Saltalamacchia on Doubront: 'The stuff he's got is best in the league'

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Saltalamacchia on Doubront: 'The stuff he's got is best in the league'

MIAMI -- Felix Doubront followed his worst start of the season with one of his best.
Five days after being clubbed for six runs against the Washington Nationals, Doubront took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and went seven fulls innings for the first time in his career, limiting the Miami Marlins to two runs in a 10-2 Red Sox victory.
"He had all of his arsenal tonight,'' marveled Bobby Valentine. "With an explosive fastball, his curveball was thrown for strikes, a good changeup and a cutter...Wow, that's good pitching. He was very good tonight.''
Doubront has been mostly good all season and is tied with Clay Buchholz for most wins (seven) on the Red Sox staff. But his last outing was uncharacteristic for him and he was determined to put it behind him.
The lefty issued a one-out walk in the first, but then retired the next 16 Marlins he faced. He struck out the side in the third, and fanned the first two hitters he faced in the sixth and still hadn't allowed a hit.
That changed when Jose Reyes, who hit triples in each of the first two games of the series, laced a homer into the seats in left, spoiling the no-hitter and shutout in one swing.
"I was feeling that something was going on,'' said Doubront, "but I was just enjoying it and focusing on winning.''
Doubront said he focused on making some adjustments from the start against the Nationals, with a special emphasis placed on doing a better job keeping the ball down in the strike zone.
"I wanted to do better and get my confidence back,'' said Doubront. "I was ready to focus on what I was doing.''
Doubront stumbled some in the seventh, allowing a leadoff single to Hanley Ramirez and a double to Giancarlo Stanton, bringing the potential tying run to the plate.
Valentine visited him on the mound, reminding him to stay focused, and let him get through the inning, retiring the next three hitters.
Never before had Doubront completed the seventh inning.
"I was waiting for that,'' said Doubront, who improved to 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA. "Finally.''
"I don't think he was looking at it, thinking, 'If I don't (get through the seventh), it's a bad start,'' said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "But it's a good thing from a personal standpoint. It's like, 'I'm getting better, I'm starting to get there, and get my pitch count down.' Which is what we want.''
Saltalamacchia isn't surprised with the success Doubront has enjoyed this year.
"The stuff he's got is the best, best in the league,'' said the catcher. "He's up there with CC (Sabathia) and Jonny (Lester) and all those guys as far as lefthanded pitchers go.''

First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

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First impressions: Longoria makes Buchholz pay in Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Rays

BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay:

* There's a steep learning curve for a set-up man, as Clay Buchholz discovered.

Although he's pitched out of the bullpen for the last couple of months, most of those appearances weren't of the high leverage variety. More often than not, the Sox had a sizeable lead, or Buchholz was brought in earlier in the game. Or they were behind and he was mopping up.

But Tuesday was different. The Rays had battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, and after Matt Barnes got the final out in that inning, Buchholz came in to start the eighth.

After getting Kevin Kiermaier on a groundout to lead off the inning, Buchholz threw a four-seamer to Evan Longoria that the Tampa Bay third baseman launched toward the Charles River, clearing everything and putting the Rays up by a run.

It was a reminder that in late innings of close games, one pitch, with missed location, can really hurt.

 

* Hanley Ramirez knocked in two runs. He was sort of lucky.

In the fifth inning, Ramirez hit a twisting opposite-field fly ball down the right field line. It landed just past the Pesky Pole in right, measured at 307 feet, the shortest homer in baseball this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Then, an inning later, Ramirez hit a pop fly that drifted into shallow right. Three Rays defenders converged -- first baseman, second baseman and right fielder -- and somehow the ball dropped in between all three for a run-scoring single.

Two cheap hits, two RBI.

At times, you'll see hitters mash the ball, only to have it hit right at someone for an out. Rotten luck, and all.

Tuesday night, Ramirez got to experience the flip side of that.

 

* Drew Pomeranz had an excellent outing -- until his final pitch of the night.

Through 6 2/3 innings, Pomeranz had allowed a single run on four hits while walking two and striking out eight.

He had retired 10 of the previous 11 hitters he had faced, and while he was approaching his 100th pitch, showed no evidence of tiring.

Then, Pomernaz hung a curveball to No. 9 hitter Luke Maile -- with two strikes, no less -- and Maile hit into the Monster Seats for a game-tying, two-run homer.

It was the first homer on a curveball allowed by Pomeranz in 153 innings this season, and all of a sudden, the outing wasn't so special.

 

Expect Red Sox call-ups to come in two waves when rosters expand

Expect Red Sox call-ups to come in two waves when rosters expand

BOSTON - On Thursday, rosters will expand for major league teams, enabling them to add as many as 15 more players -- if they so choose.

The Sox, of course, won't be adding nearly that many. In fact, they'll probably only promote three or so players by Sept. 1, with additional players added after minor league seasons end on Labor Day.

The Sox call-ups will come in two waves. A look at who might be called up and when.

FOR FRIDAY: (the Red Sox are off Thursday)

* catcher Ryan Hanigan

* reliever Joe Kelly

* outfielder Bryce Brentz.

Hanigan is finishing up a rehab assignment and will provide the Sox with a third catcher, enabling John Farrell to either pinch-hit or pinch-run for one of his two catchers (Bryan Holaday and Sandy Leon) without worrying that he's putting himself in a potential bind.

Kelly would give the Red Sox another swing-and-miss bullpen option, though he's yet to establish himself as big league reliever.

Meanwhile Brentz would give the Sox another outfield option with the injury to Andrew Benintendi and further free up Brock Holt for infield duties.

FOR TUESDAY: (Day after International League season ends):

* reliever Heath Hembree

* infielder Deven Marrero

* reliever Noe Ramirez

Hembree has been effective in spurts and could offer some match-up options against righthanded hitters.

Marrero was a September call-up last year and could be a late-inning defensive replacement for Travis Shaw at third, or spell Xander Bogaerts at short if the Sox want to rest Bogaerts in one-sided games.

In the bullpen, Ramirez would serve as a long man in games in which a starter is knocked out early.

 

Davis Mega Maze unveils corn maze tribute to David Ortiz

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Davis Mega Maze unveils corn maze tribute to David Ortiz

STERLING, Mass. -- Nothing quite measures up to the latest tribute to retiring Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

A corn maze dedicated to the player known as Big Papi was unveiled at a ceremony Tuesday in Sterling, Massachusetts.

Ortiz had a message for his legions of fans at the unveiling: "I love corn."

The 8-acre maze was created by Davis Mega Maze and features a cornstalk rendering of Ortiz's trademark home run pose of pointing two fingers to the sky. It's accompanied by the phrase "Thanks Big Papi."

The maze opens to the public on Saturday.

Davis Mega Maze has been carving a different design into the field every year for about 20 years. This year marks the first time a living celebrity has been featured.