Time is now for Middlebrooks

756820.jpg

Time is now for Middlebrooks

"If Youk returns in a week and is ready to go, he plays third base. He's been here. It's great that Will has come up and done a good job and we like him a lot and he's a big part of our future. But Youk's on the DL and he didn't lose his job because he got hurt." Ben Cherington

One of the crazier and most unfortunate aspects of following this Red Sox team is that you never know who or what to believe. For instance, the fact Ben Cherington presented this ridiculous argument to Sean McAdam, doesn't mean that it's actually Cherington's opinion.

This is the same guy who stood before us last December and swore up and down that he was 100 percent behind the hiring of Bobby Valentine, when we knew all along that he wanted Dale Sveum. At that moment, Cherington proved that he had no problem playing Larry Lucchino's game, and was content to carry the GM title, even if it didn't come with the typical GM authority. And for a guy in Cherington's position, I can't say I blame him.

Who's going to turn down a chance to be the GM of the Red Sox?

Still, it was obvious very early that while Cherington was the face of the front office, there were others and one especially slimy other pulling the strings. So, when he makes a statement like the one above, it's only and always fair to wonder:

Who's really behind all this?

I say this because, deep down, I don't want to believe that Ben Cherington actually thinks that the Red Sox owe anything to Kevin Youkilis. That given everything that's gone on with this team, that Cherington could possibly think that blindly handing the starting third baseman's job back to Youk is anything but idiotic.

I want to believe that when Cherington provided this quote, he was tied up and blind-folded to a pole in Larry Lucchino's basement, as LL squealed in the background: "You tell them what's going on, Cherington. I just ordered 15,000 Youuuuuk t-shirts for the pro shop, and hell if I'm not turning a profit!"

Is there another plausible explanation?

Will Middlebrooks represents everything this team needs. Youkilis is everything they need to get away from. That's not very hard to see.

Now I can understand if we're having this conversation in the middle of July, and Middlebrooks has since comeback to Earth and clearly a little green for the MLB game. At that point, sure, give Youk another try. But to just pull the plug on Middlebrooks before seeing it through?

That's insane.

But that's the Red Sox.

We have no clue who's making the decisions, but they never cease to disappoint.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

red_sox_brian_johnson_2_052617.jpg

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

red_sox_brian_johnson_052617.jpg

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.