Middlebrooks pinch-hit homer a bright spot in loss

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Middlebrooks pinch-hit homer a bright spot in loss

BOSTON If there was a silver lining to be scraped from the Red Sox 6-3 loss to the Rangers at Fenway Park Tuesday night, it was Will Middlebrooks pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning, accounting for all the Sox runs.

With two outs, Ryan Kalish on first after reaching on an error, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia on second after a single to right, Middlebrooks pinch hit for Nick Punto.

On the first pitch, an 85-mph slider, Middlebrooks launched a laser into the first row of Monster seats in left field, slicing the Sox deficit to one run, 4-3.

But the satisfaction was not immediate. Initially, it appeared a fan reached over to pull the ball in. The umpires convened on the field, deciding to review the play. After several minutes seeming to take longer than most home run reviews the umpires emerged from the visitors dugout (which allows access to the video review equipment) with the decision.

The home run stands.

It also ended the night for Rangers right-hander Ryan Dempster.

Middlebrooks had no doubt his blast would survive the review.

Oh, I knew, he said.

It was Middlebrooks 14th home run of the season, his first as a pinch-hitter, and the Sox fourth of the season from a pinch-hitter.

When youre not starting, about the sixth inning you start getting ready, he said. Go down in the cage, take some swings, get loose, because you never know.

Middlebrooks now has 51 RBI this season, putting him into elite company. Since 1918, Ted Williams is the only other Sox batter to hit at least 14 home runs and 51 RBI in his first 72 major league games. Williams had 14 homers and 74 RBI. Walt Dropo, Norm Zachin, and Fred Lynn all reached those numbers, but took more than one season to do so.

It was Middlebrooks first career plate appearance against Dempster. He was not concerned about seeing pitches from the Rangers right-hander.

Im pretty aggressive anyways, Middlebrooks said. Thats just my overall approach anyways every at-bat. So, if I can get a pitch up in the zone early, Ill take it.

But that was all the Sox could take from the Rangers in this game.

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

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Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels:

QUOTES

* “He just had very good command the entire night. Stayed ahead in the count [and] pitched to all quadrants of the strike zone. He used his four-seamer in on some powerful right-handed hitters in their lineup.” John Farrell on Rick Porcello’s performance.

* “We needed a win bad and swung the bats well and played good defense. That’s a big win for us.” Rick Porcello said after his win in an interview with NESN.

* “24 hours ago we were probably in a much different place mentally after a ball game like tonight.” Farrell on the win.

“That was probably the first time I sat on off-speed pitches this whole year. I took a chance, took a gamble.” Jackie Bradley Jr. said on his home run.

NOTES

* Rick Porcello completed his first game in a Red Sox uniform in the 6-2 win. The CG was the fifth of his career and his first since he threw three in 2014. The righty has 14 wins, one win shy of tying his career high.

* Xander Bogaerts had his first multi extra-base hit performance of the season since June 11. He’s only done that twice this season. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

* David Ortiz logged his 85th RBI of the season in the win and Mookie Betts his 67th. Heading into Friday night’s game, the two were one of five pairs of teammates ranking in the top 20 in RBI. The list includes Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

* Dustin Pedroia has now reached base safely in 32 straight games.

STARS

1) Rick Porcello

Porcello had his first complete game in a Red Sox uniform, stopping Boston’s losing skid at four games.

2) Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts finished with a double and a home run -- the only Boston hitter with multiple hits. He also led the Red Sox with three RBI and scoring twice in the win.

3) Dustin Pedroia

In addition to walking in his first two at-bats, Pedroia had a base hit -- and another walk -- scoring twice on the night.

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

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First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 win over Los Angeles:

Rick Porcello is not fazed by his fellow staff members’ struggles.

Although his teammates continue to deal with frustrations on almost a nightly basis, Porcello got the job done and put Boston in a position to win once again.

The second-inning double by Daniel Nava should have been a single, had Jackie Bradley Jr. not misplayed a funny hop. If that hit is a single, the next ground ball is a double -- and the following grounder ends the inning.

One of the most impressive components of his outing was dealing with Cole Kalhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to finish his outing after already facing them three times on the night.

Xander Bogaerts had his first multi-hit game in a week.

Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a long time -- but that can feel like a long time given the shortstop’s output this year.

It was also his first multi extra-base hit performance since June 11.

Oddly enough, those are his only two games of that kind this season.

In addition to the win, Porcello did the bullpen a favor.

Not necessarily because the relievers needed rest, but with Ziegler’s last two rough nights, they could use a break.

Although Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz got warm late, it was more so to keep them fresh for the coming games since they haven’t thrown much.

Additionally, he gave an example for the Red Sox starting rotation that they are in fact capable of going the distance.

Tim Lincecum is barely a shell of what he used to be.

That first inning was hard to watch. The former Cy Young Award-winner threw eight straight balls, and somehow managed to work past. Even his final throw to first base in he opening frame looked like it was going off the mark.

Just hard to watch in general, which made it all the more shocking that the Red Sox couldn’t score against him.

Good for them that he never adjusted, and they took advantage of it in the ensuing innings.

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Merloni: ‘Missed opportunities left and right’ for Red Sox

Lou Merloni talks about the Red Sox losing 6 out of the last 7 games and if David Price should have stayed in the game for the 9th inning.