Boston Red Sox

Surprise: Sox tied for A.L. lead in sacrifice bunts

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Surprise: Sox tied for A.L. lead in sacrifice bunts

BOSTON -- As an organization, the Red Sox typically don't endorse thesacrifice bunt, believing that it's not a sound utilization of an out.

But more than one-third of the way through the season, theSox are tied with the Angels for the most sacrifice bunts in theAmerican League.

Bobby Valentine used it Wednesday night when the Sox hadrunners at first and second and no out with Darnell McDonald,trailing Baltmore 2-1.

McDonald executed the bunt and moved both baserunners intoscoring position, but the Sox couldn't get a hit to score either.

Valentine was asked what factors he takes into considerationbefore putting a bunt play on.

"The personnel (factors into the decision),'' he said. "(Havingthe) bottom of the order (due up) will dicate . . . guys who can bunt. . .The guys who are on base to advance quick enough if there's a bunt. . .if the other team's bullpen has been used a lot the day before...There's a lots of things that go into it. . .It would be Tom-fooleryto think of it as just one thing.

"I don't particularly like to bunt, but I think it's a very usefulweapon at times. It keeps you out of double plays, for sure. I don'tlike to give away outs. I don't think it's a great idea. It's greatwhen you're staying away from two outs.''

Valentine said, despite the number of sacrifice bunts with whichthe Sox have been credited, Wednesday's bunt with McDonald "may havebeen the only sacrifice that was asked for (from the dugout). Everybody'sbeen told, 'If there's a bunting a sacrifice situation, bunt forit.' That's all we do.''

Almost as an afterthought, Valentine appeared to call out MarlonByrd, who struck out for the second out.

"If that fastball that was down the middle was thrown to thenext hitter (Byrd) was swung at,'' mused Valentine, "I bet you we wouldall be saying, 'God, it would have been great to win that game, 3-2.But it was taken instead.''

Drellich: Forget Red Sox resiliency or luck, banked wins are what matter

Drellich: Forget Red Sox resiliency or luck, banked wins are what matter

BOSTON — The minutiae starts to fade now. Steal a few wins, rattle off a gorgeous run when people didn’t expect you to — what should or shouldn’t happen doesn’t matter.

Are the Sox really this good? At a certain point, it’s irrelevant how many wins were lucky (Friday’s, arguably), or against bad teams (the White Sox), or anything else. Those victories are cinderblocks in the standings that the Yankees are will find increasingly difficult to budge.

There’s simply no challenging the value of banked wins, no eliminating them.

Look, you didn’t need Friday night’s 9-6 Red Sox win over the Yankees to realize the Sox are resilient. All of August has been a coming out party: for a pitching staff that’s making due without David Price, for an offense liberated by a 20-year-old third baseman who homered again Saturday, Rafael Devers, as the team adapts smoothly to the absence of Dustin Pedroia.

“We miss them,” Sox manager John Farrell said Saturday night. “There’s no question we miss those two guys, and [are] really looking forward to their return. But it speaks volume to the team we have, the depth and talent that’s here. 

“What Raffy has done by coming up, and Eduardo [Nunez’s] arrival here at the time when Pedey goes down, they’ve been instrumental in the way we’ve played. I don’t know if you want to call it the next-man-up mentality, but we have not skipped a beat and guys are beginning to flourish and shouldering a greater burden.”

But what, beyond this sense of resiliency, have you learned since the trade deadline? What can you tell about the Sox’ future from watching them reach a season-high 19 games over .500? 

That discussion is more complicated. The Sox are of the best anywhere, just as they were projected to be entering the year — albeit with some different personnel fulfilling those predictions. They’re just the second AL team to reach 70 wins.

Yet, it’s fair to wonder how many times a reliever like Tommy Kahnle — one of the Yankees’ significant trade additions — will let Mitch Moreland come through with a go-ahead hit on an 0-2 count in the seventh inning. 

It’s fair to wonder how many times Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly can fall into trouble without swing-and-miss stuff and be bailed out. Or how many times Farrell can keep holding back guys like Addison Reed, as the skipper did on Friday, until he really has no other choice — and be let off the hook for those choices.

The Red Sox are homer-happy right now, with multiple long balls for the 9th time in 14 games. Those home runs could be long overdue, or it could be a cluster and an aberration.

Again, those questions start to diminish in importance. Because in the same way we talk about time running out for Price’s return from injury, time also starts to run out for other teams.

There’s a cushion of five games in the AL East going into Saturday’s middle game of three with the Yankees, one of just four remaining head-to-head match-ups between the Sox and Yanks this season. The last time the Sox and Yankees were playing each other as the top two teams in the division this late in the year was 2011, a reminder of how quickly leads can dissipate. 

This isn’t a suggestion the Sox should be foolhardy, or have anything wrapped up. It’s a reminder that whether you believe Eduardo Nunez will keep up his .361 average down the stretch, or whether you find anything dubious about some of these Sox wins — they’re still in the bank, appreciating in value from now until October.

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Moreland delivers with pinch-hit single to help Red Sox beat Yankees, 9-6

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Moreland delivers with pinch-hit single to help Red Sox beat Yankees, 9-6

BOSTON - Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland hit a two-run single in Boston's four-run seventh inning and the Red Sox rallied to beat the New York Yankees 9-6 on Friday night.

Boston won for the 13th time in 15 games to extend its lead in the AL East to five games over the second-place Yankees. New York snapped a four-game winning streak.

Addison Reed (1-1) got five outs, striking out three. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 29th save.

The Red Sox opened a 3-0 lead on homers from Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez. But Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer in the sixth, then New York scored four in the seventh to take a 6-3 lead.

Boston loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh against Tommy Kahnle (2-4). Mookie Betts had a sacrifice fly and Andrew Benintendi an RBI single. After Hanley Ramirez walked to load the bases again, Moreland's single made it 7-6.

Jackie Bradley Jr. added a two-run single in the eighth.