Red Sox

Pomeranz, Betts power Red Sox past Rays, 9-3

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Pomeranz, Betts power Red Sox past Rays, 9-3

BOSTON -- Drew Pomeranz takes pride in his newfound role as a pillar in the Boston Red Sox's rotation, all because of the impact his success has on his teammates in the bullpen.

Pomeranz, who manger John Farrell likened to a stabilizing structure before the game, lived up to the billing when he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and gave up two runs over six to help the Red Sox rout the Tampa Bay Rays 9-3 on Friday night.

"I take a lot of pride in it," Pomeranz said. "I like to go out there (in the bullpen) and let those guys know that they can rest, give them some time to settle in."

Pomeranz (15-5) struck out seven, allowed two hits and walked two en route to tying Chris Sale for the team lead in victories.

"Chris is the best pitcher in baseball. I don't really feel too competitive with him because he's unreal," Pomeranz said when asked if there was any friendly competition between the two pitchers.

Mookie Betts hit a three-run home run for the Red Sox (80-61), who moved 4 1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees atop the AL East. Tampa Bay (70-72) fell 4 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the second AL wild card spot.

Jesus Sucre slugged a two-run homer for the Rays, who have homered in a season franchise record 18 straight games.

"That's how we're built, to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Ideally, we do that with men on base."

Chris Archer (9-9) was roughed up for a season-high eight runs, six earned, and nine hits and struck out five in three-plus innings.

"They found a way to hit balls hard and hit balls soft and find hits," Archer said. "If I execute at a higher level, I'm at least able to limit the damage."

Boston chased Archer from the game with five runs in the fourth to build an 8-0 lead.

Pomeranz's no-hit bid was broken up by Brad Miller's one-out single in the fifth. Sucre added his two-run blast over the Green Monster in left field.

A PESKY FIRST

Betts blasted his homer around Pesky's Pole in right field in the first inning, marking the first time he has hooked a ball around the famous foul pole.

"First (time) for everything," Betts said. "It's tough to hit them over there, but I was lucky enough to get it."

ESCAPING IRMA

Tampa Bay's upcoming three-game series against the Yankees, scheduled to begin Monday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been moved to Citi Field in New York because of Hurricane Irma.

"Wherever we need to play, we'll go play and hope for the best back home," Cash said.

JetBlue Park, the Red Sox's spring training home in Fort Myers, Florida, will serve as a headquarters for first responders during the storm.

JERRY'S BACK

Red Sox TV analyst Jerry Remy returned to the booth to broadcast Friday's game after undergoing surgery and treatment for lung cancer. The 64-year-old was diagnosed with a fifth recurrence of the cancer and stepped aside in June.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: RF Steven Souza Jr. left the game in the fourth inning after suffering a left knee bruise during a collision with the right-field wall. Initial tests revealed no structural damage and he will be re-evaluated Saturday. "As soon as it happened, I had a pretty sharp pain running through my kneecap," Souza said. ... RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery recovery) and LHP Xavier Cedeno (forearm) will pitch for Double-A Montgomery in the Southern League playoffs Saturday.

Red Sox: INF/OF Eduardo Nunez experienced minor mid-back spasms during Wednesday's game and was out of the lineup. He is expected to return Saturday. ... LHP David Price (left elbow inflammation) will throw two simulated innings of 15 to 18 pitches each on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Matt Andriese (5-2, 3.78 ERA) hopes to replicate the success of his last start at Fenway Park on May 14, when he tossed five two-run innings. Andriese is 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA lifetime against Boston.

Red Sox: LHP Sale (15-7, 2.85 ERA) looks to break out of his recent funk after going 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA in his last four starts. Sale is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in four starts against Tampa Bay this season.

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Nunez returns to Red Sox on one-year deal

Nunez returns to Red Sox on one-year deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Eduardo Nunez is back in the fold on a one-year deal with a player option for 2019.

The infielder doesn’t give the Sox the punch of J.D. Martinez, who remains a free agent. But he does give the Sox some depth and a veteran presence after a strong performance with Boston last season.

MORE RED SOX

Nunez makes $4 million this season, and can make $4 million in 2019 with a $2 million buyout — so he’s guaranteed to make at least $6 million if he tests free agency after 2018. 

But he can make up to $10 million over the two seasons if he sticks around for 2019. Nunez can make another $2 million in 2019: he can earn up to $1 million based on plate appearances in 2018, and another $1 million based on 2019 performance bonuses.

The deal is structured so that Nunez has something of a safety net if he doesn’t have a great year in 2018, but also provides him some freedom to explore the market if he does. The Red Sox don’t appear to have a full-time job available for Nunez, who is good enough to play everyday for some team, but he should be used plenty while Dustin Pedroia is out. His usage would only increase if the Sox don’t sign Martinez or another bat to DH.

Nunez is expected to be around JetBlue Park on Sunday. The Globe reported he was on hand Saturday.

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Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

Pedroia, healing well, says he could have handled 2017 differently

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Often, Dustin Pedroia is not one to expound on his feelings publicly. His interviews with media can be amusing and witty, but they also can be terse. In 2017, they tended toward the latter. 

A welcome-to-spring session with reporters on Saturday brought out 20 minutes of another side of Pedroia, one that seemed almost eager to expound. He was cast in a poor light last season, the year's troubles started to compound early.

Pedroia said Saturday the knee he had repaired in the offseason had been bothering him since April. He called the surgery “the best decision I could have made.” 

“My knee doesn’t hurt,” Pedroia said. “Last year, waking up and walking around was painful. It’s not fun to live your life like that. Having the surgery, I could tell immediately that I was feeling better. Not one time did I have any pain in the entire process. Now, it’s just building strength and getting back to being athletic and things like that and your body picks that up quick.”

Pedroia, 34, didn’t share a timetable. The initial expectation, at the point Pedroia went for the surgery, was that he would be out until at least May.

He shared how he thinks the Red Sox need greater leadership as a group, not just from one individual.

"I’ve thought a lot about this, you know and I’m thinking, man, you know, you guys write all these stories about how we don’t have enough leadership and all this stuff,” Pedroia said. “I’m like, thinking about it, I’m like, when did the Red Sox start getting successful? From 2002 or whatever on. You know, they had Tek [Jason Varitek]. But not only did they have Tek, but they had David [Ortiz], they had Trot Nixon, they had Johnny Damon. There was a ton of core players that were leaders. 

“And then you look at the next championship they won, they had David, Tek, Mike Lowell, Alex [Cora]. There’s multiple leaders. And then ’13, there’s multiple leaders. So I think our core group, our guys that [are young], it’s my responsibility, I need them and they need me and we all have to work together. Because it’s not one leader. And everybody always says that, it’s not one guy in baseball. 

“We have to go be together and know that. I know David’s gone, but you know when Tek was done, we were okay. Because he built that into David, and David’s built that into me to where I got to do a better job of finding a way to get everybody to realize that it’s not one guy, it’s everybody. And that’s — after thinking about it — that’s what it is."

There was more. A lot more. The team, Pedroia said, became too results-oriented in the short term last year.

“It was more ‘Hey, what are our results today? We’ve got to do good today,’” Pedroia said. “‘Bogey’s got to get four hits today. Mookie’s got to live up to huge expectations,’ instead of being who you are, and that’s especially in this environment that’s how you have to be. You have to understand you’re going to be bad and you’re going to be great.”

Twenty minutes in, the second-to-last question was a brief return to last year’s form. Terse.

Pedroia was asked whether there was a team discussion about the handling of the Manny Machado and Dennis Eckersley incidents.

"Yeah, we talked about those things,” Pedroia said, matter of factly. 

It was by far the shortest answer he gave Saturday and stood out for that reason.

Pedroia and everyone else listening knew well that the question, which he did technically answer, was meant to provide some level of insight into those discussions. 

The conclusion: last year still isn’t easy to talk about. Which may be a positive sign. Consider: Pedroia’s reputation as a team leader was questioned. A prideful person who believes in his work, who cares about his standing and his reputation, would be made uncomfortable by last year’s proceedings.

A follow-up question came, and it was something of a breakpoint. Did those discussions resolve the issues quickly, was anything lingering?

He could have given a similar yes-no answer again. 

He didn’t.

“Yeah, no, I mean, I think as a team, no, we were together all the time. You know, those things happen,” Pedroia said. “I mean it’s baseball. I think when you sit back and look at it. Could it have been handled differently? Without question. I mean, 100 percent. It’s like everything in life. You make mistakes and then you don’t make mistakes. So, you know you learn from it, you move forward, you understand if you’re in another situation like that, if you want to do something different, do something different. And that’s what we all took out of it.”

On Saturday, he did something different.

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