Red Sox

Red Sox magic number now 2 after topping Blue Jays, 10-7

bogaerts_red_sox_092717.jpg

Red Sox magic number now 2 after topping Blue Jays, 10-7

BOSTON -- Rick Porcello struggled in his final playoff tuneup. No matter, he had another AL Cy Young winner to bail him out.

Porcello gave up three runs in the first inning and five in all, but David Price came out of the bullpen with four straight outs to help the Boston Red Sox beat Toronto 10-7 on Wednesday night and lower their magic number to two.

"I think he'll be a weapon out there," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who had Price on his team for the 2015 pennant race and playoffs. "It was good to see him back out there. I think he's going to be huge for them in the playoffs."

The Red Sox maintained a three-game lead in the division over the second-place Yankees, who beat Tampa Bay 6-1 on Wednesday night. Boston, which is already guaranteed at least a wild-card berth, could clinch the first back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history with a victory over Houston on Thursday and a New York loss to the Rays.

"The clock's running out. We've got to win ballgames," Porcello said. "Talk about the playoffs and stuff, but we haven't clinched the division yet. We have to do that to put ourselves in a position where we don't have to play a wild-card game. These games are important."

Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts homered in a five-run third inning for Boston after Porcello (11-17) gave up the three runs in the first. The Red Sox scored one in the first and three in the second and then took a 9-4 lead in the third to chase Marco Estrada (10-9) and snap a two-game losing streak.

Porcello allowed five runs, seven hits and two walks, striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings. A year after winning a career-high 22 games to earn AL Cy Young honors, the 28-year-old right-hander posted the most losses in his career. With a chance to become baseball's first 20-game loser since 2003, Porcello went 2-0 with a no-decision in his last three starts.

"After a rough start to the ballgame, he settled down just enough," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And the offense covered it."

Price pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings, striking out three, as he works his way back from left elbow problems that kept him on the disabled list for most of the year. It was his third relief appearance since returning on Sept. 14; he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, striking out nine in six innings.

"The three appearances he's made for us out of the bullpen, they've been extremely consistent and powerful," Farrell said. "Hopefully he's getting adapted a little bit more to the role."

Mitch Moreland homered for the Red Sox. Bogaerts had three hits and drove in four runs, including a three-run homer in the third to make it 9-4.

Estrada allowed eight runs - seven earned - nine hits and a walk, striking out two while recording just seven outs and losing for the first time in six decisions. He had only allowed two earned runs in his previous three starts against Boston this season.

LONG BALL

Jose Bautista, Darwin Barney and Teoscar Hernandez homered for the Blue Jays, who hit 10 home runs in the three-game series. Hernandez has eight since he was called up on Sept. 1 - a franchise record for rookies in the month.

"We hung in there. We scored some runs," Gibbons said. "We just couldn't stop them."

CHALLENGING SLIDE

Bogaerts scored two runs, the first when he came around from first on Dustin Pedroia's single in the second inning and slid in under the tag head first. Home plate umpire Larry Vanover ruled him out, but Bogaerts came up signaling emphatically for Farrell to challenge; replays showed Bogaerts got his hand on the plate before catcher Russell Martin caught his thigh with the tag.

"They're all competitors," Farrell said. "They all think they're safe."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: RF Mookie Betts (sore left wrist) and INF Eduardo Nunez (right knee injury) were out for the second straight game. Farrell said before the game that Betts was "improved" and they hoped to have him available if needed to pinch hit after further treatment. . Nunez did some running and said he was trying "everything to get back on the field."

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Off Thursday before opening their final series of the season Friday afternoon at the New York Yankees.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6, 3.91 ERA) is set to start the opener of a four-game series Thursday night in Fenway Park against AL West champion Houston. He's 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA in his last four starts as he bids for a start in the postseason rotation.

Dombrowski on Stanton: 'We called at the end, we were not on his list'

Dombrowski on Stanton: 'We called at the end, we were not on his list'

We can go through all the handwringing we want with the Red Sox and Giancarlo Stanton and the pursuit or the lack thereof. The bottom line is twofold.
 
One, the Sox clearly didn’t want to take on the money, even if they tiptoe around it publicly.
 
“There’s a lot of things that are involved in that, not only position, finances, futures, there’s a lot that’s involved in those things,” Dombrowski said when asked about roster flexibility.
 
Two, Stanton preferred to go elsewhere, although we’ll never know what would have happened if push came to shove and the Sox and Marlins struck a deal.

MORE:

 
“We were not on his immediate list,” Dombrowski said. “We called at the end, we were not on his list. So they were going somewhere else. Yeah, we did all our homework on Stanton. In fact, I know a couple of you guys saw me talking to [Marlins general manager] Mike Hill during the general managers’ meetings. … I knew exactly where everything was, what they were looking for, dollars that were involved. Just was not where we were at that particular time. 
 
“And you have to remember that the guys they [would have received in deals Stanton blocked with] St. Louis or San Francisco … might have been a little bit better than what they ended up getting in their own minds. And then they switched off and at that point, [Stanton] had given them the four clubs that he wanted to go to and we weren’t one of the four.”
 
Stanton preferred to go to one of the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers or Cubs.
 
“Those are the clubs that they were concentrating on at that time,” Dombrowski said. “As soon as that changed, they jumped into the Yankees situation. … I mean I knew exactly when St. Louis and San Francisco were out of it.”
 
The early asking price was a turn off for the Red Sox. But, the package the Yankees ended up sending did not include the team’s very best prospects. It did include a major league contributor that the Yankees’ strong farm system and relatively low payroll can readily replace in Starlin Castro
 
“But the early asks for him were not things that we were interested in,” Dombrowski said of Stanton. “And then as a time went on the end, there were no conversations based upon — I mean, he was traded, I had a pulse of, they had a deal done with St. Louis. They had a deal done with San Francisco. At that point, when I reached out, they were in the midst of dealing with the Yankees at that point.
 
“[I reached out] to Mike Hill last week, yeah. But he was in the midst of the Yankee deal at that point.”
 
Dombrowski was asked if based on the final offer the Marlins accepted if he would have liked to make a revised offer, with the leverage lessened for the Marlins.
 
“Those are the things that are really in a confidential basis,” Dombrowski said.
 
Dombrowski said there’s no change to Red Sox plans because of the Yankees. The plan was already to make the Red Sox as strong as can be. 
 
“You’re not only trying to beat the clubs in your own division, but to to have the best club in the league and the best club overall,” Dombrowski said. “So we’re already tying to do that.”
 
Stanton’s agent Joel Wolfe on Monday noted the Red Sox told him they were focused on pitching, referring to relief pitching in particular. Dombrowski gave his remembrance of the conversation with Wolfe.
 
“No, and I never said that to him. I might have said we were looking at people for relief pitching,” Dombrowski said. “We’re not prioritizing pitching. I think that their basic conversations with us, they looked at our outfield and thought they probably really weren’t a fit with our ball club.
 
“We’re looking for a middle of the order bat, that hasn’t changed. First base or DH.”
 
Dombrowski did not handicap whether an addition was more likely via free agency or trade. He also shot down the idea of adding two bats. Hanley Ramirez is penciled into play one of first base or DH.
 
“I’ve read that, but I don’t know where we’d play these two bats,” Dombrowski said. “I’m trying to figure that one out. So, but I would say we’d be more limited to probably one bat. I can’t say that, I don’t know I guess if we went for a platoon type guy or something somewhere else. But I don’t really know where the second bat would play. Middle of the order type.”
 
Dombrowski said that the trade of Stanton and signing of Shohei Ohtani has opened up the market “tremendously.” It was hard to get a phone call last week, Dombrowski said. Now, there’s a lot going on, although he’s not necessarily convinced something gets done at the winter meetings.
 
“It’s been since yesterday afternoon nonstop,” Dombrowski said of conversations.

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Stanton agent: 'Boston never had any interest in him'

Stanton agent: 'Boston never had any interest in him'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Giancarlo Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe, said on Monday afternoon that the Red Sox were never presented to him and his client as a possible trade destination. 

“To my knowledge, Boston never had any interest in him,” Wolfe said after the Yankees introduced Stanton at a winter meetings press conference. “Not that they don’t love him as a player, but they never tried to make a deal with the Marlins.”

Asked if there were any other obstacles to Stanton potentially coming to Boston, Wolfe said no.

"I didn't really have a thought on it," Stanton said of potentially going to the Red Sox.

The Red Sox did have some level of interest, but as with anything, it was a matter of price. It became clear previously that the salary was not something the Red Sox were comfortable with.

Wolfe said he was not surprised the trade talks didn’t get to a point where Stanton would have had to think more seriously about coming to Boston.

“I wasn’t,” Wolfe said, “Because they have a tremendous outfield, and we were told at the GM Meetings that they were looking for pitching and other areas.”

The Red Sox are widely known to be looking for relief pitching -- which is what Wolfe was referring to -- in addition to a power bat.

The Yankees still intend to stay under the luxury tax threshold in 2018, owner Hal Steinbrenner said on Monday. They can do that even with Stanton. The Red Sox roster, with some big, cumbersome contracts, doesn’t have the flexibility the Yankees roster does -- and clearly, Red Sox ownership and management didn’t think it wise to take on such a huge deal.

That's not what most of the Sox fan base wanted to hear -- not at all. 

The Yankees are to pay $265 million of the $295 million remaining on Stanton’s contract.

“I think [the salary is] a significant issue with everyone, yeah,” Wolfe said. “For sure. But I don’t know if that was the reason (the Red Sox didn't pursue Stanton) or not. But I mean, [Andrew] Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, those guys are under control and studs.”

In a long session with reporters, Wolfe said he discussed all 30 teams with Stanton, whose list of four teams he preferred to be traded to came into shape late in the season. (They were the Cubs, Yankees, Astros and Dodgers.) Asked specifically if he talked to Stanton about the Red Sox, Wolfe reiterated there wasn’t really a need to go down that road.

“We didn’t talk about it much for you know the reason I was just saying, with the three studs they had out there [in the outfield] and the depth, it just didn’t look like it was going to be a priority,” Wolfe said. “They were prioritizing pitching.”

And hitting, too. They'll have to find some somewhere else to satiate a fan base that just watched the Yankees add the National League MVP and best home-run hitter in the game.

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