First win of road trip offers bit of relief for Sox

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First win of road trip offers bit of relief for Sox

SEATTLE -- The music blared in the clubhouse for the first time in more than a week. The conversation among players was loud and joyous instead of muted and somber.

One win isn't going to change the Red Sox' season with just four weeks remaining, but after a brutal stretch that saw them outscored and outclassed every night for a week, the Red Sox' 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners sure beat the alternative.

"The guys looked happy after the game," said Bobby Valentine. "It's great to see them with smiles. It was a good win."

The Sox would have taken any victory that came their way after being swept in Anaheim and Oakland, then kicking off the final series of the West Coast road trip with a loss Monday.

Valentine said that the team was physically and mentally spent after Monday's loss, the constant drone of losing having worn them down for the last week.

There seemed more energy in the clubhouse before the game and there was little doubt that, post-game, some stress was being blown off.

"It wasn't easy," said Jon Lester, who picked up his fourth win in his last five starts. "It wasn't easy. But it's big, especially the way we did it, coming back."

The Sox trailed 3-0 heading into the sixth before Cody Ross hit high fly left that carried into the seats, scoring Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury ahead of him.

Three batters later, Ryan Lavarnway followed up with a solo homer that put the Sox ahead to stay.

"It feels good to shake hands," said Ross. "It's been a really long time. It's been, what, probably a week now? But we're not going to give up. We're going to keep fighting. We're going to keep going out and keep battling. That's all we can do at this point."

The playoffs, of course, are completely out of reach and even a winning record is highly unlikely. But there's pride on the line for the Sox.

"We want to play well and keep fighting and try to create some momentum for next year," said Ross. "There's a lot stake right now. Even though we're not in the hunt, there's jobs at stake. Guys have to stay hungry, go out and battle and try to win a spot for next year.

"Whether you're a young kid or a free agent, you have to keep fighting and being a professional. That's what we're planning to do."

"Maybe it'll get something started," concluded Valentine of the win, which snapped the team's longest losing streak in more than a decade.

Then, after a beat, he added perhaps the understatement of the season.

"We're due," he said.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.
 

Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

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Betts and Bradley Jr. combine for seven RBI, Red Sox roll to 9-2 win

The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.

The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.