Germano silver lining during Saturday loss

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Germano silver lining during Saturday loss

It wasn't easy to find a bright spot in the Red Sox' 6-1 loss to the New York Yankees, the team's fifth straight defeat.

The Sox were punchless offensively, being held to two runs or fewer for the seventh time in the last nine games and starter Franklin Morales was pounded for four homers and six runs in just 3 13 innings.

There was a silver lining. His name was Justin Germano.

Germano took over for Morales with one out in the fourth and pitched shutout ball the rest of the way, allowing five hits over the final 5 23 innings while striking out seven and walking just two.

It was his first appearance for the Red Sox, and it resulted in Germano getting a standing ovation as he came off the mound after the top of the ninth.

"He did exactly what he was doing at Triple A,'' said Bobby Valentine, "and I'm glad that it translated here. They said that he had used all of his pitches, thrown strikes and gotten outs
and give you a chance to win. In today's game, he was very valuable in that he was the second pitcher and the last pitcher.''

Indeed, Germano's outing -- excellent as it was -- was also noteworthy since it meant the Sox didn't have to burn the bullpen. On a day in which they were playing a doubleheader, and coming just after a night in which starter Josh Beckett lasted only five innings, there's no telling how important that was.

"I was just trying to go out there and eat as many innings as I could,'' said Germano. "I'm glad I was able to finish it and save the bullpen. It's tough, because you don't want things to
get out of control. You want to just go out there and try to make your pitches and try to keep the score as close as you can and keep your team in there.''

Ordinarily, in a long-relief, mopup stint, pitchers would focus on throwing strikes and making them hit the ball. But against a lineup as fearsome as New York's, such a basic approach has its own dangers, since the Yankees are capable of piling on.

"You want to attack the zone,'' said Germano, "but you have to throw qualilty strikes. You really have to try to keep them off balance and mix it up the best you can.''

The appearance ended a whirlwind week for Germano, who was pitching at Pawtucket but ready to utilize a July 1 opt-out clause in his contract to go elsewhere if the Sox didn't add him to the major league roster.

He flew cross-country Tuesday afternoon, then returned home from Oakland to Boston the very next afternoon before making his Boston debut Saturday.

"I knew it was going to be tough for them to make room for me (on the roster),'' he said. "I honestly didn't think they were going to, but I'm glad they did. It's a great organization to be
a part of and I'm glad I got the chance to come up here and show them what I can do.''

Felger on Ortiz: ‘He keeps passing the tests’

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Felger on Ortiz: ‘He keeps passing the tests’

Major League Baseball is reportedly set to release more PED testing results, but Mike Felger is growing increasingly more confident in the fact that David Ortiz is clean. He's passing all the tests, isn't he?

McAdam: More firsts for Ortiz in what looks like stellar final season

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McAdam: More firsts for Ortiz in what looks like stellar final season

CHICAGO -- It could happen Thursday night, or perhaps sometime this weekend in New York, where he always hits well.
      
But sometime soon, David Ortiz is going to tie, then surpass, Carl Yastrzesmski as the second-greatest home run hitter in Red Sox history.
      
Ortiz hit his sixth of the season Wednesday night, giving him 451 for his Red Sox career, one behind Yastrzemski. Ted Williams is, of course, the Red Sox' all-time leader with 521, safely out of reach.
      
"Know what happens when that's happening?'' asked Ortiz, when told of the approaching milestone. "I'm getting old, man. Like I always say, whenever they mention your name right next to the legends, it's something that, humbly I can tell you, is an honor.''
      
What makes Ortiz's spot on the list all the more amazing is that he has reached these heights after being discarded by the Minnesota Twins some 14 years ago.
      
He arrived as a backup first baseman, initially stuck behind Jeremy Giambi on the Red Sox depth chart. He'll retire, later this year, as one of the handful of best hitters the franchise has ever known.
      
On nights like Wednesday, the context seemed to have Ortiz himself in awe.
      
"I was just a guy who was trying to have a good career,'' said Ortiz, “and put (my) family in a better situation. Now, all of a sudden, these things are happening. It's a blessing.''
      
It's a stretch to suggest that these things are happening "all of a sudden.'' To the contrary, they're the result of a remarkable stretch of 14 seasons in Boston.
     
Only now are the numbers coming into focus. And what numbers they are.
      
Beyond Ortiz's ascension on the all-time lists for the both Major League Baseball and the Red Sox in particular are the improbable feats of a 40-year-old who is performing this season at a level that would be impressive for a hitter a decade younger.
      
Consider:
      
* When Ortiz homered off Yankees reliever Dellin Betances last Friday, he did so on a first-pitch curveball. Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated noted that Betances had thrown 355 first-pitch curveballs in his career; Ortiz was the first to hit a homer on one of those pitches.
      
In fact, only six of the first 355 had even been put in play.
      
Ortiz hit his well into the Monster Seats to snap a 2-2 tie and send the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory.
      
* On Wednesday night, Ortiz became the first lefthanded hitter to ever homer off White Sox lefty starter Carlos Rodon.
      
Since last July 2, Ortiz is third among all lefthanded hitters in hitting homers off lefthanded pitchers. That's quite an accomplishment for someone who was being benched as recently as last June against some lefty starters.
     
And what did Rodon learn about that particular showdown?
      
"Don't throw a fastball down the middle to Big Papi,'' said Rodon.
      
Sounds like a good strategy.
      
It's fairly amazing that a 40-year-old, in his final season, is enjoying all these firsts. But Ortiz has lasted this long, and played at such a high level, precisely because he works to get better all the time.
      
Manager John Farrell noted that Ortiz hadn't faced Rodon before Wednesday night and didn't look particularly good in his first two at-bats, grounding into a double play and hitting a flyout.
      
But Ortiz is forever making mental notes, getting ready to make adjustments and process what he's seen.
      
"His retention is great,'' marveled Farrell. "He understands what he's seeing after just one at-bat.''
      
There's still more than five months to go in the regular season and a lot can happen in that span. But after a month in 2016, it seems likely that we are in the midst of one of the greatest final seasons a player has ever enjoyed.