Beckett battled, but didn't have 'best stuff'


Beckett battled, but didn't have 'best stuff'

BOSTON -- Josh Beckett didn't have his best stuff on Thursday night. And when your offense lets the opposing pitcher in Max Scherzer off the hook at the same time, it's awfully difficult to complete a four-game sweep against a lineup like that of the Detroit Tigers.
But that's exactly what the Red Sox failed to do on Thursday at Fenway Park, falling to the Tigers 7-3.
Beckett had only one strikeout in seven innings. And while he continued to battle, he saw some solid defense behind him that helped prevent him from allowing more than four runs on 10 hits
"He gave us a chance to win the game," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "I don't know that that was his best stuff. It seemed like he didn't have his curveball until the sixth inning. He made some pretty good pitches, and they hit a few of them for hits. He did a good job of keeping them at bay."
Beckett agreed with not having his curve ball in this one.
"I made some pitches when I needed to, and didn't make some other ones," said Beckett afterwards. "You have five pitches in a game that you have to make, and I think I made three of them today. The other two cost me three runs in one inning.
"I don't think I had my curve ball to put guys away. It was difficult for me to get the ball down."
Beckett wasn't awful for a guy that didn't have his best stuff, but on a night like that, you need some big defensive plays, and that's exactly what Ryan Sweeney provided in the top of the second inning to keep it a scoreless game at the time.
With runners on second and third and one out, Jhonny Peralta put a fly ball down the right field line, and Sweeney came charging in after it at an awkward angle because of the side wall. But he was able to make the catch and throw a seen into home, one-hopping the ball to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who then made the tag on Delmon Young.
"I thought he made a great adjustment to round it out to get behind the ball and throw it right down the line," said Valentine. "A good defensive play."
"I've always prided myself on my defense and making accurate throws to bases," said Sweeney. "So when I made that throw, I felt like I had a good shot of getting him."
But as good as that defensive play was and may have saved him a few more runs, a couple bad bounces on throws to second from Saltalamacchia turned out to be costly. And when your starting pitcher doesn't have his best stuff, those bad bounces aren't going to help anybody.
Except for the Tigers, who took advantage of the two throws that ended up in the outfield while stealing second, and eventually taking third.
The first came in the fifth inning, as Quentin Berry stole second. Saltalamacchia's throw was on target, but hit a diving Berry and shot out to left field, sending Berry to third, and eventually home on a Miguel Cabrera single that gave the Tigers a 4-3 lead and ended up being the game-winning run.
Saltalamacchia's other throw to second that ended up in the outfield came in the ninth inning, as Cabrera stole second. The throw ended up in center field, and Cabrera took third, only to score on a Prince Fielder triple to give the Tigers a 6-3 lead.
"The last one, Saltalamacchia didn't get a good grip on it, and Cabrera caught us all by surprise," said Valentine. "I think Mike Aviles was a little late getting there, and Saltalamacchia was a little late throwing. The first throw would've been right on the bag."
Beckett didn't have his best stuff, and those plays ended up costing the Red Sox.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.