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.

That didn’t take long.

Jacoby Ellsbury returned to Fenway Park and received a mixture of boos and cheers in the lineup introductions about 15 minutes before first pitch.

He received more boos as he was announced as the first batter of the game.

Then Ellsbury, as was often the case in his time in Boston, quietly showed off his multiple talents as a way of exacting revenge.

In the first at-bat of the game, he drilled a Jon Lester pitch high off the center field wall, so high that a fan wearing a Bruins jersey nearly fell over the 17-foot high barrier and onto the warning track below.

He was awarded a triple on fan interference and scored on a Derek Jeter single to center.

Ellsbury didn’t stop there. Grady Sizemore, brought in to help fill his void at the top of the order, led off the first for the Red Sox. Ellsbury ranged over 30 feet to his right to make a sliding, tumbling grab of a sinking liner for the first out. The play would be significant as Dustin Pedroia followed with a double to left field.

Before the top of the second, the Red Sox paid tribute to Ellsbury with a montage of his days in Boston, featuring highlights in the field from 2013, capped by his appearance on the Duck Boats in Rolling Rally after the World Series win last October. The montage was produced with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” playing underneath.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

After nine years, seven big league seasons and two championships with the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury is back at Fenway Park as a New York Yankee for the first time on Tuesday night.

After nine years, seven big league seasons and two championships with the Red Sox, Jacoby Ellsbury is back at Fenway Park as a New York Yankee for the first time on Tuesday night.

Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million pact with the Yankees over the offseason, while the Red Sox chose to go in a different direction. Ellsbury, in a pregame session with the media, said that his time with the Red Sox ultimately influenced his decision to sign with the Yankees, in an indirect way.

“œWhen you get a taste of winning and you experience that…I was fortunate to experience that in ‘€˜07, you always want to get back there, and when the Yankees let me know that they were interested, I was excited because of the opportunity to win again and to play on a team that is committed to fielding a team each and every year that has potential to win.”€ Ellsbury said. “€œNew York was right there…first-class. I think of the championships, I think of the history, I think of the passion that they have for the game…a lot of the same things the Red Sox have, but they gave me the opportunity to play seven more years in the big leagues. I’€™m very blessed that they gave me the opportunity to play the game I love, and I’€™m excited for that.”

Yet just because he has changed sides in the rivalry, Ellsbury is not severing his connection to his experience in Boston. The 30-year-old spoke repeatedly of his appreciation for the seven years he spent in the big leagues in Boston and his nine years in the Red Sox organization after he was taken in the first round of the 2005 draft.

“€œI always enjoyed playing here, the fans, the passion, the winning atmosphere, the expectation of winning…those were all things that drew me to New York as well,” said Ellsbury. “But I’€™m definitely blessed to have played [in Boston] for nine great years.”

Playing against your former team has some advantages, according to Ellsbury, who was able to experience what it was like to be on the other side of the rivalry earlier this month when the Red Sox traveled to the Bronx. The Yankees’€™ leadoff hitter went 5-for-14 with a double and RBI in the four game set against the Sox.

“œWhen we played Boston in New York, it was fun. It was exciting,” Ellsbury said. “I felt like I kind of knew what their game plan was going to be, what they were thinking a little bit, maybe some guys’€™ approach, and it was a game within a game where I feel like I really understood that team.”

But as much of an edge as having spent “€œa third of his life in the organization” gives Ellsbury, there are certain disadvantages to coming to Fenway as an opponent as well — namely, the less-than-luxurious visitors’€™ clubhouse.

“€œIt was a little bit different. You know, I never knew where the visitors walked in, and I’€™ve been to the visitor’€™s clubhouse once about eight years ago for the Rookie Development program,” Ellsbury recalled. “They were renovating the home locker room. It looks pretty close to the same…I think they said they replaced the carpet this year.”

But the former Sox center fielder misses more than just the spacious area of the home team clubhouse. Ellsbury says it’€™s the people that he misses the most, both the fans and the friendships he made over the course of his time in Boston.

“I was looking forward to coming to the ballpark and seeing people I’€™ve said hello to for nine years and seeing them, asking how they’€™re doing,” Ellsbury said. “It was great to see those guys. I think that’€™s the thing you miss the most, the people associated with the team and Boston.”

Of course, among those that he misses are his teammates, some of whom he had played with his entire career prior to this season.

“€œI can’€™t say enough about the championships…those championships in ‘€˜07 and ‘€˜13, those are special,” said Ellsbury. “€œGreat teams, teammates, the lifelong friendships I’€™ve made with guys in this organization, guys that moved on to other organizations, guys who are still here, guys I came up with…my first roommate in pro ball was [Clay] Buchholz, so staying close to him, [Dustin Pedroia], a bunch of guys…David [Ortiz]…there’€™s a lot of great memories here.”

Still, the question looms: what kind of reception will Ellsbury receive from the Fenway Faithful? Ellsbury claims that he hasn’€™t given much thought to whether he’€™ll receive cheers or jeers from the crowd, since “€œit’€™s out of [his] hands.” But regardless of Tuesday night’€™s reaction, he appreciates how the fans treated him throughout his time in Boston.

“€œ[During] my time here, they always felt like a home field advantage,”€ Ellsbury said. “You always felt like they were pulling for you. Last year, how they pulled for the team for us to come together…we wanted to do it for the city. I haven’€™t really thought about the reception too much…I can’€™t do anything about it. In baseball, there’€™s only certain things you can control, and over my career I’€™ve done a good job of just controlling what I can.”

Ellsbury harbors no ill will towards the Red Sox despite not receiving a comparable offer over the winter, and spoke highly of his tenure in Boston.

“I appreciated my time and everything the organization has done for me,”€ Ellsbury said of his former club. “They believed in me when I was at Oregon State, a young man there and seeing the potential. So yeah, I appreciate everything this organization has given me but I’€™m excited for the second part of my career, which is being a New York Yankee, and I’€™m looking forward to tonight’€™s matchup.”

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison

As the Red Sox prepare to face Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for the first time, the team will feature Grady Sizemore in the leadoff spot. Sizemore will play right field, with Jonny Gomes in left and Daniel Nava sitting. A.J.

As the Red Sox prepare to face Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka for the first time, the team will feature Grady Sizemore in the leadoff spot. Sizemore will play right field, with Jonny Gomes in left and Daniel Nava sitting. A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate to catch Jon Lester.

RED SOX LINEUP

Grady Sizemore, RF

Dustin Pedroia, 2B

David Ortiz, DH

Mike Napoli, 1B

Jonny Gomes, LF

A.J. Pierzynski, C

Xander Bogaerts, SS

Brock Holt, 3B

Jackie Bradley Jr., CF

Jon Lester, SP

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees on Tuesday. (AP)

Jacoby Ellsbury returns to Fenway Park as a member of the Yankees on Tuesday. (AP)

Will he receive a warm welcome, or will he be greeted by boos? Former Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury will make his Fenway return in pinstripes on Tuesday night, as the Red Sox kick off a three-game set with the Yankees.

The Red Sox recorded their first walk-off victory of 2014 on Sunday night thanks to a Dustin Pedroia double (which may or may not have been a home run) and a sac fly from Mike Carp. Though they added some dramatics, the Red Sox couldn’€™t produce another Patriots’ Day comeback win on Monday, even after coming all the way back from a 6-0 deficit.

“We got down early. Our bullpen kept us in the game, kept chipping away, and we had a chance to win that game at the end of the game,” Mike Napoli said (via MLB.com). “So we fought hard, but it fell short. But we’ve got a big series [against the Yankees] coming up. We’ll take it one day at a time and try to get on track.”

With the loss, the Red Sox settled for a series split with the Orioles that left them two games below .500 at 9-11. They’€™ll look to improve that against the Yankees, who took three of four from the Sox earlier this month in New York.

The Yankees were able to salvage the split against the Rays and improve to 11-8 after allowing a total of 27 runs over the course of two games in St. Petersburg, Fla., including a 16-1 drubbing on Saturday. But the Yankees bounced back by scoring four runs in the 12th inning of Sunday’€™s contest and securing the 5-1 victory.

“That’s a big win, after winning the first game the way we did, and then to really get beat up the next two days,” manager Joe Girardi told reporters. “To bounce back and leave here 2-2, and you’ve got a day off tomorrow, you try to get ready for the Red Sox. I thought that was important.”

The Yankees got a boost on Sunday with the return of Mark Teixeira, who had been out of action since April 4 after straining his hamstring. Since losing their five-time Gold Glove first baseman, the Yankees went with a combination of Kelly Johnson, Francisco Cervelli and Scott Sizemore at first. Johnson was the only one of the three with prior experience at first base, and he had only played 18 innings there prior to 2014. Closer David Robertson was activated from the DL on Monday after he missed a little over two weeks with a groin injury.

It wasn’t all good news on the injury front for the Yankees, however. As if Saturday’€™s 16-1 rout wasn’€™t enough, they also lost starter Ivan Nova, who was diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. An injury of that nature usually is one that requires Tommy John surgery, meaning that, if Nova elects to undergo the surgery, he’€™ll miss the remainder of 2014.

“It’s really unfortunate. It’s a guy that, obviously, we were counting on pretty heavily this year,” Girardi said.

There’€™s been no official word on who will replace Nova in the rotation, but candidates include Vidal Nuno (who got the start for the Yankees on Sunday afternoon and tossed five scoreless frames), reliever David Phelps or even former Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves, who signed a minor league pact with the Yankees.

Regardless, the Yankees won’€™t have to worry about shuffling the rotation for the upcoming series. Here are the matchups for the three-game set.

Tuesday: Jon Lester (2-2, 2.17) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (2-0, 2.05)
Wednesday: John Lackey (2-2, 5.25) vs. Michael Pineda (2-1, 1.00)
Thursday: Felix Doubront (1-2, 5.48) vs. CC Sabathia (2-2, 5.19)

WHO’€™S HOT: RED SOX

– When he was called up from Pawtucket on April 18, Brock Holt had been hitting .380/.446/.600 with six doubles, a triple and a home run for the Triple-A club. That hot streak has carried over to the majors, and Holt is making his case for an extended stay in the bigs. The infielder went 2-for-4 with a RBI and run scored out of the leadoff spot on Monday, and has gone 6-for-14 (a .429 average) in four games since he was recalled. And with the club still searching for a consistent leadoff hitter, Holt has more than likely earned a second audition, seeing 25 pitches over his five plate appearances on the afternoon.

– Pedroia had been going through a slump (he was 6-for-41 in 10 games from April 7-18), but he’€™s showing signs of busting out. The second baseman collected two hits in each of the final three games against the Orioles and played an instrumental role in both comebacks (Sunday night and Monday). He clubbed four doubles over his last three games, and has upped his batting average from .231 (at the start of the series with the Orioles) to .275. Although he’€™s driven in just three runs on the season, Pedroia has come around to score 11 times, and he’€™s drawn six walks as compared to just eight strikeouts.

Chris Capuano continues to be one of the most pleasant surprises for the 2014 Red Sox. The lefty has been just about untouchable in his 10 2/3 scoreless innings this season, allowing six hits and just one walk while fanning 10. Capuano came up big with 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball on Sunday night, keeping the Red Sox close and poised for their ninth inning comeback.

WHO’€™S HOT: YANKEES

– Ellsbury has been a force to be reckoned with at the top of the Yankees lineup so far. The center fielder has kept his average over .300 since April 5, and his OBP sat above .400 since April 4 before slipping to .395 with an 0-for-5 showing on Sunday. Ellsbury hasn’€™t shown overwhelming power, with five doubles and a triple in 76 plate appearances, but he has stolen eight bases in 10 attempts.

Alfonso Soriano had himself a series against Tampa Bay, knocking in three runs with seven hits, including a double and a home run. Over his last five contests, Soriano is hitting .450 and has brought his line on the season to .275/.324/.493.

Carlos Beltran has been the primary source of run production for the Yankees as of late, driving in seven runs over his last seven contests with three doubles and three home runs. The outfielder leads the club with 11 RBIs, and matches Soriano for the most long balls with four apiece. The 36-year-old has been on a tear, batting .359 (14-for-39) since April 9.

WHO’€™S NOT: RED SOX

– It’€™s safe to say the start of the 2014 season has been nightmarish for Daniel Nava. The outfielder continues to struggle mightily at the plate. His batting average has yet to see the right side of the Mendoza line, and his OBP sits at .240, easily the lowest mark among Red Sox regulars. However, Nava did deliver his first multi-hit game since April 2 on Monday, going 2-for-4. With Shane Victorino‘€™s return quickly approaching, Nava could be an option for demotion, seeing as how the 31-year-old has options left on his contract.

Grady Sizemore‘€™s bat has been awfully quiet over the past couple of series. Though Sizemore impressed with his 12-for-35 start to the season, he’€™s collected just one hit in his last six games and 22 at-bats. But Sizemore has stayed healthy and proven that he can contribute, starting three games in a row over the weekend and seeing time at all three outfield positions.

– After a brief hot streak, A.J. Pierzynski has cooled down. The catcher has been clearly frustrated at the plate, and with good reason — he’€™s just 1-for-19 over his last five starts. But Pierzynski has occasionally found alternative ways to reach base, drawing his first walk of the season (he had just 11 in 134 games last season) and getting plunked by pitches three times over his last five games.

WHO’€™S NOT: YANKEES

– The Yankees had some big shoes to fill at second base, and so far, Brian Roberts has not done an adequate job of filling them. Roberts went 3-for-5 in the series opener with Tampa Bay and was a home run short of the cycle, but that game was sandwiched in between six hitless nights. The second baseman essentially has had two good games; the opener in St. Petersburg and another three-hit performance in a loss to the Astros on April 2. Aside from those two games, Roberts has just one hit in 36 plate appearances.

– Johnson began the season on a strong note, hitting .286/.342/.657 with six extra-base hits in his first 11 contests, but he’€™s fallen off lately. The infielder is just 2-for-his-last-18 with just one hit going for extra bases (a double) and has driven in just one run since April 13.

– Utility man Dean Anna hasn’€™t been able to do very much at the plate (aside from a bases-loaded walk in the 12th inning of Sunday’€™s contest), going hitless in his last 10 plate appearances and putting up a .136/.200/.318 line through 11 games. But the rookie has contributed in other ways, including mop-up duty. Anna made his professional debut on the mound in the eighth inning of the 16-1 debacle, allowing two runs on three hits in an inning. Anna didn’€™t have much to work with, but his mid-60s curveball got Sean Rodriguez and David DeJesus to pop out to the infield.

Blog Author: 
Katie Morrison
Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

Right-hander Brandon Workman punched out eight in five innings on Monday. (AP)

A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 4-3 WIN VS. BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

(BOX)

Shane Victorino went 1-for-4 with an infield single and is now 1-for-7 in two rehab games, with a third slated for Tuesday night. Will Middlebrooks was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in his first rehab game as he recovers from his right calf injury.

– Right-hander Brandon Workman, in his second start for Pawtucket, punched out eight and walked none in five strong innings. He allowed just four hits, though two of those were home runs, resulting in a three-run yield. Between the big leagues and minors this year, Workman has 17 punchouts and two walks in 14 2/3 innings.

Bryce Brentz went 2-for-3 with a double and and also negotiated his 10th walk of the month, his most walks in any month since he reached Triple-A at the end of 2012. In his last eight games, he’s 10-for-30 with three walks and three extra-base hits, good for a line of .333 with a .394 OBP and .500 slugging mark, boosting his season line to .227/.329/.364.

– Garin Cecchini continued to be an on-base metronome, going 2-for-4 to improve his season line to .317/.377/.397. It is worth noting that there does appear to be an adjustment to Triple-A pitching that the just-turned-23-year-old is experiencing. He’s walked just five times to date, a 7.2 percent walk rate that is just over half of his pre-2014 14.1 percent walk rate and down even further from his 16.9 percent walk rate of a year ago.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 7-4 WIN AT BINGHAMTON (METS)

(BOX)

– Feats of Mookie: Turning the pivot on a triple play. Mookie Betts found himself in the middle of a 5-4-3 triple play in the bottom of the first inning. With runners on first and second and no outs, Sean Coyle fielded a grounder right at the third base bag, stepped on it and fired to second — with the decision to throw to second after stepping on the bag representing a notable prospect development given that it showed impressive game awareness for a player who is playing a new position this season. The throw was described by Portland manager Billy McMillon to the Portland Press-Herald as being low, but Betts handled it and still managed to turn the pivot, throwing to first baseman Travis Shaw to complete the trick. (Here’s the call of the triple play from Sea Dogs play-by-play man Mike Antonellis, courtesy of the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network.)

Betts also, naturally, went 2-for-5 with a double and a steal. He’s hitting .448 with a .484 OBP, .707 slugging mark, 10 extra-base hits, five walks, seven strikeouts and five steals in 14 games to date. The 21-year-old has now reached in 44 straight regular season games dating to last year in Salem, with an insane line during that time of .429 with a .492 OBP, .673 slugging mark, seven homers, 25 extra-base hits, 21 walks, 16 strikeouts and 17 steals.

The remarkable run, with its machine-like consistency, make a compelling case that Betts belongs in the conversation about the Red Sox’ best prospect (once Xander Bogaerts graduates from prospect status, likely next month).

– If not for the fact that Betts has become an eclipse who renders all else in the Red Sox organization invisible, more attention might fall upon the tremendous run by Blake Swihart to this point. Swihart went 2-for-4 with a double, and the 22-year-old is now hitting .362/.375/.532 in 12 games. He’s reached base in all 12 games so far this year, collecting hits in 11 of them.

– Left-hander Henry Owens had an atypical outing, striking out just three in six innings but getting nine groundball outs (three on the triple play). He did walk a season-high four and seemed to lose the strike zone at times (he threw just 50 of 94 pitches for strikes, 53 percent), but still managed to limit the damage (three runs, two earned) and worked six innings.

– First baseman Travis Shaw, 24, went 2-for-4 with a homer, his second longball in a three-game span during which he’s 7-for-13.

– Shortstop Deven Marrero, sidelined since Thursday due to toe soreness, is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday. Coyle was hit by a pitch on Monday (shortly after taking part in the triple play) and will be re-evalatued today.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 7-1 WIN AT WINSTON-SALEM (WHITE SOX)

(BOX)

– Right-hander Luis Diaz retired the first eight batters he faced and allowed only one baserunner as far as second base over the course of a season-long six innings in which he allowed one run on three hits, walked none and struck out one. In six starts in High-A — two at the end of last year, four so far this year — the 22-year-old hasn’t shown dominant stuff, striking out just 4.9 per nine innings (17 in 31 frames), yet he’s still shown outstanding results, forging a 1.16 ERA.

– When catcher Carson Blair hits ‘em, they go. The 24-year-old is just 9-for-51 (.176) with 22 strikeouts so far this season, but of his nine hits, seven have been for extra bases, including his third homer of the year as part of a 1-for-4 performance on Monday. In his last six games, he’s 7-for-24 with two homers and three doubles, good for a line of .292/.414/.667.

– Right-hander Simon Mercedes was overpowering in three innings of relief behind Diaz, retiring all nine batters he faced with three strikeouts.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 8-3 WIN VS. ASHEVILLE (ROCKIES)

(BOX)

– For the second straight outing, left-hander Cody Kukuk overmatched his opponents, scattering five hits (four singles and a double) while punching out seven and walking one. In his last two starts, Kukuk has a 1.80 ERA with 15 strikeouts and two walks in 10 innings. The back-to-back outings mark the first time that the 2011 seventh-rounder has walked one (or fewer) batters in consecutive appearances during his 30-appearance history in Greenville. The 21-year-old now has 24 strikeouts (12.0 per nine innings) and eight walks (4.0 per nine innings) in his four starts so far this year, and if he can continue to harness his powerful fastball in the strike zone, he has a chance to force his way to High-A Salem relatively early in the season.

– Second baseman Wendell Rijo launched his second homer of the year as part of a 1-for-3 day in which he also claimed a walk. Though just 18, Rijo is producing remarkably mature at-bats, having walked nearly as much (10 times) as he’s struck out (11) while hitting .333/.472/.571. He’s third in the South Atlantic League in OBP; the three players ahead of him on the list are at least 22 years old.

Carlos Asuaje continued to decimate right-handed pitching. The left-handed hitting 22-year-old was 2-for-3 with a double and a triple, improving to .410/.500/.744 in 46 plate appearances this year against righties. He’s 2-for-8 with no walks or extra-base hits in his limited exposure to southpaws this year.

– Though he gave up three hits, including a homer, Joe Gunkel punched out five in two innings of work, and he now has 18 strikeouts and just two walks in 12 innings so far for Greenville.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The Red Sox will kick off a three-game series against the Yankees at Fenway on Tuesday when they send Jon Lester to the mound against heralded Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.

Lester has had arguably the best start to the season of any Boston starter. The 30-year-old comes into Tuesday’€™s contest on a two-game winning streak after he defeated the White Sox on Thursday. After five scoreless innings, and with a 1-0 lead, Lester gave up the game-tying run in the sixth. Boston went on to score two runs in the ninth to come away with the 3-1 victory.

“It’€™s a heavyweight bout tonight,” Lester said after the game (via MLB.com). “It’€™s kind of who was going to make the mistake first. He did, and then I gave it right back. Like I said, it was a fun night to pitch. If you don’€™t like that pitching, you don’€™t like baseball. That was a lot of fun tonight.”

The southpaw picked up his first win of the season on April 11 after he gave up two earned runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings against the Yankees. One of those two runs came on a solo homer by Alfonso Soriano during the second inning. In a total of 27 starts against New York, Lester holds a 12-5 record with a 3.90 ERA and a WHIP of 1.40.

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

While Lester has eight seasons of experience against the Yankees, Tanaka, who signed with the Yankees as a free agent following a standout season in Japan last year, is facing the Red Sox for the first time. Tanaka enters the game after earning his second win of the season Wednesday against the Cubs. The 25-year-old gave up just two hits and struck out 10 for the second consecutive game during eight scoreless innings on the mound. Tanaka has an overall 2-0 record with a 2.05 ERA and 0.77 WHIP on the year.

Yankees vs. Lester (LHP)

Derek Jeter (72 plate appearances): .333 AVG/.389 OBP/.394 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 walks, 11 strikeouts

Brian Roberts (54): .208/.296/.458, 6 doubles, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 6 walks, 10 strikeouts

Ichiro Suzuki (52): .333/.346/.451, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Mark Teixeira (50): .222/.300/.311, 1 double, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 walks, 17 strikeouts

Kelly Johnson (17): .067/.176/.067, 1 RBI, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Alfonso Soriano (16): .313/.313/.500, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 5 strikeouts

Brett Gardner (12): .182/.250/.182, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Carlos Beltran (6): .250/.500/.250, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Brian McCann (4): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (3): .500/.667/.500, 1 walk

J.R. Murphy (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Yangervis Solarte has two strikeouts in three plate appearances vs. Lester.

Red Sox vs. Tanaka (RHP)

No current Red Sox batters have faced Tanaka.

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri