Valentine: Sox' balks 'like an epidemic'

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Valentine: Sox' balks 'like an epidemic'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Two balks were charged to Daniel Bard in Kansas City last week. Then came one in the second inning with Clay Buchholz. Finally, there were two more called on reliever Franklin Morales one in the seventh, one in the eighth.

"I don't get it," said Bobby Valentine Wednesday following the Red Sox' 21 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. "It's like an epidemic."

The Sox have been called for six balks this season five in the last eight games alone which are the most for any team in the American League.

Buchholz was called when he stumbled attempting to make a fake-to-third-throw-to-first pickoff move; his cleat stuck in the dirt on the mound.

"He kind of tripped off the mound," said Valentine. "It was a balk. I was watching the runner and I kind of caught it out of the corner of my eye. It looked like a balk to me. I don't get it.

"I don't know if he caught his foot in his pants or what. I didn't bother to ask because I don't think I'll ever see it again. Crazy."

As for Morales, Valentine thought he detected a double-stop in his delivery with runners on base.

"It's a surprise, yeah," said pitching coach Bob McClure of the rash of balks being called on his staff. "But I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. We'll just take a deep breath with runners on base."

McClure said the six balks committed by the staff "have all been kind of different. We'll probably go two months and not have another one."

McClure saw Morales in Colorado, where his pickoff move was so good, opposing teams swore he was balking.

"It's not a balk," said McClure of the move. "We've looked at it on video many times and obviously, so have the umpires, and they don't call it because it's not a balk. It's just a good move."

"I don't think it's something we have to (work on)," said Valentine. "I mean, Bob (McClure) will address it, sure, but I haven't ever gotten gun shy about balks. But I don't know."

Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

The Red Sox try again to nail down the A.L. East crown tonight, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against the Yankees while needed just one victory -- or one Toronto defeat -- to clinch the division.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Brock Holt 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Sandy Leon C
----
Clay Buchholz P

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner LF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Gary Sanchez C
Brian McCann DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Didi Gregorious SS
Mark Texeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Mason Williams RF
----
Bryan Mitchell P

 

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.”