Red Sox vs. Rays: Lineup, pregame notes

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Red Sox vs. Rays: Lineup, pregame notes

BOSTON -- Today's lineup, and pregame notes courtesy of the Red Sox' P.R. department:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mike Aviles 3B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Conor Jackson LF
Darnell McDonald RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Marco Scutaro SS

Tim Wakefield P

MR. 3,000
Todays starter, Tim Wakefield, owns a club-record 2,997.0 innings pitched with the Red Sox, three innings shy of becoming the first Boston hurler to reach the 3,000-inning plateau . . . Of the original 16 teams, Boston and Cincinnati are the only ones that have not had a pitcher work at least 3,000 innings.

LEADING SINCE JULY
Since July 1, Jacoby Ellsbury leads the majors with 44 extra-base hits and 181 total bases . . . In that time, his 18 homers are tied for third in the A.L. . . He is the only major-leaguer with 50 runs, 50 RBI and 35 extra-base hits since the start of July.
MIKE ON A ROLL
Mike Aviles went 3-for-4 yesterday and has hit safely his last eight starts since Aug. 18, batting .438 (14-for-32) . . . He is batting .361 (26-for-72) since joining the Red Sox on July 30, third-best clip in the A.L. in that time (min. 75 PA) . . . Aviles .361 batting average is the best by a player in his first 25 games with an at-bat to begin a Red Sox career since Sean Casey hit .378 (31-for-82) from March 26-June 6, 2008.

SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 30th save of the season Friday night . . . He became the first pitcher ever to record 30 or more saves in each of his first six full major-league seasons (2006-11) . . . He has not allowed a run in 22.0 innings over his last 21 games since July 17, with 28 strikeouts in that stretch . . . It is the longest active scoreless streak in the majors and matches the longest single-season scoreless run of his career, also 22.0 innings from May 4-June 26, 2006 . . . He has converted his last 25 save opportunities since May 13, the longest stretch of his career and the second-longest save streak in the A.L. this year.

HOLD ON
Daniel Bard recorded his 32nd hold of the season on Friday night, second most in the A.L. to New Yorks David Robertson (33) . . . The 32 holds match Bards single-season club record, set last year . . . Bard is the only major-league pitcher with 30 or more holds in each of the past two seasons.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

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Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

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Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.