Red Sox

Sox notes: Beckett's tough luck continues

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Sox notes: Beckett's tough luck continues

By Danny Picard and Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON --@font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; Josh Beckett cant win.

Literally.

After picking up his sixth no-decision on Saturday, he nowonly has two wins and three decisions in his last nine starts. Beckett has a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts this season, but only four wins to show for it.

Beckett allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in a9-8 win over the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. But the six-plus innings hepitched werent enough, even after leaving the game with a 5-2 lead.

I just kind of wore myself down, said Beckett, who threw102 pitches. We always talk about our lineups wearing pitchers down. I feltlike I kind of did that to myself today.

Later in the game, I thought he started to lose his command a littlebit, said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. But hes been good, hes been solidevery time out.

As tough as it is to see a starting pitcher not get rewardedfor solid outing after solid outing, all of the no-decisions dont seem tobother Beckett.

I dont give two expletive who gets the win, saidBeckett, referring to his pitching staff. I do not have an arbitration case inFebruary. So that doesnt matter to me.

The win instead went to Alfredo Aceves, who is now 3-1 on the season. He pitched the final four innings for theRed Sox, allowing one run on three hits and two walks, while striking out two.

That run came on a sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th his first inning of the game and gave the Athletics an 8-7 lead. But afterthe Red Sox tied it on a Jacoby Ellsbury RBI double in the bottom of the 11th,Aceves settled down and earned the win.

He comes in his first inning, and walks a guy that scores,said Francona. And then after that, he was lights out. As the game progressed,it gets hard to see the ball. You could tell. Guys were taking some funnyswings, on both sides, with the shadows and everything.

He did a really good job. Were fortunate. He stretchedout. Hes on one day short, but he stretched out where he could do somethinglike that, and ended up saving us the game.

Saturdays 14-inning marathon lasted 5 hours and 17minutes. But perhaps it could have been ended in the ninth, as the Red Sox tooka 7-3 lead into the top of the ninth.

With the game still 7-3, Jonathan Papelbon put runners onfirst and second with one out. He then forced Coco Crisp to hit a ground ballto Dustin Pedroia up the middle.

It was a perfect double-play ball that would have ended thegame, but it went through Pedroias legs and into the outfield, scoringOaklands fourth run of the game.

It marked Pedroias third error of the season.

If I field that ball, I mean, were out of here four hoursago, said Pedroia. Thats just the way it goes. But we found a way.

He just didnt make the play, said Francona. Maybe Illgo buy a lottery ticket.

John Lackey isscheduled to start Sunday in the series finale against the As. It willbe his eighth start of the season and first start since a May 11 lossin Toronto. Francona expects Lackey to throw about 90 pitches, butwould not overdo the right-hander.

Shortstop MarcoScutaro, on the disabled list since May 8 with a left oblique strain, started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday. ThePawSox are in Durham for a 12:05 p.m. game Monday, facing the RaysTriple-A affiliate. Scutaro is expected to play in threegames with the PawSox then join the Red Sox Monday night in NewYork.

The New Kids on theBlock and the Backstreet Boys (NKOTBSB to those in the know) were atFenway before the game doing promotions for their upcoming concert atthe park.

With the Bruins inhe Stanley Cup Finals, former B's Ken Hodge, Sr., and Ken Hodge, Jr., wearing their Bruinssweaters, threw out the ceremonial first pitches.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

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.