XanderAfter taking three games of four from the Kansas City Royals over the weekend, the Red Sox hit the road on Monday and traveled to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2011. Boston will send rookie right-hander Anthony Ranaudo to the mound to start the series, while the Pirates will counter with Charlie Morten. Like many other Red Sox rookie arms, Ranaudo hasn’t exactly capitalized on the opportunity to lock-up a rotation spot, but he has pitched adequately enough to deserve a longer look. Ranaudo’s fellow rookie starter, Brandon Workman, will get a chance to try and salvage an overall rough second trip to the majors on Thursday. In his last 5 trips to the mound, the 26-year old holds an ERA north of 8.00, and opponents are reaching base at a .400 clip against the righty. Sandwiched in between two rookie starters trying to prove their worth for Boston, is Wednesday night’s marquee match-up of Clay Buchholz vs. Francisco Liriano. Both starters have been dominant of late, with Liriano holding a sub-1.00 ERA in his last 4 starts and Buchholz posting a 2.00 ERA in the same span.

  • Think of the offensive drop the Red Sox would be facing if they hadn’t extended David Ortiz earlier this year. A free agent to be prior to his one year, $15M deal, some believed that the veteran designated hitter wasn’t worth the money, but Ortiz silenced his critics by enjoying another productive year in the middle of the order. (David Ortiz’s reminder: That extension was a good idea, after all)
  • As the Red Sox come down the home stretch of the 2014 season, a few interesting story lines mount despite not being in the playoff picture. Of course, the eventual debut of Rusney Castillo is what most fans are geared up to see. But after putting a damper on the Royals playoff hopes over the weekend, Boston has a chance to do the same to the Pirates this week. Also, the conclusion of Koji Uehara’s season looms large as the right-hander draws closer to free agency. (Waiting on Rusney; playing the spoiler)
  • As the Red Sox begin the search for a new top of the rotation arm, many believe that Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels is high atop Boston’s wishlist. At it’s surface, Hamels and the Red Sox look like a perfect match. The 30-year old is a proven ace, and is locked up for four more seasons at just $90M. But while Hamels is a great pitcher, he’s not the kind of arm that a team should unload its best prospects for, especially when names like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields are set to hit the open market. (What is a Cole Hamels worth to the Red Sox)
  • After dominating the minor leagues, and playing like a seasoned veteran during the 2013 postseason, Xander Bogaerts tough rookie campaign left a lot of people scratching their head. In hindsight, Boston didn’t make life easy on the 21-year old, forcing him to flip-flop positions 3 times, and remain a consistent offensive presence. But after returning to his native shortstop once and for all, the Aruba native has been more relaxed and subsequently more productive. (John Farrell on Xander Bogaerts “hot streak”: “We have a relaxed player”)
  • Former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon made headlines over the weekend, after he made an obscene gesture towards the crowd while being boo’d off the mound. The gesture came after the 33-year old surrendered 3 runs and blew a save against the Miami Marlins. Umpire Joe West saw Papelbon’s show of affection to the fans, and promptly tossed the closer out of the game. A chest-to-chest shouting match then erupted between West and Papelbon, during which the closer had to be pulled off the veteran umpire. The MLB announced on Monday that Papelbon will be suspended for 7 games and fined an undisclosed amount for his tirade. (Jonathan Papelbon suspended 7 games)
  • Tweet of the day: Good point.