Red Sox

Sox lose first interleague road game, 3-1

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Sox lose first interleague road game, 3-1

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
PITTSBURGH The Red Sox dropped their first Interleague road game of the season, 3-1, in front of 39,330 at PNC Park Friday night.

Jon Lester, despite throwing his 11th quality start in 16 outings this season, labored through much of his outing. He went six innigs, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, a walk, and a hit batter with five strikeouts. His record fell to 9-4 with 3.66 ERA.

The Sox scored their lone run in the first inning as Jacoby Ellsbury lead off with a walk, scoring on Kevin Youkilis ground out.

Lesters record fell to 9-4, while Paul Maholm improved to 4-8. Joel Hanrahan got his 21stsave in as many opportunities for the Pirates.

The Sox have now lost three straight -- to two National League teams with a combined winning percentage of .453 at the start of the each series for the first time since losing four in a row May 29 June 1.

PITTSBURGH The Red Sox dropped their first Interleague road game of the season, 3-1, in front of 39,330 at PNC Park Friday night.

Jon Lester, despite throwing his 11th quality start in 16 outings this season, labored through much of his outing. He went six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits, a walk, and a hit batter with five strikeouts. His record fell to 9-4 with 3.66 ERA.

The Sox scored their lone run in the first inning as Jacoby Ellsbury lead off with a walk, scoring on Kevin Youkilis ground out.

Lesters record fell to 9-4, while Paul Maholm improved to 4-8. Joel Hanrahan got his 20th save in as many opportunities for the Pirates.

The Sox have now lost three straight -- to two National League teams with a combined winning percentage of .453 at the start of the each series for the first time since losing four in a row May 29 June 1.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Paul Maholm
Facing the Red Sox -- who entered the game with the most potent offense in baseball, batting .279 as a team for the first time, Maholm held the Sox to one run on six hits, three walks, and a hit batter, with two strikeouts over 5 13 innings.

The lone run he allowed came in the first inning. He walked lead-off batter Jacoby Ellsbury, who went to third on Adrian Gonzalezs single and scored on Kevin Youkilis groundout.

Maholm pitched out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the third, getting Darnell McDonald to ground into a fielders choice. He also got McDonald to end the fifth with runners on first and second by flying out to center.

HONORABLE MENTION: Lyle Overbay
Overbay entered the game hitting just .226. But in his career against Lester he was 7-for-22, batting .318, with two home runs and seven RBI. He went 2-for-4 in the game, including 2-for-3 with an RBI, for the Pirates third run, against Lester. He is now batting .375 against the Sox lefty.

THE GOAT: Kevin Youkilis
Neil Walker started off the sixth inning with a hard-hit ball to Youkilis, who couldnt field it cleanly. On the next batter, Youkilis committed his 5th error of the season. Lyle Overbay, the third batter of the inning for the Pirates, singled to right for the Pirates third run of the game. Youkilis also struck out with runners on first and second in the seventh.

THE TURNING POINT
With two outs and the tying runs on second and third, David Ortiz, who was not in the starting lineup, went to the plate to pinch hit against Jose Veras. Ortiz had faced Veras just twice before in his career, going 0-for-1 with an intentional walk. This time, though, the right-handed Veras pitched to Ortiz. With the count 1-2 (with two called strikes), Ortiz fouled off three straight curveballs. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, a 94-mph two-seamer, Ortiz grounded out to shortstop Ronny Cedeno, ending the Sox last best chance to score.

STAT OF THE DAY: .453
The Sox have lost three straight games to the Padres, in last place in the National League West, and the Pirates, who entered the game at .500. The Padres were at 30-44, a .405 winning percentage, at the start of the Sox skid. Combined, the Sox have lost three straight to two teams with combined a combined winning percentage of .453. It is the first time the Sox have lost three in a row since losing four straight from May 29 June 1.

QUOTE OF NOTE:
First of all, whats wrong with Mother Nature? I just walk into the play and it starts pouring. Whats up with that?--David Ortiz on his eighth-inning, pinch-hit appearance. It started raining when he went out on deck and continued through his at-bat, letting up when he hit into an inning-ending groundout.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel. 

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press