Boston Red Sox

Drellich: Buck Showalter takes unwarranted shot at Red Sox' flu

Drellich: Buck Showalter takes unwarranted shot at Red Sox' flu

BOSTON -- Buck Showalter might have a head cold himself, because he’s not thinking straight.

The smart, witty and sometimes sharp-tongued manager of the Orioles on Tuesday took a clear shot at the Red Sox, and it was totally unwarranted.

The Red Sox have talked publicly about illnesses that have struck the team — illnesses that, apparently, Showalter thinks should have been downplayed or hidden. Because, apparently, what the Sox are going through is not notable compared to what others are experiencing.

“I don’t know where we are with the flu today,” Showalter told Orioles reporters before Tuesday’s game, including the Baltimore Sun. “I haven’t gotten updated by [head athletic trainer Richie Bancells]. Everybody in the league has had that issue. I’ve had it and it’s a different strain, I’ll tell you. It lingers for a long time. Some of them seem to be a little more noteworthy, it seems like, but our guys have fought their way through it. I know we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t 100 percent with it, but so do a lot of clubs. So nobody really wants to hear somebody else complain about it. Our guys have done a good job not broadcasting it to the world.”

It’s not an accident Showalter made that comment at Fenway Park before the start of a two-game series. He offered up that commentary without being prompted by a question from Orioles reporters. Showalter's a calculated man, usually.

The only thing the 60-year-old does on accident is forget to use the best reliever in the majors, Zach Britton, in a win-or-go home playoff game. 

(Perhaps Showalter had the flu last October and felt a little dazed, but was too noble to say anything?)

Only one Orioles player has been publicly identified as having the flu, Darren O’Day.

You know why the Sox have identified more? Because they've had to.

This is an apples and oranges discussion. 

There's no way the Sox could have possibly hidden their infirmary. Not when Mitch Moreland is leaving spring early; not when Hanley Ramirez can't even make it to Detroit for a four-game road trip; not when the runner-up for American League MVP, Mookie Betts, is MIA from the lineup. 

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has nothing but experience in this game. He can't remember something like this in his 40-plus years in baseball. 

The Red Sox have had players quarantined. Quarantined

Staffers — from head trainer Brad Pearson to play-by-play voice Dave O’Brien — have all been affected in some way or another. Players have vomited during games. 

It’s not just the flu the Sox are dealing with, either.

“There’s a stomach flu, there’s a full-blown flu and there’s a respiratory, cold, head, all that stuff,” Farrell said Tuesday when asked to clarify what was going around. “We’ve got a little bit of a MASH unit. But, I mean, the one thing I will say that not anyone has made an excuse. You know, we’ve got to go out and play. No one outside of our walls cares about what we’re going through and we don’t care what others are going through. We’ve got to take care of ourselves and get guys back healthy and we’re getting close to that point.”

Farrell made that comment in his standard 4:20 p.m. pre-game press conference at Fenway Park, which happened before Showalter spoke at Fenway around the time the Orioles stretched an hour later.

It’s almost as though Farrell was trying to head off a possible bad perception. Either word didn’t get back to Showalter, or Showalter didn’t care.

So Showalter wound up taking a really cheap shot, just because the Red Sox didn't have much success this year with the flu shot.

Drellich: John Farrell fighting himself when it comes to bullpen roles

Drellich: John Farrell fighting himself when it comes to bullpen roles

CLEVELAND — John Farrell is fighting himself. More than he might realize, he’s willing to mix up his bullpen usage in a way that’s smart. But in some of the most crucial innings, Farrell will stubbornly and perhaps reflexively revert to tradition and a false sense of role — one that actually runs counter to the logic the manager employs at other times.

Look at the big cat, Craig Kimbrel, who was again left in the bullpen Monday night as the eighth and ninth innings deteriorated in a 5-4 Red Sox loss to the Indians. 

It’s all about the inning with Kimbrel, you see — or in Monday’s case, until Farrell would have simply been forced to use him.

“On a night where if I use Kimbrel tonight, he's got the need for one, if not two days off,” Farrell said. “That's why you need the contributions from everyone.”

But the indication was Kimbrel was available for a save, or perhaps the 10th inning when the lineup turned over again. If he needs rest, rest him. Farrell did not say that Kimbrel was down entirely.

But the eighth inning? No, that’d be lunacy.

“I know that there’s this overriding thought that you can just drop Craig Kimbrel in anywhere from the sixth inning to the ninth inning,” Farrell said Friday. “And with all do respect, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just that. We’ve used Craig for four outs or more this year. And there’s a willingness to do that. 

“But when we’re completely rested down there, there are roles that guys have performed very well to. And there’s a reason why our bullpen has excelled to the point they have. There are roles that are established and they pitch to them.”

Seriously, what roles? The roles change as often as Farrell’s logic defending them, aside from Kimbrel’s overwhelming need to be in save situations.

The Sox were not “completely rested” on Monday, for one. Addison Reed was unavailable entirely.

But step back for a moment, and look at the overall usage of the reliever who initially got the Red Sox into trouble Monday in the eighth, Matt Barnes. 

The righty this year has pitched in the sixth inning three times. He’s been used in the seventh inning, 18 times and the eighth inning 29 times — including Monday.

Another nine times, Barnes has pitched in the ninth or later. Fourteen times, he’s made multi-inning appearances.

Does that sound like a rigid role to you?

When Farrell spoke recently of his plan for using Reed and Barnes, it sounded pretty darn progressive.

"Addision, we’ve initially said it’s the eighth inning," Farrell said. "We’ve used him accordingly based on where we are in the lineup and based on the potential of running threats. … As we map out the seventh and eighth inning, it’s going to be Barnes and Addison and we’ll see where the right matchups provide themselves.”

So what matters more, lineup position and running threats, or what inning it is?

Depends which reliever Farrell is talking about on which night, or maybe which way the wind is blowing.

For Monday night, Barnes all of a sudden was a reliever with a role.

“On a night when not everyone's available, [Barnes is] the one that has had the most experience in the eighth inning against both lefties and righties,” Farrell said.

Experience in a particular inning, now that’s the primary factor for Barnes? What about the fact Barnes has been terrible on the road lately?

What about the fact that Brandon Workman has a 1.40 ERA, or that Farrell said before the game Workman is now in the high-leverage mix?

Workman gave up a leadoff double on Monday in the ninth inning. He might have blown the eighth inning anyway. Farrell also prefers a clean inning for Workman, and wanted to avoid using the righty Monday for workload reasons as well.

But Workman was, indeed, available. So why let extra innings or a tie game in the ninth force you to use him, as opposed to pitching him at a time he perhaps could have protected the lead?

Workman in the eighth could have thrown in place of either Barnes or Heath Hembree. The latter’s done worse than anyone on the Sox with inherited runners and came on to try to clean up Barnes’ mess. Workman has six inherited runners this year and none have scored.

But Workman has a role. Except he doesn’t. Or if he does, it’s as loosely defined as everybody else’s, save for the guy who can only get saves.

Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

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Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

CLEVELAND - Brandon Guyer scored when first baseman Brock Holt threw away Roberto Perez's bunt in the ninth inning, lifting the Cleveland Indians over the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

After Guyer's leadoff double against Brandon Workman (0-1), Holt fielded the bunted ball and tried to throw out Guyer at third. Guyer slid into the bag as the throw skipped past third baseman Rafael Devers, then got to his feet and raced across home plate. Teammates ran onto the field and doused Perez with water and white powder.

Perez also had a three-run homer in the second inning.

Cody Allen (1-6) allowed Christian Vazquez's leadoff single in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters. The inning ended when shortstop Francisco Lindor ran down Mookie Betts' popup in center field with his back to home plate.

Cleveland relief ace Andrew Miller left in the seventh inning after aggravating the patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Miller recently returned after over two weeks on the disabled list with the knee injury.