Boston Red Sox

Red Sox extend division lead to five games with 5-1 win over Yankees

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Red Sox extend division lead to five games with 5-1 win over Yankees

BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. knows all about the Fenway Park triangle, and how long it can take to get the ball back to the infield from the 420-foot marker.

So when the Red Sox center fielder saw, as he pulled into second, that his Yankees counterpart had just picked up the ball, Bradley sped off for third. The two-run triple was all Boston needed, but Bradley added an RBI single in the sixth to help the Red Sox beat the Yankees 5-1 on Sunday and extend their margin in the AL East to five games.

"Jackie's been phenomenal, swinging the bat today, and doing what he did with 3 RBIs," said Boston starter Rick Porcello, who pitched six innings of a combined three-hitter. "He's the best I've seen in center field. Very fortunate to have him behind me when I'm pitching."

The Red Sox won for the 14th time in 17 games, taking two out of three from New York for the second weekend in a row. The archrivals meet again in the first week of September for a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

"It's not what you want," New York manager Joe Girardi. "Obviously, we need to continue to play well so when they come to our place it means something. We probably had a chance to win four of the six and we end up winning two of the six - and that's frustrating."

Porcello (8-14) allowed all three New York hits, striking out four and walking three to win his fourth straight start. Three relievers provided a perfect inning apiece.

Porcello has allowed two runs or fewer in all six career starts against the Yankees in Fenway Park. That's the longest such stretch for a Red Sox pitcher since at least 1913, the ballclub said.

Sonny Gray (7-8) allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings. He lost for the fourth time in five starts to fall to 1-6 in nine road starts this season.

Brett Gardner homered near the Pesky Pole for the Yankees, who had won five of their last six.

Xander Bogaerts reached with one out in the second on a flare to right, then Mitch Moreland was retired on a diving catch by center fielder Aaron Hicks. After Sandy Leon singled to left, Bradley lined one to the triangle in center, scoring two and standing up into third.

Bradley, the No. 9 hitter, drove in another run in the sixth. The bottom of the Red Sox order added two insurance runs in the eighth when Bogaerts walked, Moreland doubled and Leon drove them both in with a double down the right-field line.

Caleb Smith walked Bradley and gave up a single to Brock Holt to load the bases before striking out Mookie Betts, getting Andrew Benintendi on a popup too shallow to score a runner and Hanley Ramirez on a comebacker.

STRIKEOUTS

Gray failed to fan a batter in an outing for the first time in his career. Aaron Judge struck out to end the eighth, extending his record of games with a strikeout to 37 in a row.

Girardi said he's still got faith in the presumptive AL Rookie of the Year, adding: "It's not like we have a lot of people that are hitting very well."

Said Judge: "It's a little frustrating, but there's nothing you can do about it. You can't pout. You can't cry. You just have to keep working and move on."

YANKED

Former closer Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance since being demoted on Saturday and replaced by Dellin Betances. Chapman got the last out in the sixth and completed the seventh, allowing one walk while striking out two.

"I just prepared myself a little earlier than I usually do," he said through a translator.

REM DOG

The Red Sox honored former second baseman Jerry Remy before the game for 30 years in broadcasting. Remy was diagnosed with cancer for the fifth time and begins chemotherapy this week.

"It's a tough opponent. It's a sneaky opponent. It slides in and goes wherever it wants to go," he said. "But I've got people treating it, and I am fully confident that I will be back in that booth on Opening Day when the Red Sox lift that pennant for another year."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka threw on the field, mostly long toss, but also pitched on flat ground. Out since Aug. 10 with inflammation in his right shoulder, he's scheduled to come off the DL on Tuesday in Detroit.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia will not make the trip to Cleveland with the team, instead remaining in Boston to work on "baseball activities," manager John Farrell said.

UP NEXT

Yankees: After an off-day on Monday, begin a three-game series in Detroit. Tanaka (8-10) will face Matthew Boyd (5-6).

Red Sox: Open a four-game series in Cleveland, with Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3) scheduled to face Mike Clevinger (6-5).

How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

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How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not technically be the No. 2 for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Red Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Either way, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

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The 28-year-old Pomeranz was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My change-up’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

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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.