Red Sox now escalating their search for pitching

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Red Sox now escalating their search for pitching

For weeks, as teams waited to see where Yu Darvish would land, the pitching trade market in baseball was at a standstill.

Now that the Texas Rangers have won the exclusive rights to negotiate with Darvish, the logjam that existed should break -- both for the remaining free agents and teams looking to move pitching.

The Red Sox, as active as any team in the game when it comes to searching for pitching, should find some clarity soon.

On the starting pitching front, the team continues to remain in contact with the Oakland A's (Gio Gonzalez), Chicago White Sox (Gavin Floyd, John Danks) and Houston Astros (Wandy Rodriguez).

Among free agents, the Sox are involved with both Roy Oswalt and Joe Saunders.

Oswalt, who had been seeking a multi-year commitment, is now said to be resigned to landing a one-year deal. That makes him more affordable for the Red Sox, who don't have much room in their budget for a big commitment, but would be willing to take a chance on Oswalt on a short-term deal.

Another possibility for the Sox is Joe Saunders, who was non-tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks last week. Saunders would give the Boston a rotation a second lefty to go with Jon Lester.

The Sox have three starters set -- Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz -- and could potentially have another to round out the rotation if they continue with their plan to use both Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves in the rotation.

But they could use depth, too, and for now, that's limited to unprovens such as Felix Doubront.

In addition to filling holes in the rotation, the Sox remain in the market for a closer.

Mark Melancon, obtained last week in a deal from Houston, is unlikely to fill the closer's role, though he could take over Bard's set-up duties.

Ryan Madson and Francisco Cordero are the two best options on the free agent market.

For now, Madson is priced out of Boston as agent Scott Boras is seeking an eight-figure salary. Madson was on the verge of signing a four-year, 44 million deal to remain with the Philadelphia Phillies in November before the Phils abruptly changed plans and instead signed
former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The one path for Madson coming to Boston would be a willingness to take a one-year (plus an option) deal, as Adrian Beltre, another Boras client, did two years ago.

Cordero is the only other free agent with extensive closing experience and may constitute an affordable compromise choice. He's averaged almost 39 saves over the last five seasons.

Cordero limited opposing righthanders to a minuscule .465 OPS last year but lefthanded hitters compiled a .736 OPS, creating some questions within in the Red Sox front office about his reliability.

Said one baseball executive: "There are no perfect solutions at this point."

Finally, there is Andrew Bailey, who is also being shopped by the A's. The A's have requested outfielder Josh Reddick as one part of a package of prospects.

Sources say the two teams have also explored a mega-deal that would send both Bailey and Gonzalez to the Red Sox. But such a trade, coming 12 months after the team packaged three top prospects to San Diego in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, would effectively clean out the Red Sox inventory.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

QUOTES:

"It's one of those freak things. You don't plan on it happening, but it's one of those things. So we'll just see what the results say and move on from there.'' - Andrew Benintendi on his knee injury.

"That's kind of a routine 3-1 play. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when you've got two outs and a guy on the move. But that's a routine play.'' - John Farrell on the deciding play in which Heath Hembree couldn't hold onto the ball at first.

"I felt good. I felt strong.I felt good out there the whole game.'' - Rick Porcello, asked how he felt going back out for the eighth inning.

"I think everybody in the ballpark knew that that ball was leaving.'' - Porcello, on the hanging curveball to Evan Longoria.

 

NOTES:

* The loss snapped a five-game winning streak against the Rays for the Red Sox.

* Three of the four Red Sox walk-off losses this season have occurred because of errors.

* The homer by Evan Longoria was his first off Rick Porcello in 40 career at-bats.

* Rick Porcello has now pitched seven innings or more in six straight starts, the longest run for a Red Sox starter since John Lackey did it in 2013.

* David Ortiz is now the oldest player to ever hit 30 homers in a season

* Ortiz has now reached the 30-homer, 100-RBI level 10 times with the Red Sox, including the last four years in a row.

* The loss was the first of Heath Hembree's career, in his 67th major league appearance.

* Dustin Pedroia tied a career high with two stolen bases, the 12th time he's swiped two bases in the same game.

 

STARS:

1) Evan Longoria

The Rays were down to their final five outs when Longoria struck, hitting a game-tying homer off Rick Porcello.

2) Brad Miller

Miller's two-run double in the third enabled the Rays to stay close until Longoria's homer tied things up five innings later.

3) Rick Porcello

Porcello gave the Sox length and was brilliant in getting out of some early jams before settling in through the middle innings.

 

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Dan Shaughnessy joins Sports Tonight to discuss Rick Porcello giving up a game-tying homerun in the 8th, and explains why John Farrell has been very unlucky with any decision he makes.

First impressions: Benintendi injured in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

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First impressions: Benintendi injured in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

The injury to Andrew Benintendi looked ominous.

Benintendi's left leg buckled as he tried to elude a tag on the bases in the seventh inning. He left the game with the help of two trainers, hobbling badly.

The Sox later announced that Benintendi suffered a left knee sprain, and will be further evaluated Thursday.

It's impossible to determine how serious the injury is. The prognosis could be anywhere from a few days, to, potentially, a season-ending issue.

Regardless, it's a blow to the Sox, who clearly have benefited from Benintendi's athleticism and energy in the three weeks since he's been promoted from Double A.

 

Rick Porcello is gobbling up innings in the second half.

Porcello gave the Sox 7 2/3 innings Wednesday night, allowing three runs. It marked the sixth straight start in which Porcello provided the Sox with a minimum of seven innings.

Through the end of June, Porcello had pitched seven or more innings just four times. Since the start of July, he's done it seven times -- and came within an out of doing it in another start.

Porcello also extended his streak of pitching at least five innings to 34 straight starts, dating back almost a calendar year to Aug. 26 of last year. Of those 34, he's pitched at least six in 31 of those.

In fact, Porcello leads the majors in innings pitched since that streak began.

 

David Ortiz continues to amaze

In the first inning, Ortiz walloped a pitch into the right field seats for his 30th homer, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead three batters into the game.

The homer was significant beyond that, too. With it, Ortiz reached two milestones -- 30 homers and 100 RBI for the season.

It marked the fourth straight season in which Ortiz has reached both, and it also marked the 10th time as a member of the Sox that he had hit both plateaus.

The homer also meant that Ortiz is now the oldest player - at 40 years, 280 days old -- to hit 30 homers in a season. And finally, it gave Ortiz 100 RBI seasons with the Sox, passing Ted Williams, with whom he had shared the record of nine.

And, remarkably, there's more than a month left in the season to add on to those achievements.