Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

While the Yankees flashed some leather in both the infield and outfield, the Red Sox‘ subpar defense played a critical role in their 9-3 defeat on Tuesday night.

Though Jon Lester wasn’t necessarily the recipient of a tough luck loss, shaky defense behind him led to a total of five unearned runs on the evening.

“Errors are part of the game, mistakes are part of the game, and tonight that hurt us,” Lester said. “Other nights, we’ve been able to make up for them or we were able to play exceptionally well. I’ll never fault a guy for making an error, I know that the effort is always there.”

With two outs in the fifth inning, Mike Napoli missed a line drive off the bat of Brian Roberts that was hit his way, resulting in an error and allowing a run to score. Right fielder Grady Sizemore then collected the ball and threw to home (though it was off the mark) while Brian McCann, who advanced from first to second on the error, strayed away from second base towards the dugout. The miscues opened the floodgates for the Yankees, who took advantage of the second chance and scored three more runs thanks to a two-run double from Ellsbury and an RBI single from Derek Jeter.

Napoli made no excuses for the misplay, assuring that the finger injury he suffered last week was not a factor.

“I just didn’t make the play,” Napoli said. “It was a little weird…McCann was on first, and I kind of lost it for a second. I thought I was on it but I have to make that play. That was a key situation in the game…It kind of disappeared on me for a little bit. I have to stick with it and see it into my glove.”

That error in particular served as a turning point in the game, since the Red Sox had scored two runs on back-to-back home runs from Napoli and David Ortiz in the bottom of the fourth to cut the Yankees’ lead in half. Lester could not record the final out of the inning, lasting just 4 2/3 and throwing 118 pitches.

“That’s why defense is important,” Napoli said. “You get off the field, Lester doesn’t have to throw extra pitches, you might get an extra inning or so [out of him]. That was a key time of the game and I’ve got to make that play.”

But poor defense was a theme throughout the entire evening.

Earlier, in the top of the third inning, the Yankees collected three straight doubles to lead off the inning, all of which were close to being outs. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. came within inches of nabbing a deep fly to center off the bat of Alfonso Soriano, but the ball bounced beside his glove.

“I felt like I was pretty close,” Bradley said. “It was one of those plays where you try to jump as high as you can and you probably take your eye off the ball at the last second as it’s coming down.”

Mark Teixeira then followed up with a bloop to right field that fell in between a triangle of Dustin Pedroia, Sizemore and Napoli and resulted in a run. Then McCann lined a shot to left that Jonny Gomes was unable to track down.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was the owner of the first of the Red Sox’ two errors on the evening, skipping a throw into center field in the first inning while trying to catch Jeter heading to second after a passed ball. It was Pierzynski’s second miscue of the season.

“I just tried to hurry and made a bad throw,” Pierzynski said. “It was a good read by Jeter, I was trying to make a play and I just short-hopped [Pedroia] and it went into center field.”

“Tonight, the ball gets away from him, he’s throwing off balance, ends up throwing it into center field,” manager John Farrell said of Pierzynski. “The only thing I can say to that is we continue to go through early work to get his footwork squared away.”

Without the solid gloves of Will Middlebrooks at third and Stephen Drew at shortstop and a constantly shuffled outfield alignment, inconsistent defense has plagued the Red Sox throughout the early going of 2014. Xander Bogaerts is still experiencing some growing pains at shortstop, while Bradley, Sizemore, and Daniel Nava have each played at least two different outfield positions, with Bradley and Sizemore each getting starts at all three. Prior to tonight, the Red Sox had the second-worst Defensive Efficiency Ratio in the American League at .682.

“We’ve given some extra outs,” Farrell said. “At this level, when you do that, you’re asking for trouble. It’s something we continue to address, work at internally. There’s not going to be wholesale changes made. We have to go out and execute with greater efficiency.”

The Red Sox might get some help in that department soon with the impending return of Shane Victorino. The right fielder might bring a little more stability to an outfield that looks different just about every night. Middlebrooks, who is working his way back from a calf strain, may provide a defensive upgrade over the combination of Jonathan Herrera and Brock Holt when he returns. While it’s hard to quantify the type of effect the less-than-stellar defense has had on the team’s record thus far, on a night like Tuesday night it’s easy to see the impact that a good defense can make.

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison

The Red Sox thought that they might activate Shane Victorino from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday, following the third game of his rehab assignment in Triple-A Pawtucket (in which the outfielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts).

Right-hander Allen Webster could be brought up by the Red Sox on Wednesday. (AP)

Right-hander Allen Webster could be brought up by the Red Sox on Wednesday. (AP)

The Red Sox thought that they might activate Shane Victorino from the disabled list as soon as Wednesday, following the third game of his rehab assignment in Triple-A Pawtucket (in which the outfielder went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts). But with the Sox having gotten just 2 1/3 innings from Clay Buchholz on Monday and 4 2/3 frames from Jon Lester on Tuesday, the team felt that a taxed bullpen that had worked a combined 11 innings over those two games might require reinforcements. As such, manager John Farrell said that the team might consider a pitcher instead of activating Victorino on Wednesday.

“We’ve got to take a look,” said Farrell. “We may have a pitching move because of how deep we’ve had to go in the bullpen the last couple of days, so Shane is not a given for [Wednesday].”

If the Sox make a move for a pitcher, an obvious choice would right-hander Allen Webster, who is the scheduled starter for Pawtucket on Wednesday. Webster is on the 40-man roster, and he has some experience in the big leagues as a reliever at the end of last year. He could provide the Sox with length if they endure another game that requires the services of the ‘pen. The other option would likely be Alex Wilson, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday to give him eight scoreless appearances (spanning eight frames) this year in Pawtucket. Wilson would be able to give more than three outs, though he’s unlikely stretched out to the point of being able to provide long relief if needed, at a time when both Chris Capuano and Burke Badenhop likely will be unavailable.

None of the other options on the 40-man roster seem to fit for a one-day callup. Drake Britton pitched on Tuesday, making him a less-than-ideal callup. Brandon Workman started on Monday, so would not be a consideration. Anthony Ranaudo has never pitched in relief, and he’d be pitching on three days’ rest. Rubby De La Rosa — the best pitcher in Pawtucket to date — started on Tuesday night.

As for a move to open a roster spot for a pitcher and then Victorino, the Sox haven’t announced any decisions, but outfielder Daniel Nava met with Farrell behind closed doors following Tuesday’s game. Nava’s endured a season-long struggle, hitting .149/.240/.269, and he’s been out of the starting lineup in two of the last four games, including Tuesday night against right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.

“We’re trying to get him going offensively and [Jonny Gomes] gives us a little bit more of that right now,” Farrell explained before the game of the decision to start Gomes over Nava. “He’s probably swung the bat a little bit more earlier in counts than we’ve seen in the past and that might be maybe some reflection of the current level of confidence. When he’s squared up some balls, he hasn’t seen the fruits of that too much. Like all players, they go through a little bit of a peak and valley and we’re trying to get him out of that right now. Fundamentally I can’t say it’s any one thing that he’s breaking down from a swing mechanic standpoint.”

Nava has two options remaining, and so he can be sent down without exposing him to waivers.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Johnny Damon had warned Jacoby Ellsbury before the game Tuesday that he would find out just how vicious Red Sox fans could be for leaving Boston for the Yankees.

Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury tipped his cap to Red Sox fans and the organization Tuesday night. (AP)

Johnny Damon had warned Jacoby Ellsbury before the game Tuesday that he would find out just how vicious Red Sox fans could be for leaving Boston for the Yankees.

After all, when Damon signed with the Bronx Bombers prior to the 2006 season, he was roundly booed and excoriated every time he set foot inside Fenway Park. It didn’t stop when he left after winning a World Series in 2009 and played for Detroit, Tampa Bay and Cleveland.

But Ellsbury is no Johnny Damon. For whatever reason, Ellsbury was booed on Tuesday but no where near as fiercely as Damon when the original “Idiot” returned in 2006 for the first time.

[Click here to hear Jacoby Ellsbury rave about his return to Fenway Park Tuesday night.]

As a matter of fact, Ellsbury thought the Red Sox fans showed great restraint and respect. True, it’s a lot easier to say that when you triple to open the game, making a diving catch in the bottom of the first and knock out the opposing pitcher Jon Lester with a two-run double in the fifth, all part of a 9-3 Yankees cakewalk Tuesday night at Friendly Fenway.

“Anytime a win is a good game,” Ellsbury said. “I’m happy I could go out there and help the team win tonight. I thought the fans were great. I thought the reception was nice. The tribute the Red Sox gave on the video board [was] unexpected, and I thought it was very classy of them to do that.

“I think there were more emotions before the game, just seeing the familiar faces, the grounds crew, everybody, everyone that opens the door, obviously teammates, trainers. Everybody that I’ve seen for seven to nine years, thanking me and congratulating me. That was the nice thing, the people here.”

Ellsbury was genuinely appreciative to the Red Sox fans who came out to cheer and boo all night long.

“It’s a great feeling,” Ellsbury said of the reaction all night. “I spent nine years in the organization and gave this organization everything I had each and every day I stepped on that field. For them to just take a moment to have some cheers [for me] it was nice.

“I thought it was great. I thought the fans were great. They’ve always treated me well here. They’ve always cheered for me and it showed again today.”

The video tribute was a highlight for fans and Ellsbury, who received his biggest cheers at the end of the Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run” montage, coming before the top of the second inning.

“Just right before the game, that was the first time they let me know there’d be something,” Ellsbury said. “I didn’t know what it was. That was the first I heard of it. They said something would be going on, after the bottom of the first inning. That was really all I got from them.”

But the best part for Damon clearly was sticking it to his former team, going 2-for-5 with a double, triple, two runs scored and two RBIs, showing the Red Sox and their fans exactly what they’re missing. It started with his drive to the center field wall that almost sent a fan in a Bruins jersey tumbling over the 17-foot wall trying to grab the souvenir.

“I was hoping it would be a homer,” Ellsbury said. “I missed it by a foot or two. I knew it was close. It’s nice. You want do well. You want to go out there and put out a good performance. It was nice to get a triple right off the bat and just allow Jeter to score me right from the get-go. 1-0 from the start, that was nice.”

What also is nice for Ellsbury is the .342 start to his season at the top of the Yankee order.

“It was nice, especially it was important to get to Lester early in the game, get some runners on, get him in the stretch,” said Ellsbury. “I thought all game we did a tremendous job of consistently each inning putting some runners and getting the guys across the plate.”

The more plays he made, like robbing Grady Sizemore of a double in the first inning on a sliding grab, the louder the boos became.

“Usually, that’s a good sign,” Ellsbury said. “I know when I was with the Red Sox, you always knew [as a visitor] how well you were playing by the boos. The louder the boos, the better you were playing. But yeah, it’s expected but I thought they were great as a whole. I thought they were even tremendous at the end of the game.

“The fans were trying to get me to throw balls to them out there. They were cheering me. It felt like a home game. But yeah you’re going to get a little bit of it. That’s expected. But as a whole, 35,000 people that show up each and every night here, I thought they were tremendous.”

In classic corporate Ellsbury form, the outfielder showed great respect for the organization that gave him a chance out of Oregon State in the 2005 June Draft.

“It’s always something I’m proud of, wearing the Red Sox uniform. I think of the two championships, first year, 2007 then 2013. I was very fortunate to come up drafted by the Red Sox, in the minor league system, seven years in the big leagues. So yeah, I feel very fortunate to put on the big league uniform. To say, if I was a young kid, ‘Hey, you’re going to put on two uniforms, a Boston Red Sox uniform and a New York Yankees uniform,’ I’d say that’s pretty special.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
UConn Point Guard, Shabazz Napier joined the guys for a half inning and talked about his experiences in college, his reasoning behind completing his education, and growing up in Boston.

[0:05:13] ... today it doesn't matter of sports and. It's a great message. Is Derek Jeter. One for one will RBIs singled first pitch is a curve down into the dirt for ball one. Your coach Kevin Ollie did such an amazing job. Taking over after very difficult view that the previous to UConn was not allowed to go to ...
[0:06:56] ... you know. Expect that -- those seasons so. The pitch. Just outside. Derek Jeter certainly got the call there -- a fastball at 94 -- -- thought he had a strikeout. Too happy with -- young umpires. And take a look at on the replay. Just off the edge of the plate. You know coach -- throughout the first point at -- -- won the first and second times. And he refused to do -- at Yankee Stadium isn't that the Yankees broke his heart -- -- -- schedule I would I would do it -- If I. I guess ...
[0:08:33] ... -- play. And retired the side exactly what the doctor ordered for Jon Lester. Q that's a great visit. Can't say congratulations and a few of the men and spectacular job all season long great career ...





UConn Point Guard, Shabazz Napier joined the guys for a half inning and talked about his experiences in college, his reasoning behind completing his education, and growing up in Boston.

[0:05:13] ... today it doesn't matter if sports enough. It's a great message. Is Derek Jeter. One for one will RBIs singles first pitch is a curve down into the dirt for ball one. Your coach Kevin Ollie did such an amazing job. Taking over after very difficult view that the previous two UConn was not allowed to go to ...
[0:06:18] ... Huskies who once again. Made it to sweep in men's and women's college basketball in the the center of the college basketball universe without question in stores Connecticut. Just remarkable with 21 pitch few swings and files out one straight back what's -- -- ...
[0:06:56] ... know. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- The -- Just outside. Derek Jeter certainly got the call their fastball at 94 -- -- thought he had a strikeout. Still happy with -- young umpires. And ...
[0:08:33] ... flag and a retired the side exactly what the doctor ordered for Jon Lester. -- that's a great visit. Can't say congratulations and a few of the men and spectacular job all season long great career ...






The Red Sox did not so much lose to the Yankees as they committed an atrocity.

Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

Grady Sizemore contributed to a woeful defensive night for the Red Sox. (AP)

The Red Sox did not so much lose to the Yankees as they committed an atrocity.

A number of defensive vulnerabilities were exposed in Boston’s 9-3 loss to New York that underscored the degree to which the team has been destabilized in the field by the departures of Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia along with the injuries to Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks. While starter Jon Lester was hit hard at times, the unraveling of the game was primarily the fault of the fielders behind him.

Some noteworthy instances:

  • A.J. Pierzynski had a passed ball in the first inning that convinced Derek Jeter to advance to second; Pieryznski’s throw was significantly off line, resulting in an error. The two-base gaffe resulted in an unearned run.
  • Brian Roberts grounded a single to left off the glove of a diving Xander Bogaerts in the top of the second.
  • Mark Teixeira blooped a double down the right field line in the top of the third on which Grady Sizemore wasn’t able to close the ground to get near the catch. On the next play, Brian McCann lined a ball to left-center on which Jonny Gomes didn’t have the range to track it down, resulting in an RBI double.
  • Later in the third, Sizemore got a bad break on a soft liner to right by Roberts and his attempt at a diving catch came up short, clanging off his glove for a single.
  • In the fifth, Mike Napoli failed to glove a liner off his glove, with the ball landing in right for a run-scoring single (with two outs). On that same play, McCann thought the ball had been caught and so started running back to the dugout. Had right fielder Sizemore realized that, he would have been able to force out McCann at second. Instead, Sizemore threw home, allowing McCann to scurry safely to second, as shortstop Xander Bogaerts held his hands on top of his head in observance of the missed opportunity for an inning-ending force. The Yankees tacked on three more runs when the next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, rocketed a double to left-center and, after a pitching change, Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single up the middle.

The Sox’ defensive limitations played a major role in at least six runs (five of which were unearned), and also hastened Lester’s exit from the game after 4 2/3 innings and 118 pitches, resulting in more work for a bullpen that had been taxed one day earlier by Clay Buchholz lasting just 2 1/3 innings. The Sox, it is worth noting, ranked as the fourth-worst team in the majors in defensive efficiency entering the day, having converted just 68.2 percent of balls in play into outs. The limitations of the left side of their infield and their outfield corners have been felt often, and that remained true on Tuesday.

With the loss, the Red Sox are now 3 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. They’ve lost four of five so far to New York.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Lester gave up eight runs (though just three were earned), the most he’d permitted since permitting 11 on July 22, 2012. While the Sox’ defensive betrayal was considerable (though not historic — Lefty O’Doul once saw 13 unearned runs cross the plate in a game he pitched), Lester also proved vulnerable to plenty of hard contact, as evidenced by his yield of five extra-base hits (four doubles and a triple). He also issued four walks, though he seemed displeased throughout the night with the strike zone of home plate ump Quinn Walcott.

– Sizemore’s adjustment to the outfield corners remains a work in progress, but he’s also struggling in other areas. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and grounding into a 4-6-3 double play on which he did not appear to be moving well down the line, and he’s now 0-for-12 dating to Friday. Over his last seven games, he’s 1-for-26 with two walks, a line of .038/.107/.038.

– In his return to Fenway, Ellsbury was a game-changing force, opening the game with a triple, later blowing the game open with a two-run double that ended Lester’s night. He also made a fantastic sliding catch on a Sizemore liner towards the gap in left-center to open the game.

The Yankees’ quartet of high-priced offseason additions all played huge roles for the Yankees. In addition to Ellsbury (seven years, $153 million), Masahiro Tanaka (7 years, $155 million plus a $20 million posting fee) was masterful, logging 7 1/3 innings and permitting two runs (both on solo homers) with seven punchouts and no walks while employing just 105 pitches — 13 fewer than Lester needed to record eight fewer outs. Brian McCann (five years, $85 million) went 3-for-4 with a double, two singles off the Wall and a walk. Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million) launched a solo homer as part of a 2-for-5 game.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Mike Napoli continued his single-handed efforts to demolish the Yankees, going 2-for-4 with a screaming solo homer to left in the fourth and a double to left-center in the sixth. As a member of the Red Sox, Napoli now owns a line of .351/.429/.784 with nine homers and 14 extra-base hits against New York. He is second to Evan Longoria in homers and extra-base hits in that time. Brian McCann (five years, $85 million) was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk, and Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million) went 2-for-5 with a homer.

David Ortiz destroyed a 92 mph fastball from Tanaka, sending a missile that cleared the Red Sox bullpen and flew over the NESN sign on a line. The blast was likely in excess of 450 feet. However, he later was hobbled after slamming a foul ball off his right foot.

Chris Capuano continued his brilliant work with the Red Sox, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He’s now tossed 13 shutout innings this year, and his scoreless streak now runs 13 games and 19 2/3 innings dating to last year with the Dodgers.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

That didn’t take long.

Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Fenway Park for the first time since signing a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees and received a mixture of boos and cheers in the lineup introductions about 15 minutes before first pitch.