Red Sox

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-4 win over Toronto

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-4 win over Toronto

BOSTON -- First impressions of the Red Sox 6-4 win over Toronto:

The knuckleball continues to be a friend -- and enemy.

Although Steven Wright held the Blue Jays in check enough for the Red Sox offense to get the win, his knuckleball continues to be very difficult for Ryan Hanigan to handle.

All three of the runs Wright allowed -- all of which went as unearned -- were a result of at least one passed ball. That’s not to say he pitched poorly or that he’s another problem for the Red Sox pitching staff. But when you have to rely that heavily on a knuckleball pitcher, that’s one of the results you have to deal with.

The Red Sox continue to run the bases well -- even better than the stat sheet shows.

Both Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts advanced to third on plays where Toronto was napping.

In the first, Pedroia snuck to third base with Marcus Stroman locked in against David Ortiz, while his defense shifted, making it even easier for Pedroia to advance.

Later in the third, Bogaerts’ was off on the 3-2 pitch to Ortiz with no outs. Papi grounded it softly to second and by the time Justin Smoak receive Darwin Barney’s throw it was too late. His advancement would help lead to a run. Plays like that will continue to give Boston an extra edge offensively.

Jose Bautista gave the Red Sox a taste of their own medicine on the base paths.

After walking and making it to second on a passed ball in the fifth, Bautista took off for third when Michael Saunders tried reach base safely on a dropped third strike. The ball bounced far enough away for Saunders to reach safely, and let Ryan Goins score. But with Hanigan nearly in Boston’s dugout and Wright nowhere near home, Bautista caught the Red Sox sleeping.

Wright has to cover the plate in that situation. But more importantly, Hanigan and Travis Shaw dropped the ball. Shaw has to let everyone know Bautista’s going home. Hanigan should’ve realized the situation and identified that he had no chance at throwing Saunders out.

It was good to see Junichi Tazawa have a strong performance.

After allowing five earned runs in his last two outings, Taz finally held down the fort for Boston. He complemented his 93-94 MPH fastball with his 12-6 curve -- which buckled Edwin Encarnacion -- and his splitter.

It’s gotten to the point where Taz is just as important as Craig Kimbrel is -- so he’ll need to produce more appearances like Saturday’s.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

Kimbrel back in camp, but infant daughter on his mind

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Kimbrel back in camp, but infant daughter on his mind

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has returned to Fort Myers after spending the past three weeks in Boston, where his infant daughter Lydia has undergone multiple heart surgeries at Boston Children's Hospital.

On Monday, an emotional Kimbrel spoke to reporters in Florida, including The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman, about the ordeal after throwing a batting practice session.  

"We’ll be in and out of Boston Children’s Hospital the rest of her life but for this stay, hopefully, a couple more weeks," Kimbrel said. “She’s in the recovery process but life-threatening wise, she’s in a good place that I can be down here." 

Kimbrel said he and his wife Ashley "can't say enough about how amazing Boston Children's Hospital has been." 

"There's no denying it's been the toughest thing we've ever been through," Kimbrel said.  

"In the last week, her recovery has been unbelievable and she's showing great signs and we're very blessed and we want to thank the Red Sox and Alex [Cora] for understanding they've been through this and working with us," Kimbrel said. 

He said Lydia, born in November, will need another surgery when she's around 3 or 4 years old to help ensure normal development. 

"It's been tough, I can say that. We're definitely, me and my wife, we've had each other and we've had our family, we've had a great support. Everyone is sending out prayers that have definitely been heard. Now, I'm back down here. The other day I threw a live BP up at Babson [College in Wellesley, Mass.], and me and her got to talking and seeing where Lydia is, and how she's progressed, she's in a good, comfortable place for me to be down here. If she wasn't, I wouldn't be here.

"My family comes first and then baseball comes. I have to thank the Red Sox for letting me be there with my family and then helping me continue to prepare while I was at home. Stepping away for a few hours was definitely a release. It did help to get in the weight room. It did help to throw the ball. But that's not going to take away the emotions we went through in the hospital."

Kimbrel said he and his wife talked about how fortunate they were to be in Boston and its world-class healthcare facilities. 

"We believe that everything in life happens for a reason, even if we don't understand it at the time," he said. "There's a lesson to be learned and something to be shared through every step you go through in life. As difficult as this is, and I know it will take time, hopefully, this experience and everything we've been through, we can share that with others, try to impact someone else's life. Because I know for a fact my daughter's going to be able to do that one day."



Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

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Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.

“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”