Sox flex muscles, down Phils, 7-5

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Sox flex muscles, down Phils, 7-5

PHILADLEPHIA -- Citizen's Bank Park has the well-earned reputation of being one of the game's best hitting environments, a point illustrated once more Saturday night.

The Red Sox hammered out six extra-base hits, including four homers, and held off the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5.

The Phillies outhit the Sox 15-11, but stranded plenty of scoring opportunities. From the fifth inning through the eighth, the Phils had at least two hits in every inning and yet came away with just one run in that span.

The Sox got solo homers from Mike Aviles, Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a two-run shot from David Ortiz. Saltalamacchia, a night after getting stiches for a laceration of his left ear, had a single, homer and double in four at-bats.

Three Boston relievers limited the Phillies to a single run over the final three innings with Alfredo Aceves getting the last four outs for his ninth save.

Ryan Sweeney helped bail the pitching staff out in the seventh when he went a long way to the warning track in right-center to make a spectacular diving catch off Carlos Ruiz, saving two runs in the process.

Jon Lester didn't allow a hit the first time through the Phillies order, but then got knocked around a little. In one stretch from the third inning through the fifth, they were 6-for-10, with the big blow coming on a three-run homer from Freddy Galvis.

Lester came out after six, having thrown just 90 pitches as Valentine went to his bullpen.

STAR OF THE GAME: Ryan Sweeney
Sweeney had only one hit -- a double -- as part of the 11-hit attack, but he turned in the play of the game with a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning to take away what would have been a two-run double by Carlos Ruiz.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
One night removed from a trip to the hospital for stitches in his ear, the catcher returned to the lineup with a vengeance, collecting three hits -- a homer, single and double -- while knocking in a run and scoring two.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Joe Blanton
Getting rocked for seven runs on nine hits is bad enough, but Blanton added to his own troubles by committing not one but two errors fielding his position.

TURNING POINT: The Phils had runners at second and third and one out, trailnig by three, when Rich Hill came in to face Juan Pierre. He got Pierre on a harmless grounder to third that froze the runners.

BY THE NUMBERS: Jon Lester has made four career starts at Citizen's Bank Park and the Red Sox are a perfect 4-0 in those games.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "I'm good for tomorrow, plus, I'm due to hit a bomb.'' Jarrod Saltalamacchia, in a late night text message Friday from the hospital to manager Bobby Valentine.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

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].”