John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

Red Sox manager John Farrell felt that the replays were inconclusive. His feelings about the replay system are anything but.

On Sunday night, the Red Sox saw a video review go against them for the second straight day. On Saturday, the ruling both on the field and by replay officials — who failed to uphold Farrell’s challenge that Dean Anna had overslid the bag and was thus out — proved an immediate embarrassment when decisive still shots proved that the Yankees shortstop had been out. On Sunday night, the replay ruling – an overrule of a call on the field, with Francisco Cervelli deemed to have beaten out what would have been an inning-ending double play and instead having legged out what proved to be a decisive run-scoring fielder’s choice in New York’s 3-2 win — was less egregious.

Nonetheless, Farrell insisted that the replays did not offer decisive evidence to support the reversal of the on-field call. He said that the ball was in first baseman Mike Napoli‘s glove by the time Cervelli’s foot landed on the bag, and that the Sox had been told that a player need not squeeze the ball with his glove for the out to be called. And given his discomfort with the decisions of the two consecutive games, the Sox manager used the opportunity to unload on the replay system that Major League Baseball has introduced this year.

“We felt that it was clear that the replay was inconclusive,” Farrell told reporters in New York. “The frustrating part is when this was rolled out and explained to us, particularly on the throw received by the first baseman, we were instructed that when the ball enters the glove, not that it has to hit the back of the glove, is where the out is deemed complete. At the same time, any angle that we looked at, you couldn’t tell if the foot was on the bag behind Mike Napoli’s leg. Where this became conclusive is a hard pill to swallow. On the heels of yesterday, it’s hard to have any faith in the system, to be honest with you.”

Farrell went onto the field to argue the video reversal, prompting his immediate objection (by rule). The manager admitted that his protest was a reflection of multiple days of dismay.

“I argued the point that it was inconclusive. I know that arguing a challenge play is not allowed, evident by spending most of the game inside. But on the heels of yesterday and today, this is a tough pill to swallow,” Farrell told reporters. “It’s extremely difficult to have any faith in the system, the process that’s being used.

“When you’re talking about something as substantial as replay being brought into the game, there’s going to be a learning curve and everybody becoming familiar with it. You would think that video replay would be conclusive — or there’s plays where it’s not conclusive, which is [Sunday night],” Farrell added. “Unfortunately we’re on the wrong side of it both times. … As much as they’re trying to help the human element inside this system, it seems like it’s added the human element at a different level.”

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

When Carlos Beltran reached free agency after the 2013 season, the list of his suitors was numerous, and included a pair of familiar rivals in the Yankees and Red Sox.

John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

John Farrell was ejected after arguing a decision reversed by replay. (AP)

When Carlos Beltran reached free agency after the 2013 season, the list of his suitors was numerous, and included a pair of familiar rivals in the Yankees and Red Sox. But the Red Sox felt compelled to limit the term of their offer, and weren’t going to consider a three-year deal for the outfielder; when New York stepped in with a three-year, $45 million deal, Beltran was fitted for Pinstripes.

It may be that, by the third year of his deal (if not sooner), Beltran offers little return on New York’s investment. But in the more immediate term, he paid dividends for the Yankees against a team that also competed for his services. Beltran beat up Red Sox starter Felix Doubront, going 3-for-4 with a two-run homer that jumpstarted New York’s 3-2 victory. In the series, he was 6-for-15 with a pair of homers and two doubles, offering the Red Sox an unwanted reminder of the player whom they wanted to acquire, at a time when the Sox are struggling for offense.

With Sunday’s loss, the Sox have now scored two or fewer runs in five of their 13 games — a contrast to the steady offensive showings of a year ago, when the Sox had just 38 games of two or fewer runs, the second fewest such contests in the big leagues. The offensive inconsistency is a reflection of the inconsistent personnel available to the Sox, at a time when Dustin Pedroia, Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino are all unavailable. Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that the Yankees have likewise been decimated by injuries, with Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and closer David Robertson unavailable, suggesting the Sox’ issues in the early-going run deeper than simply who is and is not available.

The Sox leave New York with a 5-8 record, the worst mark in the AL East.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– The Red Sox are unlikely to offer testimonials for baseball’s new replay system. On Saturday, replay failed to correct a blown call on the field when replay clearly showed that Yankees shortstop Dean Anna overslid the bag at second (he was ruled safe, a decision that was upheld by replay, but MLB subsequently acknowledged that the call had been blown).

“There’s a lot of questions that come up and really challenges the validity of the process that’s being used,” Farrell told reporters in New York prior to Sunday’s game.

On Sunday, with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth, Farrell against questioned the validity of the replay process in place after Francisco Cervelli grounded into what was originally ruled an inning-ending double play. The Yankees challenged the ruling, saying Cervelli was safe. Upon review, the original call was reversed and Cervelli was awarded first, with Brian McCann being credited with a run. Though the reversal appeared to be the right call, Farrell argued the overturn, resulting in an ejection (managers aren’t permitted to argue replay rulings).

– New York’s outfield defense tracked down a number of deep fly balls to the far reaches of the park, with Jacoby Ellsbury making a few catchers in center and right-center and Ichiro Suzuki (in the game in right field) ranging far to his right and then making a tremendous leaping catch, crashing into the fence on his descent, of a David Ortiz drive to right-center. Ortiz was a hard-luck 0-for-4 on a night when he scorched a couple of balls.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Mike Napoli remained a wrecking ball against the Yankees. He slammed a 1-0 solo homer to left-center in the sixth inning, the eighth homer Napoli has hit against New York since joining the Red Sox last season, as part of a 2-for-4 night that also included a double. Only Evan Longoria (9 homers) has gone deep against the Yankees more frequently in that span. Napoli is hitting .343/.425/.743 in 80 plate appearances as a member of the Red Sox against New York.

– Though Felix Doubront had less-than-stellar control (58 of 101 pitches for strikes, 57 percent), the left-hander kept the game in check by pitching around runners on base. He submitted his first quality start of the year, permitting three runs in 6 2/3 innings, despite permitting baserunners in each of the seven frames in which he pitched. Doubront allowed seven hits — a homer by Carlos Beltran and three doubles among them — while walking three, but he held the Yankees 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Grady Sizemore went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles, marking the second time this year that a Red Sox leadoff hitter has collected multiple hits in a game. Sizemore also nearly drove a ball out of the park in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Jacoby Ellsbury tracked it down on the warning track; Ellsbury also robbed Sizemore with a sliding catch in deep left-center for the final out of the game.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

While Koji Uehara will remain unavailable on Sunday, two days after shoulder stiffness rendered him unavailable for a game against the Yankees, the Red Sox closer was able to long toss and throw on flat ground (mixing his fastball and splitter) on Sunday in

Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

While Koji Uehara will remain unavailable on Sunday, two days after shoulder stiffness rendered him unavailable for a game against the Yankees, the Red Sox closer was able to long toss and throw on flat ground (mixing his fastball and splitter) on Sunday in Yankee Stadium, and based on how he responded, the Red Sox are optimistic that he’ll be able to avoid the disabled list and pitch during the forthcoming series against the White Sox in Chicago. Uehara will be examined at length in Boston on Monday (an off-day for the Red Sox), and he’ll need to throw off a bullpen mound to make sure he’s ready for game action, but if all goes well, the Red Sox believe that they may have averted a potential significant blow to their late-inning ambitions.

“He was really able to generate good arm speed. He’s moving past some of the concerns, mentally, that he had,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “During the time he was throwing, he felt better than he actually expected. He’s still going to return to Boston to go through a full workup tomorrow. At this point, we’re hopeful and expecting him to return to us in Chicago. We’d still like to get him off a mound in a bullpen session or get him back in a game, but today overall was very good news regarding Koji.”

Uehara has appeared in five games this year, tossing five scoreless innings with seven punchouts and no walks.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

A Red Sox team that is already without two of its everyday players — right fielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks — will also be without second baseman Dustin Pedroia for the series finale against

A Red Sox team that is already without two of its everyday players — right fielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks — will also be without second baseman Dustin Pedroia for the series finale against the Yankees in the Bronx. Pedroia was originally in the lineup, but when he went to hit prior to Sunday’s game, persistent soreness first encountered when he got wiped out on a double play pivot  against the Brewers last weekend worsened, resulting in the decision to take him out of the lineup. He’ll be sent to Boston for an exam on Monday morning.

“He’s had increased symptoms of soreness in his left wrist,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in New York. “He went down to hit early today, and the soreness continues to persist and gain in intensity, so he’s going to be heading back to Boston as well to get a workup first thing in the morning.”

Pedroia, who was 6-for-10 in the first two games of the year, has struggled to a .156/.156/.222 line in 10 subsequent games, and 3-for-27 since the Brewers series.

“There’s probably a direct correlation to what we’ve seen at the plate,” Farrell told reporters of the relationship between Pedroia’s injury and struggles. “There hasn’t been an event over the past couple of days that has brought this onset even further. It’s more just everyday play that the soreness increases. It’s got to be checked out. Until we have some results of imaging of any kind, that’s the best I can tell you.”

With Pedroia out, Jonathan Herrera is at second base and batting ninth. Pedroia had been scheduled to lead off; in his absence, Grady Sizemore will do the honors.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, LF

Xander Bogaerts, SS

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Daniel Nava, RF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Ryan Roberts, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Felix Doubront, C

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The Red Sox conclude their four-game series against the Yankees on Sunday night, sending  southpaw Felix Doubront to the mound against Ivan Nova.

Though 1-1, Doubront has struggled in his first two starts of the season. After picking up a win against Baltimore, Doubront only made it through 2 2/3 innings against Texas on April 8, giving up five runs on six hits and a home run while striking out two and walking three. The rough outing, which was the shortest of his career, leaves Doubront with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.000 WHIP.

“I wasn’t tired,” Doubront said after the game. “I don’t know. I can’t explain what happened. I was feeling really good during the first two innings and the whole day, in my bullpen and the start of the game. I started doing too much. I think that’€™s what happened. I was trying to do too much and overthrow.”

The 26-year-old has played against the Yankees 12 times in his career, eight of them being starts. In 2010 and 2011, he came out of the bullpen four times, giving up two earned runs off of 17 batters faced. The southpaw picked up no-decisions in those contests.

2012 was a good year for Doubront against the Yankees as he made four starts and went 1-1 with an ERA of 2.52 and a WHIP of 1.200. While he went 2-1 against them in 2013, he had a 6.30 ERA with a WHIP of 1.700.

Similar to Doubront, Nova has struggled in 2013, going 1-1. The 27-year-old picked up a win at Houston in his season debut, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs while walking five and striking out one. His second game, against Baltimore on April 8, saw him go only 3 2/3 innings and give up seven runs on 10 hits and a home run.

Nova has struggled against the Red Sox, going 2-3 in eight games with a 5.50 ERA and a WHIP of 1.699. Nova’€™s best year against Boston was in 2012, when he went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a WHIP of 1.250. In his games against the Sox in 2010, 2011 and 2013, his ERA was over six and he did not record a win.

Ivan Nova

Ivan Nova

Red Sox vs. Nova (RHP)

David Ortiz (20 plate appearances): .375 AVG/.500 OBP/.625 SLG, 1 double, 1 home run, 4 RBIs, 4 walks

A.J. Pierzynski (17): .200/.235/.200, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (14): .333/.429/.500, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, 2 walks

Daniel Nava (12): .400/.500/.600, 2 doubles, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Mike Carp (8): .200/.500/.200, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Mike Napoli (7): .200/.429/.800, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Ryan Roberts (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Jonathan Herrera has not reached base in three plate appearances vs. Nova.

Grady Sizemore has two strikeouts in three plate appearances

Xander Bogaerts has a walk and a strikeout in two plate appearances

Jackie Bradley has one strikeout in two plate appearances

Jonny Gomes and David Ross have not faced Nova.

Yankees vs. Doubront (LHP)

Brett Gardner (15): .167/.333/.333, 1 triple, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Derek Jeter (15): .143/.200/.143, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Kelly Johnson (15): .308/.400/.308, 2 RBIs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Ichiro Suzuki (14): .154/.143/.154, 1 RBI

Alfonso Soriano (5): .600/.600/1.800, 2 home runs, 6 RBIs, 1 strikeout

Brian Roberts (4): .000/.250/.000, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dean Anna, Carlos Beltran, Franciso Cervelli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Yangervis Solarte have not faced Doubront.

Blog Author: 
Arjuna Ramgopal
Mookie Betts (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Mookie Betts (John Corneau/Lowell Spinners)

Feats of Mookie: Being Mookie Betts.

The outrageous emergence of Betts from obscurity to elite prospect status is reaching runaway train status. It’s too early in 2014 to draw many conclusions, but it’s also virtually impossible to ignore what he’s doing. With his 2-for-4 performance on Saturday for Double-A Portland that included a double, a sac fly and his third steal of the season, he now has a laughable line of .469/.514/.750.

“Mookie Betts . . . isn’t human,” concluded Salem broadcaster Evan Lepler.

Betts reached base in his last 30 games of 2013 with High-A Salem, posting a .418/.496/.655 line with 15 extra-base hits, 16 walks and nine strikeouts during that time, and he’s reached base in his first eight games of this season (getting on base multiple times in seven of his first eight contests). So, he now has a streak dating to last year of 38 straight games reaching base, during which time he has a line of .430/.500/.676 with 21 extra-base hits, 20 walks, 12 strikeouts and 15 steals in 18 attempts.

Again: Over roughly a quarter of a season in which he’s been one of the youngest players in two leagues, he’s hitting .430 with a .500 OBP and .676 slugging mark.

Betts was young for the level (20) last year in Salem when he started his surge following his mid-year promotion, and he’s young for the level (21, the sixth youngest position player in the Eastern League) now. He dominated in Single-A and High-A last year; he stood out in the Arizona Fall League as a player with impact tools; and now, he’s continuing his meteoric rise into Double-A, with the Eastern League representing the fourth venue in the span of 12 months (his 2013 campaign didn’t become truly captivating until a May explosion in Greenville) in which he’s dominated.

The diminutive Betts — he’s listed at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds — has now been turning heads through this time by being the embodiment of the Sox’ selective-aggressive philosophy, doing a tremendous job with his plate discipline while unloading on the baseball in a fashion that belies his slight frame. How?

“He’s just a very good athlete who has very good hand-eye coordination. For some reason, he has the gift of being able to see the baseball early out of the pitcher’s hand,” said Red Sox minor league hitting coordinator Tim Hyers. “He just seems like he has really good balance at the plate, picks up the baseball really early and makes his decisions really quick. That’s part of the reason that I see him as a guy that’s going to have good plate discipline and probably a really good on-base percentage throughout his career.

“I don’t think [home runs] are ever going to be his main asset or biggest tool. I think he has sneaky power and if you make mistakes, he can put a hurt on the baseball. He can change the game. But I think he’s not going to live on the longball. His best strength is the middle of the field, hitting line drives. He’s going to hit a lot of doubles. He’s going to have some sneaky power where if they make mistakes, he can hit it out of the park.”

Throughout last year, it was difficult to make sense of Betts as a prospect, in part because his modest performance in 2012 with Lowell in his pro debut (.267/.352/.307 with nine extra-base hits in 71 games) was so difficult to reconcile with the way he was performing in Greenville. But as Betts continues to carry his breakthrough of 2013 forward into the upper levels, the uncertainty that loomed about his prospect status is quickly fading.

(To listen to more on Betts from both Lepler and Salem manager Carlos Febles, as part of a conversation about the significance of winning and losing for player development, click here to listen to the latest Minor Details podcast.)

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-2 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Dan Butler launched his first homer of the year, extending his hitting streak to encompass all seven games he’s played this year. The 27-year-old has exactly one hit in each of his seven contests, with five of those going for extra bases, resulting in a .259/.286/.519 line. Butler is coming off a strong year in which he hit .262/.350/.479 with 14 homers and 33 extra-base hits in 84 games in Pawtucket.

–  Garin Cecchini went 1-for-3, and now has hits in eight of nine games, but he also punched out twice and did not walk. He has gone five straight games without a walk, an uncharacteristic drought for him. Cecchini had just three streaks of five or more games in which he didn’t walk in 2013 (when he led all of minor league baseball in OBP), topping out with an eight-game stretch without a free pass from last July 19-25 in Portland. He also had streaks of five and seven games without a walk in High-A Salem prior to his mid-year promotion. Cecchini did swipe his first bag of the year.

Christian Vazquez, serving as DH, went 1-for-3 with his fourth double of the year. Though he’s driving the ball, like Cecchini, he’s showing an uncharacteristic inability to work counts and draw walks, as he has yet to be walked a single time in his eight games to date.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 10-4 WIN VS. NEW BRITAIN (TWINS)

(BOX)

– Shortstop Deven Marrero went 1-for-4 with a walk and his fifth double in nine games this year. The 23-year-old is hitting .355/.394/.516. He also stole his second base in as many attempts this year, improving to 53-for-61 on stolen base attempts (87 percent) in his pro career. Between his excellent defense at short and strong baserunning, if he can post even solid batting averages and OBPs — an average in the .250-.260 range, an OBP in the low-.300s — he would project as at least a second division starting shortstop. If he can exceed such totals, perhaps with averages around .280 and OBPs in the .330-.350 range, even if only with doubles power, he could be a top 10 or 15 starting shortstop in the big leagues.

– Catcher Blake Swihart went 1-for-4 with a double, his first extra-base hit of the year against a right-handed pitcher. Swihart — a natural right-handed hitter who became a switch-hitter in high school — is 6-for-12 with a double, a triple and no strikeouts or walks against lefties this year; with Saturday’s double, he’s 3-for-15 with a walk, two strikeouts and a double against righties.

– First baseman/DH Stefan Welch remained hot, going 3-for-3 with a double and walk. The 25-year-old Australian is now hitting .409/.517/.545, and he’s 9-for-17 with four walks in his last five games.

– Center fielder Shannon Wilkerson went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles to extend his hitting streak to eight games. The 25-year-old is hitting .333/.333/.389.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-0 LOSS VS. MYRTLE BEACH (RANGERS)

(BOX)

– Left-hander Corey Littrell had his second straight strong outing to open the year. Though the 22-year-old took the loss, he worked six innings in which he permitted six hits (all singles), walked two and struck out seven. In his first two starts, the 2013 fifth-rounder has a 1.69 ERA with 15 strikeouts and five walks in 10 2/3 innings.

– Right-hander Kyle Martin tossed three innings of relief in which he allowed an unearned run on two hits (both singles) while punching out five and walking none. In three outings this year, Martin has 14 strikeouts without a walk in 8 1/3 innings.

As Aaron McFarling of the Roanoke Times notes, Salem’s lineup was silenced for the second time in less than a week by a player who was once drafted by the Sox. Right-hander Sam Wolff, whom the Sox took out of junior college in the 47th round of the 2011 draft but who opted instead to enroll at the University of New Mexico, from which he was drafted by the Rangers in the sixth round in 2013, allowed just two singles in 6 1/3 shutout innings in which he walked and struck out three. In two starts against Salem, the 22-year-old has allowed one run on three hits in 11 1/3 innings with nine punchouts and four walks.

‘€œThey’€™d only seen me like one time and I think it was more of a draft-and-follow type of thing,’€ Wolff told McFarling of his contact with the Red Sox in college. ‘€œI had only talked to the scout a couple of times. But I was pretty set on school. I wanted to go to University of New Mexico at least for my junior year and kind of see what happened after that.’€

Wolff went 4-0 with a 0.60 ERA, 44 strikeouts and nine walks between short-season ball and Single-A in his 30-inning pro debut last summer, and he’s now dominated in High-A in each of his first two starts of this year.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 4-1 WIN VS. KANNAPOLIS (WHITE SOX)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz, a second-round pick by the Red Sox last year, notched his first professional win, tossing five shutout innings in which he allowed three hits (all singles) while walking three and striking out four. The walks were a career high and indeed matched the total number of free passes he’d issued in his prior 23 2/3 professional innings. Still, the outing represented a rebound from a rough first start of the year, in which the 20-year-old allowed five runs in four innings and didn’t strike out a batter.

– Manuel Margot continued to highlight his diverse skill set. One day after launching his third homer of the season, the 19-year-old went 1-for-4 with a pair of steals, swiping both second and third. He now has 53 career steals in 125 professional games.

– Second baseman Wendell Rijo went 1-for-2 with a double and walk. Rijo, one of six position players in the South Atlantic League in their age 18 season, is now hitting .292/.393/.375.

– Right-hander Jonathan Aro worked a perfect ninth for his first save. The 23-year-old has allowed one hits and three walks while striking out five in three scoreless innings.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The Red Sox' most recent contract offer to Jon Lester was well short of market value. (AP)NEW YORK -- If they want to keep Jon Lester -- truly keep Jon Lester -- the Red Sox are obviously going to have to do better. Potentially a lot better.



ROB BRADFORD

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