Red Sox

Eckersley: 'I was humiliated' by Price and Red Sox teammates

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Eckersley: 'I was humiliated' by Price and Red Sox teammates

In his first lengthy public comments on his confrontation with David Price, Hall of Famer and Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley tells WEEI he was "humiliated" in the airplane incident with Price and his Red Sox teammates. 

"I was humiliated, to be honest with you," Eckersley told Rob Bradford on the "Bradfo Show Podcast." "As far as talking about this, I've never said anything [since the incident]. You're the first person I've really talked to about this. I don't want to make it anything more than it is."

Eckersley, 62, the Hall of Fame pitcher now an analyst on NESN's Red Sox telecast, and Price, the Sox oft-injured left-hander, were involved in a verbal confrontation on a team flight in late June in which Price, surrounded by his teammates, called out Eckersley for what Price perceived was negative commentary on telecasts. 

Eckersley told Bradford he's not going to talk to Price again.

"Ultimately this comes back to the dude doesn't like me," Eckersley said. "I get it. It's cool. Let's move on. . . . Why would I want to talk to him, you know? He's not the first guy that doesn't like me. I get it."

The ex-Red Sox pitcher who went on to become a Cy Young and MVP-winning closer with the Oakland A's, Eckersley said he's very familiar with being a player and watching his team's telecasts from his days in Oakland.  

"I used to watch three-quarters of the game before I went to the bullpen. I remember thinking to myself if I ever do this, and it was just a thought, I want to make sure I know this game's not that easy. You don't want to get up there and just starting popping off....You can't sit there and say [to yourself], 'Careful here, careful there. You don't want to hurt somebody.' A lot of these players think they want their mom and dad up here calling the game."

Ultimately, Eckersley said, it doesn't really matter what the players think of his commentary. 

"I can't worry about 30 guys in that clubhouse," he said. "The people I'm trying to talk to are the audience."

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Drellich: Every move Red Sox, Yankees make has new meaning

Drellich: Every move Red Sox, Yankees make has new meaning

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry has a newfound sense of urgency. A feeling that every move counts and will count, be it at the trade deadline in a month and a half, or when Alex Cora determines his second baseman on a nightly basis.

It's not because these franchises hate each other, because of their steep history. It's because they actually have to best the other, or suffer an unwelcome consequence.

Unlike the early 2000s, both teams cannot enter the playoffs on equal footing. A second-place finish in the American League East will sting. Participating in the Wild Card game for the right to move on to the five-game Division Series will be a stomach-turning experience for one of these two teams.

The upshot presently: even as the Sox and Yanks play teams that are uninspiring, and there are plenty such clubs, there is reason for fans and players alike to stay intently focused. (In the midst of a 162-game season, there will be lapses for everyone.) There is reason to care, in fact, if the ideal lineup or pinch-hit decision is made by Alex Cora, at every juncture. There is reason to care about whether Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has sufficiently helped rebuild the farm system, because it’s a matter of depth options now and via trade.

The Sox can have the best record in the majors in June, or be one win off the pace-setters, and the smallest of details will still matter. “They’re great,” doesn’t cut it. “Is this move optimal to beat the Yankees, the team that can relegate the Sox to a one-game playoff scenario?” is the question to be answered

As trade season arrives, the concept of the marginal win is out the window for both clubs. Or it should be. In divisions where one team is clearly superior, the need to add by trade isn’t always so clear. What’s the difference between 93 wins and 95 wins if you’re heading to the Division Series either way? Is the slight upgrade worth whatever you’re giving up?

The playoffs are always a crapshoot. But the Sox and Yanks are playing to avoid the biggest crapshoot of all in the Wild Card.

Passion between fan bases in the regular season wasn’t lacking 15 years ago. It was greater, obviously. But for different reasons. Second place in the division was usually a matter of bragging rights, rather than actual reward or worthiness. 

We’ve returned to a world where the Sox and Yanks are clearly better than virtually everyone. Were the rest of the AL stronger this year, the Wild Card could be a blessing for the Sox or the Yanks — a chance to make a postseason run that did not previously exist when there were four playoff teams instead of five. 

But the present landscape shows three powerhouses, and two of them happen to be classic rivals in the East. What they do before October means more now than it used to.

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Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Red Sox bullpen runs into trouble with Twins in 6-2 loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Escobar, yet again, gave the Minnesota Twins the go-ahead hit.

Two of them, of course. He's become a doubles machine.

With a two-base hit that drove in two runs off Chris Sale in the sixth inning and another that launched a four-run eighth, Escobar led for the Twins to a 6-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night.

"I don't know if he can keep up that kind of torrid pace, but we're seeing a guy who is supremely confident," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

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Robby Scott (0-1), just recalled from Triple-A, relieved Sale to start the eighth and walked the first two batters. Joe Kellyentered, and Escobar's one-out line drive bounced in front of Jackie Bradley Jr. and skipped past the center fielder as two runs scored. The official scorer later changed his ruling from a single to a double, giving Escobar a majors-leading 32 for the season. Robbie Grossman broke the game open with a two-run triple.

Escobar is on a season-long pace for 75 doubles, which would blow by Earl Webb's record of 67 doubles in 1931 for the Red Sox.

"Let me tell you: If they don't catch the ball I'm going to run to second base, 100 percent," Escobar said. "My mentality when I make contact with the ball is to run all the way to second base."

Escobar, who will be a free agent in the fall, has for the fourth straight season been slated for a utility role only to hit his way into regular duty after a setback in the infield. This year, injury and ineffectiveness for third baseman Miguel Sano paved Escobar's way into the everyday lineup.

"If he doesn't have a double a day, it's like a disappointment right now. He's unbelievable. He always finds a barrel," said teammate Trevor Hildenberger, who struck out American League RBI leader J.D. Martinez with runners at second and third to end the seventh after relieving Jose Berrios.

The Red Sox went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.

"Whenever you have a chance, you have to catch him," Boston manager Alex Cora said.

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MOUND MASTERY

The late surge masked a classic pitching duel between Sale and Berrios, the six-time All-Star against the budding ace. Sale retired the first 14 batters he faced before Ehire Adrianza's soft roller to Rafael Devers at third base went for an infield single.

With a two-out home run by Devers in the sixth off Berrios, the Red Sox were in control. All it took was a single by Ryan LaMarre and a hit by pitch for Joe Mauer, though, to start a rally in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Escobar drove a 1-1 slider near the dirt from Sale down the left-field line for a 2-1 lead. Escobar pumped his arms back and forth before clapping and pointing at his teammates in the dugout.

"You know this guy. Every pitch is nasty," said Escobar, once a minor league teammate of Sale's in the Chicago White Sox system. "I guess I made good contact."

Sale finished seven innings, the 12th time in 16 starts this season he has logged at least six. This was the 11th turn in which he's yielded two runs or fewer and his fifth double-digit strikeout performance. In his last three starts, he has allowed only 11 hits in 21 innings. Yet the Red Sox are only 8-8 with him on the mound.

"I'm not going to hang my head about it. I know these guys in here want to win. I know they're not doing anything different on my day," Sale said. "Maybe I'll bring popsicles or something for the boys."

REED RELIEF

Struggling Twins right-hander Addison Reed, who has appeared in only one of the previous six games, has been at least temporarily removed from his setup role. Zach Duke (3-2) took the eighth inning instead and, with two outs, surrendered Sandy Leon's tying single that drove in Devers.

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TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia, who has played in only three games this season because of inflammation in his left knee, has still not been cleared for baseball activities since returning to the DL three weeks ago. The lack of progress has been concerning, Cora acknowledged. "It was major surgery. We didn't know what to expect. So we are where we are now, hoping that, yeah, he'll be back. When? We don't know," Cora said.

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, yet to appear this season because of a slow recovery from surgery on his middle finger, threw a 35-pitch bullpen session before the game. He'll face live hitters on Friday, another step forward after his setback last month.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP David Price (8-4, 3.76 ERA) pitches Wednesday night. He is 6-0 in his last seven starts, with two runs or fewer allowed in all but one of those, when he gave up three runs. Price is 10-3 with a 2.52 ERA in his career against the Twins.

Twins: RHP Lance Lynn (4-5, 4.98 ERA) takes the mound in the middle game of the series. He's 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA over his last five turns, with a .195 batting average against him and 30 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

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