Aaron Hill

McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

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McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

Three takeaways from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night . . . 

1) Long relief may be short for the Red Sox in the postseason

The news that Drew Pomeranz won't start Thursday and is dealing with forearm soreness was ominous -- to say the least. While the Sox aren't concerned enough to order up an MRI for the lefty, it seems a fair bet that he won't pitch again this season. Pomeranz wasn't going to crack the postseason rotation and would likely have been relegated to relief duty. Now, even that seems a stretch.

Add that development to the continued absence of Steven Wright and the Red Sox are missing 40 percent of their rotation from late July and early August.

Healthy, both would have been stretched-out and available to provide multiple innings in the postseason.

Of course, most teams would prefer to not have to rely on long men in the postseason, since their very appearance in a game would signifiy that a starter got knocked out early.

When that happens, however, it's nice to have experienced, dependable arms to cover innings and not impact the bullpen's high-leverage pitchers.

Now, in such a scenario, the Sox will likely have to turn to either Robbie Ross Jr. or Heath Hembree.

2) Is Aaron Hill heating up?

In the month of September, Hill has posted a line of .381/.409/.571. On Tuesday night, he blasted a pinch-hit homer.

Admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size. But Hill has had better at-bats of late, especially against lefties.

It's doubtful that he'll take over third base -- now or in the postseason -- full-time, since John Farrell has two left-handed hitting options, with Travis Shaw and Brock Holt. Shaw certainly more power and has shown the ability to go on hot streaks at the plate.

But Hill is a veteran player, albeit one with little postseason experience (11 at-bats in the Division Series for Arizona in 2011) for a 12-year veteran.

And one other benefit: Hill is a .373 career hitter as a pinch-hitter, making him a valuable part off the bench in games started by either Holt or Shaw.

3) One loss is all it took for the second-guessing to resurface

The Sox had won 11 straight before Tuesday's loss, which quickly re-introduced criticism of Farrell.

Starter David Price had given up four runs through six innings, but the Sox rallied for two runs off Tommy Layne in the seventh to tie things at 4-4.

At 76 pitches, Price went back out for the seventh and promptly yielded a two-run homer to Tyler Austin, giving the Yanks another two-run lead.

Price hadn't been sharp in the first six. With expanded rosters, plenty of available relievers and a rested bullpen after a day off Monday, why stick with Price?

Offered Farrell: "You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right-field porch,” Farrell said. “Wanted to keep the (right-handed hitters) in the ballgame, (but Price) mislocated over the plate.”

Third base remains a position of uncertainty for Red Sox

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Third base remains a position of uncertainty for Red Sox

BALTIMORE -- With a little more than a week to go in the regular season, the Red Sox have the third-most wins of any team in either league. What they don't have is a regular third baseman.

That's somewhat strange for a team playing its best baseball of the year for the last few weeks.

This month, bullpen roles have been cemented and rest of the lineup more clearly defined.

But third remains a position of uncertainty, still up for grabs in late September.

In the first three games of their four-game series with the Orioles, the Red Sox started three different players -- Brock Holt Monday; Travis Shaw Tuesday and Aaron Hill Wednesday. With righthander Chris Tillman on the mound Thursday in the series finale, Shaw got another start.

Eight different players have started at third since the start of the season: the aforementioned three players, plus Marco Hernandez (six games); Deven Marrero (one); Yoan Moncada (four); Josh Rutledge (10) and Pablo Sandoval (one).

And yet, 152 games into the season, the position is unclaimed.

"As we get through the final 10 days, I think we've generated some momentum as a team,'' said John Farrell. "But there's also going to be opportunities for guys to generate momentum individually. Because of his flexibility on the defensive side, (Holt) could find himself there, if he's swinging the bat with some consistency. I don't want to rule out anything out at this point.''

A little over three weeks ago, the Red Sox seemed poised to hand the job to Yoan Moncada, who was promoted from Double A with the idea that he would get the majority of the playing time -- at least against righthanded pitching.

But after two multi-hit games in his first few starts, Moncada bottomed out offensively, striking out in nine straight at-bats.

Initially, Shaw responded to Moncada's arrival by enjoying a few big games on the road trip, but he has subsequently cooled and was just 1-for-8 in this series before Thursday and was hitting just .198 against lefties for the season.

Hill has generated almost no power since joining the Sox with just four extra base hits in 42 games.

"We were very candid,'' said Farrell. "That's why Moncada came here. We were looking for production at third base to continue to climb. Guys are here that have done it. It's a spot that can be grabbed. We don't ever want to hand anyone the spot just because you hit lefthanded or righthanded.''

It's hardly without precedent that a contending team lacks some clarity at a position late in a season.

"In '13,'' pointed out Farrell, "we had a left field platoon situation (between Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava). Those roles were probably a little more defined as we got later in the season, but we want away from that late. All of our guys are recognizing that how guys perform is not only important to us but for them. And because third base has been a little more unsettled because of (a lack) of production.''

 

Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. lefty Happ

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Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. lefty Happ

Right-handed hitters Chris Young (left field) and Aaron Hill (third base) get starts Saturday afternoon (1:07 p.m.) against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ as the Red Sox look to make it two wins in a row in Toronto.

The Red Sox rolled 13-3 Friday night to extend their American League East lead over the Jays to two games.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (2-6, 4.83 ERA) is on the mound for Boston. He's coming off a start in Oakland where he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in an eventual 1-0 loss.  

Happ (17-4, 3.34 ERA) has emerged as the Jays ace and a Cy Young Award candidate, but he's coming off his shortest outing of the season (2 2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday).

The lineups: 

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Aaron Hill 3B
Chris Young LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Ryan Hanigan C
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Eduardo Rodriguez LHP

BLUE JAYS
Devon Travis 2B
Josh Donaldson 3B
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Jose Bautista RF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Melvin Upton LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Kevin Pillar CF
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J.A. Happ LHP