Red Sox

Red Sox extend division lead to five games with 5-1 win over Yankees

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Red Sox extend division lead to five games with 5-1 win over Yankees

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. knows all about the Fenway Park triangle, and how long it can take to get the ball back to the infield from the 420-foot marker.

So when the Red Sox center fielder saw, as he pulled into second, that his Yankees counterpart had just picked up the ball, Bradley sped off for third. The two-run triple was all Boston needed, but Bradley added an RBI single in the sixth to help the Red Sox beat the Yankees 5-1 on Sunday and extend their margin in the AL East to five games.

"Jackie's been phenomenal, swinging the bat today, and doing what he did with 3 RBIs," said Boston starter Rick Porcello, who pitched six innings of a combined three-hitter. "He's the best I've seen in center field. Very fortunate to have him behind me when I'm pitching."

The Red Sox won for the 14th time in 17 games, taking two out of three from New York for the second weekend in a row. The archrivals meet again in the first week of September for a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

"It's not what you want," New York manager Joe Girardi. "Obviously, we need to continue to play well so when they come to our place it means something. We probably had a chance to win four of the six and we end up winning two of the six - and that's frustrating."

Porcello (8-14) allowed all three New York hits, striking out four and walking three to win his fourth straight start. Three relievers provided a perfect inning apiece.

Porcello has allowed two runs or fewer in all six career starts against the Yankees in Fenway Park. That's the longest such stretch for a Red Sox pitcher since at least 1913, the ballclub said.

Sonny Gray (7-8) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He lost for the fourth time in five starts to fall to 1-6 in nine road starts this season.

Brett Gardner homered near the Pesky Pole for the Yankees, who had won five of their last six.

Xander Bogaerts reached with one out in the second on a flare to right, then Mitch Moreland was retired on a diving catch by center fielder Aaron Hicks. After Sandy Leon singled to left, Bradley lined one to the triangle in center, scoring two and standing up into third.

Bradley, the No. 9 hitter, drove in another run in the sixth. The bottom of the Red Sox order added two insurance runs in the eighth when Bogaerts walked, Moreland doubled and Leon drove them both in with a double down the right-field line.

Caleb Smith walked Bradley and gave up a single to Brock Holt to load the bases before striking out Mookie Betts, getting Andrew Benintendi on a popup too shallow to score a runner and Hanley Ramirez on a comebacker.

STRIKEOUTS

Gray failed to fan a batter in an outing for the first time in his career. Aaron Judge struck out to end the eighth, extending his record of games with a strikeout to 37 in a row.

Girardi said he's still got faith in the presumptive AL Rookie of the Year, adding: "It's not like we have a lot of people that are hitting very well."

Said Judge: "It's a little frustrating, but there's nothing you can do about it. You can't pout. You can't cry. You just have to keep working and move on."

YANKED

Former closer Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance since being demoted on Saturday and replaced by Dellin Betances. Chapman got the last out in the sixth and completed the seventh, allowing one walk while striking out two.

"I just prepared myself a little earlier than I usually do," he said through a translator.

REM DOG

The Red Sox honored former second baseman Jerry Remy before the game for 30 years in broadcasting. Remy was diagnosed with cancer for the fifth time and begins chemotherapy this week.

"It's a tough opponent. It's a sneaky opponent. It slides in and goes wherever it wants to go," he said. "But I've got people treating it, and I am fully confident that I will be back in that booth on Opening Day when the Red Sox lift that pennant for another year."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka threw on the field, mostly long toss, but also pitched on flat ground. Out since Aug. 10 with inflammation in his right shoulder, he's scheduled to come off the DL on Tuesday in Detroit.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia will not make the trip to Cleveland with the team, instead remaining in Boston to work on "baseball activities," manager John Farrell said.

UP NEXT

Yankees: After an off-day on Monday, begin a three-game series in Detroit. Tanaka (8-10) will face Matthew Boyd (5-6).

Red Sox: Open a four-game series in Cleveland, with Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3) scheduled to face Mike Clevinger (6-5).

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.