Boston Red Sox

Bradley's eye-popping catch helps Sox to 3-0 win, doubleheader split

Bradley's eye-popping catch helps Sox to 3-0 win, doubleheader split

BOSTON -- Major league home run leader Aaron Judge hit a towering fly ball toward the triangle in Fenway Park's center field, and Jackie Bradley Jr. began drifting over toward the bullpen wall.

That's when Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts knew.

"Jackie does this little thing where, midway, while the ball is in the air, he starts timing it," said Betts, who hit a two-run homer and also scored Boston's third run on Sunday night to help the Red Sox win 3-0 and split their doubleheader with the New York Yankees.

"Once I saw him start timing it, I figured he had a chance to catch it. He made it look easy," said Betts, who had three hits in the night game but was happy to join the cheers for Bradley. "It made the hair stand up on my arms."

David Price (5-2) struck out eight in eight innings, and Bradley went over the bullpen wall to rob Judge and send the Yankees to their first shutout of the season.

A day after the teams played 16 innings over 5 hours, 50 minutes, they spent another long day at Fenway Park and ended the four-game series the way they started: with the Yankees trailing the first-place Red Sox by 3 1/2 games in the AL East.

CC Sabathia allowed two hits over six innings in the opener, and Didi Gregorius hit a solo home run to give New York a 3-0 victory.

It was also 3-0 in the nightcap when Judge, the winner of the All-Star Home Run Derby, came up with a runner on first and launched one toward the 420-foot marker in center. Bradley stalked it, and at the last moment leaped against the wall that juts out from right-center to pull the ball in.

"I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong center fielder," said Judge, who failed to reach base for the first time in 43 games. "Jackie's been making plays like that for a long time."

The sold-out crowd gave a huge cheer, and another after Matt Holliday struck out to end the inning. The Red Sox gathered at the edge of the dugout steps to congratulate Betts - with Price pushing his way through to thank him.

"It was special," Bradley said. "It was electric. It was just a fun moment to be a part of."

Price allowed seven hits. One night after giving up a tying homer in the ninth to send the game into extra innings, Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 24th save.

Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) gave up three runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings, striking out nine. The Yankees are the last team in the majors to be shut out.

"We probably gave one away and we stole one," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They got one off our closer, and we got one off their closer."

Betts homered over the billboard above the Green Monster, his 17th of the year, with one out in the third inning to end Boston's scoreless streak at 24 innings. He made it 3-0 when he singled to lead off the sixth, took second on an error by second baseman Starlin Castro, third on a groundout and scored on Dustin Pedroia's second hit of the game.

EARLY GAME

Sabathia (8-3) made his second start since a stint on the disabled list (strained left hamstring). He walked five and struck out three to improve to 4-0 in his last five road starts.

Judge, who has 30 homers, got an infield single on a dribbler to the pitcher in the seventh, ending a 0-for-15 slide. Aroldis Chapman tossed a one-hit ninth for his ninth save.

In the makeup of an April 25 postponement, the Red Sox hit just four balls out of the infield and extended their scoreless streak to 22 innings.

Rick Porcello (4-12) gave up three runs - one earned - and nine hits in six innings. The 2016 AL Cy Young winner leads the major leagues in losses despite making his 17th consecutive start of six innings or more.

CAN I GET A WITNESS?

"Highlight-reel catch against probably the most notarized power guy in the game, and timely. A big catch to the deepest part of the ballpark preserved the shutout at that point. He came up big." - Red Sox manager John Farrell.

WINNING STREAK

New York had not won back-to-back games since a season-high, six-game spurt from June 7-12, going 7-19 before winning Saturday and in the first game Sunday.

SLEEPY BATS

The Red Sox stranded 10 runners and went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position in the opener. They went 1 for 7 in the late game, leaving them 3 for 38 with RISP in series and 3 for 58 against the Yankees this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda was transferred to the 60-day DL while he seeks a second opinion on whether he needs Tommy John surgery.

Red Sox: RHP Blaine Boyer was put on the 10-day DL with a strained right elbow. He left Saturday after pitching an inning and warming up the next.

UP NEXT

Yankees: Open a three-game series against Minnesota. Adalberto Mejia (4-4) starts for the Twins, against RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-1).

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2) starts against Toronto's Marcus Stroman (9-5) on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series.

Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

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Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.

Drellich: How should Sox handle Sale's pursuit of Pedro's strikeout record?

Drellich: How should Sox handle Sale's pursuit of Pedro's strikeout record?

BALTIMORE — Baseball records are so precise. When to pursue them, when to value them even if minor risk is involved, is not nearly as clear cut.

The Red Sox, Chris Sale and John Farrell have stumbled upon that grey area, and it will continue to play out in the final two weeks of the regular season.

Sale reached a tremendous milestone on Wednesday night, becoming the 14th different pitcher in the live ball era to reach 300 strikeouts in a single season. No one else has done it in the American League this century. Clayton Kershaw was the last to get there in the National League two years ago.

“It was really fun,” Sale said of having his family on hand. “My wife, both my boys are here, my mother-in-law. Being able to run out and get a big hug from him and my wife and everybody — it was special having them here for something like this . . . I’ll spend a little time with them before we head to Cincinnati.”

Now, there’s another mark ahead of Sale: Pedro Martinez’s single-season club record of 313. And the pursuit of that record is going to highlight the discussion of what matters even more.

The tug-of-war between absolute pragmatism and personal achievement was on display Wednesday, when Farrell gave ground to the latter. 

The manager was prepared for the questions after a celebratory 9-0 win over the Orioles. His pitchers threw 26 straight scoreless innings to finish off a three-game sweep of the Orioles, and the Sox had the game well in hand the whole night.

With seven innings and 99 pitches thrown and 299 strikeouts in the books, Sale went back out for the eighth inning.

If you watched it, if you saw Sale drop a 2-2 front-door slider to a hapless Ryan Flaherty for the final strikeout Sale needed and his last pitch of the night, you surely enjoyed it. Records may not be championships, but they have their own appeal in sports that’s undeniable. 

But Sale could have recorded strikeout No. 300 next time out. Surely, he would have. He needed all 111 pitches to do so Wednesday. So the difference between 299 and 300 wound up being just 12 pitches. It’s doubtful those 12 pitches will ruin Sale’s postseason chances, particularly considering he was throwing hard all game, touching 99 mph. 

Nonetheless, the Sox hope to play for another month, and they've been working to get Sale extra rest. So, why risk fatigue, or worse, injury?

“The two overriding factors for me,” Farrell explained, “were the pitch counts and the innings in which he was in control of throughout. Gets an extra day [for five days of rest] this next time through the rotation. All those things were brought into play in the thinking of bringing him back out.

“We know what the final out of tonight represented, him getting the 300 strikeouts. Was aware of that, and you know what, felt like he was in complete command of this game and the ability to go out and give that opportunity, he recorded it.”

If Sale makes his final two starts of the year, he’ll break Martinez's record of 313. At least he should. But he might not make his projected final start, in Game No. 162, so that he’s set up for Game 1 in the Division Series.

(So, if he could reach 314 Ks in his next start, he’d make this discussion disappear — but 14 Ks in one outing is not easy.)

When should exceptions be made to let someone get to a record? Where do you draw the line? Would it be reasonable to get Sale an inning or two against the Astros in Game 162 if he was a few strikeouts away, even though he may face the Astros in the Division Series?

Letting the Astros get extra looks against Sale is a different matter than Sale throwing 12 extra pitches. But neither is really a guarantee of doom. They're small risks, of varying size.

Consider that if Sale is on, he should rough up the Astros no matter what.

What's 12 pitches Wednesday for a guy who leads the majors in average pitches thrown per game? Not enough to keep Farrell from letting Sale have a go at one milestone.

Will the Sox work to put Sale in position for the next?

Records don’t usually fall into such a grey area. Outside of the steroid era, anyway.