Nava wins game-changing duel with Verlander

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Nava wins game-changing duel with Verlander

BOSTON Daniel Nava had faced other pitchers who throw 100 miles per hour before. But he had never faced one who is also the reigning American League Cy Young Award and MVP. Until Tuesday night, that is.

Clearly, the advantage has to go to the pitcher with all the hardware. Right?

Batting in the lead-off spot, facing Justin Verlander for the first time, Nava saw three pitches none faster than 92 mph in his first at-bat against the Tigers right-hander, grounding out weekly to third base. He walked on seven pitches in his second at-bat, in the third inning. That sett the stage for his next duel with Verlander.

With Red Sox holding a slim one-run lead, the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, Nava showed little sign of intimidation facing the Tigers right-hander with the blazing fastball.
Verlander started Nava with a 99-mph fastball, which Nava fouled back. Verlanders next pitch came in at 100 mph for a ball, followed by an 81-mph curveball, making the count 2-1. The next pitch at 100 mph -- high and inside made it 3-1. Nava swung and missed at 99-mph fastball, setting the runners in motion for Verlanders next pitch a 100-mph fastball which Nava laced into left field for a three-run double.

Nava had just one hit against Verlander. But his lone hit gave the Sox and starter Daniel Bard a comfortable 4-0 lead to hold off the Tigers and Verlander.

It was the first bases-loaded hit off Verlander this season, and the first hit to drive in three or more runs off him since a three-run home run by Seattles Justin Smoak on April 27, 2011.

He gave me a tough at-bat, Verlander said. I really feel like the turning point in that at bat was the 1-1 curveball I tried to throw. I threw it for a ball, got myself behind in the count and then threw another ball. So then Im 3-1, and he knows whats coming. He hit it down the line for a double. Obviously that was the turning point in the game.

Mostly Im disappointed about is not being able to get ahead of him. I think if Im ahead in that situation, hes not able to get to the fastball in that situation.

Nava knew he would have to be a quick study if he were to have any success against Verlander.

Based off the first at-bat, I was really just trying to pick the ball up, said Nava. I was having a hard time picking the ball up. So from that point, got that 3-1 pitch that I swung through. So I was saying I need to shorten my swing up. Fortunately I got a pitch to do that with.

I really had to make some adjustments because I got owned that first at-bat.

The three runs proved to be the difference in the game, as the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 6-3, climbing above .500, at 25-24, for the first time this season.

Obviously I was excited to get that hit because there were three guys on and knowing that Verlander is obviously a pitcher with great stuff, you dont know how many opportunities youre going to get like that, Nava said.

So for us to have guys on and get them to work a little bit with what he has, were trying to take advantage of it and make the most of it. So it was just a good opportunity for the guys ahead to get some knocks and then fortunately it worked out the way it did. But its a team gameand thats what its about.

Although the numbers were staring at him, Nava didnt look at the velocity readings on the center field video board.

I didnt want to look up there, because I wanted to be as comfortable as I could in the box and how comfortable really are you with a guy whos that good? Nava said. So I knew that it was coming hard, but thats all I knew. I didnt know it was 100 mph. Thats one less thing you need to worry about.

Nava, who made his big league debut in 2010 but played all of 2011 in the minors, was called up May 10. In 19 games, he is batting .276 with two home runs and 15 RBI. He has batted lead-off the last two games. Before Monday, he had appeared in just three games in the lead-off spot, all in 2010, the last with one at-bat as a pinch hitter. His last start in the No. 1 slot was Sept. 6 that season.

Manager Bobby Valentine has said Nava, who was not even on his radar in spring training, has certainly earned his attention. Nava has reached base safely in 17 of the 19 games hes played.

Well Ive been talking about Daniel Nava, Valentine said. Monday night saw him at a restaurant, told him hes making me look really good and I appreciate itThat at-bat was as good an at-bat as Ive seen in years. 100 mph pitch on a 3-2 count down the line in left, after just missing a 3-1 pitch that I knew he really wanted. I thought it was a very, very good at-bat.

I wasnt looking at the speed but I was looking at the competition and it was one of those things I think you all probably appreciate, the fans do, but guys in in uniform appreciate it more, it was mano a mano. It was a great competition. And Im proud of him. Im happy hes on my team.

After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

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After strong bullpen session, Koji Uehara could be back by Labor Day

BOSTON - For a bullpen that could use all the help it can get right now, there's the prospect that Koji Uehara could rejoin the Red Sox on Labor Day.

Uehara, who's been out since July 20 with a strained pectoral muscle, threw a bullpen Monday at Fenway that impressed John Farrell.

"He came out of today's work session in good fashion,'' said Farrell. "It was 25 pitches to hitters with good intensity to both his fastball and split. It's been impressive to see how he's handled the volume, and now, three times on the mound, the intensity to his bullpens and BP.''

Next up for Uehara will be a bullpen session Wednesday morning, followed by a live batting practice session Saturday in Oakland.

Since both Pawtucket's and Portland's seasons are over on Labor Day, Uehara won't have the option of going on a rehab assignment to face hitters before being activated.

But the Sox believe that he can build arm strength through these side sessions and BP sessions -- enough so that he could return to the active roster soon.

"We'll re-assess where is after Sunday,'' said Farrell, "and I wouldn't rule out activation [after that]. What we've done with Koji is just review how he feels after each session and we'll take it from there.''

Uehara, 41, is 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA, and while he's had a propensity for giving up homers (eight in just 36 innings), he had been throwing better before being injured.

And given the performance of the bullpen in general and the recent poor showings from Matt Barnes, the Sox would welcome Uehara back as soon as he's ready.

"The one thing that Koji has proven to us,'' noted Farrell, "is that, even with limited spring training work [in the past], he's been a very effective pitcher for us and obviously, he has a chance to make a very positive impact once he does return.''

Uehara's progress since late July has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox, who feared at the time of the injury that he might be done for the season.     

"To his credit,'' said Farrell, "he's worked his tail off and advanced fairly rapidly and he's withstanding the intensity that he's put into [the work]. A healthy Koji certainly adds to our bullpen.

 

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Red Sox among ‘roughly half’ of MLB who’ll attend Tebow workout Tuesday

Maybe Tim Tebow could be the eighth-inning guy? 

OK, OK. Maybe not. Still, the Red Sox will be among the “roughly half” of the MLB teams who will attend the former Heisman Trophy winner and Patriots’ 2013 training camp phenomenon’s baseball tryout on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Tebow is 29 and hasn’t played organized baseball since he was a junior in high school. He was an All-State performer in Florida back then.

Based on his accuracy and mechanics throwing a football, maybe DH would suit Tebow better than the mound. 

 

 

Monday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: No Pedroia to start, Porcello goes for 18th

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Monday’s Red Sox-Rays lineups: No Pedroia to start, Porcello goes for 18th

Dustin Pedroia is out of the Red Sox starting lineup for the second night in a row as they open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Fenway Park.

Pedroia, who left the team Sunday to attend a family funeral, told manager John Farrell that he might be able to return during the game Monday night. 

"Based on his texts he's envisioning a walk-off hit in the ninth," Farrell said before the game Sunday. "Much like Pedey's fashion, that was his parting text this morning before he left."

For the second game in a row, Brock Holt will play second base in place of Pedroia and bat leadoff. The Red Sox lost 10-4 to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday night. 

Right-hander Rick Porcello (17-3, 3.23 ERA) will go for his 18th win and try to match Dave “Boo” Ferris in 1946 as the only Red Sox pitchers to go 13-0 at Fenway Park. Right-hander Matt Andriese (6-5, 3.71) starts for the Rays.

The lineups:

RAYS

Logan Forsythe 2B

Kevin Kiermaier CF

Evan Longoria 2B

Brad Miller 1B

Matt Duffy SS

Logan Morrison DH

Nick Franklin RF

Corey Dickerson LF

Bobby Wilson C

Matt Andriese RHP 

RED SOX

Brock Holt 2B

Xander Bogaerts SS

David Ortiz DH

Mookie Betts RF

Hanley Ramirez 1B

Travis Shaw 3B

Chris Young LF

Sandy Leon C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Rick Porcello RHP