The Red Sox won the series finale in Seattle today, 8-7, as Daniel Nava hit a two-out single to drive in Jackie Bradley, Jr. in the 10th inning.
Nava was an unlikely hero (and not just because the usual "he was signed for $1" reason). Heading into the at bat, Nava was 0-for-5, and to top it off, with first base open and Bradley on second, Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to pitch to Nava.
Nava fought through the at bat as Wilhelmsen mixed fastballs and curves, and finally sat back on a curve and got enough wood on it to get it past the second baseman and into the outfield. It wasn't a frozen rope, but it was plenty to drive in Bradley, who was pinch running for Ryan Lavarnway (who had coaxed a walk in his own patient at bat).
The nail-biting nature of the later portion of the game was the exact opposite of its beginning. The Sox and Mariners traded punches through five sloppy innings, each putting seven runs up on the board and chasing the opponent's starter out of the game. (Ryan Dempster lasted just three and a third innings.)
Each team's bullpen settled things down. For the Sox, that came in the form of knuckleballer Steven Wright, who pitched five and two-thirds scoreless innings, walking two and giving up three hits. It was exactly what the battered Red Sox bullpen needed, and I'm sure John Farrell will be full of praise in the postgame.
Non-all-star Koji Uehara picked up a relatively easy save, except for a close call on a Jason Bay bomb that went just left of the foul pole.
The Sox are now 57-37 and head to Oakland.
“He keeps coming up in a lot of conversation on things — are we surprised about it? Did we ever envision the contribution?” manager John Farrell said of Nava, the former independent leaguer who wasn’t even invited to major league camp in spring training last year. “We just want to let him continue to do his thing.”
But although Nava is doing it better than almost anyone, he isn’t on the All-Star ballot.
“He’s got my vote,” Farrell said.
Surely, players across the league have taken notice. Nava has emerged as an everyday outfielder for the first-place Red Sox, and with the All-Star Game only a month away, he still has a chance to be selected to the AL roster if enough of his peers vote for him or if manager Jim Leyland names him to the team.Herald: Nava's star on rise
Daniel Nava continues to be one of the biggest surprises in all of baseball. He added another highlight to his 2013 campaign came last night when he battled Chris Archer and fouling off five straight pitches before taking him deep to score the only runs of the game for the Sox for his ninth home run of the year and his 43rd & 44th RBIs, which puts him in third place among AL outfielders and eighth overall.
He's also leading all AL outfielders in on-base percentage, (.391), second in batting average (.299) and ninth in slugging percentage (.479). All this coming from a guy who wasn't even offered a spot into Major League Spring Training last season.
He's been invaluable to the Red Sox, playing both corner outfield spots and hitting everywhere in the lineup. Add all of that with the fact that the Sox are still leading the AL East and he should be a shoe in. Only problem is that his name isn't on the ballot.
So either start writing in Daniel Nava's name or hope that everyone around baseball is taking notice and Tigers manager Jim Leyland adds him to the team. He's as deserving of this selection as anyone else in baseball.
Rest of the Links: Red Sox edge Rays | Nava keeps playing like an All-Star | Herald: Aceves spot-on again | Club's 1-2 punch losing its power | CSNNE: Aceves' strong start helps Sox hold off Rays Buchholz likely won't start Sunday | Struggling Lester meets with Farrell, Nieves | WEEI: Will finds his way | Ortiz on HR Derby: "I'm done with that" | Aceves, bullpen submerge Rays as Sox win
Nava has learned to play the Green Monster, but right field at Fenway is an entirely different challenge. In fact, the Red Sox signed Victorino because they wanted a right fielder who possessed both the range and arm of a classic center fielder.
But Nava’s development into a better defensive player has allowed Farrell to breathe easy while Victorino has been sidelined.
“It speaks a lot about what he’s done personally and the work he’s put in,” Farrell said. “I don’t even think twice about putting his name in the lineup. He’s a very good player.”
Herald | Daniel Nava no longer a liability
Nava has been tremendous this year. Now, granted, he started strong last year as well. In 2012, he registered a .900 OPS in May and an .892 in June before tapering off significantly.
This year he's been even better -- .310/.407/.535 -- but there's a kicker: He's suddenly a really good outfielder.
Pedigree or no, the 30-year old Daniel Nava is officially a good big-league player. He deserves to play somewhere. It will be interesting to see how the Sox handle him as the year progresses. When everyone's healthy, he'll presumably split time with Jonny Gomes (and probably be a defensive replacement now that he's proven he can do it).
But there's also Mike Carp, who is crushing the ball. And don't forget lord and savior Jackie Bradley Jr., who presumably will be back up with the Sox at some point this year (barring a setback).
Then again, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Who knows how the year will progress, not to mention whether Nava will keep it up. But right now, he's a legitimate player.
On page 2, the Daniel Bard experiment is over (for the time being).
I started writing some nonsense about how the Sox 4-3 victory over the Royals this afternoon was symbolic of the city of Boston in the wake of the Marathon tragedy. 'Never give up' and all that. But America's pastime is meant to be a reprieve from all of that. As a wrote this morning, this game was a great way to clear our minds of this past week, enjoy a pitching duel, and if we're lucky, some David Ortiz bombs.
Well, Ortiz delivered the bombs; just not the ones we were expecting, with his fiery "This is our f@#$ing city" speech. He also went 2-4 with an RBI single. Can't tell you how great it is to have him back.
Clay Buchholz threw 8 solid innings of 8 hit ball (2 runs 6 K's) and picked up his third win on the year. Those two runs did raise his ERA to 0.90, however. And James Shields continues to pitch really really well against Boston, allowing just 4 hits and 1 run, while striking out 8 batters. But to their credit, Sox batters chased Shield out of the game after the 6th inning by forcing him to throw tons of pitches. If you can't beat him, tire him out. It worked.
The offense wasn't great (Papi was the only batter with multiple hits), but it didn't need to be. Daniel Nava delivered the knockout punch this afternoon with a 3-run home run in the bottom of the 8th. Bailey picked up the save, despite allowing a home run of his own in the 9th.
I tip my cap to the Red Sox this afternoon. Hell of a job.
On to the game, where the Red Sox had their first rain delay of the year. Prior to the delay, the Sox had a sloppy game of errors and mis-communication in the field.
In the first inning, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino bumped into each other near the bullpen, resulting in a run scored. Later in the fourth inning, Jackie Bradley Jr added to the mishap and collected his first major league error on a botched ball in left field. A run resulted from that error as well, giving the Red Sox two unearned runs. What should have been a 3-1, turned into a tie ballgame; ugly to say the least.
After a hurried fifth inning as the rain poured down, the rain delay was put into effect. After the 45-minute delay concluded, the Red Sox came out of the clubhouse ready to pounce. Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia proceeded to hit back-to-back homers, pushing the home team to a 5-3 lead. Nava launched his into the Green Monster seats (this time from the left side of the plate), while Salty hit a bomb into the bullpen.
It's also worth noting Stephen Drew's Red Sox debut. He made a fabulous play in the hole to nab the runner at second at one point. However, he did nothing at the plate: 0-3.
Ryan Dempster looked strong in his first appearance at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox. He showed strong command of the strike zone and had some nasty breaking stuff for punch-outs. That's exactly what you need to see out of Dempster this year. He did not return to the mound following the rain delay. His final line: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R (1 ER), 2 BB, and 7 K.
Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, and Andrew Bailey provided elite middle relief, maintaing the lead. However, things got bumpy in the 9th.
Closer Joel Hanrahan gave up a solo shot to Chris Davis with no outs, cutting the Red Sox lead to one. He battled back and enduced two outs via strikeout and pop-up...but then Hanrahan made things even more interesting, allowing a base-hit and walking two, thus loading the bases (VERY close calls).
Following the walk, Hanrahan's next pitch went right into the dirt getting past Salty leading the Orioles to tie the ball game. It wasn't even close. It looked like something you'd see from a celebrity throwing out the First Pitch.
The very next pitch? A meatball over the plate to Manny Machado, 8-5 Orioles just like that. Why John Farrell didn't pull Hanrahan after that atrocious pitch in the dirt is beyond me. Very questionable decision there. Let's hope we don't see more outings like this from Hanrahan in the near future. Yikes.
This isn't exactly the right way to start a new sellout streak, is it?
Alfredo Aceves will take the mound tomorrow vs Chris Tillman in the final game of the series.
Daniel Nava hit a three run homer in the bottom of the seventh was all that Clay Buchholz needed as the Red Sox have won their third straight, beating the Orioles, 3-1.
It was a pitcher's duel between Buchholz and Wei-Yin Chen, as both of them only allowed a couple of singles and walks until the seventh when Dustin Pedroia started the rally with a single and Mike Napoli getting the first extra base hit of the game, a double to deep center that was almost in the bleachers.
After Will Middlebrooks struck out, it appeared that Chen would be leaving for Tommy Hunter, who had been warming up for a little bit to face Nava. Three pitches later Nava would take Chen's offering to Landsdowne Street and Chen would get taken out right after.
Nava has been playing really well in the utility role so far this season. Getting the start in left field over Jackie Bradley Jr, he went 2-for-2 with a walk. He's now homered in two straight games and has reached base 10 times in 17 plate appearances.
But back to Buchholz for a second because he was filthy today. He went seven innings giving up three base hits & four walks while striking out eight. The Orioles couldn't get a baserunner past second base with him on the mound. The only run that Buchholz has given up this season is that home run to Travis Hafner against the Yankees. (0.64 ERA) It's the total opposite of 2012 Clay. THIS is the Clay Buchholz we've been hoping for. All it took was for John Farrell to return.
After Buchholz left in the seventh, Andrew Bailey got the hold in a 1-2-3 eighth, striking out two and getting another to fly out to center. Joel Hanrahan made his Fenway Park debut and after making Adam Jones look foolish with a fastball, Jones returns the favor by taking a slider left over the plate into the Monster seats to make it a 3-1 game.
Hanrahan would then get the white hot Chris Davis to ground out to Napoli, who made a great play, and then gets Matt Weiters to strike out for the second out. JJ Hardy would make it more interesting by hitting a wall ball double but Ryan Flaherty would pop up in foul ground at third to end the game.
The Sox have now won three in a row for the first time since July 29th-31st. They'll look for their fourth win Wednesday evening.
Baseball is finally here. While Spring Training can hold people off, many are fiending for the season to start. We're right there with you. We look forward to the brutal grind of the baseball season. The braintrust behind Ted's Army came together and put out expectations for our beloved Boston Red Sox and how they would fair in the 2013 campaign. Without further ado... I give you the third and final part of the Ted's Army season preview.
Who will be the “10th-man” of the year?
Tucker Silva: Brock Holt. He will most likely not begin the year with the club, but Holt will make is way to the majors in June (I base that on absolutely nothing). In 24 games with the Pirates, Holt made a little noise batting .292. He won’t have glaring stats with the Red Sox, but he’ll develop to be a bench guy Farrell can rely on.
Nick Karalis: Daniel Nava. If he sticks around the entire season, he will be a valuable asset with his newly acquired versatility to play the OF and 1B. He gives 110% every game and has the potential to put up some good offensive numbers.
Aaron Gettings: CIRIACO(!!!) Not only was he one of the only Sox players worth watching as last season was winding down, he had a knack for coming through in big spots. While the organization was crumbling around him, Ciraco showed heart, hustle, energy, and just a general sense of fun. Even in a reduced role, I see no reason Ciraco can't have a major impact on this Sox squad.
Ben Fountain: I have to agree with Aaron and say Pedro Ciriaco. He can play anywhere on the left side of the infield, and if we're desperate in the outfield. Busts his ass and became one of the more likable players last season. If he continues to play the way he did last year, he'll be incredibly valuble to this team.
Scott Priest: I'm contractually obligated to say Jose Iglesias, who should be the starting shortstop anyway. If Drew's concussions linger (and given how unpredictable concussions can be, I think we should assume they will), or if Pedroia gets hurt (as he seems to every year), I think we'll see Iglesias contribute positively to this team.
Or Pedro Martinez, if Rubby is tearing up the minors.
Who will be the team’s HR leader by season’s end?
Tucker: Will Middlebrooks. A wrist injury halted Middlebrooks tremendous rookie season, blasting 15 HR in 75 games. By hopefully avoiding the feared “sophomore slump”, Middlebrooks and the Green Monster will be BFF’s. Prediction: 32 HRs
Nick: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. We can’t count on the health of Ellsbury, Ortiz, or Napoli, so the next guy in line would be Salty. He will probably lead the team in homers and strikeouts…if he doesn’t get traded first.
Aaron: It feels weird saying it could be anyone other than David Ortiz, but I just don't trust those wheels. Have to give the nod to Mike Napoli. He should be fun to watch.
Ben: I'm taking David Ortiz. Even with the Achilles injury limiting him to 90 games last year, he nearly the led the team with 23 homers. He'll be on the DL starting the season but in three of the past four seasons, he got off to a slow start. I'll be optimistic and project that he'll be in the lineup by the end of April and not have any setbacks, which could be asking a bit much from the 37 year old. If all that does come to fruition, he'll be in the 28-34 home run range.
Scott: Mike Napoli. I don't think Ortiz will play enough, and I don't think Ellsbury will ever hit more than 15 again.
Posted by Ben Fountain on 03/28/2013 at 01:00 PM in Allen Webster, Boston Red Sox, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz, Fenway Park, Jackie Bradley Jr, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jon Lester, Jose Iglesias, Mike Napoli, Pedro Ciriaco, Pedro Martinez, WIll Middlebrooks | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
That could be an important spot, since starting first baseman Mike Napoli is not a great defender and the Sox would like someone who could serve as a late-inning defensive replacement. Also, Napoli's well-documented hip issues mean he may not always be available.
In a perfect world, the Sox would like that candidate to hit lefthanded, to complement Napoli, who is righthanded. And, they'd prefer that the player be able to contribute in the outfield.
Involved in the mix are Lyle Overbay, Mitch Maier, Daniel Nava and Mark Hamilton. The Sox also had some discussions with outfielder Ryan Sweeney, for now, there are no plans to have Sweeney try the position and he remains exclusively an outfielder.
"It's important that we have another first baseman on the roster,'' said GM Ben Cherington. "We think we have a good chance to find the solution with the guys that are in here. It would be ideal (to have a person who could play both first and the outfield). It needs to be someone who can handle the position defensively and can hopefully produce against a righty (pitcher)."
Translation: The Sox are going to suck defensively at first this season. No disrespect to Napoli, Nava, Overbay, Maier, and Hamilton, but they are no Adrian Gonzalez. Sorry, I didn't mean to bring that name up.
There is also potential for an all-around weak first base this season. If Napoli's hip becomes an issue during the regular season, and the Sox are left with Overbay and Nava, there will be little offensive production from that spot. It is still very early in spring training, and the Sox are going to throw out a ton of possibilities at a handful of positions.
Still, expect little from first base.
Related: ESPN Boston: Today's takeaways: Who's on first?
On Page 2, More of the same on Bard's progress
It's not often that reader-submitted questions to mailbags contain good ideas for acquisitions. Generally they want to acquire Giancarlo Stanton for Felix Doubront and 50 grand, or forget that Bobby Abreu was born in 1875. Or they want to move Dustin Pedroia to shortstop and put Ciriaco at second, and transform Andrew Bailey into a starter. People have bad ideas, is what I'm saying.
(Who am I to talk -- I wanted to trade Clay Buchholz before his breakout season, keep Josh Beckett last season, and continue to want to move Jacoby Ellsbury for prospects who probably won't pan out.)
But one of Nick Cafardo's readers actually had a pretty novel idea to capitalize on some platoon possibilities as it pertains to the backup first base job.
The Sox need a lefty bat for the bench and a backup 1B. What are the chances they work Nava out at 1B in Fort Myers to try to fill those needs in-house? He had a .801 OPS vs. righthanded pitching last year and you know he'd work his tail off learning the position.
Nice job, Max in Nevada. And Cafardo agrees -- Nava could handle first. I mean, who couldn't, in spot duty? If you have any kind of coordination (as most ballplayers do), it's easy enough to catch a ball thrown your way. And he would likely have a little range as well due to his athleticism.
Of course, this is all assuming Mike Napoli signs. I'm not saying I'd try to teach Nava first for a couple weeks and then give him 600 PAs there. But 20 or 30 games against righties when Napoli needs a day off or is catching is a pretty good gamble.
At the very least, it's a better idea than Bobby Abreu.