BOSTON The Red Sox offense busted out on the Marlins for a season-high 15 runs and 16 hits two shy of their season high as every member of the starting lineup (except Nick Punto) had at least one hit in the 15-5 win over the Marlins at Fenway Park Wednesday night.The attack included the rare home run cycle, capped by David Ortizs 11th career grand slam.Mike Aviles started the home run barrage with a three-run shot in the second, his ninth of the season and first since May 21. Ortiz followed that with his fourth-inning slam. Two batters later Jarrod Saltalamacchias solo shot landed in the center field seats. Will Middlebrooks who entered to pinch-run for Kevin Youkilis in the seventh completed the feat with a two-run shot in the eighth.The weather warmed up, guys felt loose, said manager Bobby Valentine. Mikes first home run giving us three runs was huge. Davids grand slam. Salty was the furthest and Middlebrooks was impressive. The offense evolved around hustle plays. Salty being safe at second on Youks grounder up the middle allowing Mike to hit that three-run homer. Mike beating out an infield hit and Ryan Kalish beating out an infield hit added to the speed.The blast was Ortizs 18th homer of the season, third in as many games, and the 396th of his career. It was his first slam since July 27, 2011 against the Royals, and 10th with the Sox, passing Rico Petrocelli for sole possession of second place behind Ted Williams 17. Im just taking what they give me, Ortiz said. Im just trying not to waste the pitch that I see. I sit down and watch the game, see how they pitch. I dont get that many opportunities over the plate so Im just trying to be patient and get the one pitch they give me to hit.Ortiz was intentionally walked in his previous at-bat to load the bases, but Cody Ross foiled Marlins manager Ozzie Guillens strategy by doubling off the wall in left field to clear the bases.Hes the guy, Valentine said of Ortiz. Obviously if we were in first place, hed be the guy everybody would be talking about because hes been consistently excellent the entire season. Its hard to be excellent and its hard to have a consistency about you in 60-plus games. But day in and day out hes brought it. His speed was a little factor scoring from first on Codys base-clearing double."Daniel Nava led the Sox in the hit column, going 4-for-5.This offense is pretty much, everyone knows that we have a pretty good offense and we scuffled for a little bit but it seems that everythings going back to the way weve been and everythings clicking, and were just getting everything in the same wavelength, Aviles said. And I think its helping.His home run, No. 9 this season for him, came with two outs on his first pitch of the game from Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.Its nice because you dont have to run around. You just have to jog. Thats the good thing about it, Aviles joked, referring to the 96-degree temps at first pitch. But any time you hit a homer and put some runs on the board it always helps out.The win moves the Sox two games over .500, at 35-33. They also improve to 16-19 at home, where they have struggled this season.Yeah, absolutely, Aviles said, when asked if the team is feeling more comfortable at home. You just look at the results and we're starting to get everything clicking on the same page. I think thats the biggest key is just getting our pitching, defense, and hitting all together. I think weve had two out of three, whatever the combination may be, but it just hasnt been all in one shot. And I think when we have everything going together, were a pretty good team.
When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.
During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.
But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.
In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.
On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.
Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.
The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.
None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.
"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).
"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''
Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.
"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''
He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''
But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.
Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.
Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.
"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''
The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.
"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''