Red Sox

Sox drop series finale to Rays, 4-1; lead trimmed to 3 1/2 games


Sox drop series finale to Rays, 4-1; lead trimmed to 3 1/2 games

BOSTON -- Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash went to check his phone for Hurricane Irma news as soon as he reached his office after the final out.

Wilson Ramos stood at his locker and wanted to show reporters a video on his iPhone of heavy winds swaying palm trees that a friend watching his house had sent.

The Rays had a lot on their minds as they beat the Boston Red Sox 4-1 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

"I think in the training room the whole day we just had the weather on, the radar," pitcher Alex Cobb said. "You're not thinking about it while you're playing, obviously, but I think every other minute of the day we've been trying to be forecasters in seeing what best possibilities we could have going into this storm for our area and for our friends and families."

"It definitely consumes a lot of your time and your emotion," he said. "I think we've done as good of a job as we could have done."

Cobb (11-9) allowed one run and four hits - all singles - and three walks in five innings. Ramos and Lucas Duda each hit a solo homer for the Rays.

"It's hard to not think about the situation," Ramos said. "We have houses over there - all our families are from Florida, too."

Alex Colome pitched a perfect ninth to complete a five-hitter and earn his major-league leading 43rd save in 48 chances.

Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello was dealt his major league-leading 17th loss, the victim of poor run support once again.

Porcello (9-17) took a 1-0 lead into the fifth, when Ramos and Evan Longoria hit RBI singles. Boston has scored two runs or fewer 18 times in 30 starts while Porcello was in the game. He gave up five hits in five innings.

"In the fifth inning, obviously, there were some things I'd like to correct, but overall it wasn't bad," Porcello said.

Ramos homered in the sixth off Brandon Workman, a drive that just cleared the center field wall, and Duda went deep in the seventh against Robby Scott.

Tampa Bay stopped Boston's four-game winning streak, and the Red Sox lead over the second-place Yankees in the AL East was cut to 3 1/2 games.

Christian Vazquez hit a run-scoring single in the first for Boston.


Rays: OF Steven Souza Jr. missed his second straight game with a bruised left knee that forced him out Friday after he ran into a wall along the right-field line. ... Ramos, Tampa Bay's catcher, took a foul tip off the top of his left foot.

Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez was sidelined with a bruised right knee sustained on a headfirst slide on Saturday. Farrell said Nunez was sore but expected back Tuesday. ... Farrell said the LHP Dave Price (left elbow inflammation) felt fine after his two-inning simulated game Saturday is likely to pitch three innings in a simulated game on Wednesday. ... Hanley Ramirez got the day off.


Vazquez was called out by plate umpire Brian O'Nora when he tagged up and tried to score on Sam Travis' second-inning fly to right fielder Mallex Smith. The call stood on a video review, though on replays it appeared one of Vazquez's legs touched the plate before Ramos' tag.


Players of the Boston Bruins, Red Sox, Rays and Florida Panthers were at gates collecting donations for support of relief efforts that may be needed because of Irma. The Panthers are training in the area with their AHL affiliate.


Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi (8-7, 4.58 ERA) is slated to face Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91) on Monday when the teams open a three-game series at New York's Citi Field. The series was moved from Florida to the Mets' ballpark because of Irma.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-5, 4.33) is set to face LHP Sean Manaea (10-9, 4.33) when Boston opens a three-game series Tuesday against visiting Oakland. Rodriguez is 0-4 in his last 11 starts.

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."