Sixth inning does Beckett in for another loss

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Sixth inning does Beckett in for another loss

BALTIMORE Its Groundhog Day all the time for Josh Beckett.

Hes trapped in one of his worst big league seasons and, more specifically, is in one of the worst ruts of that blah season.

Beckett was good early in Bostons 7-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, but started to show signs of trouble in the fifth before totally falling apart in the sixth frame that shifted the balance of the game. A Mark Reynolds home run in the fifth had given the Os a slim 2-1 lead, and a single and walk started problems for a tiring Beckett on a muggy night in Baltimore.

Then Matt Wieters chopped a groundball up the middle that somehow eluded Beckett, Mike Aviles and Dustin Pedroia and scored another run. A Chris Davis single scored another run to make it a 4-1 ballgame and Beckett was mercifully lifted from the game.

Unfortunately Mark Melancon came on in relief and a Reynolds bomb to left field made it a 7-1 ballgame that the downtrodden Sox had zero chance of coming back from.

In the sixth inning all kinds of expletive happened, said Beckett. I felt like I was down in the zone for the most part. It would be nice to win a game, but Ive got to pitch better. I cant put these guys in a hole like that.

Rookie backstop Ryan Lavarnway caught Becketts six innings of futility, but felt he was better than the box score will indicate.

I thought he threw better than his line is going to show, said Lavarnway. He left that one ball up to Omar Quintanilla, but he got a couple of ground balls in the sixth and we couldnt get the double play for him.

Bobby Valentine felt much the same way.

I thought Josh was as good as weve seen him in a while, said Valentine. Maybe a couple of mistakes to leadoff hitters for home runs, but in the sixth we get that check swing on a curveball. He didnt get it and then a high hopper over the mound and a seeing-eye single up the middle. Then after that it was Katie, bar the door.

Beckett finished with six hits and six runs allowed in 5 13 innings pitched in defeat, and heard a shower of boos from the Boston-heavy crowd at Camden Yards as he stalked off the field.

Yes, Beckett heard every last one of them and it appears the message was received as his ERA went up to 5.19 for the season.

Youve got to pitch better, said Beckett. If you pitch better then you dont need to worry about any of that stuff.

Theyre well-deserved in another horrendous loss with Beckett now having allowed 14 hits and 14 runs along with five home runs in each of his last two games after returning from his back spasm-shortened start on Aug. 1.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.