McAdam: Sox almost facing must-win

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McAdam: Sox almost facing must-win

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It was supposed to be the final game of the next-to-last road trip of the regular season, no more or less meaningful than the 75 other road games they've already played.

Instead, after a crushing, 6-5, extra-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday night, it's become awfully close to a must-win for the Red Sox.

Coming into this series, the Red Sox needed one win against the hard-charging Rays. One win Friday or Saturday would have halted the Rays' momentum. The math would have meant that the best the Rays could hope to make up during the series was a net improvement of one game in standings.

That wouldn't have been enough, with just over two weeks to go in the season. A six-game difference in the loss column would have been too imposing.

But not now. Thanks to Red Sox losses Friday and Saturday, the Red Sox have lost four in a row, six out of seven, nine of 12. They have seen their margin for the wild card shaved to four games.

What they've done, really, is held the door open for the Rays and invited them to join the playoff push.

This is the invitation the Rays have been waiting for all season. They did nothing at the trade deadline, hamstrung by the improbability of making up all that ground in the final two months, and, as always, payroll limitations.

September was going to be all about the Red Sox and Yankees, jocking for position, angling for the division title, with the loser taking the wild card spot.

Not anymore. It's close to becoming a three-team race. There's still time for the Rays, who have four games remaining with the Sox next weekend at Fenway and seven with the Yankees.

The Yankees, too, suddenly have problems of their own, having lost four straight. If the Red Sox had merely played .500 or so through the first six games of this road trip, they likely would be tied or leading the division.

But that's a discussion for another time, because winning the division is, suddenly, far from the Red Sox' biggest priority. The biggest challenge is making sure they get to the playoffs at all.

Two weeks ago, that sort of statement would have been silly. Back then, seeding was the lone concern. That, and trying to decide whether the Sox would be better off playing Texas or Detroit in the Division Series.

That seems like a long time ago now. Injuries have torn apart the rotation and robbed the Sox, for now, of their cleanup hitter.

They're not sure who's going to start for them three games from now, and they don't know who's their best option for the seventh inning.

In the big picture, however, the problems are simpler. One more loss here would change the face of the final two weeks, and turn September from tune-up time to survival mode.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.

 

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada once ate 85 Twinkies in a week

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada once ate 85 Twinkies in a week

This isn’t your average young and hungry player on the brink of the big leagues.

Yoan Moncada, the ex-Red Sox prospect who was one of the principal pieces in the trade for Chris Sale, ate 85 Twinkies in a week, his agent told ESPN The Magazine

David Hastings, Moncada's agent, clarified to CSNNE that this was a one-time thing when Moncada first arrived in the U.S. Moncada had never had Twinkies before, Hastings said, so he was like "a kid in a candy store."

He's still in great shape. Moncada had a huge spring training with the White Sox after a disappointing major-league debut with Boston in September. 

The 21-year-old third baseman has been optioned out of big-league camp, so he’s slated to start the year in Triple-A. But he hit .317 with a .391 on-base percentage and .683 slugging percentage and 3 home runs in 41 at-bats — some of the best numbers anywhere.

Moncada took a $31.5 million signing bonus from the Red Sox, money that the Sox turned into Sale. Moncada, meanwhile, didn’t exactly invest every cent.

Twinkies weren’t his only indulgence. 

More from the story: 

Moncada had money to spend on drones, video games, toys and clothes. He sometimes spent $1,500 or more during nights out, David says. After he purchased the second $200,000 car, Josefa [Hastings, David’s wife] tried to talk some sense into him.

David Hastings reinforced to CSNNE that the message to Moncada was to invest in things that appreciate in value.