Red Sox

Dombrowski not worried about making early trades, wants to get injured players back

Dombrowski not worried about making early trades, wants to get injured players back

The Boston Red Sox are finally starting to get hot, as they reached the six games over .500 mark after their win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night. However, their team isn't without holes.

So far this season, their bullpen has been inconsistent and has had trouble closing things out in the later innings. On Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles, Marcus Walden blew a one-run lead in the seventh inning before the Red Sox had to make a comeback to beat their lowly division rival in extra innings. And in the eighth inning against the Twins, Colten Brewer got into trouble with a one-run lead before managing to get out of it.

Additionally, the team has had a lot of issues with their fifth starter. Nathan Eovaldi has been out since mid-April and in his stead, their replacements have struggled.

After the New York Yankees got active on the trade market and acquired slugger Edwin Encarnacion from the Seattle Mariners, there were questions about whether or not the Sox would make a move of their own. Still, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski downplayed the notion that they needed to make a move earlier because of the waiver trade deadline being eliminated.

"I don’t think it has anything necessarily to do with the trading deadline changing," said Dombrowski per WEEI's Rob Bradford. "This is how it has been the last couple of years when you have some clubs who are willing to declare themselves not in it earlier than normal and I think there are more clubs that are like that. Some clubs are willing to make that move if they have a particular need at that time if the asking price is right. As you could see with Encarnacion, he’s a good hitter and it looked like there was some drive to move salary, too."

And Dombrowski would know something about acquiring key players earlier in the season. He acquired World Series MVP Steve Pearce in an unheralded move in late-June and he was a great platoon option with Mitch Moreland. Some expected that after the Sox' early struggles in 2019 they would make a change to the team or patch one of their weaknesses. But, for the moment, it appears that they are willing to wait.

Dombrowski also brought up the fact that the Sox were going to get some players back that could have an impact on the squad. And in particular, Steven Wright, who will return from a suspension on June 25, was one of the names he is excited about in the bullpen.

"Really when you look at our club there are a few guys we’re talking about but we think on June 25 (Steven) Wright will be ready to come back and (Nathan) Eovaldi is making great strides so he should be back in plenty of time by then," said Dombrowski per Bradford. "Pearce, he’ll be healthy, we just have to hope he goes out and performs like he’s capable."

This isn't the first time that Dombrowski has mentioned Wright, so he figures to have a big role as a bullpen arm and a potential spot starter. But while getting injured/suspended players back will help shore up the depth, they may not be the full fix for the team.

The Red Sox still have plenty of time to make a decision on what to do ahead of the trade deadline. For the time being, it appears that they are willing to stand pat even as other teams make early-season trades.

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Chris Sale finally wins at Fenway Park and leaves Red Sox with reasons for optimism

Chris Sale finally wins at Fenway Park and leaves Red Sox with reasons for optimism

BOSTON -- Over the last year, Chris Sale has made all manner of starts at Fenway Park. He has allowed five runs and he has allowed zero runs. He has struck out 17 and he has struck out one. He has pitched with playoff seeding on the line and nothing at all at stake. He has dazzled and he has disappointed.

The one thing he hadn't done, until Thursday afternoon vs. the Blue Jays, was earn a win.

It's hard to believe that one of the best pitchers in Red Sox history could own such an ignominious record, but here it was — no one had made more consecutive starts at Fenway Park (13) without a victory than Sale.

The Red Sox had won five of them anyway, including two when Sale went at least six innings without allowing an earned run, so it's not like he had pitched terribly. Wins are context-dependent and not necessarily an accurate reflection of a pitcher's performance. But come on — we're talking about Chris Sale! For him to go more than a year between Fenway victories (his last coming on July 11, 2018 vs. the Rangers) is practically unfathomable.

The Sale who ended that streak on Thursday may not have looked exactly like his vintage self, particularly as he searched to find his fastball velocity and command in the early innings. But he produced vintage results over six shutout frames, striking out 12, hitting 96 mph late, and putting an end to a run of futility that was beginning to make him wonder when the madness that is his underachieving 2019 season would end.

"I think this year has just kind of been all over the place," Sale said. "I've been as bad as I've ever been in my career and I've also had some of the best games I've ever had in my career this year. So it's one of those things, it's more confusing than anything. Kind of all over the map. You go out there, and 17 strikeouts, complete-game shutout and then games when I'm not even getting out of the fourth inning. It's just more confusing. I feel like there are times when I'm racking up strikeouts but I'm also sitting there in a five-run hole. It's like one thing but not the other, or two things, but not the third one. It's just about doing it all at the same time and getting the results you need."

Facing a Blue Jays team that had pounded him in three previous starts this season, including the home opener, to the tune of a 7.98 ERA, Sale varied his pitch mix with electric results. His fastball sat at 91-92 mph in the early innings while he relied extensively on a sweeping slider and darting changeup. He struck out the side in the first and had 12 Ks through five.

As the game wore on, his velocity increased, too, nearing 97 mph on his final strikeout of the game to end the fifth. With the Red Sox comfortably leading 4-0, he was lifted after 101 pitches and the bullpen brought it home without incident for once.

And just like that, Sale finally could call himself a winner in Fenway Park.

"Long overdue," he said. "Nobody else to blame but myself, but obviously glad to get this one out of the way and now we can just focus on what's ahead and keep the ball rolling and have a happy flight, get on the plane and get down to Baltimore and start off on the right foot down there."

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Red Sox' Chris Sale got 'words of wisdom' from Luis Tiant before stellar outing vs. Blue Jays

Red Sox' Chris Sale got 'words of wisdom' from Luis Tiant before stellar outing vs. Blue Jays

For the first time since July 11, 2018, Chris Sale has earned a victory at Fenway Park.

Sale was sensational in the Red Sox' series finale vs. the Blue Jays, tossing six shutout innings while tallying 12 strikeouts and allowing only two hits in the 5-0 win. The left-hander entered the matchup with five earned runs in each of his previous three starts, but he looked like a completely different pitcher on Thursday.

So what exactly did Sale do differently? For one, he took some advice from legendary Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant. We'll likely never know what Tiant's "words of wisdom" were, though, as Sale opted to keep that a secret.

Whatever the advice was, it certainly didn't hurt to pick the brain of a Red Sox Hall-of-Famer.

Boston hopes Thursday's outing was a sign of what's to come for Sale, who's had a disappointing season up to this point. He'll need to be at his best in the next couple months for the Red Sox to clinch a playoff berth.

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