Ortiz hits K.C. as the Red Sox' lone All-Star representative

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Ortiz hits K.C. as the Red Sox' lone All-Star representative

KANSAS CITY -- In the past, when David Ortiz made his annual pilgrimage to the All-Star Game, he came with plenty of company.

Jon Lester. Josh Beckett. Dustin Pedroia. Jonathan Papelbon. They -- and plenty of others (J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Tim Wakefield, et al) -- made sure the Red Sox were always well represented at baseball's midsummer classic.

Not this year.

As reflects a team that is at .500 at the break, Ortiz is the lone Red Sox representative at Tuesday's All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium. That marks the first time in more than a decade -- Manny Ramirez was the only member of the Sox at the 2001 game -- that the Sox have had just one representative.

"It's a little crazy,'' agreed Ortiz. "I've always been able to see some of my teammates. It's strange. But at the same time, we have a lot of guys on the DL. That's the major reason, I guess.''

It's those same injuries -- to Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew Bailey and, more recently, Pedroia -- which have impacted the Sox so heavily.

There's no arguing with Ortiz's credentials. He's hitting .312 with 22 homers and 57 RBI, all tops on the team. His .607 slugging percentage and 1.013 OPS are each among the league leaders.

"I think it was good,'' said Ortiz assessing his own first half. "There's a lot of challenges in the American League. If you don't have someone hot hitting behind you, they don't mind pitching around you and taking care of the rest of the lineup. I think the first half was good. Like I always do, I tried my best. Hopefully, the rest of the guys on the DL are ready for the second half and we'll have a better chance.''

Playing without tablesetters such as Crawford and Ellsbury, and with Adrian Gonzalez not producing as many runs behind him, Ortiz has had to carry the team offensively.

"It puts a lot of pressure on me,'' said Ortiz. "You look at the games and see how they pitch to me. You just have to be patient. I have learned over the years how to be patient. When you're young, you have so much energy and you want to do things. Next thing you know, you're in trouble.

"I've been doing the opposite. It's hard, though. You have to work at it. But it is what it is.''

Ortiz can only hope that the players sidelined for much of the first half will provide a boost when the second half of the season gets underway Friday. Both Ellsbury and Crawford are expected back within a week or so.

"We're going to have a lot of guys coming back,'' he said. "A lot of the regular guys are coming back. We're going to be in better shape going into the second half. We have a lot of guys on the DL and it's hard to compete like that.

"We haven't been able to work as a group, there have been so many injuries. At one point, we had the whole regular outfield on the DL. Everybody's been on the DL. I've never seen anything like that before.''

With a 3-7 road trip in Seattle and Oakland followed by a 1-3 series against the Yankees, the Sox didn't exactly give themselves any momentum going into the break, losing 8 of their last 11.

That skid dropped them 9 12 games in back of New York, and 2 12 games out of the second wild-card spot.

But Ortiz believes the Sox can still come out ready to make their move Friday.

"The break,'' he said, "sometimes, it gives the players a chance to breathe, think a little bit about the second half and what they have to do better, what they need to improve on.

"Our team is really good at that. You saw last year how we bounced back after the slow start. After the break, a lot of players regroup. You know that's the last ride, the last part of the season. Hopefully, that's the case with us and we start playing better.''

It would help, too, if underperforming veterans such as Gonzalez, Lester and Beckett began to play to their usual level in the second half, something Ortiz believes is likely.

"The most important thing is that they know how to do it,'' he said. "Hopefully they come back strong."

Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Buchholz in 'attack mode'

CHICAGO -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the White Sox:

 

QUOTES

"I think the most encouraging thing was after a couple of hard-hit balls early on, he was still in attack mode.'' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz.

"The biggest thing centers around his fastball. First inning, he might have been up a little bit. But after that, he was down in the zone and the curveball was a good compliment to that.'' - Farrell.

"Man, I tell you what -- he does it in such big moments.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz.

"If you could paint a picture, I think tonight would be just about what everybody would want to do.'' - Buchholz on his outing.

"I think everybody would be lying if they said they didn't see your numbers; you see them every day. (Being) 0-3 with a six-something (ERA) is obviously not where you want to be.'' - Buchholz.

"Hopefully, this is the start of something good coming out of him.'' - Ortiz on Buchholz.

"You feel like the luckiest man on planet earth - finally hitting the ball where no one's at!'' - Ortiz on beating the shift with a single through the shortstop hole in the seventh

 

NOTES

* When the Red Sox homer, they're 11-6.

* Clay Buchholz's win was his first since last July 10.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

* Mookie Betts has scored at least one run in 10 of his last 14 games.

* David Ortiz is now one homer from tying Carl Yastrzemski for second-most homers in franchise history at 452.

* Ortiz tied Gary Sheffield for 25th place all-time in homers with 509.

 

STARS

1) Clay Buchholz

After five straight poor outings, Buchholz turned in a gem, giving up two runs in the first, then nothing else for the next six innings.

2) David Ortiz

As he so often does, Ortiz delivered when the Red Sox needed him most, clocking a two-run homer in the fifth to turn a one-run deficit into a two-run lead.

3) Jose Abreu

The White Sox slugger belted a two-run homer in the first to give him five RBI in the two games in this series.

 

First impressions: Buchholz finishes strong vs. White Sox

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First impressions: Buchholz finishes strong vs. White Sox

CHICAGO - First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-2 win over the White Sox.

 

If this was some sort of must-win proposition for Clay Buchholz, he passed his test.

Buchholz found himself behind 2-0 just three batters in when he allowed a two-run homer to Jose Abreu, but he righted himself nicely after that.

Buchholz pitched seven innings and didn't allow another run. In fact, Buchholz only yielded two more hits after the first - both singles.

John Farrell said he wanted to see Buchholz attack the strike zone with his fastball, pitch with a quicker tempo and not rely so much on his secondary stuff. To varying degrees, Buchholz accomplished all three and finished strong - retiring the last 10 hitters in a row and 16 of the last 17.

 

Josh Rutledge had a nice night off the bench.

Rutledge was a last-minute addition to the lineup when Hanley Ramirez was scratched with the flu and Travis Shaw was shifted from third base to first base.

Rutledge reached base three times with two singles and a walk. One of the singles drove in the fourth run, scoring Chris Young with an important insurance run.

 

David Ortiz broke out of his U.S. Cellular slump in a big way.

Coming into the game, Ortiz was hitless here in his last 19 at-bats and when he hit into a double play in the first and flied to center in the third, that stretched to 0-for-21. Since the start of 2014, those first two at-bats made Ortiz 1-for-26.

But in the fifth, Ortiz hammered a pitch from Carlos Rodon into the seats in right for a two-run homer, giving the Red Sox their first lead of the series.

For all the talk about Ortiz's difficulty hitting lefties, he's now third among lefty batters in homers off lefthanded pitchers since last July 2.

 

The home run power continues to be in short supply beyond Ortiz.

Last season, the Red Sox didn't have anyone hit 20 homers other than the (then) 39-year-old Ortiz.

Might the same thing happen again this year?

Ortiz hit his sixth homer last night, again leading the club. Mookie Betts is the only other hitter on the Sox with more than three homers -- and he hasn't hit one in his last 58 at-bats, dating back a week and a half.