Bailey, Tazawa hold it down for Red Sox

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Bailey, Tazawa hold it down for Red Sox

BOSTON -- Not that putting runners on base is a good thing, but for Andrew Bailey, right now, it's something he's willing to deal with.

The Red Sox aren't fighting for a playoff spot. And Bailey missed most of the season due to injury. So he's just trying to get his game in order for next season.

Sunday afternoon also gave him another chance -- as the Red Sox closer -- to bounce back from Thursday's loss and blown save in Tampa Bay.

And he did just that, getting out of a ninth-inning jam, and picking up his sixth save of the season in the process.

"Every day's a new day," said Bailey after Boston's 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioes at Fenway Park. "You've just got to go out there and get the job done. Today, I got in a little bit of a jam and fell behind hitters again. But this time, I made pitches when I needed to, and was able to get out of it."

In a 2-1 game, Mark Reynolds gave the Orioles some life in the ninth, as he dropped a one-out single into left field. Then, Jim Thome ripped a pinch-hit ground-rule double down the right-field line, putting runners at second and third with one out.

After intentionally-walking Chris Davis to load the bases, Bailey got a force out at home and then struck out Ryan Flaherty to shut the door.

"As much as you don't want to be in this situation, for me, it's about getting back into those situations and getting the job done, and looking forward to next year, and obviously finishing this year strong," said Bailey.

"You get a lot out of it. I missed a lot of the year, and you can't replicate this type of situations. So, for me, it's nice to get back in those situations. As much as you don't want to put guys on base, when the time is right, next year, when we're in the playoff hunt, these couple save opportunities or couple high-stressful outings, might play a part, down the road."

Junichi Tazawa can't be overlooked in Boston's bullpen effort either. he was the bridge from Felix Doubront to Bailey, and pitched a perfect 1-2-3 eighth inning, lowering his ERA to 1.54 and earning his first win of the season.

In Tazawa's last 12 appearances, he's pitched 11 scoreless innings and has recorded 16 strikeouts and walked only one while allowing just three hits.

"He's been near-perfect," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the win. "He's been as good a pitcher as I've seen in this league. He's continuing to get better. His split-finger, now, is devastating, and thrown at 90-91 miles an hour. His control is impeccable.

"He's everything you want in a pitcher."

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland fancies himself an ideal fit with Red Sox

Mitch Moreland put up mediocre numbers and won a Gold Glove in a walk year. For his efforts, he received a one-year, $5.5 million contract on the open market. 

That’s not a lot. Maybe his .233 average stood out to teams more than his 22 homers, but either way it’s somewhat surprising that a one-year deal on low money is the best he could do given the fact that his career average was .258 prior to last year and he’d hit .275 or higher in two of his previous four seasons. 

The contract might not be a major score for Moreland, but he said choosing Boston was. 

“I had a couple options, but really just the whole fact that it’s place that I really wanted to play,” he said of Boston. “Getting an opportunity to come here and be a part of a winning environment, being part of a winning environment and having a chance to go out and play for a championship is huge to me, personally, and this is a great option. 

“What they were able to do last year, you know you were in for a fight when you were playing these guys. It was a gritty group of guys that had a ton of talent. I like to think of myself as that type player, as a gritty type player and hopefully I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship. 

“That’s the main goal as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity here, and that was before the [Chris] Sale news broke, too, you know? So seeing that also, it just shows you that we’re in it. We’re in it and trying to go all out to make that happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.” 

It doesn’t hurt that his batting average is higher at Fenway Park than it is in any other stadium in which he’s had at least 30 at-bats. Moreland has hit .341/.378/.683 with four homers and eight RBI in 41 career at-bats at Fenway. Asked to explain his success in Boston, he noted that “comfortable” was the only word that came to mind. 

So what is the Red Sox’ plan for the former Rangers first baseman? To play him at first against righties and let Hanley Ramirez DH, John Farrell said. 

Farrell did also point to Moreland’s recent work against lefties. Last season was one of two in his career (the other being 2013) in which Moreland had a better average against lefties than against righties. Moreland hit .277/.320/.479 against southpaws last season, with .221/.293/.407 marks against righties.

“Against right-handed starters, Mitch will be the first baseman,” Farrell said. “That gives us the flexibility to DH Hanley in that spot. One thing I also mentioned to Mitch is we’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers, last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career.

"With Mitch, getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley moving to the DH slot, that alignment, we also have the ability against quality left-handers, where Hanley would go back to first base and then we’ve got the ability to rotate some guys through the DH slot. 

Added Farrell: “His strengths as a player are many, but we feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways, and positionally first and foremost.” 

Red Sox make Mitch Moreland signing official

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Red Sox make Mitch Moreland signing official

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of first baseman Mitch Moreland Thursday. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the team designated left-handed pitcher Williams Jerez for assignment. 

Moreland has played his entire career with the Rangers, winning a Gold Glove at first base last season. He hit .233/.298/.422 with 22 homers and 60 RBI for the Rangers last season before becoming a free agent. He has a career batting average of .254, with a career-high 23 homers in both the 2013 and 2015 seasons. 

A second-round pick of the Red Sox in the 2011 draft, Jerez started his professional career as an outfielder before being moved to pitcher.