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Benintendi, Moreland power Red Sox past Braves

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- A new-look lineup, which now has Mitch Moreland playing most days and Dustin Pedroia back from the disabled list, will be even more dangerous if Andrew Benintendi continues to belt the ball around Fenway Park like he did while leading the charge for the Red Sox in Saturday's 8-6 victory over the Braves.

Benintendi ripped a solo homer to center in the fourth to draw his team within a run and later cranked a triple into the corner in right to give the Red Sox some insurance. The outfielder was a double shy of the cycle, while going 3-for-4 and scoring twice.

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BOSTON -- A new-look lineup, which now has Mitch Moreland playing most days and Dustin Pedroia back from the disabled list, will be even more dangerous if Andrew Benintendi continues to belt the ball around Fenway Park like he did while leading the charge for the Red Sox in Saturday's 8-6 victory over the Braves.

Benintendi ripped a solo homer to center in the fourth to draw his team within a run and later cranked a triple into the corner in right to give the Red Sox some insurance. The outfielder was a double shy of the cycle, while going 3-for-4 and scoring twice.

View Full Game Coverage

It was an enjoyable day for Benintendi, considering he came in hitless in his previous eight at-bats.

"Great," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We had a talk before the game, [and Andrew said] he didn't feel right at the plate lately. He walked three times [in his start against Tampa Bay on Wednesday]. That's a good sign. As long as he stays in the zone, he's fine. He did it early in the season and kind of struggled chasing pitches, but now he's back. The swing's right there, so we're very confident with him."

Video: ATL@BOS: Cora talks win over Braves, Pedroia's return

Overall, Benintendi is trending upward, hitting .400 (14-for-35) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last 10 games.

"I feel like it's either zero hits right now or multi-hit games," said Benintendi. "But I don't look too much into it. I just try and go up there and get a hit every single time. But, obviously, it's not going to happen."

For the second day in a row, Moreland justified the faith the Red Sox showed in him after they designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment. Moreland smashed a triple and two-run double.

Video: ATL@BOS: Moreland lines 2-run double to give Sox lead

"I don't really feel any extra responsibility," said Moreland. "I get to go out and play the game I love and come in every day ready to do that."

The strong performances by Benintendi and Moreland helped Boston prevail despite another rough outing from Drew Pomeranz, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings while throwing 89 pitches. Pomeranz allowed six hits and five runs while walking three and striking out three.

It was the lefty's third consecutive start of four innings or fewer, as his ERA rose to 6.75. Cora said after the game that Pomeranz will make his next scheduled start at Houston on Thursday.

Steven Wright, a candidate to replace Pomeranz in the rotation if the Red Sox decide to make a switch, pitched three scoreless innings to earn the win.

"My goal, I've already established that, is to help us get back into games," said Wright. "So, for me, right now, like I've said since 2013, it doesn't matter if I'm starting or relieving, I'm just going to go out there and make quality pitches and change speeds on the knuckleball and go as deep into games as I can -- whether it is relieving or starting."

In his 2018 debut, Pedroia went 0-for-4 with a walk but scored a run during a three-run rally by diving head-first into home. The veteran second baseman got a loud standing ovation as he stepped in for his first at-bat in the bottom of the first.

Video: ATL@BOS: Vazquez plates Pedroia with RBI hit

The win put the Red Sox (36-16) 20 games above .500 for the first time this season.

As for the Braves, two of their two most talented youngsters produced on the big Fenway stage. Dansby Swanson belted a solo homer against Pomeranz and also made a couple of nice plays at shortstop. Ronald Acuna Jr. smoked a 97.2-mph heater from Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel for a solo shot in the ninth.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Wright Move: With the Red Sox down, 5-4, after four, Cora picked just the right time to go to Wright. The knuckleballer had the Braves off-balance throughout his outing, throwing 26 of his 40 pitches for strikes. The righty stabilized the game and allowed Boston's bats to seize the momentum for good.

Video: ATL@BOS: Bogaerts, Pedroia turn nice DP in the 5th

"Steven Wright was the one who stopped us," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. "You don't face a knuckleballer too often. We got to Drew and got him out of the game. But they had a stopper and the right guy to stop us. We were able to score some runs, but we weren't able to hold them down today."

SOUND SMART
The Red Sox continue to thrive during Interleague Play, as Saturday's win was their ninth straight against a National League opponent. At 231-156 (.597), the Red Sox have the highest all-time winning percentage in Interleague Play since its inception in 1997.

HE SAID IT
"I was just having trouble getting off my back leg today. I think one of the things I've been searching for this whole time is, I'm missing the drive off my back leg, and that's what I had last year. When I'd get in a jam, I'd bring out 93, 94, 95 [mph], and I don't have that right now. Even my curveball. Everything is just a few miles an hour off. It's a pretty good indicator that something key is missing there, that some attachment between my upper and lower body is just not firing right now." -- Pomeranz

UP NEXT
The Red Sox send ace Chris Sale (5-1, 2.17 ERA) to the mound for Sunday's finale of this three-game series against the Braves. Sale was powerful in his last start, striking out nine and allowing one earned run over 7 2/3 innings. This is just his second career start against the Braves. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. The Braves, trying to avoid a sweep, counter with righty Mike Foltynewicz (3-3, 2.72).

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, Dustin Pedroia, Drew Pomeranz

Pedroia makes presence felt in 2018 debut

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia was back for the start of his 13th season with the Red Sox on Saturday, and the Fenway faithful gave him a warm welcome with a loud, standing ovation in his first at-bat.

While Pedroia went 0-for-4 with a walk in the Red Sox's 8-6 win, he scored a run during a three-run rally in the third by diving head-first into home on a single up the middle by Christian Vazquez.

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BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia was back for the start of his 13th season with the Red Sox on Saturday, and the Fenway faithful gave him a warm welcome with a loud, standing ovation in his first at-bat.

While Pedroia went 0-for-4 with a walk in the Red Sox's 8-6 win, he scored a run during a three-run rally in the third by diving head-first into home on a single up the middle by Christian Vazquez.

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"Great baserunning," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He looked 'fast.' You can ask him. The way he moved, that was good to see. He put [together] good at-bats. He got the walk. The at-bat against [Peter] Moylan. [Ronald] Acuna, made a nice play. It was nice to have him back. The energy he brings, it's off the roof, it's cool to have him around."

"That was awesome," Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi said of the ovation Pedroia received. "Big part of our team, obviously, and a leader in here and having him back and just his presence here, it's huge."

A table-setter for most of his career, Pedroia played his first game of 2018 as the No. 6 hitter.

After soaking in the applause from the fans who recognized his long road back from major offseason surgery on his left knee, Pedroia came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, but flied out to shallow right.

Video: ATL@BOS: Pedroia gets standing ovation in his 1st AB

"It's been a long time, so it was just fun to be out there -- and I'll never forget that first at-bat," said Pedroia. "That was pretty cool. "Two outs, bases loaded in the first, it was great. Obviously, I swung a little bit too hard, but it was great to be back -- great win for us, and it was exciting. It's been a lot of tough days, so today it was pretty great to be out there and play."

After missing the first 51 games of the season due to his recovery from left knee surgery, Pedroia wasn't about to be picky about his spot in the lineup.

"I'm very excited," Pedroia said. "It's been a long time. It's going to be fun getting out there and playing. We've played great. I think we've got the best record in baseball. Obviously, it's a long year -- so we've got to keep going and playing great."

Pedroia entered Saturday with 20 plate appearances in the No. 6 spot during his career, compared to 4,115 in the No. 2 spot, 1,290 in the third spot and 944 at leadoff.

Hanley Ramirez had been batting third before getting designated for assignment on Friday, and J.D. Martinez has slotted in there the last couple of days.

For now, Cora likes Pedroia in the sixth spot. Mookie Betts and Benintendi are slotted in at Nos. 1-2 for the remainder of the season, as far as Cora is concerned. There could be some movement in the No. 3 hole, depending on matchups.

"I wanted to have Mitch [Moreland] in between [Martinez and Xander Bogaerts] and, like I said, I don't want to break up the top two," Cora said. "I'm very comfortable with them, the way they're getting on base, obviously, the way Mookie's driving the ball. So, I think that's a good spot for him to have traffic in front of him, put in a quality at-bat, put the ball in play, and drive in some runs."

Pedroia was activated on Friday, but got the night off with Saturday's day game looming.

After watching his team get off to a tremendous start without him, Pedroia is excited to now join in the fun. Saturday's win helped the Red Sox improve their MLB-best record to 36-16.

"We've got a great team," Pedroia said. "Just a matter of keeping it going. Obviously, it's a long year, there's a lot of ups and downs. But we have the talent to do anything."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia

Boston belts 4 homers behind J.D., Mookie

Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- In an Interleague battle of East divisional leaders, it was the Red Sox who took the first game of their three-game set versus Atlanta, 6-2, by way of the long ball.

The Braves took the early advantage, getting to Eduardo Rodriguez when Nick Markakis plated two with a double in the top of the third inning for a 2-0 lead.

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BOSTON -- In an Interleague battle of East divisional leaders, it was the Red Sox who took the first game of their three-game set versus Atlanta, 6-2, by way of the long ball.

The Braves took the early advantage, getting to Eduardo Rodriguez when Nick Markakis plated two with a double in the top of the third inning for a 2-0 lead.

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Though Boston's bats were dormant early versus Julio Teheran, registering just one hit through the first three innings, they figured out the Braves starter and homered their way right back into it.

Leading off the fourth, slugger J.D. Martinez connected on his 16th home run of the season, a missile which scraped the top of the front ledge of the Green Monster and momentarily pulled him even with teammate Mookie Betts for the Major League home run lead.

Video: ATL@BOS: Bogaerts crushes a solo homer to left field

Two batters later Xander Bogaerts would go the extra mile, clearing everything in left field with a projected 381-foot blast, according to Statcast™, that exited the park and landed on Landsdowne Street, pulling the Red Sox even at 2.

Boston would pull ahead in the fifth when Andrew Benintendi scored Jackie Bradley Jr., who hit a one-out triple to the triangle, with a sacrifice fly to center field.

Video: ATL@BOS: Betts clobbers his 17th homer, a 2-run jack

Betts gave Boston some breathing room with his 17th home run, a two-run shot in the seventh inning, and Mitch Moreland cleaned things up with a 443-foot solo blast to dead center in the eighth to cap the long-ball party

"It's good to see," said manager Alex Cora. "I do think that although sometimes we expand the strike zone, we're staying aggressive regardless of the count. Seeing a lot of two-strike homers. That's good to see. They did damage. They're doing a good job of it. Just hope we can continue it."

Video: ATL@BOS: Cora talks about offense in win over Braves

"Today, I don't think we had a ton of hits. But the ones we did have counted," Moreland added. "It's nice to never feel like you're out of the game. One swing of the bat can get you right back in it. It's a lot easier to put up crooked numbers that way. Hopefully we continue to build on that."

Rodriguez, who allowed six hits over the first three innings, settled in after the third, striking out four and allowing just two walks over the next 2 2/3 frames.

For his efforts, the left-hander was rewarded with his fifth win of the season after striking out seven in his 5 2/3 innings.

"I'm just thinking right now I've got to work on getting deeper in games," Rodriguez said. "Overall, it was really good, and all my pitches were working really good."

Video: ATL@BOS: Rodriguez fans Inciarte in the 6th inning

"He was working on that cutter to lefties, and he was getting away with it," said Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte. "That inning we scored the two runs, I felt it was a good time to score more runs. We put a good swing on it and couldn't find the holes. He did a good job tonight."

Teheran proved the tough-luck loser on the night after allowing only four hits over six innings.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
While the four home runs were certainly key to the Red Sox's victory, a hit that came up one base short proved to be tantamount toward the cause. In the bottom of the fifth, with the game tied at 2 and one out, Bradley roped a first-pitch fastball to the triangle in center field and would come around to score the decisive run.

"We do feel offensively we're going to be better," said Cora. "There are certainly guys that struggle the first part of the season, but they're working at it and getting better. You can see the progress with Jackie."

Video: ATL@BOS: Benintendi plates Bradley Jr. on a sac fly

SOUND SMART
• This was the fourth time this season that Boston had four or more home runs in a game and third straight home game in which they hit at least three. They are 19-4 in games with multiple home runs this year.

• Over the last six games, the Red Sox's bullpen has not allowed a run in 18 1/3 innings.

HE SAID IT
"You ever see the Dragon Ball? We call them Goku and Vegeta. They do something crazy every time they go out there." -- Rodriguez, on what the team has been calling Martinez and Betts of late, referencing the Japanese anime show Dragon Ball Z

UP NEXT
The Red Sox will continue their three-game set versus the team that they shared this city with, albeit some time ago. Middleboro, Mass., native Sean Newcomb will make his Fenway Park debut Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET for the Braves against the team he grew up rooting for. Boston will counter with Drew Pomeranz, who has been unable to make it past four innings in each of his last two starts.

Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Eduardo Rodriguez

Betts slugs MLB-leading 17th homer vs. Braves

Fourth dinger in last seven games for star right fielder
Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- In the fourth inning of Friday night's 6-2 win over Atlanta, J.D. Martinez clubbed his 16th home run of the season to pull even with teammate Mookie Betts for the Major League lead.

By the seventh inning, the Red Sox right fielder had enough of the tie and regained his sole place atop the leaderboards by slugging his 17th into the Green Monster seats.

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BOSTON -- In the fourth inning of Friday night's 6-2 win over Atlanta, J.D. Martinez clubbed his 16th home run of the season to pull even with teammate Mookie Betts for the Major League lead.

By the seventh inning, the Red Sox right fielder had enough of the tie and regained his sole place atop the leaderboards by slugging his 17th into the Green Monster seats.

View Full Game Coverage

"They do something crazy every time they go out there," said Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. You don't expect something like that from Mookie. J.D. is a power hitter, but Mookie, he makes it look so easy. I ask him all the time, 'Is it that easy?' And he goes, 'It's not.'"

It was a two-run blast for Betts that traveled a projected 387 feet and had an exit velocity of 99.4 mph, per Statcast™.

The home run, his fourth in his last seven games, came off of Braves reliever Matt Wisler on a 1-1 pitch and put Boston up, 5-2.

Video: ATL@BOS: Cora talks about offense in win over Braves

"It's good to see," said manager Alex Cora of his team's penchant for the long ball. "I do think that although sometimes we expand the strike zone, we're staying aggressive regardless of the count. Seeing a lot of two-strike homers. That's good to see. They did damage. They're doing a good job of it. Just hope we can continue it."

With the shot, Betts also scored his Major League-best 50th run and improved his MLB-best slugging percentage (.761), OPS (1.199), extra-base hits (37) and total bases (137).

He became just the second leadoff hitter since 1974 to have 17 home runs before the end of May, last accomplished by Baltimore's Brady Anderson, who had 20 in '96.

And if all that wasn't enough, Betts added his 13th stolen base, and 10th in his last 15 games, to his impressive inflation of statistics.

Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

Red Sox part ways with Hanley

Veteran infielder designated for assignment to make room for Pedroia
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- In a stunning move, the Red Sox designated slumping slugger Hanley Ramirez for assignment on Friday to clear a spot on the roster for second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was activated from the disabled list.

All the speculation leading up to Friday was that Blake Swihart, who is out of Minor League options and has been used sparingly by manager Alex Cora this season, would be the one to get DFA'd.

BOSTON -- In a stunning move, the Red Sox designated slumping slugger Hanley Ramirez for assignment on Friday to clear a spot on the roster for second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was activated from the disabled list.

All the speculation leading up to Friday was that Blake Swihart, who is out of Minor League options and has been used sparingly by manager Alex Cora this season, would be the one to get DFA'd.

Instead, the Red Sox parted ways with Ramirez, who was hitless in his last 21 at-bats.

• Moreland, Swihart to receive more playing time

"He did an outstanding job early in the season, but sometimes you've got to make tough decisions on a daily basis," Cora said. "Sometimes it was tough not to play Mitch [Moreland] and sometimes it was tough not to play Hanley, just like everybody else." 

The move will allow Cora to play first baseman Mitch Moreland on a near everyday basis. Swihart, who has started just four games this season, all at DH, should also see more time with the revamped roster.

"I don't think he didn't fit in but I think his role was going to diminish and for how good of a player he is, it was going to be difficult," Cora said. "It was probably platoon, maybe come in and pinch-hit late in games, and that's not the perfect role for Hanley Ramirez. He's a guy that needs his at-bats. Obviously, with the versatility we have with the other players, with Brock [Holt], with [Eduardo] Nunez, and with Blake, as far as managing the game, it's a lot easier with those guys."

Ramirez thanked Red Sox fans in a tweet shortly after the move was made official. "Thank you #RedSoxNation. It's been real. Love you always," wrote Ramirez.

Tweet from @HanleyRamirez: Thank you #RedSoxNation. It���s been real. Love you always🙏

The 34-year-old hit .254/.313/.395 with six home runs and 29 RBIs in 44 games for the Red Sox this year. Ramirez had a solid start to the season, hitting .311 with three homers and 17 RBIs in his first 103 at-bats.

"It was a baseball-related move for us," president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. "We've been looking at making a move because we knew that this day with Dustin would come, where he'd be coming back, probably since February, since Spring Training. We talked about different possibilities when somebody would be ready, when they won't be ready. We talked about all type of possibilities. So for us it really was a baseball move, one that I talked to Alex about yesterday. We were prepared to maybe go in a different direction with our move. He called me, was about 11:30 in the morning, I was getting ready to go for a run. And Alex says, 'I've got a thought for you with what we're doing. And he said that this was a move that I would like to make. I recommend making it.'

"It comes down to my final decision, but [Cora] said, 'I really want to play Mitch Moreland more. He's a good player, he's played very well for us. I don't think that Hanley is a person that sits idling on the bench well. It gives us an opportunity to keep Blake Swihart. Also we'll be in a position to give Blake some more playing time.' So he said this is something I'd recommend us doing. And I said, 'You sure?' And he said, 'Yeah.' And he went through some different reasons behind it from his thought process. And what I asked him to do at that point was to make sure that he went to the ballpark, because he gets there earlier than me, meet with his coaching staff, and be in a position where that's what he really wanted to do. And when I got to the ballpark yesterday, Frank [Wren, senior VP/player personnel] and I drove over and I said, 'This is what we would like to do. So we're proceeding in that direction."

Video: ATL@BOS: Ramirez DFA'd, Pedroia activated from DL

Once Boston's top prospect, Ramirez was traded to the Marlins for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell in November on Nov. 24, 2005. That trade worked for both sides, as Beckett and Lowell helped the Red Sox win a World Series in '07, and Ramirez emerged into a star for the Marlins, winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award in '06.

A key wrinkle to this move is a vesting option in Ramirez's contract. The Red Sox reacquired Ramirez as a free agent, signing him to a four-year, $88 million contract that includes a $22 million vesting option for 2019 if he reaches 497 plate appearances this year. Ramirez already has 195 plate appearances and was well on his way to reaching the threshold that would cause the option to vest, but by letting him go now, the Red Sox will assure that does not happen with them.

When a player is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

Unless he's claimed, the Red Sox will pay about $15 million that remains on Ramirez's contract, which runs through the end of this season. It should not be assumed that the Red Sox are just going to eat the money and let Ramirez sign elsewhere. In fact, there is some recent precedent for a team DFAing an impending free agent and working out a reasonable trade. The Mets designated Matt Harvey for assignment on May 5 and then swung a deal with the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco a few days later. Both players are eligible for free agency this offseason and have been performing well with their new clubs.

In his four seasons with Boston since 2014, Hanley hit .260/.326/.450 with 78 home runs, 255 RBIs and 71 doubles.

Ramirez was at his best in 2016, helping the Red Sox win the American League East title by belting 30 homers to go with 111 RBIs and an .866 OPS. Hampered by discomfort in both shoulders last season, Ramirez was inconsistent but came up big in Boston's Division Series loss to the Astros, going 8-for-14 with two doubles.

The charismatic Ramirez came into this season optimistic he would have a rebound season, and spoke with enthusiasm of how following Tom Brady's "TB12" exercise regimen and diet would help him. Ramirez also noted last winter that he was going to be "Miami Hanley" again.

"I was a little surprised," Pedroia said. "I've played with Hanley since we were real young. It's tough. I haven't spoke with him yet, but obviously everyone knows my relationship with him. I care about him and his family and everything. I wish him the best. I hope he'll play somewhere and do great things."

A three-time All-Star for the Marlins, Ramirez finished second in NL Most Valuable Player voting in 2009, hitting .342 to win the league's batting title. In that season, Ramirez had 106 RBIs and 24 home runs with 42 doubles in 151 games at shortstop. He won Silver Slugger Awards in '08 and '09 and was the NL Player of the Month in June '08.

Afterward, he had some good moments for the Dodgers, producing an .874 OPS over parts of three seasons.

As recently as Thursday, Ramirez was still batting third for the Red Sox. But he hit just .163 with three home runs, 12 RBIs, four walks, two doubles and 14 strikeouts in 19 games in May.

It remains to be seen if the Red Sox will miss Ramirez in their "rivalry" games against the Yankees. This season, Ramirez belted three homers in 22 plate appearances against the Bronx Bombers, slashing .389./.455/.889.

"It was a bit of a stunner, obviously," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "The first [thought] was, 'I'm glad we don't have to see him.' He has some big hits against us already this year, and obviously he's still a guy that probably has a lot of baseball left in him. I'm sure there will be a number of teams inquiring about him.

"When you take a step back and look at it, I think you can understand the move to some degree for them and their roster. But still, when you see that come across, I think it's a bit of a stunner for a guy who's still a good player and has had the career that he's had."

The label of "big-game player" would be a fair way to characterize Ramirez, who is a .380 lifetime hitter in 80 postseason at-bats.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Hanley Ramirez

Moreland, Swihart to receive more playing time

Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- In the wake of the Red Sox designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment on Friday, the door has now opened for the likes of Mitch Moreland and Blake Swihart to garner more playing time for the club.

The surprise roster move was made in response to the return of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who has missed the entire season while working his way back from cartilage restoration surgery on his left knee last October.

View Full Game Coverage

BOSTON -- In the wake of the Red Sox designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment on Friday, the door has now opened for the likes of Mitch Moreland and Blake Swihart to garner more playing time for the club.

The surprise roster move was made in response to the return of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who has missed the entire season while working his way back from cartilage restoration surgery on his left knee last October.

View Full Game Coverage

The 2008 American League MVP was not in the starting lineup on Friday night, but Moreland was as he begins his full-time takeover of the first-base position after forcing the manager's hand with consistency in the field, and more specifically at the plate where he is hitting .311 with 20 multihit games in 34 appearances this season.

Video: ATL@BOS: Ramirez DFA'd, Pedroia activated from DL

"It's a situation we talked about and the way Mitch is swinging the bat, the way he plays defense, he did a good job, and I did feel that the roles were about to change," said manager Alex Cora. "… He's putting good at-bats against lefties. It seems like he's not expanding the zone. People might think it's a small sample size, but he's been doing it for a while. We felt that it was going to improve our defense, too. I thought that was where we were going, so we went there."

"I got to get ready to go every day," said Moreland. "For me, it's not going to change a whole lot. I come in every day with the same mindset, been that way since I started playing. Try to come in ready to go."

Video: BAL@BOS: Swihart plates Holt with a single to center

Swihart, who looked to be the odd man out leading up to this point, has struggled to find playing time this season, managing just 33 plate appearances thus far, despite his continued work across the infield and outfield.

On Friday, his manager saw the move as an opportunity for the 26-year-old to finally get more reps across the diamond, including backing up Moreland, as well as a return to his natural spot behind the plate where he has logged just 12 games and six starts since 2016.

"I've had conversation with AC and with Dave [Dombrowksi]," said Swihart. "It's just going to give me more of an opportunity … whether that's playing first, or outfield or catching. Just having the conversations with them, and them communicating with me has been great. Just talking to me and understanding they're trying to get me opportunities. I think it will be good."

"Wait and see. He might start, potential to start, too," Cora said of Swihart catching, among other things. "I know he played a lot of positions in Spring Training. He played third, left, I think he played second. But we haven't used him. We talk about it, but he'll work on it. Whenever we do feel ready, might be tomorrow, he's going to play first."

Thornburg's rehab clock reset
Dombrowski noted that the team had recalled relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg and that they would keep him on the disabled list with the big club so they can return him to a rehab assignment next week.

"What's happened with Tyler, he's doing very well, he's not having problems, but his last day for injury rehab is Tuesday," explained the Red Sox general manager. "So that means he'd have to be activated on basically Wednesday and he'd have to be 100 percent a part of the bullpen, work numerous days, and he's just not quite there yet in his rehab. So, we recall him and that resets in a week the rehab, the number of days we can send him out once again."

Thornburg, whose last big league appearance came in October 2016, is working his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery performed in June.

The right-hander has made nine appearances between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket during his rehab stint, posting a 5.14 ERA, with nine strikeouts and seven walks in seven innings.

"He's very close, but we don't want to rush this process," Dombrowski added. "We don't want to put him out there and have him pitch too often and have it be a setback for him. So, we sat down, our training staff, Alex, Dana [LeVangie], Tyler and myself, and really everybody came to an agreement that this was the best thing for him."

Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox, Mitch Moreland, Blake Swihart, Tyler Thornburg

Pedroia activated from disabled list

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

ST. PETERSBURG -- Already in first place in the American League East and owners of the best record in baseball, the Red Sox got an additional boost on Friday when veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia was activated from the disabled list.

After getting Friday off, Pedroia was in the starting lineup on Saturday at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox are hosting the Braves for a three-game series this weekend.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Already in first place in the American League East and owners of the best record in baseball, the Red Sox got an additional boost on Friday when veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia was activated from the disabled list.

After getting Friday off, Pedroia was in the starting lineup on Saturday at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox are hosting the Braves for a three-game series this weekend.

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The 34-year-old Pedroia was limited to 105 games in 2017 and underwent surgery on his left knee following the season to restore cartilage.

"We know how passionate he is, the quality of at-bats he will give us and defensively, what he brings," said Cora. "When healthy, he's one of the best second basemen in the big leagues. I'm looking forward to having him in the lineup. I think his energy is going to help not only on the field but off the field with his leadership.

"And everybody knows about our relationship, so I know people are going to bring it up. It's a day I've been looking forward to, and to have him active and ready to contribute is going to be fun to see."

Pedroia's return spelled the end in Boston for Hanley Ramirez, who was designated for assignment on Friday.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

As for Pedroia, Cora will speak to him on Friday before outlining the immediate schedule for his return to action. Pedroia played seven innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday and Thursday, which is why there's at least a chance Cora will wait until Saturday's 1:05 p.m. ET game to insert him into the lineup.

"Definitely one of the two games he'll play," said Cora, referring to Friday or Saturday.

Cora has thought about where Pedroia will hit in the batting order, but it won't be first or second, as Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi will stay in those spots.

"I have a pretty good idea, but I want to talk to him, sit down with him. He doesn't have a problem with it from what I heard," said Cora. "He wants to contribute."

When Pedroia broke into the Major Leagues, Cora and Mike Lowell were his mentors. Pedroia will now get to experience what it is like to play for Cora as his manager.

"He texted me yesterday, this long text, he almost made me cry -- 'I'll do anything for you, hit whenever, play whenever,' but one thing for sure, our lineup is going to be as long and our bench is going to be better," said Cora. "With all those options [on the bench], we can match up with anyone late in the game."

Getting Pedroia back will allow Eduardo Nunez to go back to his role as super-utility man. Nunez has been used almost exclusively at second base this season.

Video: BAL@BOS: Nunez drives an RBI double to left

"People take for granted that Nuney is not going to play that much. Now it's like, 'Let him go.' I think he likes that, to move around," said Cora. "I do feel he's making progress at second base defensively, making the routine plays and all that, but he's at ease when he doesn't have to grind it out at second all the time. You can move him around, and the real Eduardo Nunez will come out."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia

Rosters set for first Alumni Game since '93

MLB.com

Pedro Martinez back on the hill at Fenway Park? Say no more.

The Red Sox officially announced their complete roster for their first Alumni Game in nearly 25 years, set to take place on Sunday at 10:35 a.m. ET. Headlining with Martinez are Mike Lowell and Derek Lowe, both of whom are getting inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame on Friday.

Pedro Martinez back on the hill at Fenway Park? Say no more.

The Red Sox officially announced their complete roster for their first Alumni Game in nearly 25 years, set to take place on Sunday at 10:35 a.m. ET. Headlining with Martinez are Mike Lowell and Derek Lowe, both of whom are getting inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame on Friday.

The roster behind manager Luis Tiant includes:
Oil Can Boyd
Lenny DiNardo
Keith Foulke
Rich Garces
Mike Greenwell
Sam Horn
Darren Lewis
Steve Lomasney
Derek Lowe
Mike Lowell
Julio Lugo
Rick Miller
Mike Myers

And the roster behind manager Dwight Evans is as follows:
Wade Boggs
Orlando Cabrera
Scott Cooper
Jim Corsi
Alan Embree
Jonny Gomes
Chris Howard
Bill Lee
Steve Lyons
Keith MacWhorter
Pedro Martinez
Lou Merloni
Troy O'Leary
Mike Timlin

The three-inning game is scheduled prior to Boston's 1:05 p.m. series finale against the Braves at Fenway Park. Fans with tickets to Sunday's game are invited to attend the Alumni Game. The previous Alumni Game was held on May 29, 1993, with Red Sox greats Jim Lonborg, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski.

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.

Boston Red Sox

Errors costly on night Porcello not sharp

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

ST. PETERSBURG -- Through the course of a long season, even the best teams have a clunker or two, and they come without warning.

The Red Sox had one on Thursday night at Tropicana Field, taking a 6-3 loss to the Rays in the finale of a three-game series after they won the first two.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Through the course of a long season, even the best teams have a clunker or two, and they come without warning.

The Red Sox had one on Thursday night at Tropicana Field, taking a 6-3 loss to the Rays in the finale of a three-game series after they won the first two.

View Full Game Coverage

The defense made a collection of misplays in the first two innings. And on a night Rick Porcello struggled, the Red Sox paid the price.

"I wasn't sharp at all," Porcello said. "I think -- and it's probably true of any starting pitcher or any pitcher in general, you know -- any time I've struggled this year, it's been a result of falling behind hitters. It happened tonight. I got into some bad counts against guys, started coming in the zone with some pitches, and you get hurt by that."

After going 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his first seven starts, Porcello is 1-2 with a 7.29 ERA his last four.

"It's baseball. That's pitching," said Porcello. "You're going to have ebbs and flows over the course of the season, and you've got to make the necessary adjustments and get back on track."

On many nights, the high-powered offense could keep Boston in a game like this. But Rays lefty Blake Snell (six shutout innings, three hits, eight K's) was brilliant.

Down, 6-1, Boston mounted its first significant rally in the ninth. Mitch Moreland led off with a solo shot to right. With the Red Sox down to their last strike, Rafael Devers drilled an RBI double, forcing the Rays to go to closer Alex Colome, who earned the save.

Video: BOS@TB: Devers lines a double to score Nunez in 9th

It could have been a different night if not for Porcello's tough start, as Boston fell behind, 6-0, after four innings.

Porcello (6-2, 3.74 ERA) gave up eight hits and six runs (four earned) over 3 2/3 innings, throwing a whopping 92 pitches in that span.

The sinkerballer threw 33 pitches in a two-run first inning, as left fielder J.D. Martinez misplayed a leadoff double by Denard Span and a lined single by Daniel Robertson. According to Statcast™, there was a catch probability of 50 percent on the Span hit and 95 percent on the hit by Robertson. Catcher Sandy Leon added to the mess, dropping a throw to the plate on what would have been a forceout, allowing Wilson Ramos to score the Rays' first run.

"The first inning was what it was, but there was absolutely no reason to go out there and have a long second inning," Porcello said. "I got out of the first inning, honestly, pretty lucky for them to only score two runs and then after that, it's time to get back on track and bear down. I had a long second inning, too, and just didn't get it going. It's on me. I've got to do better than that."

With the bases loaded and two outs in the second, Porcello gave up a full-count single to Ramos that was going to score two runs anyway. But a third run wound up scoring when cutoff man Eduardo Nunez dropped a low throw by right fielder Mookie Betts. It was Betts who wound up being charged with the error.

"I mean, Sandy locked himself up, he'll tell you. Instead of like a first baseman, he was there with the wrong foot and didn't have the freedom to adjust to the throw," said manager Alex Cora. "The throw by Mookie short-hops Nunez. He has to make a better throw, but at the same time, Nunie has to do a better job reading it. Either go get it or move back. It wasn't one of our best defensive efforts."

Despite the defeat, the Red Sox head home leading the Yankees by one game in the American League East and in possession of baseball's top record (34-16).

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moreland's homer in the ninth was his seventh of the season in just 103 at-bats. With Moreland contributing just about every time he plays, and Hanley Ramirez without a hit in his last 21 at-bats, perhaps Cora will make some adjustments with the alignment at first base, at least for the short term.

Video: BOS@TB: Moreland crushes a solo HR to right in 9th

"We'll see. He put good at-bats together," Cora said of Moreland. "As you guys know, we try to get him at-bats somehow, someway. We like what we see from Jackie [Bradley Jr.] right now, he's putting good at-bats together, he's hitting the ball solid, fouling balls off. It would be hard for me right now to take him out of the lineup because of the rhythm, and it seems like what we're working on before the game is paying off. We'll see. We'll figure it out. We'll find at-bats for Mitch."

SOUND SMART
The Red Sox are starting to get some offense from catcher Leon, who is getting more playing time. Leon has reached base multiple times in his last four starts and has a five-game hitting streak. Over that span, he is 7-for-16. Christian Vazquez, Boston's other catcher, has been in a season-long slump.

HE SAID IT
"It all comes down to plate discipline. It's just about being disciplined, staying off the edges, looking for pitches over the middle of the plate, don't chase hits, that's the bottom line. The hits will come, but it starts with the process. ... Sometimes it's hard for them to accept it. They hit the ball hard, and they want results but no, no, you've got to be disciplined enough to stay within the plan, look for pitches in the middle of the zone. If they don't come at you, take your walks. Right now it's about discipline." -- Cora, on what is ailing Ramirez

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rays tried to extend their lead in the bottom of the sixth when Matt Duffy attempted to score from second on a grounder. Red Sox first baseman Moreland fired home, and Duffy was initially ruled safe, But after the Red Sox challenged, the replay official ruled that Leon tagged Duffy's right leg before Duffy touched home.

Video: BOS@TB: Moreland cuts down run, ends 6th after review

UP NEXT
The Red Sox will activate veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list on Friday, and he may start the 7:10 p.m. ET opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Left fielder Andrew Benintendi, who got a night off Thursday, will be back in the lineup. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (4-1, 4.13 ERA) will start, and he'll be opposed by Braves righty Julio Teheran (4-1, 4.17 ERA).

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox

Betts scoring at prolific rate, could make history

MLB.com @AndrewSimonMLB

Pick a significant offensive category, and Mookie Betts is probably the Major League leader.

The Red Sox right fielder ranks first in batting average (.362) and slugging percentage (.751), as well as wRC+ (212), not to mention home runs (16), doubles (19), extra-base hits (36), total bases (132) and runs scored (49).

Pick a significant offensive category, and Mookie Betts is probably the Major League leader.

The Red Sox right fielder ranks first in batting average (.362) and slugging percentage (.751), as well as wRC+ (212), not to mention home runs (16), doubles (19), extra-base hits (36), total bases (132) and runs scored (49).

That last category might get overlooked, but it's one in which Betts is optimally suited to make history.

The target is the 150-runs mark. As a milestone, it doesn't have the prestige of a .400 batting average or 60 home runs, but it is highly exclusive.

Video: BOS@TB: Betts launches his league-leading 16th HR

Since 1900, 12 players have posted a total of 19 seasons with at least 150 runs scored, led by Babe Ruth -- who holds the all-time record with 177 runs in 1921 -- with six. However, 17 of those 19 seasons came between 1920-37, with Lou Gehrig ('36) and Joe DiMaggio ('37) doing it in consecutive years at the end of that stretch. Since then, the march to 150 runs has become a steep one, even as the season has expanded to 162 games.

Most runs scored in a season
Integration Era (Since 1947)
1. Jeff Bagwell (2000 Astros): 152
2. Ted Williams (1949 Red Sox): 150
T-3. Sammy Sosa (2001 Cubs): 146
T-3. Craig Biggio (1997 Astros): 146
T-3. Rickey Henderson (1985 Yankees): 146
T-6. Alex Rodriguez (2007 Yankees): 143
T-6. Jeff Bagwell (1999 Astros): 143
T-6. Larry Walker (1997 Rockies): 143
T-6. Lenny Dykstra (1993 Phillies): 143
10. Ellis Burks (1996 Rockies): 142

Last season, the Rockies' Charlie Blackmon scored 120 runs through the end of August and needed 30 more over Colorado's final 29 games. But he ended up with a total of 137 -- still the most since 2008.

This season, Betts is on that sort of pace, with 49 runs through Boston's first 50 games -- especially impressive considering Betts has missed four of those. Bagwell scored 47 runs through Houston's first 50 games in 2000, when he reached the 150-runs plateau. Since then, just five players have scored at least 49 times in their club's first 50 contests.

Most runs scored through 50 team games
Since 2001
1. Lance Berkman (2008 Astros): 51 (finished with 114)
2. Todd Helton (2001 Rockies): 50 (finished with 132)
T-3. Mookie Betts (2018 Red Sox): 49
T-3. Albert Pujols (2006 Cardinals): 49 (finished with 119)
T-3. Melvin Mora (2004 Orioles): 49 (finished with 111)

As that list shows, a player being "on pace" for 150 runs doesn't necessarily mean much at this stage of the season. It's extremely difficult to maintain that through the dog days of summer, and like with RBIs, a player is partially dependent on his teammates to continue racking up runs.

Video: BAL@BOS: Betts blasts his 15th homer of the year

With that said, Betts meets all the criteria one needs to score runs in bushels.

• He gets on base. Betts can hit for average -- he's up near .300 for his career -- and take a walk. He has drawn a free pass nearly as often as he has struck out this year (22 walks, 23 strikeouts) and has one of the lowest K-rates among qualified hitters, while chasing pitches out of the zone less frequently than just about anyone.

• He hits for power. Every homer is a run, and every double and triple puts Betts in scoring position. The two-time American League All-Star is making a lot more hard contact and hitting the ball in the air more this year, according to Statcast™, and is the MLB leader in barrels -- balls with a combination of exit velocity and launch angle ideal for creating extra-base hits.

• He can run. Good wheels help a hitter get on base, take extra bases and score when others might not. Betts' average sprint speed of 28.1 feet per second, according to Statcast™, is solidly above MLB average (27 ft/sec), and he has been successful on 84 percent of his career steal attempts. Betts' acumen on the basepaths has helped him accrue more FanGraphs Baserunning Runs over the past three years than anyone besides Billy Hamilton.

• He has backup. The Red Sox are one of the highest-scoring teams in the Majors this season, and Betts is entrenched in the leadoff spot, which maximizes his plate appearances. With the likes of J.D. Martinez lurking behind him in the order, Boston should continue to push Betts across the plate when he reaches base.

With all of those factors in play, a full healthy season could see Betts make a serious bid to become just the third player to score 150 runs in the past 81 seasons.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

Ockimey has big game for Portland

MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Brendan McKay has a legitimate chance of becoming Major League Baseball's next two-way star. Right now, however, the Rays' No. 3 prospect is standing out more for his success on the mound.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Thursday.

Brendan McKay has a legitimate chance of becoming Major League Baseball's next two-way star. Right now, however, the Rays' No. 3 prospect is standing out more for his success on the mound.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

McKay, MLB Pipeline's No. 24 overall prospect, tossed six scoreless innings on Thursday, leading Class A Advanced Charlotte in a shutout of Fort Myers, 1-0. Entering the game in the third inning in relief of rehabbing big leaguer Yonny Chirinos, McKay allowed three hits, hit one batter and struck out three as he improved to 2-0 in as many outings for the Stone Crabs.

McKay, 22, has now worked 23 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run dating back to his April 28 start with Class A Bowling Green. He's permitted just four hits while striking out 10 in 11 innings for Charlotte after posting a 1.09 ERA with 40 strikeouts and two walks over 24 2/3 frames (six starts) in the Midwest League.

Overall, McKay has pitched to a combined 0.76 ERA and 0.39 WHIP, with an equally impressive 50-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and .101 opponents' average, in 35 2/3 innings (eight appearances/six starts) between the two levels.

At the plate, meanwhile, the left-handed-hitting first baseman has produced a .247/.434/.318 batting line, totaling four extra-base hits, 18 RBIs and more walks (30) than strikeouts (20) in 26 games.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Thursday

• No. 2 overall prospect (Blue Jays' No. 1) Vladimir Guerrero Jr's solo shot and Bo Bichette's (No. 11 overall, Blue Jays' No. 2) two-run homer accounted for all of Double-A New Hampshire's offense in a 4-3 loss against Reading. They both finished 2-for-4 at the plate, with Bichette also reaching once via a walk and recording his 10th stolen base in the contest. The 19-year-old Guerrero boosted his Minor League-best average to .427 with his third straight multihit performance, and he's now up to nine home runs and 46 RBIs through 42 games.

Guerrero Jr. hits another homer

• No. 17 overall prospect Alex Reyes (Cardinals' No. 1) struck out the side on three occasions and fanned nine consecutive batters -- breaking a 116-year Pacific Coast League record -- en route to racking up 13 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Memphis. He allowed one hit and one walk, throwing 52 of his 76 pitches for strikes in the outing. The 23-year-old righty has dominated while working his way back from 2017 Tommy John surgery, piling up 44 strikeouts and allowing just seven hits in 23 scoreless innings (four starts) across three levels.

Reyes notches 13th strikeout

• No. 56 overall prospect Dylan Cease (White Sox No. 5) completed a career-high 7 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, as he recorded his sixth win in nine starts for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. The 22-year-old right-hander issued two walks and struck out nine, sitting in the upper 90s and touching 99 mph against his final batter. He's pitched to a 2.83 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings this season.

Cease's ninth strikeout

• No. 57 overall prospect Jo Adell (Angels' No. 1) connected on his first California League home run, hitting a two-run shot as well as a double in his third game since joining Class A Advanced Inland Empire. The 19-year-old outfielder earned a quick promotion after hitting .326/.398/.611 with six homers, seven doubles and 29 RBIs in 25 games with Class A Burlington.

• No. 74 overall prospect Stephen Gonsalves (Twins' No. 3) posted his second straight scoreless start as Triple-A Rochester blanked Lehigh Valley, 2-0. He scattered four hits and four walks over five innings, striking out five and generating another six outs on the ground. Nick Gordon (No. 76 overall, Twins' No. 4), playing in his third Triple-A game, hit a pair of doubles and scored a run to pace the Red Wings offensively.

• After going 0-for-8 in his first two Triple-A games, Angels' No. 8 prospect Matt Thaiss erupted to hit a pair of solo homers and went 3-for-6 as Salt Lake outslugged Albuquerque, 16-11. The 23-year-old first baseman, a first-round pick in 2016, earned a promotion to the Minors' highest level after slashing .287/.352/.490 with six homers and 10 doubles in 40 games with Double-A Mobile.

Thaiss' second homer

Astros' No. 9 prospect Corbin Martin racked up a season-high nine strikeouts and allowed just two hits as he completed a career-best 7 2/3 scoreless frames in a no-decision for Double-A Corpus Christi against Springfield. He threw 88 pitches, 63 for strikes in the outing and generated eight ground-ball outs. The 2017 second-round pick has given up just two earned runs over his last 22 innings (three starts/four appearances) since allowing six earned runs on five hits and lasted just 1/3 innings in his Double-A debut.

Martin's ninth strikeout

• After striking out 18 batters over 9 2/3 innings in two big league starts, Brewers No. 9 prospect Freddy Peralta returned to Triple-A Colorado Springs and struck out eight over five scoreless innings to earn the win against Nashville. He permitted as many hits as walks (three), while throwing 57 of his 94 pitches for strikes. The 21-year-old righty is 6-1 in eight Triple-A starts, during which he's pitched to a 3.18 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings.

• Starting for Springfield opposite of Corpus Christi's Martin, Cardinals' No. 19 prospect Jake Woodford took a no-decision despite completing eight scoreless frames during which he scattered six hits, walked two and struck out five. The 21-year-old righty owns a 3.98 ERA in 54 1/3 innings and has finished five innings in eight of his 10 starts, including six straight.

Marlins' No. 21 prospect Pablo Lopez allowed five hits and struck out five over six scoreless innings in another lights-out start for Double-A Jacksonville. The 22-year-old right-hander lowered his ERA from 0.28 to 0.24 with the performance, extending his lead over the field on the Southern League leaderboard. Lopez has not allowed an earned run in six of his seven turns this season, posting a 0.82 WHIP with 42 strikeouts and seven walks in 37 2/3 innings.

Mets' No. 1 prospect Andres Gimenez extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 3-for-3 performance that included a double in Class A Advanced St. Lucie's 4-2 win over Daytona. He also worked a walk, scored a pair of runs and stole three bases, giving him 15 steals on the season, second-most in the Florida State League. Overall, the 19-year-old shortstop owns a .287/.356/.441 batting line with 15 extra-base hits through 40 games in the pitcher-friendly league.

Red Sox No. 11 prospect Josh Ockimey hit a three-run homer and reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and two runs scored in Double-A Portland's 12-2 win over Hartford. It was the fifth home run and second straight two-hit game for the 22-year-old first baseman, who's slashing .255/.381/.445 through 32 games.

• Twins' No. 8 prospect Brent Rooker went deep twice for Double-A Chattanooga in his first career multihomer game. The 23-year-old first baseman hit a two-run blast in his first at-bat and added a solo shot in his third trip to the plate, finishing 2-for-5 with three RBIs. He's homered six times in 43 games this season after totaling 18 homers in 62 games across two levels during his pro debut.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Lowell, Lowe, Youk inducted into Boston HOF

Former Red Sox stars among a group of six honorees
Special to MLB.com

BOSTON -- The Red Sox honored the newest members of their Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony on Thursday at Westin Copley Place in Boston.

The 2018 class, which was announced last November, includes four former players, all of whom were key contributors on Red Sox championship teams.

BOSTON -- The Red Sox honored the newest members of their Hall of Fame with an induction ceremony on Thursday at Westin Copley Place in Boston.

The 2018 class, which was announced last November, includes four former players, all of whom were key contributors on Red Sox championship teams.

The late John "Buck" Freeman, who passed away in 1949, was one of the franchise's earliest stars as a slugging outfielder and first baseman from 1901-1907. In 1903 he led the Major Leagues in home runs (13) and RBIs (104) while helping the club, then known as the Americans, win MLB's inaugural Fall Classic against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Derek Lowe, who worked as both a starter and reliever with the Red Sox from 1997-2004, played a pivotal role during the team's historic 2004 championship run. He was the winning pitcher in the final game of the American League Division Series, AL Championship Series and World Series, becoming the only pitcher in MLB history to win three series-clinching games in the same postseason. A two-time All-Star with Boston, Lowe led the AL in saves in 2000 before moving to the rotation in 2002, when he tossed the 16th no-hitter in team history and finished third in the AL Cy Young race with a 21-8 record and 2.58 ERA.

Kevin Youkilis, who debuted with the Red Sox in 2004, played first base and third base until he was traded in 2012. Known for his unorthodox batting stance, "Youk" was a reliable fielder and an on-base machine, leading Boston with a .392 OBP from 2006-2011 and ranking first in club history in hit-by-pitches. In addition to making three All-Star teams, Youkilis won a Gold Glove in 2007 and received the AL Hank Aaron Award in 2008, when he finished third in the AL MVP balloting. He also starred in the postseason, slashing .306/.376/.568 in 29 playoff games and winning World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.

"Youk was very prepared, he had a specific game plan," remembered fellow honoree Mike Lowell. "We were jealous of the fact that he could be so disciplined in his approach. ... As a team, you appreciate a guy who comes every day ready to play."

Lowell, the team's third baseman from 2006-2010, was the 2007 World Series MVP after hitting .400/.500/.800 during Boston's four-game sweep of the Rockies. He was an All-Star in 2007, when he finoshed fifth in the AL MVP voting after batting .324/.378/.501 with 21 home runs and 120 RBIs. A Gold Glover with the Marlins before being traded to the Red Sox along with Josh Beckett, Lowell has the highest fielding percentage (.972) at the hot corner in franchise history.

Al Green, a Fenway Park usher since 1973, was inducted in recognition of his 45 years of service to the team and its fans. Arthur D'Angelo, the owner of Twins Enterprises, The Souvenir Store on Jersey Street and founder of '47 Brand, is the first "Special Achievement" inductee.

The ceremony gave the former players a chance to reminisce about teammates and their favorite memories. Lowe recalled his ALCS Game 7 victory against the Yankees in 2004, when Boston became the first team in MLB history to win a best-of-seven playoff series after losing the first three games. Lowell's top highlights were from 2007, when he was one of four players to homer in consecutive at-bats against the Yankees on April 22 at Fenway Park, and made the last out of the World Series six months later. Youkilis enjoyed the team's hard-fought ALCS matches in 2004, 2007 and 2008, all of which went seven games.

"The World Series were fun because we swept, but the [Championship Series] were a grind and a battle," Youkilis said. "The Game 7's, that's what you play for."

Something they all agreed on; Manny Ramirez was one of the greatest hitters they ever saw.

"I've never seen anyone handle every pitch with authority like Manny did," said Lowell. "He and Miguel Cabrera are the two best hitters I've ever played with."

"Manny was unbelieveable," added Youkilis. "He was the best right-handed hitter I've ever seen."

The trio also reflected on the challenges and rewards of playing in Boston, from early-season snow to passionate fans and media. Although they admitted that playing in Boston could be tough, they appreciated the city's dedication and believe it elevated their game.

"The greatest part about playing in Boston is accountability," said Youkilis. "The fans always hold you accountable, so you have to hold yourself accountable, too."

Each player was proud to be recognized alongside their former teammates as well as the great players of Red Sox past, from Cy Young and Ted Williams to Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski.

"It's very special. When I got the call, I was very honored and very happy," said Lowell. "To say you can be part of that group is very humbling."

Youkilis agreed, adding, "This is really an amazing experience. I never thought this day would come. I just played the game every day as hard as I could."

Tyler Maher is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox