Red Sox cruise to second straight win


Red Sox cruise to second straight win

By Maureen Mullen

BOSTON -- On Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, the Red Sox finally accomplished what they had been previously unable to do this season: Win consecutive games. With John Lester turning in another strong performance, the Sox beat the Blue Jays 8-1. The win improves their season record to 4-10.

Lester limited the Jays to one run in six innings (plus two batters in the seventh) on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts. He threw 110 pitches a season high with 65 strikes. While it was his third consecutive quality start, it was just his first win of the season, improving to 1-1 with a 3.20 ERA.

Jesse Litsch (1-1) took the loss for Toronto, going six innings, giving up six runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

The Jays took a brief lead in the second inning. Aaron Hill opened the frame with a walk , went to second on J.P. Arencibias single to right, and advanced to third on Travis Sniders double play. After Juan Rivera walked, with Jayson Nix at the plate, Rivera broke for second base, drawing a throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. With Nix in a rundown, Hill crossed the plate before Nix was tagged.

In the bottom of the inning, consecutive one-out singles by Jed Lowrie, J.D. Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia tied the score. Jacoby Ellsburys home run to right, put the Sox up, 4-1. It the teams first three-run homer of the season. Ellsbury now leads the Sox in home runs, with three, stolen bases (3), and is tied for the lead with three RBI (with David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez).

The Sox extended their lead in the sixth. With two outs Ortiz singled to center, Lowrie reached on Nixs error at third and Drew walked. Saltalamacchia single to right scored Ortiz and Lowrie, with Drew ending the inning getting thrown out at the plate. The three RBI are the most for Saltalamacchia since he tallied four on May 5, 2009, while with the Rangers.

The Sox added two runs in the eighth. Loading the bases with no outs, Lind could not handle Lowries grounder down the first-base line, scoring Gonzalez, who doubled to left-center, and Youkilis, who was hit by a pitch for the 70th time in his career (behind only Mo Vaughn with 71 all-time on the Red Sox list).

Lesters day was done after allowing an infield single toArencibia to open the seventh, and an error by Lowrie on Sniders grounder put two runners on. Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, Bobby Jenks, and Dan Wheeler combined to hold the Jays scoreless the rest of the way.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

Porcello following Belichick’s lead, moving 'on to 2017'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- Flashback to January 2016, it’s the first night of Red Sox Winter Weekend, where fans welcome Rick Porcello with a vanilla reception -- no different than that of any one of the coaches. The right-hander is coming off a disappointing 2015, where he’d been given a four-year extension before throwing a regular season pitch and didn’t exactly perform to the level he’d hoped.

Now flash foward to Friday night, same event, just a year later. Porcello is introduced at the Town Hall event at Foxwoods to kick off the weekend and receives a welcome truly rivaled only by the AL MVP runner-up, Mookie Betts.

“You know, they were both pretty similar,” Porcello joked with reporters when comparing his 2016 reception to Friday’s.

Makes sense. Winning a Cy Young Award can change public perception.

But after his dominant 22-4 regular season, Porcello -- along with the rest of the starting rotation -- couldn’t deliver in the postseason. While he was visibly upset during and after his lone 2016 postseason start, Porcello is taking the Bill Belichick approach and says he's moving on from the outing -- and his memorable regular season, too.

“Just like any other start, you’ve gotta find ways to get over that stuff,” Porcello said. “It doesn’t feel good to go out there and not win Game 1, but I’m on to 2017 now -- and really everything that’s happened in 2016 is behind me. The season that I had, the postseason I had and we’re on to this year and what we can accomplish this year.”

“Moving on” from struggling times and great successes tends to bode well for athletes and players in this town. Maybe that’s what made all the difference for Porcello in making the jump from 2015 to 2016.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.


Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."