Red Sox

First impressions: Price finishes strong in Red Sox' 5-3 win


First impressions: Price finishes strong in Red Sox' 5-3 win

BALTIMORE -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 win over the Orioles:


* David Price finished strong. Can he finish his season strong in October, too?

Price hung a changeup to rookie Trey Mancini in the third and Mancini hammered it deep into the left field seats to erase what had been a 3-0 lead.

But Price found something after that, retiring 13-of-15 after the homer, including the final six in a row.

In giving the Red Sox seven innings, Price has now pitched at least seven in eight of his last 12 outings.

His pitching line -- three runs in seven innings -- won't blow anyone way, but he's been far better in the second half.

Ultimately, Price's first season in Boston is going to come down to what he does in the post-season. That script has yet to be written.


* Koji Uehara is pitching like it's 2013 all over again.

Since Uehara came off the DL on Labor Day, he's made eight appearances -- including the eighth inning Thursday night.

He's made eight appearances and hasn't allowed a run -- earned or otherwise. But that only tells half the story.

Uehara has allowed just four hits in those eight appearances -- all singles -- and hasn't walked a batter while striking out 10 in eight innings.

In all, he's faced 27 hitters and allowed just five baserunners -- four singles and a hit batsman, the latter of which took place Thursday when a fastball got too far inside on Mancini and caught him on the hands.

That translates int a .154 batting average against.

Again, Uehara isn't blowing anybody with his fastball, but then again, he never did. It's all about command and precision with him -- to say nothing of the splitter, which looks, in the last month at least, only slightly less devastating than it did when the Red Sox won their last title three years ago.


* Hanley Ramirez has become a menace in September.

Ramirez knocked in the first run with a first-inning RBI single and provided the final one, too, with an opposite-field homer to right in the seventh.

His September has been astounding, outstripping everyone's expectations in terms of power. His next homer will be his 30th, which would give the Red Sox three 30-homer hitters in their lineup.

For Ramirez, it was his 10th homer in September with seven games still remaining in the month.

The Red Sox have to be hoping that he can somehow maintain this into the playoffs. Certainly, the trio of David Ortiz, Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez would be the most fearsome threesome of any team in the playoffs.


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.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“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.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."