Fluke injury dooms Cook's first outing

754868.jpg

Fluke injury dooms Cook's first outing

BOSTON After beginning his season in Triple A, and negotiating a call-up, this was not the way Aaron Cook wanted to begin his Red Sox career.

Facing the Orioles at Fenway Park Saturday afternoon, Cook cruised through the first inning. He needed just nine pitches to induce three groundballs to shortstop Mike Aviles.

But, his fortunes turned in the second. With two outs, he gave up consecutive hits, putting runners at first and third. On a passed ball by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Chris Davis broke from third, Cook rushing to cover the plate. While Davis scored, the bigger damage was to Cooks left knee, which landed on Davis spike opening a gash that would eventually require 11 stitches.

Cook left the field and went to the dugout, appearing to be done Clayton Mortense ran in from the dugout to take the mound. But after a short delay, Cook returned to the mound. He got out of the inning, with another groundball out, but was mostly ineffective from that point. After retiring Robert Andino to lead off the third, he allowed the next seven batters to reach base. Of the final 11 batters he faced, nine reached base with seven scoring.

When I slid into the plate I came down on top of his back spike and at first I didnt think it was that bad and Salty was like, Hey, you might want to take a look at it. I see blood coming down your pants. When I looked at it, it was just kind of fileted open a little bit. So went back in the dugout and had the trainers just wrap it up real tight and try to put as much pressure on it as possible. My leg started getting numb after that. But it was my decision. I wanted to go out there and try to eat up some more innings. The bullpens been kind of taxed. But at the end of the day I dont know if it was the best decision, but it was what I was wanting to do."

Cook lasted just 2 23 innings, giving up seven runs, six earned on eight hits and a walk with a home run and a wild pitch. He was charged with the loss, his ERA at 20.25, as the Sox fell, 8-2.

I was feeling really good the first two innings then all of a sudden my pitches were up in the zone in the third inning, he said. So to be honest , my knee and the front of my leg was kind of numb. So I was really just out there throwing all arm and thats when you start to see the ball get flat and it was just up in the zone. So I just made bad pitches after that. I probably could have thrown a little bit slower and got down in the zone. But it was just one of those days.

I think it affected him a lot, Saltalamacchia said of Cooks injury. You got to change your motions a little bit Just a lot of stuff goes on when you got a hole in your knee. But he got back in there. I was surprised he even came back and pitched.

It was not the way Cook wanted to start.

Its frustrating, Cook said. But theres things you can control. Things you cant control. Like I said I was trying to stop in front of the plate and he made a perfect slide into the plate. My momentum took me into the plate. I knew I cant control things that happen like that. So Im going to try to keep a smile on my face. Try to encourage the guys, and come out tomorrow and see how it feels.

Its uncertain what is next for Cook, or if this injury will set him back.

The medical staff thought he was OK to pitch and they said he should be OK to pitch next time, said manager Bobby Valentine. Im not sure.

Cook was delayed in spring training, a cautionary move because of past shoulder injuries. This is one of several odd injuries hes incurred, in addition to a broken leg and broken finger.

Thats just the way life is, he said. We were out there, I was trying to make a good baseball play, I was trying to stop in front of the plate, thats why I slid. And its just one of those things that happens. Its part of baseball.

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

Felger: Will October be a dance or a dud?

For a Red Sox team that has been the best in baseball in September and had won 11 straight prior to last night, you have to admit: There are a lot of things that could go the other way with this team in the playoffs that wouldn't surprise you.

To wit:

-- Would it surprise you if David Price blew up again in the postseason? He has a 5.12 career postseason ERA and has never won a playoff start. Was last night a precursor? He looked like his old shaky October self with a chance to clinch the division in Yankee Stadium.

-- Would it surprise you if Clay Buchholz crapped his pants when it mattered most? This is your No. 3 starter, folks, or No. 4 at worst. He's getting the ball in the playoffs either way, and if I told you that two months ago you'd tell me the Sox are sunk. He looks good now, but we all know he is the ultimate tease.

-- Would it surprise you if John Farrell blows a game with a bone-headed decision from the bench? Of course not; he's been doing that for nearly four years. Yes, he did it all the way to a title in 2013, but the possibility remains very real. It's in the back of most everyone's mind.

-- Would it surprise you if Koji Uehara regresses and the eighth inning once again becomes a problem? Uehara certainly has the experience and has pitched well recently, but the fact is that it feels like his arm is attached by a noodle.

-- Would it surprise you if some of the Sox' youth shows its age? It shouldn't. Happens all the time. Would it surprise you if Craig Kimbrel can't find the plate in a big save situation? It shouldn't. He's shown glimpses of it all season and has never pitched past the division series in his career. Would it surprise you if Hanley Ramirez makes an important mistake at first? Or the Sox' hole at third becomes a factor? Nope and nope.

We could play this game all night.

Now, what do I think is going to happen? I think the Sox are going to pitch well, even Price, and the offense will remain a force. I have full faith in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Rick Porcello and the lineup in general. There's a feeling on this team that's hard to ignore, likely inspired by Ortiz, and I think they'll keep it going in the postseason. I agree with those who say the Sox have the most talent in the American League, so that's a great place to start. I don't know if that means the ALCS, the World Series or a championship. I just think they'll continue to play well into October.

But all of that is just a feeling, just a prediction -- and you know what those are good for. The point is this: If it goes the other way for the Sox, I think we already have the reasons why.

E-mail Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN.

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

McAdam: Price not exactly hitting stride with postseason on horizon

NEW YORK -- The division title was there for the taking Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. When you've won 11 straight and steamrolled every other team in the division, what's one more?

One too many, apparently.

The Red Sox' 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees postponed the Champagne party for at least one night. In and of itself, that's not a huge concern. The Sox' magic number remains one with five games to play and the club's epic hot streak had to come to an end eventually.

A better night by either David -- Ortiz or Price -- might have resulted in corks popping and on-field celebrations.

Ortiz was 0-for-5 and stranded a total of seven baserunners. When he came to the plate in the top of the ninth against Tyler Clippard with two outs and two on, it almost seemed scripted.

Here was Ortiz in his final Yankee Stadium series, about to inflict one final bit of misery on the rival Yankees with a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

Talk about drama. Talk about one more famous, final scene.

Alas, Ortiz took some feeble swings and swung through strike three for the final out. Not even Ortiz, for all his clutch performances, can conjure a game-winner on-demand every time.

A far bigger concern was the work of Price. Perhaps the best thing than can be said of him for now is that he almost certainly will not have to face the Yankees again this season, against whom he's compiled a gaudy 7.89 ERA this season.

More troubling, though, is that Price is not exactly hitting his stride as the postseason appears on the near horizon. In his last three starts combined, Price has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed 27 hits and 14 runs.

That isn't the line of someone at peak form at the right time. To the contrary, after a run of outings in which it again appeared Price had figured everything out, he's regressed in his last three.

Most troubling Tuesday was a repeated inability to turn back the Yankees after his team had pulled close on the scoreboard.

Price spotted the Yankees a 3-0 lead, and the Sox finally scored twice in the top of the 6th to close within one at 3-2. But Price quickly gave anther run back in the bottom of the inning.

Then the Sox scored two more times in the seventh to tie things at 4-4. . . but Price gave the two runs right back in the bottom of the inning.

"Very frustrating,'' sighed Price. "It's something I talk about all the time. It's a very big deal. And it's something I feel like I've struggled with this entire year. Whenever you're going good, it's something you're doing very well. And whenever you're going bad...you get a lead, give it right back. . . that's tough.''

It also doesn't portend well for the postseason, where Price, as you may have heard, has a spotty track record.

With some strong starts in the final few weeks, he could have reached the playoffs with both momentum and confidence.

Instead, he's got one more start -- Sunday -- to straighten things out.

Ortiz? His postseason bona fides are set.

Price, meanwhile, has no such reservoir of success upon which to draw. And starts like Tuesday's only reinforce the doubts.