Red Sox

McAdam: Red Sox continue to make a statement with push to postseason


McAdam: Red Sox continue to make a statement with push to postseason

BALTIMORE -- When the Red Sox finished up their West Coast road trip a little more than two weeks ago, it was widely noted that each one of final 23 games in the regular season would be against teams from their own division.

If the Red Sox were going to get into the playoffs, they would have to run the gauntlet -- home and away -- against everyone in the American League East.

May the best team win.

Now, almost two-thirds of the way through that stretch, the drama is gone and there's little mystery about who's king of the division.

With their 5-3 win Thursday night at Camden Yards, the Red Sox won their eighth straight, posting their second straight four-game sweep of a division rival.

First, it was the Yankees at home. Next came the Orioles.

Different teams, different ballparks. It didn't matter.

Since leaving California air space, where they went 4-2 as a prelude to this All-East, all-the-time portion of their schedule, the Red Sox have gone 11-3.

They've taken on everyone but the Rays, who are next up and, frankly, irrelevant to the matter.

They went 2-1 in Toronto.

They went 4-0 in Boston against the Yankees.

They went a combined 5-2 against the Orioles in a home-and-home arrangement. They set 'em up, and then they shut them down.

"As we've done with other challenges put in front of us,'' said John Farrell, "we focus on the task at hand. It's about taking care of what we need to to prepare. It says our guys are looking forward to challenges that are thrown our way. We knew the schedule was going to be a tough one, as it was for (other) teams that were vying for post-season play.

"The way we've responded, the way we've come back in some tight ballgames, the way we've won on the road, I think it says a tremendous amount about the guys in our uniform.''

You name an aspect of their game, and the Red Sox have excelled in the last few weeks. The starting pitching has been dependable. The offense has been formidable. And the relief pitching has been dominant.

That's a tough combination to beat. Together, they make the Red Sox the team to beat in the American League with the post-season just around the corner.

"We've played good baseball,'' said David Price, who pitched seven innings and won his 17th. '"This is the time of year when you want your team to get on the kind of roll that we have. That's what we've done. We just need to continue to bring that same attitude every day.

Price has seen this before -- in the not-too-distant past. When he went from Detroit to Toronto at the trade deadline in 2015, he joined a Toronto team mired around .500. But the Jays jelled over the final two months and pulled away to win the division.

Now, he's on another A.L. East team showing a strong finishing kick.

"We do everything well,'' Price said. "I don't know what our weakness is, to be honest, but we do a lot of things really well. That's what you want. There's no glaring weakness with our team. Everybody has picked it up in the second half and that's what you need.''

You can't say the Red Sox backed into anything. Over the last two weeks, they took on three other good teams in the division and beat each one handily.

Three more series remain, all against East opponents. But the test is over and the Red Sox just didn't pass, they aced the exam.


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."