Sox hold off Twins for 7-6 win, series sweep

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Sox hold off Twins for 7-6 win, series sweep

MINNEAPOLIS -- For a time Wednesday night, it appeared as though the Red Sox bullpen might duplicate its implosion on Saturday against the New York Yankees.
What had been a 7-1 lead for the Sox turned dicey when starter Clay Buchholz and three relievers combined to allow five runs in the sixth inning to the Minnesota Twins.
But Matt Albers got an inning-ending double play ball and Vicenta Padilla and Franklin Morales combined to get the next six hitters in a row as the Red Sox held off the Twins, 7-6, for Boston's third straight victory and a sweep of the series.
Alfredo Aceves turned back the Twins in the ninth to notch his second save of the series and fourth of the season, though it was not without its drama as the closer loaded the bases on a walk, single and a hit batsman.
But Aceves got Denard Span swinging for the final out to preserve the one-run margin.
The Sox, who were outhit 14-10, jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the third inning thanks to a run-scoring single from Cody Ross, a three-run homer by Mike Aviles and a two-run single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Clay Buchholz, who picked up the win, was in and out of trouble most of the night. He didn't have a 1-2-3 inning until the fifth and allowed 10 hits and three walks in just 5 13 innings. In all four of his starts this season, Buchholz has given up at least five earned runs.
Dustin Pedroia doubled in the first, singled in the third and tripled in the fifth but fell a homer shy of reaching the cycle.
STAR OF THE GAME: Mike Aviles continued his hot streak when he clubbed a two-run homer in the second, part of the Red Sox' four-run inning. For the series, the shortstop was 6-for-13 with two homers, two doubles, five RBI and five runs scored.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Twins scored five times in the bottom of the sixth, chasing starter Clay Buchholz and roughing up the Boston bullpen. But with the Sox clinging to a one-run lead, Vincente Padilla came in for the bottom of the seventh and gave the Red Sox a quick 1-2-3 inning, restoring the momentum to Boston's side.
GOAT OF THE GAME: For the third time in as many games, the Twins' starter didn't give his team much of a chance. Liam Hendriks was tagged for seven runs on nine hits in just four innings.
TURNING POINT: The Twins had already scored five runs in the sixth and had the bases loaded with Sean Burroughs up. But Matt Albers got Burroughs to rap into an inning-ending, rally-killing double play, stranding two baserunners.
BY THE NUMBERS: The Red Sox sweep of the Twins here was the first for the Sox in Minneapolis since July 3-6, 2000.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "We got a win. That's what it's all about in the end.'' Bobby Valentine on the rocky road taken to victory.

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.