Beckett less than stellar . . . again


Beckett less than stellar . . . again

By Maureen Mullen

FORT MYERS, Fla. For the third consecutive outing of his five starts this spring Josh Beckett turned in a less-than-stellar performance. Against the Blue Jays Friday night at City of Palms Park, he went six innings, plus one batter in the seventh (whom he hit with a pitch), allowing seven runs, all earned on 11 hits and no walks with five strikeouts, as the Red Sox lost 11-8.

The first batter in each inning reached base, including Corey Patterson to lead off the game with a first-pitch double to center field, one of three first-pitch, lead-off doubles Beckett allowed.

Results aside, I felt like I did some things that weve been working on, Beckett said. I felt like they were a little comfortable for the first time. I got to take some positives away from that. But obviously the results are what they are.

Beckett said he is becoming more comfortable with adjustments he and pitching coach Curt Young have made to his delivery.

Yeah, especially out of the stretch, he said. I had plenty of practice today on it. It was just something weve been emphasizing trying to get comfortable with, some things that weve altered a little.

Its more mechanical stuff for me, just getting comfortable with some of the new things that Curt and I been working on.

In his last three outings against the Pirates twice and the Blue Jays Beckett has pitched a combined 14 23 innings, giving up a 16 runs, 13 earned, for a 7.98 ERA.

Obviously you look at the results and theyre not good, he said. Today I got to take some positives. I felt like I threw the ball good. I felt like there was the home run that Adam Loewen hit I felt like was a pretty good pitch. Probably wasnt the right pitch at that time because we had him out front on some changeups and stuff like that. Like I said, the results stink but there were some good things that happened today.

The two good things were he got real stretched out and he felt real good physically, said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. He made some mistakes. It seemed like the first hitter of almost every inning was on. So he was pitching out of the stretch. Saying that, once he got to that point I thought he made some good pitches. There were some pitches that still wandered back over the middle, got hit pretty good. But he feels real good physically. I think its one of those things where in March youre glad he feels good and the runs dont count.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays


Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason


Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.