Dice-K, Sox washed away, 9-2

876939.jpg

Dice-K, Sox washed away, 9-2

BOSTON After an impressive first outing Aug. 27 in his return from the disabled list, Daisuke Matsuzaka has followed that up with two disappointing starts. At the same time, the Red Sox continued their discouraging trend of losses, as they fell to the Blue Jays for the second time in as many games, 9-2, at Fenway Park Saturday night.

Saturday against the Blue Jays, Matsuzaka lasted just 1 13 innings, giving up five runs on five hits and walk with two strikeouts, a home run and a hit batter. He threw 42 pitches, 25 strikes as his ERA rose from 6.15 to 7.20.

The Blue Jays sent eight batters to the plate in the second inning, with five scoring. Matsuzaka gave up a lead-off, first-pitch home run to Yunel Escobar. The first five batters reached base, before Matsuzaka could record an out on Rajai Davis sacrifice fly. He threw 23 pitches in the inning, 13 strikes.

Meanwhile, Jays left-hander Aaron Laffey did not give up a hit until Jacoby Ellsburys lead-off single in the fourth.

Alfredo Aceves replaced Matsuzaka, going 2 23 scoreless innings, giving up a hit with one strikeout.

The game was delayed by rain twice, for a total of two hours and three minutes. After Ellsbury led off the fourth with a single, the game was stopped for 58 minutes. Laffey returned after that delay, but Andrew Miller replaced Aceves. In the bottom of the fifth, with two outs, two runs in, and Pedro Ciriaco on first, the game was stopped again, for an hour and five minutes. Right-hander Brad Lincoln replaced Laffey when the game resumed.

The Sox got two runs back in the fifth. Ryan Lavarnway led off with a walk followed by Mike Aviles single. Scott Podsedniks single scored Lavarnway, before Jose Iglesias lined out to first baseman Adam Lind, who doubled Podsednik off first. Pedro Ciriacos single scored Podsednik, cutting the Blue Jays lead to 5-2.

The Blue Jays added a run in the eighth off Vicente Padilla, as Colby Rasmus, Edwin Encarnacion, and Adam Lind opened the inning with consecutive singles. The Jays got three more in the ninth when Anthony Gose hit his first career home run, a three-run shot into the right field seats off Andrew Bailey.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''