Lester suffers first career loss to Orioles

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Lester suffers first career loss to Orioles

BOSTON -- Following Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Bobby Valentine said he'd "die" with Jon Lester every time he's on the mound.

One of the major problems for the Red Sox this season has been that -- far too often -- they can't survive when Lester has the ball.

That was once again the case on Friday, as Lester allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three in seven innings of work.

It marks Lester's 13th loss of the season, and his first-career loss to the Orioles, in 21 starts against the club.

"It was bound to happen sometime," said Lester afterwards. "They're playing good this year. They've always had a good offense. They're just putting everything else together."

The Orioles find themselves in a serious playoff race. The Red Sox find themselves searching for answers, just waiting for the nightmarish season to end. It's a complete role-reversal for September baseball at Fenway, with Baltimore in town.

And even though Lester has been an improved pitcher in the last month-and-a-half, it still hasn't been good enough.

"There wasn't anything that bad. Jon was good, actually, tonight," said Valentine after he loss. "Wieters hit a couple balls, one down the right-field line, one down the left-field line that barely stayed fair.

"His pitches were crisp, he battled the whole way. We got a one-run lead for him, and then tied it up. We just couldn't get that inning to get guys back in the dugout and maybe feel good about ourselves."

Matt Wieters drove in Baltimore's first-three runs of the game. He then came across the plate for the fourth. Both of Wieters' hits were down the line, with the second being the game-winner, just barely staying fair down the left-field line in the sixth inning, driving in one, and giving the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

"He did a good job of sticking his nose on one, and hitting it down the line," said Lester. "And then he turned on one."

When asked what his goal will be for the rest of this season, Lester said, "Pitch, just pitch. Every time I go out there, I learn something about myself, and about the other team. And the adjustments that we had to make after the All-Star break, to continue to work on those.

"I'll just try to pitch as many innings as I can. It's all I can control, and go out there and try to keep the team in the game."

And Valentine doesn't believe next season will be as bad a year for the lefty.

"If he pitches like that . . . he's going to win a lot of games," said Valentine. "He'll be up there in wins.

"And again, balls are going to get hit at people more in the future, I think. And if he stays healthy, he's a very good pitcher. I'd die with him every time he's out there."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

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 CSNNE.com 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 CSNNE.com “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].”