Boston Red Sox

Farrell open to changing Red Sox lineup; has already altered rotation

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Farrell open to changing Red Sox lineup; has already altered rotation

BOSTON -- Sox manager John Farrell is still open to shaking up the Red Sox lineup. Three runs were enough Sunday night behind an excellent David Price, but it’s still been a rough stretch for the Sox of late offensively.

However, the top of the order -- Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot, followed by Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts -- remains the same for Monday night's game against the Blue Jays. They’ve each occupied those slots more than anyone else this season: Betts 65 times, Pedroia 48 times and Bogaerts 60 times.

“Haven’t completely gone away from [the possibility of changing the batting order],” Farrell said. “We have the top three guys, a lot of it is pretty consistent. If you look at the individual matchups against Marcus Stroman here tonight . . . players know what they do against opposing pitchers. And that’s not to say it’s a guarantee for success but I’d like to think guys will come in and say, ‘You know what, I’ve had some success against this guy in the past, let’s take a run with it.’ That’s where we are.”

Against Stroman, Betts is 6-for-19 (.316), Bogaerts 10-for-20 (.500) and Pedroia 7-for-15 (.467).

Moving Betts to a different spot in the lineup -- such as the two- or three-hole, so his first at-bat could come with someone on base -- has been a point of public debate.

“Mookie is not a typical leadoff type of guy,” Farrell said. “Granted, he’s got more power than many other leadoff types, but the ability to get on base, the ability to steal a base, those are parts of the profile that you’d ideally like to get. A little bit of speed to maybe disrupt the defense. But I think over the past probably five, six years, lineup construction has taken a completely different look, where so many teams had looked at the No. 3 spot in the order as your most pivotal. That’s your best hitter. 

“A lot of teams now are putting that guy in the two-hole. I’m sure there’s a lot of debate, a lot of sabermetric approach that goes into where you want your so-called best hitter. Bottom line is, you want your guys who get on base the most get to the plate the most often, so you stack the top of your order as best as you can.”

Farrell made clear he wants his on-base guys up top -- that’s his most important criteria. Pedroia leads the team at .385, followed by four players in the .350-range: Bogaerts (.357), Jackie Bradley Jr. (.353), Andrew Benintendi (.352) and Betts (.352). 

Benintendi’s had 40 starts in the two-hole.

While Farrell waits on possible lineup alterations, he has altered his rotation so that Chris Sale and David Price get an extra day of rest. Sale, throughout his career, has often pitched on extra rest and the Sox seem to want to keep it that way.

Here’s how it lines up, with seven pitchers in seven days:

  • Monday vs. Toronto: Eduardo Rodriguez
  • Tuesday vs. Toronto: Brian Johnson
  • Wednesday vs. Toronto: Drew Pomeranz
  • Thursday vs. Toronto: Doug Fister
  • Friday at Anaheim: Chris Sale
  • Saturday at Anaheim: David Price
  • Sunday at Anaheim: Rick Porcello

Porcello previously was wedged in between Sale and Price.

“The two most similar [pitchers] might be Eddie and David,” Farrell said. “Just trying to split those two guys up, where Chris has got a different arm slot, different type of stuff, different action on the breaking balls.”

BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

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BASEBALL SHOW PODCAST: What are biggest concerns about Red Sox?

1:00 - Shaughnesy, Drellich and Merloni give their leading off impressions regarding the Red Sox

4:00 - Dan Shaughnessy explains why he is still skeptical about the Red Sox team, and why he will not be able to feel confident until he sees them play in the postseason

9:00 - Does our Baseball Show crew have a problem with the Red Sox letting Chris Sale pitch the 8th inning so he could get his 300th strikeout?

15:00 - Jared Carrabis joins the Baseball Show crew to discuss what matches he likes for the Red Sox in the playoffs. 

17:00 - Jared Carrabis on how would the Red Sox match up against the Yankees in the playoffs

20:00 - How does Jared Carrabis think about the use of David Price as a relief pitcher?

Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

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Red Sox beat Reds 5-4, reduce A.L. East magic number to three

CINCINNATI -- Mookie Betts wasn't about to stop. Neither are the Red Sox, who are heading home with a chance to win another division title.

Betts doubled with the bases loaded to tie it in the eighth inning and dashed home from second base on an infield single, rallying the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory Sunday that moved them closer to an AL East championship.

By winning 14 of its last 17 games, Boston has left virtually no opening for the second-place New York Yankees to catch up. The Red Sox, already assured a playoff spot, completed an 8-1 road trip that put them in excellent position to win a second consecutive division crown, something they've never done.

Coupled with New York's 9-5 loss in Toronto, the Red Sox reduced their magic number to three. They lead the Yankees by five games with seven to play.

That means Fenway Park can start preparing for a potential celebration. Boston finishes the regular season at home with three games against Toronto and four vs. Houston.

"We're learning a lot about ourselves," said Doug Fister, who pitched into the sixth. "We can put ourselves in a corner early and fight back. If we need a touchdown, the boys can put up a touchdown."

Boston inched closer with more late-game flair. The Red Sox lead the majors with 11 wins when trailing after the seventh inning.

They loaded the bases against Raisel Iglesias (3-3), who had blown only one save chance all season. Betts had fouled a ball off his foot on Friday night and missed one game. His double tied it 5-all, and he sprinted home on the still-sore foot - diving headfirst into the plate - on Rafael Devers' infield single.

"I felt he had a chance to beat it, and with me running it was going to be a tough play at the plate," Betts said.

Robby Scott (2-1) got the win, and Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 39 chances. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 11 appearances.

Billy Hamilton helped the Reds go up 4-1. He tripled home a run and brought the crowd to its feet by scoring after getting caught in a rundown between first and second. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a wild throw, and Hamilton kept going when nobody covered home.

"In my whole career, that's one of the best ones, especially since I was in a rundown and just trying to get to second base and then I end up scoring," Hamilton said.

GOT THEIR BACKS

Red Sox and Reds players stood for the national anthem. Boston manager John Farrell said if any of his players decide to follow the example of other athletes and make a statement during the anthem, he'll support them. "We strive to create an environment that's inclusive," Farrell said. "We would have their back as an organization if that's the expression they chose. It's their constitutional right."

INTERLEAGUE

The Red Sox are 12-1 against the Reds all-time in the regular season and have won nine straight, their longest winning streak against any NL team since interleague play started in 1997. The Reds beat the Red Sox in seven games for the 1975 World Series championship. Overall, Boston is 16-4 in interleague play this season. The Reds are 5-15.

90 LOSSES AGAIN

The Reds reached the 90-loss mark for the third straight year. They lost 98 games in 2015 and 94 last year. It's the first time they've had three straight 90-loss seasons since 1930-34.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Eduardo Nunez ran the bases before the game, his next step in recovering from a sprained knee.

Reds: Hamilton was back in the lineup after getting a day off. He's played twice since returning from a broken left thumb.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (16-5) faces Blue Jays LHP Brett Anderson (1-2) on Monday night. Pomeranz is 7-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break.

Reds: After a day off, they finish with three games in Milwaukee and three at the Chicago Cubs. Deck McGuire (0-0) makes his first major league start Tuesday night against Zach Davies (17-9).

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