Cook does his part, lets fielders do rest

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Cook does his part, lets fielders do rest

BOSTON When things are going well for Aaron Cook he knows just about all he has to do is throw his sinker, induce groundballs, and let his defense do its job.

That was the game plan he employed Monday against the Rangers to earn the win, as the Red Sox beat Texas, 9-2.

Cook went seven innings, giving up one run on six hits and three walks with two strikeouts, improving to 3-5 with a 4.70 ERA.

Fifteen of Cooks 21 outs came on groundballs.

He gave us seven innings, and less hits than innings pitched, said manager Bobby Valentine. Got a couple of strikeouts. Had those balls directed properly and the defense played great behind him. He also executed a perfect pick-off play which I thought was big in the game.

His outing was much different than his last three, when he gave up a total of six home runs in 15 innings, taking the loss in all. Prior to that, he had given up just two home runs in his previous five starts.

I thought he and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia actually mixed up some of the pitches well and he had really good command of the outside corner tonight, Valentine said. Established some inside where he got them quick. It looked like he had really good command of the outside with a little cutter and his sinker.

Texas had runners on base in each of Cooks seven innings except the sixth. In almost every instance he used his sinker to get out of the jams, inducing a ground ball to end the inning.

Well, I think any time I have my sinker working and guys are playing great defense behind me, thats a recipe for success, Cook said. I was just really focused on staying at the bottom of the zone as much as possible tonight, even when getting guys on. Pound the ball in the zone and let the guys play defense behind me. That's pretty much my approach every time I take the mound.

The only exceptions: He picked Nelson Cruz off second base with a slick move in the fourth inning, and got Mitch Moreland to line out to Dustin Pedroia to end the seventh.

The potent Rangers seemed to hit Cook harder earlier in the game before he settled in. He faced six batters in the second, holding the Rangers to just one run on three hits and a walk.

I think the first couple innings I was a little flat, he said. I was throwing the ball probably a little bit harder than I needed to. I really just got with Salty and was like lets just pound the bottom of the zone and not worry about anything else. And thats really when my ball started moving more and you could tell that I was getting that movement that I need to be successful.

It may have been one of the six outs he got that wasnt on a grounder that helped.

With the Sox holding a slim one-run lead going into the fourth inning, Cook gave up a lead-off, ground-rule double to Nelson Cruz. After one pitch to the next batter, David Murphy, Cook picked Cruz off second base. The move seemed to give the Sox a jolt of energy while deflating the Rangers. Cook got out of the inning without giving up a run. The Sox added three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Something I take a lot of pride in is controlling the running game and me and shortstop Mikey Aviles have talked about it all year, Cook said. We worked on it in spring training. Any time somebody gets on we dont have a sign. Its kind of one of those things, we both feel it.

And I told him if he goes, he better keep going because Im going to turn around and throw it and if hes not there, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is going to be chasing it. But we were both on the same page. And after that double right there, being able to pick the guy off, it just kind of calms the inning down, lets me take a deep breath, and I think guys just really had a lot of energy after that.

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.