The other guy: Punto surprised, disappointed by trade

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The other guy: Punto surprised, disappointed by trade

DENVER -- When the nine-player deal between the Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers took place Friday, it was though Nick Punto was collateral damage.

In an effort to achieve financial flexibility and re-set their Clubhouse culture, the Red Sox shipped off high-salaried, big-name stars: Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez.

And Punto.

Punto wasn't an issue the clubhouse; to the contrary, the Red Sox loved his attitude. And his contract -- two years for 3 million -- certainly wasn't crippling. But he was part of the deal anyway, filling the Dodgers' need for an experienced utility player in the infield.

So there was Punto, literally along for the ride when the Dodgers sent a private plane to Boston to transport the ex-Red Sox players to their new home in L.A.

"I was caught off guard," said Punto as the Dodgers began a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. "My name somehow got attached."

Punto wasn't nearly as high profile as the other Sox players sent west and he had been a member of the Red Sox for only 4 12 months. Still, the disappointment was palpable.

"I always envisioned playing in Boston and winning a world championship in Boston," he said. "That's the part that stinks -- you get to play there for a year, not even a year, and it just didn't work out."

It's been like that almost from the beginning. Punto signed with the Sox in part because of the urging of Kevin Youkilis, a close friend. But Youkilis clashed with Bobby Valentine in April, was injured in May and traded by June.

Two months later, Punto followed him out of town, his stay brief and unsuccessful.

"It was just one of those years where it didn't work out," said Punto, shaking his head. "We had the talent to do it, but we just didn't perform. Which is tough. That's the city you want to win a world championship in. I heard that from many people."

Punto has heard speculation that the Sox failed this season because of a bad mix of personalities or a lack of focus, but he says the issue was more basic.

"It definitely wasn't what everybody thought it was," said Punto, "because that group of guys was awesome. We jelled, we got along. It's almost like the media wanted to portray that clubhouse as toxic, or not working out. But the 25 guys were always together. We just underperformed; that's the bottom line.

"Everybody has injuries. That's part of the game. But the people who were healthy, we all underperformed. That's it. There's not more to it than that. It was just one of those years. We had the talent to do it and it just didn't work out."

Punto described the last few days as "crazy...chaotic. I'm kind of meeting new faces and names and trying to put them all together.''

Disappointed though he may be, Punto also realizes that, given his game, he might be better suited for the National League, where double-switches and pinch-hitting are far more prevalent than in the A.L.

"Unless you're an everyday player or a DH, obviously, I think the National League fits everybody a little better," he said. "It's fun. You have to be ready to be in the game every day. I definitely enjoy National League baseball."

Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz has been a "mixed bag" so far

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Quotes, notes and stars: Pomeranz has been a "mixed bag" so far

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 5-2 loss to the Angels:

 

QUOTES

 

* “Missed opportunities -- that’s the story of this one. We did a fantastic job of, once again, putting guys on. But to cash in and complete the inning -- that base hit has been elusive . . . It’s been all or nothing it seems like this stretch that we’re through offensively.” Farrell said on Boston’s offensive play of late.

 

* “The first one wasn’t me. I had a lot of time off -- had a lot of things going on. The last one was more myself -- I fell like. Tonight, I made a bad pitch too (Albert) Pujols, walked a couple guys. But overall, I feel like I did a decent job.” Pomeranz on his first three starts in Boston

 

* “I’m just trying to put a good swing on a good pitch and fortunately I got one and it went over.” Mookie Betts said on his leadoff homerun.

 

* “It’s been a mixed bag.” Farrell on Pomeranz to trough his first threw starts for the Red Sox.

 

* “Overall he probably wasn’t as sharp as his last time out. And when they created damage against him it was early in counts . . . So it wasn’t like he got into too many deep innings.” John Farrell said Drew Pomeranz’s start.

 

* “It happens – it’s baseball. They capitalized on some chances and we didn’t.” Betts on the offense not taking advantage of early opportunities.

 

NOTES

 

* Mookie Betts’ leadoff homerun was his 21st long ball of the year, sixth to start off the game. He passed Dwight Evans (5 in 1985) and now only trails Nomar Garciaparra’s seven in 1997.

 

* Albert Pujols launched his 20th home run of the season, reaching that total for the 15th time in his career. He joins Frank Robinson, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as the only players to do so through at least 16 seasons.

 

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base safely in 33 straight games for the Red Sox after walking twice and finishing 1-for-2 in the loss.

 

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single in his second at-bat, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.

 

* The Red Sox are now two games out of first place with Toronto finally moving into first place after defeating the Orioles 9-1 on Saturday.

 

 

STARS

 

1) Hector Santiago

Somehow, the lefty managed to scatter six walks and four hits -- including a leadoff homerun -- only giving up two runs in five innings of work against Boston.

 

2) Albert Pujols

Pujols’ two-run homerun gave the Angels the advantage after falling behind early, and proved to be enough for their pitching staff.

 

3) Dustin Pedroia

As much as Mookie Betts had the big fly, Pedroia reached base three times in four chances, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks.

First impressions: Red Sox miss out on free opportunities

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First impressions: Red Sox miss out on free opportunities

First impressions of the Red Sox 5-2 loss to Los Angeles:

 

Far too many missed opportunities for the Red Sox.

Hector Santiago somehow worked his way through five innings and only gave up two runs -- despite walking six batters and giving up six hits.

Somehow he’s flipped a switch in July after a rough start to the season. But Saturday night was not one of those nights.

Although the pitching wasn’t at it’s best, Santiago gave the Red Sox offense several easy chances at runs that they didn’t capitalize on -- including two instances where Bryce Brentz was punched-out.

 

Joe Kelly not the best guy to bring in with runners on.

The righty gave up a crucial double to start his appearance -- which would’ve been an amazing catch by Brock Holt.

Next leadoff batter he got out, but his last one reach on a line drive single up the middle.

So 67 percent of the leadoff batters got a hit off of Kelly.

A small sample size? Yes.

But when you’ve got a track record like Kelly’s, assessments like that are going to be made.

 

The return out west didn’t go as planned for Drew Pomeranz.

While Saturday was a Pacific Coast homecoming for the lefty starter, he wasn’t able to find his form.

It seemed like things would go well at first, but Pomeranz made some crucial mistakes in his second trip through the order.

Walking Yunel Escobar isn’t an option when Mike Trout and Albert Pujols follow him.

Furthermore, the cutter Pujols launched to left field was down the heart of the plate -- simply unacceptable.

 

Mookie Betts is making might be more valuable than Xander Bogaerts.

It became clear pretty early that Betts had the superior power.

While Bogaerts’ hands give bail him out constantly, they never move as quickly as those of the Boston leadoff hitter.

And while Bogaerts seemed to be the superior hitter for average, Betts is narrowing that gap, too.

The only case for Bogaerts being more valuable is that he’s a shortstop.

Other than that, Betts has shown he could easily be the face of the franchise when David Ortiz retires -- which is great for Boston, since he’s the one of the two who isn’t a Scott Boras client.

 

Red Sox fail to secure another series win against a bad team.

The Angels have no pitching. In fact, the Red Sox haven’t even faced their best pitcher.

And with the exception of Friday’s game, they’ve scored three runs in two LA games.

And the pitching was good until Saturday night -- so the offense has to get things going for Sunday.

Saturday's Red Sox-Angels Lineups: Pomeranz makes Red Sox road debut on west coast

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Saturday's Red Sox-Angels Lineups: Pomeranz makes Red Sox road debut on west coast

Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 7.00 with Boston) makes his return to the west coast in his first road start in a Red Sox uniform. The lefty is coming off a six-inning start where he gave up two runs, but was on the wrong end of a 4-2 contest against the Tigers.

The Angels answer with Hector Santiago (9-4, 4.28). He shut out Boston for six innings on 7/2 -- the same day the Red Sox staff gave up 21 runs.

The lineups:

RED SOX

Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Aaron Hill 3B
Travis Shaw 1B
Bryce Brentz LF
Sandy Leon C

Drew Pomeranz LHP

ANGELS
Yunel Escobar 3B
Mike Trout CF
Albert Pujols DH
Jefry Marte 1B
Andrelton Simmons SS
Jett Bandy C
Johnny Giavotella 2B
Gregorio Petit LF
Shane Robinson RF

Hector Santiago LHP