David Price’s return helps lead Sox in rout of Blue Jays

Don’t look now, but if the Red Sox continue to roll over teams like they did in a 12-2 victory over Toronto yesterday, the league better be on alert. After David Price’s return to form, and an offensive onslaught led by red-hot hitters Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, the Sox have clearly put that series loss against Houston behind them.

Price looks like his old self in his first start back from the IL

David Price’s return will bolster the rotation, which was thinning with Nathan Eovaldi David Price's returnweeks away from returning. In his first trip to the mound since May 2, the southpaw was strong. Price went five innings (67 pitches) and held Toronto to just two runs and three hits, striking out four. For Price, his latest effort just adds on to his pure dominance over Toronto in his career. This afternoon’s victory propelled him to a 13-1 record all-time at the Rogers Centre. That balloons to a 22-3 career record in games pitched against the Blue Jays, good for a 2.37 ERA.

You don’t mess with David if the Jays are in the opposing dugout.

Bogaerts and Devers go back-to-back, Chavis stays hot

Carrying the offensive load for Boston were Bogaerts and Devers, led by back-to-back bombs in the 9th inning. On the day, the young sluggers each drove in a trifecta of runs, with rookie Michael Chavis adding another moonshot and a pair of runs driven in. Chavis finished the afternoon with a mammoth .981 OPS through 26 career games. That would be the highest mark on the team (for position players) if it qualified. Adding to the barrage was Jackie Bradley Jr., who drilled a line drive over the left field fence for his first home run of the season. His homerless drought had led all the way back to the ALCS against Houston. That homer came in Game 4 off of Josh James to tie the game in the sixth inning, leading to an eventual Red Sox victory.

Today’s lashing continues a powerful stretch for the Sox. Over their last 18 games (since 4/29) they have smacked 34 homers and have averaged 6.84 runs per game. In that span, they lead the majors in OPS.

The bullpen combines with David Price’s return to completely shut down the Jays

After Price allowed a two-run home run to Luke Maile in the second, the Red Sox arms shut it down. That home run was the final hit surrendered by Boston pitching for the remainder of the game. After that home run, 22 of the 23 remaining batters were retired. Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, and Hector Velazquez combined to throw four scoreless innings, striking out six and walking just one. The bullpen continues to be a strong point, posting a sub-two ERA over its last 22 games, the second-best mark in MLB.

As the Red Sox continue to rebound from that ugly start, all sides of the ball appear to be clicking. If the Rays and Yankees continue to battle the injuries they have suffered with, it would not be out of the question for the Red Sox to be as good a challenger as anyone for the division title.

Alex Cora’s Sophomore Season in Boston

As Alex Cora enters his sophomore season in a Red Sox uniform, it’s hard not to point out how he is the fifth manager in Major League Baseball to win a World Series in his first year. Many have tried, and many have failed. The last time such a feat occurred was in 2001, when Bob Brenly was manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The best part of that World Series? Watching the Yankees lose.

With the Red Sox winning their ninth World Series Championship on October 28th, 2018,sophomore season it’s hard not to wonder what this season will bring. Will Cora help this team win back to back championships? Only time can tell. The last time such a feat occurred was from 1998 – 2000, when the New York Yankees won 3 years in a row. Since then, some teams have been close, but none have accomplished it.

From Player to Manager…

When the Red Sox handed out those beautiful World Series rings on Opening Day, Cora’s had two mini trophies on it. One from 2007, and one from 2018. In case people have forgotten, Cora was the utility infielder that Dustin Pedroia looked up to in 2007 while Cora was a member of the Red Sox. Also, he wore number 13 for the Red Sox.

Like many managers in baseball, such as Brad Ausmus and Rocco Baldelli, Alex Cora also spent time on the field, playing for the Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox, Mets, Rangers and Nationals. He also was the bench coach when Houston won the World Series in 2017.

So, who was the first Red Sox manager to also be a former player? Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins, who led the Red Sox (known back then as the Boston Americans) to their first World Series back in 1903.

From 1 to 47…

When Alex Cora officially became the Red Sox manager on November 2, 2017, he became the 47th manager in the organization’s history. When you go from top to bottom, Cora is one of a handful of managers who made it to his second year at the helm.

The only manager to make it past 10 years at the helm is Hall of Famer, Joe Cronin. Cronin spent 13 years as a manager for the Red Sox. Cronin also played for the Red Sox from 1935 until 1945. Back then, it was popular for players to also be managers. Cronin, who was a seven time All Star, has his number 4 retired by the Boston Red Sox.

In total, eleven former Red Sox managers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame – Cronin, Collins, Ed Barrow, Lou Boudreaux, Billy Herman, Joe McCarthy, Dick Williams, Hugh Duffy Frank Chance, Bucky Harris and Cy Young. Out of these eleven Hall of Famers, only one has their number retired. In total, two former managers have their number retired by the Red Sox. The first being Cronin, the second is Johnny Pesky, whose number 6 was retired in 2008.

Cora’s former Red Sox manager, Terry Francona comes in second in the Red Sox organization in wins. During his eight seasons as a Red Sox manager, “Tito” went 744-552, while winning two titles in Boston.

Can Cora Make It All The Way?

Since the beginning of the season, the Red Sox have been on a bumpy road. As they continue with their homestead against Toronto and Baltimore, one can only wonder what will happen next.

Many fans in Red Sox Nation hope that Cora has some magic up his sleeve when it comes to going back to the postseason. Only time can tell how this season will go.

Porcello Emerges As Red Sox Unlikely Ace

When David Price signed a 7-year $217 million dollar deal last December, many assumed he’d fill the role as the Red Sox ace. For that kind of money, a pitcher should do more than just win a few games. Despite Price’s strong performance, all eyes are now on Rick Porcello. As Porcello emerges as the Red Sox unlikely ace, many in Boston are beginning to wonder if he can win the AL Cy Young Award, and carry the team to a World Series.

Since starting his career in 2009, Porcello has held his own in the American League (for the most part).porcello emerges Despite an ERA that often hovered above 4, he led the American League in shutouts in 2014 with three. Porcello is a strong pitcher, but before this season did not have many opportunities to prove himself. It didn’t help that he went 9-15 his first year in Boston. It is, however, hard to blame Porcello’s dismal 2015 season on him alone. 2015 was one of the Red Sox worst seasons in recent memory. Porcello and the rest of the pitching staff didn’t have strong run support. Thankfully, 2016 is proving to be a much different year for the better.

As Porcello Emerges, So Does Rest Of The Team

One of the reasons why Porcello is finally getting the recognition he deserves is because of run support. Four of the team’s hitters have 20+ home runs and five of them have a batting average over .300. On top of that, other pitchers on the rotation are showing their strong stuff, too. Steven Wright is surprising everyone with a 13-6 record. While Price may be taking a back seat to Porcello, he’s holding steady with a 15-8 record including 201 strikeouts.

It’s all but certain that the Red Sox will make the post season. If they can keep it together, they’ll meet either Toronto, Cleveland, or Texas in the playoffs. Those are not easy teams to beat. After the 13-3 shellacking the Sox gave the Blue Jays on September 9th, however, which marked Porcello’s 20th win, it might not be so hard.

If Porcello can stay focused, get the run support he needs, and keep his hat out of the washing machine, I won’t be surprised if he gets a Cy Young Award after taking the Red Sox to the World Series.

 

Sandoval Breaks Belt and Fans’ Hopes

“Sandoval Breaks Belt.” Words that want to make you cry.

Ladies and gentlemen of Red Sox Nation, I owe you an apology. My first article for Sandoval breaks beltYawkey Way Report defended Pablo Sandoval against the critics who focused on his weight after he arrived at spring training this year. I even bit my tongue when John Farrell decided to bench him in favor of Travis Shaw, which I wasn’t too happy about at first. I thought Farrell wasn’t giving Sandoval a fair chance. But, after taking a closer look at his mediocre pre-season, I quickly realized that it was necessary, especially if the Sox want to be post-season contenders this year. Still, I held onto hope that Sandoval would get off to a strong start to this season and redeem himself.

That hope was destroyed after I saw the headline “Sandoval Breaks Belt” and watched the footage. Watching his belt break as he swung at a pitch from the Toronto Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey was enough for me. It was beyond embarrassing to the Red Sox. On second thought, I take that back. It was unacceptable. How bad does your weight have to get before you realize you have a problem?

Watching Sandoval break his belt is the latest in a series of embarrassing moments for the benched third baseman. When pre-season began, I defended Sandoval’s weight by arguing that his body fat was at an acceptable level. I originally said that Sandoval needed support and encouragement from Red Sox Nation, not ridicule. But his belt malfunction has left me convinced that Sandoval’s doing little, if anything at all, to control over his weight problem.

Sandoval Breaks Belt is All Fans Will Remember

I hate to talk about this topic. No one likes it when someone points out how overweight they are. I’ve struggled with weight issues myself all my life and know how upsetting it can be. But I took control over it. I started going to the gym, I started running, and I put myself on a strict diet. I was tired of hearing people call me fat and I didn’t want to wait until I had a heart attack to realize that I should have started taking care of myself sooner. But Sandoval is supposed to be a professional athlete! There’s absolutely no excuse for him to be that big. For the money he’s getting paid, at the VERY LEAST, he has an obligation to be fit.

I can’t defend Pablo Sandoval anymore. If he was working his butt off to lose weight and take the game more seriously then I’d respect him a little more. But I can’t help but feel he just has a bad attitude about Boston. Whether the negative attention Sandoval is getting is fair or not is beside the point now. The media sees him as an unmotivated player still licking his wounds from last season even though he has had perfectly good chances to redeem himself. Now, “Sandoval Breaks Belt” is the only thing people are going to remember about him for a while.

Hanley Ramirez is playing well so far this season. Brock Holt hit his first career Grand Slam against Toronto last week. The rest of the Red Sox are showing signs of the team they were back in 2004 and 2007. The chance for Sandoval to improve is right there, but he’s gotta manage his weight if wants to avoid seeing any more “Sandoval Breaks Belt” headlines.

Red Sox Starters Among League Worst

Red Sox Starters

It is hard to find a silver lining after an 18-7 loss in Baltimore on Sunday, but if there was one it was the Red Sox were heading back to the friendly confines of home, in Fenway Park on Monday to start a series with the Blue Jays. The weekend series in Baltimore saw the Sox pitching staff hit new lows in terms of innings and the bullpen added to the misery.

The Sox seemingly have no starter on the staff right now who you could consider a “stopper” , or a pitcher who you know will stop a losing skid. Sox fans have to wonder—Red Sox Starterswho and when will a pitcher step up, or even be called up? Rick Porcello has been the best in my opinion as he has given the bullpen the most help, going deep into games, but also has a dub thrown in there as well. Joe Kelly has flashed that he could be lights out, but his meltdown in Tampa Bay where he walked in a run with the bases loaded showed he is still a work in progress.

Clay Buccholz everyone knows about, and has known about for the past seven years. He is capable of being great, but he needs everything to go right if he is going to be that guy. Justin Masterson is back for his second stint with the team and his role is the eat innings. He has yet to receive a loss on the year, but has left games where the offense has picked him up after giving up leads.

Wade Miley deserves his own category. In four starts, he has yet to finish six innings and in two starts he did not get out of the third. Very taxing on the bullpen and the offense when your starter can’t get out of his own way. Miley, acquired this off-season, will likely have a long leash before he is removed from the rotation. Fans soon may cringe when they see Miley listed as the starter that night.

Red Sox fans wanted an ace this off-season and as Spring Training ended without one, the question remained—who will step up in the rotation? So far you can say no starter has stepped up, yet John Farrell and Ben Cherington say it is too early to panic about the rotation. With your starters ERA being 30th in the league with 30 teams, one has to wonder how long before management starts to panic.

When and if panic sets in what happens? Brian Johnson was just named International League Pitcher of the Week for the PawSox in AAA, and he seems deserving of the first man to get the call if an injury or a starters turn is skipped. Matt Barnes pitched out of the bullpen this weekend and was sent down after going two innings on Saturday. The plan with Barnes on if he will remain a starter in the minor leagues or not is unknown.

Of course Cole Hamels does remain a Philadelphia Phillie and likely will until Ruben Amaro is satisfied with an offer for his ace. Betts and Swihart remain off the table, but the Red Sox may feel obliged to get creative with an offer if the rotation continues to struggle.

Red Sox starters have yet to string together a series of starts where you feel confident in them. How long will it be before John Farrell and Ben Cherington are forced to make a move?

Pitch 76

76

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher John Lackey works against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game in Toronto on Saturday, April 6, 2013. The Canadian Press, Chris Young / AP Photo

 

What a shame it was Saturday, April 6, in Toronto.  John Lackey was doing such an amazing job at the mound, but when pitch # 76 came he fell back and held his bicep in pain.  What was it?  Fans and others including John Farrell were struck with angst as Lackey was immediately taken from the mound in the middle of an at bat.  At the bottom of the fifth and 76 pitches, Lackey had six strike outs (51 strikes in all).  He put on quite a show despite the Sox’ 5-0 loss against the Jays and despite the two runs he let in.  What could it be?

Lackey’s stress test after the game showed positive results, but an unanticipated pain in the belly of his bicep left Lackey and Farrell in wonder. If it wasn’t his elbow (thank God) or his shoulder, what happened on the 76th pitch that could disrupt his bicep so suddenly?  After the game, at a conference, Farrell discussed it as an astonishment, for he had seen nothing like it happen before.  Lackey will be flown to Boston tomorrow for an MRI in hopes it is nothing too serious.

We all hope it’s nothing too serious.  After all, he worked so hard in the off season losing what Farrell believes, 25 pounds, and getting in shape to be on top.  As I was listening to the game on 93.7 while in my car, driving to the city, I caught the sports broadcasters say, “He has never looked so good in a baseball uniform before”.  Lackey deserves to be on top.  I hope we do see him in Boston this upcoming week. Not on the bench, but on the mound where he belongs.