Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Swihart Back Behind The Plate For Sox Tonight

Here is tonight's Red Sox lineup at SkyDome: Mookie Betts CF, Brock Holt 2B, Xander Bogaerts SS, David Ortiz DH, Pablo Sandoval 3B, Mike Napoli 1B, Alejandro De Aza LF, Blake Swihart C, Jackie Bradley Jr. RF. Eduardo Rodriguez takes the hill tonight for Boston.

Red Sox Sign Top Pick Benintendi For $3.6M

(Photo by Andy Shupe)
According to multiple sources, the Red Sox have signed their top pick in the 2015 MLB Draft for a full slot bonus of $3,590,400. Andrew Benintendi, out of the University of Arkansas, was taken by Boston with the number seven overall pick in this month's draft. Only two other draftees in the Top Ten were signed at the full slot bonus— Tyler Jay (Twins) and Cornelius Randolph (Phillies). Benintendi—the Collegiate Player Of The Year—possesses power, speed and athleticism that many equate to another Sox CF draftee—Jacoby Ellsbury. The dismal showing of the 2014 Carmine Hose may someday bear fruit with Benintendi.

POLL: Most Want To Keep Buchholz At Deadline

Very early voting in our latest FenwayNation Poll indicates a preference to keep Clay Buchholz at the trade deadline. As the chart shows, more than six in ten readers (61%) think the Red Sox should not trade the Texas righty, while just under four in ten (39%) think the team should take advantage of his current high value and deal him. You can still vote in the poll HERE.

Sox Face Watershed Game Tonight In Canada

It might seem a little silly to put so much emphasis on Game #79 in a 162-game season. But tonight, the Red Sox have a chance to show their competitors in the AL East that they have not given up just yet. The Carmine Hose have won two in a row. More importantly, they've taken eight of their last thirteen games—a .615 winning percentage that far outshines their 2015 norm (.449). Tonight, they have 22-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound and—despite a few recent bumps in his rookie road—he is still an impressive young hurler, poised beyond his years. He can do this. A win could move them within six games of the AL East lead, a loss could push them eight back and put them again on the 'treadmill to oblivion'. So, it's a big game tonight. As big as they've played all year.

FenwayNation Poll: Time To Trade Buchholz?

Buchholz Trade?

At the peak of his value, should Boston trade Buchholz?

  Current Results

Buchholz Delivers A Beauty, Sox Top Jays, 3-1

(Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) 
Look up 'enigma' in the dictionary, and there will likely be a picture of Clay Buchholz. At once, the most talented (sometimes) and frustrating (nearly all the time) starter in the last decade, Buchholz put on a show last night. Going eight strong innings, he gave up just one earned run in Boston's 3-1 win over Toronto. Buchholz used his entire four-pitch arsenal to stymie one of the most prolific offenses in all of baseball. On our offensive side, the first three hitters in the Boston order were dynamic—Mookie Betts went 2-4 and scored two runs, Brock Holt went 1-3 with an RBI and Xander Bogaerts went 1-4 with two RBIs. Boston has crept to within seven games of the top-spot in the AL East—and has won 8 of their last 13. Could it be the start of something good?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Red Sox Lineup Tonight Versus The Blue Jays

Here is tonight's Red Sox lineup for tonight's game at SkyDome (erroneously re-named as Rogers Centre): Mookie Betts CF, Brock Holt 2B, Xander Bogaerts SS, David Ortiz DH, Pablo Sandoval 3B, Mike Napoli 1B, Alejandro De Aza LF, Sandy Leon C, Jackie Bradley Jr. RF. Clay Buchholz will take the hill tonight for The Carmine Hose.

All-Star Home Run Derby Gets All-New Format

New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is nothing if not bold—a far cry from his predecessor's decades-long inertia. A good example of this is the completely new (and better) rules for the Home Run Derby in this year's All-Star Game. The biggest change is that the rounds will be on a "time" limit—not an "outs" limit. Each batter will get five minutes to knock out as many HRs as he can—with non-HR's and swinging misses not counting against anything but the time allotment. Brilliant! Moreover, if you happen to hit two HRs more than 420 feet—you get a whole extra minute. Also, the clock will stop for any HR hit in the final minute of each round. Another good new feature is the seeding—which is based on actual HR totals as of July 7th. Amazing! Head-to-head ties will get a 90-second "Swing-Off"—with no clock stoppage. We love it all! Way to go, Manfred!

Recalling Boston's First DH—Orlando Cepeda

Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda played 17 seasons in the big leagues—mostly with the Giants (nine years). But in his penultimate season of 1973, he was the very first Designated Hitter for the Boston Red Sox. When American League owners decided on the DH rule, the 35-year old Cepeda was given a new lease on baseball life. Cepeda played in 120 games for Boston that year, and produced the way you'd expect a DH to produce. He hit .289 with a .350 OPB and a slugging percentage of .444. He clouted out 20 HRs and drove in 86 runs. He also had 25 doubles—not bad for 35-year old wheels. After that season in Boston, Cepeda played only 33 games with the Kansas City Royals in 1974—hitting just .215 with one HR. Now 77 years old, the "Baby Bull" can be rightly proud of his achievements as Boston's first DH.

Cast Your June 2015 Dalton Jones Average Vote!

It's that time again—another month's end and another chance to vote in FenwayNation's exclusive Dalton Jones Industrial Average. The DJIA (honoring the Red Sox all-time pinch-hit leader) gathers four key metrics from FN readers scattered around the world. Through the DJIA, readers assess the fortunes of the team on: starting pitchingrelief pitchingoverall offense and overall defenseFenwayNation will publish the DJIA Index Score each month during the season—and the fluctuation up or down from the previous month's reading. You can now cast your June DJIA vote HERE.

Hanley's Hand May Land Him On Disabled List

Hanley Ramirez is back in Boston today for further tests on his injured left hand. He was hit by a line drive last Wednesday, and has not played since. Initial tests indicated (CATScan, X-Rays) that the hand was not broken, but further discomfort indicated the need for more testing—specifically an MRI. The team needs to make a decision soon, so the left-fielder may wind up on the 15-day DL to free up the roster spot for a healthier player. Said manager John Farrell, "He’s still feeling some discomfort in the hand where he got hit. Unfortunately, he’s not progressing as we anticipated, particularly over the last 24 to 48 hours." Stay tuned.

An Optimistic Note From A Wintry 'Down Under'

by Mark Lawrence, International Editor

The other day I was striding purposefully through the Central Business District here in wintry Sydney, clad in my worsted grey Red Sox hoodie when a lilting feminine voice called out to me: "Go Sox!"    

"Not this year," I muttered, pulling the hood tighter around my pointy little dome.  But some hours later, soothed by some warming adult beverages and calmed by a narrow Cuban cheroot, I begin to ponder the possibilities.  Here we are yet again, in a familiar place of turmoil and frustration, at the part of the season where managers are fired and hired and players either play hard or go home losers. And don't forget the fans, poor trusting souls that we are. Our faith in our team may be shay right now, but as readers may recall, our faith has been memorably rewarded in recent years. And that's what had me thinking about the past. Now, even though there are less than 85 games remaining, there is still that slender, golden chance that things could turn around.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Red Sox Homer Three Times, Beat Rays, 5-3

(AP Photo)
The Red Sox have taken a series on the road from a first place team. Alert the media! Boston unloaded the heavy lumber today—as three players homered against tough Tampa starter Chris Archer in a 5-3 win. David Ortiz, Pablo Sandoval and Alejandro De Aza all went yard—as The Carmine Hose moved back to within eight games of first place. Big Papi, and The Panda each had two RBIs—and Xander Bogaerts (pronounced correctly by Jerry Remy) had two more hits—including his 15th double. Despite a less than overpowering fastball, Justin Masterson returned to the rotation and delivered a solid five-inning performance—giving up no earned runs. The Red Sox head north of the border for four games against the suddenly very tough Toronto Blue Jays.

Tampa 'Blues Brothers' Lead Way Over Sox, 4-1

(Getty Images)
They were clad in hideous, blue 1970s throwback uniforms—in a town where 'throwback' means last Tuesday. And yet, the Tampa Bay Rays were able to defeat the Red Sox 4-1 on Saturday. A rookie starting pitcher named Matt Andriese and a refugee from a Blue Brothers movie named Jake Elmore combined to lay the loss on Boston (clad in their double-knit 1975 PJs). Andriese pitched six solid innings giving up one hit (to Xander Bogaerts), while Elmore clubbed a two-run HR in the fifth off loser Wade Miley (who again pitched pretty well). This was another stinker in a long line of stinkers in 2015—no offense and marginal pitching. That kind of baseball calculus leads to losses—lots of them.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A View Of The Season From Across The Pond

by Dave Merry, UK Correspondent

At the time of writing, the Red Sox have just lost 8-6 to the Orioles and are now 32-42 and in last place. Another poor season is in the cards, but for this baseball newbie Englishman, it's still been fantastic. This is my view on the season so far.

The campaign started well and—arrogantly—I thought it was me bringing the Red Sox good luck but as we know it didn't last. The predictions and expectations that the pitching wasn't good enough soon proved right but never mind because we had a super strong offence to make up for it—wrong!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mookie And Brock Deliver 10th-Inning Sox Win

(AP Photo)
Signs and wonders. The Red Sox took on the first-place Tampa Bay Rays tonight and actually beat them—a 10-inning 4-3 victory. Mookie Betts (extending his hitting streak to 13) sent a lead-off tenth-inning double to left and was plated on a clutch single to center by (who else?) Brock Holt. Rick Porcello managed not to lose another start—although he did blow a 3-1 lead in the no-decision. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Alejandro De Aza got the other RBIs as Boston sliced its deficit to eight games in the American League East.

Airline Touts Boston Flights With NYY Image

The Offending Ad
Here's a great argument for UK companies hiring US PR firms when they venture across the pond. Thomas Cook Airlines recently displayed on-line ads touting their new direct flights from Manchester, England to Boston. Of course, baseball was part of the allure in the ad, so the swinging ballpayer attracted a lot of attention. You see, the player in front of the Boston skyline is draped in Yankee pinstripes. Ooops! The airline quickly walked back the miscue with the following, "We realise that it appeared to be more of an own goal than a home run on our part and would like to make that right with baseball fans so we don’t strike out before we’ve even started the flight programme." Uh-huh.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sox Score Enough But Lose To O's Anyway, 8-6

Xander At Bat Today (Exclusive FenwayNation Photo) 
It's axiomatic. If you score six runs at your home park, you should win about 3/4 of the time. Not this 2015 edition of The Carmine Hose! Today, on a gorgeous 80 degree day at Fenway, they tallied six times and still lost to Baltimore, 8-6. Blame this one on rookie starter Eduardo Rodriguez. The 22-year old lefty took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, and then proceeded to cough up five runs—wiping out a 1-0 Sox lead. Once again, Boston crept back into the game—powered by a three-run HR by Alejandro DeAza down the right field line. Every time the Red Sox got close, the O's would re-open a bigger lead on the Boston bullpen—until the ultimate 8-6 loss. Offensive stars for the Red Sox were: Xander Bogaerts (2-5, RBI); Blake Swihart (2-4, RBI) and DeAza (3 RBI, HR). In his return to Boston, Jackie Bradley, Jr. went 2-4 and—on a brilliant OF assist—pegged a laser to home to complete a double play.

Red Sox Score Pyrrhic Victory, Beat O's, 5-1

(Getty Images)
It was a win—but it might have been a very costly one. Boston erupted for five runs in the sixth inning and went on to a 5-1 win over the Orioles last night. However, they may have lost two key players in the middle of their lineup. Hanley Ramirez left the game with a hand injury and Dustin Pedroia tweaked a hamstring on his hit that put the Sox ahead to stay. David Ortiz had a key two-run HR in the inning as well. Clay Buchholz pitched well again—going seven strong innings and giving up just one earned run. He struck out seven. Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara slammed the door on Baltimore in the eighth and ninth. A nice win against a division rival—but The Nation urgently awaits news on the injuries.