Boston Red Sox

Beckett shines as Sox beat Jays 4-1

191542.jpg

Beckett shines as Sox beat Jays 4-1

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Josh Beckett threw his second straight strong start, as the Red Sox beat the Blue Jays, 4-1, Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park. The win improves the Red Sox record to 3-10.

Beckett (2-1) went seven innings giving up one. The Blue Jays lone run off him came in the second inning, when Aaron Hill hit a one-out double and scored on Travis Sniders single to right field. After the second inning, Beckett allowed just three more base runners on a single and two walks with just one reaching second base.

The Red Sox jumped out to a two-run lead in the first inning. Jed Lowrie, appearing in the lead-off spot for the first time in his career, singled to deep shortstop. In 13 games this season, Lowries single was the first hit the Red Sox have gotten by a lead-off batter in the first plate appearance of a game. Dustin Pedroia followed that with a walk, with Lowrie scoring on Adrian Gonzalezs single to center. Kevin Youkilis double to right scored Pedroia, for a 2-0 lead. After David Ortizs walk, the Red Sox had the bases loaded with no outs but could do no more damage in the inning against Jays lefty-hander Jo-Jo Reyes. Mike Cameron and Jason Varitek both struck out and Darnell McDonald ended the inning with a groundball to second.

In the second, Lowries first home run of the season, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury who opened the inning with a walk, put the Sox up 4-1.

Daniel Bard relieved Beckett in the eighth. John McDonald opened the inning with a lead-off single, but was thrown out attempting to steal second, Jason Varitek connecting with Dustin Pedroia. It was the third time this season Red Sox catchers have thrown out a runner in 19 attempts. Bard then struck out Yunel Escobar and got Corey Patterson to ground out to Gonzalez.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth. With two outs Aaron Hill reached base on Kevin Youkilis' error and advanced to third on defensive indifference. But, Papelbon got Travis Snider to fly out to Mike Cameron in left, giving the Red Sox their third win of the season.

Player of the Game

Josh Beckett

Beckett (2-1, 1.80 ERA) stifled the Blue Jays over seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts. It was a much-needed sterling performance, his second in as many outings against American League East rivals. With his outing on April 10 against the Yankees, Beckett has thrown a combined 15 innings, allowing just one run on five hits and three walks with 19 strikeouts, for a 0.60 ERA.
Saturday against the Jays, after giving up a run in the second inning, he allowed just three more baserunners two walks and a single but allowed just one, Aaron Hill on a walk and stolen base in the fourth inning, to advance as far as second base.
Five of his strikeouts including the first four -- were called, four were swinging. Four strikeouts came on fastballs, three on curveballs, and one each on a cutter and a slider.

The curveball was kind of my go-to pitch, Beckett said. I struggled a little with my changeup. I still think I threw enough of them to where they still had to think about it. You still have to throw fastballs. You just have to locate it. You cant just go up there and flip a bunch of breaking balls and get behind in the count and stuff like that.

Honorable Mention

Jed Lowrie

Making his first career start in the lead-off spot, Lowrie did what no other lead-off batter has been able to do when he singled in his first at-bat. In 13 games this season, that was the only hit Red Sox lead-off batters have managed in their first plate appearance of a game. Lowrie went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, two RBI, and his first home run of the season.

Lowrie also scored the first run of the game. After singling in the first, he took second on Dustin Pedroias walk and scored on Adrian Gonzalezs single to center. In the second inning, his first home run of the season, into the first row of the Monster seats in left field, scored Jacoby Ellsbury, who had walked, to put the Sox up 4-1. Lowrie also had an infield single in the eighth.

In nine games this season, he is batting .500 (11-for-22). He has more career home runs, five, against Toronto than against any other team. He has hit in five straight games, going 10-for-15 for a .667 average, and has reached safely in 11 of his 16 plate appearances in that time.

The results are there right now, Lowrie said. The preparation is there. Im just doing everything I can. It comes down to preparation and thats what Im really happiest about: Ive been able to find a real good routine.But its not about me. Its about the team.

The Goat

Jo-Jo Reyes

Reyes (0-2, 6.75) lost his second consecutive start, going three innings (plus two batters in the fourth). He allowed four runs (all in the first two innings), on seven hits and five walks, with three strikeouts and a home run. It was his shortest start since also going three innings on May 13, 2009, while with the Braves. Of the four runs he allowed, two reached base on walks Pedroia in the first and Ellsbury in the second.

Reyes, who needed 37 pitches to get through the first inning, took the loss in consecutive starts for the first time since losing five straight from June 23 July 20, 2008 with the Braves. He walked five batters Saturday after walking just two combined over his first two starts.

The Turning Point

Red Sox' second inning

The Jays scored a run in the top of the inning to cut the Sox lead, 2-1. But Reyes allowed the Sox to extend the lead in their half. After putting Ellsbury on with a walk to open the inning, he gave up Lowries first home run of the season. Those were all the runs the Red Sox would need.

By the Numbers

19

In his last two outings, Beckett has thrown 15 innings with 19 strikeouts. In that stretch he has allowed five hits, three walks and one run. That gives him a walks-and-hits-per-innings pitched ratio of 4.8, a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 6.33, and strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio of 11.4. This is the kind of vintage Josh Beckett performance the Sox need if they are to be successful this season.

Quote of Note

Its nice to pitch well. Just, we got to win some more games, however we got to do it, if we got to win 15-12, whatever. We got to win games. Like I said, its nice to pitch well but it doesnt make it any easier on the other days.

--Josh Beckett on his last two outings

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

pomeranz_redsox_082317.jpg

How Drew Pomeranz, 2nd best lefty in the American League, can be even better

BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz may not technically be the No. 2 for the Red Sox in this year’s presumed American League Division Series. Maybe the Red Sox will mix in a right-hander between Pomeranz and Chris Sale.

Either way, everyone knows which pitcher, in spirit, has been the second-most reliable for the Red Sox. A day after Chris Sale notched his 300th strikeout and on the final off-day of the regular season, it’s worth considering the importance of the other excellent lefty on the Sox, and how much he’s meant to a team that’s needed surprise performances because of the lineup’s drop-off.

Per FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, Pomeranz is the second-most valuable lefthanded starter among those qualified in the American League (you know who's No. 1). He's one of the 10 best starters in the AL overall.

MORE RED SOX:

The 28-year-old Pomeranz was a first-round pick seven years ago. But he didn’t exactly blossom until the last two years. He has a 3.15 ERA in 165 2/3 innings. His next start, if decent, should give him a career-high in innings after he threw 170 2/3 last year.

Pomeranz is a 16-game winner, just one win behind Sale. The value of wins and losses is known to be nil, but there’s still a picture of reliability that can be gleaned.

Is this the year Pomeranz became the pitcher he always envisioned he would be?

“I don’t know, I mean, I had a pretty dang good year last year,” Pomeranz said, referring to a 3.32 ERA between the Padres and Sox, and an All-Star selection. “I think these last two years have been kind of you know, more what I wanted to be like. But I still, I don’t think I’m done yet, you know what I mean?”

Most pro athletes say there’s always room to improve. Pomeranz, however, was able to specify what he wants. The focus is on his third and fourth pitches: his cutter and his change-up. 

“My change-up’s been really good this year,” Pomeranz said. “That’s something that still can go a lot further. And same with my cutter too. I still use it sparingly. I don’t think me just being a six-inning guy is the end of it for me either.

“You set personal goals. You want to throw more innings, cover more innings so the bullpen doesn’t have to cover those. Helps save them for right now during the year.”

Early in the year, Pomeranz wasn’t using his cutter much. He threw just nine in April, per BrooksBaseball.net. That led to talk that he wasn’t throwing the pitch to take it easy on his arm. He did start the year on the disabled list, after all, and cutters and sliders can be more stressful on the elbow and forearm.

That wasn’t the case.

“The reason I didn’t throw it in the beginning of the year was because half the times I threw it went the other way,” Pomeranz said. “It backed up. Instead of cutting, it was like sinking or running back. I mean, I pitched [in Baltimore] and gave up a home run to [Manny] Machado, we were trying to throw one in and it went back. So I didn’t trust it.

“Mechanical thing. I was still trying to clean my mechanics up, and once I cleaned ‘em up and got my arm slot right, then everything started moving the way it was supposed to and then I started throwing it more.”

Pomeranz’s cutter usage, and how he developed the pitch heading into 2016, has been well documented.

The change-up is more of an X-factor. He threw five in each of his last two starts, per Brooks, and it’s a pitch he wants to use more.

“It’s been good,” Pomeranz said. “I think I could throw it a lot more and a lot more effectively, and ... tweaking of pitch selection probably could help me get into some of those later innings too.”

Well, then why not just throw the change more often? Easier said than done when you’re talking about your fourth pitch in a key moment.

“I throw a few a game,” Pomeranz said. “Sometimes you feel like you don’t want too throw it in situations where you get beat with your third or fourth best pitch. I mean it’s felt — every time I’ve thrown it it’s been consistent. It’s just a matter of, it’s something me and Vazqy [Christian Vazquez] talk about too." 

(When you hear these kind of issues, which most pitchers deal with, it makes you appreciate Sale’s ability to throw any pitch at any time even more.)

Speaking on Wednesday, the day after Pomeranz’s most recent outing, Sox pitching coach Willis said he thinks the change-up’s already starting to have a greater presence.

“He’s kind of always had a changeup, and he hadn’t had any trust or conviction in that pitch,” Willis said. “I was really excited last night that he used the changeup more. He threw it. He doubled up with it on occasion. Something that’s not in the scouting report.

"It’s his fourth pitch and he seldom threw it in a game and he’s in a situation where, OK, the change-up’s the right pitch, but location of whatever I throw is going to outweigh [selection]. Now he’s starting to gain that confidence [that he can locate it]. 

“I think that’s going to make him an extremely better pitcher. I thought it was a huge factor in his outing last night. Because he didn’t have his best velocity. He really did a good job of changing speeds with the changeup, and obviously with the curveball and being able to give different shapes of the pitches.”

The Sox already have the best left-hander in the AL, if not anywhere. The AL's second-best southpaw happens to pitch on the same team, and has tangible plans to be even better.

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

boston-red-sox-tom-werner-81414.jpg

Werner criticizes Price for Eck incident; says Sox' relationship with Yanks is 'frosty'

BOSTON — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of the the Yankees, MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre, and players who can’t take criticism from broadcasters.

In a spot Thursday with WEEI, Werner made clear David Price’s handling of Dennis Eckersley was unprofessional.

“Boston is a tough place to play,” Werner said on WEEI’s Ordway, Merlonia and Fauria. “Some players thrive here, and some players don’t. Get a thicker skin. My feeling is, let the broadcasts be honest, be personable, informative, and get over it if you think a certain announcer took a shot at you.”

“I thought there was a way of handling that. It wasn’t handled appropriately. If I’ve got a problem with Lou [Merloni], and I hear something he says on the radio, I’ll say to Lou, ‘That wasn’t fair.’ ”

Werner also called the team’s relationship with the Yankees “frosty” following the public sign-stealing saga that resulted in fines for both clubs.

“The fact is, I do think this was a minor technical violation,” Werner said. “I start with the fact that this was unfortunately raised to a level it never should have been raised to.”

Werner also insinuated he did not approve of how MLB and Torre handled the disciplining of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who receieved a four-game suspension for his part in a fight against the Tigers (reduced on appeal to three games).

“Do you think Gary Sanchez got an appropriate punishment?” Werner asked.