Red Sox

Friar: Red Sox need to realize that sacrifices must be made

Friar: Red Sox need to realize that sacrifices must be made

BOSTON -- With a 10-game homestand next on the schedule, the Red Sox find themselves back atop the division with the Orioles at 36-26 -- despite dropping a game Sunday against the miserable Minnesota Twins.

While pitching continues to be the major concern for Boston, the staff held its own on the just-concluded five-game trip -- excluding Eduardo Rodriguez’s start -- posting four quality starts and making it through the seventh inning three times.

However, it was magnified that Boston’s offense will have astonishing peaks (scoring 23 runs in the first two games against Minnesota) and valleys (getting only one off rookie Pat Dean Sunday).

And that’s bound to happen.

The Sox are still impressive at the plate -- with a few exceptions -- but what are they going to do in games where they can’t produce?

The Red Sox are 29th in MLB in sacrifice bunts with three, edging out Baltimore’s last-place two. Given the two rank 10th and 1st, respectively, in home runs, it’s understandable.

But in looking at teams ranking between them in homers, particularly the Cardinals (fifth) and the Nationals (fourth), there’s been a fair amount of sacrifices. St. Louis is fifth in sacrifice bunts, and Washington is 15th.

Both are National League teams, true. But Boston’s usual number nine hitter -- Christian Vazquez -- has days where he’s about as effective as a good-hitting pitcher.

Since John Farrell took over in 2013, the Red Sox are 29th in the MLB in bunts, only edging out the ultimate sacrifice-bunt haters, the Oakland A’s. And the Red Sox of this century haven’t ever really been a bunting team, ranking last in baseball during Terry Francona’s reign of 2004-11 (the A’s ranked 28th in that time frame).

So that organizational philosophy has been around for a while.

But there are instances the Red Sox will need to bunt, especially with a hitter like Travis Shaw -- who’s 19-for-his-last-100 -- when a sac bunt would prove useful.

Everyone other than David Ortiz -- and Hanley Ramirez if he gets his power back -- should have the capability of being a halfway decent bunter. Yes, even Xander Bogaerts should be able to, but mainly because he’s quick on his feet.

Small ball is definitely not something the Red Sox need to use more often; that couldn’t be further from the truth. But it has to be an option, especially since the Sox are 5-8 in one-run ballgames and 17-16 in games decided by 3 runs or less.

Farrell needs to be able to trust his players to execute a simple bunt in tight situations.

Because, again, if they make the postseason and want to make a run they’ll be in tighter games more frequently, given they’re bound to face pitching more similar to Madison Bumgarner than Kyle Gibson.

As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

New Red Sox manager Alex Cora has announced that, as expected, left-hander Chris Sale will be the Opening Day starter when the Red Sox begin their season nine days from now against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. David Price will pitch the second game and Rick Porcello the third. 

Cora told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. that Eduardo Rodriguez would be in the fourth starter's spot if he's ready as he continues to recover from off-season knee surgery and left-hander Brian Johnson is preparing to be the fifth starter for now.

In Price's second Grapefruit League start on Tuesday, he pitched five innings and allowed two runs on three hits, walked one and struck out four in the Red Sox' 12-6 victory over the Pirates. Third baseman Rafael Devers, hitting .349 this spring, hit his third home run of the spring. Andrew Benintendi (.405) had a double and two RBI and first baseman Sam Travis drove in three. 

Sale had a much rougher outing Monday, giving up four runs on five hits, with three walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Phillies. 



Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

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“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.