Blue Jays to Play Majority of 2020 Home Games in Buffalo, Team Announces

The Blue Jays will play a majority of their home games this season in Buffalo, N.Y., the club officially announced Friday.

Per said statement, the Jays will be taking up residence at Sahlen Field, where the Buffalo Bisons, the club’s Triple-A affiliate, play.

This news comes two days after Toronto’s initial plan to play the majority of its 2020 home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. fell through after the Pennsylvania Department of Health denied the club’s request to share the ballpark with the Pirates this year while citing the risks that would involve.

Baltimore’s Camden Yards, home of the Orioles, and Dunedin’s TD Ballpark, the Jays’ spring training home, had also been viewed as possible contingency plans for Toronto, but due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Baltimore County and Florida, those ideas were seemingly thrown out the window.

Instead, after the Canadian government ruled last week that the Blue Jays could not play at Rogers Centre this season, the country’s lone MLB team finally has a home for 2020.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to play the Red Sox 10 times during this truncated 60-game season, and three of those games will now take place in Buffalo from August 25 through August 27 if all goes according to plan.

Zack Godley Works Three Scoreless, No-Hit Innings in Red Sox’ Final Exhibition Game Before Opening Day

In their final tune-up before the start of the 2020 regular season, the Red Sox only managed to play 4 1/2 innings of exhibition baseball against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night due to the weather. If games were official after only 4 1/2 innings, the Sox would have lost by a final score of 2-0, but it’s not like that matters too much anyway.

Zack Godley got the start for Boston in this one, and he made a solid case for a spot in the back end of the Sox’ rotation by working three scoreless, no-hit innings to go along with just one walk and two strikeouts on the night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 35, 24 of which were strikes, the veteran right-hander turned to his curveball exactly 40% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday while also topping out at 91 MPH with his cutter, a pitch he threw 16 times.

If things align the way he wants them to, Godley could open the season as Boston’s No. 4 or 5 starter, meaning his first official start in a Red Sox uniform would come in next week’s interleague series against the New York Mets.

In relief of Godley, Brian Johnson was the only other Sox hurler to get some work in on Wednesday due to the weather, and he did not look his best given the fact that he served up a two-run blast to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on a hanging, 3-2 curveball down the heart of the plate in the top half of the fourth.

Still, if there is any positives to take away from the left-hander’s rather rough outing, it’s that he tossed a scoreless fifth inning right before this game was going to be called.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, fresh off plating six runs on Tuesday, was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton to begin things on Wednesday.

As it turns out, the Boston bats were only able to muster one hit off of Thornton, a two-out single from former Blue Jay Kevin Pillar in the third, and another hit off of Toronto reliever Shun Yamaguchi in the fourth. That being a two-out single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

Other than that, not much to report on seeing how Mother Nature cut this exhibition contest short.

Some observations from this one:

Should Zack Godley start over Brian Johnson? The answer at this point seems to be leaning towards ‘yes.’

Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette is pretty good.

Next up for the Red Sox, the games finally start to count. Opening Day is this Friday and a three-game weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles is on tap.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will be making his first career Opening Day start for Boston, while lefty Tommy Milone will be doing the same for Baltimore.

The Sox won 63% of their games against the O’s last year. That would translate to six wins in 10 games against their divisional foes in 2020.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Real baseball is back, folks.

 

Blue Jays Still Without a Home Ballpark for 2020 Season as Pittsburgh Plan Unravels

Contrary to what was posted on here earlier Wednesday, the Red Sox will not be traveling to Pittsburgh for their lone road series of the year against the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

That being the case because, according to The Associated Press’ Marc Levy, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will not allow the Jays to play their home games at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision from the PDH comes despite the fact that the Blue Jays and Pirates had already reached an agreement to share the ballpark for this truncated, 60-game season, which for Toronto begins this coming Friday.

With no home ballpark at this point, the Blue Jays have quite a bit of work to do before their “home” opener on July 29 against the Nationals. As a matter of fact, it looks like that series could take place at Nationals Park seeing how the two sides play two games against each other in the nation’s capital right before then.

schedule

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Mason, “It’s unclear where the Jays go from here. Hypothetically, they could play all 30 of their home games in road cities, but that would leave them at a massive disadvantage.”

Alternative venues the Blue Jays could use for their home games in 2020 include TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., the home of their spring training facility, and Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY., the home of their Triple-A affiliate that has been serving as the club’s alternate training site since Summer Camp began.

Baltimore’s Camden Yards has been thrown out there as well.

Blue Jays to Play Majority of 2020 Home Games at PNC Park, Meaning Red Sox Will Travel to Pittsburgh Instead of Toronto in Late August

UPDATE: It looks like this could be falling apart as I am typing this, so there’s that.

The Red Sox were originally supposed to visit PNC Park earlier this month to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game, Independence Day weekend series.

Instead, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Sox will be limited to just playing regional opponents this year, but they will still be making a trip to Pittsburgh after all.

That being the case because, as of Wednesday morning, it looks like the Toronto Blue Jays will be playing a majority of their 2020 home games in the Steel City, barring a few exceptions against the Nationals and Yankees.

This all comes as the Canadian government ruled over the weekend that the Blue Jays would not be permitted to play regular season games in Toronto due to the pandemic. From the Associated Press’ report:

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday the federal government had denied the Blue Jays’ request to play at Rogers Centre, confirming what an official familiar with the matter had told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.

Ahead of this truncated, 60-game season, the Red Sox are scheduled to play the Jays 10 times in 2020. Three of those games were supposed to take place at Rogers Centre from August 25 through August 27, but it now looks like they will now take place at PNC Park, a venue the Sox last visited in 2014.

J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland Club Homers as Red Sox Fall to Blue Jays in First of Two Exhibition Games at Fenway Park

For the first time in over four months, the Red Sox played a baseball game against another team on Tuesday, as the club hosted the Blue Jays in the first of two exhibition contests held at a fan-less Fenway Park.

Getting the start for Boston in this one was Ryan Weber, who is lined up to be Boston’s No. 3 starter to open the 2020 season.

Working six innings against Toronto, the right-hander yielded four runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those runs came in the top half of the third, when Weber allowed Danny Jansen and Bo Bichette to reach base before Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove them in on a sacrifice fly and run-scoring groundout.

Fast forward to the sixth, after Weber had settled into a bit of a rhythm, Rowdy Tellez put a stop to that by clubbing a two-out, two-run homer off the 29-year-old to put any hopes of a quality start to bed.

Still, Weber stuck with it, retired the next hitter he faced in Teoscar Hernandez, and ended his outing on a somewhat more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (58 strikes), the Florida native threw his sinker and curveball a combined 51 times on Tuesday. He got six swings and misses on those pitches while topping out at 89.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just three times.

As previously mentioned, Weber’s next start should come on Sunday afternoon against the Orioles right back at Fenway.

In relief of Weber, Matt Barnes got the call for the seventh and served up a solo shot to Derek Fisher in an otherwise clean frame, Brandon Workman tossed a perfect eighth, and Ryan Brasier saw a one-run lead for his side turn into a two-run deficit as he surrendered three runs on two hits, one of which being a two-run blast off the bat of Fisher.

By the time Brasier had ended the ninth, the Red Sox were trailing 8-6, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against top Blue Jays prospect Nate Pearson, who is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 pitching prospect in all of baseball.

Xander Bogaerts kicked off the scoring against the 23-year-old right-hander right away in the first inning by ripping an RBI single to center to plate J.D. Martinez from second and Mitch Moreland followed by clobbering a three-run homer over the Red Sox bullpen in right field. Just like that, it was 4-0 Boston.

Later on in the fifth, Andrew Benintendi greeted new Blue Jays hurler Ryan Borucki with a one-out double off the Monster, and Martinez, who had been slugging during Summer Camp workouts, picked up where he left off and tattooed a first-pitch sinker on the inner half of the plate to the opposite field. Vintage stuff right there.

That two-run big fly put Martinez’s side up four runs at 6-2, but as already mentioned, Sox pitching kind of fell apart and 8-6 Blue Jays would go on to be your final.

Some observations from this loss:

I’m blocked by @RedSoxStats on Twitter now, so I won’t be able to put the neat stuff he tweets during and after games on here anymore.

Look at Rafael Devers:

Alex Verdugo has a cannon for a left arm:

It was only an exhibition game, but as you have probably already heard or read, Tuesday’s loss was very reminiscent of a game the 2019 Red Sox would give away. The pitching staff, rotation and bullpen alike, is going to have a lot of pressure on them to perform, especially when the lineup isn’t bringing in a ton of runs.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s *hopefully* the last exhibition game of the year against the Jays.

Left-hander Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston as he looks to compete for a rotation spot, while right-hander Trent Thornton will be doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

 

Red Sox to Host Blue Jays in Pair of Exhibition Games Prior to Start of 2020 Season

Before *hopefully* opening the truncated 2020 season against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on July 24th, the Red Sox will host the Toronto Blue Jays in a pair of exhibition games on July 21st and 22nd.

As The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham mentions in the above tweet, both Summer Camp games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. eastern time, so they will both likely be aired on NESN since the Sox decided to push back the start time of home night games for whatever reason.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said earlier Thursday that the team would have an announcement about playing in exhibition game(s) against another club within the next few days.

Major-league clubs are allowed to play up to three exhibition games before the start of the 2020 season. Unless something gets scheduled fairly soon, it appears that Boston will stick to two preseason contests against the Jays at Fenway Park.

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but this news somewhat reminds me of when the Sox traveled to Montreal for a pair of exhibition games hosted by the Blue Jays four years ago, right before the start of the 2016 season.

 

That Time Manny Ramirez Hit Nearly 1,000 Feet of Home Runs in One Night at Fenway Park

Where were you on the evening of June 23rd, 2001? Personally, I was less than two months away from turning three years old, so I was probably sleeping or doing something else a toddler would do.

I ask because on that date, the Red Sox were hosting the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, and their starting lineup featured Jose Offerman, Chris Stynes, Trot Nixon, Manny Ramirez, Dante Bichette, Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Lansing, Doug Mirabelli, and Darren Lewis. A real throwback.

Despite ultimately falling to Toronto by a final score of 9-6 on that Saturday night, two of those six Boston runs came on two individual swings of the bat from Manny Ramirez.

In the bottom half of the first inning, the 29-year-old slugger crushed a 1-1 offspeed pitch from Blue Jays starter Chris Michalak deep to left-center field that wound up deflecting off a Fleet Bank sign. Statcast did not exist at this time, but per the NESN broadcast, the ball traveled an estimated 463 feet.

Fast forward to the third, and Ramirez was at it again against Michalak, this time absolutely demolishing a 1-0 pitch from the left-hander and sending it to the top of the leftmost light tower way above the Green Monster.

“How in the world are they going to measure how far this thing has gone?” said NESN’s Jerry Remy.

Had that light tower not been there, that ball was surely headed for the Mass Pike. But, since there was no real official landing spot with the deflection and all, the mammoth shot was estimated to have traveled 501 feet, one foot short of Ted Williams’ 1946 mark (the red seat).

85. Manny Ramirez's 501 foot Home Run | Find this plaque at … | Flickr

All in all, those two big flies traveled an estimated total distance of about 964 feet. Not too shabby in what was the fourth of five multi-homer contests for Ramirez in his inaugural season with the Red Sox 19 years ago.

In that first year with Boston, Ramirez, who signed an eight-year, $160 million deal as a free agent the previous December, would go on to finish ninth in American League MVP voting while winning his fourth Silver Slugger award after slashing .306/.405/.609 with 41 home runs and 125 RBI over 142 games played.

Former Red Sox Utilityman Brock Holt Garnering Interest From Blue Jays in Free Agency, per Report

Former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt is reportedly drawing interest from the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

This news comes two days after it was reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale Jr. that the Reds were “one of the teams interested” in acquiring the 31-year-old’s services.

Holt, who has spent the previous seven seasons with Boston after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a December 2012 trade, is a free agent for the first time in his career.

A fan-favorite in Boston for what he has done both on and off the field, Holt has expressed interest in a reunion with the Sox, and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom even said at the Winter Meetings last month that what the Jimmy Fund captain has done for the community “has not been lost on any of us.”

However, bringing Holt back now seems out of the question due to the influx of infielders the Red Sox currently have on their 40-man roster.

If he were to sign with the Jays, the Texas native would be a suitable replacement for fellow utility infielder Eric Sogard, whom Toronto dealt to the Rays last July.

A veteran presence in the clubhouse with the ability to play multiple positions and hit for average on the field. That is what Holt can bring to the table for a young team that includes rising talents such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio.

Of course, seeing Holt in a division rival’s uniform would take some getting used to, but it would also allow Red Sox fans to see him up to 19 times per season between Fenway Park and Rogers Centre.

In 33 career games north of the border, Holt owns a lifetime .308/.352/.419 slash line to go along with one home run and 12 RBI.

Back in November, MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Holt would sign a two-year, $8 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona seems to be an unlikely destination at this point, but how much Holt signs for will be interesting to see once it finally does happen.

 

Red Sox Having Discussions With Blue Jays About Trading David Price, per Report

The Red Sox have reportedly had talks with the Toronto Blue Jays among other clubs about trading left-hander David Price, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

According to Rosenthal, “A deal only will come to fruition if the clubs agree on how much the Red Sox will pay of the $96 million remaining in the final three years of Price’s contract,” and, “Such an agreement is not close at this time.”

The 34-year-old Price spent the final three months of the 2015 season with Toronto as part of their run to the ALCS before signing a then-record-setting seven-year, $217 million deal with Boston that December.

Granted, that trade between the Jays and Detroit Tigers was done with Alex Anthopoulos, the current general manager of the Braves, at the helm for Toronto.

In his brief time north of the border, Price became a fan favorite. Combine that with the fact that the Blue Jays are currently in need of top-of-the-rotation starting pitching, and a reunion between both parties would make sense depending on what the Red Sox got out of it.

As Rosenthal notes, “the Sox are looking at a sliding scale – the more money they include, the better the package they will receive,” in deals for Price or even right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who is owed $51 million over the next three years.

All this comes as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. continue to work towards the goal set by Sox ownership of getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold with the idea of trading Mookie Betts serving as a last resort. They seemed to make that much clear at the Winter Meetings earlier this month.

With durability issues surrounding Price headed into his age-34 season, the Red Sox may have to pay up to $36 million of the remaining $96 million remaining on the Tennessee native’s deal, which would essentially turn it into a three-year, $60 million contract.

Two weeks ago, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the Angels, Cardinals, Padres, Reds, and White Sox were among the clubs that have been in contact with Boston regarding Price.

At this point in time, the Red Sox trading away Price seems more likely to happen than not. The return Boston gets in any potential deal will be interesting to see.

Red Sox Free Agency Targets: Eric Sogard

With All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal signing a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, it appears that baseball’s offseason is truly about to begin.

Unlike years past under Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox will more than likely not be pursuing these kind of big splashes this winter. Instead, new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is tasked with trying to trim Boston’s payroll under the $208 million luxury tax threshold, all while keeping the club relatively competitive heading into the 2020 season.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo composed a list of 46 free agents, three of whom played for the Sox in 2019, that Bloom and co. could go after to fill some holes in their roster.

One player that stuck out to me on that list was utility infielder Eric Sogard. Why? Because as Cotillo indicates, the 33-year-old veteran can play multiple positions, bats left-handed, and spent the last two months of the 2019 season with the Tampa Bay Rays after coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in late July.

That trade with Toronto took place while Bloom was still serving under general manager Erik Neander with the Rays, so perhaps there is a connection there.

Numbers wise, Sogard slashed .290/.353/.457 with a career-best 13 home runs and 40 RBI over 110 total games between Toronto and Tampa Bay in 2019. He also missed time in September due to a deep bone bruise on his right foot.

The scenario of the Sox signing Sogard probably only takes place if Brock Holt signs elsewhere as a free agent himself this winter, and since Holt put together an impressive 2019 campaign, he more than likely played himself out of the Sox’ price range.

Even if Sogard is considered a fit, the Red Sox also have other internal options to fill the hole at second base alongside Dustin Pedroia in 2020, including C.J. Chatham, Michael Chavis, Marco Hernandez, and Tzu-Wei Lin to name a few.

Also, I failed to mention this earlier, but “Nerd Power” is a pretty good nickname, too.