Notes: Rays capitalize on Red Sox' mistakes

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Notes: Rays capitalize on Red Sox' mistakes

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

BOSTON -- The Red Sox had missed opportunities on Saturday. The Tampa Bay Rays also took advantage of their own. In a game where Jon Lester gave up four earned runs and the Red Sox left six men on base, four more than the Rays did, it could be easy to point out what the Red Sox should have done better. At the same time, there is a lot the Rays did do better.

Evan Longoria entered Saturdays game batting 4-for-8 with two homeruns and six RBIs in the series. He added to that with an RBI single in the fifth inning against Lester. Longoria has driven in 13 RBIs against the Red Sox this season and 57 over his career.

Hes a tremendous player, said Francona. Hes done that to us before. A couple years ago I think he drove in 30-something runs, at least hes not doing that. Good players, like thats how we feel about Pedey (Dustin Pedroia) and guys like (Jacoby) Ellsbury, thats what you have them for.

The Red Sox entered the game with limited success against Jeff Neimann. (Marco Scutaro had a team-high three hits against him.) The Sox were able to get four hits off of him in five innings, but failed to capitalize on many of them.

Hes a good pitcher and he pitches well against us, said Francona. We had some chances. We didnt cash in. Thats the way the game is.

In only his second Major League appearance, Matt Moore pitched three innings in relief of Neimann, giving up one run, two hits, and striking out a pair.

He has a very loose, live arm, said Francona. I can see why they like him so much. He didnt command probably like he can, but theres a lot to like. And the fact that through Double-A and Triple-A he got right handers out so dominating shows you that he has more than a fastball.

The Rays offense forced Lester into deep counts throughout the game, and their patience paid off at the plate.

I thought they did a good job of laying off some pitches that maybe some other teams dont, because if you dont eliminate a pitch with him, sometimes he can kind of have his way with you, said Francona. They got a lot of deep counts, and then once youve seen five or six pitches in that at bat, youve got to make a really good pitch. They fouled off some pitches that were good pitches, but because they had seen five or six, they were able to do that.

With a loss, the Red Sox American League Wild Card lead is three games over the Rays. They are now 4.5 games behind the New York Yankees in overall AL East standings. The Red Sox have lost 10 of their last 13 games and are 2-8 in their last 10 contests.

The Red Sox are 6-11 against the Rays this season, tying the most losses against the Rays in club history. Many of their troubles against Tampa Bay have come in Boston. The Red Sox are 2-6 against the Rays at Fenway Park this season and 4-12 against them at home since the start of 2010.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who has 37 stolen bases this season, was thrown out trying to steal third with no outs in the fifth inning. He was thrown out by Neimann. Ellsbury did not speak to the media after the game, but Francona shared his assessment of the attempt. Its a situation where hes probably trying to do too much that wasnt necessary, he said. His intentions are good. It was ill-advised. If youre going to run in that situation, its got to be one-hundred percent. He knows that.

On the topic of stolen bases, Joey Gathright stole his first base of the season in the ninth inning off of Joel Peralta.

Pregame notes by Maureen Mullen

Manager Terry Francona has still not named a pitcher for the first game of Mondays doubleheader against the Orioles. John Lackey will start the second game. Left-hander Erik Bedard, who was going to throw before Saturdays game remains a possibility.

He had a good day Friday so hes going to throw a side . . . and then well go from there, Francona said.

Weve got some moving parts obviously. Want to see how he comes through the side, and then we want to gauge where we think he is and then well make some decisions. We have some either-ors obviously.

Kevin Youkilis, hampered by a hernia and hip bursitis remains sore. His ability to play is unknown.

It is a little bit of a conundrum, Francona said. He had a two-week DL and he came back, so I really dont know. I think thats what hes hanging his hat on, and I think thats what we hope will be the case. Were certainly going to give him a chance, but we just dont know.

If a guys good, we want to play him. But right now thats not realistic. Where it goes from here we just dont know. We all hope he wakes up maybe tomorrow morning and says hey I really feel good today. OK, good, lets see how you do tomorrow. And then if you play, how do you bounce back. We just dont know.

The Sox announced their minor league award winners.
Pitcher of the Year, right-hander Alex Wilson, Double-A PortlandTriple-A Pawtucket.
Offensive Co-Players of the Year: Right fielder Bryce Brentz, Single-A GreenvilleSingle-A Salem and catcher Ryan Lavarnway, Double-A PortlandTriple-A Pawtucket.
Defensive Player of the Year: Catcher Christian Vazquez, Single-A Greenville.
Base Runner of the Year: Center fielder Felix Sanchez, Single-A Greenville.
Minor League Latin Program Pitcher of the Year: Left-hander Pedro Reyes, Rookie-Level Dominican Summer League Red Sox.
Minor League Latin Program Player of the Year: Outfielder Ynoel Aguero, Rookie-Level Dominican Summer League Red Sox.
Left-hander Tommy Hottovy, Double-A PortlandTriple-A Pawtucket won the inaugural Lou Gorman Award, given in honor of the former Sox GM and executive who died in April. It will be presented annually to a Red Sox minor league player who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the major league team.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

By Pat Bradley, CSN Staff

Chris Sale was treating this like a regular season game, and delivered an excellent, midseason performance.

The Boston Red Sox got a taste Tuesday of the star pitcher they acquired last offseason, when Sale dominated the New York Yankees in a 4-2 spring training road win in Tampa, Florida.

Sale, who entered the game having thrown 63 of his 68 spring pitches for strikes (92%), continued to show off his incredible command, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%) in the victory.

The 27-year-old struck out five of the first six Yankees he faced, and finished with an even 10 strikeouts on the night. He’s now struck out 20 batters to just one walk this spring.

"Obviously, anybody who knows anything about sports knows about Boston and New York," Sale said, via The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Coming in here, playing against the Yankees, playing at their park in a night game, it gives it more of a regular-season feel. That's what we're here for. Anytime you can get that much closer to a regular-season game, the better off we're going to be."

His single blemish came on a 2-2 pitch to Yankees designated hitter and noted masher Matt Holliday, who sent the ball sailing to the opposite field for a two-run home run that at the time tied the score at 2.

Sale quickly regrouped, lining out Chris Carter to left field on his very next pitch to end his outing. His final line: two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and a hit batsman in six innings on 86 pitches.

That’s quite a debut to the rivalry, and something the Red Sox are well aware could become a regular thing.

“I don't want to say tonight is the norm,” began Red Sox manager John Farrell, via The Providence Journal, “but certainly he is very capable of doing that every time he walks to the mound.”

Sale wasn’t the only one strutting his stuff on Tuesday, though. Youngsters Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis continued to hit and were pivotal parts of a Red Sox offense that pounded out 13 hits.

After Mike Miller opened the scoring with a solo homer for Boston in the third inning, Travis kept things rolling a few batters later when his base hit scored Hernandez.

Travis was back at it again in the seventh inning, when his groundout scored Heiker Meneses for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez and Travis each finished 2-for-4, with Hernandez tripling (his fifth of the spring) and scoring a run and Travis driving in two runs of his own. They raised their spring averages to .422 and .351, respectively.

Every member of the starting lineup -- which did not feature regulars Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval or Xander Bogaerts -- recorded at least one hit, save for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts out of the cleanup spot.

Boston is back in action Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.