Punto, Red Sox react to Youkilis trade

801012.jpg

Punto, Red Sox react to Youkilis trade

Nick Punto was the first person to talk to Kevin Youkilis after Youkilis was pulled from Sunday's game in the bottom of the seventh inning, a sure sign that a trade out of Boston was imminent.

After Youkilis tripled in what would be his final at-bat in a Red Sox uniform, he was removed in favor of Punto. The two shared an emotional hug in front of the pitcher's mound as Youkilis trotted off the field and Punto went to pinch-run for him at third.

"We've been friends a long time," said Punto, his voice choking with some emotion in the clubhouse after the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves, "probably ten years, and I know how much blood, sweat and tears he's poured into this organization. I think for me, it was kind of a goodbye. We haven't been teammates (until this season), but we've been friends for a long time.

"I think for the sake of baseball, it's always sad to see someone go like that."

Youkilis was given a standing ovation in his first at-bat in the second inning and, sitting next to Punto on the bench in the dugout, admitted to Punto: "Man, it was hard to hit after that. It felt pretty good."

Added Punto: "Not too many Boston Red Sox players have two world championships and he was a heck of a player for this organization."

As sad as he was to see his friend leave, Punto said the reaction of the fans to Youkilis on his last day was "pretty cool, pretty cool . . . It was a pretty cool moment for me, too . . . It doesn't surprise me with these fans. They have great instincts and they showed it there."

Will Middlebrooks, who took Youkilis's job at third base, was happy to see Youkilis get the opportunity to go out in style.

"For sure," said the rookie. "No one's earned that more than him."

Punto ventured that the trade would, ultimately "be good for him. The way it went down wasn't necessarily the greatest way, but I think he's going to be happier (playing more regularly) . . . He can clear his mind and go out and play baseball."

Dustin Pedroia recalled Youkilis as someone who "pushes me every day; I want to go out and play hard just like he does. He's always out there, trying his best to do whatever he can to help us win. I appreciate him so much
for that."

Pedroia added that the crowd reaction "meant a lot to (Youkilis) and meant a lot to us. Fans know how hard he played for the Red Sox. He did it first-class."

In the dugout, Pedroia told Youkilis "I loved him, man, and that I'll see him in July (when the White Sox visit Fenway for a four-game series between July 16-20.). I'll see him soon."

Cody Ross, like Punto a relatively new teammate, was still struck by the emotion of the afternoon.

"It brought a tear to my eye, that's for sure," said Ross. "To see him run off and tip his hat, he had some tears in his eyes. I got goosebumps. It was a special time. I know how much he means to this city. He won two World Series here, played his heart and soul out every day and was just a great teammate. He'll be missed."

For Ross, the events were a reminder that baseball can be a cold, hard business.

"Everyone in here understands it's part of the game," Ross said. "This wasn't something that was out of the blue -- everyone saw it coming, even him. But still you never really know until it happens. It's tough. He's a great teammate like I said and he'll be a longtime friend for me."

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

red_sox_clay_buchholz_christian_vazquez_050416.jpg

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

red_sox_clay_buchholz_050416.jpg

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.