Boston Red Sox

Bailey fills big hole, creates options for Red Sox

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Bailey fills big hole, creates options for Red Sox

BOSTON -- The Red Sox plugged one of their major offseason holes Wednesday afternoon, acquiring Andrew Bailey in a trade with the Oakland As, with outfielder Ryan Sweeney, in exchange for outfielder Josh Reddick and two minor leaguers, first baseman Miles Head and right-hander Raul Alcantara.

Bailey, who will turn 28 in May, will take the place of closer Jonathan Papelbon. He finished 2011 with 24 saves, 11th in the American League, in 26 chances. He threw 41 23 innings in 42 appearances, with a 1.20 WHIP and 3.24 ERA. In 2009, he was named American League Rookie of the Year, with a record of 6-3, 1.84 ERA, 26 saves, a 9.8 K9 ratio, and 0.876 WHIP.

He's under club control for three more years, and eligible for arbitration now for the first time.

As one major league scout said, Its risky but a good acquisition by the Sox if Bailey stays healthy.

That has been an issue in the last few years. His saves totals have gone down in each of the last three seasons -- 26, 25, and 24 saves, respectively -- as have his appearances and innings pitched -- 68, 47, and 42 appearances, with 83 13, 49, and 41 23 innings each.

Bailey, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2006, did not begin his2011 season until May 29, starting the season on the disabled list because of a forearm strain. He also was hit in the left temple by a line drive off the bat of teammate Kurt Suzuki during batting practicein September.

Sox general manager Ben Cherington is confident Bailey is healthy.

We had a chance to look into Baileys medical history and get to know a lot about what hes gone through, Cherington said. He had Tommy John surgery I guess five years ago now and hes fully recovered from that. He had some elbow symptoms in 2010 and had a minor procedure, relatively minor procedure after the 2010 season. He then came to spring training in 2011 and perhaps ramped up too quickly and had a little bit of a setback and appeared to be some scar tissue breakup and some minor soft tissue injury.

"This past spring training he was able to recover from that, get back to pitching and perform well. His stuff and his performance were solid down the stretch and he was asymptomaticfor the rest of the season after he came back. We are very confident hell come into camp ready to go and ready to help our team in 2012.

The acquisition of Bailey allows the Sox to continue with their plan to bring Daniel Bard and Alfredo Aceves into camp as starters. Whether they remain in the rotation will be determined by their performances and how well they adapt to the change in spring training.

The acquisition also allows them to set up their bullpen. Mark Melancon, acquired in a trade with the Astros earlier this month, moves into a middle relief or setup role, a role more suited to his abilities than that of closer in the A.L. East. Bobby Jenks will also be in the mix for the set-up role, but he is coming off a pulmonary aneurysm and a procedure on his back earlier this month.

Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

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Drellich: In appreciation of a peculiar, throwback Red Sox offense

BALTIMORE — On the night Major League Baseball saw its record for home runs in a season broken, the team with the fewest homers in the American League took a scoreless tie into extra innings.

In the 11th, the Red Sox won in a fashion they hadn’t in 100 years.

Just how peculiar was their 1-0 win over the Orioles, the AL leaders in homers? The lone run came when Jackie Bradley Jr. bolted home on a wild pitch from Brad Brach. So? So, the Red Sox won, but did not officially record a run batted in on the day MLB’s greatest league-wide power show to date was celebrated.

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The last time the Sox won an extra-inning game without recording an RBI was a century ago, in 1918. Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth played in that game. 

It’s a weird time for the Sox offense. A weird year, really. Because the Sox are in first place, and have been, but they don’t drive the ball. Their .408 slugging percentage was the fifth lowest in the majors entering Tuesday.

They’re also in the bottom third for strikeouts, the top five in steals and the top 10 in batting average (.260). That's the description of an effective National League offense. An old-school, move-the-line group that makes more contact than all but four teams in the majors. 

The rest of baseball is switching to golf swings to pound low-ball pitching. The Sox look like they could be on a black-and-white newsreel shuffling around the bags.

Should you have faith in that method come the playoffs? There's reason to be dubious.

But the construction should be appreciated for the sake of disparity, both in the context of recent Red Sox history and the sport’s home-run renaissance.

Alex Gordon of the Royals hit the season’s 5,964th home run Tuesday, besting the record mark set in 2000 — dead in the middle of the steroid era.

At present, the Sox lineup is particularly out of sorts because of injuries. Dustin Pedroia should be back Wednesday, but was out of the starting lineup Tuesday. Hanley Ramirez isn’t starting either. Eduardo Nunez’s rehab from a knee injury is coming along, but may not move quite as quickly as expected.

Even if all are healthy, this group remains strange. Because the Sox offense looks so different than what people expect of the Sox, the opposite of what people expect of an American League East-winning team. The opposite of what people expect of any American League team, period.

The arms are the driving force for the Sox, and must remain so if they’re to be successful in October. The sturdiness of the bullpen, tired but resolute, cannot be understated when the workload is extended in September. No team can go 15-3 in extra-inning games without stellar and timely pitching.

But the entirety of pitching coach Carl Willis’ staff has been wonderful. Drew Pomeranz didn’t have his best fastball velocity on Tuesday and was still effective in 6 1/3 innings.

The outfield play can’t be overlooked either. Bradley’s a brilliant patrolman in center field and his leaping catches to rob home runs — he took one away from Chris Davis Tuesday — have been their own attractions.

The Sox, meanwhile, just don't hit many balls far enough to be robbed.

If you’re cut from an old-school cloth, and didn’t really love those station-to-station, home-run powered offenses of yore, this Sox team is for you. There's something to be said for the experience of simply watching something different.

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Red Sox use wild pitch to beat Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings

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Red Sox use wild pitch to beat Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings

BALTIMORE - Jackie Bradley Jr. scored the game's lone run on a wild pitch by Brad Brach in the 11th inning, and the Boston Red Sox used six pitchers to silence the Baltimore Orioles' bats in a 1-0 victory Tuesday night.

Boston has won 10 of 13 to move a season-high 23 games over .500 (87-64) and draw closer to clinching a postseason berth. The Red Sox started the day with a three-game lead over the second-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

It was the second straight tight, lengthy game between these AL East rivals. Boston won in 11 innings on Monday night and is 15-3 in extra-inning games.

With a runner on second and two outs in the 11th, Brach (4-5) walked Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who sidestepped a bouncing pitch from Brach that enabled Bradley to score without a throw.