Boston Red Sox

Drellich: Using hot hand is safest route for John Farrell, and that's his plan

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Drellich: Using hot hand is safest route for John Farrell, and that's his plan

BOSTON — With 19 games remaining in regular season, career track records start to mean less for Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Chris Young was in the Sox lineup batting second in left field on Tuesday. He came into the opener of a three-game set with the A’s with four hits in four plate appearances vs. A’s lefty Sean Manaea. But Young, who’s batting .187 vs. southpaws this season, may not be starting against lefties much longer — even though that’s been his forte in his career.

How does Farrell know when to weigh recency more than career past?

“I think we’re getting to that point,” Farrell said. “And you continue to provide opportunity, mentioned the other day when we start talking about the bullpen, you start talking about, you get into the latter part of this month, you begin to start paying closer attention to what is the hotter hand. And let’s face it, we know players go through some ebbs and flows along the way. Much as teams do, and as much as you want to acknowledge how those players have gotten you to that point in their tenure here, I think there comes a point here where it’s you know what, we got to pay closer attention to what is currently taking place for win today at basically all costs.”

This is something of an informed guessing game.

There’s a strong argument to make that basing lineup choices on the hot (or cold) hand is not always the direction to go. But if there is something the coaching staff, Farrell or even the player himself notices about particular performances — something that makes any of that group believe the player can’t live up to their career norms — such a move makes a lot more sense.

Then there’s this aspect: playing the hot hand, very simply, is harder for fans and media to second guess. If Farrell chose to play someone cold over someone with recent success in whatever the scenario may be, he’d get torn apart. But it was expected going into the final month he’d be facing these kinds of choices.

Farrell was asked Tuesday if he’s thought about playing Rajai Davis more frequently against lefties.

“In the short answer, yes,” Farrell said. “But in the obvious situation we’re in, this isn’t the time for us to experiment either. Again there’s the ability to use those who have performed.  So in other words, if it’s Rajai Davis vs. Benny [Andrew Benintendi] in left field, or if it’s in another combination, there are guys that are ahead of him right now and that’s where we’re going about this. 

“Now I will say this: the ability to get or pick a spot where Rajai can make sure he comes in off the bench and the ability to steal a base… we’ll continue to look to try to get those opportunities."

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

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Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds

CINCINNATI - Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and the Boston Red Sox took another step toward a second straight AL East title, beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding off the Yankees as it tries to win back-to-back East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. The Red Sox have their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

They remain four games in front of the Yankees, who beat Toronto 5-1.

Moreland was in an 0-for-19 slump when he connected off Robert Stephenson (5-6) in the sixth inning, his 20th homer of the season but only his second in September. The Red Sox are last in the AL with 160 homers.

Rodriguez (6-6) has given up two or fewer earned runs in each of his last four starts, the best stretch of his career. The left-hander gave up three singles and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing since May 21.

The Red Sox have shutout victories in three of their last four games, including two at Baltimore. They are 7-1 on a trip that ends Sunday. Boston wraps up the regular season at Fenway Park with three games against Toronto and four against Houston.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi, who grew up in suburban Madeira and had hundreds of relatives and friends in the stands for the series, singled home a run in the seventh at the ballpark where he regularly attended games as a youth.

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

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Betts (foot), Pedroia (knee) out of Red Sox lineup

Mookie Betts, who fouled a ball off his left foot Friday night, and Dustin Pedroia, who has been bothered by a knee injury almost all season, were out of the Red Sox lineup Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati.

Chris Young started in right field for Betts and Brock Holt at second base for Pedroia.

Betts was scratched from the original lineup but was a late scratch. Pedroia, who had been getting intermittent days off to rest his knee was originally expected to play but needed treatement and hopes to be able to play Sunday, according to Scott Lauber of ESPN. 

Manager John Farrell told reporters, including Christopher Smith of MassLive.com, that Betts "was hindered by it last night in the second half of that game. [He] woke up a little bit more sore. Went through treatment. But felt it was best to give him a day to fully recover and get some additional treatment."

The manager added that Betts was available to pinch hit Saturday and did not have X-rays, but that step could be taken if there's no improvement in the next 24 hours.