Red Sox

Red Sox offense matches preseason vision, at least for a night

Red Sox offense matches preseason vision, at least for a night

BOSTON — Monday night’s 6-5 win over the Phillies in 11 innings was the closest thing this season to the ideal vision of the Sox offense. Not in terms of total output and runs scored, but contributors.

The blueprint everyone figured would be there in spring training was followed. The names that were supposed to be the driving forces got the job done Monday at Fenway Park, when Dustin Pedroia recorded just the second walk-off hit of his career.

The Sox were briefly without Pedroia this season because of a wrist injury. They missed Pablo Sandoval for a time too and he’s hardly a fixture in the lineup. Hanley Ramirez hasn’t been himself. Andrew Benintendi hit a cold spell and pulled himself out of it. The same is true for Mookie Betts.

The band was together on Monday night, and we’re not even talking about the continued yeoman’s work of the bullpen.

Betts had four hits, three of them doubles. Pedroia had a pair of hits, the game-winning single, plus another single that was a few feet from being a walk-off homer into the Monster seats in the ninth inning when the game was tied at 5.

Ramirez has long wanted to fill David Ortiz’s shoes. Pulling a home run off reliever Joaquin Benoit, formerly of the Tigers, in the eighth inning to tie the game at Fenway Park — that’s about as Ortiz-esque as it gets.

"I've got a couple of guys calling me 'Summer.' When it gets hot, I get hot," Ramirez said. "That's a good thing. When you've got all the top players on the team, when somebody gets cold, the other guy gets hot. That's a good thing."

This wasn’t the ALCS, but Ramirez’s solo shot went over the Monster and knotted it at 5.

Now, Sandoval didn’t start the game. But when he did enter, he had one great play in the field — a diving snare of a Daniel Nava liner — and one bad, a booted routine grounder right after. 

At the plate was where it mattered most. He started the 11th inning rally with a solid single to right-center.

“Tonight is a big team win,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “So many guys chipping in from a big night from Mookie at the top of the order to two critical and crucial innings from Matt Barnes after he’s been worked fairly heavy of late. Panda with a key base hit to lead off the final hit. Mitch [Moreland] gets some big hits again. Benny after a day off swung the bat very well. You could check the box on a number of guys. This is very much a team win here tonight.”

There are a lot of team wins inside a season and most of them aren’t notable for that reason alone. Monday's was special because it was something of a first, a glimpse of a complete Red Sox offense. Or at least, what we thought it would like. Whether Sandoval can regain playing time, whether Ramirez gets hot — a lot is to be seen.

For one night, what you expected is what you got.

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.”

The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

0:21 - With less than two week before the beginning of the 2018 season, the Red Sox don’t have all of the answers for their rotation. Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich project their Opening Day rotation and discuss the lack of depth in it.

4:39 - Will Boston’s version of the ‘Killer B’s’ return in full force this season? Lou and Evan analyze the performances of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

10:07 - Buy or sell? John Farrell will find another managerial position this season; J.D. Martinez will have a better season than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton; Dave Dombrowski has put the best possible team out there for 2018.