Red Sox

Red Sox move closer to A.L. East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to A.L. East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI -- The Red Sox took another step toward a division title, putting up another shutout that ended with a feel-good moment for their manager.

Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and Boston beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding a four-game lead over the Yankees with eight to play. The Red Sox are trying to win back-to-back AL East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. They've got their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

It ended with a ninth inning that was unlike anything manager John Farrell has experienced. His son, Luke, relieved for the Reds, giving them a special moment in a competitive situation.

"It was somewhat surreal," he said. "Very proud. You're standing there looking through a netting in the dugout and you think you're maybe watching him throw back in Little League, in high school. To see it happen on a major league mound -- a special day, a special inning."

The reliever walked two in a scoreless inning and glanced back at the Boston dugout, momentarily removing his cap, as he headed for the Reds dugout.

"There was a little added pressure for me," said Luke Farrell, who like his father wears No. 52. "That's the first time we've been on the same field together. You want to do well for your team."

The last time a manager faced his son as an opposing player was 2004, when the Giants' Felipe Alou went against his son Moises of the Cubs.

"There's a major conflict going on inside," John Farrell said. "You're always pulling for your guys, but that's a unique arrangement there."

The Red Sox got what they wanted, closing in on a title with an offense that's an anomaly in the homer-heavy major leagues. Moreland's shot off Robert Stephenson (5-6) was the 160th by a Red Sox, fewest in the American League.

"That gives us a little breathing room," said Moreland, who broke an 0-for-19 slump with only his second homer in September. "That was nice."

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21, making sure he'll be in the conversation for a prominent postseason role.

He would love a chance to start a playoff game.

"That's going to be the best feeling in the world," he said. "That's what people who have started in the playoffs tell me."

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

HOMECOMING

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi , who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

INTERLEAGUE

The Red Sox are 11-1 against the Reds all-time in their interleague series. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games for the 1975 World Series championship. Overall, Boston is 15-4 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 5-14.

RED TO GREEN

The Reds wore green jerseys and caps as part of their day honoring Irish heritage.

GOODBYE BRONSON

The Reds and Red Sox honored pitcher Bronson Arroyo , who is retiring at age 40. He came back from several years of arm problems and made 14 starts for Cincinnati this season before ending his comeback. Tributes on the videoboard included one from Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Among his gifts were a customized guitar and guitar case. He performed with a band on the field after the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: RF Mookie Betts was scratched from the lineup to get treatment on his left foot. He fouled a pitch off it during his second at-bat on Friday night but stayed in the game. It bothered him running on Saturday pregame. ... INF Eduardo Nunez plans to run on Sunday, the next test as he recovers from a sprained knee,

Reds: CF Billy Hamilton broke his left thumb while bunting on Sept. 6 and returned Friday night, getting two hits. He was out of the lineup on Saturday as the Reds ease him back into playing.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Doug Fister (5-8) is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career starts against the Reds.

Reds: Rookie Jackson Stephens (2-0) makes his third career start. He gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings of an 8-7 loss to the Cardinals on Tuesday.

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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.  

MORE:

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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Here's the real problem for the Red Sox with the Giancarlo Stanton trade

Here's the real problem for the Red Sox with the Giancarlo Stanton trade

It may appear Dealer Dave Dombrowski, the man whose career has been built on the mega-deal and star power, was just beat at his own game. But it's not the Giancarlo Stanton trade that will deliver the potential knockout from Brian Cashman, if the trade with the Marlins is indeed finalized.

The desicive blow was cumulative, in all the moves that led up to a point where Dombrowski is tiring and Cashman has enough energy to taunt him with a blockbuster.

As Elias pointed out via ESPN, there’s been only one other time when the team with the most home runs added the player with the most home runs: 1919, when the Yankees traded for Babe Ruth. The Red Sox need one thing above all this offseason: home runs. 

They will still acquire some, you can be sure of that.

“I, for one, can't wait to see how Dave responds to this,” one American League scout said Saturday.

There was foreboding schadenfreude laced in those words, a sense that Dombrowski may overreact. That he’ll do something to alleviate a fan base’s disappointment in seeing Stanton join forces with Aaron Judge, but at an unreasonable cost to the Sox in the long term.

You can only make so many restrictive moves: David Price signings, top-prospect trades and the like. Yes, Stanton’s injury risk and salary qualify as a restrictive move. Even if Stanton wanted to come to Boston, it would have been a straining deal to pull off. The Yankees can more easily replace Starlin Castro because of their farm system.

Now, this is not a defense of the Red Sox. On the contrary: It’s a distinction in where the issue lies. 

The problem is not simply the fact the Sox didn't trade for Stanton, but the fact they both needed a player like Stanton and also lacked the reasonable wherewithal to acquire him. Everything that preceded this point made the Stanton deal less feasible for the Sox and more so for the Yankees. That’s the problem.

The amount of flexibility available is directly a product of baseball leadership. Dombrowski was saddled with some bad contracts from Ben Cherington and the previous administration. The fact that the Red Sox feel constraints (at a time they need to add from the outside to improve) while the Yankees can move freely is a reflection of management. If not necessarily bad Sox management of late, then particularly good Yankees management. Cashman deserves a ton of credit.

Over the summer, it was already apparent that the Yankees were in a position of power when it comes to the ability to add to their team. From the trade deadline: 

But the harsher reality: The Sox have already spent most of their savings. Dombrowski’s already pulled off a blockbuster. More than one. Only two certified gold doubloons remain: Rafael Devers and Jason Groome. 

There are two elements at play here. 

The Sox have been in their competitive window for longer than the Yankees. Dombrowski, being Dealer Dave, has taken his shots. No one can argue with the immediate success of Craig Kimbrel and Chris Sale either. 

But who used their prospect capital and large-payroll ability more prudently, Cashman or Dombrowski? Which team will now have the longer competitive window?  

The old rivals both are in a window now. The Sox, despite all their expenditures, are not comfortably positioned to repeat as a division winner.

“I think there’s windows of opportunity because it’s very tough to keep everybody together or hungry or healthy,” Cashman said this spring. “When you have a collection of talent, depending on like how long, how young that talent is, I guess you can keep your window longer. No, I believe in the window stuff. 
 
“You always want to sustain and maintain, but obviously, the way the rules of the game are, the more success — what goes up has to come down, because you’re not getting the high-end draft picks. You’re being penalized for success, which pulls successful teams down, and you’re being rewarded for failure, which is going to catapult people out of the abyss. So, the structure of the game and the rules of the game are designed that make those windows real.”

Cashman has all the elbow grease to keep his window open. Dombrowski is running out.

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