Life Without Ortiz

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Life Without Ortiz

On Tuesday night, Jon Lester was awful and the Red Sox offense was lacking in a 7-5 loss to Chicago. To make matters worse, the other Sox were led by a vengeful Kevin Youkilis, who seems to have lost 20 pounds of fat and added 10 pounds of muscle in the two weeks since leaving Boston.

On Wednesday night, the game was delayed due to a tornado warning.

Yeah, Im not sure the David OrtzDL Era could have started much worse for the Sox. You could already see Ortiz watching it all unfold from the dugout, rubbing his hands together and thinking: Oh yesss. Whats up, Larry? How you enjoying life without Papi? Bahahaha!

With the way this seasons gone, you really had to wonder if the Sox would survive these two weeks without Ortiz. While hes been a huge pain in the ass off the field, hes still been Bostons undisputed best player. Hes the biggest reason theyre only one game out of a playoff spot. For three and a half months, Ortiz was the glue in that line-up and things were still on the verge of falling apart. But now . . . Who would step up in his absence? Who would be there on the nights when no one else showed?

There may still be times over the next two weeks when we find ourselves asking those questions, but last night wasnt one of them. Last night, after an inauspicious start to Life Without Papi, the Sox gave us reason to believe. Not just that they can survive sans No. 34, but that once he comes back, Ortiz and the Sox will have what it takes to turn this season around.

Of course, who knows? Weve been here before with this team. Weve gotten our hopes up, only see them crumpled up and crapped on. To quote a wise, wise man, the Sox play on the field has at times tested the mettle of the faithful. It could be maddening one day, enthralling the next. As a result, weve learned not to get carried away.

But at the very least, we can all agree that last night was a lot of fun.

First of all, the Sox are a different team with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford atop the line-up. In three games, theyve taken Boston from borderline unwatchable to one of the most exciting teams in baseball. As long theyre healthy, Crawford and Ellsbury will continue to change the game. Theyll make opposing pitchers dizzy and make life a whole lot easier for everyone whos hitting behind them.

Doesnt Crawford already look more confident and comfortable than he did at any point last season? Kill the guy all you want for the money and the injuries, but right now he's ready to play.

Same goes for Adrian Gonzalez, whos 9-16 (.563) with two homers and nine RBI in four games since the All-Star Break. His average is up to .296, hes in the top 10 in the AL in hits, the top five in doubles and the power looks like its creeping back. Speaking of power, Cody Ross is healthy again, judging by his two home runs that traveled a combined marathon. And did I mention that Dustin Pedroia is coming back tonight? Believe it or not, he found that sometimes it's beneficial to take a seat and let yourself heal. He's ready to roll.

And suddenly, we're left to wonder: Instead of the Sox falling apart without Ortiz, might we remember this stretch as the time when this team finally came together?

When Ellsbury, Crawford and Pedroia all returned, and with a hell of a lot to prove. When Gonzalez and Ross had no choice but to pick up the slack and carry the RBI burden. And that when David Ortiz comes back in two weeks, he'll no longer have to play the role of savior for a beat up and worn down line-up. Instead, he'll come back as the final piece to what was originally supposed to be one of the most imposing line-ups in baseball.

And there I go getting carried away.

I know, Larry. I'm sorry. I should learn from your sage words. As enthralled as I am right now, I must be prepared for my mettle to be tested. It will be so unbelievably maddening!

But for now, despite all the Red Sox will lose with David Ortiz on the DL, last night gave us a reason to be optimistic about all they'll gain in the meantime.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Farrell: Sox may gave to manage Betts' knee condition for rest of season

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Farrell: Sox may gave to manage Betts' knee condition for rest of season

BOSTON -- After missing two-and-a-half games due to soreness in his right knee, Mookie Betts was back in the lineup for the Red Sox Monday night.

Betts was removed from Friday night's game after four innings when he experienced soreness in the knee. The knee had been bothering him since the beginning of the second half of the season.

The training staff drained some excess fluid from the knee Saturday, reducing the swelling that had taken place.

"I was able to run at full speed [Monday],'' said Betts. "We were able to get the swelling out with ice and whatnot. I tried to stay off of it (for the weekend).''

"He feels better than he has the last couple of days,'' said John Farrell.

Farrell said the Sox might have manage the condition for the rest of the season.

"I don't fully expect this to vanish,'' said Farrell. "The biggest thing is that there was a little buildup of swelling. Once that subsided and was removed, that's where he's feeling the freedom in his knee and he's ready to go tonight.''

Hanley Ramirez named A.L. player of the week

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Hanley Ramirez named A.L. player of the week

After a power binge in which five of his seven hits were home runs, Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez has been named American League player of the week.

In six games, Ramirez batted .333 (7-for-21) with five homers, 12 RBI, six runs scored, a slugging percentage of 1.048 and OPS of 1.488. Three of the home runs came in one game, an 11-7 victory Wednesday night over the San Francisco Giants. 

For the season, Ramirez is hitting .282 with 13 homers, 60 RBI and an OPS of .821. 

Monday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Betts back in right

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Monday’s Red Sox-Tigers lineups: Betts back in right

Mookie Betts returns to the Red Sox lineup tonight as they open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.

Betts is in his customary lead-off spot and playing right field. He missed the past two games after leaving in the fifth inning on Friday night with soreness and swelling in his right knee. 

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz makes his second Red Sox start since being acquired in a trade with the San Diego Padres on July 14. Pomeranz lasted only three-plus innings in his first start for Boston, allowing five runs in a game the Red Sox held on to win 11-7 over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.

Justin Verlander (9-6, 3.74 ERA) starts for the Tigers.

The lineups:

TIGERS
Ian Kinsler 2B
Jose Iglesias SS
Miguel Cabrera 2B
Victor Martinez DH
Nick Castellanos 3B
Justin Upton LF
Mike Aviles RF
James McCann C
Andrew Romine CF

Justin Verlander RHP

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Travis Shaw 3B
Sandy Leon C
Brock Holt LF

Drew Pomeranz LHP