Too many mistakes catch up to Red Sox in loss to A's


Too many mistakes catch up to Red Sox in loss to A's

OAKLAND -- Ahead 2-1 in the ninth inning and seemingly headed for a victory over the Oakland A's, the Red Sox badly fumbled the game away in every conceivable manner Tuesday night -- in the field, at the plate, on the bases and on the mound.

There was plenty of blame to go around in the aftermath of the Sox' 3-2 loss.

At the plate: With runners on first and second, third baseman Nick Punto, whom manager Bobby Valentine labeled "the best bunter on the team," failed to get a good sacrifice down.

Punto popped the bunt attempt up in the air, and Oakland first baseman Chris Carter, anticipating the bunt, came in, making a diving catch of the bunt.

Punto, unsure whether the bunt was caught, raced to first base, where teammate Mike Aviles, who had been on first, was doubled off.

"Nobody out, standard play . . . just got to get the bunt down," said Punto. "It was a simple execution play and I didn't get it down. That's what I do - simple fundamentals. Can't make those mistakes."

"We had first and second and no outs," lamented Bobby Valentine. "That's where the game was lost. You can't bunt into a double play there. It's that simple. We've got our best bunter on the team up and he's got to be able to bunt the guys over."

On the bases: After the bunt mishap, outfielder Ryan Kalish was on second and decided to try to steal third with two outs. He was gunned down and the Sox were out of the inning.

"It was an aggressive play," said Valentine. "They blocked the base on him. He had it stolen. He had it stolen, he just couldn't get in there. Good play on their part, bad play on ours.''

Asked if Kalish had gone on his own, Valentine said: "They didn't hold him. I wasn't expecting a steal. If I don't want him to go, I better hold him. It was an easy steal -- big leg kick (from pitcher Jerry Blevins), he just couldn't get by (third baseman Brandon Inge's) leg."

Said Kalish: "I thought I got a good jump. I think I was even safe. Sometimes that's just the way it goes. (Inge) had his leg in front of the bag so I think that's what (the umpire) saw."

In the field: With the potential tying-run on second, Brandon Moss singled to center. Kalish charged the ball, hoping to make a throw home, but in the process, over-ran it as Chris Carter scored and Cliff Pennington went from first to third.

From third, Pennington scored on Coco Crisp's sacrifice fly.

"I've got to play better defense," said Kalish, who misplayed a ball Monday night, too. "That's why I got called up. That's what I need to do the best and right now, I'm just not doing that."

Kalish admitted that he picked his head up as he charged the ball to see where Carter was and that proved costly.

"Yeah, for sure," said Kalish. "Between that and the ball out there kind of snakes a little bit. That was something the last few days of BP, you see. Like I said, I've got to play better 'D'. No excuses. That's something I've got to bring to the park every day."

On the mound: Alfredo Aceves had a 2-1 lead, but suffered his fourth blown save of the season and sixth loss.

He allowed two singles and a game-winning sacrifice fly.

As is his custom when pitching poorly, Aceves left the clubhouse with answering questions from reporters.

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

Are Red Sox entering spring training with fewer questions than ever?

BOSTON -- Every year it seems like there are major issues or question marks to start spring training where the answers are up in the air.

In 2015, the Red Sox lacked an ace, had Hanley Ramirez moving to left field and Pablo Sandoval coming to town.

In 2016, Ramirez was moving back to the infield, but at a new position, and his bat was in question. Sandoval was coming off a year where he couldn’t hit his weight (he hit .245 and he last weighed in at 255 pounds). How would the starting rotation look after David Price?

This year, there seem to be three questions, but in a way, they’ve already been answered.

How will the Red Sox make up for David Ortiz’s absence?

Well, for one, the Red Sox have three Cy Young-caliber starting pitchers (Price, Chris Sale and Rick Porcello) in their rotation.

And two, Hanley Ramirez is coming off a career year with his highest career output in RBI (111) and second-highest home run total (30). And while Mitch Moreland isn’t the greatest hitter, he’s good for 20 or more home runs. Plus, it seems he’s holding a spot for a certain Red Sox prospect who’s bouncing back well from an injury.


Will Sandoval earn the starting third base job back?

The weight loss is a good sign, not only for the physical reasons, but it shows he’s mentally committed to being better.

However, that doesn’t guarantee he gets his job back.

“I’m not going to say [third base] resolved itself,” John Farrell told, “but you know Panda’s done a very good job of committing to get himself in better shape and we’re looking forward to seeing that play to in spring training.”

Even if Panda can’t put it all together, Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner, both Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge would be competing for the job as well.

Holt as plan B -- in the infield? Who wouldn’t take that?

Who’s going to start at catcher?

Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart each have their pros an cons.

Leon did it all last year, but went from hitting .383 in his first 39 games to .242 in his last 39.

Vazquez has Ivan Rodriguez-esque abilities behind the plate, but couldn’t keep the staff under control last year and cannot hit.

Swihart, who turns 25 April 3, is the youngest of the three, has the most potential at the plate, but is far and away the worst of the three defensively at the most important defensive position -- excluding pitcher -- on the field.

They all have their drawbacks, but they’ve all shown at some point why they can be the Red Sox starting catcher in the present and future.

Everywhere else, the Red Sox seem to be in a comfortable position as pitchers and catchers reporting to camp draws ever nearer.

“I think the fact that we’ve got veteran players that have done a great job in staying healthy [and] young players that are getting more establishing in their return, we’re in a pretty good place in terms of the overall status of our position player group,” Farrell told

And it seems some players are confident in the team’s options as they ready for camp.

“We’re looking good in a lot of areas,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts told “Especially the pitching staff, [since] we just got Chris Sale one of the best in the game.”

“Pablo’s definitely going to bounce back, especially with the weight he’s lost."

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


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.