Red Sox

Betts homers twice, drives in six as Red Sox roll past A's, 11-1

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Betts homers twice, drives in six as Red Sox roll past A's, 11-1

BOSTON -- Mookie Betts can't pinpoint exactly what has changed about his swing lately. The Red Sox right fielder just knows it's starting to feel pretty good.

Betts hit two home runs and a two-run triple, and Boston rolled past the Oakland Athletics 11-1 on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox, winners of five of their last six, pushed their American League East lead back to four games over the Yankees following New York's loss to 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay.

Betts went 3 for 5 with six RBIs. He's driven in three runs or more in a team-high 11 games.

"I think this is the most consistent I've been," he said. "This is the time where things are a little more magnified due to the playoff race. If I am more relaxed, then that's good."

The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the A's, who scored 41 runs in a four-game sweep of the AL West-leading Houston Astros. They managed just one run and one hit off Eduardo Rodriguez (5-5), who struck out nine over six innings.

In his second career start at Fenway Park, Sean Manaea (10-10) was pulled after giving up seven earned runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. Last season, he allowed eight runs over 2 2/3 innings in Boston.

"Just falling behind guys," Manaea said. "When I did throw a strike, it was kind of right down the middle."

The Red Sox scored at least nine runs for the third time in four games.

Boston blew the game open with a five-run second inning, getting RBI singles from Xander Bogaerts, Christian Vazquez and Dustin Pedroia before Betts cleared the bases with his triple.

"Offensively a very good night, particularly with the number of hits we took the other way," manager John Farrell said. "That's always a positive sign for us."

20-20 CLUB

Betts now has 21 home runs on the season, and is the first Red Sox player ever to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in back-to-back years. The only other Red Sox hitter with two such seasons is Jackie Jensen in 1954 and 1959.

COLD BATS

The A's had three or fewer hits for the 12th time, tied with the Chicago Cubs for the most such games in the majors this season.

LEAPING GRAB

Jackie Bradley Jr. came up empty in the first when he a mistimed a jump against the center field fence while trying to take away a hit from Jed Lowrie, who ended up with an RBI double.

Bradley made up for it in the fifth when he came down with a leaping grab just in front of the fence on a hard-hit ball by Marcus Semien. Bradley added an RBI double in the bottom of the inning.

FLORIDA PLANS

Farrell said the Red Sox still expect to travel to St. Petersburg, Florida on Friday to begin their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area is recovering after Hurricane Irma swept through earlier this week. "Everything right now points to us going there," Farrell said. Major League Baseball moved what was supposed to be a three-game home series for the Rays against the Yankees to the Mets' Citi Field.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez Farrell will be out "at least another week," Farrell said. Nunez suffered a bruised right knee on a headfirst slide on Saturday and has experienced tightness and swelling. An MRI revealed a sprain, but it was "not MCL or ACL-related," Farrell said.

UP NEXT

Athletics: RHP Jharel Cotton (7-10, 5.82 ERA) is slated to make his first career start against the Red Sox.

Red Sox: RHP Doug Fister (5-7) is 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts.

Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

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Tyler Thornburg wants a normal spring, but don't be surprised if it's bumpy

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Don’t confuse the goal of a normal spring training with the likelihood one will follow.

Tyler Thornburg’s time with the Red Sox has been an ordeal. He’s optimistic he can have a regular spring training after undergoing surgery to treat thoracic outlet syndrome in June, a surgery that included the removal of a rib which is now on display at his parents’ house. 

He said Saturday, in fact, there’s a “very good chance” of a normal spring. But there’s also a chance his build up to regular-season form runs unevenly. And that would be OK.

“I started throwing Oct. 2, that’s when they kind of gave me the go-ahead to go tossing,” Thornburg said Saturday at Winter Weekend. “So I’ve been building up slowly since then, just trying to make sure we don’t have any setbacks or things like that, and ramp it up at a good pace. I’m throwing at 120-140 feet, so it’s about the pace I’d normally be on, granted I’d know 100 percent before where I was [under normal circumstances]. So things could be a little different."

Consider a few other things Thornburg said Saturday at Foxwoods.

“I don’t really think any of us really know how quick I’m going to bounce back necessarily as far as how quickly the recovery’s going to go in spring training after an outing,” Thornburg said. “But hopefully I mean it’s fantastic, and we can kind of just keep going.”

A bit of natural uncertainty. He missed an entire season, and the reason he missed an entire season is he had a lot going on medically. 

What appeared to be a shoulder injury was far from your usual, say, rotator-cuff matter. His was a nerve issue.

“Two of the neck muscles were incredibly hypertrophied, like overgrown, and they just started squeezing on the brachial plexus, where all the nerves run down,” Thornburg said. “I’d be sitting there watching a game and just a nerve thing would hit me and I’d almost get knocked over by it. As well as the first rib was getting pulled up and my hand would just turn red some days if I was just standing there, cutting off the blood circulation. Then all the scar tissue and buildup along the nerves they had to go and dissect all that off there.”

So the injury wasn’t simple, and now, the recovery process is really a whole-body matter. 

"There’s a lot off things your arm has to get used to between using different muscles, as well as my arm was kind of working through a scenario where it was trying to overcompensate for this and [trying] to relieve that,” Thornburg said. “So just worked a different way. Now your body has to remember how to actually properly work again. It’s a lot of neuromuscular stuff.”

Thornburg noted the possibility too he could be ready to go to start the season but not really ready to go back to back yet. Would the Sox then carry him on the big league roster, or continue to build him up elsewhere? 

Velocity won’t be there right away for Thornburg, he said: “But I mean that’s what spring training is for for most guys anyway.”

There’s a lot of optimism, but naturally, there’s a lot to be seen. 

“The rehab process, it's been a massive rollercoaster,” Thornburg said. “It really has. But I mean, I've been trying to take it week to week which has been a lot easier. There's the good days and bad days, just different kinds.”

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

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Kimbrel's newborn daughter treated in Boston for heart condition

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — Coming off a phenomenal season, Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel spent the offseason in Boston. Not to be closer to Fenway Park, but for proximity to something far more important: the city’s first-rate medical community.

Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart issue.

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“It’s been a lot,” Kimbrel said Saturday at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. “My wife and I, we’ve kept it kind of private. But when she was born, she had some heart defects so we decided to stay in Boston and work with Children’s Hospital and just been going through that ordeal and it’s had its ups and downs but she’s doing great right now."

Focusing wasn't always easy in season, but Kimbrel said his daughter's condition has motivated him even more.

“They always say when you have a child, things change and they have," he said. "I’m definitely more focused towards her and her needs and our family needs. It’s just one day at a time and give everything I got. It’s real easy to look at her and understand everything I’m doing is for her and it makes it a lot easier.”

Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, found out early in the 2017 season that they would be staying in Boston for the winter and were preparing.

“Everything has kind of gone as planned so far,” Kimbrel said. “She’ll have another surgery during spring training, so I’ll come back to Boston for a week and do that, but it’s been good. It’s definitely been tough, but one of the happiest, joyful times of our life.”

"Being in Boston, we feel blessed, because the doctors are the best in the world. Being able to work with them has been great.”

Kimbrel said his wife has stayed in touch with Travis Shaw’s wife. The Shaw family has had a similar experience, Kimbrel said.

“It seems like they’re doing pretty good,” Kimbrel said. “It’s been very encouraging to see.”

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