Red Sox

Drellich: Chris Sale's biggest start of the season is about his hitters, not him

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Drellich: Chris Sale's biggest start of the season is about his hitters, not him

NEW YORK — Chris Sale will be making his biggest start since joining the Red Sox on Sunday, in the final scheduled game between the Yanks and Sox this season.

The spotlight will shine brighter on the hitters behind him.

Eduardo Nunez made his Red Sox debut on July 28. From that day through Saturday’s 5-1 Red Sox loss to the Yanks, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez are hitting a combined .225.

The Red Sox cannot continue to receive that level of production and expect good results. What’s really amazing is how well the team has played in spite of such numbers, in spite of the absences of key injured players.

MORE: Robby Scott, one year into the big leagues: 'Nothing’s going to stop me'

The Sox are 21-12 since Nunez arrived, with the third-best win percentage in baseball. (Some Saturday games were still underway at the time this was written.) Their 3.86 ERA was the eighth best in the majors.

The pitching’s excellence has been consistent most of the year. The questionable nature of the lineup has been as well. 

“Just kind of going along with the ride,” Betts said Saturday. “Just doing what I can to help the team win that’s all I’m focused on.”

Sox manager John Farrell said he hasn’t thought about a couple down days for Betts a la Bogaerts, namely because of how important Betts is even when not hitting well.

But Betts’ .313 slugging percentage since July 28, a 32-game stretch for him, is worse than all but 10 qualified players. 

Ramirez on Saturday had loud outs and has looked better of late. But the offense that powered the Sox in August could wind up looking like an outlier rather than a correction.

Rafael Devers’ growing pains have been realized, both at the plate and in the field. There’s no surprise there, because he’s a 20-year-old rookie.

Mitch Moreland didn’t help Devers on a throw to first base Saturday that was wide, yet not so wide that it needed to skip away. 

Devers had only himself to blame when he later took too long on a routine grounder from Brett Gardner, creating an infield hit.

“Yeah, he took his time,” manager John Farrell said. “Obviously, too much time. But I thought he was in good shape on the [wide] throw against [Gary] Sanchez and pulled it wide a little bit, and then took his time setting his feet against Gardner, and it cost him. These are key learning opportunities, learning moments, for him.”

Pennant races are an easier time to learn when there are others to lean on.

Nunez has eight home runs? How the heck did that happen? The surprise performances have come from all corners.

It’s very hard to be convinced they’ll continue.

Reality sets in. There’s a mean, a true ability and performance level, that typically shines through by the end of a season. That goes for both disappointing and bust-out performances, so you can find positivity in that thinking as well.

Bogaerts has been hurt, with a nagging right hand. Betts’ knee gave a scare in Cleveland, but there’s been no sense it’s holding him back at the plate.

Andrew Benintendi’s taken a step forward, hitting .322 since July 28. Bradley, fresh off the DL, has a .352 OBP in that stretch, so he has contributed as well.

But without Betts and Bogaerts close to form, the Red Sox offense is in an uncomfortable place. Others have picked up the slack, the pitchers included. But it’s a certain brand of optimism — more commonly called naivete — to think the Sox can find continued success with this formula.

August is gone. Now to find out if the offense is as well.

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Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright arrested on domestic assault charge

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Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright arrested on domestic assault charge

Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright was arrested at his home in Tennessee on Friday night after an incident involving his wife, Shannon.

According to a statement attributed to the Wright family that was released to NBC Sports Boston through Wright's lawyer, Alex Little, Wright has been charged with domestic assault. Per the statement, Wright did not "raise his hand at anyone."

"On Friday night, Steven was arrested at our home following a verbal argument, and the police charged him with domestic assault. Although he said things he deeply regrets, he did not raise his hand at anyone during the incident, and the situation was purely emotional. We are working together as a family to make our relationships stronger, and we ask that you respect our privacy as we do so."

Wright has been released from jail. Wright and his agent, Steve Rath, declined comment.

The Red Sox addressed the incident in a statement: "We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and Major League Baseball are looking into this and for that reason, the club won’t have any further comment at this time."

Wright’s arrest is now to be reviewed by MLB's department of investigations under the joint policy with the MLBPA.

Red Sox react to Yankees' Stanton trade with...something

Red Sox react to Yankees' Stanton trade with...something

OK, so it's not exactly Varitek's catcher's mitt in A-Rod's face.

The Red Sox reacted to the Yankees' acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton today with a tweet that was...well, it was something.

That'll show your rival whose new middle of the lineup outhomered your entire team - 169 for Didi Gregorius (25), Stanton (59), Aaron Judge (52) and Gary Sanchez (33) to Boston's 168.  

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Of course, the last time a team that led the league in home runs acquired the major league leader in home runs was 1919, when a pitcher/outfielder who's probably still better than Shohei Ohtani went from Boston to New York.

We can look forward to more fiery tweets from the Sox as the Winter Meetings begin - and their search for a power bat intensifies - in Orlando on Sunday. 

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