Pregame notes: Reddick starts again

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Pregame notes: Reddick starts again

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Once again Terry Francona had the choice between penciling either the red-hot Josh Reddick or the aging J.D. Drew into the starting lineup in right field.

Once again the Sox skipper chose the kid with the thunder in his bat.

Reddick is in the starting lineup for the Sox against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park in their opener of a three-game weekend series, and the 24-year-old has earned the nod while hitting .378 with a 1.102 OPS in 29 games with Boston.

Reddick flared before flagging in stints over each of the last two seasons with the Sox, but hes making a push for the regular gig in right field while 35-year-old J.D. Drew has been mired in a season-long hitting slump. While the batting average and on base percentage are off for the outfielder, the real concern is Drews punch-less bat thats given the Sox less-than-stellar production in right field all season.

The .219 batting average and .307 slugging percentage for Drew are way off his career norms with the Sox, and signal that perhaps his bat speed is slowing down on the sweet left-handed swing.

With David Ortiz jumping back into the lineup against Felix Hernandez tonight as well, Reddick will be in against the Seattle ace. Francona said it was something of a no-brainer to keep Reddick swinging the hot stick, and compared with the decision to go with shortstop Jed Lowrie earlier this season.

Reddick is swinging the bat awfully well. Its pretty hard not to play him. I actually called JD last night to let him know what we were going to do just out of respect to him, but its a little like Lowrie earlier in the season, said Francona. Josh deserves to play. He has given us such a lift in the lineup. I dont know where its going to go. Nobody does.

As much as we want to win games, at the moment, Reddick gives us a better chance so thats what were doing.

Francona said Drew was understanding during the Thursday night phone call discussing his situation, and gave the familiar managerial refrain that he wouldnt be giving up on his embattled player.

He said he understood. I think he does. I think cares maybe more than people realize. Also I told him that Id never give up on him either. And I wont, said Francona. We all know what JD has in there and if it comes out wed love that too. Id love to be in a position where its hard to figure out who is going to play. If thats the dilemma its a good one to have.

Clay Buchholz threw a long toss session prior to Friday nights game against the Seattle Mariners after both the team and player decided to go from flat ground once more before jumping up to throwing off the mound. There have no setbacks at this point, but Francona hadnt checked in with the right-hander after his bullpen session.

Francona reiterated that Jon Lester was on track for a Monday start against the Kansas City Royals, and was passing through all of the Sox medical checkpoints with flying colors.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays

 

QUOTES:

"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.

 

NOTES

* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.

 

STARS:

1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.

 

First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

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First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.

 

* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.

 

* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.