-foot marker. That was his 29th of the season and his 98th RBI. Dickey is at 86 pitches.

Top of the 5th: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 2 – Pillar added his second RBI of the day, this time on a home run off the Green Monster. He slid into second base after the ball bounced back into play and Nava threw to the bag. The ball bounced off the top of the wall and was ruled a home run, and Pillar finished his trip around the bases.

End of the 3rd: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1 – Not much to see in a quiet inning, except for Ortiz's line drive double to center field. Rajai Davis appeared to throw him out at second base but he was called safe. The Blue Jays weren't happy with the call, and John Gibbons came out to argue.

Bottom of the 2nd: Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 1 – Dickey left a knuckleball hanging in the zone, and Jackie Bradley Jr. sent it over the Jays bullpen for a three-run home run. It was his third of the season. Ryan Lavarnway singled to center field to bring Daniel Nava home to tie the game.

Top of the 2nd: Blue Jays 1, Red Sox 0 – Doubront got into a bit of trouble after giving up a walk and consecutive singles. Kevin Pillar's single to center brought home Mark DeRosa. With runners on first and second, Doubront got out of the jam by striking out Josh Thole. He was caught looking at a 92-mile-per-hour fastball.

Bottom of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0 – And now the Red Sox go down in order. R.A. Dickey's knuckleball effective early, as he induced two groundouts and struck out Shane Victorino. It also looked like he splintered Ortiz's bat on his groundout.

Top of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Blue Jays 0 – Felix Doubront, who is starting his first game since Sept. 6, retired the Blue Jays in order. He threw 16 pitches that inning, all fastballs, and touched 94 miles per hour.

Carl Yastrzemski is honored before the game with a video ceremony, and he threw out the first pitch to David Ortiz. Yaz received a hearty welcome from the Fenway crowd. Earlier today, a statue of the Red Sox great was unveiled outside of Gate B.

Welcome to Fenway Park for the final regular-season home game of the 2013 season. The Red Sox are looking to close out the Blue Jays after splitting the first two games of the series. After a cloudy and rainy morning, it's turned out to be a beautiful afternoon for baseball. Follow here for updates throughout the game.

Ellsbury could return as early as Wednesday

Posted by Staff September 22, 2013 11:25 AM

Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has missed the last 14 games with a right foot fracture, but manager John Farrell said he is optimistic Ellsbury can return to the lineup as early as Wednesday.

The Red Sox play their final home game of the season against the Blue Jays Sunday, before closing out the schedule with two games against Colorado and a three game set with Baltimore.

"Hopefully he's in the lineup Wednesday," Farrell said before Sunday's game. "The work he's going through right now, the baseball activities, are starting to wrap up. There's been no setbacks. That's an optimistic view, but I'd hope we'd be able to get him some at bats that day."

Wednesday's game is at Colorado, meaning there is no designated hitter, ruling out the possibility of Ellsbury easing his way into the lineup. Farrell was optimistic Ellsbury could start in center field.

Before Sunday's game, Ellsbury was on the field playing catch with bullpen catcher Brian Abraham. Prior to the foot fracture, Ellsbury was hitting .320 in his last 17 games.

Farrell said he is looking for Ellsbury to show "further comfort with the increase and intensity of work he's been going through."

Jackie Bradley Jr. is slated to start Sunday, and has started in 9 of the last 13 games. He's also 4 for 7 in the last two games.

First baseman Mike Napoli is also out of the lineup Sunday, with Mike Carp starting at first base.

Napoli, who missed time in August due to plantar fasciitis, did not play Saturday either.

"We're just giving him a couple of days down," Farrell said. "He's been dealing with that foot issue, and felt like this was the time to give him a few days to get ahead of it."

Game 157: Blue Jays at Red Sox

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 22, 2013 10:00 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups.

RED SOX (94-62)
Pedroia 2B
Victorino RF
Ortiz DH
Carp 1B
Nava LF
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Lavarnway C
Bradley Jr CF
Pitching: LHP Felix Doubront (10-6, 4.15)

BLUE JAYS (71-84)
Reyes SS
Davis CF
Lawrie 3B
Lind 1B
Sierra LF
DeRosa DH
Goins 2B
Pillar RF
Thole C
Pitching: RHP R.A. Dickey (13-12, 4.21)

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN/WEEI

Stat of the Day: The Red Sox are 72-10 when they score five runs or more.

Notes: The Red Sox are 10-8 vs. the Blue Jays this season entering today's final game against them ... Doubront has not pitched since Sept. 6. This is his third start against the Blue Jays this season ... Dustin Pedroia needs one home run to reach 100 for his career ... The Red Sox have Monday and Thursday off this week, the final week of the regular season. They play at Colorado Tuesday-Wednesday and wrap up the regular season starting Friday in Baltimore.

Song of the Day: "Enter Sandman," by Metallica (because we're hoping the speculation comes true and Metallica plays at Yankee Stadium today at the retirement ceremony for Mariano Rivera.

Update, 10:05: Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports a stage is being built at Yankee Stadium.

Buchholz loses for first time in 2013; Dempster comes out of the bullpen

Posted by Staff September 21, 2013 11:36 PM

The Red Sox suffered a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday night, just 24 hours after clinching their first division title since 2007.

The loss was also Clay Buchholz’s first of the season, as he dropped to 11-1. Despite coming up short, Buchholz allowed just three runs over six full innings, throwing 106 pitches in his effort, continuing to regain strength from the shoulder injury that kept him out for more than three months.

“He was fighting to get back out there for the seventh tonight,” said manager John Farrell. “But given the progressing that we are on, I think that was a comfortable amount of pitches thrown tonight, but he still feels good physically, felt that he could continue on tonight … As far as Clay is concerned, the stuff he had, the endurance he showed, [it was] a positive night for him.”

“I told [Farrell] I could go back out, if he wanted me to,” Buchholz said. “It was like 15-20 pitches [higher than] my last time out, but I felt as good in the sixth as I did in the first.”

The toughest inning of the night for the Red Sox -- and Buchholz -- was the fourth, where the righthander allowed three runs on five hits on top of some defensive miscues, including one by Buchholz himself.

“I thought in the fourth inning defensively we probably contributed, including Clay’s errant pickoff attempt, to the three runs in that one inning,” Farrell said. “The infield base hit where [Xander Bogaerts] tried to set his feet, double pumped, and it was enough for [Brett] Lawrie to beat out an infield hit. [The] ball carried well to center field off of Lind’s bat for the other double that Lawrie scored on, and then the bloop base hit.”

“I just held on to it a little too long,” said Buchholz about his pickoff error. “I was basically just trying to set up a way for [David Ross] to throw him out, so it was just a show move... I just held on to it a little too long.”

When asked if he had any thoughts on this being the first game he lost all year, Buchholz said “that’s part of the game, you win some, you lose some. The guys that have played behind me all year have found ways to come back, situations where I came out of the game, behind in the game [and they] found a way to come back in the game. We got a good group of guys and they never stop battling until the final out.”

With the Red Sox down, 3-2, heading into the eighth, Farrell decided to bring in recently-added-to-the-bullpen Ryan Dempster, who came in and allowed one hit and one walk, but was able to keep the Blue Jays off the scoreboard. This was the first time Dempster had come out of the bullpen since 2007.

“[Dempster] felt like he was physically ready to go tonight,” Farrell said. "We’ll space it out over the coming week, but there was also a matchup situation in the inning [we used him] as well.”

“[I want to] get as many [opportunities] as I possibly can,” Dempster said. “Just to get into different situations, winning, losing, tied, whatever it is, just to try and get familiar with [coming out of the bullpen] again, just get crisper and crisper, hopefully be able to get sharper each time out.

“I think the hope is that you throw one inning, especially as you get further away from starting, you add a little bit of velocity maybe, or just even crispness …You just want to go out there and get three outs before letting anybody score; that’s my goal every time.”

The Red Sox wrap up their final home series of the regular season Sunday afternoon. Felix Doubront gets the start for the Red Sox; he will be opposed by Toronto’s R.A. Dickey.

Final: Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 2

Posted by Staff September 21, 2013 05:38 PM

Final: 4-2 Blue Jays: Matt Thornton became the fourth Red Sox pitcher of the night after he came in for the top of the ninth, walking Davis who then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gose. Arencibia then hit a long single off the Green Monster to score Gose from second, extending the Blue Jays’ lead to 4-2. Goins hit a soft ground back to Thornton that he took the first base himself for the second out of the inning, then Reyes drew a walk. That would be the night for Thornton, as Rubby De La Rosa was brought in to face Mark DeRosa, forcing him to ground out to second to end the top of the ninth.

The bottom of the inning would see Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen take the hill to try and finish off the Red Sox. Gomes would strike out looking to begin the inning, followed by a fly out to left by Nava. Middlebrooks would strike out to end the game, and the Red Sox would lose a tough one, 4-2.

End of the 8th inning, 3-2 Blue Jays: Ryan Dempster came on in relief of Britton for the top of the eighth, getting Reyes to fly out to deep center field to start the inning. Kawasaki then hit a bullet that Dempster tried to stab, but glanced off his glove and towards second base. Pedroia, now playing second base, had to change direction and scramble, but fielded the ball and managed to just beat Kawasaki with a throw to first. Kawasaki, clearly upset with the call, promptly slammed his helmet on the ground, causing him to be immediately ejected by the first base umpire. Lawrie hit a two-out single to centerfield and Lind walked to put runners on first and second with two outs, but Dempster struck out Sierra to get the Red Sox out of the jam.

Sergio Santos came on to pitch for Toronto to start the bottom of the eighth and got Drew to fly out to deep left field, struck out Victorino, then got Ortiz to ground into the shift for a 1-2-3 inning.

End of the 7th inning, 3-2 Blue Jays: Drake Britton replaced Buchholz to begin the seventh inning, and surrendered a leadoff single to Gose. Arencibia flew out to right for the first out of the inning. Ross then threw out Gose at second base, his third throw out of the night and Britton struck out Goins to end the top of the inning.

Dustin McGowen replaced Buehrle to start the bottom of the seventh, promptly striking out Middlebrooks. Bogaerts then reached and advanced to second on an error by third baseman Brett Lawrie and later advanced to third on a wild pitch, finally scoring on a ground out to second by Ross. Dustin Pedroia came in to pinch hit for McDonald, bringing the crowd to its feet, but struck out to end the inning.

End of the 6th inning, 3-1 Blue Jays: Lind launched a shot to center to open up the inning, but Victorino backed up to catch it on the warning track. Sierra grounded out to shortstop on the next pitch, then Davis worked Buchholz to a 3-2 count before walking. Gose lined a shot deep to left field, but the ball crossed into the stands just before Pesky’s Pole, and Davis was thrown out stealing on a pitch out in which Drew made a sprawling tag to end the top of the inning.

Drew singled to lead off the bottom of the inning and Victorino was hit on a 3-2 pitch by Buehrle. The Blue Jays argued that he leaned into the pitch, but it was to no avail. After Ortiz flew out to center, Gomes got the Sox on the board with a single down the third base line that scored Drew from second and advanced Victorino to third. Nava then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, but the Red Sox had cut the deficit to two.

End of the 5th inning, 3-0 Blue Jays: Arencibia grounded out to Drew to start the top of the fourth, followed by a Goins single to left. Reyes drew a walk from Buchholz, then Kawasaki hit into a fielder’s choice that moved Goins up to third. Buchholz got out of the inning unscathed after Lawrie grounded to Middlebrooks and Buchholz covered the bag, but by then Buchholz had already thrown 88 pitches in the contest after throwing just 36 through the first three innings.

Middlebrooks lined out to Reyes at shortstop to begin the bottom of the frame, Bogaerts grounded out to shortstop before Ross knocked a single to left field. McDonald popped out to the catcher to end the inning with the Sox still down 3-0.

End of the 4th inning, 3-0 Blue Jays: Reyes led off the top of the fourth with a single to right, but he was caught stealing on a bullet throw by Ross to Drew at second. After failing to bunt Reyes over, Kawasaki lined out to second on a nice jump by McDonald. Lawrie then beat out an infield single to third for the second Toronto hit of the inning, and scored when Lind lined a double to deep center field that glanced off of Victorino’s glove. Lind advanced to third on a single to left by Sierra, and scored on a bloop single to left field by Davis. Sierra scored when Buchholz tried to pick off Davis and threw the ball by Middlebrooks at first. Gose flew out to center to end the top half of the inning, but the damage was done, as Buchholz allowed five hits and three runs to give Toronto a three-run lead, all the runs coming with two outs.

Victorino led off the bottom of the inning with a single, but Ortiz and Gomes struck out, and Daniel Nava grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning down 3-0.

End of the 3d inning, 0-0: Anthony Gose hit a shot to right that Nava tracked down for the first out of the top of the third. Stephen Drew made a great diving stop and throw to beat J.P. Arencibia, much to the delight of the Fenway Faithful. Buchholz then induced a ground ball to first from Ryan Goins that Middlebrooks took himself and Buchholz retired the first nine Blue Jays on just 36 pitches.

In the bottom of the inning, David Ross and John McDonald struck out back-to-back, then Drew hit a deep fly ball to left center that looked like it would reach the wall, but Gose made a great running catch to rob Drew of a potential extra base hit.

End of the 2d inning, 0-0: Adam Lind led off the inning by smoking a grounder into the shift, but John McDonald made a nice backhand play in short right field and threw Lind out at first. Moises Sierra grounded out to Drew for the second out, and then Rajai Davis hit a ground ball back to the mound that Buchholz fired to Middlebrooks for the third out of the inning.

Daniel Nava flew out to right field to start the bottom of the inning, Middlebrooks flew out to left, and Xander Bogaerts grounded out to shortstop to keep the game tied after two innings.

End of the 1st inning, 0-0: Clay Buchholz struck out Jose Reyes to begin the night, then forced Munenori Kawasaki to pop out to second, finally striking out Brett Lawrie to end the inning. Buchholz threw 12 pitches with nine strikes.

Stephen Drew singled to lead off the bottom of the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Shane Victorino. Drew advanced to third when David Ortiz flew out to centerfield, but was stranded there when Jonny Gomes struck out to end the frame.

Pregame: Manager John Farrell made a few interesting decisions for the lineup tonight, including resting Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli, while starting John McDonald at second base and Will Middlebrooks at first.

Middlebrooks has never played first base in his career, but Farrell went with the move hoping it could help his strategy later in the postseason.

"There may be the potential, the situation in the postseason where if we pinch run for [Napoli], does [Middlebrooks] go over to first?" Farrell said before the game. "So there’s a couple things that go into thought with him being at first base here tonight."

Also, before the game there was a special ceremony, as the ’47 Brand team, makers of the iconic "B Strong" hats, and Boston Red Sox Ownership presented a check of over $1.4 million to Mayor Thomas Menino and The One Fund, representing the proceeds from all the sales of the "B Strong" hats since the Boston Marathon Bombing. Mayor Menino, the City of Boston, and the Boston Red Sox Ownership also hosted a street-naming ceremony and un-veiling outside Fenway Park in thanks of '47 Brand co-founder Arthur D'Angelo.

Middlebrooks at 1st; Pedroia, Napoli out Saturday against Blue Jays

Posted by Staff September 21, 2013 05:20 PM
Having clinched the AL East division title Friday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell has the ability to get his players rest and make minor adjustments before the postseason begins.

With that in mind, Farrell is giving the night off to second baseman Dustin Pedroia and first baseman Mike Napoli, opting to play John McDonald at second and shift Will Middlebrooks over to first for the second game of the series against the Blue Jays.

“[Resting Pedroia has] been in the works for quite a while,” Farrell said. “I think he’s played 154 of these games. [Napoli] was another one, to get him off his feet for a day, so that’s why we got Middlebrooks at first tonight.”

Moving Middlebrooks to first base for the game was not something that Farrell came up with at the last minute, noting how he was planning for tonight’s matchup, as well as something he could use for the future.

“[Middlebrooks has] had some success against [Blue Jays pitcher Mark] Buehrle,” he said. “There may be the potential, the situation in the postseason where if we pinch run for [Napoli], does [Middlebrooks] go over to first? So there’s a couple things that go into thought with him being at first base here tonight.

“Anytime you move to a different position it’s going to take some repetition. Still, you’re on a corner so there’s a similar reaction time that’s going to be required there. In the case of tonight, Will has been so accustomed to seeing a right handed hitter, and the reaction time is going to be different because it’s a lefty… but again, he’s an infielder that’s required to do some things reactionary and that are going to be the same with first base.”

Middlebrooks has faced Buehrle 14 times in his career, recording six hits, including a double, in 13 at bats, while also being hit by a pitch. Middlebrooks has never played first base in a game in his career, but has seen some time on the right side of the infield, playing second base twice, as well as regularly during defensive shifts against some left handed hitters.

“I don’t know if it’s going to have a huge impact [tonight],” said Farrell when asked if Middlebrooks’ second base experience would help him play first base. “But that’s why we felt with him shifting over in those alignments, him being our backup second baseman was not a huge difference because he’s been on that side of the infield a number of times. Will has worked out at first base in early work, throughout periodic times during the year. He’s a good athlete, and we feel he shouldn’t be a fish out of water.”

Mastering the intricacies of playing first base are the most important aspects Farrell believes Middlebrooks will need to get used to in order to find success on the opposite side of the diamond, a shift that Mike Napoli had to make earlier in the year when he became a full-time first baseman for the first time.

“Knowing where the cutoff is [and] to be able to still get back to the bag,” Farrell said. “That’s the one thing Mike Napoli has really become comfortable with and got to that point towards the latter part of spring training, knowing the range of the guy at second base, but really the responsibility of getting back to the bag, that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Middlebrooks has played 34 games since being called back up from Triple-A Pawtucket and is hitting .236 on the season with 15 home runs and 42 RBIs.

2013 Red Sox Minor League award winners

Posted by Staff September 21, 2013 03:00 PM
The Red Sox announced their 2013 Minor League award winners before Saturday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Here are the winners from this year:

Pitcher: Henry Owens

Owens went 11-6 with a 2.46 ERA in 26 starts for Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. He also recorded 169 strikeouts and held opposing batters to a .177 batting average.

Offensive: Mookie Betts

Betts played 127 games as a second baseman between Single-A Greenville and Single-A Salem in 2013, hitting .314 with 15 home runs and 65 RBIs. He also stole 38 bases and held an OPS of .923.

Defensive: Blake Swihart

Swihart played 103 games for Single-A Salem, hitting .298 with an OPS of .794. In 101 games at catcher, he recorded just 10 errors with a fielding percentage of .988.

Baserunner: Deven Marrero

Marrero played 104 games for Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland, hitting .252 with a .338 OBP. He also stole 27 bases and was caught only twice while scoring 57 runs.

Latin Pitcher: Dedgar Jimenez

Jimenez pitched 13 games for the Red Sox' Dominican Summer League affiliate, holding an ERA of 1.50, while also recording 55 strikeouts in 60 innings.

Latin Player: Victor Acosta

Acosta played 63 games at third base for the Red Sox' Dominican Summer League affiliate, hitting .256 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs, and had an OPS of .728.

Game 156: Blue Jays at Red Sox

Posted by Staff September 21, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (94-61)
Drew SS
Victorino CF
Ortiz DH
Gomes LF
Nava RF
Middlebrooks 1B
Bogaerts 3B
Ross C
McDonald 2B
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (11-0, 1.51).

BLUE JAYS (70-83)
Reyes SS
Kawasaki DH
Lawrie 3B
Lind 1B
Sierra LF
Davis RF
Gose CF
Arencibia C
Goins 2B
Pitching: LHP Mark Buehrle (11-9, 4.17).

Game Time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Buehrle: Ortiz 25-74, Pedroia 12-33, Gomes 8-25, Ellsbury 6-22, Napoli 4-19, Victorino 5-21, McDonald 4-20, Middlebrooks 6-13, Ross 2-10, Drew 2-8, Nava 4-9, Lavarnway 3-6, Saltalamacchia 0-3, Snyder 1-3.

Blue Jays vs. Buchholz: Lind 13-40, Arencibia 0-18, Lawrie 1-16, Davis 2-14, Rasmus 2-10, Gose 3-7, Reyes 2-6, Kawasaki 1-5, Sierra 1-3.

Stat of the Day: Buchholz is 9-4 in 16 career starts against the Blue Jays with a 2.41 ERA, holding their hitters to a batting avg. of .207.

Notes: Jarrod Saltalamacchia needs one double to tie Carlton Fisk's team record (39 in 1978) for doubles by a primary catcher ... Dustin Pedroia has an extra-base hit in five straight games ... Toronto has lost 7 of its last 10 games and is 7-10 vs. Boston this season ... Mark Buehrle has given up two runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts ... NESN announced former Red Sox pitcher Mike Timlin will be the analyst alongside Don Orsillo for broadcasts of the games next week at Colorado and Baltimore ... Tickets for the ALDS playoff games at Fenway Park go on sale Tuesday at noon on redsox.com and by phone at 888-733-7696, but not at the Fenway Park box office.

Song of the Day: "I Just Want to Celebrate" by Rare Earth

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 21, 2013 12:03 PM

The Red Sox clinched the division title and they shared the party with the fans on Friday night.

Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox executed their vision in building the team.

The notebook has Ryan Dempster going to the bullpen.

Scenes from a Red Sox celebration

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 21, 2013 01:00 AM

Video by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff

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A few champagne-smudged notes from tonight:

• As the players were soaking each other with champagne in the clubhouse, Dustin Pedroia ducked away and went to the family room to get his son, 4-year-old Dylan.

Pedroia grabbed a bottle of water, knelt down and let Dylan dump the water on his head and join the celebration. The little boy was laughing joyously as he shared a moment with his dad.

On the other side of the room, Jon Lester was holding his son in his arms. Hudson Lester had goggles protecting his eyes and was taking in the scene with a bit of an apprehensive look on his face.

"He's a little scared but I wanted him to see this," Lester said. "To share this with your son, it's a great feeling."

• As the players were jumping around, manager John Farrell watched from the doorway of this office with a smile.

Team owner John Henry, after pausing to snap a few photos of the scene with his smart phone, found Farrell and shook his hand.

“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you.”

Henry later went out to the field to celebrate with the players. “It’s hard to win the American League East. This is an accomplishment,” he said. “I haven’t felt like this since we won the 2007 World Series.

“I wouldn’t want to have to play us. Our pitching is really strong. In a short series, anything can happen. But this a tough team and I’m so proud of them.”

• Jonny Gomes is an old pro at this. He was on division title teams in Cincinnati (2010), Oakland (2012) and now Boston. Gomes had on a combat helmet and was punting beer cans into the crowd at one point. He also had his wife and kids with him.

Gomes set big goals for this team in spring training, insisting they could exceed modest expectations.

"If you don't put your mind to it it's not going to happen," he said. "Under no circumstances was I going to print up T-shirts that said, 'Lets Go Be .500.' You have to shoot for the stars and you might hit the moon. That can be a championship too."

I'm not sure what that means. But it sounds good.

• Farrell is a bottom-line manager who uses reams of data to make decisions. But he made an impression on his veteran players in the ninth inning by sending Shane Victorino out to play center field. Victorino was out of the lineup for two days because of a sore thumb but Farrell made sure he was part of the clincher.

He did the same for Gomes, sending him in to run for Mike Carp in the eighth inning. Decisions like that engender a lot of loyalty.

• The players were all wearing Oakley ski goggles and the plastic wrap around the lockers had Budweiser logos. Yes, even celebrations have corporate sponsors.

• David Ortiz grabbed a microphone and addressed the crowd after the game. A bunch of the players did a lap around the stands and celebrated with the fans.

• Koji Uehara enjoyed every second of the celebration. He gathered the team's Japanese contingent — Junichi Tazawa, interpreter C.J. Matsumoto, trainer Masai Takahashi, massage therapist Shinichiro Uchikubo and media liaison Mikio Yoshimura — for a photo. Koji then jumped on top of the dugout and high-fived fans before leaping down.

• Chief operating officer Sam Kennedy, usually a mild-mannered guy, grabbed a bottle of champagne and sprayed Larry Lucchino.

• Most of the veteran players were pretty chill during the clubhouse celebration. But John Lackey got his money's worth. This was one time it was acceptable to have a few beers in the clubhouse.

• Third base coach Brian Butterfield, whose influence on the team's chemistry is far reaching, had a group of players around him pouring champagne on his head at one point. This is his first time back in the playoffs since he was coaching with Arizona in 1999.

"Special, just special," he said. "This is a great group of guys."

• GM Ben Cherington sat in the dugout and watched the celebration quietly. In his second year in charge, Cherington directed an incredible turnaround.

"At the end of last year, as tough a year as it was, we still felt very optimistic and confident about the future," he said. "There was a lot of things in place, starting with ownership. Very good ownership, stable ownership group. Players, young talent in the system and people in scouting. All the things you need to be successful. As painful as it was last year, it was hard for people to see that. But we felt it. We had to put the team back together and keep pushing and get the thing back going in the right direction."

Cherington he sought players "for whom baseball is important" as he rebuilt the roster.

"When you come together and win as a team, it's a feeling like nothing else. It's more than any personal or individual accomplishment. They've been like that all year," he said.

• Jake Peavy was on the field in a sleeveless T-shirt tugging on a can of Bud Light and lighting up a cigarette. You can take the pitcher out of Alabama but you can't take the Alabama out the pitcher.

"I love this group of guys. I've never seen anything like this before," he said. "It's like everybody is your brother."

• Andrew Miller, his fractured foot in a boot, was in the mob scene. The lefty is miserable about not being able to play after pitching so well this season. But he's determined to enjoy the team's success.

"Can you believe this team after what happened last season?" he said. "I've never been this happy about a team before. What a feeling."

• Another cool scene: Farrell wrapping Will Middlebrooks in a hug. The manager demoted Middlebrooks in June and it didn't sit well with him. But he returned in August and has been a huge part of the team's late-season success.

• It was nice of the Sox to let the fans stay in the ballpark and watch the celebration until it broke up around 11:30. Several hundred folks were behind the dugout having a good time.

And it's awfully nice of you to be reading this. Hope you are enjoying this team.

Final: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 20, 2013 07:20 PM

Game over: Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 3 The Red Sox have clinched the American League East division title with their 94th win tonight at Fenway before a sellout crowd of 37,215.

Jon Lester earned his 15th win, Koji Uehara his 20th save recording five outs to get the job done. The Red Sox broke open a 2-1 game with three runs in the seventh inning on RBI singles by David Ortiz and a two-run single by Mike Carp. Dustin Pedroia had three hits and an RBI, Carp drove in three runs.

The crowd began chanting "Koji! Koji!" after two outs were recorded and then "Let's go Red Sox!" with Brett Lawrie up and Jose Reyes on base. Lawrie struck out sending the players flurrying out of the dugout to greet Uehara, who raced toward Saltalamacchia and jumped into his arms.

The players donned their American League East champion shirts as they celebrated near the mound.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 6, Jays 3 - Will Middlebrooks singled, but Darren Oliver retired Drew and Bradley before Midlebrooks stole second. Pedroia then singled up the middle to score Middlebrooks with an insurance run.

Top 8th: Red Sox 5, Jays 3 - Junichi Tazawa allowed a double to Rajai Davis and a home run to Adam Lind to bring the Jays a bit closer. Koji Uehara had to relieve Tazawa with one out to save the day. He got DeRosa to fly out to center and after Gose reached on an infield hit, he struck out Arencibia to end the inning.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 5, Jays 1 - Four straight singles - Bradley, Pedroia, Nava and Ortiz produce a run. After Napoli knocked into a 6-2-3 double-play, Mike Carp singled in two runs off reliever Jeremy Jeffress.

Top 7th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1 - Lester pretty dominant. Likely done with 123 pitches.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1 - A Jarrod Saltalamaccia double to left, on a ball Pillar took a strange route on, went for naught as Middlebrooks and Drew made outs to end the inning.

Top 6th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1 - Lester struck out the final three batters after Kevin Pillar reached with an error.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1 - Nava, Ortiz and Napoli go down as the Sox offense has sputtered the last couple of innings.

Top 5th: Red Sox 2,Jays 1 - After two were out, Davis singled, stole and third and scored on Brett Lawrie's single to center. Lawrie was then caught stealing to end the threat.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 2, Jays 0 - A single by Jackie Bradley Jr., was erased by a Dustin Pedroia inning-ending DP. John Farrell argued that the tag was missed on Bradley, but to no avail.

Top 4th: Red Sox 2, Jays 0 - This is why the Jays are the Jays. They loaded the bases after a walk to Kevin Pillar, Sierra reached on an error by Middlebrooks and DeRosa singled to left to load the bases and nobody out. But here Anthony Gose grounded to Middlebrooks right near the bag. Middlebrooks stepped on third and threw home where Pillar got caught in a rundown and was tagged out. Two outs, just like that. Arencibia struck out to end the inning.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 2, Jays 0 - Esmil Rogers really lost his composure here. He walked three straight batters after allowing a double to Daniel Nava with one out. MIke Carp walked with the bases loaded to force in Boston's second run. Rogers left after 2-1/3 innings, issuing five walks and three hits and two runs. Chad Jenkins came on to retire Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a 3-6-1 double-play.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 1, Jays 0 - A leadoff single by Ryan Goins goes for naught when Lester retired the next three batters at the top of the Jays in order

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 1, Jays 0 - Middlebrooks and Drew strikeout in a 1-2-3 inning for Esmil Rogers.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 1, Jays 0 - Jon Lester put two men on base when he walked Moises Sierra and allowed a single up the middle to Mark DeRosa. But he got out of the jam when he got Anthony Gose to ground into an fielder's choice and Arencibia to strike out.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 1, Jays 0 - Center fielder Colby Rasmus was injured when a stray ball from the Jays bullpen hit him in the face. He came out of the game before he even fielding his position. The Sox scored first when Dustin Pedroia, who doubled off the wall and advanced to third on a long fly ball to center, came in on a wild pitch. Ortiz and napoli walked and after Carp lined out for the second out, Saltalamacchia singled to center but Ortiz was thrown out at the plate.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Jays 0 - Jon Lester had a quick first inning against the top of the order, retiring Jose Reyes, Rajai Davis and Brett Lawrie.

Red Sox move Dempster to bullpen; Ellsbury starts baseball workouts

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 20, 2013 04:31 PM

The Red Sox are moving Ryan Dempster to the bullpen, effective immediately.

Dempster has not pitched in relief since 2007. But he has 225 games of relief experience and 87 saves in his career. Manager John Farrell said Dempster will not be used in long relief but will be worked into late-inning situations.

Dempster (8-9, 4.64) was not going to be in the postseason rotation. Farrell called the idea of using him in relief "intriguing." Given that lefthanders are hitting .233/.326/.372 against Dempster this season, he could be used in a variety of ways.

Worth noting as well: Dempster is averaging 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He has the stuff to come in and get a strikeout when needed.

More on this later.

Also:

• Jacoby Ellsbury hit off a tee today and played catch. These were his first baseball activities since being diagnosed with a broken bone in his right foot.

• Shane Victorino was in the lineup and then taken out. His right thumb is still sore and will have to be managed for the remainder of the season. But Farrell said it was not something that would keep him out long term.

• No starter has been named for Wednesday. Sounds like they'll split the game up with some young pitchers.

Game 155: Blue Jays at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 20, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (93-61)
Pedroia 2B
Nava RF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Carp LF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Bradley Jr CF
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (14-8, 3.75).

BLUE JAYS (70-82)
Reyes SS
Davis LF
Lawrie 3B
Rasmus CF
Sierra DH
DeRosa 1B
Gose RF
Arencibia C
Goins 2B
Pitching: RHP Esmil Rogers (5-7, 4.47).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Rogers: Pedroia 5-10, Drew 3-9, Napoli 2-9, Gomes 2-5, Ortiz 2-6, Ellsbury 1-6, Nava 0-3, Victorino 1-5, Salty 2-5, Middlebrooks 1-3, Berry 1-3, McDonald 0-1.

Blue Jays vs. Lester: Arencibia 8-41, Davis 10-33, Lind 3-29, Lawrie 3-22, DeRosa 3-16, Rasmus 3-15, Reyes 1-12, Reyes 1-12, Gose 0-3, Kawasaki 0-3, Pillar 0-3, Sierra 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Pedroia has hit safely in nine straight games at 13 of 40 (.325) since becoming the leadoff hitter.

Lineup change: Shane Victorino was in the original lineup then came out. More on this later.

Notes: The Sox need a win (or a Rays loss) to clinch their first division title since 2007. Lester would seem like a good choice for the job. He is 3-0, 2.80 in five starts against the Blue Jays this season. He also is 6-2, 2.38 in 11 starts since the All-Star break. Lester is 6-1, 3.25 in 12 starts at Fenway Park this season. ... Rogers is 0-1, 4.40 in six appearances (two starts) against the Red Sox this season. He is 2-0, 1.35 in his last three starts. Rogers was obtained from Cleveland for Mike Aviles. It was Aviles who was traded to Toronto for Farrell. Now Farrell (and the Red Sox) can clinch against Rogers. ... The Sox are 9-6 against Toronto and 41-29 against the AL East. ... The Sox are 35 of their last 35 in stolen bases. It's the longest streak since the Blue Jays stole 38 in a row in 1993. ... Farrell was 154-170 (.475) as manager of the Blue Jays from 2011-12. . ... The Sox are 51-27 at Fenway. ... Saltalamacchia is 7 of his last 20 with three extra-base hits and five RBIs over six games. ... The Sox are 12-5 in September, outscoring the opposition 108-66.

Song of the Day: "How We Do (Party)" by Rita Ora.

The race that really matters now

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 20, 2013 10:30 AM

The Red Sox are going to win the AL East. There's not much doubt that. What matters now is securing the best record in the American League.

The Sox (93-61) are trying to hold off the Oakland Athletics (90-63) and Detroit Tigers (89-64).

The team with the best record in the league will play the wild card winner in the division series starting Oct. 4. That one-game wild card playoff game will be Oct. 2, so clearly there is an advantage there in terms of setting up your rotation.

(Plus the Sox would avoid the Tigers or Athletics in the first round. They were 3-3 against Oakland this season and 3-4 against Detroit.)

The best record in the league also brings with it home field advantage in the ALCS. Given that the Sox are 51-27 at home, there's also plenty of advantage there. With the AL having home field in the World Series, the Sox could end up with two extra home games.

The schedules for the contenders:

Red Sox: Blue Jays (3), at Rockies (2), at Orioles (3).

Athletics: Twins (3), at Angels (3), at Mariners (3).

Tigers: White Sox (3), at Twins (3), at Marlins (3).

Here are the tiebreakers.

ALDS tickets go on sale Tuesday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 20, 2013 10:17 AM

This from the Red Sox:

Tickets for any American League Division Series games at Fenway Park go on sale on Tuesday, September 24, at noon on redsox.com or by calling 888-REDSOX6.

Fans with disabilities may call (877) RED-SOX9 at that time to purchase accessible seating while supplies last. Hearing impaired patrons may call the TTY line at (617) 226-6644.

There will be a four ticket limit per fan. Ticket prices for the ALDS range from $45 to $170.

No tickets will be sold at the Fenway Park ticket office.

Sale dates for potential American League Championship Series games played at Fenway Park will be announced at a later date.

Pitching matchups for the Blue Jays series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 20, 2013 09:45 AM

Friday: RHP Esmil Rogers (5-7, 4.47) vs. LHP Jon Lester (14-8, 3.75) 7:10 p.m., NESN.

Saturday: LHP Mark Buehrle (11-9, 4.17) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (11-0, 1.51), 7:10 p.m., NESN.

Sunday: RHP R.A. Dickey (13-12, 4.21) vs. LHP Felix Doubront (10-6, 4.15), 1:35 p.m., NESN.

For Lackey, some more redemption

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 19, 2013 11:53 PM

The crowd of 36,436 at Fenway Park started chanting his last name in the ninth inning as John Lackey stood on the mound, an out from a complete game.

If Lackey noticed, he didn't let on. He got the final out and hugged Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Red Sox had a 3-1 victory against the Orioles and a spot in the postseason.

Lackey threw a two-hitter, walked two, and struck out eight. Of his 113 pitches, 82 were strikes. It was Lackey’s first nine-inning complete game since Sept. 10, 2009, when he was with the Angels.

Lackey was the one of the pitchers who struggled in the final weeks of the painful 2011 season, taking the mound every five days despite a torn elbow ligament. Surgery forced him to miss the 2012 season, and Lackey watched helplessly as the Sox finished in last place. He was one of the symbols of everything that had gone so wrong.

“The remake of John Lackey, both physically and getting back on the mound and performing as he’s done all year, mirrors that of this team,” manager John Farrel said. “It’s been a remake.”

At 93-61, the Red Sox have secured no worse than a wild-card berth in the playoffs. With Tampa Bay losing against Texas, the Red Sox need only one victory or one Rays loss to clinch their first American League East title since 2007.

The Sox are saving their champagne celebration until that moment, which could be Friday. Expect that to be raucous with this crew.

Lackey certainly has earned some fun. He was booed savagely in 2011 despite his pitching in pain. He was an easy target for some in the media, too. Teammates swore by him, but those comments were largely ignored.

Now Lackey has a 3.44 ERA through 28 starts with one to go. He'll come close to 190 innings this season. It's the best he has pitched since 2007, when he finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting for the Angels. He could well be the Game 2 starter for the Red Sox in the Division Series.

“It’s nice," he said. "To be a part of going to the playoffs, there was a lot of hard work getting back to this point. To be back here and to be pitching and pitching well again and being healthy. It’s fun.”

Also:

• Stephen Drew has a .772 OPS, third among AL shortstops. His 64 RBIs are tied for third. That home run off Chris Tillman was the big hit of the game.

• Jarrod Saltalamacchia has 37 doubles. The franchise record for a catcher is 39 by Carlton Fisk (1978) and Jason Varitek (1999).

• The Sox have as many wins as they did losses last season — and with eight games to go.

• Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in all nine games since he started batting leadoff. He is 13 for 40 (.325) batting first.

Final: Red Sox 3, Orioles 1

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 19, 2013 07:00 PM

tlumacki_redsoxvsbaltimore_sports408.jpg

After spending the past three seasons painfully watching the postseason from the outside, the Red Sox punched their playoff ticket.

A 3-1 win over an Orioles team that dealt the Red Sox their share of September heartbreak the past two years guaranteed the Sox their first trip to the postseason since 2009.

Taking a no-hitter into the seventh, John Lackey put the Sox on his back in the finale of their three-game set with Os, giving up just one run on two hits in a complete game.

His bid for a no-hitter was broken up one out into the seventh when Adam Jones blasted a pitch well over the Monster to the parking lot across Lansdowne. In the end, though, Lackey got Jones to fly out to right field to seal the win and their playoff berth. The Sox spilled out of the dugout in a celebration that was muted but still apparent.

The Sox have now won 24 more games than they did a year ago, when they finished last in the American League East. Their next target is the division crown, which they haven't won since 2007.

FULL ENTRY

Pregame notes: Victorino out of the lineup

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 19, 2013 05:29 PM

Shane Victorino is out of the lineup with a sore right thumb. He came out of the game on Wednesday night before his final at-bat.

"I'm not talking about that right now," he said.

Victorino has been out of the lineup for four of the last 10 games because of various injuries. Given that Victorino is hitting .330/.402/.557 in his last 43 games, that's a concern.

"Shane's day-to-day right now," manager John Farrell said. "He came out last night a little bit sore in that right thumb. We have no other updates as of today."

Farrell said the recent days off for Victorino have been to manage injuries. But he expressed no worry.

"He does need some time right now to get ahead of it," the manager said. "But there's not an overriding concern that he's not going to be available."

Also:

• The Red Sox can only clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight.

• Here's the daily update that's not an update on Jacoby Ellsbury: "No," Farrell said when asked if there was anything new. "He'll stay the course. We're not at the point of initiating any baseball activity yet. Improvement's being made but it's more on the physical side of things."

• The Sox had runners on first and second with one out in the 11th inning against Baltimore on Wednesday night. Drew was the scheduled hitter against lefthander T.J. McFarland.

Drew was 0 for 6 with five strikeouts against McFarland but was allowed to hit. He grounded into a double play in a game the game the Red Sox went on to lose, 5-3 in 12 innings.

Drew is hitting .183 with a .568 OPS against lefthanders this season. That drops to .162 with a .537 OPS in 80 plate appearances against lefthanded relievers.

Today, Farrell said the idea of pinch hitting for Drew against lefthanders late in games would be discussed.

“Going forward, when there’s maybe more of a sense of urgency with postseason situations, I’m sure that’ll be something Stephen and I will talk through well in advance when that situation may come up again,” Farrell said.

“I’m well aware of what Stephen is doing against lefthanded pitching. But there might be a time for that.”

• The rotation coming up: Jon Lester, Felix Doubront and Clay Buchholz against Toronto and Jake Peavy against the Rockies on Tuesday. Wednesday is TBA.

Ortiz makes another cameo appearance

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 19, 2013 04:42 PM

Back in 2011, David Ortiz burst into Terry Francona's pregame meeting with the press to complain about a call the official scorer at Fenway Park made then night before that cost him an RBI.

The incident became kind of a big deal at the time and a piece of the messy story of that season.

So you can imagine the scene this afternoon when John Farrell was meeting with the media and suddenly Big Papi was coming through the door.

"Hey" he said. "That scorer they got here is full of it."

Then Ortiz smiled.

"I'm just [messing] with you all," he said before ducking out.

Game 154: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 19, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (92-61)
Pedroia 2B
Nava RF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Carp LF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Bradley Jr CF
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (9-12, 3.56).

ORIOLES (81-70)
McLouth LF
Machado 3B
Davis 1B
Jones CF
Markakis RF
Valencia DH
Wieters C
Hardy SS
Roberts 2B
Pitching: RHP Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.70).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Tillman: Pedroia 6-23, Ellsbury 4-18. Nava 4-14, Salty 1-16, Ortiz 0-10, Victorino 4-11, Napoli 3-8, Drew 1-6, Middlebrooks 0-8, Carp 1-5, Gomes 0-3, Lavarnway 0-3, Bradley 0-2, McDonald 0-2, Ross 0-2.

Orioles vs. Lackey: Markakis 18-51, Roberts 12-90, Jones 9-38, Davis 11-26, Wieters 5-27, Johnson 4-20, Hardy 2-15, Casilla 1-11, Machado 6-11, McLouth 2-11, Morse 1-6, Flaherty 0-3, Urrutia 1-3, Dickerson 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Buck Showalter is 33-24 against the Red Sox as the manager of the Orioles.

Pennant race watch: The Sox have a magic number of three for the division and one for a playoff berth.

Notes: The Sox have a tough task to avoid a sweep. Tillman is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three starts against the Sox this season and 4-1, 2.15 in nine career starts. The Sox batters are a collective .183 against him with a .499 OPS. ... The Sox are 6-9 against the Orioles this season, 3-5 at Fenway. Baltimore has won 28 of the last 42 meetings between the teams. ... Lackey is 3-7, 5.25 in 14 career starts against the Orioles. In three starts this season he as allowed 10 runs on 23 hits over 20.2 innings. ... The Sox have won 10 of 14 and are 11-5 in September.

Song of the Day: "Just Can't Wait" by The J. Geils Band.

Projecting the Red Sox playoff roster

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 19, 2013 12:41 PM

Two consecutive losses against those pesky Baltimore Orioles and facing Chris Tillman tonight? Details. This seems like a perfect time to project the Division Series roster for the Red Sox.

(Keep in mind this roster can be changed between rounds.)

Starting pitchers (4)
LHP Jon Lester
RHP John Lackey
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Jake Peavy

Explanation: It's pretty obvious who the four starters should be. And it's a good bet they'll be in this order. Lackey has been consistently good all season and has a better ERA at Fenway Park (2.63) than on the road (4.39). Buchholz gets a few extra days of tune-up then starts Game 3 on the road. That's a formidable rotation.

Relievers (7)
RHP Koji Uehara
LHP Craig Breslow
RHP Junichi Tazawa
RHP Brandon Workman
LHP Matt Thornton
RHP Ryan Dempster
LHP Franklin Morales

Explanation: Dempster is the emergency guy instead of Felix Doubront. He could start if there's an emergency or pitch long relief. Thornton beats out Drake Britton based on experience. Morales is the best high-end arm remaining to choose from and gives John Farrell another lefty to matchup with.

Frankly, seven relievers is one too many for a five-game series with two days off. But teams are terrified of running out of pitchers and always keep an extra one around.

Catchers (2)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
David Ross

Explanation: Given that he is stealing bases of late, it would seem Salty's back feels fine. That epidural really did the trick. So there's no need of insurance in the form of Ryan Lavarnway.

DH (1)
David Ortiz

Explanation: What, you were expecting somebody else? Move along.

Infielders (5)
1B Mike Napoli
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Stephen Drew
3B Will Middlebrooks
SS-3B Xander Bogaerts

Explanation: There's no backup second baseman here. But Bogaerts represents a better option to pinch hit than does John McDonald. And it would probably take some sort of calamity for Pedroia not to play. If there is a calamity, bet Drew could handle it.

Outfielders (6)
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF-CF Shane Victorino
LF Jonny Gomes
LF-RF Daniel Nava
LF Mike Carp
CF Quintin Berry

Explanation: This assumes Ellsbury will be ready, which could be a big assumption to make. But he still has two weeks to be ready. The temptation is to keep Jackie Bradley Jr. as insurance for Ellsbury. But the Red Sox picked up Berry for a reason and that's to run for Ortiz or Napoli in a big spot. If Bradley were a better base stealer, it would be an easy call.

Tough omissions: McDonald is probably it, just because he's a perfect insurance player. But if the Red Sox were preparing him for the postseason, wouldn't he have more than three appearances at this point? Regretting leaving Bradley off, too. But Berry represents 90 important feet in a close game.

Any changes you would make? Leave a comment explaining why.

Red Sox miss their chances, lose in 12

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 19, 2013 12:58 AM

The Sox had plenty on the table on Wednesday. Beating the Baltimore Orioles would have:

-- Clinched at least a wild-card playoff berth.

-- Cut the magic number for the division title to two.

-- Increased the lead on Oakland for the best record in the American League to 3.5 games.

Instead there was nothing gained as the Orioles came away with a 5-3 victory in 12 innings. Franklin Morales gave up a two-run single to Chris Davis to take the loss.

The Sox had 15 hits but scored one run over the final 11 innings. They grounded into four double plays, two in extra innings, and left nine runners on base.

“We needed one big hit and we didn’t get it,” Dustin Pedroia said. “But we’ll be OK.”

On Beard Night, more than 4,000 fans grabbed $1 tickets with beards real and fake and helped create a spirited midweek atmosphere. The hirsute saw a two-run home run by David Ortiz in the first inning and a solo shot my Mike Napoli in the sixth. But that was the extent of the offense.

The Sox should do what they can to send the Orioles home for the winter. The Sox are 6-9 against Baltimore this season and 13-27 since the final month of the 2011 season.

“They seem to match up against us pretty well,” catcher David Ross said. “They know how to use that bullpen.”

A few notes:

• Jackie Bradley Jr. pinch hit for Shane Victorino in the 12th inning because of a jammed right thumb.

“Felt like we needed to make a move there because of the soreness he’s experiencing,” Sox manager John Farrell said.

• Mike Carp singled to start the 11th inning and Quintin Berry ran for him. But Berry, who was ostensibly obtained to steal bases, was bunted to second.

The Orioles intentionally walked Will Middlebrooks, who had three hits. Stephen Drew stayed in to bat against the lefthander and T.J. McFarland got him to ground into a double play.

“With a lefthander on the mound and as well as Wieters throws we’re not looking at straight steal there,” Farrell said.

The Berry thing is interesting. He has been in nine games and used as a pinch runner six times. But he has tried to steal just once. Farrell said before the game the Sox aren't going to run just to test Berry and that he has track record of success. All true. But it's hard to judge what he can do at this point.

In the interest of history, Dave Roberts was 5 for 7 in the regular season in 2004. But then he was added to the roster on Aug. 1, not Sept. 1.

Final: Baltimore 5, Boston 3 (12 innings)

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 18, 2013 06:58 PM

Game over: Orioles 5, Red Sox 3: Well, the Red Sox may win this wild card berth and/or division one of these days, but one of these days wasn't tonight. The Orioles keep fighting to stay alive in the wild card race and they're doing a good job of it. The Orioles scored twice in the 12th on a bases loaded Chris Davis single vs. Franklin Morales. The game lasted 4:01 before 38,540.

Top 12th: Orioles 5, Red Sox 3: Chris Davis singled up the middle with the bases loaded and two outs off Franklin Morales to take the lead. Morales allowed singles to JJ Hardy and Brian Roberts before a wild pitch advanced the runners. The Red Sox walked pinch-hitter Steve Pearce intentionally to load the bases. Manny Machado fouled out to first base, before Davis came through, his 133rd and 134th RBI.

Bottom 11th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Lefty TJ McFarland came on for the Orioles. he allowed an infield single to Mike Carp on a ball Brian Roberts mishandled. Daniel Nava sacrificed the runner to second. After Will Middlebrooks was walked intentionally, Stephen Drew knocked into a double play. He's now 0-for-7 with five strikeouts and a double play against McFarland.

Top 11th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3: Franklin Morales pitched a strong inning retiring Jones, Markakis and the Great Valencia. There were 38,540 here tonight including 4,000 bearded people. But about half have left this 3-3 game.

Bottom 10th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - A Shane Victorino single was erased by a David Ortiz 6-5-3 double-play after Big Papi battled Tommy Hunter to a 3-2 count. Napoli flew out to left. Victorino's single was a blooper that fell into short center. It looked like a catchable ball for Adam Jones, but he seemed to give way to McLouth and neither got it.

Top 10th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Koji Uehara is back on track after allowing his first run in 30-1/3 innings Tuesday night. He faced the top of the Orioles order and got McLouth to line out to second, struck out Manny Machado and got Chris Davis, a player he was once traded for, to fly out to center field.

Bottom 9th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Will Middlebrooks began the inning off reliever Tommy Hunter with a single to right field. The Red Sox had struck out five times against Kevin Gausman in two innings but Hunter, also a hard thrower, retired the next three batters to send this one into extra innings.

Top 9th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Tazawa retired the Orioles in order.

Bottom 8th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Gausman again firing away with some intense high 90s heat. Gomes and Nava strike out in a 1-2-3 innings.

Top 8th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - The Red Sox went through Craig Breslow and onto Junichi Tazawa but they got out of the inning without allowing a run after Nick Markakis singled.

Bottom 7th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Kevin Gausman threw some gas at the Red Sox in the 7th with a pair of strikeouts, including a 99 mph fastball to retire David Ortiz with a strikeout.

Top 7th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Jake Peavy retired the side in what was probably his final inning after throwing 113 pitches in a quality outing.

Bottom 6th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 3 - Mike Napoli stroked a home run to centerfield off Chen, his 23rd, and 90th RBI to tie the score. After two outs Middlebrooks and Drew singled to continue the inning. That was all for Chen. In bound was Francisco (K-Rod) Rodriguez who retired David Ross with a grounder to shortstop after K-Rod nearly picked Middlebrooks off second base.

Top 6th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2 - Peavy retired the first two batters and then the Orioles went to work. Nick Markakis singled, Danny Valencia singled and Matt Wieters stroked a ground rule double to right to score the go-ahead run.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - Dustin Pedroia doubled off the wall with one out and made it as far as third base. But David Ortiz struck out swinging to end the threat.

Top 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - Danny Valencia, who plays like he's Mike Schmidt against the Red Sox, singled to lead off the inning against Peavy, who until this point had really been dealing. Matt Wieters stroked a double to the triangle scoring Valencia. After Hardy grounded out to short sending Wieters to third, Brian Roberts doubled him in to tie the game.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - Chen had his first flawless inning retiring Nava, Middlebrooks and Drew.

Top 4th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - The Orioles got their second baserunner when Peavy hit Adam Jones with a pitch. He advanced on a Peavy balk. That was the only glitch as Peavy continues to paint the corners with two more K's. he's got 7 through four innings.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - Nice Houdini work by Chen, who loaded the bases with nobody out and managed to get out of it with no runs scoring. Dustin Pedroia singled to center, Shane Victorino reached on a bunt single when Chen threw wide of first and David Ortiz singled off Chris Davis' glove to load the bases. Mike Napoli ran the count to 3-2 before he lined out to shortstop. Jonny Gomes then knocked into a 1-2-3 double play as Chen escaped.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - The Orioles had their first baserunner when Brian Roberts walked with two outs, but here again Peavy got the strikeout on Nate McLouth to end the inning.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - After a Will Middlebrooks single to right, the Red Sox inning went downhill. Stephen Drew struck out and David Ross knocked into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double-play.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - Peavy has retired the first six batters, four of them with strikeouts.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - David Ortiz hit a mammoth home run to right field with Shane Victorino (single to left field) aboard off of Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen. This ball was really smashed several rows into the rightfield grandstand between the foul pole and the Orioles bullpen. Jonny Gomes tried to extend the inning with a single to right, but in between, Mike Napoli and Daniel Nava struck out.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0 - Jake Peavy started things off with a strong 1-2-3 inning started with a Nate McLouth called third strike.

Ellsbury: 'Very confident' on return this season

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 18, 2013 05:07 PM

For the first time since Sept. 5, Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, recovering from a fracture in his right foot, was made available to the media. He spoke for four minutes.

Here's a transcript:

"How are you doing? "Taking it day by day. Working to get back on the field."

What kind of baseball activities have you done? "The docs, they've laid out a plan for me each day that I come in. Each day I basically have a plan that I have to execute. I'm basically following doc's orders pretty close. Each day I come in and try to push through those."

How confident are you that you will be back for the playoffs? "Very confident. Everybody's excited. The docs are just happy with my progress."

What are some of the things you are doing? "Doing a lot of different things as far as ... I don't want to get into details on everything that I'm doing. Getting here early. Just following the plan that the docs have set in place. Like I said, the docs are very pleased how fast I'm going recovering from this."

Do you expect to return during the regular season? "You know, we're hopeful that I'll be back playing. I feel very confident I'm making quick progress."

Can you come back for the regular season? "Just following the doc's orders on what he has in store for me. Each day I come in and try to push the envelope even with them trying to get back on the field."

Has the team being close to clinching altered that plan? "It's been the same thing. The docs have put me on a fast track as far as a plan getting back as quick as possible. At the same time just getting out there and playing like I can. I keep on telling them, I'm trying to push the envelope with them. They always have to tell me slow down, it does take time. But I'm very hopeful I'll be back playing soon."

How much game action would you need to be ready for the playoffs? "You know, I'm not real sure. Right I'm focused on getting back to the team. Right now it's been fun watching them play. But I'm definitely dying to get back out there."

On the injury: "I played seven games after I fractured it. I played seven games. Definitely trying to be in there as long as I could. The docs basically had to pull me out, saying, 'You've got to let this thing rest. Give it time.' "

You saw several teammates have this same injury and miss time. How alarming was it to hear you had the same thing? "(Laughs). I mean, yeah, when I did it, kind of deep down, I knew something was going on. But I really didn't want to get ... I wanted to play. It was just one of those things where the docs were like, 'You got to give this thing some rest. You can't push through this. You've got to give it time.' But I'm very excited with the progress I've made. The doctors are very optimistic about making a comeback plan."

When you jammed your foot stealing a base on (Sept. 5) did you have any sense whether you did further damage or just sort of aggravated it? "You know, I just know moving forward that once it does heal there will be no issue moving forward. It's going to be a full recovery and you won't see any lingering effects and I'll be good to go."

Any question about whether you should have played those seven games? "I wanted to play, first and foremost. I knew we were in a playoff race. So when I heard the news, they were surprised I was playing with it for that long. That's what surprised them. But, like I said, I've got great information. The docs are doing, they've done a tremendous job. I'm very hopeful I'm back playing as soon as possible.

"Thanks, guys."

With that, Ellsbury walked away. He was not in a walking boot.

According to a Red Sox spokesman, the "docs" or "doctors" Ellsbury referenced 11 times are Dr. Thomas Clanton, the Colorado-based specialist he saw and Red Sox doctor George Theodore.

Sox manager John Farrell was asked whether he had any updates about when Ellsbury would start baseball-type workouts.

"I don't have a specific date for that, no," Farrell said. "He'll begin them when he's ready to begin them. There's going to be further progression from the physical side of things now that he's come out of the boot. He's wearing that supportive insole in the right shoe. Progress is clearly being made and he'll be back on the field when he's ready."

Farrell was asked whether it was imperative that Ellsbury play in the regular season before playing in the Division Series.

"I think we're all envisioning him being back on the field before the regular season has concluded," the manager said. "I think it would go a long way in Jake getting some timing, some recent at-bats and all that. That won't be the driving force in him getting back on the field. His readiness will be."

Farrell said the medical reports suggest Ellsbury should return in the regular season, which after tonight has nine games remaining.

Game 153: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 18, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (92-60)
Pedroia 2B
Victorino CF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Gomes LF
Nava RF
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Ross C
Pitching: RHP Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.03).

ORIOLES (80-70)
McLouth LF
Machado 3B
Davis 1B
Jones CF
Markakis RF
Valencia DH
Wieters C
Hardy SS
Roberts 2B
Pitching: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.99).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI

Red Sox vs. Chen: Pedroia 7-13, Middlebrooks 4-11, Gomes 1-8, Ortiz 0-7, Victorino 2-4, Napoli 2-5, Ross 1-5, Berry 1-4, Lavarnway 1-3, Nava 2-2, Snyder 0-3, Drew 0-1.

Orioles vs. Peavy: Snyder 4-19, Hardy 1-14, Casilla 3-11, Valencia 2-11, Markakis 2-5, Clevenger 0-4, Dickerson 2-4, Johnson 0-2, Jones 1-3, McLouth 1-2, Morse 1-3, Roberts 1-3, Wieters 0-3, Davis 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Ortiz is 1 for 20 with 12 strikeouts against Orioles lefthanded reliever Brian Matusz.

Stat of the Day II: Jarrod Saltalamacchia has four stolen bases in his last eight games. He had one in 580 games prior to that.

Notes: The Sox have a magic number of three for the division title but they could clinch a playoff berth tonight. ... The Sox are 6-8 against the Orioles, 3-4 at Fenway Park. ... Peavy is facing the Orioles for the first time since April 18, 2012. He is 2-0, 2.77 in two career starts against Baltimore. In eight starts for the Red Sox since being obtained from the White Sox, Peavy is 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA. ... Chen is 1-2, 6.14 in four starts at Fenway in his career. He is 0-2, 9.90 in two starts against the Sox this season. ... Jacoby Ellsbury (right foot) will miss his 11th consecutive game tonight. The Sox are 15-6 (.714) without Ellsbury this season, 7-3 in the last 10 games. ... Danny Valencia was 4 for 28 (.143) with one extra-base hit in 10 games for the Red Sox last season. In nine games against them this season he is 9 for 17 (.529) with five extra-base hits. ... Pedroia is 9 for 30 with seven runs scored in seven games batting leadoff.

Song of the Day: "Bob Dylan's 49th Beard" by Wilco.

The streak is over, and what a streak it was

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 18, 2013 11:29 AM

The Koji Uehara Streak is over. But take some time and read this terrific piece on Baseball Prospectus by Sam Miller to learn how Uehara retired 37 batters in a row.

You'll gain a lot of insight into his pitches and his approach.

Get this: According to Miller's well-considered research, the odds of an average pitcher retiring those 37 batters in a row was 0.00.000166 percent.

Red Sox hold off on celebration

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 17, 2013 11:10 PM

Had the Red Sox won Tuesday night at Fenway Park, rather than lost to the Orioles, 3-2, and had the Indians lost, the Sox would have acknowledged making the playoffs but wouldn't have gone crazy.

"I would have stuck around to see how Cleveland did," Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "I think it would have been nice to be in that position, so I would have stuck around. But we didn't have anything formal planned."

"I think most of the guys in here would want to acknowledge it, but the champagne and all that, I think we would have preferred to save that for when we win the division," David Ross said. "I think that was this team's main goal and that hasn't changed. We'll celebrate that when it happens hopefully soon."

The Red Sox, whose magic number to clinch the American League East is now 3, ended a three-game winning streak. It was a shocking loss with Koji Uehara allowing the Orioles the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of a 2-2 game. His streak of retiring 37 consecutive batters came to an end, as did his 30.1 inning scoreless streak, when he allowed a Danny Valencia leadoff triple over Shane Victorino's head and off the tip of his glove. Matt Wieters hit a sacrifice fly to right to score pinch runner Alexi Casilla.

"I'm not disappointed that the streak ended. Of course, I'm disappointed that we lost," Uehara said through an interpreter.

Uehara admitted that the 0-2 pitch "location-wise, I didn't miss the spot, but a little bit high."

Saltalamacchia said, "He's human. He's still consistent for us, still our guy. I felt Valencia might be sitting on soft stuff, so we threw him fastballs. He's got good pop and was able to put it out there and Vic couldn't get to it."

One of the most impressive aspects of the game for the Red Sox was Craig Breslow getting out of a second-and-third, nobody-out jam in the eighth. Brandon Workman, who pitched an effective seventh, allowed a single to Nate McLouth and a double to Manny Machado. Enter Breslow. He retired Chris Davis, who earlier had hit his Orioles record-setting 51st home run, on a ground ball to short. The runner at third held. Breslow got the dangerous Adam Jones on another grounder to short, then retired Nick Markakis on a fly ball to center.

"You're thinking about limiting the damage at that point," Breslow said."I was able to make tough pitches. I challenged Davis with fastballs and tried to get him to hit the ball on the ground. He hit it hard by right at Stephen (Drew)."

Over his last 28 appearances since July 9, Breslow is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (18 hits and 10 walks).

The Red Sox got on the board first when Dustin Pedroia hit a leadoff home run in the first inning. It was his 99th career homer, snapping a 176 at-bat homerless drought.

Ryan Dempster didn't factor in the win, but he pitched well over six innings, allowing two runs, four walks, and striking out five. It was his second quality start since the All-Star break. Dempster now has a 2.19 ERA against the Orioles in six career starts.

Stephen Drew stole two bases, his first career multi-steal game. The last Red Sox shortstop to swipe two bases was Julio Lugo Sept. 30, 2007.

The Red Sox went 3 for 3 in steal attempts and have stolen 35 straight, the longest streak since Toronto stole 38 straight in 1993. The Red Sox lead the majors with an 86.2 stolen base percentage.

Final: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 17, 2013 07:14 PM

Game over: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2 - The Red Sox will have to put off their playoff-clinching party one more day after bowing to the Orioles at Fenway before 35,030 at Fenway.

The Red Sox led 2-0 at one point, but the Orioles chipped away with single runs in the fifth and sixth, one of Chris Davis' Orioles' record-breaking 51st home run. The big news here: Koji Uehara got the loss. His streak of 37 consecutive retired batters ended on Danny Valencia's triple to lead off the ninth and the O's won it from there on Matt Wieters' sacrifice fly. Jim Johnson, who leads the AL with 46 saves, stranded pinch-runner Quintin Berry at second after he allowed a single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Johnson struck out Xander Bogaerts to end the game.The game was played in 3:08

Top 9th: Orioles 3, Red Sox 2 -All good things must end. Koji Uehara's streak of 37 straight batters retired ended when Danny Valencia tripled over Shave Victorino's head to lead off the inning. Matt Wieters lined a sac fly to score pinch-runner Alexi Casilla with the go-ahead run. It ended a streak of 30-1/3 innings.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - The Red Sox middle of order - Ortiz (K), Napoli (6-3) and Nava (7) go down.

Top 8th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - Second and third nobody out in the 8th. Orioles don't score. Craig Breslow throws two grounders to SS and a pop to CF in relief of Workman who allowed a single to McLouth and a double to Machado to start the inning. Orioles may have just lost the game right there.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - Manny Machado made a bad throw to first allowing Dustin Pedroia to reach on an error, but Machado didn't make the same mistake twice. Victorino's grounder to third resulted in an inning-ending 5-4-3 double-play started by Machado to get Kevin Gausman out of the inning.

Top 7th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - Brandon Workman with a dominant 7th inning. Interesting dilemma for the Red Sox next season. Is Workman a starter or do you keep him in a 7th inning role?

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - Red Sox go down in order against lefty reliever TJ McFarland.

Top 6th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 2 - Chris David launched his 51st home run, setting an all-time single season Orioles record with a blast to center over the Alex and Ani sign to tie things up vs. Dempster. Great over-the-shoulder catch in center by Shane Victorino robbed Nick Markakis of extra bases. We forget Victorino won three Gold Gloves in center (2008-10). It's now 3-0 KC over Cleveland in the third.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1 - Napoli walked for the second time, but that's all the Red Sox could muster.

Top 5th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 1 - Dempster walked Valencia and after one out, Hardy doubled to center sending Valencia to third. The run scored on a ground ball to third but by Brian Roberts. At the same, we're scoreboard watching. A Red Sox win coupled by an Indians loss clinches a wild card spot for the Red Sox. The Royals have a 1-0 lead in the third.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 2, Orioles 0 - The Red Sox score an unearned run. Saltalamacchia reached on an error and after Drew walked, he was the front end of a double-steal. Xander Bogaerts sent a sinking liner to left which Nate McClouth dropped. Bogaerts was credited with a sac fly and an error scoring the run.

Top 4th: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 - Dempster adds to his strikeout total (foive) with a pair in the fourth and again Davis and Jones. That's four of the five against the O's biggest hitters.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 - Feldman, who was 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four road starts for the Orioles, has settled down. He retiring Victorino and Ortiz, went 3-2 to Napoli and walked him. But Feldman got Nava to fly out to center.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 - A 1-2-3 inning for Dempster, who has the good splitter working tonight.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 - Mike Carp doubled to left field with one out, but the Red Sox failed to get him home. With two outs, Stephen Drew and Xander Bogaerts walked to load the bases, but Dustin Pedroia lined out to Brian Roberts at second base to end the threat.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0 - Dempster struck out Nick Markakis to start the second inning, his third consecutive K. But he walked Danny Valencia before throwing two ground ball outs Matt Wieters and JJ Hardy.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 1, Orioles 0- Tough start for Orioles starter Scott Feldman who needs to pitch a beauty tonight to keep the Orioles in the wild card hunt. Oops! First batter Dustin Pedroia hits one over the Monster, his 9th homer. It was Pedroia's third career leadoff homer, his last one coming October 3, 2009 vs. Cleveland.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Orioles 0 - Ryan Dempster and his 8-9 record and 4.70 ERA took the mound for the Red Sox. He allowed a one-out infield single to shortstop, but then struck out Chris Davis and Adam Jones. Not bad. The Orioles desperately need to win this to stay afloat in the wild card hunt.

Sox sense chance to clinch playoff spot

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 17, 2013 06:01 PM

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The Red Sox can sew up a playoff spot tonight, and they are going into their series opener against the Orioles with that in mind.

With a win and an Indians loss to Kansas City, they would punch their playoff ticket. As it stands, their magic number for clinching the AL East is 4.

“I think guys are aware,” said manager John Farrell. “Very much aware.

“The beauty is to separate things they have no control over other than what we do between the lines tonight. That’s been the mantra since spring training.”

It’s been four years since the team’s last trip to the postseason, and since then, there have been more downs than ups.

But with 92 wins this year, being 33 games over .500, and spending 145 days atop the American League East, their turnaround has been dramatic.

A few notes before first pitch:

• Farrell said Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Clay Buchholz will all be available to pitch in the season-ending series against the Orioles next week.

He desperately avoids explicit references to the postseason -- preferring to call it simply “that time” -- and said that he hasn’t thought yet about a playoff rotation.

“As the rotation plays out over the next three series prior to Baltimore, those are three guys who are going to be available and rested in that series,” Farrell said. “We haven’t mapped it out as to who will start Friday, Saturday, or Sunday then.

“We have to factor in off days next week and potential for those four days off. We don’t want to get guys too far away from a start. What rotation they fall under has yet to be determined.”

• Felix Doubront threw a simulated game earlier this afternoon and is scheduled to pitch Saturday.

In the Sox’ final series at Fenway this weekend against the Toronto Blue Jays, Farrell will go with Lester on Friday, Doubront on Saturday and, Buchholz on Sunday.

• Since fracturing his foot, Jacoby Ellsbury has been a ghost in the clubhouse. Not much has been seen or heard from him.

Farrell said Ellsbury is continuing to do the exercises he began last week but can’t project when he’ll resume baseball activities.

Still, Farrell is optimistic about his center fielder’s return.

“That hasn’t changed our feel or thought that he’ll be back on the field before the season ends,” Farrell said.

• Will Middlebrooks was on the field earlier today taking ground balls, just not where you’d expect him to be.

The Sox third baseman was on the other side of the infield, getting reps at second base.

Should something unexpected -- and unlikely -- happen to Dustin Pedroia in the postseason, Middlebrooks is an option, Farrell said.

“Will has been the guy we’ve pointed to at second base,” Farrell said. “Depending on how that playoff roster looks, that job is still open.”

• With the PawSox wrapping up their season over the weekend, the parent club brought up infielder Brock Holt and pitchers Brayan Villarreal, and Steven Wright.

The moves bring the active big league roster up to 36.

Game 152: Orioles at Red Sox

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 17, 2013 02:35 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (92-59)
Pedroia 2B
Victorino CF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Nava RF
Carp LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Bogaerts 3B
Pitching: Ryan Dempster (8-9, 4.70).

ORIOLES (79-70)
McLouth LF
Machado 3B
Davis 1B
Jones CF
Markakis RF
Valencia DH
Wieters C
Hardy SS
Roberts 2B
Pitching: Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.62).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI-FM (93.7)

Red Sox vs. Feldman: Napoli 11-26, Pedroia 5-12, Carp 3-9, Drew 3-8, Ellsbury 3-8, Ortiz 2-7, Saltalamacchia 3-6, Middlebrooks 1-3, Victorino 0-3, McDonald 1-2, Gomes 0-1.

Orioles vs. Dempster:Hardy, 3-32, McLouth 7-27, Jones 4-12, Machado 3-12, Markakis 3-12, Snyder 4-12, Davis 2-11, Wieters 1-10, Dickerson 1-6, Flaherty 0-5, Betemit 0-3, Morse 0-3, Roberts 1-2.

Stat of the Day: The Sox are the only American League team to remain above .500 all season.

Notes: With 11 games left, the Red Sox have a 3.5 game lead over the Oakland A’s for the best record in the American League and nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. They have a chance to clinch a postseason spot tonight with a win, should the Indians lose to Kansas City … After sweeping the Yankees over the weekend, the Sox’ magic number to clinch the division is 4 … The Orioles are two games out in the wild-card race as they being a grueling stretch of 13 games in as many days to end the season, starting with seven straight on the road against the Sox and Rays. They face the Sox six times in the next two weeks … The Sox trail in the season series, 7-6, but they’ve won four of the past five, winning series in Boston in August and in Baltimore in July … Dempster is 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts against the Orioles this season … In his only start against the Sox this season, Feldman gave up four earned runs on six hits and two walks in five innings and took the loss … Over 30 games since Aug. 1, Daniel Nava is hitting .391 with 13 doubles, one home run, 11 RBIs, and 12 walks … Mike Napoli is hitting .438 with four doubles, five homers, and 13 RBIs in his past nine starts.

Song of the Day: “May-December" by Mos Def.

Red Sox on verge of a playoff berth

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 17, 2013 12:37 PM

Guess what? The Red Sox can make the playoffs tonight, and that hasn't happened since 2009.

If the Sox beat the Orioles and the Royals beat the Indians, the Sox clinch at least the second wild-card spot. That's not exactly a pop-the-corks moment, but at least it's something.

Presumably the Red Sox will not celebrate in earnest until they win the division. The magic number for that is 4. The Sox (92-59) lead the Rays (82-67) by nine games. So the Sox could wrap up the division as soon as Wednesday.

A few other items for you today:

• Texas is 2-12 in September. The 2011 Red Sox should send them a note of thanks. The Rangers were up by two games in the American League West at the end of August. Now they are 6.5 games out and clinging to the second wild card. Roberto Andino must somehow be involved.

• It's quite possible that Terry Francona and the Indians could be at Fenway on Oct. 4 to start the Division Series. Cleveland is a half-game out in the wild card and its schedule is:

two at Kansas City
four at home against Houston
two at home against the White Sox
four at Minnesota

It would be almost criminal not to go 9-3 or 8-4 against those teams.

• Keith Olbermann can be a touch insufferable, but his commentary about the Red Sox and their self-congratulatory Mariano Rivera ceremony makes some good points.

• The annual "From Fenway to the Runway" fund-raiser benefiting the Red Sox Foundation will be Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at Saks Fifth Avenue in the Prudential Center. The event includes lunch and a runway fashion show featuring the Red Sox Wives group.

Red Sox wives and fiancées who will take the stage include: Sue Farrell, Lindsay Buchholz, Kelli Pedroia, Tiffany Ortiz, Georgia Nua, Kimberly Doubront, Isabel Morales, Amanda Bailey, Kelsey Ellsbury, Laura Drew, DiDi Carp, Melissa Victorino, Kelly Shaffer (fiancée of Craig Breslow), and Jamie Niestat (fiancée of Ryan Lavarnway).

The event will benefit the Red Sox Scholars Program and the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) youth baseball and softball program.

Pitching matchups for the Orioles series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 17, 2013 08:45 AM

Tuesday: RHP Scott Feldman (5-4, 3.62) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (8-9, 4.70), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Wednesday: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.99) vs. RHP Jake Peavy (11-5, 4.03), 7:10 p.m., NESN.

Thursday: RHP Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.70) vs. RHP John Lackey (9-12, 3.56), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

1946 Red Sox set the standard for turnarounds

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 16, 2013 01:51 PM

The Red Sox have won 23 more games than they did last season with 11 left to play. That's impressive.

But the team record for a turnaround season was established by the 1946 Red Sox, who won 33 more games than the 1945 team did.

The 2012 Red Sox were done in by injuries and Bobby Valentine. The 1945 Red Sox were busy dealing with World War II.

The '45 Sox had young pitcher Dave "Boo" Ferriss and not much else. Ferriss had been in the military but was discharged because of asthma. Even with Ferriss going 21-10 with a 2.96 ERA, the Sox went 71-83.

When the war ended, Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Bobby Doerr all returned from active duty along with starting pitchers Tex Hughson, Mickey Harris, and Joe Dobson. The Sox also obtained Rudy York from Detroit to play first base.

Flush with talent, the 1946 Red Sox went 104-50 and finished first in the American League by 12 games. The Sox then lost a seven-game World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Williams, who had a 1.164 OPS during the season and was named MVP, was 5 for 25 with one RBI in the only postseason appearance of his career.

The Red Sox played an exhibition game at Fenway Park before the Series against an All-Star team, and Williams was hit on the elbow by a pitch from Mickey Haefner of the Senators. According to media reports at the time, the Splendid Splinter had a lump on his arm and was unable to swing the bat correctly.

The 2013 Red Sox are almost sure to have four days off before their first Division Series game. Note to John Farrell: No exhibition games.

Red Sox continue roll with sweep of Yanks

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 16, 2013 01:12 AM

There's confidence. Then there's having your catcher steal home. That's how well the Red Sox are playing these days.

Champagne will be flowing at Fenway Park any day now as the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 9-2, on Sunday. The 92-59 Sox have won a stunning 23 more games than last season and still have 11 to play. Their magic number for the division is four.

The fourth inning was a good example of how the Red Sox are feeling.

With Jarrod Saltalamacchia on third and two outs in the inning, rookie Xander Bogaerts took off for second, then hesitated. Catcher Chris Stewart came up throwing and Saltalamacchia scored without a play.

The Red Sox purposely ran the play with a slow runner on third to increase the element of surprise.

“It’s definitely something I never thought would happen,” Saltalamacchia said. “I want to thank all the little people who made it happen."

Those types of plays are preparation for the postseason because they give advance scouts for other teams something to think about.

“We’re focused on every aspect of the game and making sure we’re pretty locked in,” Saltalamacchia said. “Any type of runs we can get are good.”

Saltalamacchia then laughed at what he had done. “My speed, it took over,” he said. “Jackie Robinson, [Jacoby] Ellsbury, I’m in a pretty elite category.”

The Sox had it all going on Sunday. Daniel Nava had four hits, two of them doubles. He is now hitting .306 with a .397 on-base percentage. Nava is hitting .391 since Aug 1.

Clay Buchholz wasn't sharp (four walks, a wild pitch and a throwing error) but allowed one run in six innings and got to 91 pitches. He is right on track

Even Alex Rodriguez is impressed with the Red Sox.

"Unbelievable right now. Of all the teams I’ve seen, they’ve got to be the top contenders for the World Series," he said.

A few notes:

• The Yankees have lost seven of their last 11 games. If they miss the playoffs, the Red Sox will have played a big role in that. The Sox were 13-6 against the the Yankees this season, outscoring their rivals 120-85.

That's the most wins in a season for the Sox against the Yankees since the 1973 team was 14-4. It's the most wins for any team since the 1976 Orioles went 13-5.

“Boston has done an absolute number on us. They’ve basically whipped our [butts],” Rodriguez said.

• David Ortiz took Mariano Rivera out for lunch this afternoon. "That's my man right there. A special person. I'm glad we had that ceremony," he said.

When the game was over, Rivera walked from the bullpen back to the dugout alone. Some fans behind the dugout waited to applaud him and other fans who were making their way out of Fenway turned around and joined in.

It was a very organic moment and Rivera paused several times to wave to the fans before he disappeared from view. He probably will never step foot in Fenway again and clearly wanted to take one more look around.

• Mike Napoli had an interesting night. He hit a mammoth home run in the first inning that gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead. He has 22 homers this season, seven against the Yankees. That's the most for a Red Sox player since Jimmie Foxx had eight in 1936.

Napoli also has 89 RBIs.

Napoli also did strike out twice and now has the team record of 178 in a season. Rest easy, Mark Bellhorn.

That's a ton of strikeouts. But the .357 on-base percentage and power certainly outweigh it. Napoli also has played surprisingly well at first base.

• The Sox are 11-3 in September and have averaged 7.1 runs.

• The Sox are 32 of their last 32 on stolen bases and have 116 on the season.

• The Sox are now 50-25 at home and have won 10 of 12 at Fenway.

Buchholz continues to build in second start

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 16, 2013 01:04 AM

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To John Farrell, the checkpoint for Clay Buchholz was the sixth inning. After watching Buchholz throw fives scoreless against the Rays in his first start since coming off the disabled list, that was the bar Farrell set as a sign of continued progress.

"That was somewhat the objective tonight in addition to going out and giving us the chance to win," Farrell said.

Buchholz reached it, giving up two hits and one run in six innings of work in the Red Sox' 9-1 win over the Yankees. He became the first Sox pitcher since Roger Clemens to start a season with 11 wins and no losses in his first 14 starts and, with the Sox wrapping up their season series with the Yankees, he finished 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts against them. But it was clear that the priority was gradually getting Buchholz ready for the postseason, start by start.

"We need to get his innings up for sure, get his pitch count up," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "I think he had better stuff last start, but this start, he still made some pitches when he needed to to get out of some innings. But that's what you need. You need to stretch him out, get some more innings and get ready for whatever may happen."

With four walks and a hit batter, things didn't necessarily go as smoothly as the first. For as well as he pitched, Buchholz spent much of the night searching for command of his fastball. With three walks and a hit batter, he let the lead runner reach in four of the first five innings, but was able to work around it, leaning on his cutter and mixing his secondary pitches in.

"It's not easy to pitch if you don't command your fastball," Buchholz. said. "I had better command of the cut fastball tonight than my actual four-seam, two-seam early. Just to have a pitch that moves, that you can throw it in the zone 2-1 counts, 2-0, 3-1, I think that that's big for hitters in big situations where they can just sit on one fastball in one spot. That's what I've done all year to this point and it's just a confidence level to throw a good pitch whenever you want to throw it."

The best he said he felt was in his final inning, when he used just nine pitches to sit down Robinson Cano, Alfonso Soriano, and Lyle Overbay. Being able to sort through the issues is part of the process prepares to push through the end of the season and beyond.

“Just to run back out there two starts in a row, that's what I want to do, that's where I want to be,” he said. “Couldn't be any better than helping a bunch of guys that want the same goal and that's just to go out and win games and get to October.”

Final: Red Sox 9, Yankees 2

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 15, 2013 08:00 PM

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In his final trip to Fenway Park, Mariano Rivera never got to step foot on the mound.

Running away with a 9-2 victory, the Red Sox swept their final series of the season with the Yankees, who came into the weekend set hoping to gain ground in the wild card race but left further behind than they started.

The win was a microcosm of the season series between the two teams, which the Sox won 13-6. No team had taken 13 wins from the Yankees in a single season since the Orioles in 1976.

In his second start since coming off the disabled list, Clay Buchholz went six strong innings, giving up just one run on two hits with three strikeouts.

He got a lift from a Red Sox offense that was effective at the plate with 11 hits, aggressive on the basepaths, executing a double steal in the fourth, and clutch in scoring opportunities, going 5 for 14 with runners in scoring position.

Mike Napoli hit his 22d home run of the season, a two-run bast in the first inning, but also struck out twice, setting the Red Sox's franchise record for a single season with 178. He was ejected after arguing with home play umpire Ron Kulpa following the second punchout.

FULL ENTRY

Red Sox pay tribute to Mariano Rivera

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 15, 2013 07:59 PM

Part of the pleasure of honoring Yankees legend Mariano Rivera was sorting through all the memories.

With Rivera making his final appearance at Fenway Park this season, the Red Sox made the stroll down memory lane a playful one.

Starting with a video presentation, the Sox went back to one of the franchise's biggest moments, Game 4 of the 2004 American League championship series with Kevin Millar and Dave Roberts narrating the sequence punchline by punchline.

But once the jokes were out of the way, the Sox and the Fenway crowd showed just how much they appreciated and respected their longtime rival, showering him with an ovation as he took the field for the pregame tribute.

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With the all of the Red Sox on the field, Rivera shared hugs and handshakes with David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia.

Ortiz and Pedroia greeted him with gifts. Ortiz unveiled a painting of Rivera from the standing ovation he received at Fenway Park on opening day in 2005. Pedroia gave him him the '42' used for Rivera on the Fenway Park scoreboard.

In one of the ceremony's nicer touches, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara presented Rivera with a pitching rubber from the bullpen. The Red Sox also made a charitable contribution to the Mariano Rivera Foundation.

Over the speakers, Mariano's signature intro theme, "Enter Sandman," blared out. Honored, he left the field with a modest tip of his cap.

Farrell: Mariano Rivera is a role model

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 15, 2013 06:35 PM

The Red Sox will pay tribute to Mariano Rivera, one of their most respected opponents, before the game tonight.

Every team that has hosted the Yankees this season has feted Rivera in some way. Beyond accomplishments that will make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Rivera commands respects from everybody involved in the game.

"I think it’s deservedly so the tribute that will be paid to him here before the game.," Farrell said. "If you’re the fan of the game, just a remarkable career and has set the standard for all of those who occupy the closers role."

As a former pitcher and a pitching coach, Farrell spoke about what makes Rivera so effective on the mound.

"To me, he sets the bar in terms of consistency. I think it’s directly related to how great of an athlete he is. You watch video from 15, 18 years ago and it’s the same delivery he’ll use tonight if he gets to the mound. He’s a great athlete," Farrell said.

"He’s kept himself in such great shape. Because of physically being consistent, it’s allowed him to be that way from a delivery standpoint. Along the way he’s had to make many, many sacrifices and many, many decision and what he’s done is not by accident. He’s a great player who has remained focused and committed to his profession.”

Farrell also admires how Rivera conducts himself.

"He’s a role model and I mean that in the greatest sense that I can say. Everyone should look up to him the way he lives his life," the Red Sox manager said.

Also:

• The Rays lost at Minnesota. The magic number is 5 for the division.

• Will Middlebrooks is out tonight with the flu. He also might have a touch of being 0-for-17.

• Shane Victorino is just getting a day off. "We’ve got a number of guys who are dealing with some minor things that they’re banged up with. Tomorrow being an off day, we may take a look at some things Tuesday and beyond to get some guys off their feet," Farrell said.

• No real update was given on Jacoby Ellsbury beyond that he did some exercises. This marks the 10th consecutive day he has not been made available to the media.

• Farrell said the Sox will call up a couple of players from Triple A Pawtucket on Tuesday. The Paw Sox had their season end on Saturday with a loss in the International League finals against Durham.

• The Sox will run a developmental program for some pitching prospects during the remainder of the homestand. The players will not be added to the roster or work out with the team but will be exposed to other forms of development. That could involve game-planning, video work, etc.

The Sox did not say who the players are, but Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo are good guesses. The Yankees, Indians and other teams have had programs like this previously. It's a way to get prospects in the big league environment without making a roster move.

• LHP Matt Thornton turned 37 today.

Game 151: Yankees at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 15, 2013 03:38 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (91-59)
Pedroia 2B
Nava RF
Ortiz DH
Carp LF
Napoli 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Bogaerts 3B
Bradley Jr. CF
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (10-0, 1.61).

YANKEES (79-70)
Granderson CF
Rodriguez DH
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Overbay 1B
Reynolds 3B
Suzuki RF
Ryan SS
Stewart C
Pitching: RHP Ivan Nova (8-4, 3.17).

Game time: 8:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN / WEEI, WCBS.

Red Sox vs. Nova: Ortiz 5-14, Pedroia 4-10, Nava 1-7, Ellsbury 1-8, Salty 0-8, Carp 1-3, McDonald 0-4, Napoli 0-4, Drew 2-4, Lavarnway 1-2, Middlebrooks 2-2, Victorino 0-2.

Yankees vs. Buchholz: Wells 7-31, Cano 12-29, Overbay 7-25, Rodriguez 9-23, Granderson 2-15, Reynolds 3-11, Suzuki 3-12, Nunez 1-2, Ryan 0-3, Stewart 0-2, Romine 0-1.

Stat of the Day: The Red Sox are 12-6 against the Yankees. They have not won 13 games in a season against New York since going 14-4 in 1973.

Notes: The Sox and Yankees meet for the final time in the regular season with the Sox looking for a three-game sweep. The Sox have taken five of the last six games between the teams. ... The Sox are 8.5 games up on the second-place Tampa Bay Rays. ... The Yankees are three games out in the wild card race. ... Buchholz is making his second start since spending three months on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He threw five scoreless innings against Tampa Bay in his first game back. Buuchholz has faced the Yankees twice this season and allowed one run over 12 innings. ... Nova has allowed seven runs over 10 innings in his last two starts. That included a start against the Sox on Sept. 5 when he allowed three runs on five hits and two walks over four innings. ... The Sox are 49-25 at Fenway Park with wins in nine of their last 11 games. ... The Sox are 10-3 in September, outscoring teams 91-55. ... Pedroia is 7 for 23 with four runs scored in five games as a leadoff hitter filling in for an injured Jacoby Ellsbury. ... Middlebrooks is hitless in his last 17 at-bats. ... Drew is hitting .293/.373/.468 since July 31 with 17 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs. ... Napoli is 22 of his last 57 (.386) with 12 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs and 13 walks.

Song of the Day: "The Tide Is High" by Blondie.

Final: Red Sox 5, Yankees 1

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 14, 2013 12:47 PM

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Firing dart after dart at the strike zone, Jon Lester Jon Lester went eight innings, giving up just three hits and striking out five, pushing the Red Sox to a 5-1 win over a Yankees team trying desperately to sneak into one of the wild card spots.

After coming into this three-game set with the Sox just 1.5 games back in the wild card, trying to chase down the Rangers and the Rays, the Yankees have dropped back-to-back games and six of their past 10.

Meanwhile the Sox continue to pull away in the AL East, improving to 91-59.

Lester, who made his 218th career start for the Red Sox to move into seventh on the team's all-time list, improved to 14-8 on the season. In his past six starts, he's 4-1 with a 1.81 ERA and 33 strikeouts.

The Sox are 12-6 against New York this season. The win gave them their fourth series win over the Yankees this year.

FULL ENTRY

Morales getting in the late-inning mix

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 14, 2013 11:33 AM

As the Red Sox evaluate players for their playoff roster, don't sleep on lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales.

Morales has thrown only 19.2 innings this season and has a 5.03 earned run average along with a 1.53 WHIP. On the surface, that would make him a spectator in October.

But Morales has allowed one run on four hits over 7.1 innings since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 10. He has walked three and struck out seven. On Thursday night in Tampa, he was designated to close the game, although wasn't needed.

Morales' four-seam fastball has averaged 94 mph since he returned from the disabled list. It was 91 prior to that.

"It's going to get better, too," Morales said this morning. "I can feel it. My shoulder is good now. There's nothing bothering me."

Morales has been battling shoulder injuries since the end of last season. But now he finally feels healthy again.

"The velocity has kind of regained its previous levels over the last six or seven outings," manager John Farrell said. "For the first time this year the one thing we've been able to do is bring him to the mound when he's been fresh. You have to look past the bulk numbers on the year and look at the past six or seven outings."

Farrell indicated that Morales would receive more opportunities in higher-leverage situations before the season ends. "He's certainly in the mix. Yes, absolutely," Farrell said. "He's been throwing the ball well of late."

Also:

• Felix Doubront, who had his last start skipped, is on a program to return to the rotation. He will throw in the bullpen on Sunday, pitch a simulated game on Tuesday and then likely start against Toronto next weekend.

• Farrell offered only general details on the progress of Jacoby Ellsbury, who is out with a fracture in his right foot.

"As anticipated he's going through more exercises here today, which is all part of his rehab plan at the time of the exam. No baseball activities. This is just all physical activities," the manager said.

Ellsbury has not been made available to the media since he left New York to get his foot examined last weekend.

• Dustin Pedroia is back in the lineup and apparently did not get an anti-inflammatory injection on Friday night. Or at least that's what the Sox are saying.

Pedroia has his left wrist wrapped in a bandage after the game and was asked what was wrong. "It's nothing. I got an anti-inflammatory," Pedroia said, pointing at his arm.

Pedroia then met with Farrell before leaving for the night. But now the Red Sox are saying there was no injection.

In any event, he's playing today.

Game 150: Yankees at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 14, 2013 09:11 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (90-59)
Pedroia 2B
Victorino CF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Gomes LF
Nava RF
Middlebrooks 3B
Ross C
Bogaerts SS
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (13-8, 3.86).

YANKEES (79-69)
Granderson CF
Rodriguez DH
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Reynolds 3B
Wells RF
Overbay 1B
Ryan SS
Murphy C
Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia (13-12, 4.82).

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: FOX / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Sabathia: Ortiz 15-60, Pedroia 17-55, Ellsbury 9-36, Gomes 7-34, Napoli 7-31, Victorino 10-27, Saltalamacchia 7-21, McDonald 4-21, Ross 5-16, Nava 2-11, Drew 2-9, Middlebrooks 2-7, Bradley 0-4, Carp 0-5, Snyder 1-6, Berry 2-4, Lavarnway 0-3.

Yankees vs. Lester: Cano 17-66, Wells 8-45, Rodriguez 11-45, Suzuki 15-45, Granderson 9-36, Overbay 9-25, Reynolds 7-22, Nunez 2-15, Soriano 4-13, Ryan 3-9, Stewart 3-5, Adams 0-2, Romine 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Sabathia is 3-3 with a 6.62 ERA in nine starts against the Red Sox at Fenway Park while a member of the Yankees.

Notes: The Red Sox wake up on top of the baseball world. They have the best record in the game, an 8.5 game lead in the division and a magic number of seven. The Sox have won eight of their last 10 games. ... The Yankees are two games out in the wild card with 14 to play. ... The Sox are 11-6 against the Yankees this season, outscoring them 106-82. ...Lester is 5-2, 2.53 in 10 starts since the All-Star break. He is 1-1, 4.19 in three starts against the Yankees this season. His last start, last Sunday, was against New York. Lester allowed three runs over eight innings in a no-decision. ... Sabathia is 2-1, 7.15 in four starts against the Sox this season. ... The Sox lead the American League in runs, doubles, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. ... The Sox are 9-3 in September, two more wins than last season and 2011. ... Cano is a .347 career hitter at Fenway. The only active opponent with a higher batting average is Justin Morneau at .375.

Song of the Day: "Salty Dog" by Johnny Cash.

Dustin Pedroia headed for a day off?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 14, 2013 12:37 AM

Dustin Pedroia’s only full day off this season was June 16. The next may come Saturday. He left the clubhouse Friday night with his left hand wrapped in a bandage after indicating that he received an anti-inflammatory shot.

"It's nothing. I got an anti-inflammatory," Pedroia said, pointing at his arm.

Pedroia also met with manager John Farrell after the 8-4 victory against the Yankees. The second baseman has been playing with ligament damage in his left thumb since Opening Day.

The Sox have enough infielders to cover Pedroia’s absence.

A few other notes:

• Jake Peavy left Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., with tape on his right wrist on Thursday night after being struck by a line drive. But he was unencumbered on Friday and said he felt fine.

• The Yankees will not have fleet center fielder Brett Gardner for the series and perhaps not until next season because of a strained oblique muscle on the left side of his rib cage suffered during Thursday’s game in Baltimore. “Rib cages don’t heal very quickly and sometimes it depends on the individual, a little bit too. But it’s not like it’s just going to be a few days,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It is possible it could be the rest of the year? Yeah.” In 16 games against the Sox this season, Gardner hit .322 with an .878 OPS.

• Righthanded reliever Jose De La Torre, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers. De La Torre appeared in seven games for the Red Sox.

• The Sox are 11-6 against the Yankees.

• The Sox have 21 more victories than last season, the biggest improvement (other than strike seasons) since the 1946 team (104-50) won 33 games more than the 1945 club (71-83).

• David Ortiz has been intentionally walked 24 times, a high for him and the most for a Sox player since Manny Ramirez had 28 in 2003.

• There was a moment of silence before the game to commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Haven Fyfe Kiernan, the widow of one of the victims, threw out the first pitch.


Sox bullpen bends but doesn't break

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 14, 2013 12:10 AM

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The high-hanging slider that Craig Breslow left for Robinson Cano was a mistake he knew he couldn’t afford to make.

Not just to that hitter -- one of the most dangerous in the Yankees lineup even though he was just 4 of 18 against Breslow coming in -- but in that particular situation.

The bases were loaded, the Sox were trying to protect a two-run lead, and the Yankees -- so close to a wild-card spot that they could sniff it -- were trying to hijack momentum.

Then Cano sent a line drive into the right-center gap on a zipline.

“It just comes down to executing pitches and when you don't, you're going to get beat regardless of the matchup and when you do, you've got to be able to take your chances,” Breslow said. “That Cano at-bat is obviously the one I'm the least happy with, falling behind, leaving a ball up over the plate and he's obviously too good of a player to make those kinds of mistakes with.”

The game-tying double was costly, but with Jarrod Saltalamacchia immediately responding in the bottom of the inning with the grand slam that decided the Red Sox’ 8-4 win, the price wasn’t necessarily steep.

It meant that after going six innings for the 16th time in his past 17 starts, John Lackey would again leave without factoring into the decision.

“John threw the ball too well tonight to not get a win,” Breslow said. “Lackey was throwing the ball really, really well. Probably had something left in the tank and the Cano hit obviously cost him a win, but what's important is winning the game.”

But the bullpen was able to keep the inning from unavailing completely.

Brandon Workman came in and got Alfonso Soriano to bounce out to third. Then Junichi Tazawa pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

Workman bounced back after blowing the first save chance of his career on Wednesday.

“The one thing we've seen in a quick period of time with Brandon is that he's got some presence out there,” Farrell said. “He doesn't get too rattled. He might make a mistake every now and then, but he made a key pitch to Soriano with the go-ahead runs at second and third.”

If he could keep the game tight, Workman knew the offense could come through.

“That's all I was trying to do was keep the game tied up so we could give our offense a chance,” Workman said. “You've seen all year, especially lately, if we keep them in the game, they're going to find a way at the end of a game. That's what I was trying to do, make sure that we didn't give up the lead right there and kept our offense in the game.”

Final: Red Sox 8, Yankees 4

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 13, 2013 06:59 PM

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With one deep fly ball of the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Yankees went from inching closer to the Rangers and Rays in the wild card race to being buried.

Saltalamacchia's eighth-inning grand slam was the hammer punch in the Red Sox's 8-4 win, pushing their record to 89-50.

For the Sox, who have won eight of their past 10, it's their fifth 90-win season since 2007 but their first since 2011.

After snapping an 0-for-21 slump Thursday night against Tampa Bay, Saltalamacchia went 2 for 3 with two runs scored, and four RBIs in the opener of a three-game set against New York.

Despite going 6.1 innings and giving up four earned runs, Sox starter John Lackey didn't factor into the decision.

FULL ENTRY

Grounds crew pulls the tarp off at Fenway

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 13, 2013 06:03 PM

With the weather clearing up after some heavy rain, the Fenway Park grounds crew is taking the tarp off the field.

Neither team took batting practice, but a few of the Sox got in some long toss even through the downpour.

fenwaytarp.jpg

The hourly forecast for the rest of the night is cloudy but rain-free. First pitch is still a little more than an hour away.

Ellsbury (foot) begins physical activity

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 13, 2013 05:55 PM

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Six days after being sidelined indefinitely with a fracture in his right foot, Jacoby Ellsbury began physical activity, albeit not baseball activity.

"He comes out of the boot for a period of time for some exercises, some work in the pool," said Sox manager John Farrell, who added that there is still no projected date of return.

After the center fielder had an exam and got a second opinion, Farrell said, doctors and trainers agreed that today was the first day to for him to test out the injured foot, as the swelling has subsided.

"He's on target as far as that initial plan," Farrell said.

How much he does going forward will be determined day to day.

"It'll be to tolerance as we go through it," Farrell said. "That was outlined in conjunction with the doctors and the training staff here. So that's just initiated today."

Know your Red Sox beards

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 13, 2013 03:22 PM

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The Red Sox have stepped up their social media game this season, and here's a good example. The fun #getbeard hashtag has become popular on Twitter today.

The Sox also came up with a chart of beards on the team. Meanwhile, it's Beard Night at Fenway Wednesday. Walk-up tickets are $1 if you have a beard or even a fake one.


Game 149: Yankees at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 13, 2013 02:39 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (89-59)
Pedroia 2B
Victorino RF
Ortiz DH
Carp 1B
Nava LF
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Middlebrooks 3B
Bradley Jr. CF
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (9-12, 3.48).

YANKEES (79-68)
Granderson CF
Rodriguez DH
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Overbay 1B
Nunez 3B
Suzuki RF
Ryan SS
Stewart C
Pitching: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI, WCBS.

Red Sox vs. Kuroda: Drew 8-35, Pedroia 8-27, Ellsbury 8-23, Nava 6-20, Salty 5-23, Victorino 6-22, Carp 6-18, Ortiz 9-15, Gomes 2-13, Napoli 3-9, Berry 2-8, Lavarnway 1-8, Middlebrooks 3-8, Bradley 0-3.

Yankees vs. Lackey: Suzuki 33-110, Rodriguez 13-67, Cano 15-63, Wells 8-40, Soriano 5-37, Granderson 8-31, Gardner 11-31, Overbay 11-30, Nunez 4-9, Reynolds 2-11, Ryan 1-6, Stewart 1-4, Romine 1-4, Murphy 1-1.

Stat of the Day: Rodriguez is hitting .294/.391/.504 since appealing his suspension for what MLB said was using performance-enhancing drugs over multiple years. He has 653 home runs, seven away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place in history.

Notes: The Red Sox start the day with an 8.5 game lead in the division. The Yankees are a game out in the wild card race. ... The Yankees have won three straight and four of five after losing three in row against the Red Sox to start a four-game series last weekend. ... The Sox are 10-6 against the Yankees this season, outscoring them 98-78. ... Lackey is 2-1, 5.79 in three starts against the Yankees this season. He allowed seven runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings against the Yanks last Saturday but got the win. ... Kuroda is 1-3, 4.26 in five starts against the Red Sox this season. He gave up two runs on five hits over six innings last Sunday against the Sox in a game the Yankees won. ... The Sox are 29 of their last 29 on stolen bases, last getting nabbed on Aug. 9. ... The Sox are three games up on Oakland for the best record in the AL and percentage points behind the Braves for the best record in baseball.

Song of the Day: "Friday" by Joe Jackson.

Pitching matchups for the Yankees series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 13, 2013 09:00 AM

Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99) vs. RHP John Lackey (9-12, 3.48), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (13-12, 4.82) vs. LHP Jon Lester (13-8, 3.86), 1:05 p.m., FOX.

Sunday: RHP Ivan Nova (8-4, 3.17) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (10-0, 1.61), 8:05 p.m., ESPN.

Peavy says wrist his wrist is fine

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 13, 2013 12:30 AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jake Peavy said after the game that his right wrist was bruised and sore but otherwise fine.

A line drive off the bat of Desmond Jennings hit Peavy on the outer edge of the right wrist in the sixth inning. He stayed in the game and got the final out of the inning before leaving after 107 pitches.

Peavy had his wrist wrapped after a 4-3 loss against the Rays. But he said X-rays were negative.

“It’ll be OK,” he said. “I’m not worried about it.

Also:

• Rays manager Joe Maddon on the Red Sox: “We’re really looking forward to playing them in the playoffs." Tampa Bay has a one-game lead in the wild-card race.

• David Ortiz connected in the sixth inning for his 27th home run. He now has 91 RBIs. Big Papi could reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the first time since 2010.

• Former Red Sox manager Don Zimmer watched from the stands as the teams took batting practice before the game. Zimmer, 82, is a senior adviser with the Rays. Jonny Gomes, a former Tampa Bay player, sat with Zimmer for a bit. Dustin Pedroia also came over to say hello.

• Shane Victorino did not play. John Farrell described him as having “tightness overall” after playing two games on the spongy turf at Tropicana Field.

Final: Rays 4, Red Sox 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 12, 2013 07:22 PM

Game over: Rays 4, Red Sox 3: Fernando Rodney has to be giving Joe Maddon ulcers. Asked to preserve a one-run lead for the Rays - OK he did - but after some nail-biting moments. He secured the first out, but he put the next two batters (including Wednesday hero Mike Carp with a walk) on base. He got pinch-hitter will Middlebrooks to line out hard to third before Dustin Pedroia popped out to shortstop to end the game, which lasted 3:17 before 20,360.

Bottom 8th: Rays 4, Red Sox 3: Evan Longoria stroked a ground-rule double to deep center with one out and scored on Wil Myers' slicing double to right field to give the Rays the lead again. The double came off Rubby de la Rosa after Drake Britton had retired the first batter, James Loney. Farrell went with the hard-throwing De La Rosa.

Top 8th: Rays 3, Red Sox 3 - Rays aren't letting this one get away. A 1-2-3 inning as Napoli (strike out No. 176) and Salty both K.

Bottom 7th: Rays 3, Red Sox 3 - Drake Britton on for Boston. He got Escobar to line out to center. After walking Delmon Young, Ben Zobrist knocked into a 1-6-3 double play.

Top 7th: Rays 3, Red Sox 3 - The Red Sox take three strikeouts from Jamey Wright.

Bottom 6th: Rays 3, Red Sox 3 - Jake Peavy pitched his last inning for the Red Sox. Peavy took a comebacker off the leg hit by Desmond Jennings, but he was OK. Peavy waved the trainers away though they came out anyway. He had thrown 107 pitches by the end of the inning

Top 6th: Rays 3, Red Sox 3 - David Ortiz smoked his 27th homer to left center, making this game even closer. Jarrod Saltalamacchia continued the proceedings with a walk and a steal of second base when nobody was looking, his second steal of the season. That helped big time as Stephen Drew doubled to right to score the catcher, tying the game.

Bottom 5th: Rays 3 Red Sox 1 - Yes, they're ahead but the Rays struggle so much to score runs. Since July 31st they've averaged 3.16 runs per game, fewest in the majors. Here they put two on with nobody out and couldn't score against Jake Peavy.

Top 5th: Rays 3, Red Sox 1 - With two outs, Dustin Pedroia singled through the 5-6 hole against Hellickson and went to second on a wild pitch. But Daniel Nava flew out to center to end the inning.

Bottom 4th: Rays 3, Red Sox 1 - Desmond Jennings homered to left against Peavy. Could have been more but Matt Joyce was caught stealing.

Top 4th: Rays 2, Red Sox 1 - Salty lines homer No. 12 to right field to put Boston on the board. He hit a 3-2 pitch.

Bottom 3rd: Rays 2, Red Sox 0 - David De Jesus walked with one out and scored on James Loney's two-out double atop the rightfield wall. Longoria then flew out to left.

Top 3rd: Rays 1, Red Sox 0 - Hellickson has a 1-2-3 inning as he retires the top of the Red Sox order.

Bottom 2nd: Rays 1, Red Sox 0 - Evan Longoria tripled to deep right and scored on wil Myers' single up the middle. Jake Peavy was able to rebound by striking out Desmond Jennings and Jose Lobaton.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - Stephen Drew walked with one out, but Hellickson struck out Xander Bogaerts and got Jackie Bradley to ground out into a force.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - The Rays continued to produce nada offensively. Three-up and three down against Jake Peavy.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - The Red Sox rallied in the first, but left two runners on base. With one out, Daniel Nava, hitting .300, singled through the 5-6 hole, but Mike Napoli grounded out to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who did a nice job to avoid a broken bat and Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out swinging to end the threat.

Healthy Napoli hopes to return to Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 12, 2013 06:51 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The game hasn't started yet here at Tropicana Field. But Mike Napoli has already had a productive day.

Today marks Napoli’s 165th day on the roster and that guarantees him the entire $8 million incentive package that was built into his contract in January.

Napoli initially agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox in December. The team backed away from that agreement after a physical found that Napoli had a degenerative condition in his hips.

The sides agreed to a one-year contract worth $5 million with incentives based on time on the active roster or plate appearance. Napoli had already earned $6 million. Today pushed him to $8 million in incentives for $13 million total.

“I was always confident. I never felt anything in my hips,” Napoli said before the Red Sox played the Tampa Bay Rays. “I just took the necessary steps. I’ve been in the training room a lot, doing all my work, working out.”

The condition in his hips, avascular necrosis, was controlled by medication. According to Napoli, the two MRIs he had during the season showed no progress by the disease.

“The MRIs showed that it’s been under control and stayed exactly the same. It’s what we wanted to happen,” Napoli said. “I think the medicine has something to do with it."

Tonight will be the 129th game Napoli has played in, 11 shy of his career best. He has 534 plate appearances, the most of his career. Napoli also has been productive. He is hitting .260 with an .836 OPS. He had 36 doubles, 21 home runs and 87 RBIs.

Napoli also leads the majors with 4.58 pitches per plate appearance. That has helped lead to 174 strikeouts, three shy of tying the team record. But the Red Sox accept the strikeouts because of everything else Napoli adds.

"I think he's had an outstanding season when you consider when you consider the numbers he's putting up," manager John Farrell said."The one thing that we've seen throughout the course of the year is that when we give him some periodic rest, he stays fresh and extremely productive.

"He embodies everything that we value as far as a hitter," Farrell said. "He cares about what he does on the field. He's very conscientious. He works his tail off. He's had probably every bit of the year we would hope when we signed him."

Napoli will be a free agent after the season and should command a multi-year deal given his apparent health and production.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll have to go through the whole MRI process and do all of that stuff again. But everything has looked good and I’m confident that teams aren’t going to shy away,” Napoli said.

“I’d love to stay [with the Red Sox]. I love this group of guys and there’s a lot of guys coming back. This is a special group and bringing back the guys like this, they’re going to be able to win for a couple of years.”

That the Red Sox are most familiar with Napoli could help that process.

“They know how I work. It’s in front of everybody. They see the MRIs,” he said. “When that time come, we’ll probably try to pursue something. But right now we’re just worried about winning and taking care of this year.”

Game 148: Red Sox at Rays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 12, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (89-58)
Pedroia 2B
Nava RF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Gomes LF
Drew SS
Bogaerts 3B
Bradley CF
Pitching: RHP Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.55; 11-5, 4.01 overall).

RAYS (78-66)
DeJesus LF
Zobrist 2B
Loney 1B
Longoria 3B
Joyce DH
Myers RF
Jennings CF
Lobaton C
Escobar SS
Pitching: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (11-8, 5.04).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI-FM (93.7)

Red Sox vs. Hellickson: Pedroia 5-28, Ortiz 8-22, Salty 7-23, Ellsbury 6-23, Middlebrooks 1-12, Napoli 2-11, Nava 1-10, Carp 2-7, Drew 3-7, Gomes 3-7, McDonald 0-2, Victorino 0-2, Berry 1-2, Bradley 0-2, Lavarnway 0-1.

Rays vs. Peavy: Loney 9-28, DeJesus 3-21, Johnson 2-12, Young 3-13, Longoria 2-12, Scott 4-12, Zobrist 4-10, Escobar 1-9, Joyce 1-6, Molina 0-6, Rodriguez 2-4, Fuld 0-3, Jennings 0-3, Lobaton 0-2.

Stat of the Day: The Rays are 21 for 147 (.143) with runners in scoring position against the Red Sox this season.

Notes: The Sox are 5-1 on a road trip that ends tonight. A nine-game homestand starts Friday ... The Sox are 12-6 against the Rays with one game left in the season series. They have outscored Tampa Bay, 107-81. The Sox last won 13 games against the Rays in 2007 ... The Sox are 8-2 in September ... Peavy is 3-1, 4.99 in five career starts against the Rays. He faced them April 26 while with Chicago and allowed three runs over 6.2 innings ... Hellickson is 1-5, 7.42 in his last seven starts. He has faced the Sox twice this season and allowed only four earned runs over 13 innings ... The Sox have won nine of 12 road games including seven of the last eight ... The Rays have lost five of six and 13 of 17. They start the day with a one-game lead in the wild card race on the Yankees ... The Sox have won seven of eight, 10 of 12, and 14 of 17.

Song of the Day: "Magic Bus" by The Who.

Red Sox to honor Mariano Rivera on Sunday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 12, 2013 10:23 AM

The Red Sox, as expected, will pay tribute to Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in a pregame ceremony at Fenway Park on Sunday. It will be the final regular-season game at Fenway for the 43-year-old Rivera, who announced he would retire after the season.

Rivera has appeared in 55 regular-season games at Fenway Park, the most for an opposing reliever in the park's 102 seasons.

Fans coming to Sunday’s game, scheduled to start at 8:05 p.m., are invited to be seated by approximately 7:30 p.m. A limited number of tickets are still available for the game.

In July, Rivera met with a group of long-time Red Sox employees, some Jimmy Fund patients and two victims of the Marathon bombings for a private question-and-answer session. He has hosted such events at all parks this season as his way of paying tribute to fans around the game.

'Remarkable' Mike Carp gives Red Sox another late win

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 11, 2013 11:59 PM

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AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Perhaps it's time to stop trying to figure out how the Red Sox are doing this. Because you won't have much luck.

Mike Carp's game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning Wednesday night was the seventh pinch-hit home run of the season for the Sox. No other American League team has more than four. The Sox are tied with the Nationals for the most in baseball.

Carp was designated for assignment just before spring training by the Seattle Mariners, the team with the third-worst offense in the American League. The Red Sox picked him up for what amounts to loose change.

In 211 plate appearances, Carp is hitting .314 with a .938 OPS. He has nine home runs and 37 RBIs. Of his 59 hits, 27 have been for extra bases. Few players have done more with their opportunities than Carp has.

Wednesday was Carp's crowning moment.

"To sit there for nearly four hours and come up and swing at the first pitch you see for a grand slam is pretty remarkable," John Farrell said.

When the Rays called in righthander Roberto Hernandez with two on, Farrell told Carp to get ready to pinch hit for Johnny Gomes, who was 0 for 8 in his career against Hernandez.

Hernandez walked Mike Napoli to load the bases. Carp came up, swung at the first pitch he saw and drilled it out to center.

"Get a run in," Carp said. "I was looking for something out over the plate that I could put a good swing on and he hung a slider. I ended up doing a lot of more than I expected to do with it."

A few other notes:

• The Red Sox have won 22 times in their final at-bat. "It's a never-say-die attitude," Carp said. "We play until the last out. It has been that way all season."

• Because the Rays had the top of their order coming up in the ninth, Farrell said he went to closer Koji Uehara. He also had a feeling the Sox could scratch across a run in the next inning. Little did he guess it would be four.

Uehara's statistics seem like Bernard Malamud fiction at this point. He has retired 34 in a row. The last runner to reach base on Uehara was Lyle Overbay on Aug. 17. In his last 26 appearances, Uehara has thrown 29 1/3 scoreless innings and put seven runners on base. Opponents are 6 for 94 against him in those 29 1/3 innings.

Uehara's streak of batters retired is the longest in team history. Ellis Kinder had the old record of 32 in 1952. His scoreless innings streak is the longest for a Sox reliever since Dick Radatz went 33 innings in 1963. The 26 consecutive appearances without a run are a team record. Daniel Bard had the old record of 25 in 2011.

"We don't talk about it what he's doing," John McDonald said. "We just watch."

• The Rays have dropped 13 of 17, a collapse that now has them one game ahead of the Yankees. The Indians and Orioles are 1.5 behind and the Royals are two out. The Rangers are only percentage points ahead of the Rays.

If the Red Sox finish with the top record in the American League, they'll get the wild card winner. All these teams fighting through a do-or-die September would seem advantageous for the Sox

• The Sox have won nine of their last 12 road games. They are 42-33 on the road.

• The Sox are 8-2 in September. They were 7-19 last season. In 10 games, they scored nearly as many runs this month (75) as they did all of September last season (78).

Final: Red Sox 7, Rays 3 (10 innings)

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 11, 2013 07:02 PM

Game over: Red Sox 7, Rays 3 (10 innings): Red Sox wrap up another one. That's seven of eight and 10 of 12 and they're 89-58 with a 9.5-game lead on the Rays. The magic number is eight.

The Rays have lost 13 of 17. They're a game ahead of the Yankees.

Uehara with the win. Tazawa finished it up. From 69-93 to this.

Middle of the 10th: Red Sox 7, Rays 3: Wow, John Farrell pulled another rabbit out his hat as Mike Carp delivered a pinch-hit grand slam off Roberto Hernandez.

Facing Joel Peralta, Pedroia walked and was bunted to second by Victorino. Ortiz was intentionally walked. In came Hernandez, who walked Napoli to load the bases.

Carp pinch hit for Gomes and lined the first pitch out to center. He has eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 211 plate appearances. It was the seventh pinch-hit homer for the Red Sox this season and the first pinch-hit grand slam since Kevin Millar in 2003.

Top of the 10th: Red Sox 3, Rays 3: Another 1-2-3 inning for Uehara. That's 34 in a row retired by him. The record for relievers since 1960 is 41 in a row by Bobby Jenks in 2007.

Shockingly, Uehara needed 17 pitches to get the three outs.

Middle of the 9th: Red Sox 3, Rays 3: Rodney retired the side in order. Farrell going to Koji in a non-save situation. Desperate Rays get the hottest reliever in baseball.

Top of the 9th: Red Sox 3, Rays 3: Workman allowed a home run by James Loney to right field. Four strikeouts for Workman in two innings, but also two runs. He hasn't cashed in on recent high-leverage relief chances.

Fernando Rodney in for the Rays.

Top of the 8th: Red Sox 3, Rays 2: Pedroia singled off Jamie Wright. But Jake McGee got Ortiz to ground into an inning-ending double play.

There were machinations to start the bottom of the inning. When Sean Rodriguez pinch for DeJesus against Morales, Farrell called in righthander Brandon Workman. Then Joe Maddon sent up Kelly Johnson. Then he struck out. Zobrist walked with two outs and scored on a double by Longoria, who is having a heck of a game (on base four times, several nice plays with the glove). Workman struck out Joyce to end the inning.

Farrell said before the game that Koji Uehara was available. Can his streak continue?

Top of the 7th: Red Sox 3, Rays 1: The Rays nearly pulled off a triple play. Nava and Drew singled to start the sixth. Middlebrooks then hit a chopper to third. Longoria leaped to snare the ball, came down on the bag and fired to second for the second out. The throw to first was just a second late.

Ross walked to force Cobb out of the game. Bradley then grounded into a force.

Franklin Morales, in for Dempster, retired the side in order. Dempster's line: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 7 K.

Top of the 6th: Red Sox 3, Rays 1: The Red Sox got a double from JBJ in the fourth inning but have not done much else since scoring the three runs.

Dempster retired the side in the fourth then struggled again in the fifth. DeJesus walked and Myers singled before Longoria walked — or really was pitched around. Dempster then walked Joyce to load the bases before striking out Jennings.

Dempster has put 10 runners on base in five innings and allowed one run. The Rays are 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They are 0 for last 12 with bases loaded according to Tampa Bay Times beat writer Marc Topkin.

Top of the 4th: Red Sox 3, Rays 1: Escobar doubled and scored in a double by DeJesus. With two outs, Dempster hit Longoria and walked Joyce to load the bases. Jennings grounded a ball into the hole at short. Drew made a diving stop and strong throw to second to get the out and save a run.

It was the kind of play that, had Jose Iglesias made, people would have gone nuts about. Drew has to be winning skeptics over at this point. His defense has been strong.

Middle of the 3rd: Red Sox 3, Rays 0: Pedroia singled with one out and went to third when Victorino doubled down the third base line. When Cobb fell behind Ortiz, Joe Maddon ordered him intentionally walked.

Big mistake. Mike Napoli has raked all season with the bases loaded and he lined a ball to right. Rookie Wil Myers misplayed the low liner into a double and two runs scored. Ortiz then scored on Nava's groundout.

Napoli is hitting .462. (6 for 13) with 13 RBIs when Ortiz is intentionally walked ahead of him. He is 11 for 21 with 31 RBIs in 22 plate appearances with bases loaded.

Top of the 3rd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0: The Sox missed a chance to score. Napoli walked ahead of a single by Nava. Drew fanned before Middlebrooks tapped a ball back to mound. Cobb went to third and Napoli was called safe on a very close play. He and Longoria touched the bag at the same time. Ross then grounded into a double play.

The Rays also missed a shot, Longoria doubled before Jennings walked with one out. Loney grounded to first as Napoli ranged off the bag to make a nice play. His defense has been far, far better than anybody could have expected this season. Dempster then fanned Lobaton to end the inning.

Dempster has not pitched as well as the Red Sox hoped. But he has struck out 148 in 159.2 innings.

Top of the 2nd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0: Easy inning for both pitchers. Bradley made a smooth running catch in center to end the inning when Zobrist launched a ball into the gap.

Who's to say what happens with Jacoby Ellsbury. But it would be a shame to not play Bradley in center field. He's that good.

Pre-game: Good evening from Tropicana Field, where they just had a brief ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

If you haven't seen The Man With the Red Bandana about former former BC lacrosse player Welles Crowther, it's well worth your time.

As for the baseball, it'll be Ryan Dempster against Boston native Alex Cobb. We'll have updates every inning or so.

Hope you hang out here while enjoying the game. The magic number is 10.

Clay Buchholz ready for next outing on Sunday

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 11, 2013 05:59 PM
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Clay Buchholz came out of five shutout innings Tuesday against Tampa Bay just fine. And he’s now on the verge of getting into a normal pitching routine and set to go Sunday against the Yankees at Fenway, according to John Farrell.

“He came out of it as he has the last three rehab starts — nothing abnormal even with increased intensity. He came out of it in good shape. He’ll go Sunday night at home. I’m sure he’ll increase his time on the mound with an incremental bump up of pitches is in order," Farrell said.

Buchholz threw 74 pitches and should get up around 90 Sunday. After that, there should be no restrictions if all goes well.

• Despite a four-out save, the fact Koji Uehara threw only 13 pitches (12 for strikes) means that he will be available for action in tonight’s game.

• John Farrell said that despite Felix Doubront being out of the rotation, he will get another start before the year is out. Farrell hasn’t forgotten his contribution for most of the season.

“He was very good,” Farrell said. “For a consistent stretch of 15 consecutive starts where he allowed three runs or less when Clay went down, he stepped up as did John Lackey, after he got over early season inconsistencies with arm strength and reeled off two months of reliability. “

• Farrell said rookie righty Allen Webster will get chances out of the bullpen. The Red Sox are curious to see how his 97 mph fastball works out of the pen.

• Approaching 90 wins, Farrell was hesitant to elaborate on the significance of that number, though after winning 73 games in Toronto last season, it has to feel good. “One thing we didn’t do is set a number or goal of a number of wins. The reality, I think, is a number can almost limit you. Hopefully we don’t stop there,” Farrell said.

• Don’t expect Jarrod Saltalamacchia to catch every day between now and the end of the season. They Sox are going to be careful about his back, which has been balky of late with inflammation that just recently began to subside. There’s no structural damage so Farrell is content to “spreading out the workload as best as possible until he’s completely out of the woods.”

• While Farrell thinks Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts are ready to be everyday player he warned that the composition of the roster next season could also determine whether both will be starting players. “Do I think they can be everyday players? Yes I do.”

But the discussion will be whether the Red Sox are best served having two rookies start up the middle.

Ask Nick: Why not use a six-man rotation?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 11, 2013 02:55 PM
Two weeks ago, David Ross told me, “We haven’t played our best baseball yet. Once we do, we’re going to run away with it.”

Have a
question?

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Pretty good call by Mr. Ross. The Red Sox are playing their best baseball, and barring a collapse, they appear to be running away with it. All that’s left is the wild-card races, and they will indeed go down to the wire. The Red Sox will likely have a lot of say in those because of their head-to-head meetings with the Yankees and Orioles.

We can’t overstate the significance of Clay Buchholz’s return to the Red Sox. It really is like they’ve just acquired an elite pitcher for September. As he builds back up to full throttle, the Red Sox have their shutdown pitcher back, which now enables them to easily match up against the Tigers, Rangers, Rays, A’s, or whomever.

And looking beyond this year, Pedro Martinez said, “Next year you’re talking about Cy Young for Clay. That’s where you’re looking now. Nobody is more upset that he couldn’t have a full year more than he is.”

*In his absence, we’re going to find out how important Jacoby Ellsbury is. Agent Scott Boras and the Red Sox insist Ellsbury will be back from his fractured right foot before the end of the regular season and should be good by the postseason. Boras said no surgery is required and called the injury “self-healing.”

We still wonder how this will affect teams going after Ellsbury this offseason when he hits free agency. Then again, Boras has gotten big contracts for players (Magglio Ordonez being one) coming off injuries.

*Xander Bogaerts wants to be like his older teammates, but he acknowledged that he can’t grow one of those team beards because he’s unable to grow hair on the sides of his face. In lieu of a beard, maybe he can provide a few more 450-foot homers.

*On the subject of Bogaerts, we’re trying to come up with a nickname. He says a lot of people call him “Bogey” or “X-Man.” How about "X-Factor"? Or just "X"? Any ideas?

*Shane Victorino told me that while he’s on a roll hitting righthanded, he will not abandoned switch hitting. He did say that perhaps he’ll be selective when he bats lefthanded and not do it automatically.

Considering that so many pitchers do better with additional rest, why do the Sox, and other teams as well, not go with a six-man rotation?
Bruce, Saigon, Vietnam
I’ve always asked this question of pitching experts and they all say the same thing – you can do it, but you’d have to have the right six guys to pull it off. Some guys think too much rest throws them off their game. They feel “too strong” is what I get and therefore they overthrow and get out of their comfort zone. I never understood this, but I’ve seen it happen. Veteran pitchers like their routine. Also, you want your 1-2 pitchers to pitch as often as possible, not less.

This season has yet to close and I already have questions for next year. Salty has improved significantly since last year at the plate as well as behind the plate. With free agency looming for Salty, do you think the Sox will try and bring him back?
Evan, Longmeadow
Salty has indeed improved. I think Dana LeVangie, the new bullpen coach and catching instructor, has done a great under-the-radar job getting Salty over the hump. Gary Tuck used to get all the credit for the catchers, but the biggest improvement has come under LeVangie, who was the former bullpen catcher (working a lot with Jason Varirek) and then the advance scout, breaking down the opposition. I think the Red Sox will make Salty a good offer, but if I were him, I’d test the market. There’s Brian McCann and there’s Salty and he should get a big payday. I know Salty has publicly stated he’d like to remain a Red Sox. Given how far he’s come in his relationship with the pitching staff, I think it would behoove the Red Sox to sign him. On the other hand, they have a lot of catching prospects, though the one who seems to be a starter is Blake Swihart, who is probably two years away.

I was wondering what the Sox had in their plans for first base starting in 2014. My first impression would be that they would try to move Middlebrooks to first, keep Bogaerts at shortstop, and possibly consider looking at Cecchini for the long term. What do you think?
Nate, Erving
I think the Red Sox are trying to sort through this and probably won’t until after the season. I’m sure how they finish, whether they make the World Series or get eliminated, will have a lot to do with some of these decisions. I think a couple of weeks ago when Mike Napoli was slumping, we were all on the Move Will Middlebrooks To First campaign. But now Middlebrooks is hot, Napoli is hot, Bogaerts looks great. Now we’re on the bandwagon of playing Bogaerts at shortstop and not re-signing Stephen Drew. Garin Cecchini has Triple A to look forward to next season, so there’s time to figure him out. The other possibility is that Bogaerts spends some time in Triple A to start the season, which would open things up for Drew. Not many teams have good alternatives like this.

Click the full entry button for more Q&A.

FULL ENTRY

Game 147: Red Sox at Rays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 11, 2013 02:54 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (88-58)
Pedroia 2B
Victorino RF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Nava LF
Drew SS
Middlebrooks 3B
Ross C
Bradley CF
Pitching: RHP Ryan Dempster (8-9, 4.79).

RAYS (78-65)
DeJesus LF
Myers RF
Zobrist 2B
Longoria 3B
Joyce DH
Jennings CF
Loney 1B
Libation C
Escobar SS
Pitching: RHP Alex Cobb (8-3, 2.99).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, ESPN / WEEI.

Rays vs. Dempster: Loney 3-24, Johnson 1-14, Escobar 2-14, Longoria 2-8, Scott 3-7, Jennings 1-5, Joyce 1-6, Zobrist 2-5, Wright 2-5, Molina 2-3, Myers 0-3, Young 1-3, Lobaton 0-2.

Red Sox vs. Cobb: Pedroia 4-15, Salty 2-10, Ellsbury 3-13, Nava 2-11, Drew 2-9, Victorino 3-8, Napoli 2-7, Ortiz 1-4, Middlebrooks 2-6, Carp 2-5, Lavarnway 1-4, Berry 0-2, Bradley 0-3.

Stat of the Day: Koji Uehara has retired 31 consecutive hitters, the longest streak for a reliever since Jason Motte of the Cardinals set down 32 in a row for the Cardinals. Since 1960, the record is 41 in a row by Bobby Jenks of the White Sox in 2007.

Notes: The Red Sox have won six of seven and nine of their last 11 games. They lead the Rays by 8.5 games with 16 games left and have a magic number of 10. ... The Sox also lead the Athletics by four games for the best record in the American League. ... The Rays have lost 12 of 16. They have averaged 2.6 runs in those 16 games and hit .179 with runners in scoring position. ... The Sox have won eight of 11 on the road. ... Dempster has allowed four runs in 13 innings against the Rays in two starts this season. He is 3-5, 3.94 in 10 career starts against Tampa Bay. ... Cobb is facing the Red Sox for the fourth time. He allowed 10 earned runs on 18 hits over 17 innings in the previous three starts. ... Napoli is 19 of his last 48 (.396) with 11 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs.

Song of the Day: "Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M.

Yaz to be honored with statue at Fenway

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 11, 2013 12:35 PM

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The Red Sox announced Wednesday they will unveil a statue of Hall of Fame left fielder Carl Yastrzemski on Sept. 22.

The statue will be the third outside Fenway Park, and it will be located between the statue of Ted Williams and “The Teammates” statue near the Gate B entrance.

The statue will depict Yastrzemski tipping his helmet to the crowd as he famously did Oct. 2, 1983, after his final at-bat.

“This is quite an honor,” Yastrzemski said in a team news release. “To have a bronze statue at Fenway Park is something I never could have imagined, and I am very grateful to the Red Sox for this kind gesture.”

The statue will be unveiled at an 11 a.m. ceremony prior to the Red Sox’ game vs. the Blue Jays. Yastrzemski will also throw out the first pitch that day.

Yastrzemski played his entire 23-year major-league career with the Red Sox. He had a career .285 batting average with 452 home runs and 1,844 RBIs.

(Globe file photo by Stan Grossfeld)

Salem wins title; Pawtucket takes Game 1

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 11, 2013 12:34 AM

The Single A Salem Red Sox won the Carolina League title Tuesday, finishing off a three-game sweep of the Potomac Nationals with a 6-4 win.

Salem finished the season with 11 wins in a row. Sean Coyle returned from injury and was the series MVP. Read more from Craig Forde on the On Deck blog.

Meanwhile Triple A Pawtucket scored two runs in the eighth inning to beat Durham, 2-1, in the first game of the best-of-five Governors’ Cup series in the International League.

Brock Holt had a two-run single. Anthony Ranaudo went six innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out four. Alex Wilson, Ryan Rowland-Smith, and Anthony Carter each pitched an inning.

Holt and Jeremy Hazelbaker made big defensive plays in the eighth inning to preserve the lead. Durham then left the bases loaded in the ninth.

The Paw Sox will play Game 2 Wednesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Game 3 will be Friday at 7:05 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. If necessary, Game 4 would be Saturday at 6:05 p.m. and Game 5 Sunday at 1:05 p.m., both at McCoy. Pawtucket is the defending league champion.

Tickets for all possible playoff games at McCoy are on sale at the stadium box office. Fans also can charge tickets by calling (401) 724-7300 or going to www.pawsox.com.


Clay Buchholz strong in return to mound

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 11, 2013 12:17 AM

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AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox had modest goals for Clay Buchholz Tuesday night. Throwing 75-80 pitches and walking off the mound with a healthy shoulder would have made his first outing in 95 days a rousing success.

That Buchholz threw five scoreless innings and showed command, velocity, and the ability to control the game was a bonus few expected.

"Honestly, yes," manager John Farrell said when asked if he were surprised.

Buchholz (10-0) allowed three singles, walked one, and struck out six. He left after 74 pitches, 44 of them strikes. The bullpen finished off an impressive four-hit shutout.

Buchholz looked like a pitcher getting ready for the postseason, or at least who will be once he builds up his pitch count.

“I felt good. I had some counts where I had to throw a strike,” Buchholz said. “The offspeed stuff [was] pretty good. There were a couple of times I didn’t really follow through in my delivery or stay back in my delivery.”

The underrated (and all too often unacknowledged) Craig Breslow worked two innings before Junichi Tazawa started the eighth. When Tazawa gave up a double with two outs, Farrell went to Koji Uehara.

Uehara needed only 13 pitches to record four outs, 12 of them strikes. The save was his 19th on the season.

In 33 appearances since being named the closer he has allowed one earned run over 35 2/3 innings and struck out 49.

Uehara has not allowed a run in 28 1/3 innings and has retired the last 31 batters he has faced, striking out 14. It’s the longest streak for a Red Sox pitcher since Hideo Nomo also retired 31 in a row in 2001.

“I have huge respect for him. He’s somebody that I looked up to,” Uehara said via interpreter C.J. Matsumoto. “He’s on another level.”

The Sox extended their lead to 8.5 games on the Rays in the American League East with only 16 games to play. The Sox have won six of seven and nine of their last 11 games.

With Oakland losing, the Sox also have a four-game lead for the best record in the AL and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Final: Red Sox 2, Rays 0

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 10, 2013 07:03 PM

Game over, Red Sox 2, Rays 0: Uehara threw 13 pitches, 12 strikes to earn his 19th save. He has retired 31 straight batters and pitched 28-1/3 scoreless innings. This one was a four-out save as the Sox keep winning and the Rays keep fading and are making this wild card race very interesting. Clay Buchholz returned and pitched five scoreless innings to improve to 10-0 with a 1.61 ERA. The game was played in 3:10 before 18,605.

Top 9th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - Dustin Pedroia singled and stole second base and Mike Napoli walked with two outs against Joel Peralta. Gomes flew out to center to end the threat.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - Tazawa gives up a two-out double to Escobar. Koji Uehara comes on for a four-out save. gets Wil Myers to pop out for the final out of the eighth. David Price went eight innings, three hits, two earned runs with nine strikeouts and will likely lose the game. Price threw 127 pitches the most of his career and 92 strikes. It was the most by a Rays pitcher since Victor Zambrano threw 128 pitches in 2004.

Top 8th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - Danile Nava singled off Price and got all the way to third base on a wild pitch and ground out, but Stephen Drew, now 0-for-10 vs. Price. struck out.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - Another good inning for Breslow, who walked one batter but got out of it keeping the score as is.

Top 7th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - The Sox were retired in order by Price, who has picked up after his hiccup in the fifth.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - Yunel Escobar drew a walk vs. Craig Breslow who relieved Clay Buchholz. After Wil Myers grounded into a force at second, Ben Zobrist grounded into a double play as Pedroia tagged the runenr and threw to first.

Top 6th:Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - David Price struck out the side.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - Buchholz doesn't seem to have any rust and seems to have picked up where he left off. He's using his whole repertoire, has a really good curveball and retired the side in the fifth including his sixth strikeout (Luke Scott). This may have been his last inning with Craig Breslow now warming up.

Top 5th: Red Sox 2, Rays 0 - Mike Napoli doubled over Desmond Jennings' head on a ball that was sent to deepest part of centerfield hitting Jennings' glove and the yellow line on top of the fence. Napoli scored on Jonny Gomes' single to center. He took second base on the throw. Nava's sac bunt advanced Gomes to third. Jarrod Saltalamacchia's battled Price to a 3-2 count before hitting a bomb to center that was caught by Desmond Jennings near the CF wall. It scored Gomes with the second run.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - Clay Buchholz continues to shut out the Rays. While he walked Matt Joyce, he also struck out two and got the second straight caught stealing on a nice Saltalamacchia throw to catch Joyce stealing.

Top 4th: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - David Price has his good stuff. He had allowed only two runs to the Red Sox in 16-1/3 innings this season, but now he's gone four more innings beyond that. He's retired all 12 batters.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - Not as pretty as Price's outing, but Buchholz is pitching very well for a guy who hasn't pitched for three months. He allowed a single to leadoff hitter David DeJesus, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia gunned him down trying to steal second on a nice throw. Buchholz then retired Ben Zobrist on a grounder to first on which he covered for the out.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - Price has retired the first nine batters. He caught a pop up by Stephen Drew, an oddity as you never see pitchers take charge to catch a pop up with James Loney in the vicinity.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - Buchholz allowed a single to James Loney on a 90 mph fastball, but then rebounded to strike out Luke Scott on a3-2 fastball at 93 mph. Desmond Jennings reached on an infield single, but Buchholz was able to strike out Jose Molina on 92 mph fastball that had great movement to retire the side.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - Price has retied all six batters he's faced. Napoli, Gomes and Nava all went down. Nava's ball was hit hard to center.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - All eyes are on Clay Buchholz and he didn't disappoint in the first inning. Buchholz, who hasn't pitched in a major league game since June 8 certainly didn't look rusty. He got David DeJesus to fly out to center, Ben Zobrist to ground out off Buchholz and to Pedroia who threw him out and then struck out Evan Longoria with a curveball. Buchholz threw his cutter, changeup, fastball and curve in that inning. He threw his fastball at 92 mph which is about right. he had been throwing 88-90 mph in his rehab outings. He's expected to throw 75 pitches tonight as he seeks to go 10-0.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Rays 0 - David Price hasn't been pitching that well for the Rays of late, but he's started out well tonight. He struck out Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino to lead off he game and then retired David Ortiz with a fly out tor right.

Great to see Derek Lowe in the NESN booth. He and Pedro Martinez, who has been with the team in his duties as special assistant to the general manager, did a lot of reminiscing about their time in Boston. Game will be underway shortly and we'll have the updates. Wil Myers brought out the lineup card for the Rays.

Now batting leadoff, Dustin Pedroia

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 10, 2013 05:26 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia is batting leadoff tonight for the first time since Oct. 3, 2009. Until Jacoby Ellsbury returns, it's a look the Red Sox could use often.

"In Jacoby’s absence, we felt like we needed a guy that would see a lot of pitches," manager John Farrell said. "I think it might help Shane [Victorino] in that 2-hole to see how pitchers are going to attack a righthanded hitter.

"It also gives us an opportunity to get David [Ortiz] to the plate in the first inning. There are a number of things that went into putting Pedey in the leadoff spot. Felt like this is a chance to get out top four or five hitters in the top half of the lineup."

Farrell said Pedroia suggested it and the two talked about the idea Monday.

“The one thing that we’ve really worked hard at is maintaining some continuity,” Farrell said. “If this is one [lineup] that gives us that continuity until Jacoby returns, we’re certainly willing to stay the course.”

Said Pedroia: "It's fine with me. I'm going to have the same approach."

In terms of replacing Ellsbury in center field, Farrell plans to give rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. playing time.

“Jackie’s going to be in the mix. But on certain matchups, we’ll take a look at the alignment we're using tonight. Jonny [Gomes] has good numbers against some righthanded starters, particularly in this series. We’re not locked in to any one thing. But the fortunate thing is we have depth and options.”

Also:

• Farrell on Stephen Drew playing against lefty David Price instead of Xander Bogaerts: “Coming off the off day, Stephen Drew has been one of our mainstays and certainly that’s going to remain.”

• Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who missed five games with a sore lower back last week, is back in the lineup for the second straight game and said he feels fine. But Farrell plans to judiciously use his catcher.

“He’s got one view and I’ve got another. He feels like he can go every day, which you love about him. I think it’s probably smart given what he dealt with that we don’t throw him out there every single day,” Farrell said. “He’s going to get the majority of the reps behind the plate. But I’m a little bit leery right there to run him out there three consecutive days.”

• The Red Sox have every Monday off through the end of the regular season and an extra day off on Sept. 26. Farrell plans to use his starters in order and not change the rotation much. “I think it’s important that we respect what guys have done and we stay as consistent with their routine as much as possible. They’re all going to have to pitch,” Farrell said. “I’m not looking to go away from what has been successful so far.”

• Farrell on tonight's starter, Clay Buchholz: "The next three weeks gives us an opportunity to build him to 100 pitches or more. I think realistically, just to maintain steady progress over the final there weeks is the ultimate goal here."

Watch how Buchholz throws his changeup and cutter tonight. Farrell said those two pitches will show how advanced Buchholz is after his long layoff.

• The team’s charter flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York on Sunday night was delayed for several hours by a mechanical issue and did not arrive in Florida until after midnight.

• Former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, who retired earlier this season after a 17-year career, is working this series for NESN. Lowe lives in Fort Myers, Fla.

• Pedro Martinez is with the team on this road trip and in uniform before games. Farrell said it was just part of his schedule and that Martinez had no specific project he was working on. Don Zimmer, an adviser for the Rays, is here, too.

• In a bit of cheesy gamesmanship, the Rays did not play music on the public address system while the Red Sox took batting practice. The music started, literally, the second the Red Sox were finished.

Game 146: Red Sox at Rays

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 10, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (87-58)
Pedroia 2B
Victorino CF
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Gomes LF
Nava RF
Saltalamacchia C
Middlebrooks 3B
Drew SS
Pitching: RHP Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71).

RAYS (78-64)
DeJesus RF
Zobrist 2B
Longoria 3B
Joyce LF
Loney 1B
Scott DH
Jennings CF
Molina C
Escobar SS
Pitching: LHP David Price (8-7, 3.51).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Price: Pedroia 12-42, Ortiz 8-34, Ellsbury 7-34, Napoli 8-27, Nava 1-18, Victorino 4-17, Gomes 3-17, McDonald 3-14, Salty 1-12, Middlebrooks 5-10, Lavarnway 2-9, Drew 0-7, Snyder 2-6, Ross 2-5, Berry 0-2.

Rays vs. Buchholz: Zobrist 4-34, Scott 7-32, Longoria 7-32, Joyce 6-21, Molina 7-20, Escobar 3-15, Jennings 3-15, Johnson 1-10, DeJesus 3-9, Rodriguez 3-10, Young 1-9, Loney 0-4, Fuld 1-4, Gimenez 0-3.

Stat of the Day: Pedroia has played in 1,000 games and has 283 doubles. The only players with more doubles through 1,000 career games were Joe Medwick (324), Hank Greenberg (304), Al Simmons (291), Nomar Garciaparra (289), Chick Hafey (288), and Todd Helton (287). Medwick, Greenberg, Simmons, and Hafey are all in the Hall of Fame.

Notes: Buchholz is back after a 93-day absence with assorted shoulder woes. The Red Sox were 49-33 in his absence and gained six games in the standings. But Buchholz should be a boost to the rotation. The All-Star will be limited to 75-80 pitches initially but has time to build up for the postseason. Buchholz is 6-5, 2.53 in 15 career starts against the Rays, 3-3, 2.48 in eight starts at Tropicana Field ... Price is 2-1, 2.55 in four starts against the Red Sox this season, 10-5, 2.98 in 19 career starts. Price was hit hard (14 IP, 17 H, 9 ER) in two starts on Tampa Bay's recent 3-7 West Coast trip ... The Rays have lost 11 of 15 ... The Sox have won five of six and eight of 10. They start the day with a three-game lead on Oakland for the best record in the league ... The Sox are 10-6 against the Rays this season ... Napoli is 18 of 45 (.400) over his last 13 games with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBIs and eight walks ... Ortiz is 8 of his last 22 with eight runs, six extra-base hits, and five RBIs.

Update: Pedroia batting leadoff for the first time since Oct. 3, 2009. He has hit first 76 times with pedestrian (.253/.318/.375) stats in his career.

Song of the Day: "Welcome Back" by Mase.

Red Sox release 2014 schedule

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff September 10, 2013 02:14 PM

The Red Sox released their 2014 schedule Tuesday. Among the highlights:

-- The Sox will open the season on Monday, March 31, in Baltimore. The home opener will be Friday, April 4, against the Milwaukee Brewers. It's the fourth straight season Boston will open on the road.

-- Interleague opponents will be from the National League Central. In addition to the Brewers, the Cubs, Reds, and Braves will visit Fenway Park. The Sox will travel to Atlanta, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.

-- The Orioles visit on Patriots Day weekend and July 4 weekend. The Yankees make their first visit April 22-24.

-- The Red Sox are scheduled to play 76 of their 162 games versus their American League East rivals: 19 each with Baltimore, New York, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. The Red Sox play more games at Yankee Stadium and at Rogers Centre (10 each) than they do in any other road venue.

Click the full entry button for the day-by-day schedule.

FULL ENTRY

Boras: Expect Ellsbury back for postseason

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 10, 2013 01:24 PM

Scott Boras, the agent for Jacoby Ellsbury, said today he expects the Red Sox center fielder to be back for the postseason, likely earlier.

According to Boras, the biggest issue for Ellsbury is the swelling in his right foot and not the small fracture on the surface of the navicular bone. The swelling is affecting the movement of a tendon coming from the tibia.

Once the swelling has gone down, Ellsbury will be able to start swinging a bat and proceed from there.

"The Red Sox' interests and our interests are the same in this, we clearly want Jacoby to be back for the postseason and we're all on the same page to make sure he's available," Boras said.

Boras described the navicular bone as having three layers. Ellsbury has what he said was a "very minute" fracture running east and west on the top surface of the bone. When Dustin Pedroia fractured the same bone in 2010, he had a fracture that ran north and south through all three layers of the bone.

"No surgical intervention is needed. This is self-healing," Boras said. "But it got to the point where it was painful and I called [Red Sox general manager] Ben [Cherington] and said Jacoby should get an MRI."

The pain grew during the long game against the Yankees on Thursday night and may have been aggravated when Ellsbury stole a base in the 10th inning and eventually scored the winning run.

Boras, like the Red Sox, could not give an exact timetable for Ellsbury's return.

"I think it will be short," he said. "He'll be able to get into a tennis shoe and do some hitting and from there maybe DH a game or two before going back to the outfield.

"This is not anything that can re-occur like a hamstring. The issue is that it's merely a response to the surface fracture. The question is how long does it take for that tendon and the specialist gave us a plan how to treat that."

Ellsbury, Boras said, has confidence in the Red Sox medical staff.

"Everybody wants the same thing here," Boras said.

Pitching matchups for the Rays series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 10, 2013 11:43 AM

Tuesday: RHP Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71) vs. LHP David Price (8-7, 3.51), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Wednesday: RHP Ryan Dempster (8-9, 4.79) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (8-3, 2.99), 7:10 p.m., NESN, ESPN.

Thursday: RHP Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.55; 11-5, 4.01 overall) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (11-8, 5.04), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Middlebrooks, Napoli are AL Players of the Week

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 9, 2013 04:58 PM

Red Sox infielders Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli were named Co-Players of the Week in the American League.

Middlebrooks was 13 of 28 with a double, four home runs, nine RBIs, and eight runs in seven games. He led all major league hitters with 26 total bases.

Middlebrooks, who turned 25 Monday, has hit .368 with a 1.055 OPS in 26 games since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket Aug. 10. His batting average has climbed from .192 to .245.

Napoli was 10 for 21 with four doubles, four home runs, and nine RBIs. His 1.143 slugging percentage led the majors.

This marks the second time this season Red Sox teammates were Co-Players of the Week. Napoli and righthander Andrew Bailey shared the award for the week ending April 21.

Down the stretch come the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 9, 2013 11:48 AM

TAMPA, Fla. — The Red Sox (87-58) have a 7.5 game lead on the Tampa Bay Rays (78-64) in the American League East. The third-place Baltimore Orioles (76-66) are 9.5 games out.

According to Cool Standings the Red Sox have a 99-percent chance of winning the division.

But until the Red Sox are soaking their beards in champagne, perhaps it would be worth examining the pennant race. After all, Cool Standings said the Sox had a 93.1 percent chance of making the playoffs after 145 games in 2011.

Theme song for the Sox right now? "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do)." The Wilson Pickett version is quite excellent.

The schedule: The Sox have 17 games left. After three games at Tampa Bay, they have a nine-game homestand against the Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays. Then they end the season with two games at Colorado and three at Baltimore.

The opposition: Tampa Bay has a brutal schedule. The Rays are off today after a 3-7 West Coast trip. After three games against the Red Sox they go back on the road for three games at Minnesota before returning home for four games against Texas and three against Baltimore. Then they finish on the road against the Yankees and Blue Jays.

The advantage: Starting Tuesday the Red Sox have 17 games in 20 days. Starting Tuesday the Rays have 20 games in 20 days.

The issue: The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury will certainly affect the Sox. He's one of the best players in the game; their lineup is not the same without him. But his absence shouldn't lead to a collapse and all indications are that he should return before the end of the season.

The Sox have Jackie Bradley on the roster and Quentin Berry should be able to steal a base when needed. Worth noting: The Sox are 10-4 this season in games Ellsbury hasn't started.

Given Ellsbury's pending free agency, might the Sox play Bradley every day to see what they have in him?

The incentive: If the Sox win the division, they'll have four days off before their first playoff game, which would almost certainly be at home. Four days off would help battered players like Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia feel significantly better.

Prediction: The Sox go 10-7 down the stretch and finish with 97 wins. That would win the division going away.

Sox: Ellsbury has fracture but should return

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 8, 2013 05:29 PM
NEW YORK — Jacoby Ellsbury has been diagnosed with a compression fracture in his right foot. But according to Red Sox manager John Farrell, the team’s leadoff hitter and center fielder should be back before the end of the regular season.

“We feel like he’ll return this year,” Farrell said Sunday after a 4-3 loss against the Yankees. “We’re hopeful the regular season.”

A specialist, Dr. Thomas Clanton, examined Ellsbury at the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., on Sunday. He confirmed the original diagnosis of a fracture in the navicular bone.

Ellsbury will wear a boot to take weight off his foot for at least five days.

“After that we’ll see how he responds to treatment and how he’s feeling himself,” Farrell said.

Ellsbury is hitting .299 with eight home runs, 52 RBIs and a major-league leading 52 stolen bases. His leads the Sox with 89 runs.

The injury happened Aug. 28 when Ellsbury fouled a ball off his foot. He came out of the game an inning later but returned to the lineup the next day and played seven of the next eight games.

Ellsbury aggravated the injury when he stole second base in the 10th inning on Thursday night. Dustin Pedroia had a more severe type of the same injury in 2010 and required surgery.

“We’ll have to pick up the slack. He’s a big part of our lineup and our team,” Pedroia said.

Pedroia has spoken to Ellsbury about the injury and counseled him to be patient.

“It’s something you don’t mess with. You have to make sure you take care of it and you’re able to play and run and not be sore the next day,” Pedroia said.

That Ellsbury was able to play after the initial fracture suggests the injury is something he could recover quickly from. But he was out for an extended period in 2010 because of fractured ribs and again in 2012 because of a separated shoulder.

Also:

• The Red Sox will stay with a five-man rotation. Lefthander Felix Doubront, who has a 6.60 ERA in his last six starts, will be skipped for at least one turn with Clay Buchholz coming back. Ryan Dempster will start Wednesday and Jake Peavy on Thursday.

“I have no problem with that,” said Doubront, who is 10-6 with a 4.15 ERA on the season. “I’ll get some rest, do my work and that’s that. This time it’s good. I feel like I need it.”

Final: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 8, 2013 01:14 PM

Game over: Yankees 4, Red Sox 3 - The Red Sox weren't able to sweep the Yankees despite tying it in the top of the ninth on a Will Middlebrooks home run off Mariano Rivera. The Yankees won it on a wild pitch by Brandon Workman which scored Ichiro Suzuki from third. Ichiro singled with one out, stole second base and went to third on Vernon Wells' long fly ball to right. The game was played in 3:15.

Top 9th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 3 - Will Middlebrooks homers off Rivera in the 9th on a drive to right that kept drifting into the wind and into the stands.

Bottom 8th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2 - The Yankees go out in a strong inning by Jon Lester who finishes strong.
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Top 8th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2 - With the Yankee bullpen in shambles, Joe Girardi is asking Mariano Rivera for a two-out save. First inning OK. Rivera allowed a single to Mike Carp, but struck out two and got Drew on a pop out to end the 8th.

Bottom 7th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2 - The Yankees tried to add to their lead. With two outs, Alfonso Soriano singled to left and Robinson Cano also singled to left, but Alex Rodriguez flew out to center to end the threat.

Top 7th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2 - The Red Sox got singles by Jonny Gomes and Jackie Bradley Jr. off Shawn Kelley, but he managed to get a grouind ball from Dustin Pedroia to wiggle out of the jam.

Bottom 6th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2 - Lester throws a 1-2-3 inning as he retires the bottom of the order.

Top 6th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 2 - Jarrod Saltalamacchia;s ground ball out scored David ortiz with the second Boston run. Ortiz doubled for the second time in the game. He moved to third on Mike Carp's ground ball out.

Bottom 5th: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1 - A big two-out opposite-field double to left by Robinson Cano have given the Yankees the lead. Tough luck inning for Lester who gave up three bloop hits to Chris Stewart (breaking up a 0-23 slump), Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells. Lester then walked A-Rod to load the bases with two outs. Lester got Mark Reynolds to ground out to short.

Top 5th: Red Sox 1, Yankees 1 - Kuroda gets three outs on the Red Sox, but Kuroda is now at 105 pitches. Looks like the Yankees need to get one more inning out of Kuroda.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 1, Yankees 1 - With two outs, Alex Rodriguez singled to center and Mark Reynolds hit one over Jackie Bradley's head in center to score A-Rod from first.

Top 4th: Red Sox 1, Yankees 0 - A two-out single by Will Middebrooks and a passed ball advancing him to second was as far as he got as Kuroda has begun to settle in.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 1, Yankees 0 - After a walk to Chris Stewart, Lester rebounds and gets an inning-ending Vernon Wells double play ball.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 1, Yankees 0 - Kuroda spots the Red Sox a single (Gomes), but then takes care of business on Pedroia, Ortiz and Carp.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 1, Yankees 0 - Jon Lester allowed singles to Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez but then retired the next three batters, the final two, Granderson and Nunez, on strikeouts. Mark Reynolds tried to sacrifice butn the runners along, but popped out to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 1, Yankees 0 - Kuroda stranded the bases loaded, but the good news for the Red Sox is that he had to throw a lot of pitches (37) in a very tedious inning. He's thrown 51 through two. David Ortiz, who was agitated by a Yankee parking lot attendant who wouldn't let him park his car where he wanted, doubled to right and scored on Mike Carp's double to right. Kuroda then loaded the bases with a pair of walks before getting Nava to ground out to second to ebd the inning.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - Interesting that Ichiro attempted a bunt against Lester testing the lefty who at times has had problems making the short throw to first, he underhanded this one and made the out. Lester pitched a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - Hiroki Kurdoa had a horrible August, losing four out of six where he was 1-4 with a 5.21 ERA so he was seeking a turnaround game. He retired Boston in order in the first and even threw a pitch behind Daniel Nava, who is today's leadoff hitter. The Yankees have never retaliated for the A-Rod/Dempster incident. Was that it?

Buchholz returns to rotation on Tuesday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 8, 2013 12:45 PM

NEW YORK — With 17 games left in the season, the Red Sox have added an All-Star to their rotation. Clay Buchholz will be activated off the disabled list and start on Tuesday night against Tampa Bay.

Buchholz has been out three months with a series of shoulder injuries. After three minor league starts, he has been cleared to throw 75-80 pitches against the Rays.

“It’s been a long time,” Buchholz said after throwing in the bullpen at Yankee Stadium. “Even pitching in the rehab starts, you definitely feel how you haven’t been out there in a while. Mentally I’m ready.”

Buchholz could make four starts before the end of the regular season on Sept. 28. That should give the Red Sox enough time to determine where — or if — he slots into their postseason rotation.

“Our goal going through the remainder of the month would be to not only stretch him out but to see if there’s a certain dependability we’ll get from him,” manager John Farrell said. “We really can’t expect that he’s come back and pitch to the form [he had]. We’re hopeful we get a guy who’s close to what he was prior to the injury. It would be an additional lift to this rotation.”

Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 earned run average in 12 starts. His last game in the majors was June 8.

The Red Sox have not yet announced who is coming out of the rotation.

Also:

• Nothing new on Jacoby Ellsbury yet. He is getting a second opinion on his right foot in Vail, Colo., then will travel back to Boston. It is uncertain if he will rejoin the team before the end of the road trip on Thursday.

• Dustin Pedroia will play in his 1,000th game for the Sox, the 29th player in franchise history to hit that mark.

• The Yankees are without Derek Jeter because of a sore left ankle. Manager Joe Girardi said Jeter would miss at least a few days before he is evaluated again. It is the same ankle Jeter fractured in the playoff last fall and caused him to miss much of the season.

• The Red Sox recalled righthander Allen Webster from Triple A Pawtucket and will use him out of the bullpen. The 23-year-old was 1-2 with a 9.57 ERA in six starts for the Sox this season and 8-4 with a 3.60 ERA in 21 starts for Triple A Pawtucket. Based on what they saw in spring training, the Sox believe Webster could pitch with better velocity and control in shorter stints. But their long-term plan is to develop him as a starter.

Game 145: Red Sox at Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 8, 2013 09:10 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (87-57)
Nava RF
Gomes LF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Carp 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS
Middlebrooks 3B
Bradley Jr.
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (13-8 3.88).

YANKEES (75-67)
Suzuki RF
Wells DH
Soriano LF
Cano 2B
Rodriguez 3B
Reynolds 1B
Granderson CF
Nunez SS
Stewart C
Pitching: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99).

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, YES, TBS / WEEI, WCBS.

Red Sox vs. Kuroda: Drew 8-32, Pedroia 8-24, Ellsbury 8-23, Victorino 6-22, Nava 6-17, Salty 5-20, Carp 5-15, Ortiz 7-12, Gomes 1-10, Napoli 3-9, Berry 2-8, Lavarnway 1-8, Middlebrooks 2-7.

Yankees vs. Lester: Jeter 21-63, Cano 14-62, Wells 7-41, A-Rod 9-42, Suzuki 14-41, Granderson 9-32, Overbay 9-25, Reynolds 6-18, Gardner 2-11, Nunez 2-11, Soriano 3-9, Stewart 2-4, Adams 0-2.

Stat of the Day: The Sox are 6-1 in September. They were 7-19 in September last season.

Notes: The fading Rays lost again last night, so the Red Sox are 8.5 games up in the division with 18 games to play. The Sox now have the best record in baseball and have a four-game lead on Detroit and Oakland for the best record in the American League. ... The Sox are seeking a four-game sweep, having outscored the Yankees 34-25 in the first three games. ... The Sox lead the season series 10-5 with four games to play. They have averaged 6.3 runs against the Yankees this season. ... Lester is 10-5, 4.15 in 24 career starts against the Yankees, 1-1, 4.76 in two this season. He is 5-2, 2.41 in nine starts since the All-Star break. ... Kuroda is 0-3, 7.43 in his last four starts this season and 1-3, 4.66 in four starts against the Sox this season. ... The Yankees are 24-23 since the All-Star break but still only 2.5 games out in the wild card. ... The Sox are hitting .386 with 64 hits (30 for extra bases) and 54 runs in their last four games. ... Napoli is 9 of his last 17 with four homers and nine RBIs. ... Middlebrooks is 9 of 19 in the last four games with six RBIs and three homers. ... The Sox have won five straight, eight of nine, 12 of 14 and 14 of 18.

Song of the Day: "Conquest" by The White Stripes.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 8, 2013 09:09 AM

Mike Napoli and the Red Sox turned on the power and beat the Yankees again, 13-9.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that the Jacoby Ellsbury situation is a concern.

Nick Cafardo writes that Xander Bogaerts led a wave of young talent against the Yankees.

The notebook has the Red Sox seeking a second opinion on Ellsbury.

In the Sunday Baseball Notes, Nick takes a look at some teams who could be dealing from a position of strength.

Brief update on Jacoby Ellsbury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 10:49 PM

NEW YORK — Jacoby Ellsbury is in Colorado tonight and will get a second opinion on his foot from Dr. Thomas Clanton at the Steadman Clinic in Vail on Sunday.

“My understanding is … there’s no long-term concern here,” general manager Ben Cherington said before the game this afternoon. “It’s really about how do we best manage it over the course of the next several weeks hopefully, and hopefully he can play a lot in those several weeks.”

The testing is being done to determine whether Ellsbury has a fracture in his foot. Obviously that would keep him out longer than a bone bruise or inflammation.

Worth noting: If the Red Sox win the division, their first playoff game would not be until Oct. 4. That's nearly a month of time for Ellsbury to heal. But first the Sox have to determine what exactly is wrong with him.

Bogaerts hits a memorable first home run

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 07:59 PM

NEW YORK — Xander Bogaerts didn't get a good look at his first career home run. He was too busy wondering what was wrong with his leg.

The 20-year-old Red Sox rookie hit a pitch from Jim Miller nearly 450 feet in the fifth inning on Saturday afternoon. The ball soared over the Red Sox bullpen and into the crowd, where a friendly New York City police officer helped retrieve it.

Bogaerts winced as he hit the ball because his right calf cramped up.

"I was being careful running around the bases," he said after the Red Sox beat the Yankees, 13-9. "It was exciting but I was like, 'Why does my leg hurt.?' I'll watch it later."

At 20 years, 341 days old, Bogaerts is the youngest Red Sox player to hit a home run since Dwight Evans in 1970. Dewey was 19 days younger.

In the sixth inning, Bogaerts charged a slow roller and made a bare-handed play to throw out Robinson Cano.

"Sick play," John Lackey said later. "He had a great day."

There are fans who understandably would like to see Bogaerts playing more often. That monster home run certainly shows, as John Farrell said, why evaluators think so highly of him.

But the Red Sox have gotten this far with Stephen Drew playing a key role. Drew has played above-average defense and is hitting .273/.362 /.480 since coming off the disabled list on July 20. Since Aug. 1, Drew is hitting .298/.383/.496.

Bogaerts looks to be a wonderful player, a talent who could be the Red Sox version of Manny Machado. But Drew is no slouch and Farrell was never going to dump his shortstop a month ahead of the postseason. But if the Red Sox clinch early, Bogaerts could get more time and that will smooth his path into next season.

When Bogaerts saw his name in the lineup, he thought to himself that he would like to hit a home run for his mother. Sandra Brown is home in Aruba and Bogaerts hopes she was watching the game game on television.

"I'll call her later," he said. "We have a lot to talk about."

A few notes:

• Lackey, a victim of poor run support all season, got the victory despite allowing seven runs on eight hits and three walks over 5.2 innings. He appreciated the work his teammates did.

“Not even Lackey could stop our offense today,” reliever Craig Breslow joked.

“That was a pretty good line,” Lackey said.

• The Sox are the first team to score at least nine runs in three consecutive days against New York since 1912, when they were called the Highlanders.

• For the first time in their history, the Yankees have scored seven or more runs in three straight games without winning at least one.

• Mike Napoli is 7 for 12 with a double, three home runs and eight RBIs in the series. He got a day off in Los Angeles on Aug. 23 to rest a sore left foot and is hitting .409 with six home runs, 16 RBIs, and a .909 slugging percentage in 12 games since.

• The Sox have scored 54 runs on 64 hits (17 home runs) in their last four games. The 54 runs are the most in a four-game stretch for the Sox since the 1950 season. Not since 2003 have the Sox hit 17 home runs over four games.

• In this series, the teams have combined for 59 runs, 74 hits, 30 extra-base hits, 32 walks and 26 pitching changes.

• In his four stints with the Red Sox this season, Jackie Bradley Jr. has started six games at Yankee Stadium. The Sox are 5-1 in those games with Bradley going 6 for 24 and scoring eight runs.

• Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (lower back pain) missed his fifth consecutive game. “I could have played but we decided to be sure and take that one extra day,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty good now.” Saltalamacchia expects to return to the lineup on Sunday. David Ross and Ryan Lavarnway are 8 for 19 with six RBIs filling in for Saltalamacchia.

• The Red Sox have not announced their rotation for the series at Tampa Bay that starts on Tuesday. Clay Buchholz is ready to come off the disabled list after making three minor league starts, but the Sox have not yet decided whether to pull Felix Doubront or Ryan Dempster from the rotation.

• The Sox are 6-1 in September after going 7-19 last season.

• Will Middlebrooks (2 for 4) is 30 for 84 (.357) in 25 games since being recalled from Pawtucket. His batting average has climbed from .192 to .240.

Final: Red Sox 13, Yankees 9

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 01:17 PM

Game over: Red Sox 13, Yankees 9: The Red Sox have taken three straight with another offensive barrage including four homers, two by Mike Napoli. The Yankees trailed 12-3 at one time and then scored four runs in the sixth but it was too little too late.

Xander Bogaerts hit his first major league homer and had two hits and made a nice barehanded play in the field. Jonny Gomes also hit a three-run homer in the third. The game was played in 3:32 before a sellout 49,046 at Yankee Stadium.

Top 9th: Red Sox 13, Yankees 9 - Mike Napoli hits his second homer. he now has 21 with 85 RBI and is red hot.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 9 - Mark Reynolds, who replaced Derek Jeter in the lineup, doubled down the left field line past a diving Will Middelbrooks scoring J.R. Murphy and Brett Gardner. All the runs were scored against Drake Britton. Junichi Tazawa retired the final two batters to strand Reynolds at second base.

Top 8th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 7: Jonny Gomes was hit with a pitch by Brett Marshall, but that was all.

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 7 - Drake Britton records a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 7th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 7 - Will Middlebrooks singled, his second of the game, took second on a pitch that got by catcher J.R. Murphy, but was stranded there as Bradley struck out and Lavarnway flew out deep to center.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 7 - The Yankees scored four times as Lackey walked Nunez and Ichiro, allowed a two-run double to Brett Gardner and RBI single to Robinson Cano. Matt Thornton, whose stuff has really deteriorated according to scouts at today's game, allowed singles to Cano and Soriano, the second producing the fourth run.

Top 6th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 3 - An infield single by Dustin Pedroia, but he was erased by a 3-6-1 double-play.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 3 - Yanks go down in order. They look like a real beaten team.

Top 5th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 3 - Xander Bogaerts just had a few jaws drop. He stroked a two-run homer deep to leftcenter, a shot that had everyone in the Red Sox dugout looking on in awe. A budding Ernie Banks?

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 10, Yankees 3 - John Lackey can't complain because of a lack of run support. He did allow a third run in the fourth when Eduardo Nunez started with a double to right and road home with a double by Ichiro. Brett Gardner was hit with a pitch, but Derek Jeter struck out to end the inning..

Top 4th: Red Sox 10, Yankees 2 - Another five-spot for the Red Sox who can not be stopped. Three straight hits by will Middlebrooks (single), Jackie Bradley Jr. (single) and an RBI double by Ryan Lavarnway got the first run in. Xander Bogaerts' ground out scord the second run and Shane Victorino's single to left scored the thrid run. Joe Girardi finally had to take David Huff out but Jim Miller was greeted with an RBI single by Gomes, a double by Pedroia and a sacrifice fly to deep center by David Ortiz scored the fifth run.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 5, Yankees 2 - Yanks get one back Brett Gardner singled and stole second and came in on Robinson Cano's single to right.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 5, Yankees 1 - Jonny Gomes stroked a three-run homer on a hanging change-up by Huff. Xander Bogaerts started things off with a double to left and Shane Victorino was hit with a pitch. Later in the inning Ichiro made a sensational catch slamming against the right field wall on a well timed leap to rob David Ortiz of extra bases.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 2, Yankees 1 - Lackey walked Alfonso Soriano, who was oddly sacrificed to second by Curtis Granderson. Strange because it's so early in the game and Granderson is a power hitter, After Eduardo Nunez struck out, Lyle Overbay singled to rightcenter to score Soriano. Lackey also gave up a single to Ichiro before Austin romine grounded out to end the inning.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 2, Yankees 0 - Mike Napoli's hot streak continues as he homers (vs. Huff) on a towering shot to left with David Ortiz (double).

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - John Lackey gets two ground ball outs and then struck out Robinson Cano.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - David Huff struck out Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes to start the game and the got Dustin Pedroia to ground out to second.

Ellsbury out indefinitely with foot injury

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 11:55 AM

NEW YORK — Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has what the Red Sox fear could be a significant injury to his right foot.

Ellsbury was sent back to Boston to be examined by a specialist, Dr. George Theodore, and team orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis. According to manager John Farrell, an MRI taken this morning showed swelling and inflammation.

The area of concern is a navicular bone. Ellsbury has been outfitted with a walking boot and is out indefinitely.

Ellsbury could soon travel to Colorado to be examined by Dr. Thomas Clanton at the Steadman Clinic in Vail. Or the second opinion could come based on a review of the tests.

"We're still in the process of gathering more information," Farrell said. "We're still going through some additional tests and when that information is more conclusive I think we'll have a better read on the diagnosis going forward.

"I don't think we're looking at something that's just day-to-day here. But before we get into any kind of time frame I think what's probably best for all involved here is to wait until we get more conclusive evidence and information."

The injury originally occurred Aug. 28 when Ellsbury fouled a ball off his foot. Ellsbury came out of the game at the time but returned to the lineup the next day. He aggravated the injury when he stole second base in the 10th inning on Thursday night.

Ellsbury is hitting .299 with eight home runs, 52 RBIs and a major-league leading 52 stolen bases. His 89 runs lead the team.

"Jake's frustrated," Farrell said. "He wants to be on the field. He feels like he can play right now. But at the direction of the medical people, we have to be careful of this. ... I can tell you this: Jacoby wants to be on the field. He's kind of pissed he's not here right now to be honest with you."

The Red Sox called up Jackie Bradley Jr. and are starting him in center field this afternoon. Shane Victorino is batting leadoff.

"We'll probably go day-to-day for the time being," Farrell said.

If Ellsbury is out for the remainder of the season, it would be a significant loss for the Red Sox given his prominent role in the offense and his strong play in center field. The Sox can compensate with Victorino but there will be a gap in the lineup that players like Daniel Nava, Johnny Gomes, Bradley and Mike Carp could fill.

"Let's not kid ourselves, Jacoby Ellsbury in the leadoff spot with the stolen base ability, the talent that he has; this is a guy we're going to miss for the time being that he will be out," Farrell said. "As we've done with other challenges that we've faced, we'll find a way to make up for it."

Ellsbury will be a free agent after the season. Potentially, if the injury is serious, he may have played his last game for the Red Sox.

Jackie Bradley Jr. called up

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 10:04 AM
NEW YORK – With Jacoby Ellsbury (right foot) out again, the Red Sox have called up Jackie Bradley Jr.

He is starting in center field today.

Game 144: Red Sox at Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 09:15 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (86-57)
Victorino RF
Gomes LF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Middlebrooks 3B
Bradley CF
Lavarnway C
Bogaerts SS
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (8-12 3.22).

YANKEES (75-66)
Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Granderson DH
Nunez 3B
Overbay 1B
Suzuki RF
Romine C
Pitching: LHP David Huff (2-0, 3.32).

Game time: 1:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: FOX / WEEI, WCBS.

Red Sox vs. Huff: Gomes 1-8, Napoli 3-6, Ortiz 2-7, Pedroia 1-5, Ellsbury 0-4, McDonald 1-3, Carp 1-2.

Yankees vs. Lackey: Suzuki 31-108, Jeter 22-79, Rodriguez 13-67, Cano 14-60, Wells 8-40, Soriano 5-35, Granderson 8-29, Gardner 9-28, Overbay 10-29, Reynolds 2-11, Nunez 3-7, Stewart 1-4, Romine 1-2.

Stat of the Day: The Sox are 50 of 127 (.394) in the last three games with eight doubles, 13 home runs, 16 walks and 41 runs. They are 14 of 36 (.389) with runners in scoring position.

Notes: The Sox are 5-1 in September, quite a change from the last two seasons. They are now 7.5 games up on the Rays, who have lost 10 of 13. ... The Sox have won four straight, seven of eight and 11 of 13. They are a season-best 29 games over .500. ... The Sox are 9-5 against the Yankees this season, averaging 5.9 runs per game. ... Lackey is 9-10, 4.58 in 25 career starts against the Yankees including 1-1, 3.46 in two starts this season. Lackey has faced Ichiro 114 times. It's the most Lackey has faced any batter and the most Ichiro has faced any pitcher. Ichiro has hit .287 against Lackey, .320 against other pitchers. ... Huff is making his first starts this season. He went 5.2 innings and 64 pitches on Sept. 2. Huff is 0-2, 1.67 in four career appearances, three of them starts, against the Red Sox. ... Napoli is 16 of his last 39 with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in 11 games. He is 7 of 12 with four extra-base hits and six RBIs in the last three. ... Middlebrooks has nine extra-base hits and 15 RBIs in 24 games since being recalled. He is 9 of his last 21 with 8 RBIs. ... Nava has reached base safely in 41 consecutive starts dating back to June 22. He has a .392 OBP on the season. ... Victorino is 4 of 11 with two homers and five RBIs in the series. ... The Sox are 10 games ahead of the Yankees. That was last the case on July 6, 2007.

Song of the Day: "Another Nail In My Heart" by Squeeze.

Red Sox coverage in today's Globe

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 09:08 AM

The Red Sox rallied to beat the Yankees again, getting late home runs from Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino in a 12-8 victory on Friday night.

Dan Shaughnessy writes that these Red Sox are in a much better place than last season.

Nick Cafardo writes that special things are happening daily for the Red Sox.

The notebook has Napoli feeling better about his swing and his health.

Red Sox torment Yankees again

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 7, 2013 12:51 AM

NEW YORK — Every team in every sport likes to say they never quit. But over 162 baseball games, teams quit all the time.The schedule dictates that even a terrific team is going to lose 65 or so games. There are plenty of nights when it's just not happening.

So when the Red Sox fell behind the Yankees 8-3 on Friday night, there was hardly any shock. The first-place Sox have been on a good roll lately and the Yankees are fighting for their postseason lives.

That's what made the Red Sox winning 12-8 so shocking. Nine unanswered runs? That's just not supposed to happen.

Mike Napoli's grand slam in the seventh inning tied the game. Then Shane Victorino belted a two-run homer in the eighth off Preston Claiborne, part of a four-run inning.

At 86-57, the Sox have the most wins in baseball. They have 17 more victories than last season with 19 games left to play.

A few notes:

• Victorino has 14 home runs, nine since Aug. 1. Five have come batting righthanded against a righthanded pitcher. He is hitting .382 in his last 19 games with 19 RBIs.

A switch hitter, Victorino has been batting almost exclusively righthanded for the last five weeks to protect a sore left hamstring. Somehow that transformed him into a power hitter.

“Just doing an outstanding job,” manager John Farrell said.

Victorino won Thursday's game with an RBI single. On Friday, as was the case Thursday, Victorino refused comment after the game.

• It was the 19th home run of the season for Napoli, his fourth in 11 games and sixth career grand slam. Three of the slams have come this season. The single-season franchise record is four slams by Babe Ruth in 1919.

“That’s pretty cool. Guys seem to be on base all the time when I’m up. I’ve had a lot of opportunities,” Napoli said. “Try to drive the ball somewhere and good things are happening.”

Napoli was 3 for 3 with two walks. He has reached safely in eight straight plate appearances.

• At 8-8, it was a new game. Rookie Brandon Workman retired the Yankees in order in the bottom of the inning. He's turning himself into a viable late-inning arm.

• Closer Koji Uehara got the final three outs despite the four-run lead. Uehara has retired 27 consecutive batters, a perfect game spread over nine outings. He has not allowed a base runner since Aug. 17.

Through an interpreter, Uehara said he didn’t consider that a special accomplishment. But he acknowledged this is perhaps the best stretch of his career since he came to the majors from Japan.

Opponents are 6 of their last 85 against Uehara.

• Red Sox starter Felix Doubront lasted only 3.2 innings, giving up six runs on three hits and six walks. He has a 6.60 earned run average in his last six starts and could be pitching himself out of the postseason rotation.

“We’ve got some things we’ve got to work through and see what’s best for us and Felix as well,” Farrell said.

• Will Middlebrooks homered to left field in the fifth inning. It was his third home run in as many games and his fifth in 24 games since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket.

Final: Red Sox 12, Yankees 8

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 6, 2013 07:17 PM

Game over: Red Sox 12, Yankees 8: Koji Uehara finished the game off with a four-run lead, so no save. The Red Sox scored nine unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings, the big blows a game-tying grand slam by Mike Napoli and the go-ahead two-run homer by Shane Victorino, who keeps coming up big. The Yankees had an 8-3 lead entering the seventh after Andy Pettitte gave them six strong innings. The Yankees had a hold on both games and squandered both. Felix Doubront pitched horribly and lasted only 3-2/3 innings but it didn't matter. There were 44,117 at Yankee Stadium in a game played in 4 hours.

Top 9: Red Sox 12, Yankees 8 - Matt Daly, just acquired by the Yankees, was the most effective Yankee reliever of the night. He did put runners on at second and third, but got David Ortiz to line out to first.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 8 - Yanks had runners in scoring position with two outs after a wild pitch by Franklin Morales who relieved Brandon Workman, but Morales struck out Brett Gardner to preserve the status quo.

Top 8th: Red Sox 12, Yankees 8 - Shane Victorino belted a two-run homer on a hanging slider from Claiborne with Will Middlebrooks aboard to give the Red Sox the lead. The Red Sox have scored nine unanswered runs. Amazing team. The Red Sox loaded the bases after the homer. Carp singled and after Joba Chamberlain came on David Ortiz was walked intentionally and Napoli walked. With the bases full Daniel Nava waited out Chamberlain who kept throwing his slider in the dirt before going 3-2 and missing with a fastball for Ball Four. Stephen Drew singled to left to score the 12th run. The Yankee bullpen is pathetic.

Bottom 7th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 8 - Perfect inning for Workman who showed a fabulous knuckle-curve. He struck out Soriano and A-Rod and got Robinson Cano to ground out.

Top 7th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 8 - Holy Napoli! The Red Sox first baseman hit a grand slam on an outside fastball that Napoli sent to the top of the wall out of the leaping Ichiro's reach. The ball hit the top of the ball and bounded into the stands to tie the game. The Red Sox were behind 8-3 entering the inning. It was a complete disaster for Phil Hughes, who was demoted to the bullpen. This was his first relief appearance since the demotion. He allowed a hit by David Ross which nearly beheaded Eduardo Nunez at shortstop. After one out, Victorino singled up the middle, pinch-hitter Mike Carp had a great at-bat and went from an 0-2 count to a walk, to load the bases. Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield hit to third to score the first run. Hughes exited for Logan. David Ortiz struck out on a 3-2 slider, setting it up for Napoli, who ran the count to 3-2. Logan left the game with an injury to his arm after Daniel Nava singled to center. That brought in Preston Claiborne who retired Drew with a fly ball to left field. Napoli, by the way is now hitting .356 with four homers and 15 RBI against the Yankees this season.

Bottom 6th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 3 - The Yankees go down in order against De La Rosa, who was throwing his fastball around 95 and showed more command as a result.

Top 6th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 3 - You can see Andy Pettitte really struggle to get through the inning as he approached 100 pitches. Joe Girardi came out to the mound to ask him something and got the answer he wanted. Pettitte allowed a one out walk to Mike Napoli and seemed to be losing gas, but he got through it, striking out Daniel Nava and getting Stephen Drew to foul out to first base for the final out.

Bottom 5th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 3 - Cano doubled to leftcenter and advanced to third on Alex Rordiguez' long fly ball to center. Vernon Wells knocked him in with a single to right. Eduardo Nunez singled to right and Mark Reynolds singled to right to score the second run of the inning.

Top 5th: Yankees 6, Red Sox 3 - Will Middlebrooks is starting to get on fire. He homered, his 14th, a shot to left field.That's 8 RBI in the last four games.

Bottom 4th: Yankees 6, Red Sox 2 - Felix Doubront walked six, four of them scored. After securing the first two outs of the inning, he walkedMark Reynolds and Chris Stewart and then Brett Gardner hit a sinking liner to leftcenter that Shane Victorino, in for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury (foot) attempted a diving catch and came up short. The ball rolled to the wall where Gomes retrieved it, but not before two runs had scored and Gardner was on third with a triple. Rubby De La Rosa came on to strike out Jeter.

Top 4th: Yankees 4, Red Sox 2 - Napoli doubled to left, advanced to third on on Daniel Nava's fly to center and scored on Stephen Drew's grounder to first.

Bottom 3rd: Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 - Doubront has his best inning so far, retiring Soriano, Cano (K) and A-Rod (fly out to center).

Top 3rd: Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 - Pettitte struck out Victorino and Gomes, but walked Pedroia. He advanced on a wild pitch before Ortiz hit a sinking liner to right on which Vernon wells made a nice sliding catch.

Bottom 2nd: Yankees 4, Red Sox 1 - Eduardo Nunez tripled to leftcenter scoring Vernon Wells (walk). Nunez scored on Chris Stewart on a sac fly.Doubront all over the place tonight. He walked Brett Gardner with two outs, but got Derek Jeter to line out to center. Doubront has thrown 49 pitches.

Top 2nd: Yankees 2, Red Sox 1 - The Red Sox get on the board. Pettitte allowed a leadoff single to Mike Napoli and walked Daniel Nava. After Stephen Drew struck out, Dabid Ross singled up the middle scoring Napoli. Will Middlebrooks ended the threat by knocking into a 6-4-3 double play.

Bottom 1st: Yankees 2, Red Sox 0 - Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th homer with Derek Jeter (walk) aboard on a 2-1 pitch. Yankee baserunning absolutely attrocious. A-Rod picked off first by Doubront.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - Andy Pettitte has his cutter back and it's nasty. He struck out the side but allowed a single to Dustin Pedroia. Victorino, Gomes and Ortiz all went down.

Ellsbury out with sore right foot

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 6, 2013 05:26 PM

NEW YORK — Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is not in the lineup tonight because of a sore right foot. He aggravated the injury when he stole second base in the 10th inning Thursday.

The injury originally occurred Aug. 28 when he fouled a ball off his foot.

"Throughout the night, increased pain, some throbbing. Was there again today," manager John Farrell said. "So he's off his feet. Will get treatment throughout the course of the game tonight. Hopefully be back in the lineup here tomorrow."

Also:

• Clay Buchholz returned to Boston today to spend time with his newborn daugher. He will rejoin the Red Sox here Saturday and throw in the bullpen Sunday. That would set him up to start Tuesday against Tampa Bay. But the Red Sox aren't quite ready to announce that.

"No change in the rotation as of yet," Farrell said. "We're just making sure we go through every step physically before we make any adjustments to the rotation going forward."

Farrell got a positive report on the game Buchholz pitched for Triple A Pawtucket Thursday. The pitcher also reported no physical issues.

"Felt like with each inning that he's pitched, the increased command and action to his secondary pitches is gaining that consistency," Farrell said. "He's in a pretty good place from a mental standpoint in addition to being physically sound."

• Jarrod Saltalamacchia did some hitting and throwing today and looks ready to return to the lineup Saturday.

"It's a real possibility," Farrell said.

• The great Pedro Martinez walked through the Red Sox clubhouse just before the start of batting practice. He stopped to shake hands with every player. He even seemed happy to see some old pals in the media.

"Shaughnessy! You evil maniac!" Pedro said to Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy.

Pedro was joking. We hope.

• Mike Napoli is hitting .361 in his last 10 games. Farrell has been liberally resting the first baseman and that has had a positive effect.

"If you look at his career path, this is the most at-bats he's had in any year," Farrell said. "I think just the fact we're in the second half of the season, I think the rest has probably kept him fresh and kept his swing compact more so than when he gets in a tired spell."

Napoli missed a few games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot last month. That still affects how he runs at times but not how he swings the bat.

"He's a little bit more fresh right now and that has shown up," Farrell said. "We'll continue to spell him when needed. We've got the off days that we can build in as well. Hopefully every position player should have their legs underneath them as we go through these final 20 games."

Game 143: Red Sox at Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 6, 2013 02:33 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (85-57)
Victorino CF
Gomes LF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Napoli 1B
Nava RF
Drew SS
Ross C
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: LHP Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89).

YANKEES (75-65)
Gardner CF
Jeter DH
Soriano LF
Cano 2B
Rodriguez 3B
Wells RF
Nunez SS
Reynolds 1B
Stewart C
Pitching: LHP Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN, YES, MLB Network / WEEI, WCBS.

Red Sox vs. Pettitte: Ortiz 24-67, Pedroia 11-48, Ellsbury 10-30, Gomes 11-31, McDonald 8-26, Napoli 7-21, Victorino 7-23, Ross 5-15, Drew 4-12, Salty 1-9, Middlebrooks 3-5, Carp 0-3, Nava 1-3, Snyder 0-2.

Yankees vs. Doubront: Cano 2-18, Granderson 2-13, Reynolds 2-13, Suzuki 2-13, Jeter 2-13, Gardner 1-10, Nunez 4-8, Wells 2-7, Rodriguez 3-8, Stewart 1-4, Overbay 1-4, Soriano 2-3, Romine 0-1.

Stat of the Day: Victorino is hitting .313 with a .410 on-base percentage and a .522 slugging percentage batting righthanded against righthanders. He has four home runs. Oddly, he also has been hit nine times in 78 plate appearances,

Notes: The Sox have won three straight, six of seven, and 10 of 12. They start the day 6.5 games ahead of the Rays (who have lost nine of 12) in the division and three games up on the Tigers in the race for the best record in the league ... The Yankees are nine games out in the division and 2.5 games out in the wild card ... Mike Napoli is hitting .361 with a 1.147 OPS in his last 10 games. He has six extra-base hits and nine RBIs ... Will Middlebrooks is hitting .347/.412/.560 in 23 games since being recalled. He has eight extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. ... Felix Doubront is 2-1 but with a 5.47 ERA in his last five starts. That includes a rocky start (4 IP 8 H, 6 ER) against the Yankees Aug. 16. But Doubront is 3-2, 3.33 in 11 games against the Yankees in his career and has a 1.26 ERA in 14.1 innings at Yankee Stadium ... Pettitte is 3-0, 1.20 in his last five starts. He beat Doubront in that Aug. 16 game, allowing three runs (none earned) over 6.2 innings. Pettitte is 20-11, 3.76 in 42 career games against the Red Sox. ... The Sox are 27 of their last 27 in stolen bases, the longest streak in the majors since Toronto stole 38 in a row in 1993.

Song of the Day: "Love and Peace Or Else" by U2.

NESN adds more replacements for Remy

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 6, 2013 12:29 PM

NEW YORK — NESN has named more replacements for Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy. Here is the schedule of who will be joining Don Orsillo:

Tonight: Dennis Eckersley
Sunday: Dan Petry
Monday-Thursday: Derek Lowe
Sept. 13-22: Eckersley
Sept. 24-25: Mike Timlin

The recently retired Lowe, who lives in Florida, will join Orsillo for the three games against Tampa Bay. Timlin, also a member of the 2004 Red Sox, will work the two games in Colorado.

Remy will miss the remainder of the season following the arrest of his son for murder. He has not called a game since Aug. 15. Jared W. Remy was arrested that night and charged with murder and other crimes in the death of his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel.

Who is your Red Sox MVP?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 6, 2013 10:00 AM

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NEW YORK — Here's a question that reveals why the Red Sox woke up 85-57 this morning and with a commanding lead in the American League East:

Who is their most valuable player?

You can make a pretty solid case for four players. Maybe even a few more. Consider:

Koji Uehara: The closer has helped the Red Sox overcome the loss of Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey by having a landmark season. Uehara has a 1.14 earned run average and a 0.60 WHIP. He has averaged 12.36 strikeouts per nine innings.

Mariano Rivera's best ERA was 1.38 in 2005. His best WHIP was 0.66 in 2008 and his best K/9 was 10.9 in 1996.

If Uehera hadn't stepped up like he did in June, how many of those late-game victories that have fueled this season wouldn't have happened?

Jacoby Ellsbury: He has a 5.5 WAR, a mark reflective of his all-around contributions. Ellsbury is hitting .299 with a .355 OBP and 52 steals. The power isn't there like it once was, but he has again become a dynamic offensive force.

Ellsbury may be motivated by free agency, but for whatever the reason, he's been close to his best for the last four months or so.

Dustin Pedroia: This season won't go down as his best offensively but his defense has been stellar. Pedroia has played 141 of the 142 games and embraced being a leader. This team was essentially built with players in his image.

David Ortiz: Big Papi is having a powerful season despite missing all of spring training recovering from his Achilles injury. Take away his on-base skills and power hitting and is this offense averaging 5.1 runs? No chance.

Others: There is no denying the two-way impact of Shane Victorino. ... John Lackey started the season as the No. 5 starter and pitched like an ace much of the season, his deceptive record aside. ... Where would Daniel Nava rank on your list? No worse than sixth or seventh perhaps. ... Jon Lester had a long slump. But in 13 starts after a loss, he has a 2.68 earned run average and the Sox have won 11 times.

Cast your vote in our poll and add your comment about who you believe the Red Sox MVP is this season.

Ortiz Children’s Fund Gala is Sept. 16

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 6, 2013 09:45 AM

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The inaugural David Ortiz Children’s Fund Gala will be Sept. 16 at the Four Seasons ballroom in Boston.

The event will draw some the biggest names in Boston sports and entertainment. Standard ticket packages include an open bar, a Dominican-style dinner, and a seat in the ballroom for the evening’s festivities. VIP tickets will include a special cocktail hour with David and other celebrities. Standard and VIP tables are also available.

The David Ortiz Children’s Fund Gala directly benefits the David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which partners with the World Pediatric Project to provide critical pediatric healthcare in the Dominican Republic.

In 2009, the Fund joined with Massachusetts General Hospital for Children to extend its life-saving mission to New England. Go to davidortizchildrensfund.org for more information on the fund and the gala.

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 212-727-2142.

Red Sox profit from a wild 9-8 win in the Bronx

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 6, 2013 01:04 AM

NEW YORK — Two outs, nobody on in the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera. That's usually checkout time in baseball.

But in a season that has defied expectations, the Red Sox found a way on Thursday night and the result was a 9-8 win in 10 innings.

Mike Napoli, 0 for 5 in his career off Rivera, started it with a single. Then secret weapon Quintin Berry stole second and went to third on an error by catcher Austin (son of Kevin) Romine.

Berry was an offensively challenged Triple A outfielder going nowhere in the Kansas City organization until the Red Sox traded for him on Aug. 27. Now he has a very good chance of landing on the postseason roster.

"What a blessing this has been," he said. "I'm so thankful for the opportunity. I never expected to be in this position."

With Berry on third, Stephen Drew tied it up with a single. He hit Rivera's second pitch just enough to dump it into right field.

"You know what he has. But at the same time he’s not easy to hit,” Drew said. “With two outs, that’s a tough situation. Just trying to get a good pitch to hit. His ball is moving regardless. I was able to push one out there.”

In the 10th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury singled off Joba Chamberlain and stole second. Shane Victorino then singled in the go-ahead run. Victorino checked his swing on a 1-and-2 pitch but first base umpire Joe West ruled he did not go around. The single came on the next pitch.

“It was a borderline call,” John Farrell admitted.

The throw from Ichiro Suzuki beat Ellsbury to the plate. But Romine couldn’t handle the short hop.

Craig Breslow (5-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Koji Uehara then picked up his 18th save. Uehara has been perfect in seven consecutive outings, retiring 23 batters. He has thrown 26 consecutive scoreless innings.

“That’s why you keep playing,” David Ortiz said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

“A character win; a team win. A lot of guys contributed,” Farrell said.

The Sox have won three straight, six of seven and 10 of their last 12 games. With Tampa Bay losing again, the Sox now lead the division by 6.5 games. It's their largest lead of the season.

With 20 games left, anything is possible. But this is a Red Sox team that still looks strong and committed. Unlike 2011, the foundation is solid.

The third-place Yankees are nine games out. They're playing for a wild card at this point.

A few notes:

• As memorable as the victory was, the late-season demise of Junichi Tazawa is troubling for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox have a lights-out closer in Uehara and a trustworthy lefty in Breslow. But at the moment, do they have a righthanded set-up man they can rely on?

Tazawa entered the seventh inning and allowed three run-scoring hits. Alfonso Soriano had a single through a shift that left second base vacant. Curtis Granderson then crushed a hanging splitter to right field for a double. Lyle Overbay then grounded a two-run single into right field with two outs.

In all, the Yankees scored six runs that inning off Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton and Tazawa.

Tazawa has pitched 16.1 innings since July 31 and given up 17 hits. Of the 13 runners he has inherited, five have scored.

"It's his split more than anything. The power is there. The strike-throwing ability is there. All the things are there. He's using his curveball a little bit more. But the base hit to Overbay was a split that really didn't have the bottoming-out action," Farrell said. "It's a matter of getting a little more consistency with the one pitch."

Farrell said Tazawa's grip is likely the problem. He could be squeezing the ball too much.

• The Red Sox are 27 of their last 27 in stolen bases. Berry's swipe of second base in the ninth inning and Ellsbury stealing second in the 10th inning were perhaps the two biggest plays in the game.

The Red Sox have a relentless offense, solid starters and a closer having the season of his life. But their speed is a weapon that figures to be critical come the postseason.

• Lots of empty seats at Yankee Stadium. The announced crowd was 40,481 but there were entire sections that were open. Perhaps the Jewish holidays and it being a school night played a role. But the atmosphere was lacking.

• Napoli is 13 of his last 35 with nine RBIs over 10 games. He has an .800 OPS and 78 RBIs. He's having pretty much an average Mike Napoli season, which is to say a productive one. People focusing on the 171 strikeouts are missing the big picture.

If he had 100 strikeouts and 71 more pop-ups, what difference would it make?

• Victorino continued what is nearly a career year for him. He was 2 for 6 with three more RBIs and his 20th stolen base. Victorino is hitting .294 and has an .800 OPS.

Oddly, he refused a standard postgame on-field interview with NESN and MLB Network and did not speak to reporters after the game.

• The Sox are 8-5 against the Yankees this season, 5-2 at the Stadium.

That's it for tonight. Thanks for reading. Come back for more tomorrow.

Clay Buchholz solid in rehab start

Posted by Globe Staff September 5, 2013 11:16 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A fall-like, even frigid late-summer night in upstate New York.

No better place, perhaps, to see if Red Sox ace Clay Buchholz and his sore shoulder were up for the heat of an autumn playoff race.

Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since June 9, made his third rehab start, and second for the Pawtucket Red Sox, on Thursday, in the hopes of being pronounced ready to return to Boston.

And while that official word will have to wait, what the righthander showed against the Rochester Red Wings seemed promising enough.

“Everything went really smooth,” said Buchholz, one day after the birth of his second daughter, Landry Grace. “It was sort of a rush, but everything was good. I’m ready to get back up there [to Boston].”

Buchholz went 3.2 innings, threw 71 pitches (52 for strikes), allowing two runs in the PawSox’ 7-2 Game 2 playoff triumph, evening the best-of-five series.

Working more on command than velocity (he hit 93 miles per hour on the radar gun just once), Buchholz struck out five, all on curveballs, and walked two.

“I threw all my pitches,” said Buchholz, whose fastball and 12-to-6 curve were the prime weapons in his arsenal. “Whenever I reach back and try to throw something, I know it’s going to be there. It’s all about how the ball is moving out of my hand, and the release point.”

Buchholz was successful in staying ahead of hitters, jumping to 0-and-2 counts seven times. Curiously, four of those batters wound up reaching base.

Buchholz was at his best in the third inning, in which he needed just 11 pitches to set down Rochester in order, while racking up two strikeouts.

By that time, Pawtucket had a 5-0 lead off Red Wings starter P.J. Walters.

Buchholz, who was working under a 75-pitch limit, found a little trouble in the fourth, when he allowed both runs. The first came via an RBI double by Deibinson Romero, who came back from an 0-and-2 hole. Buchholz faced two more hitters before leaving to high-fives from his teammates.

“I’d have liked to have gotten up and down a few more times for innings,” Buchholz said. “The pitch count wouldn’t allow me to do that. I felt like I could have thrown as many pitches as they would have wanted me to.”

Working the behind the plate for the PawSox was youngster Christian Vazquez, perhaps a surprising choice considering that a more seasoned receiver, Dan Butler, was on hand.

Vazquez spent most of the season with Double A Portland, and had made just one appearance with the PawSox after a late-season call-up.

Even so, Vazquez was nonplussed at getting the call. After all, he already had caught John Lackey, Franklin Morales, and Craig Breslow, who made rehab appearances with Portland.

“[Buchholz] is just another pitcher,” said Vazquez. “We just had to be on the same page.”

That was something Vazquez learned after catching Lackey’s rehab start. Vazquez said that like Buchholz, Lackey was simply interested in working out the kinks.

Buchholz wore his customary No. 11, co-opting it for the night from PawSox hurler Allen Webster.

“I bought them a spread [from a nearby rib joint],” said Buchholz, which he considered the price for his favorite number.

Final: Red Sox 9, Yankees 8 (10 innings)

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 5, 2013 07:16 PM

Game over: Red Sox 9, Yankees 8: Crazy turn of events as the Red Sox blew a five-run lead only to win in the 10th on Shane Victorino's base hit to drive in Jacoby Ellsbury, who singled an stole second and then beat a marvelous throw to the plate by Ichiro Suzuki which was muffed by catcher Austin Romine.

Koji Uehara earned his 18th save. The game was played in 4:32.

Top 10th: Red Sox 9, Yankees 8 - Jacoby Ellsbury singled to right,stole second and scored on Shane Victorino's single to right off Joba Chamberlain. Ichiro made an excellent throw from right field to the plate but Austin Romine muffed the one-hop throw or he would have had Ellsbury. Victorino also caught a break when he checked his swing on what might have been strike three. Replays showed Victorino might have gone more than half-way on the swing but first base umpire Joe West ruled he didn't go around.

Bottom 9th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 8 - Alfonso Soriano made a real dumb play trying to steal third on Craig Breslow and leaving too soon. Wow what a bonehead play! It got the Red Sox out of a tough spot as Breslow struck out Granderson for the third out.

Top 9th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 8 - Mariano Rivera blew the save. He got two quick outs but then allowed a single to rightcenter to Mike Napoli even though it looked as if he had him struck out on a pitch that looked like strike three. Napoli was pinch-run for by Quintin Berry, who stole second base and moved to third on catcher Austin Romine's overthrow. Stephen Drew, who had gone 0-for-4, drove Berry in. The Red Sox had acquired Berry for this very reason and it paid off.

Bottom 8th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 7 - The Yankees couldn't do much against Craig Breslow, retired 1-2-3.

Top 8th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 7 - Dave Robertson was pretty dominating in the eighth with a pair of strikeouts of Ellsbury and Victorino and he also retired Pedroia.

Bottom 7th: Yankees 8, Red Sox 7 - What a turnaround. The Red Sox bullpen imploded here with Matt Thornton and Junichi Tazawa spitting up all over themselves after Jake Peavy left the game allowing a walk to Ichiro and a single to pinch-hitter Vernon Wells. Thornton was awful as he allowed an RBi single to Brett Gardner, then walked Derek Jeter after Wells stole third.

A second run scored on Robinson Cano's fielder's choice grounder. Tazawa came on and despite the fact he was throwing 96 and 97 and struck out A-Rod with runners in scoring position and one out, prior to that Alfonso Soriano singled in a right with a basehit to the right side and Curtis Garnderson doubled to right to score another. The A-Rod K seemed big but with two outs and Lyle Overbay, down on the count with two strikes, singled to right to score both the tying and go-ahead run.

Top 7th: Red Sox 7, Yankees 2 - Daniel Nava doubled and eventually scored on Ryan Lavarnway's single to right field. Mike Napoli walked after Nava's double.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 6, Yankees 2 - A-Rod doubles to left with two out but tough Peavy gets out of the inning, which may be his last.

Top 6th: Red Sox 6, Yankees 2 - Something you don't see very often: Jacoby Ellsbury picked off. That's right. After he singled off Adam Warren, he got caught and couldn't get back in time. Nice throw by Warren and tag by Lyle Overbay.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 6, Yankees 2 - The Yankees go down in order.

Top 5th: Red Sox 6, Yankees 2 - Shane Victorino strokes his 13th homer righthanded off Preston Claiborne, who also allowed singles to Pedroia and Ortiz, walked Nava to load the bases with nobody out and allowed an infield single to third that A-Rod reached to his left for and then bobbled for a run. After Stephen Drew struck out vs. lefty Cesar Cabral, Ryan Lavarnway reached on a fielder's choice to short scoring the third run of the inning. Jeter looked very slow in fielding the ball and then trying to get out of the way of an oncoming Mike Napoli.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 - After A-Rod doubled to rightcenter, Lyle Overbay drew a walk. They pulled off a double steal, but Ichiro, after an excellent at-bat K'd and Stewart flew out to left.

Top 4th: Red Sox 3, Yankees 2 -Will Middlebrooks just crushed a mistake by Nova into the second deck in left, his 13th homer. Between Boston and Pawtucket he has 23 on the season.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 2, Yankees 2 - Ichiro lead it off with single, the first hit off Peavy. He stole second with one out. After a nice bunt single in front of the pitchers mound by Brett Gardner moved the runner to third, Derek Jeter had a nice at-bat to draw the walk. Robinson Cano just missed a grand slam off the rightfield wall, driving a cut fastball ball out over the plate for a two-run double. Peavy limited the damage from there.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 2, Yankees 0 - All the things that Ivan Nova isn't supposed to do he did. He allowed the Red Sox to get into hitters counts and see a lot of pitches. It's amazing how often this happens. Ryan Lavarnway started things off with a single to center, followed by a Will Middlebrooks single. The first run came in on Jacoby Elllsbury's ground rule double to center. Shane Victorino's grounder to third got the second run home. After the second out, they walked David Ortiz intentionally, walked Daniel Nava before he struck out Mike Napoli on a curveball. Nova is already up to 82 pitches.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - Six up and six down for Peavy. He's gotten a variety of outs, from a foul ball pop, to one ground ball, one liner and three fly balls. Alex Rodriguez flew out to deep center to end the second inning.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - David Ortiz busted the shift with a single to right, but he was stranded as Daniel Nava flew out deep to center and Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew fell victim to Ivan Nova's breaking ball and struck out.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - Jake Peavy retires the Yankees in order in the first, tough Robinson Cano sent one deep to center that was tracked down by Jacoby Ellsbury. Peavy is 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA in his first six starts with Boston.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, Yankees 0 - Ivan Nova, tough as nails lately, gets the Sox to fly out three times. Nova was the AL pitcher of the month for August going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA. He's 8-4 on the season with a 2.88 ERA.

Saltalamacchia hopes to return on Saturday

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 5, 2013 05:44 PM

NEW YORK — Greetings from Yankee Stadium. A few pregame notes:

• Jarrod Saltalamacchia (lower back soreness) is out of the lineup for the third consecutive game. He plans to take batting practice Friday and return to the lineup Saturday.

"It's getting there," Saltalamacchia said. "There was inflammation that was making it tough on me. It was good that I was able to get a few days."

Manager John Farrell said Ryan Lavarnway was the pick to catch tonight because they feel he's a better matchup against Ivan Nova than David Ross.

• Allen Webster pitched in relief for Triple A Pawtucket Wednesday night. If he returns to the Red Sox, it would be in a relief role.

• Clay Buchholz pitches tonight for Pawtucket in Rochester, N.Y. He is likely to return to the Red Sox rotation Tuesday or Wednesday against Tampa Bay. Farrell said the Red Sox have not decided who is coming out of the rotation. But there will not be a six-man rotation. With all the days off coming up, that's not practical.

• Infielder Sean Coyle is injured and will not be able to play in the Arizona Fall League. Infielder Mookie Betts will replace him.

Game 142: Red Sox at Yankees

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 5, 2013 02:30 PM


Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (84-57)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Nava LF
Napoli 1B
Drew SS
Lavarnway C
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: RHP Jake Peavy (11-5, 3.91).

YANKEES (75-64)
Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Granderson DH
Rodriguez 3B
Overbay 1B
Suzuki RF
Stewart C
Pitching: RHP Ivan Nova (8-4, 2.88).

Game time: 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, YES, MLB Network / WEEI, WCBS.

Red Sox vs. Nova: Ortiz 4-13, Pedroia 4-8, Salty 0-8, Nava 1-6, Carp 1-3, Ellsbury 0-5, McDonald 0-4, Napoli 0-2, Drew 2-2.

Yankees vs. Peavy: Soriano 9-32, Suzuki 8-25, Reynolds 3-20, Granderson 4-14, Jeter 0-8, Overbay 1-7, Cano 4-9, Rodriguez 1-6, Wells 1-6, Gardner 1-4, Nunez 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Since the start of 2002 season (when the current ownership group took over), the Red Sox and Yankees have played 229 games, including the postseason. The Yankees lead the series 117-112 but the Red Sox have outscored the Yankees 1,212-1,211.

Notes: The Sox have won five of six and nine of 11 games and are 5.5 games up in the division with 21 games to play. ... Those pesky Yankees are in third place, eight games out with seven games left play against the Sox. They have won three straight and five of six. ... The Sox lead the season series 7-5, outscoring the Yankees 61-49. ... Peavy is 3-1, 3.18 in six starts with the Sox, who are 3-3 in those games. He has allowed six earned runs in his last 27.2 innings. Peavy is 0-4, 3.96 in four career starts against the Yankees, the last coming on June 30, 2012 when he was with the White Sox. ... Nova was 4-0, 2.08 in six August starts with the Yankees winning all six of those games. That dropped his ERA from 3.41 to 2.88. Nova is facing the Sox for the first time since July 8, 2012. He is 2-2, 4.85 in six career appearances against the Sox. ... Ortiz has 427 home runs, tied with Mike Piazza for 46th place all-time. He could catch Cal Ripken Jr. (431) before the season ends. ... Lyle Overbay, who was in spring training with the Red Sox before being released and signing with the Yankes, is 10 for 29 with four doubles and four RBIs against them this season. ... The Sox are 24 of 24 on stolen bases since Aug. 9. ... Napoli is 11 of his last 31 with three doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in nine games. ... Lavarnway is 10 of his last 22 in the majors three extra-base hits and six RBIs. ... Middlebrooks hit .192/.228/.389 before he was sent to Triple A Pawtucket. He has hit .343/.413/.529 since returning. ... The Yankees have won nine of their last 10 home games and are 5-1 on their current homestand. ... Sox closer Koji Uehara has a 1.16 ERA, an 0.61 WHIP and is averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has a 2.06 ERA, an 1.11 WHIP and is averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings.

Song of the Day: "Southern Man" by Neil Young.

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Ask Nick: Who makes playoff roster?

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 5, 2013 01:45 PM
It’s about the time of the season to start playing the playoff roster game.

This roster shouldn’t be too hard to figure, but there are a couple of areas where the Red Sox brass will have to do some thinking.

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Obviously, we have the nine starters: 1B Mike Napoli, 2B, Dustin Pedroia, SS Stephen Drew and 3B Will Middlebrooks. The outfield is Jonny Gomes, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino. The DH is David Ortiz.

We can assume John McDonald will be the backup infielder. Mike Carp and Daniel Nava are the backup outfielders/1B and David Ross is the backup catcher.

Now it gets tricky. In a five-game divisional series with two off-days, all you need is four starting pitchers. I presume they will be Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Clay Buchholz. It would also be logical to go with 11 pitchers total, which leaves seven bullpen slots. Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster, who could be the odd men out of the rotation, would assume two bullpen roles. Then you have Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, Brandon Workman, and Matt Thornton.

That leaves us one player short of 25. That one player could be an additional positional player like Xander Bogaerts. Or you could add Quintin Berry for his speed. You could also go with a 12th pitcher, which could be Franklin Morales or Drake Britton.

The decisions then are an 11th or 12th pitcher or an extra positional player?

Another potential decision could be do you keep both Doubront and Dempster on the roster? Your thoughts?

Here’s our mailbag:

I am really going to miss watching Jose Iglesias play defense on a daily basis. Have you ever seen anyone faster from the time the ball touches the glove to the time it leaves his hand? It really is amazing.
Mike, Hinesburg, Vt.
Yes, he’s so fun to watch. He’s amazing, really. I’ve had baseball people call him a “once-in-generation” shortstop, or a rarity. He’s helped the Tigers a great deal and the pitchers are very happy. He was their missing piece.

The Red Sox' participation in the postseason has me wondering about a playoff rotation. Peavy has performed well enough to earn himself a spot. Lester is getting back in form, although I still see him as inconsistent even given his last four outings. I do not know what Buchholz will bring to the table. Both Lackey and Doubront have been pitching well. So, who will be our starting three?
Evan, Longmeadow
My guess is Lester, Lackey, Peavy, Buchholz unless Buchholz shows he’s lights out, and then he’s probably inserted in the No. 2 spot. Doubront and Dempster are either in the bullpen or one of them doesn’t make the postseason roster.

Why are the Red Sox not playing Daniel Nava?
Linda, Murrells Inlet, SC
He's getting more playing time lately. Farrell likes Gomes’ energy and ability to produce a big hit at the right time. Gomes is also hitting righthanders better (.256) this season than normal and hits well in late situations.

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FULL ENTRY

Pitching matchups for the Yankees series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 5, 2013 08:45 AM

Thursday: RHP Jake Peavy (11-5, 3.91) vs. RHP Ivan Nova (8-4, 2.88), 7:05 p.m., NESN, YES, MLB Network.

Friday: LHP Felix Doubront (10-6 3.89) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01), 7:05 p.m., NESN, YES, MLB Network.

Saturday: RHP John Lackey (8-12 3.22) vs. LHP David Huff (2-0, 3.32), 1:05 p.m., FOX.

Sunday: LHP Jon Lester (13-8 3.88) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99), 1:05 p.m., NESN, YES, TBS.

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Final: Red Sox 20, Tigers 4

Posted by Staff September 4, 2013 07:04 PM




After being shutout 3-0 on Labor Day and squeezing out a 2-1 victory Tuesday, the Red sox responded with a 19-hit, 20-run outburst as they beat the Tigers. The game looked more an extended batting practice session, and less like a game between the two top clubs in the American League.

The Red Sox improved to 87-54, the best in the American League, and stretched their division lead to six games over Tampa Bay.

David Ortiz hit his 2,000th career hit, which was a double in the sixth inning, and added a pair of home runs in the fourth and seventh innings.

Ortiz, Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Ryan Lavarnway all hit home runs, tying the franchise single-game record for most in a game.

"This is the best time for this to happen,” Ortiz said. “We’re in September already. We have a little bit of a lack of offense… We need that one game to kind of wake you up, and I think this is it.”

Ryan Dempster earned his second consecutive win since being suspended for hitting Alex Rodriguez, and struck out seen batters over six innings, while allowing four runs.

Quintin Berry, who was traded to Boston and called up on Sunday, recorded his first hit with the Red Sox – an RBI single in the seventh inning. He also had another RBI single in the eighth.

Final: Red Sox 20, Tigers 4 – Napoli homered in the eight inning, tying the single-game franchise record for most home runs in a game, giving the Red Sox their 8th of the night. Berry also had an RBI single in the inning, his second of the night. Rubby De La Rosa pitched the ninth inning to end the slugfest.

Bottom of the 7th: Red Sox 18, Tigers 4 – Somehow, the Red Sox had more offense left in their bats. Ryan Lavarnway hit a two-run home run off the top of the Green Monster. It was originally ruled a hit, and then overturned. Quintin Berry tallied his first hit with the Sox, an RBI single that scored Middlebrooks. Then, with the crowd giving a standing ovation, Ortiz cranked another two run home run, his second of the night. It was his 41st career multi-home run game. They should call this one off at this point.

Bottom of the 6th: Red Sox 13, Tigers 4 – The wheels came off fast for Detroit in that inning. Porcello intentionally walked Drew to load the bases, and then walked Mike Carp to bring a run home. Al Alburquerque came in relief against Middlebrooks, and the Sox third baseman sent his second pitch into the Green Monster for a grand slam. Later in the inning, Ortiz doubled and Quintin Berry scored. Ortiz collected his 2,000th career hit and received a hearty ovation from the Fenway crowd.
Nava also hit a two-run home run, the team's fifth of the night.

Top of the 6th: Red Sox 5, Tigers 4 – Impressive inning for Dempster, striking out the side in order. He battled back from a 3-0 count to get Avila with a slider on his 100th pitch of the evening. However, he's still throwing hard, getting his fastball above 88.

End of the 5th: Red Sox 5, Tigers 4 – The Sox have added at least one run in every inning since the second. This time, Victorino scored on a sacrifice fly from Pedroia. Victorino stole second base after hitting a single, and advanced to third on a throwing error from Avila. It was Victorino's 19th swipe of the season. It appeared Dirks trapped the fly ball in left field, but he made the catch and his throw home was not in time.

Bottom of the 4th: Red Sox 4, Tigers 4 – Neither pitcher seems able to hold a lead tonight. Ortiz throws his name into tonight's home run derby after smashing Porcello's 1-1 fastball into the bleachers. Ortiz now just one hit away from 2,000. That was home run number 426 for Papi.

Top of the 4th: Tigers 4, Red Sox 3 – After getting the first out, Dempster gave up a single, double and a walk to load the bases. Iglesias grounded to Middlebrooks and just beat out Pedroia's return throw on the double play attempt. Avila slid hard into second to break it up, and Don Kelly scored. Shane "Bamm-Bamm" Victorino ended the inning by falling into the stands after making a leaping catch.

Bottom of the 3rd: Red Sox 3, Tigers 3 – To no surprise, the flag in center field is blowing slightly towards right field. In the bottom half of the frame, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a solo home run towards Pesky Pole to tie the game. It was the third home run of the night, including Fielder's and Drew's, both of which wrapped around the pole. Porcello fielded a sharp come-backer from Pedroia and fired to Iglesias, who turned the double play to end the inning. Iglesias with a flashy leap over a sliding Victorino to make the throw.

Top of the 3rd: Tigers 3, Red Sox 2 – Detroit piled on runs in that inning to take the lead from the Sox, led by Prince Fielder's two-run home run. Jose Iglesias bunted for a one-out single and advanced to third on a base hit by Austin Jackson. Iglesias scored on Hunter's groundout to Pedroia. Pedroia had to wait for Jackson to get out of the way before making the throw to first, preventing a chance for a double play. In the next at-bat, Fielder quickly deposited Dempster's 85-mile-per-hour slider. From up in the press box, the pitch looked really flat. Fielder put it out in a hurry.

End of the 2nd: Red Sox 2, Tigers 0 – Stephen Drew got the Red Sox on the board with a two-run home run. Porcello offered a 1-1 fastball, but Drew had little trouble handling it, sending it hooking around Pesky's Pole. Daniel Nava, who reached on a one-out single, scored. The home run was Drew's 12th of the season.

End of the 1st: Red Sox 0, Tigers 0 – Ryan Dempster got out of the first inning relatively easy, striking out Austin Jackson and getting Torii Hunter to ground out softly when made contact on a check swing. Prince Fielder hit a soft grounder to third base, but reached because Will Middlebrooks was playing in the shift. Rick Porcello retired the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the frame. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a hard liner to left field, but Andy Dirks made a nice leaping catch against the wall to make the out.

Welcome to Fenway Park for the third and final matchup of the series between the Tigers and Red Sox. Follow here for updates throughout the game.

Farrell still believes Bard can be successful

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 4, 2013 06:23 PM

Bard090413.jpg

Given the fact that it was Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein who invested a first-round pick in Daniel Bard back in 2006 when he was still general manager of the Red Sox, John Farrell wasn’t at all surprised by the news that the Cubs claimed Bard off waivers today.

Once a lights-out setup man, the 28-year-old righthander was derailed by injuries and confidence issues, struggling to regain the form that saw him record 79 holds in his first three seasons.

Bard's decline started last season as he transitioned to a role in the starting rotation. He went 4-6 as a starter, never completely making the adjustment, and was demoted to Triple A Pawtucket in June.

In 31 minor league appearances this season with Double A Portland, Single A Lowell, and the Gulf Coast League, Bard gave up 13 runs on 14 hits in 15.1 innings, walking 27 batters and throwing 11 wild pitches before being shut down in May.

He was designated for assignment by the Sox on Sunday. Farrell said he still believes Bard can be successful again, but the need for a roster spot made it necessary to part ways.

“I guess the most important thing is we wish him well,” Farrell said. “We hope he gets back on track. There's still a good pitcher in there once he gets back on track, we believe.

“I'm not going to say that he can't. There's still a player and a pitcher there that is motivated, and yet any time that there's activity disrupted by an injury, it's going to slow that process. Time was of the essence with us, needing a roster space.

"Based on what we saw over the past couple of years, it needs to be built back gradually, and however long that takes is the unknown in this."

Red Sox running into some history

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 4, 2013 05:08 PM




If you have followed the Red Sox for a while, you know that base stealing has rarely been a big part of their offense. The Red Sox were long a team of plodding power hitters, with occasional flashes of speed from players like Tommy Harper, Otis Nixon, and, of course, Jacoby Ellsbury.

That Carl Yastrzemski is fourth in team history with all of 168 steals illustrates the point.

So get this. The Red Sox are 23 for 23 in stolen bases since Aug. 9. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the longest streak for a Red Sox team in at least 85 years. Prior to that, nobody thought to keep track.

It's the longest streak for any team in the majors since the Marlins had 23 straight steals during the 2010 season. The last streak that was longer came from the Phillies in 2009. They had 25 in a row.

Shane Victorino is 4 for 4 with the Red Sox in their streak. He was 6 for 6 in the streak put together by the 2009 Phillies.

The Sox are 107 of 126 (.849) this season. They are fourth in baseball in steals and first in steal percentage.

The 107 steals are the most since the 2009 Red Sox had 126. Since 1935, only three Red Sox teams have had more steals than the 2013 team.

Elllsbury is 51 of 55 this season, so the bulk of the credit goes to him. But seven other Red Sox players have stolen at least two bases this season. Outside of Ellsbury, the Sox are 56 of 71 (.788).

The 56 steals would be good for 24th in the majors and the percentage would be fourth.

Game 141: Tigers at Red Sox

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 4, 2013 02:55 PM

Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (83-57)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Nava LF
Napoli 1B
Drew SS
Ross C
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: Ryan Dempster (7-9, 4.75).

TIGERS (81-58)
Jackson CF
Hunter RF
Fielder 1B
Martinez DH
Dirks LF
Kelly 3B
Infante 2B
Avila C
Iglesias SS
Pitching: Rick Porcello (11-7, 4.44).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/radio: NESN, ESPN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Porcello: Napoli 4-12, Pedroia 2-8, Ellsbury 6-7, Ortiz 0-4, Saltalamacchia 0-4, McDonald 1-3, Middlebrooks 1-3, Snyder 2-3, Drew 0-3.

Tigers vs. Dempster: Fielder 11-42, Infante 3-13, Hunter 6-9, Santiago 0-5, Cabrera 1-4, Martinez 2-4, Pena 1-3

Stat of the Day: The Red Sox have allowed three runs or fewer in 13 of their past 14 games. They are 9-4 in those games.

Notes: The Red Sox wrap up their season series with the Tigers. The Sox have dropped four of six to the Tigers this season but lead Detroit by 1.5 games for the best record in the American League … The Sox have won eight of their past 10. The Tigers have lost five of their last nine … Dempster is making his second start since being suspended for hitting Alex Rodriguez. He went 6.1 innings and gave up three runs to earn a win over the White Sox Aug. 30. It was his first win since July 27. This will be just his third career appearance and second start against the Tigers, who along with the Yankees are one of the two teams Dempster has never recorded a win against. His only start against them came in 2002 when he was with the Marlins. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on four his with 10 strikeouts … Porcello has won three of his past four starts and has a 3.36 ERA over his last 10 … Daniel Nava has reached base in 38 straight starts going back to June 22 … Although he hit .322 in August with two home runs and seven RBIs and came through with the two-run single that decided the Sox’ win on Tuesday, Will Middlebrooks is hitting .194 (6 of 31) in his past 10 games with no extra-base hits ... Koji Uehara has retired 21 straight batters and has converted 12 straight save opportunities ... Jacoby Ellsbury (bone bruise on left hand) is back in the lineup tonight after sitting out Tuesday … Jarrod Saltalamacchia (lower back soreness) is out again.

Song of the day: "Good Afternoon" by The Cool Kids.

Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.

Cubs claim Bard off waivers from Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 4, 2013 01:43 PM

The Chicago Cubs have claimed righthander Daniel Bard off waivers from the Red Sox.

The 28-year-old Bard has been battling control problems for the better part of two years and was designated for assignment Sunday. The Cubs picked up the remainder of his contract for this season and with it the right to offer him arbitration and retain his rights.

Bard was on outright waivers, not trade waivers. So the Red Sox receive no compensation beyond not having to pay the remainder of his contract this season.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and assistant general manager Jason McLeod have extensive experience with Bard from their time with the Red Sox. They drafted Bard in the first round out of North Carolina in 2006 and shepherded his rise to the majors.

Bard was one of baseball's top relief pitchers from 2009-11, appearing in 192 games for the Red Sox. He struck out 213 over 197 innings while allowing only 132 hits.

When Jonathan Papelbon left the Red Sox as a free agent after the 2011 season, Bard appeared to be a logical choice to become the next closer, given his high-octane fastball and a wipeout slider.

But Bard lobbied the Red Sox for a chance to start, and general manager Ben Cherington agreed. Disaster followed.

Despite mixed results in spring training that included an alarming drop in velocity and the lack of a reliable third pitch, Bard started the 2012 season in the rotation. He was 4-6 with a 5.30 earned run average in 10 starts. Over 54.1 innings, Bard walked 36, hit eight, and struck out out only 34.

On June 3, 2012, Bard could not get through the second inning of a start in Toronto. He walked six and hit two batters along with giving up a home run. The Red Sox sent him to Triple A Pawtucket four days later.

Bard has not been the same since, struggling mightily to throw strikes. The Red Sox returned him to the bullpen and he pitched in six major league games at the end of the 2012 season with poor results.

The Sox sent Bard to Double A Portland to start this season, saying at the time that he had more work to do. The team then made the curious decision to recall Bard to the majors after only eight appearances in the Eastern League that were not particularly impressive.

Bard had a successful inning against the Astros on April 25. But when he pitched again on April 27, he walked two batters on nine pitches and was taken out of the game and returned to Portland two days later.

His control problems became even worse from there. Bard walked five of the eight batters he faced in a game May 15. The Red Sox then shut him down and eventually said he had an oblique strain.

Bard did not pitch again until Aug. 26 in a Gulf Coast League game. In two GCL games and then a game for Rookie League Lowell, Bard faced 17 batters and walked 10 of them. He also threw three wild pitches.

From the start of the 2012 season, in all games, Bard has walked 101, hit 18, and thrown 21 wild pitches over 107.2 innings. He does have 80 strikeouts, so perhaps the Cubs can unlock the talent that is still remaining.

An October feel at Fenway Park

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 4, 2013 12:36 AM

The last playoff game at Fenway Park was Oct. 11, 2009. That's just about four years ago.

Tuesday night offered a compelling reminder of what the Red Sox and their fans have been missing — and what may be to come. That's what the 2-1 victory against the Tigers and Max Scherzer felt like.

"That was a lot of fun,” David Ross said. “The crowd and playing [the Tigers] made it kind of a little playoff atmosphere. The crowd was really into it and I think the guys were excited."

Jon Lester pitched like a guy who should start Game 1 of the playoffs. The Detroit lineup was an aggregate .414 against him and Lester allowed one run over seven innings. He struck out a season high nine without a walk.

Lester (13-8) has a 2.41 earned run average in nine starts since the All-Star break. Over 59.2 innings he has walked 15 and struck out 51 and regained the form he showed in April and May.

“Powerful, a lot of strikes,” manager John Farrell said. “Over the last probably three or four starts his cutter has come back to where it was as we’ve seen a couple of years ago.”

Will Middlebrooks, banished to the minors for two months this season, had a huge two-run single with two outs in the fifth inning. He had been 0 for 4 against Scherzer in his career with four strikeouts.

Middlebrooks was looking for a slider and when he saw it out of Scherzer’s hand, he told himself not to “get too big” with his swing.

“You have to try to go up the middle with Scherzer,” Middlebrooks said. “If you get something over the plate you have to do something with it.”

Farrell managed the bullpen like it was a playoff game in the eighth inning. Rookie Brandon Workman, not Junichi Tazawa, was first out to face Miguel Cabrera. He fell behind 2-and-0 then got a fly ball.

"He’s gained a lot of confidence by all of us, Workman has, and trust in him," Farrell said.

Lefty Craig Breslow was next. He retired Prince Fielder on a groundout before old friend Victor Martinez singled. Then came Tazawa, who fanned Omar Infante.

Farrell explained that he wanted Tazawa for later in the inning in case a runner was on base because he holds runners better than Workman. Perhaps. But it seemed telling Workman was in a big spot there.

Koji Uehara needed nine pitches to handle the ninth inning. He struck out the final two batters and bounced off the mound with a huge smile. He has thrown 25 consecutive scoreless innings and retired the last 21 batters to face him.

Uehara has been perfect in his last six save situations, matching a team record set by Jeff Russell in 1993. His stretch of 22 consecutive scoreless outings is the second-longest in team history. Daniel Bard had a 25-game streak in 2011.

Uehara has a 1.16 ERA and an 0.61 WHIP. He has thrown 62.1 innings. His most in the majors is 66.2 with the Orioles in 2009 when he started 12 games.

But Uehara threw 168.1 innings in Japan in 2006.

Final: Red Sox 2, Tigers 1

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 3, 2013 06:49 PM

Lester090313.jpg

Marquee matchups tend to fuel Jon Lester more than he likes to let on. With Max Scherzer bringing his league-leading 19 wins to the mound for the Tigers, Lester was more than ready for a duel.

In seven innings of work, Lester struck out nine and gave up just one run. The Red Sox offense did just enough to make his effort stand up in a 2-1 win.

Will Middlebrooks's two-run single in the fifth was all the support Lester needed to pick up his 13 win of the season.

Koji Uehara came on in the ninth to close the door for the Sox, who improved to 83-57.

FULL ENTRY

Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia out with injuries

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 3, 2013 05:41 PM

The Red Sox have two of their key players — center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia — out of the lineup for tonight’s game against the Detroit Tigers.

Ellsbury has a bone bruise and swelling in his left hand, a condition that caused him to leave Sunday’s game. He played Monday but took himself out of the lineup early this afternoon.

Ellsbury has been icing his left hand after games for several weeks. The issue worsened over the weekend.

“He was jammed pretty good [on Sunday] and the bat kind of jammed into that thumb/palm area of the his left hand,” manager John Farrell said. “Once again [Monday] and felt like today was a day he needed to try to get ahead of it.”

Ellsbury is 5 for 9 with a double and a home run against Detroit starter Max Scherzer.

Farrell said the injury is something Ellsbury will have to manage the rest of the season. The Sox expect him to return to the lineup on Wednesday.

Saltalamacchia has a sore lower back and is expected to miss “two or three days” according to Farrell.

“That’s what we have planned for him over the next three days,” Farrell said. “Over the past three or four days, it started to rear its head a little bit more than some general soreness guys are dealing with. Throughout the course of [Monday’s] game, it became a little bit more apparent that he needed a little bit of a breather.”

Saltalamacchia is hitless in his last 14 at-bats, partially as a result of the back issue. Farrell said his throwing has been affected, too.

“I’ve been dealing with some physical things,” Saltalamacchia said on Monday.

Saltalamacchia has caught 900 1/3 innings this season, the most of his career and fourth most in the American League. Saltalamacchia started 46 of the first 70 games behind the plate as the Red Sox liberally used backup David Ross.

Ross went on the disabled list on June 15 because of a concussion and did not return until Aug. 19. Through Monday, Saltalamacchia caught 54 of 69 games.

Also:

• Clay Buchholz will make his third — and final — minor league rehabilitation start for Triple A Pawtucket in Rochester, N.Y., on Thursday. Buchholz had been scheduled to pitch on Wednesday but is being excused for the birth of his second child.

Barring a setback, Buchholz would be ready to pitch on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Red Sox haven’t yet said when Buchholz will be activated off the disabled list.

• Will Middlebrooks took some grounders at first base during batting practice.

• Detroit has Miguel Cabrera back in the lineup. He missed three games with an abdominal strain.

• The Tigers called up LHP Jose Alvarez, RHP Jeremy Bonderman and C Bryan Holaday from AAA Toledo.

MLB announces postseason schedule

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 3, 2013 02:53 PM

Here's the playoff schedule:

Oct. 1: National League Wild Card Game (TBS)
Oct. 2: American League Wild Card Game (TBS)

Oct. 3: National League Division Series starts (best of five, TBS or MLBN)
Oct. 4: American League Division Series starts (best of five, TBS or MLBN)

Oct. 9: Final day of National League Division Series (if 5 games)
Oct. 10: Final day of American League Division Series (if 5 games)

Oct. 11: NLCS starts (best of seven, TBS)
Oct. 12: ALCS starts (best of seven, FOX)

Oct. 19: Final day of NLCS (if 7 games)
Oct. 20: Final day of ALCS (if 7 games)

109th World Series
(Best of seven, all games on FOX)
Oct. 23 At AL city
Oct. 24: At AL city
Oct. 25: Off day
Oct. 26: At NL city
Oct. 27: At NL city
Oct. 28: At NL city
Oct. 29: Off day
Oct. 30: At AL city
Oct. 31: At AL city

Game 140: Tigers at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 3, 2013 02:45 PM

Good afternoon. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (82-57)
Victorino CF
Nava RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Carp 1B
Gomes LF
Drew SS
Ross C
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: LHP Jon Lester (12-8, 3.99).

TIGERS (81-57)
Jackson CF
Hunter RF
Cabrera 3B
Fielder 1B
Martinez DH
Infante 2B
Tuiasosopo LF
Pena C
Iglesias SS
Pitching: RHP Max Scherzer (19-1, 2.90).

Game time: 7:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN, MLB Network / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Scherzer: Ortiz 7-13 (3 HR), Napoli 1-13, Pedroia 3-13 (2 HR), Ellsbury 5-9, Salty 5-12, Drew 1-9, Carp 2-5, Nava 1-6, Victorino 2-6, Gomes 0-3, McDonald 0-2, Middlebrooks 0-3, Ross 1-2.

Tigers vs. Lester: Hunter 12-26, Cabrera 10-16, Pena 6-14, Fielder 3-12, Martinez 6-11, Jackson 2-10, Avila 3-6, Worth 2-4, Dirks 1-2, Infante 0-3, Santiago 0-3, Tuiaosopo 0-2.

Stat of the Day: Nava is 13th in the majors with a .387 OBP. His .831 OPS is fifth among American League outfielders.

Notes: The Rays have lost five straight and eight of nine. The Red Sox have a 5.5 game lead in the division with 23 games to play. They led the Tigers by a half-game for the best record in the American League. ... Detroit has won four of five and the Sox seven of nine. ... The Sox are 5-2 on a homestand that has two games left before a trip to New York and Tampa Bay. ... Scherzer is 2-3, 7.90 in seven career starts against the Red Sox. He held the Red Sox to two runs over seven innings on June 22 in Detroit. ... Lester is 4-2, 2.56 in eight starts since the All-Star break. He is 1-2, 5.26 in six starts against the Tigers. He faced Detroit on June 21 and allowed five runs on nine hits over 5.2 innings in a victory. ... Detroit pitchers lead baseball with 1,179 strikeouts. The Red Sox are third with 1,120. ... Victorino is 13 of his last 30 with 11 RBIs. ... Napoli is 8 of his last 25 with seven RBIs, four extra-base hits and five walks. ... Martinez has hit in nine straight for the Tigers at 18 of 36 with five RBIs. He is hitting .383 since July 1 with 33 RBIs. ... The Sox are 15-40 in September the last three years. ... Sox relievers have allowed two runs on eight hits over 18.2 innings in the homestand. ... Ortiz starts the day with 1,998 hits. ... Saltalamacchia is 0 for his last 14. ... Middlebrooks is hitting .323/.403/.468 in 20 games since returning from Triple A Pawtucket. ... Matt Thornton has thrown 7.2 consecutive scoreless innings in his last eight appearances. Since walking two batters in his first appearance for the Sox, Thornton has not allowed another walk.

Song of the Day: "Everlasting Arms" by Vampire Weekend.

The bunt that backfired on the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 2, 2013 07:49 PM

For the first time this season, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was asked to put down a sacrifice bunt. It was a decision that helped lead to Monday’s 3-0 loss against the Tigers.

With the Sox down by two runs against Detroit starter Doug Fister, Daniel Nava doubled to start the seventh inning and Mike Napoli walked.

Bunting seemed unlikely. The Sox are 14th in the American League in sacrifices and are an organization that generally adheres to the concept of not giving away outs.

Saltalamacchia also had not put down a successful sacrifice since 2009. He also has 35 doubles and 11 home runs this season.

But manager John Farrell called for a bunt. Saltalamacchia tapped the ball in a little arc in front of the plate and catcher Alex Avila threw Nava out at third. Two batters later, the inning was over.

Farrell said his decision was influenced by the Red Sox grounding into double plays three times earlier in the game.

“We’re looking to do anything we can to put a couple of guys in scoring position,” he said.

Farrell also pointed out that Saltalamacchia has been struggling at the plate in recent days. He was hitless in his previous 12 at-bats including a double-play groundout in the second inning and a strikeout in the fifth.

But even with those at-bats, Saltalamacchia was 5 for 10 in his career against Fister with two doubles and a home run.

“It’s not something I normally do but I understand why we did it. I had to do a better job," Saltalamacchia said.

See the Globe or BostonGlobe.com on Tuesday for more.

For John Lackey, it's more of the same

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 2, 2013 07:44 PM

The Detroit Tigers beat the Red Sox, 3-0, on Monday, hanging another tough loss on John Lackey.

Here's just how tough it has been for Lackey this season:

• The Red Sox have been shut out 11 times this season, six times with Lackey on the mound.

• Lackey has received an average of 3.77 runs per nine innings in his starts. The other regular starters — Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, Jon Lester, and Jake Peavy — get an average of 5.87 runs.

• Lackey’s 3.22 earned run average is 12th in the American League and his WHIP of 1.17 is 11th. Lackey is averaging 7.71 strikeouts per nine innings and is sixth in the league in walk to strikeout ratio.

• Lackey has 18 quality starts this season but is 8-6 in those games. The six losses are the most for any major league starter in quality starts.

“Honestly this about as good as I’ve ever pitched,” Lackey said. “I’m probably better now than I ever have been."

Lackey can take some positives out of that, surely.

“I’m trying,” he said. “Trying hard.”

Lackey then started laughing.

"It’s a great group of guys and guys who get after it,” he said later. "Just because we don’t score it’s definitely not a lack of effort. The boys want to give me some runs,” Lackey said. “They feel pretty bad about it. After games I get a lot of, ‘Nice job, our bad’ and that kind of stuff.”

Explaining Daniel Bard's situation

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 2, 2013 03:27 PM

It will be interesting to see if a team puts in a claim on Daniel Bard, because there are some financial ramifications in doing so.

First of all, Bard, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox, would be owed the remainder of his $1.86 million salary for this year — about $275,000.

Second, a team that acquires him would have to decide whether to tender him as of Dec. 2 for next season. If he is tendered, then he goes to arbitration since he has more than three years of service time.

The new team could offer a maximum 20 percent cut (to about $1.5 million), though Bard's agent would likely seek a status quo contract of $1.86 million. The team could also try to work out a pre-tender major league deal at more than the 20 percent cut and include a split salary if he’s in the minors.

If he gets through waivers and the Red Sox take him back and outright him to the minors, he would be eligible for free agency at the end of the season because he was outrighted as a player with three-plus years of service.

Most players would accept the assignment and then become a free agent. If that happens, Bard could negotiate a major league or minor league deal with the Red Sox or anyone else. If he gets a major league deal, it would likely be minimal.

Final: Tigers 3, Red Sox 0

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff September 2, 2013 01:07 PM

Final, Tigers 3, Red Sox 0:Jose Veras picks up his 21st save, shutting the door on the Sox, who've lost four of five to the Tigers this season.

End of the eighth, Tigers 3, Red Sox 0: Hard to ask for much more out of Lackey.

Over 7.1 innings he gave up seven hits and three runs, the last of which was hung on him after he left Austin Jackson (single to left) and Torii Hunter (single to center) in scoring position for Matt Thornton, who gave up a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly to pad the lead a little.

In his past nine starts, Lackey's only left with the lead twice.

Meanwhile, it looked for a fleeting moment like the Sox might muster some late runs when Dustin Pedroia came through with a two-out double off Bruce Rondon.

But Rondon was throwing gas. Ten of the 19 pitches he threw clocked in at over 100 mph, including one to David Ortiz that showed up on the Fenway scoreboard at 103.

One of them went wild and allowed Pedroia to take third. But all Ortiz could muster was a strikeout on a foul tip.

To be fair, you'd have a better chance jumping over a 100-mph Aston Martin than catching up to a 100-mph fastball.

End of the seventh, Tigers 2, Red Sox 0: The Tigers finally got to Lackey. Victor Martinez tagged him for a leadoff single, then Andy Dirks shipped a 1-and-1 fastball into the triangle in center to score the first run of the day.

Lackey picked an awful time for his first walk of the day, getting into an eight-pitch game of chicken with Omar Infante, who fouled off three pitches and ultimately worked the free pass out of Lackey,

It put Lackey in a tough spot with Don Kelly at the plate. He got the double-play ball he was looking for, but Dirks was able to score on it and give the Tigers a two-run lead.

End of the sixth, Red Sox 0, Tigers 0: You'll probably see the double play Jose Iglesias just turned a few more times, but here are some screens for your trouble.

The reach back to tag Shane Victorino.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 3.24.46 PM.png

The spin move for the throw to get Dustin Pedroia at first.

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 3.26.18 PM.png

The celebration by a pitcher who's gotten three double plays today (all of which have involved Iglesias).

Screen Shot 2013-09-02 at 3.38.02 PM.png

Watching Iglesias play shortstop is like watching this guy do this.

Or this guy do this.

Or this guy do this.

Or this guy do this.

The fact that he colors outside the lines is what makes it great.

End of the fifth, Red Sox 0, Tigers 0: John Lackey's just adding another link to the chain of quality starts he's been putting together.

Going back June 15, he's gone at least six innings in 14 straight starts. His ERA over that span is 3.23. His win-loss record: 5-6.

End of the fourth, Red Sox 0, Tigers 0: Looking at his line through three innings -- 50 pitches, 27 strikes, three walks and a hit batter, it was hard to wrap your head around the idea that not only had Doug Fister not allowed a run, he was throwing a no-hitter.

The toughest pill to swallow was probably two starts ago when he went eight innings and gave up just two earned runs on three hits. It made him the first Sox pitcher to lose a complete gave after allowing three base or less since 2000.

He's only given up three hits today and he hasn't issued a walk, but he's in another tight one.

Then possibilities of another one of these came to mind.

That is until Daniel Nava shot a ground ball through the left side of the infield to give the Sox their first hit of the game.

The Sox are 0-and-4 with runners in scoring position and they've grounded into two double plays.

End of the third, Red sox 0, Tigers 0: By no means was it a secret that Jose Iglesias needed a reason to get up for games. The minors seemed to bore him when he was sent down by the Sox early in the season. They big leagues brought out the best in him.

Needless to say there's probably infinite amounts of motivation in facing the Sox barely a month after they traded him to the Tigers.

The relatively loud cheers he got from the Fenway crowd weren't surprising. When you hit .330 (as Iglesias did before the deal), it makes sense.

Iglesias then stepped in the box and ripped a double to left. It was his 18th extra-base hit (his fifth with the Tigers), but Detroit couldn't capitalize.

End of the second, Red Sox 0, Tigers 0: With three walks and a hit batter (all coming with no outs), Fister has done about as much as a pitch can to sabotage himself through two innings.

But he's been saved twice by inning-killing double plays.

After he walked Daniel Nava on four pitches and Mike Napoli on five (with a mound visit in between) Jose Iglesias threw him a gorgeous lifesaver, taking the feed from Omar Infante off Jarrod Saltalamacchia's ground ball to second and hurdling over Napoli to make double-play turn.

Watching him hop on one leg to get his balance back, sort of felt like watching Kobe Bryant do this after knocking down a 3.

End of the first, Red Sox 0, Tigers 0: As if this hasn't been enough of a Buddy Lee kind of season for Shane Victorino, he took a Doug Fister fastball off the body in his first at-bat of the afternoon.

It's the 12th time he's been hit by a pitch this season. The fact that that's that's only two shy of the career-high 14 times he was hit in 2006 is bad enough. But when you consider he's been dotted nine times since Aug. 1, it's even worse.

No runs on the board. John Lackey's got his fastball working. Fister had some control issues but was bailed out by a double-play ball.

Pregame: The last time the Sox saw the Tigers, the two teams were only separated by a game for the best record in the American League. Nearly three months later, things haven't changed all that much.

This Tigers are coming into this three-game set with the Red Sox 1.5 games back for the best record in the league.

But they're running into a Red Sox team that's ripped through the first six games of a nine-game homestand, going 5-1 and outscoring the Orioles and White Sox by a combined 37-19.

Desperate for run support his past few trips to the mound, Sox starter John Lackey's probably hoping some of those runs come his way. When he faced the Tigers in June, he went seven innings and gave up just two runs and then watched from the dugout as the Jhonny Peralta's two-run walkoff homer won it for the Tigers.

Even though it looked like rain would be an issue today, the sun's starting to shove the clouds away from the ballpark. Happy Labor Day. Enjoy the game.

Game 139: Tigers at Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 2, 2013 09:45 AM

Good morning. Here are the lineups:

RED SOX (82-56)
Ellsbury CF
Victorino RF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Nava LF
Napoli 1B
Saltalamacchia C
Drew SS,
Middlebrooks 3B
Pitching: RHP John Lackey (8-11, 3.19).

TIGERS (80-57)
Jackson CF
Hunter RF
Fielder 1B
Martinez DH
Dirks LF
Infante 2B
Kelly 3B
Avila C
Iglesias SS
Pitching: RHP Doug Fister (10-7, 3.81).

Game time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

Red Sox vs. Fister: Ortiz 5-17, Napoli 2-13, Nava 3-10, Pedroia 3-10, Ellsbury 3-6, Salty 5-8, Drew 1-6, Gomes 1-3, Middlebrooks 1-2, Victorino 3-3, Carp 0-2.

Tigers vs. Lackey: Hunter 12-52, Martinez 10-26, Cabrera 4-12, Infante 3-12, Santiago 2-9, Avila 0-4, Fielder 3-6, Pena 3-6, Jackson 1-4, Dirks 1-2, Kelly 2-3, Tuiasosopo 0-3.

Stat of the Day: Jose Iglesias has hit .292 with four extra-base hits and five RBIs in 28 games since the Red Sox traded him to the Tigers on July 30 in the three-team deal that returned Jake Peavy. This will be his first time back at Fenway Park since the deal.

Notes: The Sox have won three straight, seven of eight and 10 of 14. They lead the Rays by 5.5 games in the division and the Tigers by 1.5 games in the race for best record in the AL and home-field advantage throughout the postseason. ... The Sox are 25-15 against Detroit the last six seasons but dropped three of four in Detroit June 20-23. ... The Sox are 25-12 in days games. ... Lackey is 6-2, 3.87 in 11 career starts against the Tigers. He went seven innings against them on June 20, giving up two runs on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts. In his last three starts this season, Lackey has allowed six earned runs over 22 innings. ... Fister is 1-4, 5.20 in seven career starts against the Sox. In his last three starts, including one this season, he has allowed 12 earned runs on 25 hits over 12 innings. He lasted only 3.1 innings against the Sox on June 21, giving up six runs on 11 hits. ... Nava has reached base safely in 36 consecutive starts. ... Ortiz is 5 of his last 8 with six RBIs. He has 1,998 career hits and would be the 17th active player with 2,000 unless Cleveland's Jason Giambi (who has 1,999) beats him to it. ... The next game John McDonald plays will be the 1,000th of his career. ... Ellsbury is 11 of 26 on the homestand with eight runs scored, three RBIs and three stolen bases. ... Victorino is 12 of his last 27 with 11 RBIs, 11 runs scored and six extra-base hits. ... Napoli is 8 of his last 23 with seven RBIs and four extra-base hits. ... The Sox are 20 for 20 in stolen bases since Aug. 9. They are 105 of 125 (.848) on the season. ... Tigers star Miguel Cabrera has missed the last two games with an abdominal strain.

Song of the Day: "Blues On A Holiday" by Susan Tedeschi.

Pitching matchups for the Tigers series

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 2, 2013 09:15 AM

Monday: RHP Doug Fister (10-7, 3.81) vs. RHP John Lackey (8-11, 3.19), 1:35 p.m., NESN.

Tuesday: RHP Max Scherzer (19-1, 2.90) vs. LHP Jon Lester (12-8, 3.99), 7:10 p.m., NESN, MLB Network.

Wednesday: RHP Rick Porcello (11-7, 4.44) vs. RHP Ryan Dempster (7-9, 4.75), 7:10 p.m., NESN, ESPN.

McDonald happy to be home

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 1, 2013 07:49 PM

Red Sox newcomer John McDonald is thrilled to to be coming home.

Residing in Scituate, Mass., McDonald arrived from Chicago before game time Sunday, where the Philadelphia Phillies were playing. The Red Sox acquired McDonald for righthander Nefi Ogando and cash Saturday. McDonald is likely to serve as Boston’s backup middle infielder for the playoffs.

“It’s a very comfortable situation to walk into,” McDonald said. “Obviously where we are in the standings, that's a good place to be. It’s where everyone wants to be, first place right now. So just try and contribute and do my part.”

McDonald said he hadn't been thinking about being dealt.

“No, not really, just coming to the ballpark, trying to prepare. When you’re out of a race I guess in the back of your mind you hope that you’ll get the opportunity to go somewhere to play in a pennant race, especially as you put more years in the game and you know you don’t have as many years left, everyone wants that opportunity to be part of a team that’s going into October,” he said.

As for coming home he said, “My daughter was very excited last night. She can’t wait for me to come home and hang out and then put her to bed tonight. Everyone’s pretty excited. But growing up in Connecticut they’re happy to have me back in New England, it’s just the Yankee fans, they’re on the other side of the fence. But growing up in New England, and getting to play in Fenway, and to put this uniform on today, it’s pretty awesome.”

In other news:

Both Shane Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury were forced out of the game late, but both are expected to play Monday afternoon against the Tigers, according to manager John Farrell.

Victorino aggravated an old (left hip) contusion and assorted other injuries (hamstring/back) on a head-first slide in the seventh inning, while Ellsbury got jammed on a couple of pitches that left a lot of swelling near his left thumb.

Farrell said when Victorino aggravates the contusion on the leg “it’s affecting some of the other areas he’s been managing for a while. We fully expect him back in the lineup [Monday]. When he aggravates it begins to shut some things down on him and he feels. So we got him out of there.”

On Ellsbury, who stole his 51st base, “There were a couple of at-bats where he got jammed banging on the bone inside the thumb so we’re hopeful and expect him to be on the field tomorrow. Jacoby has a little swelling in that hand.”

Quintin Berry replaced Ellsbury for the ninth inning.

The Red Sox are a major league best 25-12 in days games…Craig Breslow allowed a solo homer to Tyler Flowers in the eighth. He hadn’t allowed a run in 16 consecutive appearances and 13 2/3 innings ... Stephen Drew hit his 11th homer. Only Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy has more by a shortstop in the American League.

Final: Red Sox 7, White Sox 6

Posted by Staff September 1, 2013 11:49 AM

The Boston Red Sox won for the seventh time in their last eight games to improve to a season-best 26 games over .500.

The 7-6 win clinched a three-game sweep over the Chicago White Sox, who had entered the series as one of the hotter teams in baseball.

Felix Doubront, who initially looked sharp, failed to make it out of the fourth inning, but was picked up by Brandon Workman (who got the win), Franklin Morales, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, and Koji Uehara.

Doubront allowed four runs on seven hits and a walk. Prior to the fourth inning the left hander had faced just one over the minimum. The outing matched his shortest of the season which came on May 3 against the Rangers in Texas.

Uehara picked up his 16th save of the season in 1-2-3 fashion. He has now retired the last 18 batters he's faced.

David Ortiz, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs knocked in, helped the Red Sox offense pick up for Doubront. For more on Ortiz check tomorrow's paper...

The Boston offense managed 11 hits on the night, including Stephen Drew's 11th home run of the season, which came in the third inning. Rookie Xander Boagerts got the start at third base in place of Will Middlebrooks and finished 1-for-4.

Dustin Pedroia (2-for-4, BB, R) reached base three times and Daniel Nava, who reached base on a walk in the seventh inning has now reached base safely in his last 36 starts (good for the longest active streak in baseball).

Both Shane Victorino (leg contusion) and Jacoby Ellsbury (swollen thumb) left Sunday's game for precautionary reasons and are listed as day-to-day. Ellsbury didn't speak much to the media following the game, but he did wave his had around and the swelling was hard to miss.

If you DVR'd the game, I suggest you check out Jarrod Saltalamacchia's first and likely only steal of the season. It came in the second inning and was just the second of his career.

Boston (82-56) will host the Detroit Tigers (80-57) tomorrow, with John Lackey (8-11, 3.19) opposing Doug Fister (11-7, 3.81). First pitch is at 1:35 p.m.

Thanks for reading.

Final: Red Sox 7, White Sox 6: Uehara sent the White Sox down in order, striking out one, to record his 16th save of the season and help the Red Sox to improve to 82-56 overall.

David Ortiz (2-for-3, BB, 2B 3RBI) and the Red Sox offense picked up Felix Doubront on a day that the young left hander didn't have his best stuff. With the victory Boston secured the three-game sweep of Chicago.

Brandon Workman picked up the win, improving to 4-2 on the season.

Bottom 8th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 6: Boagerts led off with a single to right, but was ultimately stranded at third base.

With one out Nate Jones replaced Leesman, who did a heck of a job keeping Chicago in the game. Leesman's line: 4.1 innings pitched, 3 hits, 2 runs (1 earned).

In a somewhat odd move, Quintin Berry (making his Red Sox debut) has replaced Ellsbury in center to start the ninth. There's likely more to come on this...

Koji Uehara on for the ninth.

Top 8th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 6: Things are getting dicey. Lefty Craig Breslow came on and retired Viciedo and Gillaspie without issue. Tyler Flowers then made a bid for the Mass Pike with a towering home run over everything in left to cut the Boston lead to one.

Breslow bounced back to get De Aza to fly to center to end the inning.

I can hear a song by Neil Diamond playing in the background, but I'm not sure what it's called...

Bottom 7th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 5: Leesman retired Pedroia and Ortiz to start the inning, then lost his control, walking Nava, Carp, and Saltalamacchia in succession. However, the 26-year-old recovered to get Drew to ground out to end the inning.

The Red Sox have now left seven men on base.

Today's paid attendance was just announced at 37,053. That's the Red Sox' 22nd sellout this season. A good-natured tip of the hat to my colleague Nick Cafardo (sitting a row in front of me) for getting the word out.

Top 7th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 5: Morales retired Leury Garcia on a pop out to first and then allowed a single to Ramirez before being replaced by Junichi Tazawa.

Ramirez stole second (the play was bang-bang), and Konerko walked. But Taz recovered to punch out Avisail Garcia and pop up Keppinger.

Victorino Update: The Red Sox just announced that the right fielder has been diagnosed with a left hip contusion. His status is day-to-day.

Bottom 6th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 5: Bad news for the Red Sox, who went in order in the sixth. Shane Victorino, who has been red hot at the plate as of late, appeared to pull up lame a few steps towards first base after lacing a ground ball to third.

Victorino threw his helmet to the ground in disgust and walked out towards right field before Farrell and the Red Sox trainer caught up with him.

Victorino entered today with multiple hits in five of his last six games (12-for-24). During the stretch Victorino had 2 doubles, 4 home runs, 11 RBI, and 2 walks.

Jonny Gomes entered the game in left field and Nava has moved to right. Morales is on for another inning of work.

Top 6th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 5: Franklin Morales replaced Workman to begin the inning and retired the White Sox in order. Suddenly, this game's sped up a bit.

Bottom 5th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 5: For the first time today the Red Sox went down in order. Boagarts (0-2, 2K's) is set to lead off the bottom of the sixth.

Top 5th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 5: Chicago got a run back, thanks to two hits in the inning off Workman. Ramirez led off with a single, stole second, and scored easily on a Konerko single to center.

Workman then retired Garcia, Keppinger and Viciedo (on a nice play up the middle by Pedroia) in order.

Bottom 4th: Red Sox 7, White Sox 4: The Red Sox added two more runs off Charlie Leesman (who started the inning in place of Rienzo), but not without some controversy.

Ellsbury led off the inning with a walk, stole second (his MLB-leading 51st theft of the season), and was taking his lead off third base when Pedroia hit a line drive to Chicago third baseman Connor Gillaspie. Gillaspie appeared to catch the ball in the air as he dove to his right, but it came trickling out of his glove when he tried to double off Ellsbury.

Gillaspie then turned and fired wildly to first base, allowing Ellsbury to score his second run of the game and Pedroia to take second. Chicago manager Robin Ventura came out to argue the play and was eventually ejected by second base umpire Dana DeMuth.

When the dust had settled, Ortiz knocked in Pedroia with a single up the middle. Nava then grounded into a 6-4-3 double-play to end the inning.

Rienzo's final line: 3 innings pitched, 5 runs, 4 walks, 3 K's, 77 pitches (47 strikes)

For those of you scoreboard watching: The Yankees currently trail the Orioles 7-3 in the bottom of the seventh. New York's pitching had held Baltimore's offense off the scoreboard for 18 straight innings, before the O's seven-run burst in the last half inning.

First pitch between Tampa Bay and Oakland should be coming any minute.

Top 4th: Red Sox 5, White Sox 4: For an inning that began with a Leury Garcia strikeout by Doubront, things sure got ugly fast.

Back-to-back singles to left (by Ramirez and Konerko) and a walk to Avisail Garcia loaded the bases with one out for Jeff Keppinger, whose fly out to center was deep enough for Ramirez to tag and score.

Viciedo then started a string of three-straight hits for the White Sox that ultimately spelled the end of the day for Doubront.

Viciedo planted one off the monster to bring in Konerko. Connor Gillaspie followed with a two-run single. After Tyler Flowers singled on a ground ball up the middle that Drew couldn't get to, Red Sox manager John Farrell made the slow walk to the mound to get Doubront.

Brandon Workman came on and walked De Aza, before fanning Leury Garcia (who K'd twice in the frame) to end the inning.

Doubront's final line: 3.2 inning, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 4 K, 90 pitches (60 strikes).

Doubront's start snapped a string of 11 straight games in which Red Sox starters had yielded three runs of fewer.

Bottom 3rd: Red Sox 5, White Sox 0: Steven Drew's 11th home run of the season broke up what was otherwise a solid bounce-back inning by Rienzo, who caught Bogaerts looking to end the inning.

Top 3rd: Red Sox 4, White Sox 0: 1-2-3 inning for Doubront highlighted by a big looping curveball to strike out Tyler Flowers for the second out of the inning. Through three innings of work Doubront has thrown 50 pitches (34 for strikes) and scattered two hits.

Bottom 2nd: Red Sox 4, White Sox 0: Loads of trouble for the rookie Rienzo in the second, as Boston sends nine men to the plate and nets four two-out runs.

Carp singled to begin the inning and Saltalamacchia followed with a walk. A Stephen Drew fly to right allowed Carp to tag and move to third with one out. Salty then caught everyone by surprise by stealing second. Bogaerts chased a 3-2 slider to become the second out of the inning. However, Ellsbury bailed the Sox out with a single up the middle to score two.

Rienzo then walked Victorino and Pedroia to load the bases for Ortiz. Big Papi jumped on the first pitch and laced a double down the right field line to score Ellsbury and Victorino. Ortiz is now just three hits shy of 2,000 for his career. Nava grounded a 3-2 pitch to third to end the inning.

The Sox continued to show a high level of patience at the plate. Rienzo's last pitch to Nava was his 60th of the outing.

Top 2nd: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0: Avisail Garcia (acquired by Chicago in the three-team trade that sent Jose Iglesias to Detroit) led off the inning with a single to right. Following a Jeff Keppinger fly out to center, Garcia too was picked off while trying to steal second by Doubront (with Carp's throw to Drew arriving at second with plenty of time). Dayan Viciedo grounded Doubront's 30th pitch of the game to short to end the inning.

Bottom 1st: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0: Ellsbury began the inning with a ground out. Victorino then went down looking at a sharp curveball by Rienzo.

The Sox looked to have something brewing with two outs in the inning after Pedroia (boasting the high sox today) laced a two-out single off the monster and Ortiz walked, but Daniel Nava flied out to the track in left center to end the inning.

Top 1st: Red Sox 0, White Sox 0: Alejandro De Aza went down looking at a Doubront curveball to begin the game. Leury Garcia then legged out an infield single (by half a step) that Stephen Drew did a nice job to get to deep in the hole. Alexei Ramirez followed with a fly out to Victorino in right.

Garcia then showed off his speed once again, stealing second despite being picked off by Doubront. Mike Carp's throw to Drew covering appeared to come in a split-second too late (though Drew seemed to disagree). However, Doubront made sure second was as far as Garcia would get by striking out Paul Konerko to end the inning.

Pre-game: Good afternoon from Fenway Park. There's been some scattered showers on and off this morning, but the tarp was taken off the field just moments ago. The announced start time for today's game is now set for 1:50 p.m.

Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.74) will take the mound across from White Sox rookie Andre Reinzo (1-0, 4.21). We'll have updates all game and please feel free to leave your comments.

A few notes:

  • Quintin Berry, who was one of four players called up from Triple-A Pawtucket Sunday with the expanding September rosters took some time to speak with the media.
  • "I’m just happy to be here and happy to be a part of the team," said the the 28-year-old who was acquired from the Royals in exchange for Clayton Mortensen on Aug. 27.

    Berry had spent the entire 2013 season in Triple A and was surprised when he was told the news of his trade.

    "I was already getting my stuff ready for the offseason," he said. "I sent my wife home to get everything prepared and then all of the sudden, boom, this happened."

    Berry, who is known around baseball as an excellent base stealer, will likely be utilized in late-inning pinch running situations. So, it was no surprise that former Red Sox outfielder Dave Roberts' name came up.

    "Oh I’m very familiar [with Roberts]," said Berry. "He set a high pedestal, man, and I’m ready to try to meet it, whatever I can do to help, it doesn’t matter what it is."

    It was Roberts' steal in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS that helped ignite Boston's historic comeback against the New York Yankees.

  • Clay Buchholz was also in the clubhouse this morning and he spoke about his last rehab outing in Pawtucket in which he allowed one run over 3.1 innings (53 pitches) while striking out two without walking a batter. He reportedly hit 92 miles per hour with his fastball.
  • "It was the first time that I’ve been able to throw with that velocity without thinking about it, so that was definitely encouraging," Buchholz said. "I rely a lot on movement and for me to get the movement that I’ve had in the past the effort level has to be pretty much at the peak and that was what I was trying to do my last time out."

    Buchholz is scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday in a minor league game and should be able to get to 70 pitches. Assuming all goes well, he would then rejoin a Red Sox staff that has performed admirably in his absence.

    "[The recent Red Sox starting pitching] makes it a lot easier not having to rush back or stress about anything," said Buchholz. "Everybody they’ve called on has done their job and that’s what's expected of you in this city and it makes it fun to watch and not near as frustrating as it could have been.

    "That’s why I want to make sure that I’m ready," Buchholz continued. "I don’t want to come in and make a zoo out of the rotation."

    Buchholz also commented on the news that Daniel Bard had been designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for the Red Sox new acquisitions.

    "It’s the business side of the game and it’s tough, you know coming up and being around each other for a long time," he said. "He’ll get back to the way he was. I think it’s just a matter of time. I think everything will work out.

    "It definitely makes you think about how quickly something like that can happen."

    Daniel Bard designated for assignment

    Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff September 1, 2013 11:49 AM
    The sad saga of Daniel Bard’s demise took what seemed to be an inevitable step with the Red Sox designating the righthander for assignment to make room for veteran infielder John McDonald, acquired in a deal with the Phillies Saturday night, and Quintin Berry, one of four players called up from Pawtucket Sunday.

    Third baseman Brandon Snyder, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, and pitcher Rubby De La Rosa were also added to Boston's roster.

    Bard, who simply hasn’t been able to find the plate with any consistency in the minor leagues, is now in a 10-day limbo where he has to go through waivers. Any team can claim him, starting from descending order of record, first in the American League and then in the National League.

    The Red Sox could let him go to the claiming team or work a deal with that team. If there are no claims he could return to the Sox, but off the 40-man roster.

    Once considered the best set-up man in baseball, the decision to risk losing Bard was a tough one for the Red Sox.

    “Given what he’s been able to do in the past and dealing with the struggles with consistency that are there, unfortunately he’s in the position he’s in. He won’t be able to pitch in Lowell until the waiver period expires. If he’s still in the organization – and we would hope that would be the case unless some other team puts in a claim and works out a trade for him – we haven’t turned our back on him and yet we needed the roster spot and hopefully that will get Daniel back on track and what he was at the big league level, which was a dominant one,” manager John Farrell said.

    “Anytime there’s a human side of it, I don’t know if you can fully separate the two on a roster decision. It’s frustrating for all of us and no less frustrating for Daniel to go through the challenges that he’s been faced with. It’s an ongoing battle right now,” Farrell said.

    At his best, Bard was lights-out. He seemed destined to be the team’s closer, but he elected and pushed for being a starting pitcher last season and that didn’t work.

    “The weapon he emerged as and the flexibility Tito (Francona) had to use him in the seventh and eighth innings, in many ways he had the tougher job than the closer on many nights. To have that kind of power and ease in which he threw, the breaking ball he had in addition to 98-100 mph, yeah for two years he was as good as there was in the game,” Farrell said.

    On path to be the closer?

    “Everything pointed toward that. The fact there was a decision made – whether it was Daniel’s preference to start vs. close, it’s unfortunate things couldn’t continue as a late-inning guy given the success he had,” Farrell said.

    Farrell knew there were problems when he returned to the team as manager. He thought there was a combination of delivery and confidence issues.

    “We thought performance led to confidence. There were outings in spring training where he wasn’t too far off form what he’d been a year or two prior. As he was building momentum in spring training we thought there was one step yet left to make in terms of power and consistency. It looked like he was on his way, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I’m sure he’s disappointed but I haven’t spoken to him,” Farrell said.

    Asked if a change of scenery might do Bard some good, he said, “It can help, but to say that’s the sole reason that would be wishful thinking. You don’t want to throw something into the wind that if I I change uniforms and change cities everything is going to be answered. That’s running from the needs that are there.”

    Berry will be mostly used as a pinch runner. He had successfully stolen 20 consecutive bases and had elite speed.

    “We were looking for this type of player to round out our roster,” Farrell said.

    Lavarnway will be used as a third catcher/pinch-hitter while De La Rosa could see some mop-up use or when the team is behind. More players are expected to get the call after Pawtucket is finished with the International League playoffs.

    Game 138: White Sox at Red Sox

    Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff September 1, 2013 10:10 AM

    Good morning. Here are the lineups:

    RED SOX (81-56)
    Ellsbury CF
    Victorino RF
    Pedroia 2B
    Ortiz DH
    Nava LF
    Carp 1B
    Saltalamacchia C
    Drew SS
    Bogaerts 3B
    Pitching: LHP Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.74)

    WHITE SOX (56-78)
    De Aza CF
    L. Garcia 2B
    Ramirez SS
    Konerko DH
    A. Garcia RF
    Keppinger 1B
    Viciedo LF
    Gillaspie 3B
    Flowers C
    Pitching: RHP Andre Rienzo (1-0, 4.21)

    Game time: 1:35 p.m.

    TV/Radio: NESN / WEEI.

    Red Sox vs. Rienzo: No history.

    White Sox vs. Doubront: Keppinger 4-10, De Aza 2-8, Dunn 0-7, Konerko 2-6, Ramirez 1-7, Viciedo 4-7, Beckham 0-4, Flowers 1-2, Garcia 0-2.

    Stat of the Day: Doubront has allowed three runs or fewer in 18 of his last 19 starts.

    Notes: On WEEI this morning, bench coach Torey Lovullo said the Red Sox have called up OF Quintin Berry, C Ryan Lavarnway, 3B Brandon Snyder, and RHP Rubby de la Rosa ... Rienzo, a rookie, has made six starts and has five no-decisions. He has averaged six innings per outing … Doubront is looking for his third straight win … The Red Sox went 16-12 in August and have a .500 record or better in every month of the season … Ortiz is four hits short of 2,000 for his career … Victorino has more than one hit in five of his last six games … The Red Sox have won 28 series this season, most in the majors … The Red Sox begin a three-game series vs. the AL Central-leading Tigers on Monday afternoon.

    Song of the Day: "Seek and Destroy" by Metallica.

    Peavy keeps the Red Sox on a roll

    Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff September 1, 2013 12:22 AM

    Win or lose, Jake Peavy was going out for dinner with a group of former White Sox teammates after the game tonight. That he pitched seven solid innings in a 7-2 victory meant he could walk into Chicago's hotel smiling.

    “You know what? It really wasn’t that big of a deal once you got out there. When you get out there you’re in compete mode,” Peavy said. “We’re all used to guys being traded and you know guys. I just knew those guys a little bit more.”

    Peavy used that knowledge mostly to his advantage as he allowed two runs on five hits, all singles. He walked one and struck out four to improve to 3-1 with a 3.18 earned run average in six starts with the Red Sox.

    The one White Sox hitter who did give Peavy some pause was Adam Dunn.

    “It was different having to face my best friend in the world. It was different for sure,” Peavy said. That Dunn was 0 for 3 with a strikeout gave Peavy some bragging rights.

    “That team’s in a rough position not playing for anything. There won’t be any jabs until maybe later on in the winter,” Peavy said. “But I can promise you he wouldn’t have that same respect towards me if he had gotten the better of it. Adam’s a great competitor.”

    Also:

    • The 81-56 Red Sox have won six of their last seven games. With Tampa Bay losing at Oakland, their lead in the division is up to 4½ games. That’s the largest it has been since July 12.

    • Red Sox pitchers have gone 11 consecutive games without allowing more than three runs. That’s the longest streak for the franchise since 1988 and the longest in the majors since the Blue Jays went 12 games in 1991. The starters have a 2.15 ERA in those 11 games.

    • The Red Sox collected 15 hits off three White Sox pitchers. Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits, scored two runs and drove in another. Shane Victorino, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, David Ross and rookie Xander Bogaerts each had two hits.

    • The 20-year-old Bogaerts is the youngest Red Sox player to reach base three times, score at least one run and drive in at least one other since Tony Conigliaro and Tony Horton in 1965.

    • Victorino hit .328 in August with eight doubles, seven homers and 22 RBIs. He's at .2976 for the season.

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