Notes: Sox take season series vs. Yanks


Notes: Sox take season series vs. Yanks

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON The Red Sox couldnt score enough runs Sunday night to giveJosh Beckett his 10th win of the season, despite Beckett's pitchingwell for six innings, and they couldnt make Beckett the first pitcherto go 4-0 against New York since Al Nipper in 1987. But they did end upproviding enough offensive fireworks to engineer a 3-2 win in thebottom of the tenth inning for their eighth walk-off win of theseason.

The victory makes them 10-2 against theYankees in 12 regular-season game, and clinches the season series inBostons favor for the first time since the Sox' World Serieschampionship season of 2004. The Sox and Yanks split the regular-seasonseries each of the last three years.

The Sox will get another chance against theYankeesat the end of August when New York returns to Fenway Park, and theteams will play in Yankee Stadium late inSeptember,

Jason Varitek wasimpressed by the Sox' pitching Sunday.

Our attitudeand approach was the same all night. It ended up being a huge pitchersdual tonight. Sometimes it goes the opposite way and its a hugeslugfest, said Varitek. But importantly on our end it was nice to seehow we threw the ball because thats a good lineup . . . thats areally good lineup.

Chad Ochocinco was on a date with VH1 reality show starlet, fiance Evelyn Lozada, during Sundays tilt against the New York Yankees, and the New England Patriots wide receiver impressively stayed in his front row seats until the game was over after 10 innings and didnt retreat back to the Patriots facility in Foxboro until well after midnight.

Right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler struck out the side in impressive fashion in the eighth inning against the Yankees during Bostons come-from-behind win on Sunday night. The righty didnt break 90-mph during his inning of work, but it appears that the Rhode Island native is hitting a bit of a rhythm and ended last weekend perfectly scoreless in seven straight outings for the Red Sox.

1B Adrian Gonzalez finished the three-game series against the New York Yankees with an offensively invisible 1-for-13 performance in the three games, and is hitting .191 (9-for-47) against the Yankees this season. Gonzalez was spectacular defensively at first base on Saturday and is still hitting .348 for the season, so there doesnt seem to be much doubt that hell be getting a pass from just about everyone after one ineffective series against the Bronx Bombers.

Carl Crawford went 3-for-4 in Sunday nights win and has a hit in nine of his last 10 plate appearances including seven straight hits over the weekend games against the Yankees pitching staff. Crawford is hitting .429 with four doubles, a homer, 2 RBI and a stolen base in seven games during the month of August.

Starter Josh Beckett leads the Red Sox with nine no-decisions on the season, and that matches his career-highs during both the 2009 and 2010 baseball seasons in Boston. Beckett has held opponents to two runs or less in a no-decision seven this season, which is tops among American League pitchers and puts him in a tie with San Diego Padres RHP Tim Stauffer for the Major League lead. Beckett also continues to garner the worst offensive run support of any pitcher on the Red Sox staff, and will finish with far fewer victories than he actually deserved this season.

Adrian Gonzalez entertained an entourage of roughly 10 visitors on Sunday that included his father, his uncle and Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world and a big baseball fan. Slim held court with Gonzalez and David Ortiz during Red Sox batting practice, and had dinner with Gonzalez on Saturday night prior to his group visit to Fenway on Sunday night.

Before the game, manager Terry Francona had high praise for his 1-4 hitters -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez, and Kevin Youkilis who have all come back from injuries last season to have highly productive seasons in 2011:

"Theyre having phenomenal years. I dont know when the years going to end but I dont think the fact that they're good players is going to go away. They played a lot of not just games but innings. I think Gonzies missed maybe 14 innings or something crazy. The games Youks missed hes been sick or hit a ball off his foot or something. Pedeys played almost every game. Jacobys been out all but one game and he got in that game. Were aware of that. Its a huge deal.

Guys come back . . . sometimes you see them come back maybe more in name than they do in what they do on the field. These guys have worked hard enough where they came back and theyre able to not only help us but be some of the best players in the game.

I hate to use that word surprised because I felt like sometimes its almost disrespectful, but maybe a little bit. I mean, theyve done so well and theyve worked hard at it so they can stay out there because its important to them. But Im proud of them for it.

Jed Lowrie, on the disabled list since June 17 with a left shoulder strain, has completed his rehab and expects to be activated Monday. Lowrie appeared in five games for Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .412 (7-for-17) with four doubles and five RBI, serving as the designated hitter and playing shortstop.

Hes fine, Francona said. He swung the bat real well last night and came back tonight and will have a work day. Hell go with us to Minnesota.

I dont know if anyones a hundred percent. Hes fine. Hes not ready to play every day but he doesnt have to. He really swung the bat pretty well. Sometimes when guys are out for a while you just dont know how good theyre going to swing the bat. Carl came back and the first two days he got a bunch of hits and then he didnt. But Jed has proven when hes healthy hes a really good hitter and when hes not thats when he makes outs. So I think it was good that we kind of took a slower route and got him healthy because he can really help us.

Lowrie, who said he was happy with how his rehab went, made his season debut on July 21 last year, missing the season up to that point because of mononucleosis. While the reasons for his absence are completely different, he said, the experience should help him this year.

I think Ive proven that time and again that I can get back up after being knocked down, he said. I think having that experience helps.

I feel good. Im here to do whatever I can to help this team go where it needs to go.

This was the eighth time ever that the Yankees and Sox have met on or after Aug. 1 tied for first place.

Former Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was a pregame visitor to the Sox clubhouse. He is part of ESPNs broadcast team.

Carlos Slim was also a pregame visitor in the clubhouse, part of a group chatting and snapping pictures with Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz. Slim is the worlds wealthiest person, with a net worth estimated at 74 billion.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''