Same play, same result for disappointed Red Sox

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Same play, same result for disappointed Red Sox

SEATTLE -- The Red Sox had seen this all before: the potential winning run in scoring position, a ball hit to right fielder Cody Ross and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia waiting to simultaneously block the plate and handle the throw.

This one didn't turn out any better than it did Thursday night.

Two nights after suffering a walkoff loss in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox experienced much the same situation in the bottom of the 11th inning Saturday night, and suffered the same result: a loss.

With Dustin Ackley on third, Chone Figgins drove a line drive to right field. Ross caught the ball and, with some momentum from charging the ball, uncorked an on-target throw to the plate.

But the ball short-hopped Saltalamacchia, skipping away as Ackley slid in with the winning run.

"It was a little tougher, I think,'' said Saltalamacchia in comparing the two plays, "just because the ball had a little top-spin, so Cody had to run in on it and catch it a little lower than usual. It short-hopped me a little bit. It was one of those plays where it was do-or-die on both sides of it. But it was a lot different than the night before (when John Jaso singled home Casper Wells from second).''

"It's a do-or-die,'' said Ross of the play. "Chone made a good job making some good contact. It's a tough play. There was some topspin on it and you have to worry about catching it first, and then make an accurate throw.

"I thought it was going to get there the whole way (on the fly) and it ended up short-hopping Salty. That's a tough play for him to make. That's two tough ones in the last few days. That's baseball.''

The Sox had brought the infield in with one out, and were hopeful that they could get Figgins to hit a ground ball.

"You want him to roll over and get a double play so we can get out of the inning,'' said Saltalamacchia. "We tried a pitch-out first, maybe thinking they were trying to squeeze. Then we tried to go hard in, maybe trying to get him jammed up and roll him over.''

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

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Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

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Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

NEW YORK -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

QUOTES

* "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving." David Ortiz, unaccustomed to ovations and cheering at Yankee Stadium.

* "I thought he threw a high number of strikes. There was good swing-and-miss to his changeup and he took the opportunity and showed well." John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "It's just taking good swings in good counts. It's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose." Xander Bogaerts, who has tripled his homer output since last year.

NOTES:

* With his fourth-inning homer, Xander Bogaerts tripled his home run total from last year, improving from seven to 21.

* The season series between the Red Sox and Yankees ended with the Sox winning 11 of the 18 games.

* The Boston bullpen has given up eight runs in the last two nights after allowing only seven this month before Wednesday night.

* The Sox suffered only their second sweep of the season. They were also swept by the Tigers in July.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached base safely in his last 13 games.

* Junichi Tazawa has contributed seven straight scoreless outings.

* Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a season-high three walks -- all in the same inning.

* Henry Owens has a career ERA of 8.53 against the Yankees.

* David Ortiz went hitless (0-for-11) in his final series at Yankee Stadium.

STARS:

1) CC Sabathia

Sabathia turned back the clock and looked like a far younger version of himself, pitching into the eighth and allowed just a run on four hits while striking out eighth.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury had a hand in the first Yankee run -- walk, stolen base, run scored -- and doubled home the second run in the fifth inning.

3) Xander Bogaerts

The Sox had little offense on the night, but Bogaerts smoked a solo homer in the fourth to account for their only run.